Dè an uair a tha e? – Lesson 4

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 3-minute read

Unfortunately, I missed this week’s Gaelic class so this post will be a little shorter than the previous weeks’ efforts.

Nevertheless my tutor advised that “We did lots of revision on past and future tense…and started ‘the time’!”, so that’s what we are going to do!

An Uair – The Time

As well as the two A4 sides of class notes, I’l refer to Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks to pad things out a little bit.

To ask what time it is you say dè an uair a tha e? where e has previously been used as the personal pronoun ‘he’ in this case it refers to ‘it’, I suspect that will not always be the case in this devious language and that i will be used in the case of feminine nouns. We shall see.

To say ‘it is ..’ therefore is simply ‘tha e ..‘ followed by one of the following:

Gàidhlig English
uair one o’clock
dà uair two o’clock
trì uairean three o’clock
ceithir uairean four o’clock
còig uairean five o’clock
sia uairean six o’clock
seachd uairean seven o’clock
ochd uairean eight o’clock
naoi uairean nine o’clock
dech uairean ten o’clock
aon uair deug eleven o’clock
dà uair dheug twelve o’clock

Note that aon (one) isn’t used for one o’clock but is for eleven o’clock, apparently in Cape Breton Gaelic it can be used in the former case.

Also 3-10 o’clock uses the plural form of uair which is uairean and also though I’m not sure why deug from eleven o’clock is lenited to become dheug in twelve o’clock.

Just like in English the time clause can be modified to include further information such as in the morning, half past etc.

Useful vocabulary:

Gàidhlig English
leth-uair half an hour
cairteal quarter
an dèidh after/past
‘sa mhadainn in the morning
‘san oidhche at night
feasgar (in the) evening


Gàidhlig English
tha e leth-uair as dèidh sia it is half past six
tha e aon uair deug anns a’ mhadainn it is eleven o’clock in the morning
aig cairteal gu còic feasgar at quarter to five in the evening

Note that when quarter/half past/to are used the word for o’clock is dropped, just like in English. At this stage I’m unsure how the time would be modified by say 5 minutes or 23 minutes etc. More examples of how to say time in Gaelic (as well as all of the Celtic languages) can be found on this Omniglot page .

A`cunntadh – Counting

Other than time and revision on tenses, I’m not sure what else was covered in class but let’s have a look at numbers. We’ve previously looked at 1-10 and 11-19.. so let’s look at 20+.

Gàidhlig English
fichead twenty
fichead `s a h-aon twenty one
fichead ‘s a dhà twenty two
fichead ‘s a trì twenty three
fichead ‘s a deich thirty
fichead ‘s a h-aon deug thirty one
fichead ‘s a dhà dheug thirty two
dà fichead forty
dà fichead ‘s a h-aon forty one
dà fichead ‘s a deich fifty

Interesting, no? So numbers are counted in sets of twenty, and that set of twenty is in itself modified to bring the next set, which means in order to even say the correct number you need to be reasonably numerate.

Deug translates into ‘teen’ and it seems like it is always lenited when following dhà (two). Also aon is lenited from twenty-one upwards apparently. I would suspect due to their non-inclusion in the list that numbers 3-9 are never lenited.

Finally, as always we have the weekly song, Màiri Ruadh A’dannsa an Nochd by Arthur Cormack.

The title translates to Red-haired Mairi will be dancing tonight. It’s quite upbeat but there is only one version on youtube to share here and the accoustics aren’t great, sorry!


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