Fiddly phrases – is / tha
Learners of Gaelic often have difficulty knowing when to use tha and when to use is. Students are often required to make a comment about someone’s occupation, perhaps their mother's or father's. For example:
He is a joiner.
She is a doctor.
He is a teacher.
She is a nurse.
Both tha and is can be used to make the above statements:
He is a joiner. Tha e na shaor / Is e saor a tha ann.
She is a doctor. Tha i na dotair / Is e dotair a tha innte.
He is a teacher. Tha e na thidsear / Is e tidsear a tha ann.
She is a nurse. Tha i na banaltram / Is e banaltram a tha innte.
There are a couple of things to remember when using tha or is to say what someone’s occupation is:
To make a straightforward statement and say what someone’s occupation is, use tha e/i na… remembering to lenite for males only.
To emphasise what someone’s occupation is you can use Is e, commonly written as ’S e.
Here are the same statements as above using ’s e:
He is a joiner. ’S e saor a tha ann.
She is a doctor ’S e dotair a tha innte.
He is a teacher ’S e tidsear a tha ann.
She is a nurse ’S e banaltram a tha innte.
Now try a Test Bite that will allow you to practise using these fiddly phrases.
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