Using is and tha

Is or tha?

Gaelic learners 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.