Verbs control the sentence: remember this. If you are writing a piece in Gaelic you can make it come alive by choosing your verbs carefully.

When you look up a verb in the dictionary, you will find the root form. This is the part of the verb that is also known as the command form, eg seas (stand), suidh (sit), èist (listen) etc.

In the dictionary you should also find the verbal noun form. This is the equivalent of the –ing form in English, eg a' coiseachd (walking), a' snàmh (swimming).

From the verbal noun you are able to obtain the infinitive form (this is the to form, eg a choiseachd (to walk), a shnàmh (to swim). Infinitives are formed by aspirating the verbal noun and putting a or a dh' in front of it. There is a space between the a and the noun. For example:

  • a' cur - a chur
  • a' dùnadh - a dhùnadh
  • a' pòsadh - a phòsadh

Note that a dh' is used with verbs beginning with a vowel or f + vowel. There should be no space between the apostrophe and the following letter.

  • ag òl - a dh'òl
  • a' fuireach - a dh'fhuireach

The infinitive does not tell you who is doing or experiencing something or when it was carried out or experienced. It only tells you the meaning of the verb.

Irregular Gaelic verbs

Irregular Gaelic verbs
Verbal nounInfinitive formMeaning
a' briseadha bhriseadhto break
a' suidhea shuidheto sit
ag èirigha dh'èirighto rise, to get up
a' fuireacha dh'fhuireachto stay, to wait
a' freagairta fhreagairtto answer, to reply