The definite article

1. The definite article in the nominative singular case - an

1. (a)

an is used before feminine words beginning with a vowel (a, e, i, o, and u).

The definite article

The definite article
Indefinite formDefinite formMeaning
aibidilan aibidilthe alphabet
aghaidhan aghaidhthe face
eaglaisan eaglaisthe church
ealaan ealathe swan
ìnean ìnethe nail
inntinnan inntinnthe mind
òrdagan òrdagthe thumb
osagan osagthe breeze
uaimhan uaimhthe cave
ùeiran ùeirthe wire

1. (b)

an is used before masculine words beginning with c, g, and s.

The definite article

The definite article
Indefinite formDefinite formMeaning
cleasaichean cleasaichethe actor
cliabhan cliabhthe creel
gruthan gruththe crowdie
grùthanan grùthanthe liver
sluaghan sluaghthe crowd
soitheachan soitheachthe vessel

1. (c)

an is used before masculine and feminine nouns beginning with d, l, n, r, and t.

Remind yourself of how to use an before these masculine nouns:

The definite article

The definite article
Indefinite formDefinite formMeaning
dòchasan dòchasthe hope
lònan lònthe pool
neachan neachthe person
reothadhan reothadhthe frost
trosgan trosgthe cod

Remind yourself of how to use an before these feminine nouns:

The definite article

The definite article
Indefinite formDefinite formMeaning
dìleaban dìleabthe inheritance
lèinean lèinethe shirt
nigheanan nigheanthe girl
rèisan rèisthe race
targaidan targaidthe target

1. (d)

an is used before feminine nouns beginning with the letter s, apart from those beginning with sl, sn, sr, or s + vowel.

The definite article

The definite article
Indefinite formDefinite formMeaning
sgeulachdan sgeulachdthe story
sgaitan sgaitthe skate (fish)
sgeilpan sgeilpthe shelf
sgiathan sgiaththe shield, the wing
smuainan smuainthe thought
spèilan spèilthe ice skate
spirisan spiristhe perch
strìan strìthe conflict
stoidhlean stoidhlethe style

1. (e)

an is also used before feminine nouns beginning with the letter f followed by a vowel. A feminine word like this requires the letter h to be inserted before the vowel when using the definite article. Take faoileag (a seagull), for example. It becomes an fhaoileag.

The definite article

The definite article
Indefinite formDefinite formMeaning
faiceallan fhaiceallthe care
fàiltean fhàiltethe welcome
feargan fheargthe anger
fèillan fhèillthe sale, the market
fiacailan fhiacailthe tooth
foisan fhoisthe peace
fuaimreagan fhuaimreagthe vowel
fuilan fhuilthe blood