Cluinn (irregular verb)

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The irregular verb Cluinn means "to hear". Cluinn is one of 11 irregular verbs in Gaelic. It uses an irregular suppletive form in the simple past and the impersonal past. These forms (along with the active relative future), and active conditional irregularly require that when using a 2nd person singular (you), that the pronoun surfaces as tu instead of thu.

Summary of forms

  • Independent forms of the verb cluinn are used without any particles.
  • Dependent forms of the verb cluinn are used after an, nach, gun and other verbal particles (except cha).
  • Cha takes dependent forms but lenites the verb.
  • Unlike regular verbs, the dependent past tense particle do is never used with cluinn.

context independent After Cha Dependent
basic forms active past1 chuala cuala
Future cluinnidh chluinn cluinn
Relative Future1 --- chluinneas
impersonal1 past chualas (chualadh) cualas (chualadh)
future cluinn(t)ear chluinn(t)ear cluinn(t)ear
relative future ---
Conditional Mood active chluinneadh (chluinninn2 in 1st singular) cluinneadh (cluinninn2 in 1st sing)
impersonal chluinnte (chluinnist in Lewis) cluinnte (cluinnist in Lewis)
Imperative Mood 1st person singular cluinneam2 ---
plural cluinneamaid2
2nd person singular cluinn2
plural cluinnibh2
3rd person cluinneadh
verbal noun cluinntinn (sometimes cluinnteil)


  • 1 with the past tense, relative future and impersonal forms of this verb, the pronoun tu is used instead of thu
  • 2 these forms are not used with any subject, they contain the subject in the inflection of the verb (Pro-Drop)

Non Conditional Moods (indicative, interrogative, negative)

Active Voice

Past tense

Declarative Question Negative Negative Question embedded
1 chuala mi an cuala mi cha chuala mi nach cuala mi gun cuala mi
2 chuala tu1 an cuala tu cha chuala tu nach cuala tu gun cuala tu
3 masc chuala e an cuala e cha chuala e nach cuala e gun cuala e
3 fem chuala i an cuala i cha chuala i nach cuala i gun cuala i
1 pl chuala sinn an cuala sinn cha chuala sinn nach cuala sinn gun cuala sinn
2 pl chuala sibh an cuala sibh cha chuala sibh nach cuala sibh gun cuala sibh
3 pl chuala iad an cuala iad cha chuala iad nach cuala iad gun cuala iAd
  1. Irregularly, the 2nd person pronoun shows up as tu instead of thu in the past, impersonal, and relative future forms of this verb.

Present tense

As is common in Gaelic, there is no present tense form of the verb. When a simple present meaning ("I hear something") or a progressive meaning (I am hearing something is intended, the periphrastic construction is used with the present tense of the verb bi (be), i.e., tha, along with the verbal noun.

Tha mi a' cluinntinn
be.pres 1s prog
I'm hearing/I hear

Future tense

The future tense in Gaelic is used to express the idea that an event will happen sometime after the speech time. Unlike English, the future tense can also be used with a present tense meaning, to express the idea that an action is habitual.

Declarative Question Negative Negative Question Relative Future1
1 cluinnidh mi an cluinn mi cha chluinn mi nach cluinn mi a chluinneas mi
2 cluinnidh tu2 an cluinn thu cha chluinn thu nach cluinn thu a chluinneas tu2
3 masc cluinnidh e an cluinn e cha chluinn e nach cluinn e a chluinneas e
3 fem cluinnidh i an cluinn i cha chluinn i nach cluinn i a chluinneas i
1 pl cluinnidh sinn an cluinn sinn cha chluinn sinn nach cluinn sinn a chluinneas sinn
2 pl cluinnidh sibh an cluinn sibh cha chluinn sibh nach cluinn sibh a chluinneas sibh
3 pl cluinnidh iad an cluinn iad cha chluinn iad nach cluinn iad a chluinneas iad


  1. the relative future is used after certain particles such as ma or the particle used with questions a.
  2. Note that in the relative future and declarative future the pronoun tu is used in lieu of thu.

Impersonal/Passive Voice

Gaelic verbs don't technically have a Passive verb form. Instead the passive is typically represented through a periphrastic construction using the verbs Rach or Tha + the passive marker air. It does, however, have an impersonal form. The Impersonal is used to indicate an indeterminate subject. Chualas can be best translated as "someone heard". Use of a pronoun is completely optional. So "Chualas" is a completely well-formed sentence. When used with a pronoun, the pronoun represents the logical object of the verb. So "chualas mi" means "Someone heard me". This is often translated as "I was heard", hence the typical "passive" label.

Since Gaelic doesn't distinguish between subject and object pronouns (unlike it's sibling Modern Irish), it is very difficult to determine if these pronouns are subjects or objects. We list them here as if they were subjects, with the understanding that the pronouns in the following tables represent the logical objects of the verb (the person who was heard, not the hearer).

Past tense

Declarative Question Negative Negative Question
1 chualas mi an cualas mi cha chualas mi nach cualas mi
2 chualas tu1 an cualas tu cha chualas tu nach cualas tu
3 masc chualas e an cualas e cha chualas e nach cualas e
3 fem chualas i an cualas i cha chualas i nach cualas i
1 pl chualas sinn an cualas sinn cha chualas sinn nach cualas sinn
2 pl chualas sibh an cualas sibh cha chualas sibh nach cualas sibh
3 pl chualas iad an cualas iad cha chualas iad nach cualas iad


  1. The pronoun tu is used here instead of thu

Present tense

The use of a passive in the present tense is odd, even in English. But if forced, one would use a passive periphrastic construction using the present tense of the verb bi followed by the derived subject followed by air and finally the verb in verbal noun form:

Tha mi air cluinntinn
be.pres 1s passive
"I am heard"

Future tense

Declarative Question Negative Negative Question Relative Future1
1 cluinnear mi an cluinnear mi cha chluinnear mi nach cluinnear mi a chluinnear mi
2 cluinnear thu an cluinnear thu cha chluinnear thu nach cluinnear thu a chluinnear thu
3 masc cluinnear e an cluinnear e cha chluinnear e nach cluinnear e a chluinnear e
3 fem cluinnear i an cluinnear i cha chluinnear i nach cluinnear i a chluinnear i
1 pl cluinnear sinn an cluinnear sinn cha chluinnear sinn nach cluinnear sinn a chluinnear sinn
2 cluinnear sibh an cluinnear sibh cha chluinnear sibh nach cluinnear sibh a chluinnear sibh
3 pl cluinnear iad an cluinnear iad cha chluinnear iad nach cluinnear iad a chluinnear iad


  1. the relative future is used after certain particles such as a the particle used with questions, or ma "if".

Conditional Mood


Declarative Question Negative Negative Question
1 chluinninn1 an cluinninn cha chluinninn nach cluinninn
2 chluinneadh tu2 an cluinneadh tu cha chluinneadh tu nach cluinneadh tu
3 masc chluinneadh e an cluinneadh e cha chluinneadh e nach cluinneadh e
3 fem chluinneadh i an cluinneadh i cha chluinneadh i nach cluinneadh i
1 pl chluinneadh sinn (chluinneamaid3) an cluinneadh sinn (an cluinneamaid3) cha chluinneadh sinn (cha chluinneamaid3) nach cluinneadh sinn (nach cluinneamaid3)
2 pl chluinneadh sibh an cluinneadh sibh cha chluinneadh sibh nach cluinneadh sibh
3 pl chluinneadh iad an cluinneadh iad cha chluinneadh iad nach cluinneadh iad


  1. The 1st person singular form is never used with an overt pronoun, the verb contains the pronoun already.
  2. The pronoun tu is used here instead of thu
  3. The 1st person plural has a special inflected form, which like the first person singular is never used with a pronoun. This 1st person plural form is rarely used anymore.


Declarative Question Negative Negative Question
1 chluinnte mi an cluinnte mi cha chluinnte mi nach cluinnte mi
2 chluinnte thu an cluinnte thu cha chluinnte thu nach cluinnte thu
3 masc chluinnte e an cluinnte e cha chluinnte e nach cluinnte e
3 fem chluinnte i an cluinnte i cha chluinnte i nach cluinnte i
1 pl chluinnte sinn an cluinnte sinn cha chluinnte sinn nach cluinnte sinn
2 pl chluinnte sibh an cluinnte sibh cha chluinnte sibh nach cluinnte sibh
3 pl chluinnte iad an cluinnte iad cha chluinnte iad nach cluinnte iad

Imperative Mood

The Imperative mood is used when giving a command. 2nd person imperatives are the most common. In English these are translated with by just the verb "Hear!". 1st and 3rd person imperatives translated loosely as "Let me hear", "let us hear", "let he/she/them hear". The 1st person plural and third person imperatives are the same as the conditional forms except without lenition

person form
singular 1 cluinneam1
2 cluinn1
3 masc cluinneadh e
3 fem cluinneadh i
plural 1 cluinneamaid1
2 cluinnibh1
3 cluinneadh iad


  1. The 1st and 2nd person forms are used without subject pronouns.


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  • Byrne, Michel (2002) Gràmar na Gàidhlig. Eilean Leòdhais: Stòrlann-Acair.
  • Deiseal Earranta tta (2006) Reference Cards: Sealbhairean Roimhearach/Riochdairean Roimhearach.
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