Faic (irregular verb)

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The irregular verb faic means "to see". faic is one of 11 irregular verbs in Gaelic. It uses irregular suppletive forms in the past, the future, the relative future, and independent conditional (Mark 2004:271). The forms ending in <a> or <adh> also 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 faic are used without any particles.
  • Dependent forms of the verb faic are used after particles but note
    • Cha and Nach take dependent forms but lenite the verb.
    • Cha takes the special form chan because <fh> is silent, so the cha precedes a vowel, thus motivating the form chan
    • "An" takes the special form "Am" because it precedes an <f>
  • The future independent form is irregularly lenited
  • Unlike regular verbs, the dependent past tense particle do is never used with faic.

context independent After Chan/Nach Dependent
basic forms active past1 chunnaic fhaca1 faca1
Future chì fhaic faic
Relative Future --- chì
impersonal1 past chunnacas 1 fhacas1 facas1
future chithear fhaicear faicear
relative future --- chithear
Conditional Mood active chitheadh1 (chithinn2 in 1st singular) fhaiceadh1 (fhaicinn2 in 1st sing) faiceadh1 (faicinn2 in 1st sing)
impersonal chìte/chìteadh fhaicte/fhaicteadh/fhaiciste fhaicte/faicteadh/faiciste
Imperative Mood 1st person singular faiceam2 ---
plural faiceamaid2
2nd person singular faic2
plural faicibh2
3rd person faiceadh
verbal noun faicinn


  • 1 with these forms 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
1 Chunnaic mi am faca mi chan fhaca mi nach fhaca mi
2 Chunnaic thu am faca tu1 chan fhaca tu nach fhaca tu
3 masc Chunnaic e am faca e chan fhaca e nach fhaca e
3 fem Chunnaic i am faca i chan fhaca i nach fhaca i
1 pl Chunnaic sinn am faca sinn chan fhaca sinn nach fhaca sinn
2 pl Chunnaic sibh am faca sibh chan fhaca sibh nach fhaca sibh
3 pl Chunnaic iad am faca iad chan fhaca iad nach fhaca iad
  1. Irregularly, the 2nd person pronoun shows up as tu instead of thu in forms ending in <a>.

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' faicinn
be.pres 1s prog see.vn
I'm seeing/I see

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 chì mi am faic mi chan fhaic mi nach fhaic mi a chì mi
2 chì thu am faic thu chan fhaic thu nach fhaic thu a chì thu
3 masc chì e am faic e chan fhaic e nach fhaic e a chì e
3 fem chì i am faicn i chan fhaic i nach fhaic i a chì i
1 pl chì sinn am faic sinn chan fhaic sinn nach fhaic sinn a chì sinn
2 pl chì sibh am faic sibh chan fhaic sibh nach fhaic sibh a chì sibh
3 pl chì iad am faic iad chan fhaic iad nach fhaic iad a chì iad


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

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. chunnacas can be best translated as "someone saw". Use of a pronoun is completely optional. So "Chunnacas" is a completely well-formed sentence. When used with a pronoun, the pronoun represents the logical object of the verb. So "Chunnacas mi" means "Someone saw me". This is often translated as "I was seen", 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 Chunnacas mi am facas mi chan fhacas mi nach fhacas mi
2 Chunnacas tu1 an facas tu chan fhacas tu nach fhacas tu
3 masc Chunnacas e am facas e chan fhacas e nach fhacas e
3 fem Chunnacas i am facas i chan fhacas i nach fhacas i
1 pl Chunnacas sinn am facas sinn chan fhacas sinn nach fhacas sinn
2 pl Chunnacas sibh am facas sibh chan fhacas sibh nach fhacas sibh
3 pl Chunnacas iad am facas iad chan fhacas iad nach fhacas iad


  1. The pronoun tu is used after forms ending in <as> 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 faicinn
be.pres 1s passive see.vn
"I am seen"

Future tense

Declarative Question Negative Negative Question Relative Future1
1 chithear mi am faicear mi chan fhaicear mi nach fhaicear mi a chithear mi
2 chithear thu am faicear thu chan fhaicear thu nach fhaicear thu a chithear thu
3 masc chithear e am faicear e chan fhaicear e nach fhaicear e a chithear e
3 fem chithear i am faicear i chan fhaicear i nach fhaicear i a chithear i
1 pl chithear sinn am faicear sinn chan fhaicearr sinn nach fhaicear sinn a chithear sinn
2 chithear sibh am faicear sibh chan fhaicear sibh nach fhaicear sibh a chithear sibh
3 pl chithear iad am faicear iad chan fhaicear iad nach fhaicear iad a chithear 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 Chithinn1 am faicinn1 chan fhaicinn1 nach fhaicinn1
2 Chitheadh tu2 am faiceadh tu chan fhaiceadh tu nach fhaiceadh tu
3 masc Chitheadh e am faiceadh e chan fhaiceadh e nach fhaiceadh e
3 fem Chitheadh i am faiceadh i chan fhaiceadh i nach fhaiceadh i
1 pl Chitheadh sinn (Chitheamaid3) am faiceadh sinn (am faiceamaid3) chan fhaiceadh sinn (chan fhaiceamaid3) nach fhaiceadh sinn (nach fhaiceamaid3)
2 pl Chitheadh sibh am faiceadh sibh chan fhaiceadh sibh nach fhaiceadh sibh
3 pl Chitheadh iad an faiceadh iad chan fhaiceadh iad nach fhaiceadh 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.


Remember that the pronouns in this chart are the object pronouns

Declarative Question Negative Negative Question
1 chite mi am faicte mi chan fhaicte mi nach fhaicte mi
2 chìte thu am faicte thu chan fhaicte thu nach fhaicte thu
3 masc chìte e am faicte e chan fhaicte e nach fhaicte e
3 fem chìte i am faicte i chan fhaicte i nach fhaicte i
1 pl chìte sinn am faicte sinn chan fhaicte sinn nach fhaicte sinn
2 pl chìte sibh am faicte sibh chan fhaicte sibh nach fhaicte sibh
3 pl chìte iad am faicte iad chan fhaicte iad nach fhaicte iad

Imperative Mood

The Imperative mood is used when giving a command. 2nd person imperatives are the most common. The other imperative forms given above are extremely rare.

  • The 2nd person singular: faic!
  • The 2nd person plural/polite: faicibh


  • Black, Ronald (2006) Cothrom Ionnsachaidh Peebles: Self-published.
  • Byrne, Michel (2002) Gràmar na Gàidhlig. Eilean Leòdhais: Stòrlann-Acair.
  • Deiseal Earranta tta (2006) Reference Cards: Sealbhairean Roimhearach/Riochdairean Roimhearach.
  • Mark, Colin (2004) The Gaelic-English Dictionary/Am faclair Gàidhlig-Beurla. London: Routledge
  • Mark, Colin (2006), Gaelic Verbs: Systemised and Simplified" 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Steve Savage Publishers. http://www.savagepublishers.com/138.html
  • Lamb, William (2003) Scottish Gaelic. 2nd edition. Munich: Lingcom Europa