Genitive Formation

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Genitive Articles

The genitive is used to indicate an object that is a possessor. The genitive also occurs with a number of prepositions, verbal nouns, and nouns in which they are a dependent relation (Lamb 2001:29).

The masculine singular genitive pattern is identical to the feminine common case pattern, and dative case forms.

Singular Masculine Genitive
Before form Example
labial and velar stops (b, p, g, c) and m a'L a' bhòrd
f anL an fhuachd
s followed by vowels, l, n, r an t- (i.e. anT) an tsluaigh
all other sounds an an taighe
(table based on Fisher (2004)

The feminine genitive is identical to common case plural

Feminine Singular Genitive
Before form Example
consonants na na muc
Vowels na h- (i.e. anH) na h-adhairce
(table based on Fisher (2004)

The plural of genitive uses some variety of Nan/Nam:

Plural Genitive of both Genders
Before form Example
labial consonants (b, p, f) nam nam bocsaichean
All other sounds nan nan taighean
(table based on Fisher (2004)

Prepositions which trigger genitive case

Several simple prepositions always require the genitive case of the noun following them.

  • far 'off'
  • rè 'during'
  • tarsainn 'across'
  • thar 'over'

Complex prepositions require that the following noun be in the genitive. A sample of these prepositions are given in the table below, selected from Lamb 2001(47).

Complex prepositions associated with genitive case
Preposition English
a dh'ionnsaidh towards
a thaobh about; regarding
air feadh through; amongst
air son for the sake of
am measg in the midst of
an àite in place of
an dèidh after
ri linn because of; during

Forming the Genitive of Nouns

Varies depending upon declension class and gender


The following vowel changes mark attenuation

  • i) a --> ui
  • ii) ea --> i
  • iii) ea --> ei
  • iv) ia --> èi
  • v) ò --> ùi
  • vi) eu --> eòi
  • vii) io -> i (this is is rarely found after the spelling reform)

Declension Class A: The Genitive and the Common Class Are Identical

Apart from mutations triggered by the appropriate article, the shape of the noun is identical in the common and genitive case with Declension Class A nouns.

  • an duine --> an duine
  • am posta --> a' phosta
  • a' chuairt --> na chuairt

Declension Class B: Attenuate the final consonant

Class B1: insert an i before the final consonant

  • an cat --> a' chait
  • an cladach --> a' chladaich
  • an sabhal --> an t-sabhail
  • am balach --> a' bhalaich
  • an rathad --> an rathaid
  • an glumag --> a' ghlumaig

Class B2: Change the final vowel

  • an t-allt --> an uillt (B2i)
  • an ceann --> a' chinn (B2ii)
  • an t-each --> an eich (B2iii)
  • am fiadh --> an fhèidh (B2iv)
  • an t-òrd --> an ùird (B2v)
  • an eun --> an eòin (B2vi)

Declension Class C: Broaden the final consonant

Declension Class D: Suffix either e or a (ə)

Class D1: suffix -e

  • an t-Sàbaid --> na Sàbaide (but note Latha na Sabaid with no e)

Class D2: suffix -e, attenuate final consonant with -i-'

  • an t-slat --> na slaite
  • a' ghlumaig --> na glumaige

Class D3: suffix -e, attenuate with a vowel change

  • an uinneag --> na h-uinneige

Class Dy: suffix -e, syncope, attenuate if necessary

  • a' mhadainn --> na maidne

Class Dz: suffix -a'

  • an t-am --> an ama
  • am fiodh --> an fhiodha
  • an loch --> an locha

Class Daa: suffix -a, broaden by deleting orthographic i

Class Dbb: suffix -a, broaden by orthographic vowel change'

Class Dcc: suffix -a, syncope, broaden by orthographic vowel change'

  • an dùthaich --> na dùthcha

Declension Class E: Suffix -d

Declension Class F: Suffix -n

  • an cù --> biadh a' choin

Declension Class G: Suffix -(e)ach

  • Litir --> Litreach
  • caora --> caorach

Irregular Nouns

Genitive Plurals

Plurals of the type ending in -an, ean, remain the same in the plural genitive.

na taighean is both plural common case and plural genitive.

Word Order in Possessive Genitive Constructions

Possessed + Genitive Article + possessor (genitive case)

Forming the Genitive of Adjectives

beag --> bhig (m), mòr --> mhòir

See Also


MacDonald, J.A. (1976) Gàidhlig Bheo, vol 3. National Extension College