Prepositional Inflection

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One rare property of Gaelic prepositions is that they inflect for person, number and gender when they take a pronoun as an object. In English you use two words: the preposition and the pronoun "to me", in Gaelic this is all bundled into one word "dhomh". Inflected prepositions never take a full object pronoun. So "*dhomh mi" is not well-formed. In addition, many of the prepositions take special forms when coming before an article. For example, to say "from the", we use the form "bhon" (although bhon an is also possible). Similarly the preposition le becomes leis before the article. These two kinds of inflection are summarized in the first chart below. Much rarer (but frequently used in certain aspectual constructions) are forms of the preposition that inflect for a possessive pronoun. For example, to say "at my" we don't say "aig mo", instead " 'gam " is used. The inflection of the prepositions for possessive pronouns is given in the second chart.

Inflected Prepositions with object pronouns

    singular plural
definite 1 2 3 masc 3 fem 1 2 3
aig aig an agam agad aige aice againn agaibh aca
air air an orm ort air oirre oirnn oirbh orra
ann anns an annam annad ann innte annainn annaibh annta
à às an asam asad às aisde asainn asaibh asda
bho bhon bhuam bhuat bhuaithe bhuaipe bhuainn bhuaibh bhuapa
de (dhe) dhen dhiom dhiot dheth dhith dhinn dhibh dhiubh
do don dhomh dhut dha dhi dhuinn dhuibh dhaibh
fo fon fodham fodhad fodha foidhpe fodhainn fodhaibh fodhpa
eadar eadar an -- -- -- -- eadarainn eadaraibh eatorra
gu (thun) (th)ugam (th)ugad (th)uige (th)uice (th)ugainn (th)ugaibh (th)uca
chun chugam chugad chuige chuice chugainn chugaibh chuca
gun no special inflected forms
le leis an leam leat leis leatha leinn leibh leotha/leò
mar no special inflected forms
mu mun umam umad uime uimpe umainn umaibh umpa
o on uam uat uaithe uaipe uainn uaibh uapa
no special inflected forms
[[Ri (preposition)|ri] ris an rium ruit ris rithe ruinn ruibh riutha
ro (roimh) ron romham romhad roimh(e) roimhpe romhainn romhaibh romhpa
thar thar an tharam tharad thairis thairte tharainn <tharaibh tharta
trìd no special inflected forms
tro (troimh) tron tromham tromhad troimhe troimhpe tromhainn tromhaibh tromhpa
†Note the chugam, chugad etc. forms are rarely used anymore, nor is the definite form thun

Inflected Prepositions with possessive pronouns

The 1st person singular, 2nd person singular and 3rd person singular masculine forms here trigger lenition (indicated with a superscript L). 1st and 2nd person plurals trigger the prefixation of n- onto words beginning with vowels (nasalization), This is indicated with a superscript N. the pronunciation of the a consonant following these and the 3rd person plural is also frequently voiced or nasalized. Finally the 3rd person feminine forms prefix an <h> onto words beginning with a vowel. This is indicated with H. The superscript N, H, and L are not usually written out in the orthography of Gaelic and are presented here merely to remind you what Initial Consonant Mutation is being triggered.

Note: of the following only the possessive inflected forms of aig, ann, do and ri are in regular use. All the others quite rare or considered prescriptively inferior.

singular plural
1 2 3 masc 3 fem 1 2 3
aig 'gamL 'gadL 'gaL 'gaH 'garN 'gurN 'gan
ann 'namL 'nadL 'naL 'naH 'narN 'nurN 'nan
bho bhomL bhodL bho aL bho aH bhorN bhuN bhon
de (dhe) dhemL dhedL dhe aL dhe aH dhe arN dhe urN dhen
do domL/dhamL dodL/dhadL dhaL dhaH dor/dharN dhurN don/dhan
fo fomL fodL fo aL fo aH forN furN fon
gu gumL gudL gu aL gu aH garN gurN gun
le lemL led'L le aL le aH lerN lurN len
mu 'mumL 'mudL mu aL mu aH marN murN man
o omL odL o aL o aH orN urN on
ri rimL ridL ri aL ri aH ri arN ri urN rin
ro (roimh) romL rodL ro aL ro aH rorN rurN ron
tro (troimh) tromL trodL tro aL tro aH trorN trurN tron
  • Note that the /n/ ending on the 3rd person plural will change to an <m> when the word precedes word beginning with <m, b, f, p>.
  • Any preposition not in the list above simply combines the normal preposition with the normal possessive pronoun (e.g. "air mo")

The Inflection of Complex Gaelic Prepositions

Complex Prepositions that end in a simple preposition such as còmhla ri are inflected just like the simple preposition. Complex prepositions that end in a noun (and govern the genitive case) such as air muin are inflected differently. They are inflected uses in the Possessive Pronouns, so "on top of him" would be air a mheasg.

External Links


  • Mark, Colin (2004) The Gaelic-English Dictionary/Am faclair Gàidhlig-Beurla. London: Routledge
  • Lamb, William (2003) Scottish Gaelic. 2nd edition. Munich: Lingcom Europa
  • Deiseal Earranta tta (2006) Reference Cards: Sealbhairean Roimhearach/Riochdairean Roimhearach.