Present Tense (definition)

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The present tense indicates that the action being described happens at the same time as the speech time (the time the sentence is being spoken). In English, we have such forms as John eats apples, which is in the present tense.

In Gaelic only one verb has a true present tense: the verb Bi (irregular verb). Present tense is typically expressed using the verb bi in combination with a verbal noun in an auxiliary construction. For example, the present tense for a verb like kiss would be expressed by literally saying X is kissing Y:


Tha Muirgheal a' pògadh Pòl
Be.pres Muriel prog Paul
Muriel is kissing Paul/ Muriel kisses Paul

In English, the present tense is often used to indicate a habitual action (e.g. John runs). In Gaelic, this usage is typically expressed by the future tense instead.

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  • Crystal, David. (1997) A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.