Genitives and Possessives

O Goireasan Akerbeltz
Share/Save/Bookmark
Gearr leum gu: seòladh, lorg

For a change, things are going to be quite straightforward. This is about what happens when you get a possessive pronoun between two nouns.

We all know what happens when the definite article comes between two nouns - the article and the second noun appear in the genitive, for example:

Taigh nan Cumantan
The House of Commons

But what happens when we get a noun phrase that involves a possessive such as "the house of my mother"? The same thing really:

taigh mo mhàthar
my mother's house

And this is where life gets easier, for a change. You probably remember that a verbal noun is followed by the genitive - if it's a definite noun, for example:

a' dèanamh aran
making bread
a' briseadh an dorais
breaking the door

Traditionally, because verbal nouns like dèanamh are grammatically nouns, any noun following a verbal noun would have to be in the genitive, for example, a' dèanamh arain. But this usage today is definitely 'marked' - meaning that it's so old fashioned that nobody uses it in spoken Gaelic, although a few people use it in very high register texts. So a definite no-no for text messages and letters of complaint to An Comann Gàidhealach because their website hardly has any Gaelic.

But what does this have to do with possessives? Well, you can have a possessive after a verbal noun - and this is where you're in luck because it doesn't require the genitive:

a' bualadh mo mhàthair
beating my mother
a' moladh do thaigh
praising your house

Sin agad e!

Beagan gràmair
Pronunciation - Phonetics - Phonology - Morphology - Tense - Syntax - Corpus - Registers - Dialects - History - Terms and abbreviations