Prepositions made easier

O Goireasan Akerbeltz
Am mùthadh mar a bha e 00:09, 20 dhen t-Sultain 2013 le Susanharris (Deasbaireachd | mùthaidhean)
(diofar) ← Mùthadh nas sine | Am mùthadh mu dheireadh (diofar) | Mùthadh nas ùire → (diofar)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tricky one. They are very old words/forms. It's been a long time since they were first formed and they involve things, like the Old Irish accusative, which have been dead for a long time. So, there's no foolproof way of giving you a simple guide which tells you how you can just form them on the spot.

However, there are a few pointers that we can give you.

Broadly speaking, you can group modern Gaelic preposition into 5 categories - Regular, Mostly Regular, 3rd Person S, Labial in Root, and Decidedly Weird. We have grouped them this way because this allows you to learn them in groups and perhaps memorise some of rules. We'll also explain their history further down and historical explanation may also help some of you to understand these pesky little buggers.

Regular

Root Analysed preposition Full form
ag- -(a)m agam
ag- -(a)d agad
ag- slenderisation & -e aige
ag- slenderisation, hardening & -e aice
ag- -(a)inn againn
ag- -(a)ibh agaibh
ag- harden & -a aca

Following the same pattern:

Root Analysed preposition Full form
thug- -(a)m (th)ugam
thug- -(a)d (th)ugad
thug- slenderisation & -e (th)uige
thug- slenderisation, hardening & -e (th)uice
thug- -(a)inn (th)ugainn
thug- -(a)ibh (th)ugaibh
thug- harden & -a (th)uca

The variants ugam, ugad... and chugam, chugad... follow the same pattern.

Mostly Regular

Root Analysed preposition Full form
ann- -(a)m annam
ann- -(a)d/t annad
ann- same as root ann
ann- slenderise, -(t)e innte
ann- -(a)inn annainn
ann- -(a)ibh annaibh
ann- -(t)a annta

Following the same pattern:

Root Analysed preposition Full form
ann-
dhì-
-(a)m orm
dhìom
ann-
dhì-
-(a)d/t ort
dhìot
ann-
dhì-
same as root air
(irr.) dheth
ann-
dhì-
slenderise, -(t)e oirre
(irr.) dhith
ann-
dhì-
-(a)inn oirnn
dhinn
ann-
dhì-
-(a)ibh oirbh
dhibh
ann-
dhì-
-(t)a orra
dhiubh

The most striking feature of this group is that it uses the root form for the 3rd person singular masculine. The other bit to watch out for with air is that the root slenderises in the plural. And we get innte because the root used to be int-. But more of the history later.

The prepositions in brackets are other/older spellings of these that are still kicking about. They fit the paradigm much better, although GOC abolished them, so non-nonchalantly. <sigh>

3rd Person s

The next group is also fairly regular, but different because the 3rd person singular masculine adds an -s to the root:

Root Analysed preposition Full form
as-
le-
ri-
thar-
-(a)m asam
leam
rium
tharam
as-
le-
ri-
thar-
-(a)d/t asad
leat
riut
tharad
as-
le-
ri-
thair-
ROOT + [ʃ] (irr.) ás
leis
ris
thairis
as-
le-
ri-
thair-
slenderise, -the/-te aiste
(irr.) leatha (cf Irish léi)
rithe
thairte
as-
le-
ri-
thar-
-(a)inn asainn
leinn
r(u)inn
tharainn
as-
le-
ri-
thar-
-(a)ibh asaibh
leibh
r(u)ibh
tharaibh
as-
le-
ri-
thar-
-(t)a/-(th)a asta
leotha
riutha
tharta

As you can see, this bunch is mostly regular except for ás, which has [s] instead of the expected [ʃ]. Historically, the root of ás was ás, not á, so you would have said tha mi ás Alba, thoir ás a' bhogsa e. But at some point, the -s was re-interpreted as the -s that appears in the other prepositions, like le > leis. Thus, the "new root" á was born which led to the pattern tha mi á Alba and thoir ás a' bhogsa e. The pronunciation of aiste is /aʃtʃə/ because -s was organic and it followed the normal rules on palatalisation. The 3rd person singular feminine, leatha, is a bit weird. However, the older Irish form, léithe, fits the paradigm perfectly - not that that's any consolation to us. Again, i gets inserted so the caol ri caol rule isn't broken.

Labial in Root

Almost there. There next group we decided to call Labial in Root because they - surprise - all contain a labial (b, m, f):

Root Analysed preposition Full form
tromh-
romh-
ua-
fodh-
um-
-(a)m tromham
romham
uam
fodham
umam
tromh-
romh-
ua-
fodh-
um-
-(a)d/t tromhad
romhad
uat
fodhad
umad
troimh-
romh-
ua-
fodh-
um-
slenderise + e troimhe
roimhe
(irr.) uaithe
(irr.) fodha
uime
troimh-
romh-
ua-
fodh-
um-
slenderise, -pe troimhpe
roimhpe
uaipe
foidhpe
uimpe
tromh-
romh-
ua-
fodh-
um-
-(a)inn tromhainn
romhainn
uainn
fodhainn
umainn
tromh-
romh-
ua-
fodh-
um-
-(a)ibh tromhaibh
romhaibh
uaibh
fodhaibh
umaibh
tromh-
romh-
ua-
fodh-
um-
-pa tromhpa
romhpa
uapa
fodhpa
umpa

Note: bho follows the same pattern, just with bh- at the beginning i.e. buam, bhuat etc

Nothing much to add about this group really. As you'll see later on, that weird -p- isn't part of the ending but rather a very old part of the root that crops up, now and then.

Decidedly weird

To finish this off first we need to take a look at the Decidedly Weird Group - luckily there's only one preposition - unfortunately it's also perhaps the most common one:

Root Analysed preposition Full form
dh- -omh dhomh
dh- -ut dhut
dh- -a dha
dh- -i dhi
dh- -uinn dhuinn
dh- -uibh dhuibh
dh- -aibh dhaibh

As you can see, compared to the other ones, do is really weird. Historical notes aside, unfortunately, there isn't much else we can add that might help you, except a general note perhaps. For adults, learning a new language invariably involves learning stuff by heart. If you were doing Basque you'd have to cope with over 12.000 forms for the two verbs 'to be' and 'to have' alone. So, learning the few irregular verbs of Gaelic and these few prepositions really isn't that bad. It's worthwhile putting in the effort because they are REALLY common. Having to pause before coming out with the correct conjugated preposition does mark you as a learner!

On to the history then for the curious minds ...

Roimhearan
á - aig - air - ann an - de ⁊ a - do ⁊ a - eadar - fo - gu - le - mu - o ⁊ bho - os ⁊ fos - ri - tro - thar