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The verb to be in the Gaelic languages

The verb to be is the most important verb in the Gaelic languages and is used to form most of the tenses, in combination with verb-nouns.

The table below shows a summary of the verb to be in the three Gaelic languages. For each tense the affirmative, negative, dependent and impersonal forms are shown. These are usually same for all persons, though there are alternative first person singular and plural forms for some tenses. The conditional tense in Irish has different forms for each person - the third person singular ones are shown here.

Key to abbreviations: GE = Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge), GA = Scottish Gaelic Gàidhlig, GV = Manx Gaelic (Gaelg).

Summary of all tenses

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English

níl
bhfuil
táthar
tha
chan eil
bheil
thathar
ta
cha nel
vel
 
Present tense
bhí
ní raibh
raibh
bhíothas
bha
cha robh
robh
bhathar
va
cha row
row
 
Past tense
beidh
ní bheidh
mbeidh
beifear
bidh
cha bidh
bidh
bithear
bee
cha bee
bee
 
Future tense
beadh
ní bheadh
mbeadh
bheifí
biodh
cha biodh
biodh
bhite
veagh
cha beagh
beagh
 
Conditional tense

Personal pronouns

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English

mise
mé féin
mi
mise
mi fhèin
mee
mish
mee-hene
I

tusa
tú féin
thu
thusa
thu fhèin
oo
uss
oo hene
You

eisean
sé féin
e
esan
e fhèin
eh
eshyn
eh hene
He/It*

sise
sé féin
i
ise
i fhèin
ee
ish
ee hene
She/It*
muid/sinn
muidne/sinne
muid/sinn féin
sinn
sinne
sinn fhèin
shin
shinyn
shin hene
We
sibh
sibhse
sibh féin
sibh
sibhse
sibh fhèin
shiu
shiuish
shiu hene
You (pl/frm)**
siad
siadsan
siad féin
iad
iadsan
iad fhèin
ad
adsyn
ad hene
They

* There is no exact equivalent of it. Instead he or she is used depending on the gender of the noun.

** In Irish this form of you is used only as a plural - there's no distinction between informal and formal you as there is in Scottish Gaelic and Manx.

The first row of each pronoun is the standard forms; the emphatic forms are shown below.


Present tense

Affirmative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
tá mé / táim tha mi ta me I am
tá tú tha thu t'ou You are
tá sé/sí tha e/i t'eh/ee He/she/it is
tá muid / táimid tha sinn ta shin We are
tá sibh tha sibh ta shiu You are (pl/frm)
tá siad tha iad t'ad They are
táthar thatar Impersonal

Negative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
níl mé, nílim chan eil mi cha nel me I am not
níl tú chan eil thu cha nel oo You are not
níl sé/sí chan eil e/i cha nel eh/ee He/she/it is not
níl muid, nílmid chan eil sinn cha nel shin We are not
níl sibh chan eil sibh cha nel shiu You are not (pl/frm)
níl siad chan eil iad cha nel ad They are not
níltear chan eilear Impersonal

Dependent form

The form is used after particles an/a (question), nach (GE/GA) / nagh (GV) (negative question) and go (GE/GA) / dy (GV) (dependent). The question particle is not used in Manx. The initial bh is dropped after nach in Scottish Gaelic, e.g. nach eil mi?

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
bhfuil mé /
bhfuilim?
bheil mi? vel me? Am I?
bhfuil tú? bheil thu? vel oo? Are you?
bhfuil sé/sí? bheil e/i? vel eh/ee? Is he/she/it?
bhfuil muid /
bhfuilimid?
bheil sinn? vel shin? Are we?
bhfuil sibh? bheil sibh? vel shiu? Are you (pl/frm)?
bhfuil siad? bheil iad? vel ad? Are they?
bhfuiltear bheilear Impersonal

Habitual present tense

This tense only occurs in Irish. It is similar to the simple present tense in English and is used to indicate (repeated) continuous action. The future tense is used to indicate habitual action in Manx and Scottish Gaelic.

Positive Negative Dependent
bím ní bím mbím
bíonn tú ní bhíonn mbíonn
bíonn sé/sí ní bhíonn mbíonn
bíonn muid / bímid ní bhíonn mbíonn
bíonn sibh ní bhíonn mbíonn
bíonn siad ní bhíonn mbíonn

Past tense

Affirmative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
bhí mé bha mi va me I was
bhí tú bha thu v'ou You were
bhí sé/sí bha e/i v'eh/ee He/she/it was
bhí muid, bhíomar bha sinn va shin We were
bhí sibh bha sibh va shiu You were (pl/frm)
bhí siad bha iad v'ad They were
bítear bhatar / bhatas Impersonal

Negative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
ní raibh mé cha robh mi cha row me I was not
ní raibh tú cha robh thu cha row uss You were not
ní raibh sé/sí cha robh e/i cha row eh/ee He/she/it was not
ní raibh muid, ní raibhamar cha robh sinn cha row shin We were not
ní raibh sibh cha robh sibh cha row shiu You were not (pl/frm)
ní raibh siad cha robh iad cha row ad They were not
ní bhítear cha robhar / robhas Impersonal

Dependent form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
raibh mé /
an bhfuilim?
robh mi? row me? Was I?
raibh tú? robh thu? r'ou / row uss? Were you?
raibh sé/sí? robh e/i? row eh/ee? Was he/she/it?
raibh muid /
an bhfuilimid?
robh sinn? row shin? Were we?
raibh sibh? robh sibh? row shiu? Were you (pl/frm)?
raibh siad? robh iad? row ad? Were they?
mbítear robhar / robhas Impersonal

Future tense

Affirmative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
beidh mé bidh mi bee'm I will
beidh tú bidh thu bee oo You will
beidh sé/sí bidh e/i bee eh/ish He/she/it will
beidh muid / beimid bidh sinn beemayd We will
beidh sibh bidh sibh bee shiu You will (pl/frm)
beidh siad bidh iad bee ad They will
beifear bithear / bitheas Impersonal

Negative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
ní bheidh mé cha bidh mi cha bee'm I will not
ní bheidh tú cha bidh thu cha bee oo You will not
ní bheidh sé/sí cha bidh e/i cha bee eh/ish He/she/it will not
ní bheidh muid /
ní bheimid
cha bidh sinn cha beemayd We will not
ní bheidh sibh cha bidh sibh cha bee shiu You will not (pl/frm)
ní bheidh siad cha bidh iad cha bee ad They will not
ni bheifear cha bhithear / bhiteas Impersonal

Dependent form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
mbeidh mé /
an bhfuilim?
bidh mi? bee'm? Will I?
mbeidh tú? bidh thu? bee oo? Will you?
mbeidh sé/sí? bidh e/i? bee eh/ish? Will he/she/it?
mbeidh muid /
an mbeimid?
bidh sinn? beemayd? Will we?
mbeidh sibh? bidh sibh? bee shiu? Will you (pl/frm)?
mbeidh siad? bidh iad? bee ad? Will they?
mbeifear bithear / bitheas Impersonal

Conditional tense

Affirmative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
biodh mé biodh mi / bhithinn veign I would
biodh tú biodh thu veagh oo You would
biodh sé/sí biodh e/i veagh eh/ish He/she/it would
biodh muid / biomid biodh sinn / bhiomaid veagh shin We would
biodh sibh biodh sibh veagh shiu You would (pl/frm)
biodh siad biodh iad veagh ad They would
bheifí bhite / bhithist(e) Impersonal

Negative form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
ní bheidh mé cha biodh mi cha veagh'm I would not
ní bheidh tú cha biodh thu cha veagh oo You would not
ní bheidh sé/sí cha biodh e/i cha veagh eh/ish He/she/it would not
ní bheidh muid /
ní bheimid
cha biodh sinn cha veaghmayd We would not
ní bheidh sibh cha biodh sibh cha veagh shiu You would not (pl/frm)
ní bheidh siad cha biodh iad cha veagh ad They would not
ní bheifí cha bhite / bhithist(e) Impersonal

Dependent form

Irish Scottish Gaelic Manx English
mbiodh mé /
an bhfuilim?
biodh mi? beagn? would I?
mbiodh tú? biodh thu? beagh oo? would you?
mbiodh sé/sí? biodh e/i? beagh eh/ish? would he/she/it?
mbiodh muid /
an mbeimid?
biodh sinn? beagh shin? would we?
mbiodh sibh? biodh sibh? beagh shiu? would you (pl/frm)?
mbiodh siad? biodh iad? beagh ad? would they?
mbeifí bite / bithist(e) Impersonal

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