25 Useful Phrases and Vocabulary in Scottish Gaelic

Updated on July 16, 2019
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Poppy was born in Wick, Scotland and hopes her country's wonderful language will stay preserved.

Scottish Gaelic is a language that was spoken in Scotland as a native language until its replacement of English. Though the language declined in use in the mainland in the past several hundred years, it has survived in the islands and efforts are being made to preserve it. In 2005, the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act was established.

Though almost everyone in Scotland can speak English, Gaelic is taught as a subject in some schools and remains spoken by around 50,000 people today.

Source

You can easily get by in Scotland with English, but locals are very happy when you try to speak this wonderful language, which is commonly believed to have been around in Scotland since the 4th century!

If you'd like to learn some Gaelic phrases, you've come to the right place. Here are twenty-five useful Gaelic phrases, some vocabulary, and how to count to ten. There are some online resources at the bottom of this article for if you'd like to learn more.

Greetings

The first thing you should learn in a new language is how to say hello! Here's how to say "good morning" and "good afternoon/evening" in Gaelic.

1. Good Morning

Phrase: madainn mhath
Pronunciation: matin va

Mhath means "good." "Mh" is often pronounced like the English "v" sound.

2. Good Afternoon/Evening

Phrase: feasgar math
Pronunciation: fesker ma

How Are You?

3. How Are You?

Phrase: Ciamar a tha sibh?
Pronunciation: Kimmer a ha shiv?

Ciamar a tha sibh ("sibh" meaning "you") is a typical way to greet someone in Gaelic. After a madainn mhath or feasgar math, this phrase is used to ask how someone is doing. To reply:

4. I'm Well

Phrase: That gu math
Pronunciation: ha gu ma

5. I'm Great

Phrase: Glè mhath
Pronunciation: gle va

If you'd like to ask "how are you" back, say "ciamar a tha sibh fèin?" (pronunciation: feyn).

Source

Saying Thank You and You're Welcome

6. Thank You (Formal)

Phrase: Tapadh leibh
Pronunciation: ta'pa liev

"Dh" in Gaelic is usually silent. Tapadh leibh is a polite way of saying thank you. This phrase can be used when speaking to strangers.

7. Thank You (Informal)

Phrase: Tapadh leit
Pronunciation: ta'pa let

A less formal way of thanking someone is by saying tapadh leit. This can be used when speaking to friends or to children.

8. You're Welcome

Phrase: 's e ur beatha
Pronunciation: share behe

Introducing Yourself

9. What's Your Name?

Phrase: de an t-ainm a tha' oirbh?
Pronunciation: je un tenem a herev?

Ainm means "name."

10. My Name Is...

Phrase: is mise (your name)
Pronunciation: is misha

Is mise means "I am" and can be used when describing yourself using an adjective. For example, is mise fuar (is misha fooer) means "I am cold."

Useful Words

Below is some useful vocabulary.

Gaelic
Pronunciation
Meaning in English
11. Alba
"albah"
Scotland
12. Uisge
"ishke"
Water
13. Uisge-beatha
"ishke behe"
Whisky (literally "water of life")
14. Pinnt de lager
"pinch de lager"
A pint of lager
15. Cofaidh
"coffee"
Coffee
16. Tì
"tee"
Tea
17. Agus
"agus"
And
18. Dubh
"do"
Black
19. Geal
"gyal"
White
20. Slàinte!
"slancha"
Cheers!

Saying "Please"

21. ______, Please

Phrase: mas e ur toil e
Pronunciation: masser u toll e

Adding mas e ur toil e after a noun allows you to ask for it. This is very useful in a cafe or restaurant in Scotland. You can also say mas e ur toil e by itself to say "yes, please" when offered something.

Apologising

22. I'm Sorry

Phrase: tha mi duilich
Pronunciation: ha mi doolich

You can say this when you've bumped into someone or when you apologise for having to leave a conversation.

Counting to Ten

Here are the numbers one to ten in Scots Gaelic. You can also watch the simple video below for a demonstration of how to pronounce them.

Gaelic
Pronunciation
Meaning in English
Aon
"un"
One
Dhà
"ga"
Two
Trì
"trey"
Three
Ceithir
"cayhyer"
Four
Còig
"kooik"
Five
Sia
"shayer"
Six
Seachd
"shechk"
Seven
Ochd
"Ochk"
Eight
Naoi
"nigh"
Nine
Deich
"jeych"
Ten

Saying Goodbye

23. See You

Phrase: tìoraidh
Pronunciation: cheerie

24. Bye

Phrase: mar sin leibh
Pronunciation: mar shun leev

25. I Have To Go

Phrase: feumaidh mi falbh
Pronunciation: feymi mi falav

These can be coupled with tha mi duilich to apologise for having to leave. This is especially useful over the phone.

Would You Like To Learn More?

If you are interested in studying Scottish Gaelic further, here are some useful resources.

Scottish Gaelic is a wonderful language that will hopefully withstand the test of time and be taught properly in Scotland. If you ever visit the Scottish Isles, particularly the Isle of Skye, Uist, Harris, or Oban, be sure to try out some of these phrases!

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Poppy

    Comments

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      • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR

        Poppy 

        4 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

        Hi, Linda! I heard that there are also people in Canada who know some Scottish Gaelic. I imagine Welsh is super difficult, too.

      • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR

        Poppy 

        4 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

        Hi, Luke! Thank you so much for your comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

      • poppyr profile imageAUTHOR

        Poppy 

        4 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

        Hi, Liz! Especially as Gaelic isn't pronounced anything we'd expect! The pronunciation guide isn't perfect, but I got it as close to possible. Thank you for your comment.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thank you very much for sharing the phrases. The pronunciation is especially useful. I'm trying to improve my knowledge of Welsh at the moment, but if I wasn't doing that I'd love to study Scottish Gaelic.

      • Lukestclair profile image

        Luke St Clair 

        4 weeks ago from Irving, Tx

        This is so cool! Great article and very informative.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 weeks ago from UK

        I am pleased you have included a pronunciation guide. I struggle to translate the written words to speech so this is helpful.

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