'S e X a tha ann an Y - in the past

Ciamar a chanas mi.... / How do I say...
Mairead
Posts: 232
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:13 pm
Language Level: Intermediate
Corrections: Please correct my grammar
Location: Dùn Èidinn (às na SAA)
Contact:

'S e X a tha ann an Y - in the past

Unread post by Mairead » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:38 am

Hello, I am trying to figure out how to use the 'S e X a tha ann an Y construction in the past tense. When I looked up is on Am Faclair Beag, I was directed to a Dwelly entry that told me the past tense was bu. However, it seems to me that bu is used in phrases like b' toil leam, 'I would like' (if I'm remembering right). Because of these other usages of bu, is there a better way to say 'She was a librarian' than Bu e leabharlannaiche a tha innte? (That feels incorrect as I'm also unsure of using tha in a past tense construction.)

For clarification about what I mean by 'past tense', I'm writing about someone who is no longer alive but was a librarian her whole life. (In Spanish I know this would call for the imperfect, ie ella era bibliotecaria, but I'm not sure how forms of the past tense in Gaelic are classified as I have only learned the rach --> chaidh sort of past tense so far.)

Mòran taing!


Tha avatar agam à dhealbh aig mo phiuthar anns an Cellardyke. Tha trì videothan Ghàidhlig agam anns an Youtube.
My avatar is from a photo that my sister took in Cellardyke. I have three Gaelic videos on Youtube.

akerbeltz
Rianaire
Posts: 1745
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:26 am
Language Level: Barail am broinn baraille
Corrections: Please don't analyse my Gaelic
Location: Glaschu
Contact:

Re: 'S e X a tha ann an Y - in the past

Unread post by akerbeltz » Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:19 pm

There are two ways:

'S e sgarbh a th' ann >
a) 'S e sgarbh a bh' ann
b) B' e sgarbh a bh' ann

Both are correct but a) is most commonly heard. My interpretation is that b) is perceived as somewhat redundant i.e. in b) you are marking the past tense twice (once in B' and once in bh').

My rule of thumb would be that for everyday use, a) is the best pattern. If you're doing something very formal, go for b).
b' toil leam, 'I would like'
Almost. Bu toil leam, the vowel is dropped before another vowel but not if a consonant follows. That's a general rule for spoken Gaelic which sometimes carries over into written Gaelic.
Bu e leabharlannaiche a tha innte?
There is something a bit like that. It's not everyday speech but you could say Is sgarbh mi which in the past would become Bu sgarbh mi. Normally you don't get that construction except in sayings and some almost fixed phrases involving an adjective:
'S mòr am beud >
Bu mhòr am beud

Hope that helps

Mairead
Posts: 232
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:13 pm
Language Level: Intermediate
Corrections: Please correct my grammar
Location: Dùn Èidinn (às na SAA)
Contact:

Re: 'S e X a tha ann an Y - in the past

Unread post by Mairead » Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:01 pm

Thanks, akerbeltz! I see why option a is more common, as when I think about it literally, it's roughly 'It is a librarian that she was' versus 'It was a librarian that she was', which does sound redundant (the literal literal 'in her' etc nonwithstanding). This is great, as it's something I've always wanted to be able to say but have never known! Thanks again. :D
Tha avatar agam à dhealbh aig mo phiuthar anns an Cellardyke. Tha trì videothan Ghàidhlig agam anns an Youtube.
My avatar is from a photo that my sister took in Cellardyke. I have three Gaelic videos on Youtube.

Post Reply