There are three grammar words that alternate between an
, depending on what sound the next word starts with.
- ann am/ann an: in (a)
- an/am: the (masculine article, nominative case)
- an/am: their (possessive pronoun, 3rd person plural)
The rule of thumb is, if the next word starts with b
, or m
, use am
. With all other consonants or vowels, use an
. Some examples:
- ann am bàta = in a boat
am pòsadh = the wedding
am fabhra = their eyelid
- ann an taigh = in a house, ann an abhainn = in a river
an doras = the door
an sùil = their eye, an athair = their father
- ann an gàrradh = in a garden/yard
an cù = the dog
an cas = their leg
So much for the writing - try to memorise bpfm
and Bob's your uncle.
However, when it comes to the pronunciation, the story is somewhat different. Try to watch what your mouth is doing with the first consonant when pronouncing bàta
etc. Specifically, where you are doing stuff. You will notice that with group 1, you are using your lips, group 2 is pronounced with the tip of your tongue somewhere behind your teeth, and group 3 at the back of your mouth.
Now, what is happening with an
? The consonant in an
moves to where the following consonant is. So, in group 3, it's rather pronounced as "ng", but it is spelled with an n
, because the Latin alphabet lacks a symbol there. As to memorizing this, well, no need to memorize anything really, just move it to where the following sound is!
BTW, in some dialects the first consonant of the following word can become very soft, up to the point of disappearing, e.g. you say something like "a ngas" for an cas