Two Instances of Gaelic Phrasing You Use Every Day

… And Probably Don’t Realise.

(… provided you speak English.)

There are probably more instances, but I can only think of two at the moment. So, here they are.

“Awake” and “Asleep”

Gaelic (and less so Irish) very commonly uses what I would describe as the “present continuous” or “gerund” tense rather than the simple present.

If you don’t know what I’m on about, don’t worry. All you need to know is that Gaelic-speakers will say something that roughly translates as “I’m a-walking” or “I’m a-writing”. (And, in fact, some speak like that in English, too. It’s a very (stereo)typical Irish thing to do).

But the “a-” in Gaelic, “ag” or “a'” is actually – you guessed it! – a preposition, “at”, and they call it a “verbal noun” rather than a “gerund” or “present participle”.

(I’m convinced the language has some innate phobia of verbs, and a fetish for prepositions, since it seems to drop – or claims to drop – verbs all over the place, and replace them with prepositions).

The point is, there isn’t really another common way in English (modern, standardised English. Older English and dialects are another matter entirely) to describe being conscious, other than “I’m awake”. Likewise, you’re just as likely to say “She’s asleep” as “She’s sleeping”.

“It’s fine with me.”

In Gaelic (and Irish), you use the construction “Is (insert adjective here) with me (insert noun/verb here).”


“‘S toigh leam e” (Gàidhlig) = It’s good with me = “I like it”

“‘S cuma liom é” (Gaeilge) = It’s neutral with me = “I don’t really care”

“‘S breá liom é” (Gaeilge) = It’s beautiful with me = “I love it”
“‘S breagha leam e” (Gàidhlig) = It’s beautiful with me = “I love it”

Whilst in English, you would use constructions such as “I love it” and “I like it”, if something’s “fine”, it’s “fine with you”.

So, there you have it: two instances you use Gaelic and you didn’t know it. If you speak English, you’re halfway there already! And who said Gaelic was a difficult language to learn?


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