An t- An t-
An t- is a form of the Gaelic definite article (equivalent to the English word “the”), and can sometimes be the cause of confusion as to when it is and is not used. Watch the video for an in-depth explanation.
First, let's consider how an t- is used with eilean (an island), as it is a word heard often in day-to-day Gaelic conversation.
- the island
- The beautiful island
Since eilean is a masculine noun that begins with a vowel, the definite article an t- is only used when we would use the word "the" in English:
- The Isle of Skye
However, when eilean follows a preposition, it does not keep the an t-:
- The Isle of Skye is beautiful, and I can see the mainland from the Isle of Skye.
Another example of an t- being used before a masculine noun beginnning with a vowel can be found in òran (a song):
- the song
- Eilidh heard a song about the island and she sang the song in the car.
An t- before feminine nouns beginning with an S
An t- is also used before feminine nouns that begin with sl, sn, sr or s followed by a vowel, such as slat (a fishing rod).
- the fishing rod
- Eilidh saw a man fishing , but his fishing rod broke.
An t- between a preposition and S
These conditions are not unique to just feminine nouns; addtional, an t- is used before all nouns beginning with sl, sn, sr, or s followed by a vowel if they follow a preposition like anns, aig, or air.
- the snow
- in the snow
- Snow was on the mountains and she walked in the snow.
- the hunter
- at (belonging to) the hunter
- The hunter, who she saw in the mountains, had a gun.
An t- before masculine S nouns
This also applies to situations when something is described as belonging to a masculine noun beginning with sl, sn, sr or s followed by a vowel, such as with sruthan (a stream):
- the stream
- She saw a fish in the middle of the stream.