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Lenition Sèimheachadh

In Gaelic, the letter “h,” after a consonant, changes the sound of that consonant. This is called lenition, and it is very common throughout everyday Gaelic conversation. Watch the video below for further explanation and examples. In Gaelic, the letter “h,” after a consonant, changes the sound of that consonant. This is called lenition, and it is very common throughout everyday Gaelic conversation. Watch the video below for further explanation and examples.

Lenition does take some getting used to, as there are a few particular things to keep in mind. Consonants which always lenite are b, c, f, g, m and p, however the consonants d, t and s don’t usually lenite if the word before them ends in an n, and words beginning with sg, sm, sp and st never lenite.

Lenition for Possession

When talking about possession, you need to lenite after using mo (my), do (your) and a (his/her).

Tha mo thaigh faisg air an rathad; thig a-steach!

- My house is near the road; come in!

Càite a bheil do thaigh?

- Where is your house?

Chan eil Dòmhnall a' fuireach anns a bhaile seo idir, tha a thaigh anns an ath-bhaile

- Donald does not live in this town at all, his house is in the next town

Lenition from Prepositions

Words following the prepositions à (out of), bho (from), de (of), do (for), fo (under), gun (without), and mar (like) are also lenited:

Tha seann-gharaids gun mhullach ri taobh an taighe

- There is an old garage without a roof beside the house


Lenition from Adjectives

When describing an object or a person using adjectives such as corra (odd), deagh (good), droch (bad), prìomh (primary), or seann (old), the subject is lenited.

Tha corra bhodach a' coiseachd seachad a h-uile latha

- The occasional old man walks past every day


Tha deagh shealladh ann, chì thu an t-Eilean Sgitheanach

- There is a good view, you can see the Isle of Skye

Lenition from Modifiers

You also lenite most words following common modifiers like fior (true), glè (very), ro (too), and sàr (great).

Tha e glè shamhach anns a' bhaile seo

- It is very quiet in this town

Chan eil e ro fhada bhon bhaile-mhòr

- It is not too far from the city


Lenition from Numerals

Finally, lenite words following the numerals aon (one), (two), and a’ chiad (the first).

Tha aon bhòrd anns a' chidsin

- There is one table in the kitchen

Tha dà chù fon bhòrd

- There are two dogs under the table