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Numbers Àireamhan

Numbers in Gaelic can be confusing, as singular and plural numbers are not always as straightforward as they are in English. Numbers in Gaelic can be confusing, as singular and plural numbers are not always as straightforward as they are in English.

Aon

If you need to refresh your memory of Gaelic numbers, use our Fichead Facal list of Gaelic numbers 1-20.

When counting objects, aon (the number one) always uses the singular and lenites words which begin with b, c, f, g, m and p.

Aon chaora agus aon mhuc

- One sheep and one pig

D, t and s, if they are followed by a vowel at the beginning of a word, lenite under different circumstances:

Aon tunnag agus aon searrach

- One duck and one foal

Words starting with other consonants do not lenite when following aon.

(the number two) always uses the singular, unlike in English, and lenites the following word unless they begin with h, l, n, r or a vowel:

Dà chaora, dà bhò, dà chù, agus dà shearrach

- Two sheep, two cows, two dogs, and two foals

also lenites adjectives:

Dà chaora dhubh, dà bhò bhreac, dà chù-chaorach, agus dà shearrach bheag

- Two black sheep, two spotted cows, two sheepdogs, and two small foals

Numbers that take the singular

Other numbers that always use the singular include dusan (12), fichead (20), all the other tens, ceud (100), mìle (1,000) and millean (1,000,000):

Dusan ugh

- Twelve eggs

Fhuair mi dusan ugh anns a' bhothaig

- I've got twelve eggs in the hut

Fichead mart

- Twenty cows

Tha fichead mart anns a' phàirc

- Twenty cows are in the park

Trithead gèadh

- Thirty geese

Bha trithead gèadh air an locha

- Thirty geese were on the lake

Ceud caora

- One hundred sheep

Rùisg sinn ceud caora an-dè

- We sheared on hundred sheep yesterday

Nouns that always take the singular

Some nouns remain singular when counting multiples. These include bliadhna, latha, oidhche, and sgillinn:

Trì bliadhna

- Three years

Tha an cù trì bliadhna a dh'aois

- The dog is three years old

It is also worth noting that the question "Cia mheud?" (How many?) also uses the singular:

Cia mheud tractor a th'agaibh?

- How many tractors do you have?

Counting People

And finally, if you are counting between two and ten people, there are special numbers that are used. These are only used for people:

dithis

- two (people)

triùir

- three (people)

ceathrar

- four (people)

Further numbers are made up by adding "nar" or "near" to the original number.

Tha dithis ag obair aig na caoraich agus tha ochdnar air a' mhachair

- Two (people) are working with the sheep and eight (people) are on the machair