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.
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.
- 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:
- One duck and one foal
Words starting with other consonants do not lenite when following aon.
Dà (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:
- Two sheep, two cows, two dogs, and two foals
Dà also lenites adjectives:
- 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):
- Twelve eggs
- I've got twelve eggs in the hut
- Twenty cows
- Twenty cows are in the park
- Thirty geese
- Thirty geese were on the lake
- One hundred sheep
- 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:
- Three years
- The dog is three years old
It is also worth noting that the question "Cia mheud?" (How many?) also uses the singular:
- How many tractors do you have?
And finally, if you are counting between two and ten people, there are special numbers that are used. These are only used for people:
- two (people)
- three (people)
- four (people)
Further numbers are made up by adding "nar" or "near" to the original number.
- Two (people) are working with the sheep and eight (people) are on the machair