Expressions of Time

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Temporal adverbial expressions - or how to say when something happened. To start, let's take a look at the choices we have:

Adverbs of Time

These are itsy words that you can add on to a phrase or sentence to tell people when something happened.

a-bhòn-uiridh an-uiridh am bliadhna an ath-bhliadhna1
the year before last last year this year next year
a-bhòin-dé an-dé an-diugh a-màireach an-earar an-eararais
the day before yesterday yesterday today tomorrow the day after tomorrow three days from now
a-bhòn-raoir an-raoir a-nochd an ath-oidhche
the night before last last night tonight tomorrow night

1Note that in terms of pronunciation, this is treated as a close compound i.e. it is reduced to /ə'NafləN/ by native speakers and almost never */ə'Na vliəNə/

This does not mean that you cannot say <year after next> in Gaelic, it just means that there is no single, easy word for it. Instead you have to employ periphrastic expressions.

am bliadhna an ath-bhliadhna
this year next year
a-nochd an ath-oidhche
tonight tomorrow night
an t-seachdainn seo chaidh an t-seachdainn-sa an ath-sheachdain
last week this week next week

The Days of the Week

DiLuain DiMàirt DiCiadain DiarDaoin DihAoine DiSathairne DiDòmhnaich
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday

Sunday is also called Latha na Sàbaid. Traditionally the usage between the two depends on your denomination. Catholics and Episcopalians use DiDòmhnaich and Presbyterians use Latha na Sàbaid. For non-denominational reasons, we prefer DiDòmhnaich because it fits in with the rest of the paradigm. Be sure to pronounce the long vowel in Sàbaid, otherwise it becomes Latha na Sabaid, 'the Day of Fighting'.

The prefix Di- is the equivalent of the English -day suffix. However, unlike English, it's the prefix that's modified to express the concepts of <Monday afternoon>, <Friday night> etc:

madainn Luain madainn Mhàrt madainn Chiadain madainn arDaoin madainn hAoine madainn Sathairne madainnn Dòmhnaich
Monday morning Tuesday morning Wednesday morning Thursday morning Friday morning Saturday morning Sunday morning
feasgar Luain feasgar Màrt feasgar Ciadain feasgar arDaoin feasgar hAoine feasgar Sathairne feasgar Dòmhnaich
Monday afternoon Tuesday afternoon Wednesday afternoon Thursday afternoon Friday afternoon Saturday afternoon Sunday afternoon
oidhche Luain oidhche Mhàrt oidhche Chiadain oidhche arDaoin oidhche hAoine oidhche Shathairne oidhche Dhòmhnaich
Monday night Tuesday night Wednesday night Thursday night Friday night Saturday night Sunday night

That's the theory anyway. But, in colloquial usage, you'll often hear people saying things like feasgar DihAoine, madainn DiMàirt, etc. The most common ones in colloquial usage are the expressions with oidhche such as oidhche Luain, oidhche Mhàrt, etc.

The Months

For memorisation purposes, it's useful to note that from September onwards all months are feminine in gender! There are alternate names for some of the months, but we strongly suggest you stick with the recommended ones. Learning a language is difficult enough without having to worry about having 5 different choices for one term.

Gaelic Genitive English Alternate Names
Am Faoilteach (masc.) ... an Fhaoiltich January Am Faoilleach (an Fhaoillich); Mìos Marbh; Deireadh-Geamhraidh
An Gearran (masc.) ... a' Ghearrain February
Am Màrt (masc.) ... a' Mhàirt March
An Giblean (masc.) ... a' Ghiblein April
An Céitean (masc.) ... a' Chéitein May A' Mhàigh (fem.) (... na Màighe)
An t-Ògmhios (masc.) ... an Ògmhiosa June Meadhan-Samhraidh
An t-Iuchar (masc.) ... an Iuchair July Deireadh-Samhraidh; Mìos Buidhe
An Lùnastal (masc.) ... an Lùnastail August
An t-Sultain (fem.) ... na Sultaine September
An Dàmhair (fem.) ... na Dàmhair October
An t-Samhain (fem.) ... na Samhna November
An Dùbhlachd (fem.) ... na Dùbhlachd December Mìos na Nollaig

The date in Gaelic is given in the form of the Xth day of the month. A few examples:

1st March A' chiad latha dhen Mhàrt
24th June An ceathramh latha ar fhichead dhen Ògmhios
31st September A' chiad latha deug ar fhichead dhen t-Sultain
22nd December An dàrna latha ar fhichead dhen Dùbhlachd

Individual years are said by giving the 'hundreds' first and then the 'tens', for example:

1272 dà cheud deug * trì fichead is a dhà dheug
1817 ochd ceud deug * is seachd deug
1995 naoidh ceud deug ceithir fichead * is a cóig deug
2000 bliadhna dà mhìle
2003 dà mhìle * is a trì

Similar to English, B.C. and A.D. are expressed as R.C. standing for ro Chrìosd and A.D. standing for as déidh Chrìosd, for example, 347 B.C. is trì ceud dà fhichead is a seachd ro Chrìosd. Optionally, sa bhliadhna can be prefixed to any date for clarification, for example, sa bhliadhna naoi ceud deug trì fichead is a ceithir <in the year 1964>.

BCE? No, we don't use it, because it's pointless. It still uses the same date as a reference point so it's no less "offensive" (???) than B.C. or A.D. and just adds to the confusion.

The Seasons

The four seasons are expressed as follows. Notice that the short form of saying <in X> differs slightly from the long form!:

spring summer autumn winter
earrach (m)
gen. & pl. earraich
an-samhradh (m)
gen. samhraidh
pl. samhraidhean
foghar (m)
gen. foghair
pl. foghairean
geamhradh (m)
gen. geamhraidh
pl. geamhraidhean
in spring in summer in autumn in winter
as t-earrach as t-samhradh as t-fhoghar anns a' gheamhradh
in the spring in the summer in the autumn in the winter
anns an earrach anns an t-samhradh anns an fhoghar anns a' gheamhradh

The Holidays of the Year

Note that while the word for day is normally latha, in these special calendar dates this has shortened to .

Faoi. 1 Là na Bliadhna Ùire New Year's Day Callainn (fem) ( Callainne); Nollaig Bheag (fem.) (... na Nollaig Bige)
Faoi. 6 Là nan Trì Rìgh Epiphany Là Fhéill nan Rìgh; Féill an Taisbeanaidh
Gearr. 2 Là Fhéill Brìghde Candlemas Là Fhéill Brìghde nan Coinnlean; Là Féill Moire nan Coinnlean
Gearr. 14 Là Fhéill Bhaileintin Valentine's Day
Gearr. Là na Bliadhna Ùire Sìnich Chinese New Year
Gearr. DiMàirt Inid Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day
Gearr. DiCiadain na Luaithre Ash Wednesday
Gearr. An Carghas (masc.)
(... a' Charghais)
Màrt 1 Là Dhàibhidh St. David's Day
Màrt Là na Màthar Mother's Day/Mothering Sunday
Màrt 17 Là Phàdraig St. Patrick's Day Là Fhéill Pàdraig
Màrt Seachdain na Càisge Holy Week
Màrt DiDòmhnaich Tùrnais Palm Sunday
Màrt DiArdaoin a' Bhrochain Mhóir Maundy Thursday DiArdaoin Inid
Màrt DihAoine na Ceusta Good Friday
Màrt A' Chàisg (fem.)
(... na Càisge)
Màrt DiSathairne na Càisge Easter Saturday
Màrt A' Chàisg Mhór Easter Sunday Là Guileagain; Là Bàs nan Uighean; DiDòmhnaich na Càisge
Màrt DiLuain na Càisge Easter Monday
Màrt Co-fhad-tràth an Earraich Vernal Equinox
Gibl. 1 Là na Gogaireachd April Fool's Day Là Ruith na Cuthaige
Gibl. 23 Là Fhéill Seòrais St. George's Day
Céit. 1 Là Bealltainn May Day/Beltane
Céit. Deasghabhail (fem.)
(... na Deasghabhalach)
Ascension Day DiArdaoin Freastail
Céit. Caingis (fem. indef.) Pentecost/Whit Sunday
Céit. DiDòmhnaich na Trianaid Trinity Sunday
Céit. DiArdaoin Corp Crìosda Corpus Christi
Céit. Là Fhéill an Earraich Spring Bank Holiday
Ògmh. Là an Athar Father's Day
Ògmh. 21 Grianstad an t-Samhraidh
Là Leth an t-Samhraidh
Summer Solstice
Midsummer's Day
Iuch. 15 Là Màrtainn Builg St. Swithen's Day
Lùna. 1 Lùghnasa Lunasa (Harvest)
Lùna. Là Fhéill an t-Samhraidh Summer Bank Holiday
Sult. Co-fhad-tràth an Fhoghair Autumnal Equinox
Damh. 31 Oidhche Shamhna All Souls' Day/Hallowe'en
Damh. 31
Samh. 1
Là Samhna Samhain Là Fhéill Samhna
Samh. 1 Là nan Uile Naomh All Saints' Day
Samh. 5 Oidhche Ghuy Fawkes Guy Fawkes' Night
Samh. 11 Là nan Cuimhneachan Rememberance Day
Samh. DiDòmhnaich nan Cuimhneachan Rememberance Sunday
Samh. Aidbheint (fem.)
(... na h-Aidmheint)
Samh. A' Chiad Dòmhnaich dhen Aidmheint Advent Sunday
Samh. Là na Taingealachd Thanksgiving Là Buidheachais an Fhoghair; Là Taingealachd an Fhoghair
Samh. 30 Là Chill Rìbhinn St. Andrew's Day
Dùbh. 6 Là Bodach na Nollaig St. Nicholas' Day
Dùbh. 21 Grianstad a' Gheamhraidh Winter Solstice
Dùbh. An Nollaig (fem.)
( Nollaige)
Dùbh. 24 Oidhche nam Bannag Christmas Eve Oidhche na Nollaig
Dùbh. 25 Là na Nollaig Christmas Day Là nam Bannag
Dùbh. 26 Boxing Day/St. Stephen's Day
Dùbh. 28 Là Fhéill nan Leanabhan Neoichiontach Feast of the Holy Innocents
Dùbh. 31 Oidhche Challainn Hogmanay/New Year's Eve

Other Adverbs of Time

Most adverbs are formed by the prepositon gu + ADJ, but there are a number of adverbs that have different formations:

a chaoidh for ever (after)
a chlisgeadh suddenly, abruptly
a dh'aithghearr soon, in a short while
a dh'oidhche by night, at night time
a ghnàth habitually, always
a h-uile turas every time
a h-uile uair every time, always
a latha by day, at daytime
ainneamh seldom
(ann) an ceartair 1) +FUT in a moment 2) +PAST just now
an-còmhnaidh always, continually
an-dràsta now (in a more broad sense)
an-sin whereupon, then
air a' mhionaid this moment, minute
air an uair just now
air chionn do ... by the time that ....
air ball immediately, straightaway
air tùs in the beginning, at first
air uairibh sometimes, at times
(am) fad is a ... while
am feadh while, whilst
a-nis now (i.e. something is the case now that wasn't before)
(ann) an tiota (beag) in a twinkling, moment
anns a' bhad immediately, on the spot
anns a' cheart àm in the meanwhile
a-rithist again
á seo suas henceforward
bho àm gu àm from time to time, occasionally
bho chionn aimsir some time ago, long ago
bho chionn ghoirid a short while ago
bho chionn treis a while ago
bho seo a-mach henceforth
car ùine for a time, during a period
(cho) fad is a ... as long as ...
fa dheòigh at last
f(h)ad is a ... while, during
fad na h-ùine all the time
ge be uair whenever, at whichever time
gach uair whenever, every time
gu bràth forever
gu cian nan cian for ever and ever
gu grad abruptly
gu minig often
gu seo thus far, so far
gu sìorraidh for ever and ever
gu tric often
gun dàil immediately, without delay
iomadh uair often, many times
leis sin whereupon, with which
mu dheireadh thall at long last
mu thràth (mar-thà) already
nas motha no more
ré tamaill for a time
ri h-ùine by and by, with time
thuige seo thus far, so far
tràth 's a ... when
uaireannan at times, sometimes

In Gaelic, adverbs of time do not require a preposition as certain English expressions do. They're simply attached at the end of the phrase, e.g.:

I saw him yesterday. Chunnaic mi e an-dé.
I will go there on Monday. Théid mi ann DiLuain.
He spent a little while there. Bha e ann greis.
We were there for a week. Bha sinn ann seachdain.
She wants to go home for a month. Tha i ag iarraidh a dhol dhachaigh mìos.
What did you do in the afternoon? Dé rinn thu feasgar?
Wait a moment! Fuirich tiota!

In particular, the most overused word in modern Gaelic should be avoided - airson.

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