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Apostrophes are a frequent occurrence in written Gaelic, consequently knowing when and when not to use an apostrophe can take some getting used to. Watch the video below for some helpful guidelines!

The definite article

Use an apostrophe when using the definite article (the word “the” in English) before nouns beginning with bh, ph, mh, ch, and gh:

Fhuair mi airgead às a' bhanc.

I got money from the bank.

Leum mi dhan a' char.

I jumped into the car.

Chaidh mi dhan a' bhùth

I went to the shop.

Verbal nouns

Additionally, apostrophes are used with verbal nouns that begin with a consonant. It may be helpful to remember that verbal nouns in English end with the suffix ‘ing’.

a' ceannach


a' coimhead


a' lorg


Bha mi a' ceannach còta ùr, agus bha mi a' coimhead air còtaichean fada blàtha.

I was buying a new coat, and I was looking at long warm coats.

Bha mi a' lorg còta fada blàth.

I was searhing for a long warm coat.

'S and b'

Occasionally, you may also use apostrophes to replace missing letters in shortened versions of the Gaelic words is, agus, and bu.

Chòrd fear dearg ’s fear gorm rium, ach ’s e fear uaine a b’ fhèarr leam.

I liked a red one and a blue one, but I would prefer a green one.

Bha mi gu math toilichte nuair a chunnaic mi cho saor ’s a bha e.

I was well pleased when I saw how cheap it was.

M' and d'

The possessive pronouns mo and do can be shortened with the use of an apostrophe to represent the missing letters when the following noun begins with a vowel or fh followed by a vowel:

Chunntais mi m’ airgead gu faiceallach mus tug mi m’ airgead seachad.

I counted my money carefully before I handed my money over.

Bha fhios agam gum biodh gàire air d’ aodann.

I knew there would be a smile on your face.

Replacing A

Apostrophes can be used to replace the ‘a’ in tha or bha for use in words such as bh’ annam.

’S e neach gu math sunndach bh’ annam.

I was quite a cheerful person.


Finally, an apostrophe is used after dh with verbs that begin with either ‘f’ or a vowel:

Dh’fhàg mi a’ bhùth le mo chòta ùr agus dh’fhalbh mi dhachaigh.

I left the shop with my new coat and I went home.