0. Contents


  1. Syntax
  2. Semantics

This page is about the non-leniting, dative-governing preposition ann aN. Many of its properties are already described on the page about prepositions.

1. Syntax


a. The preposition ann aN is unusual in that it is a syntactically simple preposition that nonetheless is both pronounced and written as two separate words (i.e. this is why the first a is lengthened/diphthongised in pronunciation - it is followed by a word-final, fortis sonorant).

[Etymological note on reduplication here? Also the fact that in preposition/noun idioms, ann aN reduced to just aN, e,g, an aghaidh, am broinn]

b. One other aspect of pronunciation should be noted here - the nasal consonant N at the end of ann aN assimilates its place of articulation with the following consonant. Thus, the preposition comes in two distinct orthographic variants: ann am (before a word beginning with a labial consonant, i.e. b-, m-, p-, f-), and ann an (before any other word).

For example:
  • ann am bàta (in a boat), rather than *ann an bàta.
  • ann an seann bhàta (in an old boat), rather than *ann am seann bhàta.
  • ann an eaglais (in a church), rather than *ann am eaglais.

c. The definite variant of ann aN is anns. The former cannot immediately precede a form of the definite article; the latter must immediately precede a form of the definite article.

For example:
  • ann am bùth (in a shop), ann am bùthan (in shops).
  • *ann an a' bhùth (in the shop), *ann an na bùthan (in the shops).
  • anns a' bhùth (in the shop), anns na bùthan (in the shops).
  • *anns bùth (in a shop), *anns bùthan (in shops).

d. One peculiar feature about the preposition ann aN is that, for each of the three dative case forms of the definite article (an, a' and na), there is an optional preposition/article compound:
  • san is an abbreviation of anns an
  • sa is an abbreviation of anns a'
  • sna is an abbreviation of anns na.

For example:
  • san òran (in the song) is an alternative to anns an òran.
  • sa bhùth (in the shop) is an alternative to anns a' bhùth.
  • sna h-eaglaisean (in the churches) is an alternative to anns na h-eaglaisean.

Note: you will occasionally find these written with a leading apostrophe, i.e. 'san, 'sa and 'sna.

e. In addition, there is a special contraction of anns an, i.e. as, which is only used with names of certain seasons:
  • as t-earrach (in spring) is a variant on anns an earrach and san earrach. [Why not as earrach?]
  • as t-samhradh (in summer) is a variant on anns an t-samhradh and san t-samhradh.
  • as t-fhoghar (in autumn) is a variant on anns an fhoghar and san fhoghar. [Why not as fhoghar?]
  • but not *as gheamhradh (in winter), rather anns a' gheamhradh.

f. The set of conjugated prepositions for ann aN is as follows:

singular


masc
fem
plural
first
annam
annainn
second
annad
annaibh
third
ann
innte
annta

For example:
  • innte is used instead of *ann an i (in her).
  • annainn is used instead of *ann an sinn (in us).

g. There is also a set of emphatic conjugated prepositions:

singular


masc
fem
plural
first
annamsa
annainne
second
annadsa
annaibhse
third
annsan
inntese
anntasan

h. Here is the set of possessive prepositions:

singular
plural
first
nam
nar
second
nad
nur
third
na
naN

For example:
  • nam thaigh is an optional variant on ann an mo thaigh (in my house).
  • nur n-eaglaisean is an optional variant on ann an ur n-eaglaisean (in our churches).

[Are these optional or compulsory?]

Note: you will sometimes see these written with a leading apostrophe, i.e. 'nam, 'nad, 'na, 'nar, 'nur and 'naN, in order to distinguish them from the forms of the plural definite article na, nam and nan.

i. Note that ann aN is often reduced to just aN before place names:
  • an Dùn Éideann is a variant on ann an Dùn Éideann (in Edinburgh).
  • an Alba is a variant on ann an Alba (in Scotland).

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2. Semantics



2.1. Physical space


a. Adnominal location

Bha mi anns a' bhaile. (I was in the town)
Bha pizza anns an fhrids. (There was pizza in the fridge)
Bha Iain ann a-raoir. (John was there yesterday)
Bha iad ann an Inbhir Nis. (They were in Inverness)
Bha mi anns na bùthan. (I was in/at? the shops)
Tha baile ann am Fìobh air a bheil "Cill Rìmhinn" mar ainm. (There is a town in Fife which has "Cill Rìmhinn" as its name).
an talamh àrd anns an sgìre (the high ground in the district)
Tha Kilrymont Road ann an Cill Rìmhinn. (Kilrymont Road is in Saint Andrews)

b. Adverbal location

Chluich mise a' chlàrsach anns an sgoil. (I played the harp at school)
Ghabh sinn biadh ann an taigh-òsda. (We ate in a hotel)
Cheannaich mi biadh anns na bùthan. (I bought food in/at? the shops)
Bruidhinn e ri duine anns a' gharaids. (He spoke to someone in/at? the garage)

c. Motion

d. Caused motion

Chuir mi anns an fhrids e. (I put it in the fridge)

2.2. Time


Bha e cudromach ann an eachdraidh na h-Alba. (It was important in the history of Scotland)
Tha e a' nochdadh anns an ochdamh linn AC. (It appears in the 8th century AD)
a' chiad fhear a nochdas ann an eachdraidh (the first one to appear in history)
Anns na beagan bliadhnaichean a dh'fhalbh, thòisich daoine air Kilrymont a chleachdadh a-rithist. (In the last few years, people have started to use Kilrymont again)

2.3. Others


b. Activities/states/positions, with certain verbal nouns:
  • Tha mi nam chadal. (I am sleeping)
  • Tha thu nad dhùisg. (You are awake)
  • Tha e na laighe. (He is lying down)
  • Tha i na ruith. (She is running)
  • Tha sinn nar seasamh. (We are standing up)
  • Tha sibh nur sìneadh. (You are stretched out)
  • Tha iad nan suidhe. (They are sitting down)

c. ISA:
  • Is e tidsear a tha ann-an Iain. (John is a teacher)
  • Is e dotair a tha innte. (She is a doctor)
  • Tha Iain na mhinistear. (John is a minister)
  • Chan e baile mòr a tha ann. (It is not a large town)
  • 'S e an t-ainm Gàidhlig na eadar-theangachadh air ainm Cruithneach. (The Gaelic name is a translation of a Pictish name)

Chaidh mi dhan bhaile anns a' chàr. (I went into town in the car, by car?)

Gheibhear barrachd fiosrachaidh san fhios naidheachd mu fhosgladh na Pàrlamaid. (More information will be found in the news release about the opening of Parliament)

Is e buidheann aig cridhe obair na Pàrlamaid a th’ anns a’ Bhiùro. (The Bureau is a body at the heart of the Parliament's work)

Bha an t-atharrachadh ann leis gun robh ... (The change occurred because ...).

Languages:
  • Anns an dà chanan, bidh sinn a' bruidhinn air ... (In the two languages, we speak of ...)
  • 'S e "Penrimonid" a bha air ann an Cruithnis. (It was called "Pemrimonid" in Pictish)
  • 'S e an t-ainm ann an Gàidhlig "Ceann Rìghmonadh". (The name in Gaelic is "Ceann Rìghmonaidh")
  • Dh'atharraich "Righmonadh" ann an Gàidhlig gu "Rymont" ann am Beurla. ("Righmonadh" in Gaelic changed to "Rymont" in English)

In a text:
  • Tha sin ann an Annala Uladh. (That is in the Annals of Ulster)

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