The Scots Learners’ Grammar

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2. Articles


There are two articles, the ‘indefinite’ (= a/an) and the ‘definite’ (= the).

2.1 The indefinite article

The ‘indefinite article’ is a, sometimes an before a vowel.

Gie’s a aipple or Gie’s an aipple are equally correct and the former is particularly common in spoken Scots.

The plural is some, as in English. Some fowk niver lairn.

Ae and the older form Ane is used before a noun is an adjective, emphasising ‘one-ness’.

A’v ae bairn, no twa  I have only one child, not two

2.2 The definite article

As in English, the Scots ‘definite article’ is the. There are some dialect variants; e or ee in Northern dialects, da in Shetland and tha in Ulster-Scots.

The it is used much more in Scots, e.g. before times, institutions, trades, branches of knowledge, languages, family members, diseases, seasons, pastimes, days, means of public transport, body parts and sometimes instead of possessive adjectives. There is perhaps an analogy in some of these uses with Scottish Gaelic e.g. an-diugh (today) is literally ‘the-day’.

Examples are:

the noo now the morn tomorrowthe nicht tonightthe year this year

awa tae the kirk

at the school

aff tae the jile prison

doon the toon

he bides in the toon he lives in town

Whaur’s the wife the day? Where’s your wife today

up the stair upstairsWhit’v ye got in fur the denner?She’s guid at the FrainchHe’s aff the wark wi the cauld

A’ll stairt in the ware I’ll start in spring

A’m awa the Seturday I’m away on Saturday

doon the brae downhill

wi the train

Keep the heid! Stay calm!

She’s guid at the gairdenin gardening