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Bilingual transcription: Ciamar a chanas mi ...?

Bilingual transcription: How do I say ...?

Watch this clip where Joy gives us some of her favourite useful phrases

This time it’s: how to say something and to ask someone to repeat what they said.


Nach biodh e math, wouldn’t it be great, nach biodh e math, when learning Gaelic, to have your very own pause button to allow for some thinking time. Well, in this next section I’ll be sharing some phrases which will allow you to do just that.

When you know what you want to say, but you’re not quite sure how to say it, you can ask:

Ciamar / a chanas tu …? How do you say …? Ciamar a chanas tu …? followed, in English, by the word or phrase you’re looking for.

You can also swap ‘tu’ for ‘mi’:

Ciamar / a chanas mi …? How do I say …? Ciamar a chanas mi …?

Ciamar a chanas tu… and Ciamar a chanas mi…

Or, if you need to buy a little time while you’re thinking of what it is you want to say, you can try:

Ciamar / a chanas mi e? How do I or how will I say it? Ciamar a chanas mi e

Now, if you’re not quite sure of something you’ve just heard, and would like it repeated, a very useful phrase is:

Nach can thu sin / a‑rithist? Won’t you say that again? Nach can thu sin a‑rithist?

And whoever you’re talking to will hopefully repeat what they’ve just said. Nach can thu sin a‑rithist.

However, if you’re a little bit lost and don’t understand the meaning of something at all, you can say:

Dè tha sin / a’ ciallachadh? What does that mean? Dè tha sin a’ ciallachadh?

Or, to be a little more direct, you can use ‘thu’ instead of ‘sin’:

Dè tha thu / a’ ciallachadh? What do you mean? Dè tha thu a’ ciallachadh?

You could also use the more formal sibh here.

Agus mur a h‑eil sibh idir, idir cinnteach, if you’re completely lost, which happens to the best of us at times, you need to remember this phrase:

Chan eil sgot agam!, I haven’t a clue. Chan eil sgot agam. And some kind soul will come to your aid!

Nise, cumaibh cluas ri claisneachd agus èistibh ris a’ chòmhradh a tha seo, feuch an tog sibh dè na thathas ag ràdh ann an Ionad ùr na Gàidhlig.