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Plural Subject

A particular feature of many Scots dialects is that plural subjects can have the same verb ending as singular subjects, except when a pronoun is next to the verb, eg Ma feet's gey sair, but They're gey sair.

Present Participle and Verbal Noun

Present participles and verbal nouns normally end in -in, eg lowpin, fleein. The -ing form is also used, especially in legal terms, eg sequestrating.

In the present participle of verbs that end with -ie-, eg coorie and cairrie, the -ie- changes to -y-: Ah like cooryin unner the bed-claes.

The present participle of gae is either gaun or gaein. But gaunae (=going to) is often used informally to mean 'gaun tae' do something: Ah'm gaun up the stair; Yer tea's gaunae get cauld.

In Older Scots the present participial ending was -and, that of the verbal noun -ing. In some parts of Scotland, the ending -an is still used for present participles but not for verbal nouns: Ah'm scrievan a letter but Ah canna read it, the scrievin's that bad.

Past tense and Past participle

Past tenses and past participles end with -it or -t, eg leukit, gaithert. Sometimes the ending -ed or -d, is used, eg leuked, gaithered.

For verbs ending with -le, eg ettle, fankle, pauchle, the past tense and participle often ends with -elt: Yon cassette tape's no workin - the tape's aw fankelt.

Some verbs ending with -ll, eg tell and dwall, drop one of the 'l's to become -elt : Ah telt ye.

The parts of strong and irregular verbs are given in all the dictionaries, eg tint (from tyne), grat, grutten (from greet).

Some irregular English verbs, like keep and tell, are regular in Scots: Ah telt ye (English 'told'); Ah've keepit a seat for ye (English 'kept').

Past (rather than present) participles are used after verbs like need and want, eg Thae tyres need checked; Yon press wants sortit.

Auxiliary Verbs

to be

The verb to be is often missed out after here or there, eg Here wir hoose; There the toun centre.


The verb can can be used to express possibility after will, micht, must, yaised tae etc, eg Ye'll no can post yer letter till the morn; He must can be able to afford it; Ah yaised tae cud eat whitivver Ah wantit.

will and shall

Will or wull is used for future parts of the verb 'to be', where formal English would use shall, eg Will Ah open it for ye? Whit wull we dae the morn?

Shall is sometimes used to indicate will or intent, eg We shallna dae it!