Nouns are words used as the name
of a person, animal, object, place or quality, or a collection of those.
The gender of nouns is not gramatical, but is indicated
by their meaning. Nouns are either male, female, common
or neutral depending on whether they denote a male,
female, either sex or an inanimate object.
Some nouns have different forms for
male and female.
*eme is the maternal uncle.
**loun and quean [kwəin]
are typical of Northern Scots varieties.
Machines, ships and boats etc., countries
and the like often take the feminine and are addressed
by the pronoun she.
She's late the day. (The bus)The bus is late today.
Regular plurals are formed by adding s.
haund - haunds
hand - hands
kirn - kirns
churn - churns
pirn - pirns
bobbin - bobbins
Note that in words like knife,
laif, life, thief, wife
the Scots plural is regular.
If the singular noun ends in a sibilant
(hissing) sound it takes the ending es, or
where the noun ends with an e, s, to
form the plural.
hoose - hooseshouse
rash - rashesrush
catch - catchescatch
A few plurals are formed by adding
se, especially where the sense is collective.
woolen fluff, dust
a leather strap with thongs
Some nouns are usually or only used
in the plural, or they have a special meaning when
used in the plural.
*Severals refers to several
persons or things.
Some nouns are only used in the plural.
Accompanying verbs are used as if to denote their
The parritch! The're real guid the day.
The porridge! It is really
Thir kail will be ower cauld.This
broth will be too cold.
Scots contains a number of irregular plurals. Some
of the more common ones are:
Older forms brither (brother) - brether(en)
(brothers) and tree (tree) - treen (trees) existed.
Some nouns, mainly referring to animals or foodstuffs,
have the same form in singular and plural.
The plural fish represents
a mass of fish. The plural fishes represents
a quantity of individual 'fishes'.
Note: A scissor (a pair of scissors).
Leuk at aw thae fish.Look
at all those fish.
A hae five fishes.I
have five fish(es).
Many nouns take the same form as the verb with which
they are connected.
It's no ma blame.It's
not my fault.
That's an ill lauch.That's
an evil laugh.
Tak tent o the stap.Mind
Tae is often used in conjunction with nouns
and verbs to form compounds implying addition, attraction,
attachment and motion towards.
Ye shoud stap, the tae-brig
is gaun up.You ought to
stop, the draw-bridge is being raised.
The dealer selt the gear for the
sold the equipment for profit.
The tae-draucht o the swaw
is takkin the boat wi't.The
attractive force of the waves is carrying the
The man bocht sae muckle he wis
gien a bit tae-breid.The
man bought so much that he was given more by way
of a discount.
He keeps his dug in a tae-faw.He
keeps his dog in a lean-to.
That's juist his tae-name.That's
only his nickname.
Diminutives expressing smallness,
endearment or contempt are formed by adding ie,
ock or even ockie to the noun (ies
for plurals) and are often preceded by wee.
The wee lassie.The
A wee duggie.A
The wee beastie.The
A wee bittock mair.
A little bit more.
Ye wee saftie.You
little soft headed person.
Ma wee dearies.My
The muckle feardie.
The big coward.
He's a daftie.He's
Nouns of measure and quantity.
Number and quantity are sometimes
designated by nouns and sometimes by adjectives.
After cardinal numbers, nouns of
measure, usually remain unchanged in the plural. The
noun is usually followed by the preposition o
before a pronoun, but o is often omitted before
a following noun.
Twa poke o tatties.Two
bags of potatoes.
Fower acre o grund.Four
acres of land.
Three fit lang.Three
Fower mile awa.Four
A wee bit breid.A
little bit of bread.
The wifie bocht sax pund
o tatties. The woman bought
six pounds of potatoes. (Weight)
A gied him twa pund.I
gave him two pounds.(Money)
Twa gless o beer.Two
glasses of beer.
A guid wheen months.A
good many months.
Ten stane o hay.Ten
stones of hay.
She's twal year auld.She
is twelve years old.
aicht score o sheep.Eight
seiven dizzen o eggs.Seven
A wee drap ile.A
little drop of oil.
Nouns of quantity.
A small quantity may be expressed
A wee, a bit.A
small, a little.
Gie's a wee thing(ie)
ile.Give me a little (bit
A wee titch saut.A little salt.
Gie's a wee drap kail.
Give me a small drop of (cabbage)
A tait o oo.A
(little) lock of wool.
A wee thocht whisky.A
A hair o aits. A
small portion of oats.
A grain soordouk.A
A few may be expressed by:
A wheen neeps.A
A pickle nits.A
A somewhat larger quantity may be
A curn o fowk.A
A guid wheen auld wifes.A
good few old women.
A guid pickle fishes.A
good few fish.
A considerable quantity may be expressed
A hantle stanes.A
large amount of stones.
A great deal mair.A
great deal more.
A muckle hott muck.Very
A daud o kebbock.A
chunk of cheese.
A nievefu bere.A
fistful of barley.
A rowth o pouts.An
abundance of young game birds.
A gowpanfu o grosets.
Two (cupped) hands full of
Other expressions of measurement
and quantity are:
She's the wale o thaim aw.She's
the pick of them all.
The feck o fowk thinks that.Most
people think so.
The hale clamjamfrie.
The whole mob. All the odds
Gie's the tither hauf.Give
me the other half.
That wis juist the tae hauf o't.
That was the one half of it.
A niver seen the likes o
thae.I never saw anything
Juist a wee bit wean.Only
a little child.
The lave can bide here.
The remainder may remain here.
He'd taen the tane an she'd
taen the tither.He'd
taken one and she'd taken the other.
Nouns have three cases; nominative,
objective and possessive. The nominative names the
subject. The objective denotes the object.The possessive
The nominative and the objective
are the same.
The possessive singular is formed
by adding 's to the nominative (insert apostrophe).
The bairn's fit.The
The wife's ring.The
The dug's bane.The
The horse's heid.The
Note the subtle difference in meaning
He said he seen a cou's heid at the door.
He said he saw a cow's head
at the door.
(the head of a living cow looking in).
She said she seen a cou-heid at the door.
She said she saw a cow's head
at the door.
(the severed head of a slaughtered cow).
Coupar Angus, Perth and Kinross
The possessive plural is formed by
adding s' to the nominative.
The yowes' bouly horns.The
ewes' twisted horns.
The wifes' fylt washin.the
wives' soiled washing.
The dugs' chowed banes.The
dogs' chewed bones.
The hooses' breuk windaes.The
houses' broken windows.
Where the plural is not formed by
adding s' or es' to the singular, 's
is added to the nominative plural.
The men's shauchelt buits.The
men's buckled boots.
The auld weemen's clash.The
old women's gossip.
Nouns denoting inanimate objects do not usually take
the possessive. In such cases a sense of belonging to,
being connected with or being used for is expressed:
By placing the governing noun before
the governed noun with the preposition o (of)
in between them.
The heid o the toun.The
upper end of town.
The fit o the toun.The
lower end of town.
By simply forming a compound noun
by placing the governed noun in front of the governing
sheet for the top of a bed.
By sometimes inserting a hyphen is
between the nouns.
end of the bridge.
top of the chimney.
The use or non-use of a hyphen depends
on word stress and morphological behaviour as well
as individual practice.
The verbal noun (gerund) is a verb functioning as
a noun and is formed by adding in to the verb
root. As in Standard English the final e of the
verb is dropped.
The beirin o praisents is furthie.
The bearing of presents is
The beatin o dugs is ill-kyndit.
The beating of dogs is cruel.
He's fond o speakin til his feres.
He's fond of speaking to his
Bitin an scartin's Scots fowk's
wooin.Biting and scratching
is Scotch peoples' way of wooing.
Perth, Perth and Kinross
Most nouns describing occupations or the person carrying
out the action implied by the verb were formed by adding
ar to the verb in middle Scots. That pronunciation
has become /ər/,
now usually spelled er. Some older forms spelled
ar still exist.
Note souter, a cobbler or
shoemaker, ultimately from Latin sutor.
The names of some occupations or the
person carrying out the action implied by the verb,
adjective or noun are formed by adding ster,
which does not necessarily indicate a female agent.
a female fish-gutter
a dyer of cloth
a casual labourer
Note the irregular form bak, baxster baker.