Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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A, AN, indef. art. [ə, ən] Unstressed form of the numeral ane, q.v.

1. In modern colloquial usage a occurs before a vowel as well as before a consonant in most of the dialects, although this does not appear to any large extent in literature, probably through the influence of Standard English usage. This tendency dates from an early period, and occasionally shows itself in earlier literature and local records. Sh.(D) 1922 Jas. Inkster Mansie's Röd 10:
Doo's aye in a aet ta git news, an' as kibbie tae tell hit.
Mry.(D) 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sketches 62:
“Hae here's a aipple tae ye 'cause ye're a gweed laddie,” said Betty.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witchwood 33:
It's a unco thing the Wud, Mr Sempill, sir?
Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 3:
This wus a Insurance Company wantin' him tae gang tae Palnure tae examine aul' Doctor Agnew.

2. Used nearly in its original sense of one (Sc. ae), but not so emphatic. Gen.Sc. Bnff.2 1929:
Ae boat's crew o' ye speak at a time.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) 332–333:
“Keep to a side,” cried Tommy Staytape, “for . . . Moosey'll maybe hae a pistol.”

3. Before words of number taken quantitatively, or indefinitely. Cf. use of Ae. Found also in Older Scots. Gen.Sc. Bnff.2 1929:
I'll tak a sax or seiven o' them at that price.
Abd.(D) 1928 Abd. Wkly. J., Mains and Hilly 20 Sept. 6/3:
There wid be a hantle mair sheep in the kwintry noo nor there wis a twenty year seen.
Mearns 1890 J. Kerr Remin. of a Wanderer I. 9:
A twa'r three doors noo aifter that bides vandriver Mackie.

4. The indef. article is in general Sc. use (a) after (1) ilk = each (a combined with ilk = ilka, ilky); (2) mony = many (a often absorbed into preceding “y”); (3) sic = such; (4) siccan = such; (5) what, fat; (b) in certain emphatic negatives — e.g. Deil a ane, fient a ane, niver a ane = not one. For example see Ilk, etc.

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"A indef. art.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Oct 2021 <>



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