Scots Soutar Davie
Scots Verb Concord
When James Hogg wrote,
When the Kye Comes Hame, he was criticised for his bad grammar:
for using what appeared to be a singular form of a verb after a plural
noun. But this is good grammar in Scots, and this practice goes back a
long time to before the time of the Medieval Makkars. For example,
in the 16th century, Alexander Montgomerie wrote in his poem,
The nicht is Neir Gone: The fieldis ourflowis? With gowans
that growis?/ Quhair lilies lyke lowe is,/ As red as the ro’an. This
practice is still found in colloquial Scots and at present, people still
may say: Ai Mercie, the nichts is fairlie drawin in!
This rule works as follows: In the Present Tense, when the subject is a
noun of relative pronoun, or whan the verb and subject are separated by a
clause, the verb always takes the ending –s. This is a historic rule in
Scots which is not always followed by contempriary writers. For example:
Auld men dees an bairns
As the days lenthens the cauld strenthens.
Weans that gits taiblet gits eyl eftir.
Fowk at cums unbidden sits unserred.
This rule does not apply when the verb follows its
appropriate pronoun. Thus:
Ah cum first,
it’s me at cums first.
We gang thare; us twae whyles gangs thare.
Thay rin awa frae the dug kis thay ir feart for it.
With the verb, ti be,
in the Present and Past Tense, the form of the 3rd person singular
is used in the plural with plural noun subjects.
The burds is
nevir lang i cummin whan Ah thraw oot breid.
The men wes tyauvin awa, an thay war aw daein thair best.