Q. perfect grammar.

The perfect tense in Quenya indicates an action that has been completed before the present time. In English, the perfect tense is usually expressed with an auxiliary verb, as in “lived” (past) versus “has lived” (perfect) from the verb “to live”. In Quenya, the perfect tense has its own verbal conjugation: marne (past) versus amárië (perfect) from the verb mar- “to abide, *dwell, live”.

Like English, the Quenya perfect is used when the effects of the completed action are still felt in the present time, as distinct from the past tense, where the action simply occurred at some point in the past. For example, if you said “the man lived in the city”, you only know that at some point in the past the man was in the city. If, however, you say “the man has lived in the city (for many years)”, you imply that he is still living in the city now.

The conjugation for the Quenya perfect has three markers: (1) a vowel prefix (augment), identical to the base vowel of the verb, (2) a lengthening of the base vowel and (3) the suffix -ië (PE22/96, 131). For example, with the perfect amárië from the verb mar-, the initial a- is the augment that matches the base vowel, the base vowel itself is lengthened to á, and the suffix -ië is added. Similarly, the perfect of tul- “to come” is utúlië “has come” (S/190).

Of the three markers, only the third, the suffix -ië is absolutely required (PE22/104). The vowel augment is the most optional of the three markers: it can be omitted merely for aesthetic reasons, especially in verse (WJ/366). For example avánië “has gone” (the perfect form of the irregular verb auta-¹) can also appear without its augment as simply vánië. Compare the Namárië poems in the 1st and 2nd editions of the Lord of the Rings, where the vánië/avánië variations took place (RC/341).

Similarly, the vowel lengthening is prohibited if the base vowel appeared before a pair of consonants, as in the perfect ataltie from the verb talta- (PE17/186). The suffix -ië by itself is not enough to fully distinguish the perfect form, however, because such a conjugation would be identical in form to the verb’s gerund. At least one of the other two markers (augment or lengthened base vowel) should be used if at all possible.

Perfects of Verbs Beginning with Vowels: In the case of verbs beginning with vowels, any vowel augment would be absorbed by the base vowel of the verb. For example, the verb ulya- “to pour” would have a (strong) perfect form u-úlië, which simply becomes úlië (PE22/112). Since the vowel augment is optional in any case, verbs beginning with vowels effectively omit the augment.

Sometimes, however, particularly in poetic writing, the perfects are formed by duplicating the entire stem, as ulúlië (PE22/112) or orórië from orya- (PE22/133, 157). This is not the norm, however.

Perfects of Verbs Beginning with Reduced Consonants: In some cases, the perfect can preserve consonant clusters that were normally reduced at the beginning of words. For example nac-¹ “to hew, slay” from the root √NDAK had an (archaic) perfect form andácië (PE22/112, 133). Over time, however, these perfects tend to normalize and become consistent with their other modern verb forms: anácië.

The Perfect and the Past Tenses: In Old Quenya, the conjugations of the perfect and past tenses were independent of one another. Tolkien stated that as time went on, however, “the forms of past and perfect became progressively more closely associated in Quenya” (WJ/366). This meant that the perfect is often formed using the past tense instead of the verb stem.

For example, the verb mat- has the past tense form mantë. Originally its perfect was formed directly from the verb stem: †amátië. Over time it converged with the past tense, so that its perfect form became amantie (PE22/104). The verb ista- has the irregular past tense (i)sintë, and its perfect became isintië (PE17/77).

The coalescence of the past and perfect is most common with (a) irregular past tenses and (b) weak verbs. Most weak verbs conjugate their past tense with the simple past suffix -në, and their perfects are usually formed by modifying their past tense forms rather than stem. For example, ehentanie from henta- “to examine” (PE17/77) and etengwanie from tengwa- “to read” (VT49/48).

The past and perfect forms are one way to distinguish true derived-verbs (with verbal suffixes like -ta) from TALAT-stem-verbs (from primitive triconsonantal roots). TALAT-stem verbs like talta- can superficially resemble derived verbs, but their past tenses and perfects are different: talantë and †ataltië (later atalantië), as opposed to **taltane and **ataltanie. See the entry on TALAT-stem-verbs for further discussion.

As a general rule, perfects are only formed directly from the stem in the case of regular strong verbs (AKA basic verbs), though of course this is the majority of verb forms.

Conceptual Development: There are a couple of examples that appear to be perfect forms in the earliest Lost Tales from the 1910s: ᴱQ. tulielto “they have come” and i·Eldar tulier “the Eldar have come” from the verb tulu- “to come” (LT1/114), as well as i·kal’antúlien “light hath returned” from the verb antulu- “to return” (LT1/184). At this earliest stage, these forms are different from the attested Early Quenya past tense forms (which tended to use either either vowel-lengthening or nasal-infixion/suffixion), and are therefore probably genuine perfects. They already had the distinctive -ie suffix of later perfect forms, and possibly vowel-lengthening in the case of antúlien.

The situation is more complicated in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s, however, where -ie is one of the suffixes used for the past tense, not the perfect (PE14/56). As this stage, the perfect is formed using the past active-participle (-ien(d)-) in combination with an auxiliary verb, but “is” instead of English “has”. Thus: e tulien “is having come = has come”, or tuliende “has come” with the verb e “is” as a suffix (PE14/57).

By the 1930s, Tolkien seems to have reverted to -ie as the perfect suffix. There are perfect forms in Fíriel’s Song from the 1930s: kárielto or kárier “they made” from the verb kar-, versus its past tense káre (LR/72). There are several perfect forms in the Lament of Atalante: ullier “poured” (LR/47, SD/247) and lantie(r) “fell” (LR/47, 56). There are also appear to be perfect forms in the Namárië, draft from Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s, such as tūlier (TI/285). At this stage, it seems that the lengthening of the stem vowel (where possible) was also part of the perfect formation.

The first unambiguous appearance of the perfect-augment was not until very late in the Lord of the Rings drafts with túvien >> utúvienyes “I have found it” (SD/57). In Tolkien’s linguistic writings, the perfect-augment was also mentioned in a discussion of Quenya verb from the late 1940s (PE22/96, 112). It seems likely that when Tolkien wrote vánie “has gone” in the 1st edition version of the Namárië poem The Lord of the Rings, that it was in fact a regular perfect form, and Tolkien only decided later than vánië was a poetic variant of the regular augmented avánië.

The Quenya Verbal System document from the 1940s also discussed an alternate “long perfect” syntax based on the perfect-participle (PE22/104), used with derived verbs to be more distinctive from the past tense. It is unclear whether this syntax remained valid in Tolkien’s later writing. See the long-perfect for further discussion.

This same text also mentioned that stem-reduplication for verbs beginning with a vowel (such as ulúlië) was a poetic-only form (PE22/112). In some very late notes towards the end of the 1960s, Tolkien included quite a few example of stem-reduplication, however: isísië and orórië (PE22/159, 164), so perhaps Tolkien considered making such reduplication a more normal part of perfect formations. Absent further information, it is difficult to be sure.

Examples (perfect)
ālie [← ala-¹] ✧ PE22/164.0707
alālie [← ala-¹] ✧ PE22/164.0709
(a)vánie ← auta- ✧ PE17/063.2806
avánie “have gone, past away” ← auta- ✧ PE17/063.2902
avānie ← av|va ✧ PE17/063.3209
awāwe [← auta-¹] ✧ PE22/164.1609
avānie ← auta- ✧ WJ/366.1403
avānie ← auta- ✧ WJ/366.2210
avāvie [← ava-¹] ✧ PE22/164.0510
acáye ← caia (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1614
akainie [← caita-] ✧ PE22/157.2308
akaine[?] [← caita-] ✧ PE22/157.2309
akaitie [← caita-] ✧ PE22/157.2310
akáyie [← caita-] ✧ PE22/157.3504
acáye ← caita (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1606
acaitie ← caita (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1608
acáye ← caita (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2405
acaitie ← †cea (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2505
acaitie ← caita (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2605
akaitie ← kaita (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.2806
engie ← enge (strong-past) ✧ VT49/29.0303
ehentănie ← henta ✧ PE17/077.2004
isintie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE17/077.2302
isísie ← istā (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1710
isisie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1810
isistie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1811
isísie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2705
isistie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2802
isísie [← ista-] ✧ PE22/164.1108
isistie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3205
istie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3206
isísie ← ista (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3207
alaie [← lá-] ✧ PE22/153.1809
alaie ← lā- ✧ PE22/156.2610
alaie ←  ✧ VT49/13.1503
amáye [← mai-²] ✧ PE22/148.2308
(a)mátie “have eaten” [← mat-] ✧ PE17/013.2104
emēlie ← melya (aorist) ✧ PE17/077.2902
emēnie “has just arrived” [← men-] ✧ VT49/24.0205
anaie [← ná-] ✧ VT49/27.1302
anáye [← ná-] ✧ VT49/27.2402
anaie ← nā- ✧ VT49/27.3104
andákie ← nak- ✧ PE22/133.1705
anaktane ← nahta (aorist) ✧ PE17/077.2602
anahtie ← nahta (aorist) ✧ PE17/077.2603
anākie [← nahta-¹] ✧ PE22/157.2705
anahtie [← nahta-¹] ✧ PE22/157.2706
anákie ← nahta (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2905
anahtie ← nahta (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.3002
anahtie ← nahta ✧ PE22/164.2706
anākie ← nahta ✧ PE22/164.4004
ininquitie [← ninquita-] ✧ PE22/157.0614
ókómie ← okom- ✧ PE17/157.3502
olōlie “has become” [← ol-] ✧ PE22/133.0911
orórie ← ora (aorist) ✧ VT41/13.3709
orie ← ora (aorist) ✧ VT41/13.3710
ohór[i]e [← or-] ✧ VT41/13.3712
ortanie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE17/077.2605
orórie ← ortă ✧ PE22/157.2404
orotie ← ortā ✧ PE22/157.2408
orort{anie} ← ortā ✧ PE22/157.2409
orórtie ← ortă ✧ PE22/157.3610
orórie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1509
orortie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1511
[orort]ie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.1912
orortie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2205
orórie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/159.2305
orortaye ← orta ✧ PE22/164.2208
orortie ← orta ✧ PE22/164.2308
ōrtie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3305
(or)ortie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3306
orórie ← orta (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3307
orotaye ← orta ✧ PE22/164.3910
orortaye ← orta ✧ PE22/164.3912
ōrie ← orya (aorist) ✧ PE17/077.2904
orōrie “has arisen” [← orya-] ✧ PE22/133.0914
orórie [← orya-] ✧ PE22/157.2807
(or)oryanie [← orya-] ✧ PE22/164.2405
ororie [← orya-] ✧ PE22/164.2505
orōrie ← orya (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3505
ororyaye [← orya-] ✧ PE22/164.3914
iríkie “has twisted” [← #ric-¹] ✧ VT39/07.3908
asálie [← sal-] ✧ PE22/133.1815
isīrie ← sirya (aorist) ✧ PE17/077.2305
isírie ← sirya (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3405
ataltie ← talta (present) ✧ PE17/186.2201
atalantie ← talat- ✧ PE22/164.2606
ororyaye ← talat- ✧ PE22/164.4002
etengwanie ← tengwane (past) ✧ VT49/48.0501
etēnie “has just arrived” [← ten-] ✧ VT49/23.3909
athárie ← thar ✧ PE22/133.1813
Utúlie’n “has come” [← tul-] ✧ S/190.3701
utúlie’n “has come” [← tul-] ✧ S/190.3707
Utulie’n “has come” [← tul-] ✧ WJ/166.2402
utulie’n “has come” [← tul-] ✧ WJ/166.2408
utultanie [← tulta-] ✧ PE22/157.2602
utultien [← tulta-] ✧ PE22/164.0907
utulye ← tulya (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3105
utulya ← tulya (aorist) ✧ PE22/164.3106
atyā́vie [← #tyav-] ✧ PE22/152.2904
oiórie [← yor-] ✧ PE17/043.1907
amātielmi [← mat-] 1st-pl-exclusive ✧ PE17/076.0401
alālien [← ala-¹] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/164.1307
ālien [← ala-¹] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/164.1308
avávien [← ava-¹] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/162.4921
avavien [← ava-¹] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/164.0410
avāvien [← ava-¹] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/164.1508
avāvien ← ava- 1st-sg ✧ VT49/13.2908
akárienye [← car-] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/152.1012
afārien [← fara-] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/164.1407
inírien [← nir-] 1st-sg ✧ PE22/165.0711
apārien “I have learnt” ← paranye (present 1st-sg) 1st-sg ✧ PE17/180.1210
utúlien “I am come” [← tul-] 1st-sg ✧ LotR/0967.3504
utúlien “I have come” [← tul-] 1st-sg ✧ PE17/103.2602
uien ← ua 1st-sg ✧ PE17/144.2211
utúvienyes “I have found it” [← #tuv-] 1st-sg with-sg-object ✧ LotR/0971.3705
utuvienyes “I have found it” [← #tuv-] 1st-sg with-sg-object ✧ PE17/110.2802
túlielde “you had come” [← tul-] 2nd-pl augmentless ✧ PE22/140.2510
vānie ← auta- augmentless ✧ PE17/063.2201
vánie- ← auta- augmentless ✧ PE17/063.2402
vánie [← auta-¹] augmentless ✧ PE17/063.3001
vānie [← auta-¹] augmentless ✧ WJ/366.3007
fírië “she hath breathed forth” [← fir-] augmentless ✧ MR/250.2103
fírië “has breathed forth” ← fírë (aorist) augmentless ✧ MR/470.2907
lambie ← lambe (past) augmentless ✧ VT47/21.4203
avánier “have passed” [← auta-¹] plural ✧ LotR/0377.3005
avāniër “have passed” [← auta-¹] plural ✧ RGEO/58.0705
avānier “have passed away (pl.)” [← auta-¹] plural ✧ RGEO/58.4406
vánier “have passed away” [← auta-¹] plural augmentless ✧ PE17/063.2102
vānier “have passed away” ← auta- plural augmentless ✧ PE17/063.2205
vánier “have departed” [← auta-¹] plural augmentless ✧ PE17/063.2301
vánier [← auta-¹] plural augmentless ✧ RC/341.1306

References ✧ PE18/88; PE22/131, 164; WJ/366

Elements

strong-perfect
long-perfect
pluperfect

Element In


ᴹQ. perfect grammar.

Examples (perfect)
(ol)ólie “it has grown up, it has reached its prime, become” [← ola-] ✧ PE22/116.1504
(al)álie [← ola-] ✧ PE22/116.3412
akápie [← kap-] ✧ PE22/102.0516
akampie ← kampe (past) ✧ PE22/102.0601
kárie “made” [← kar-] ✧ LR/056.29081
akárie [← kar-] ✧ PE22/103.1809
akárie [← kar-] ✧ PE22/109.2003
akárie [← kar-] ✧ PE22/109.4602
(a)karanyanie [← karanya-] ✧ PE22/117.1906
ekénie [← #ken-] ✧ PE22/103.1009
ekennie [← #ken-] ✧ PE22/103.1010
kímie “has found” [← kim-] ✧ PE22/108.3721
ukúvie ← kuve (aorist) ✧ PE22/102.1503
ēne “existed” ← ëa ✧ PE22/123.0112
enie [← ye-] ✧ PE22/123.4002
yénie [← ye-] ✧ PE22/123.4003
etekélie ← ehtelu- ✧ PE22/103.1709
ahámie ← hame (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.0912
ahammie ← hame (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.0913
ihímie ← hime (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.0814
illīk[ie] [← hlik-] ✧ PE22/113.0808
ihlíke “has crept” [← hlik-] ✧ PE22/113.1105
ahyárie ← hyare (aorist) ✧ PE22/102.1611
aláhtie ← lahe (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.0115
alahie/alakkie ← lahe (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.3319
alávie ← lave (aorist) ✧ PE22/102.1601
ulungie ← lue (aorist) ✧ PE22/102.1910
uluiye ← lue (aorist) ✧ PE22/102.1914
amátie [← mat-] ✧ PE22/102.0602
amantie ← mante (past) ✧ PE22/102.0603
amantie [← mat-] ✧ PE22/104.1014
emérie [← mer-] ✧ PE22/103.4116
umúnie ← mune (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.1307
andákie [← nak-¹] ✧ PE22/112.2711
anákie [← nak-¹] ✧ PE22/112.3117
(i)niñqitanie [← ninqita-] ✧ PE22/117.1907
unúrie ← nure (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.1901
oine “have lived” [← oia-] ✧ PE22/125.0814-2
olólie [← ol-] ✧ PE22/103.1605
ólie [← ol-] ✧ PE22/103.1606
orahallie ← orhale (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.1514
orhálie ← orhale (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.3910
ortanie [← orta-] ✧ PE22/117.1905
ortánie [← orta-] ✧ PE22/117.4608
orórie “has arisen” ← orya- ✧ PE22/115.2104
ipísie ← pise (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.0201
aráfie ← rafe (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.0113
urúkie [← ruk-] ✧ PE22/102.0604
uruñkie ← mante (past) ✧ PE22/102.0605
esérie ← sere (aorist) ✧ PE22/102.1704
isílie “has shone (white)” [← sil-] ✧ PE22/113.1302
**isirinie ← sirya ✧ PE22/115.1907
astárie [← †thar-¹] ✧ PE22/112.2801
otonnie ← tone (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.1103
otónie ← tone (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.1104
utunnie ← tune (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.3703
utúnie ← tune (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.3704
utúlie ← tule (aorist) ✧ PE22/103.1501
utúlie [← tul-] ✧ PE22/108.1914
utúlie “had come” [← tul-] ✧ PE22/119.0302
utúlie “have just come” [← tul-] ✧ PE22/119.1302
utúvie “has found” [← #tuv-] ✧ PE22/108.3705
atyávie ← tyave (aorist) ✧ PE22/102.1412
túvien “I have found it” [← #tuv-] 1st-sg augmentless ✧ SD/057.3603
[?in]túviet “I have found it” [← #tuv-] 1st-sg with-sg-object ✧ SD/057.3705
utúvienyes “I have found it” [← #tuv-] 1st-sg with-sg-object ✧ SD/057.3810
kárielto “they made” [← kar-] 3rd-pl augmentless ✧ LR/072.3702
kárie “finishes” [← kar-] augmentless ✧ PE22/121.0103
lálie [← lá-] augmentless ✧ PE22/126.2708
lánie [← lá-] augmentless ✧ PE22/126.2710
lantier “they-fell” [← lanta-] augmentless ✧ LR/047.0105
lantie “fell” [← lanta-] augmentless ✧ LR/056.2905
lantier “fell” [← lanta-] augmentless ✧ LR/056.3006
niñqitánie [← ninqita-] augmentless ✧ PE22/117.4609
túlie [← tul-] augmentless ✧ PE22/121.2407
túlie [← tul-] augmentless ✧ PE22/122.0410
ăkárier [← kar-] plural ✧ PE22/109.2005
amantier [← mat-] plural ✧ PE22/104.1015
ullier “poured” [← ulya-] plural ✧ LR/047.0701
ullier “should flow” [← ulya-] plural ✧ SD/247.0102
ullier “they-should-flow” [← ulya-] plural ✧ SD/310.1202
ullier “should pour” [← ulya-] plural ✧ VT24/07.3902
kárier “they made” [← kar-] plural augmentless ✧ LR/072.1303
lantier “they-fell” [← lanta-] plural augmentless ✧ SD/310.0605
amantielti [← mat-] plural with-pl-object ✧ PE22/104.1101
akárin [← kar-] with-1st-sg-object ✧ PE22/109.4604
ulungien “I have been sad” [← lu-] with-1st-sg-object ✧ PE22/104.1106

References ✧ PE22/96, 104, 112

Elements

strong-perfect
long-perfect
pluperfect

Element In


ᴱQ. imperfect grammar.

Examples (imperfect)

ᴱQ. perfect grammar.

Examples (perfect)
tūlie [← tulu-] ✧ PE16/124.0607
túlie [← tulu-] ✧ PE16/126.0703
tuliembo [← tulu-] 1st-dual-exclusive ✧ PE16/124.2302
túliembo [← tulu-] 1st-dual-exclusive ✧ PE16/126.0903
[tuli]engo [← tulu-] 1st-dual-inclusive ✧ PE16/124.2303
túliengo [← tulu-] 1st-dual-inclusive ✧ PE16/126.1003
tulielme [← tulu-] 1st-pl-exclusive ✧ PE16/124.2402
túlielme [← tulu-] 1st-pl-exclusive ✧ PE16/126.1703
túliengwe [← tulu-] 1st-pl-inclusive ✧ PE16/126.1803
tūlienye [← tulu-] 1st-sg ✧ PE16/124.0602
túlienye [← tulu-] 1st-sg ✧ PE16/126.0203
[tuli]ello [← tulu-] 2nd-dual ✧ PE16/124.2304
túliello [← tulu-] 2nd-dual ✧ PE16/126.1103
túlielle [← tulu-] 2nd-pl ✧ PE16/126.1903
tūlieste [← tulu-] 2nd-sg ✧ PE16/124.0603
túlielye [← tulu-] 2nd-sg ✧ PE16/126.0303
[túl]ieste [← tulu-] 2nd-sg ✧ PE16/126.0304
túliesse [← tulu-] 3rd-dual-fem ✧ PE16/126.1303
[túliess]ir [← tulu-] 3rd-dual-fem ✧ PE16/126.1304
túliesso [← tulu-] 3rd-dual-masc ✧ PE16/126.1203
[túliess]ur [← tulu-] 3rd-dual-masc ✧ PE16/126.1204
túliettar [← tulu-] 3rd-dual-neut ✧ PE16/126.1403
tulielto “they have come” [← tulu-] 3rd-pl ✧ LT1/114.1410
túliende(n) [← tulu-] 3rd-pl-fem ✧ PE16/126.2103
túliendo(n) [← tulu-] 3rd-pl-masc ✧ PE16/126.2003
túlienta(n) [← tulu-] 3rd-pl-neut ✧ PE16/126.2203
tulia [← tulu-] 3rd-sg ✧ PE16/124.3207
tūliesse [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-fem ✧ PE16/124.0605
túliende [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-fem ✧ PE16/126.0503
[túli]ére [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-fem ✧ PE16/126.0504
tūliendo [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-masc ✧ PE16/124.0604
túliendo [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-masc ✧ PE16/126.0403
[túli]éro [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-masc ✧ PE16/126.0404
tuliēta [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-neut ✧ PE16/124.0606
túliéta [← tulu-] 3rd-sg-neut ✧ PE16/126.0603
tulier “have come” [← tulu-] plural ✧ LT1/114.2910
antúlien “hath returned” [← #antulu-] singular ✧ LT1/184.2911
antúlien “returned” [← #antulu-] singular ✧ LT1A/tulielto.022

Reference ✧ PE16/128

Element In