Chapter 12 - Grammar Summary
12.1 Pronunciation Summary
12.1.1 Vowels: Quenya vowels are pronounced similarly to those of Italian.
- Vowels: Quenya has five vowels, i, e, a, o, u.
- i = “ee” as in “meet”
- e = “eh” as in “guess”
- a = “ah” as in “father”
- o = “oh” as in “for”
- u = “oo” as in “goose”
- Long Vowels: í, é, á, ó, ú sound more-or-less the same as short vowels but are held longer.
- Diphthongs: Quenya has three i-diphthongs (ai, oi, ui) and three u-diphthongs (iu, eu, au).
- ai = “eye” (English “long i”) as in “rye”
- oi = “oy” as in “boy”
- ui = “wee” [roughly] as in “queen”
- iu = “yoo” as in “yule”
- eu = “ehoo” [very roughly]
- au = “ow” as in “how”
See also Chapter 2, Section §2.1.
12.1.2 Consonants: Quenya consonants are mostly pronounced like in English, except:
- c is always a “hard c” [k].
- hl, hr, hw, hy are frictional voiceless sounds roughly like h+l, h+r, h+w, h+y.
- ht is also more frictional, like German eht, aht, similar to the “ch” sound in “Bach”.
- l, r are always pronounced distinctly, as a “light l” and a “trilled r”.
- ny, ty; nw, qu [kw] are pronounced as single consonants roughly like n+y, t+y, n+w, k+w, but are treated as clusters for stress.
- x is pronounced like [ks], and is treated as a consonant cluster.
- [þ], [ñ], [w] indicate archaic pronunciations, whose modern pronunciations are s, n and v.
- Technically hl, hr are also archaic with modern pronunciations l, r, but Tolkien retained these letters consistently in spelling (as does this course).
See also Chapter 3, Section §3.1.
12.1.3 Stress: Quenya stress is very regular:
- Monosyllables are stressed on their only syllable.
- Disyllables are stressed on their first syllable.
- Longer words are stressed on their second-to-last syllable if it is heavy, and otherwise their third-to-last syllable.
- A syllable is heavy if (a) it has a long vowel, (b) it has a diphthong or (c) it is followed by a cluster of two or more consonants.
See also Chapter 2, Section §2.1.3.
12.1.4 Quenya Vowel Shifts: Quenya vowels can shorten, lengthen and even vanish under various conditions.
- Elision: Elision is when the last vowel of a word is lost before the first vowel of another word. This can happen with:
- Two-syllable prepositions like ara “beside”: ar’ i mindon “beside the tower”.
- An uninflected aorist verb preceding the definite article i: i atan mat’ i massa “the man eats the bread”.
- The directional suffixes -nna, -llo and -sse: márenn’ alassëo “to the home of happiness”.
- Long adjectives preceding the noun they modify: vanim’ ambarónë “a beautiful dawn”.
- Final syllable reductions: Long vowels in final syllables can be shortened when:
- A directional case suffix is added: Endórë + -nna → Endorenna “to Endórë”.
- It is the final syllable of a compound: Elda + már → Eldamar “to Elf-home”.
- Final consonant clusters are also reduced: Mori- + quend(e) → Moriquen (Moriquend-) “Dark-elf”.
- Prosodic lengthening: The last vowel in a word can be lengthened when suffixes are added. This happens when:
- The base word is three or more syllables long.
- The word ends in a vowel and the suffix begins with a single consonant: telumë + -va → teluméva.
- Alternately, the word ends in a single consonant and the suffix begins with a vowel (possible followed by one consonant): Atanatar + -i → Atanatári.
- The second-to-last syllable of the base word cannot be stressed:
- telumë + -li → teluméli but falassë + -li → falasseli
- However, lengthening becomes possible again if the suffix itself is two syllables:
- telumë + -lion → telumélion and falassë + -lion → falassélion
See also Chapter 6, Section §6.1.
12.2 Noun Summary
12.2.1 Major Noun Classes: Quenya has three major classes of nouns, vocalic, e-noun and consonantal. See Chapter 1, Section §1.2.1.
- Vocalic Nouns: Nouns ending in a vowel (excluding e): elda “elf”.
- E-Nouns: Nouns ending in the vowel e: aiwë “bird”.
- Consonantal Nouns: Nouns ending in a consonant: atan “man [human being]”.
12.2.2 Plural Nouns: Noun plurals vary by noun class.
- Vocalic nouns add -r: elda “elf” → eldar “elves”.
- o-nouns with u-stems use wi-plurals: ranco (rancu-) “arm” → ranqui [rankwi] “arms”.
- E-nouns change the final -e to -i: aiwë “bird” → aiwi “birds”
- ie-nouns and le-nouns use er-plurals: tië “road” → tiër “roads”; tyellë “grade” → tyeller “grades”.
- Consonantal nouns add -i: atan “man” → atani “men”
- This is added to the noun-stem if it is different from the base noun: oron (oront-) “mountain” → oronti “mountains”.
See also Chapter 4, Section §4.2.1.
12.2.3 Partitive Plurals: Partitive plurals describe an indefinite group that is less than the entire class, using the suffix -li = “some, many”.
- Vocalic nouns use the suffix -li, possibly with prosodic lengthening (see section §12.1.4 above):
- elda → eldali “some elves”.
- telumë → teluméli “some roofs”.
- ambarónë → ambaróneli “some dawns”.
- Consonantal nouns use -li with various assimilations, or (speculative) a joining vowel e (-eli) if there is no suitable assimilation:
- tál (tal-) → talli “some feet”.
- atan → atalli “some men [humans]”.
- nér (ner-) → nelli “some men [males]”.
- Speculative: cas (car-) → calli “some heads”.
- Speculative: nat → nateli “some things”.
- Speculative: hón (hom-) → homeli “some hearts”.
- Speculative: Moriquen (Moriquend-) → Moriquendeli “some Dark Elves”.
See also Chapter 6, Section §6.2.
12.2.4 Dual Nouns: Duals describe closely associated pairs.
- Consonantal nouns use the dual suffix -u: atan “a man” → atanu “a pair of men”.
- Vocalic nouns use the dual suffix -t: cirya “a ship” → ciryat “a pair of ships”.
- Nouns with t, d before the final vowel use u instead: alda “a tree” → aldu “a pair of trees”.
- Some (but not all) body parts also use older u: pirë “a toe” → piru “a pair of toes”.
- Speculative: Possessive pronouns are likely suffixed to the noun first, and thus typically use t-duals: hendinyat not **hendunya.
- Non-pairs simply use atta “two”, with the noun in the singular: atan atta “two man [men]” (see section §12.8.6 below).
- Pairs as a unit use yúyo “both”, with the noun in the singular: yúyo atan “both man [men]”.
See also Chapter 5, Section §220.127.116.11.
12.2.5 Specialized Noun Classes: Specialized noun classes are too complex to summarize cleanly. See Chapter 11, Section §11.3.
12.3 Noun Cases
Quenya has eight major noun cases. The default nominative case (used for subjects) is also used for direct objects and the object of pronouns (accusative), and thus might be better referred to as the “common” case.
- Note ¹: The genitive -o replaces the vowel in singular a-nouns and o-nouns, but is suffixed to other vocalic nouns.
- Note ²: The e-nouns differ from other vocalic nouns in that they usually retain more their ancient i-plurals, the main exception being ie-nouns and (most) le-nouns which use r-plurals.
- Note ³: The partitive plurals of consonantal nouns often show various assimilations: -lli. Speculative: Where such assimilations are not possible, the joining vowel e is used: -eli.
- Note ⁴: The instrumental singular of consonantal nouns often shows various assimilations; see §12.3.5 below. Speculative: Where such assimilations are not possible, the joining vowel a is used: -anen.
12.3.1 Dative: The dative noun case is for indirect objects, equivalent to English “to, for”.
- The dative in most situations is formed by adding -n to the singular, plural, partitive plural or u-dual stem.
- For singular consonantal nouns, it is formed by adding -en to the stem, with a joining vowel e.
- For plural vocalic nouns, it is formed by adding -in to the noun stem.
- For duals that are normally formed with -t (t-duals), the dative dual is formed by adding -nt to the noun stem.
See also Chapter 5, Section §5.3
12.3.2 Genitive: The genitive noun case is for relationships similar to those with English preposition “of”:
- Singular and dual nouns simply add -o.
- Singular nouns ending in -a or -o replace their last vowel with -o.
- Plural nouns add the suffix -on to their plural form: -ion, -ron or (partitive plural) -lion.
The genitive is used for:
- Relationships between people: seldë Elerondo “daughter of Elrond”, aran eldaron “king of the elves”.
- The origin of someone or something: eldar Lóriendo “elves of Lórien”, róma Oromëo “horn of [created or given by] Oromë”.
- Composition or components of something: macil ango “sword of iron”, má i atano “hand of the man”.
- A description of someone or something: alcar i arano “glory of the king”, raxi i taurëo “dangers of the forest”.
See also Chapter 6, Section §6.3.1
12.3.3 Possessive: The possessive noun case is for relationships similar to those with English apostrophe-s (’s).
- For nouns ending in a vowel, add -va.
- For nouns ending in a consonant (including t-duals), add -wa.
- Speculative: Where the addition of -wa produces an unsuitable cluster, the suffix becomes -ua.
- For the plural possessive of vocalic nouns, the suffix -iva is added to the stem.
- For other plural, partitive plural or dual forms, any final i, u is lengthened when -va is added.
As with adjectives, the final vowel a of the possessive becomes ë when the thing possessed is in the plural: atanwë macili “a man’s swords”, atanívë macili “men’s swords”.
The possessive is used for:
- Ownership of a thing: macil atanwa “a man’s sword”, róma Oroméva “horn of [belonging to] Oromë”.
- An adjectival description of something: alcar i aranwa “glory of the king = the king’s glory”, aran eldaiva “king of the Elves = Elvish king”.
This second descriptive use is often interchangeable with the genitive. The main distinction in descriptive use is that -va tends to be used for innate attributes, while -o is used of attributes applicable in the moment: alcar Oromëo = “Orome’s glory (in the moment)” vs. alcar Oroméva = “Orome’s (inherent) glory”.
See also Chapter 6, Section §6.3.2
12.3.4 Directional Cases: The three direction cases are used as follows.
- Allative: Movement towards object: -(e)nna “to(wards)”.
- Ablative: Movement away from an object: -(e)llo “from”.
- Locative: Location at object: -(e)ssë “in, at, on”.
- Vocalic nouns add the basic directional suffix.
- Singular consonantal nouns use the joining vowel e.
In the plural they have an additional plural marker: r or n.
- Allative: -(i)nnar “to(wards) [pl.]”.
- Ablative: -(i)llon “from [pl.]”.
- Locative: -(i)ssen “in, at, on [pl.]”.
- Vocalic nouns add the basic directional suffix.
- Plural consonantal nouns use the joining vowel i.
The plural marker is optional for the partitive plural: ciryalinna(r), ciryalillo(n), ciryalisse(n).
See also Chapter 7, Section §7.3
12.3.5 Instrumental: The instrumental case indicates the means by which an action occurs and uses the suffix -nen after vowels. Speculative: The singular instrumental case often assimilates to the final consonant of a noun:
- After r, l, it becomes -men: nér (ner-) → nermen “by (means of) a man [male]”; tál (tal-) → talmen “by (means of) a foot”.
- After n, t, c it becomes -wen: nén (nen-) → nenwen “by (means of) water”, nat → natwen “by (means of) a thing”.
- After s (stem r-), it becomes -(r)men, with r replacing the final s: cas (car-) → carmen “by (means of) a head”.
- After more complex noun stems, it becomes -anen: umbar (umbart-) → umbartanen “by (means of) fate”.
This last formation, with -anen, may have gradually replaced the assimilated forms in modern Quenya: neranen, etc.
See also Chapter 7, Section §7.3.5
12.4 Pronoun Summary
Quenya has four main sets of pronouns:
- Independent pronouns used for direct objects and declined pronouns: ni “me”.
- Subject suffixes for pronominal suffixes appended to verbs: -n(yë) “I”.
- Possessive suffixes appended to nouns before any case suffix or plural marker: -nya “my”.
- Emphatic pronouns usable as both subject and object: inyë “even I”.
|1st sg. “me, I, my”||ni||-n(yë)||-(i)nya||inyë|
|2nd sg. fam. “you, your (familiar)”||tye||-t(yë) ¹||-(i)tya||*ityë|
|2nd sg. pol. “you, your (polite)”||lye||-l(yë)||-(e)lya||elyë|
|3rd sg. anim. “him/her, he/she, his/her”||se||-s(së)||-(r)ya ²||issë|
|3rd sg. inan. “it, its”||sa||-s(sa)||—||*issa|
|1st pl. excl. “us, we, our (but not you)”||me||-lmë||-(e)lma||elmë|
|1st pl. incl. “us, we, our (including you)”||ve||-lvë||-(e)lva||elvë|
|2nd pl. “you, your (plural)”||le||-ldë||-(e)lda||*eldë|
|3rd pl. anim. “them, they, their”||te||-ntë ³||-(i)nta||intë|
|3rd pl. inan. “them, they (neuter)”||tai||-nta||—||*inta|
|1st du. excl. “us two (but not you)”||met||-mmë||-(e)mma||^emmë|
|1st du. incl. “both of us”||vet||-nquë||-(i)nqua||inquë|
|2nd du. “you two”||tyet/let||-stë||-(e)sta||*estë|
|3rd du. “them two”||tu||-ttë||-(e)tta||^ettë|
- Note ¹: Singular subject pronouns have short and long forms, with the short form being more common unless object suffixes are added. The exception is -t(yë), where the long form -tyë is much more common and short -t should generally be avoided.
- Note ²: The possessive suffixes require a joining vowel when added to a noun ending in a consonant. The exception is -(r)ya, which uses -ya after a consonant and -rya after a vowel. Speculative: The joining vowel seems to be the same as the initial vowel of the emphatic form.
- Note ³: Popular variants of the 3rd pl. pronoun suffixes are -ltë, -(i)lta; both -ltë and -ntë were used often enough by Tolkien that it is hard to say which he preferred. This course uses -ntë throughout for consistency.
Quenya has other pronouns which can be found in the vocabulary.
- Indefinite Pronouns: Chapter 7, Section §18.104.22.168.
- mo “someone”, ma “something”.
- Fourth Person Pronouns: Chapter 7, Section §22.214.171.124.
- hyë “other person”, hya “other thing”.
- Relative Pronouns: Chapter 10, Section §10.1.1.
- i “who, which, that (indeclinable relative)”.
- ya “which, that (impersonal relative)”.
- ye “who, that (personal relative)”.
- Demonstrative Pronouns: Chapter 10, Section §10.2.
- si “this”, ta “that”, etc.
- Reflexive Pronouns: Chapter 10, Section §10.3.
- imni “myself”, imlë “yourself”, etc.
12.5 Verb Summary
12.5.1 Major Verb Classes: The most common Quenya verb conjugations can be broken down into three large categories of verbs:
- Basic Verbs: End in a consonant like mat- “to eat”, tul- “to come”.
- A-stem Verbs: End in the vowel a like fara- “to hunt”, lelya- “to travel”.
- This class actually include various more specialized verb classes; see section §12.5.10 below.
- U-stem Verbs: End in the vowel u like celu- “to flow”, tolu- “to stand up”.
- Note ¹: The Quenya past tense is fairly irregular. See section §12.5.5 for common patterns.
- Note ¹: There appears to be a small class of variant u-verbs whose stems originally ended in ku (or kw). These verbs have qu in the aorist, present and (presumably) perfect tenses, but cu in the past and (presumably) future tenses. This course represents their stem as ending in qu to highlight these alternate conjugations.
- Note ²: These forms for the qu-verbs are not attested.
- Note ¹: The Quenya past tense is fairly irregular. See section §12.5.5 for common patterns.
- Note ²: The y in the perfect and gerund of ya-stem verbs is also lost.
See also Chapter 2, Section §2.2.1.
12.5.2 Aorist Tense: Equivalent to the English simple present, for timeless or habitual actions: matë “eats”.
- Basic Verbs: Add an –ë to the stem, or i with further inflections.
- mat- “to eat”: i atan matë “the man eats”, i atani matir “the men eat” (mat-i-r), matin “I eat” (mat-i-n).
- A-stem Verbs: Use the stem unmodified, to which further inflections are added.
- lelya- “to travel”: i atan lelya “the man travels”, i atani lelyar “the men travel” (lelya-r), lelyan “I travel” (lelya-n).
- U-stem Verbs: Use the stem unmodified, to which further inflections are added.
- celu- “to flow”: i sírë celu “the river flows”, i síri celur “the rivers flow” (celu-r), celus “it flows” (celu-s).
See also Chapter 2, Section §2.2.2.
12.5.3 Present Tense: Equivalent to the English present continuous: máta “is eating”.
- Basic Verbs: Lengthen the base vowel and add an –a to the stem, then add any inflections.
- mat- “to eat”: i atan máta “the man is eating”, i atani mátar “the men are eating” (máta-r), mátan “I am eating” (máta-n).
- A-stem Verbs: Lengthen the base vowel (if possible) and change the final –a to -ëa, then add any inflections.
- fara- “to hunt”: i atan fárëa “the man is hunting”, i atani fárëar “the men are hunting” (fárëa-r), fárëan “I am hunting” (fárëa-n).
- lelya- “to travel”: i atan lelyëa “the man is travelling”, i atani lelyëar “the men are travelling” (lelyëa-r), lelyëan “I am travelling” (lelyëa-n).
- caita- “to lie (down)”: i atan caitëa “the man is lying (down)”, i atani caitëar “the men are lying (down)” (caitëa-r), caitëan “I am lying (down)” (caitëa-n).
- U-stem Verbs: Lengthen the base vowel (if possible) and add an –a to the stem, then add any inflections.
- celu- “to flow”: i sírë célua “the river is flowing”, i síri céluar “the rivers are flowing” (célua-r), céluas “it is flowing” (célua-s).
See also Chapter 2, Section §2.2.3.
12.5.4 Future Tense: Describes events occurring in the future: matuva “will eat”.
- Basic Verbs: In most cases the suffix -uva is added directly to the stem: tul- “to come” → tuluva “will come”.
- For basic verb stems ending in v, the v in the stem is lost: tyav- “to taste” → tyauva “will taste”.
- For basic verb stems ending in uv, the suffix becomes -ua: tuv- “to discover” → tuvua “will discover”.
- A-stem Verbs: The suffix -uva generally replaces the final a: lelya- “to travel” → lelyuva “will travel”.
- U-stem Verbs: The suffix -uva generally lengthens the final u: celu- “to flow (forth)” → celúva “will flow forth”.
See also Chapter 3, Section §3.4.1.
12.5.5 Past Tense: Describes events in the past: mantë “ate”.
Quenya past tenses are fairly irregular and the summary below only discusses the common patterns. This can be considered an “advanced topic” since things are quite complex. Beginners are often better off memorizing past tenses.
- Past Origins: The strong past tense of basic verbs arose from ancient nasal-suffixion (✶tul-nē) or infixion (✶tu-n-l-ē).
- The result varied depending on the final consonant of the verb stem.
- Verbs sometimes modified their ancient pasts to align with other verb forms.
- Many basic verbs have a long-vowel past based on their perfect: túlë “came” from utúlië “has come”.
- Derived verbs (a-stem and u-stem verbs) sometimes also have strong pasts derived from their ancient root.
- Basic verbs ending in p, t, c: These have past forms with mp, nt, nc:
- tup- “to cover” → tumpë “covered” from √TUP.
- mat- “to eat” → mantë “ate” from √MAT.
- nac- “to bite” → nancë “bit” from √NAK.
- Basic verbs ending in f, h: These have past forms with double pp, cc:
- raf- “to snatch” → rappë “snatched” from √RAPH.
- lah- “to kick” → laccë “kicked” from √LAKH.
- Basic verbs ending in s (classical þ): These usually have pasts reformed to ns, more rarely with tt (the original form):
- ces- [þ] “to search” → censë “searched” from √KETH.
- Basic verbs ending in r: These depend on the ancient origin of the r.
- From ancient r - past forms with rn:
- car- “to do, make” → carnë “did” from √KAR.
- From ancient s - past forms with ss, sometimes reformed to rn:
- hlar- “to hear” → hlassë “heard” from √SLAS.
- virya- “to change” → virnë “changed” from √WIS (strong past of a derived verb).
- From ancient d - past forms with nd, reformed to rn or long-vowel pasts from the perfect:
- rer- “to sow” → rendë “sowed” from √RED.
- nir- “to press, push” → nirnë “pressed, pushed” from √NID.
- ser- “to rest” → sérë “rest” from √SED.
- Basic verbs ending in v: These have past forms with mb (rare) or long-vowel pasts from the perfect (common):
- cav- “to receive” → cambë “received” from √KAB.
- lav- “to lick” → lávë “licked” from √LAB.
- Basic verbs ending in l: These have past forms with ll (common), ld (rare) or long-vowel pasts from the perfect:
- vil- “to fly” → villë “flew” from √WIL.
- ala- “to flourish, grow” → †aldë “flourished, grew” from √GAL (strong past of a derived verb).
- tul- “to come” → túlë “came” from √TUL.
- Basic verbs ending in m, n: These have past forms with mn, nn:
- nem- “to seem” → nemnë “seemed” from √NEM.
- cen- “to see” → cennë “saw” from √KEN.
- Strong pasts from y, w: These arise mainly as strong pasts of derived verbs, but are fairly common:
- coita- “to live” → coinë “lived” from √KOY.
- lauta- “to abound” → launë “abounded” from √LAW.
- Half-strong pasts: Formative verbs (ya-formative, ta-formative) have half-strong pasts with the nasal inserted before the ya/ta suffix and preceded by the base vowel:
- nahta- “to slay” → nacantë “slew” from √NDAK + tă.
- orya- “to rise” → oronyë “rose” from √OR + yă.
- Weak pasts: Other a-stem and u-stem verbs frequently have weak pasts adding the -në suffix to the verb stem:
- fara- “to hunt” → faranë “hunted” from √PHAR + ā.
- celu- “to flow (forth)” → celunë “flowed forth” from √KEL + ū.
- orta- “to raise” → ortanë “raised” from √OR + tā.
See also Chapter 4, Section §4.4.
12.5.6 Perfect Tense: The perfect tense is for completed actions whose effects are still felt in the present: amátië “has eaten”.
- Simple Perfect: Most perfects are formed with three simple rules.
- The base vowel is prefixed to the verb as an augment.
- The base vowel lengthens if possible (not for diphthongs or before consonant clusters).
- The suffix -ië is added, replacing the final vowel if any.
- For a ya-verb, the suffix -ië replaces the entire ya: orya- “to rise” → orórië “has raised”.
- Some examples:
- mat- “to eat” → amátië “has eaten”.
- fara- “to hunt” → afárië “has hunted”.
- celu- “to flow” → ecélië “has flowed”.
- caita- “to lie (down)” → acaitië “has lied (down)”.
- tulta- “to send (for)” → utultië “has sent (for)”.
- Variant Augments: There is some variability in augments.
- The augment is optional, especially in poetry.
- Verbs beginning with a vowel may reduplicate the first two letters: orta- “to raise” → orortië “has raised”.
See also Chapter 5, Section §5.4.
12.5.7 Verb Inflections: Verbs have various suffixes indicating the subject or (less common) object of the verb.
- Subject suffixes: When the subject is a pronoun, this pronoun is suffixed to the verb; see section §12.4 above.
- Plural Verbs: Add -r if the subject is plural and is not a pronoun suffixed to the verb.
- Dual Verbs: Use the dual suffix -t if the subject is a dual, two items or (speculative) two nouns joined by yo “both ... and”.
- Object suffixes: There are two object suffixes that may be added to verbs: -s “him/her” and -t “them”.
- Speculative: If added directly to the aorist tense, the vowel remains e rather than becoming i: i atan mates “the man eats it”.
- If added to a subject suffix, the long suffix form must be used: melinyes: “I love him/her”.
- See also Chapter 4, Section §126.96.36.199.
12.5.8 Infinitives and Gerunds: Infinitives and gerunds are verb forms that often take the role of nouns in a sentence (subjects and objects).
- Simple Infinitive: The simple infinitive is the uninflected aorist stem.
- It typically follows another verb as its object: merin cenë i osto “I want [to] see the city”.
- It cannot receive any suffixes.
- Particular Infinitive: The particular infinitive is formed with the suffix -ita.
- It can take suffixes and can serve as the sentence’s subject: caritas mára (ná) “To do it (is) good”.
- It uses possessive rather than subject suffixes: caritalyas mára (ná) “Your doing it (is) good”.
- It cannot receive noun case suffixes, however.
- Gerund: The gerund is formed with the suffix -ië: mat- → matië “eating”.
- This replaces the final a of a-stem verbs: anta- → antië “giving”.
- The y of ya-stem verbs is also lost: lelya- → lelië “traveling”.
- The suffix becomes -yë for u-stem verbs: liru- → liruyë “(gaily) singing”.
- The gerund functions like a noun and can receive noun cases, but cannot (usually) be made plural.
See also Chapter 7, Section §7.2.
12.5.9 Verbal Adjectives: Quenya can form various adjectives from verbs.
- Active Participles: Formed with the suffix -ila added to the verb stem indicating the action the noun is performing.
- matila elda “an eating elf” ← mat- “to eat”.
- liruila atan “a singing man” ← liru- “to sing (gaily)”.
- taltaila mindon “a collapsing tower” ← talta- “to collapse”.
- Passive Participles: Formed with the suffix -(i)na combined with the verb stem indicating an action performed on the noun.
- Basic verbs: matina orva “an eaten apple” ← mat- “to eat”.
- U-verbs: liruna laitë “a sung poem” ← liru- “to sing (gaily)”.
- A-stem verbs: These vary slightly depending on the most specific verb class:
- A-verbs: farina ráca “a hunted wolf” ← fara- “to hunt”.
- Half-strong: nahtina atan “a slain man” ← nahta- “to slay”.
- Weak: tultaina ohtar “a summoned soldier” ← tulta- “to summon”.
- Ya-verbs: ferina macil “a readied sword” ← ferya- “to ready”.
- See section §12.5.10 below for more on the specialized verb classes.
- Other Verb Suffixes:
- -ima “able to be done” (with vowel lengthening): mátima “edible = able to be eaten”.
- -itë “able to do” (with added base vowel): mataitë “able to eat”.
- -ula “prone to do”: matula “prone to eat = edacious, with ravenous appetite”.
See also Chapter 9, Section §9.1.
12.5.10 Specialized Verb Classes: The a-stem verbs can be further broken down into more specialized verb classes.
- A-verbs: These align with the simplified a-stem rules and generally have weak pasts: fara- “to hunt” → faranë.
- Take care to distinguish a-stem verbs (the larger group) from a-verbs (this specific verb class)
- Formative Verbs: Half-strong nahta- “to slay”, orya- “to rise”.
- Past: Use half-strong pasts nacantë, oronyë.
- Present: Have (archaic) ia-presents †nahtia, †ória.
- Ya-formatives: Ya-formatives lose their y in the present, perfect and gerund: órëa, (or)órië, orië.
- There are, however, examples where ya-formatives retain their y in the present: melya- → present melyëa (PE17/77).
- For simplicity, the exercises in this course assume the y is retained in the present tense.
- Talat-stem Verbs: These generally become either half-strong (conjugated like formative verbs above) or weak (conjugated like derivative verbs below).
- You can tell by their past tenses: half-strong talantë vs. weak sulpanë.
- Causative verbs: Weak tulta- “to summon”, tulya- “to lead”.
- Past: Use weak pasts: tultanë, tulyanë.
- Future: Have auva-futures: tultauva, tulyauva (for simplicity this can be ignored).
- Perfect: Sometimes have weak perfects (most useful for ya-causatives): utulyanië.
- Ya-causatives: Lose their y in gerunds: tulië.
- Derivative Verbs: Weak henta- “to read, scan”, tengwa- “to read (writing)”.
- Past: Use weak pasts: hentanë, tengwanë.
- Perfect: Sometimes have weak perfects: ehentanië vs. etengwië.
See also Chapter 8, Section §8.1.
12.6 Verbal Moods
12.6.1 Commands and Wishes:
- Commands: The imperative particle á is placed before uninflected aorist form of the verb: á tulë “come”.
- More urgent commands suffix á to the verb stem: tulá “come!”, pronounced “too-LAAH”.
- Indirect commands are also possible, with the subject noun following the verb: á tulir i atani “let the men come”.
- Wishes: The adverb nai “may (it be that)” is placed before the wished-for statement, usually in the future tense.
- Examples: nai tuluvas enar “may he/she come tomorrow”; nai hiruvalyes “may you find it”.
- More rarely the present tense is used: nai Eru mantëa tye “may God bless you [including now]”.
- Wishes for “to be” statements generally omit ná “be”: nai hínalya alassëa “may your child [be] happy”.
See also Chapter 3, Section §3.4.
12.6.2 Impersonal Verbs and Passive Voice:
- Impersonal Verbs: These verbs omit their subject in Quenya: ulë “[it] rains”.
- Passive Voice: Quenya has three ways of expressing passive voice, where the object of the action is emphasized over the subject (which may be entirely unexpressed).
- Omitting the subject in an impersonal construction: matë ni “[it] eats me”.
- Using an indefinite pronoun mo or ma: mo matë ni “one eats me”.
- Using a passive participle: nanyë matina “I am eaten”.
See also Chapter 9, Section §9.2.
12.6.3 Modal Verbs: Verbal moods for possibility, necessity or permissibility can be expressed in Quenya as follows.
- “I can do that” (I am capable of doing that) = polin carë sa (physically able) or istan carë sa (know how).
- “I may do that” (I am permitted to do that) = lertan carë sa (have no impediment to doing).
- “I might do that” (It is possible that I will do that) = ecë nin carë sa (imminent) or ecuva nin carë sa (future).
- More literally “there is a chance for me to do it” (impersonal).
- Speculative: “I must do that” (I am required to do that) = mauya nin carë sa.
- More literally “it is compelled for me to do it” (impersonal).
See also Chapter 10, Section §10.4.
12.6.4 Compound Tenses, Speculative: The compound tenses combine basic verb tenses with -në to put them in the past or -(u)va to put them in the future.
- Past imperfect mátanë “was eating” for actions that were ongoing in the past.
- Past perfect (a)mátiénë “had eaten” for actions that were completed in the past before some other past action.
- Past future matúvanë “was going to eat” for actions that were going to be performed after some other past action.
- Future imperfect mátauva “will be eating” for actions that will be ongoing in the future.
- Future perfect (a)mátiéva “will have eaten” for actions that will be complete before some other future action.
- Past future perfect [rare] (a)mátiévanë “would have eaten” for past hypothetical actions.
See also Chapter 11, Section §11.1.
12.6.5 Subjunctive, Speculative: Quenya’s basic adverbs and conjunctions of uncertainty are as follows.
- qui “if”: the weakest level of uncertainty, mostly used in conditionals as a conjunction meaning “if”.
- quiquië “whenever”: for more complex or habitual conditionals.
- cé “maybe, may”: the normal adverb of uncertainty, marking a statement as possibly unreal.
- This adverb is likely related to the impersonal verb ec- “may, have a chance to” described in Chapter 10, Section §10.4.1.
- céla “maybe not” is a negated variant of the above.
- quí(ta) “supposing, possibly, might”: the strongest level of uncertainty, for things that are very unlikely or known to be false, pure hypotheticals.
- This also functions as an “emphatic” hypothetical when the result is surprising or counterintuitive.
See also Chapter 11, Section §11.2.
12.7 Adjective and Adverb Summary
12.7.1 Adjectives: Adjectives generally precede the noun they modify, and must be plural if the noun they modify is plural (or partitive plural):
- Consonantal adjectives (usually ending in n) add i in the plural: locin “bent” → pl. locini.
- a-adjectives change the final a to ë: linta “swift” → pl. lintë.
- ëa-adjectives change the final ëa to ië: laurëa “golden” → pl. laurië.
- e-adjectives change the final ë to i: luinë “blue” → pl. luini.
- Speculative: o-adjectives (rare) change the final o to wi or ui: lungo “heavy” → pl. lungwi.
See also Chapter 4, Section §4.2.2.
12.7.2 Adverbs: Quenya has three ways of forming adverbs:
- Bare adjectives can be used as an adverb after the verb: nornes linta “he ran swift[ly]”.
- This is used when the adverb may be an attribute of the subject.
- The suffix -vë can be used to turn an adjective into an adverb: nornes andavë “he ran long”.
- This is used when the adverb is not an attribute of the subject or is far removed from the verb.
- Abstract nouns can be used as adverbs, often in an instrumental sense: nornes lintië “he ran [with] speed”.
- This last option is more obscure than the other two.
See also Chapter 9, Section §9.3.
12.7.3 Comparison and Intensives: Quenya doesn’t have a true comparative adjective form like English “brighter”, but has various intensive forms instead: ancalima “very bright”, arcalima “most bright”.
- Intensive: The intensive prefix is an(a)- “very” added to adjectives.
- The prefix is an- before vowels and most consonants.
- This is written an- before c, qu, but the pronunciation is añ-.
- Before m, p the prefix is am-.
- Before l, r, hl, hr the prefix is ana-. The forms before hr, hr are speculative.
- Superlative: The superlative prefix (actually a greater intensive) is ar(i)- “exceedingly, most”.
- In most cases the ar- prefix is simply added to the adjective.
- Comparison: The basic formula for comparison uses the preposition lá “beyond”.
- Anar (ná) calima lá Isil “the Sun is bright beyond the Moon”, meaning “the Sun is brighter than the Moon”.
- The Greatest: The formula for the greatest of a group is the intensive/superlative combined with the genitive plural.
- Eärendil ancalima elenion “Eärendil [is] very bright among stars”.
- Anar arcalima elenion “The Sun [is] most bright among stars” = “brightest”.
- Anar arcalima ilyaron “The Sun is brightest of all”.
- Comparative Adjective and Adverb: The adjective amba “more” and adverb ambë “more” may also be used.
- á anta nin amba lúmë “give me more time”.
- á serë ambë “rest more”.
See also Chapter 9, Section §9.4.
12.8 Syntax Summary
12.8.1 Word Order: Quenya word order is similar to English, but not identical:
- The basic Quenya word order is: subject, verb, object.
- Adjectives usually precede their noun and prepositions precede their phrase.
- Words with noun cases are freer in their word order.
- There are number of special circumstances where the usual order is violated, especially in poetry and with pronouns.
- The subject suffix comes after the verb.
- Pronoun objects sometimes precede the verb.
See also Chapter 4, Section §4.3.1.
12.8.2 Definite Article: The Quenya definite article is i “the”, but it is used less often than in English.
- Article Use: The article i is used:
- When a prior indefinite referent becomes definite: Elda túlë i ostonna. I elda mernë quetë i aranen. “An elf came to the city. The elf wanted to talk to the king”.
- When the referent is being marked as specific in this situation: Á latya i lattin “Open the window”.
- When the referent is specified as an abstract concept: I macil (ná) turwa tamma ohto “The sword is a powerful tool of war”.
- Article Non-Use: The article i is not used:
- With universally unique things: menel vs. “[the] heavens”.
- With epithets following a name: Elendil Voronda vs. “Elendil [the] Faithful”.
- When the noun is defined by a determining adjective: telda elda vs. “[the] last elf”.
- When the referent is defined by a genitive or possessive: má atano “[the] hand of a man”, atanwa macil “a man’s sword”.
- Note that the article is omitted from the modified noun, but may still be applied to the modifying noun.
- má i atano “[the] hand of the man”, i atanwa macil “the man’s sword”
See also Chapter 6, Section §6.4.
12.8.3 “To Be” Verb:
- ná-: The verb ná- is used to equate a (pro)noun to a noun or adjective like English “to be”.
- Aorist/Present: ná “is/am/are”
- Past: nánë “was/were”
- Perfect: anaië “has/have been”
- Future: nauva “will be”
- The aorist/present form ná favors the long forms of pronoun suffixes (nanyë, nalyë) except for nás “he/she/it is”.
- The verb ná can appear in various places in a phrase:
- Omitted completely: For simple subject-predicate statements in the present/aorist:
- i nauco hesto “the dwarf [is] a captain”, i elda halla “the elf [is] tall”.
- Before the predicate: With inflected forms (past/future or with pronouns):
- i nauco nánë hesto “the dwarf was a captain”, nalyë halla “you are tall”.
- After the predicate: In complex or impersonal expressions:
- i nauco i marë i orontessë hesto ná “the dwarf who lives in the mountain is a captain”, lauca ná “it is warm”.
- ëa-: The verb ëa- is equivalent to English “exist” and can only be followed by adverbs (usually of time) or prepositional expressions.
- Aorist/Present: ëa “exists”
- Future: euva “will exist”
- Past: engë “existed”
- Perfect: engië “has existed”, archaic †éye.
See also Chapter 2, Section §2.3.
- Quenya has a negative verb ui- “to not be”.
- Aorist/Present: ui “is/am/are not”
- Past: únë “was not”
- Perfect: uië “has/have not been”
- Future: úva “will not be”
- When used to negate verbs, ui- carries only the pronoun suffix (if any); the tense is carried on the negated verb:
- i atan ui mantë “the man did not eat”
- uin(ye) mantë “I did not eat”
See also Chapter 5, Section §5.5.
12.8.5 Subordinate Clauses
- The indeclinable relative pronoun i “who, which, that” is used to form a subordinate clause if the relative pronoun is the subject or the object of that clause.
- The verb in the clause must agree with the plurality of the original noun (referent) if the relative pronoun is the subject of the clause.
- The declinable relative pronoun ya “which, that” and ye “who, that” is used if the relative pronoun is declined into a noun case: yanna “to which”, yello “from who”.
- If the original noun (referent) is plural, the relative pronoun uses the plural form of the noun case. In the case of ye, it also uses its plural base form i-: yannar = ya-nna-r “which-to-(pl.)”, illon = i-llo-n “(who pl.)-from-(pl.)”
- Speculative: The declinable forms are also used if the relative pronoun is the object of a preposition.
See also Chapter 10, Section §10.1.
12.8.6 Numbers: Smaller numbers are as follows.
- min num. “one”
- atta num. “two”
- neldë num. “three”
- canta num. “four”
- lempë num. “five”
- enquë num. “six”
- otso num. “seven”
- toldo num. “eight”
- nertë num. “nine”
- quëan num. “ten”
- minquë num. “eleven”
- yunquë num. “twelve”
Larger numbers are:
- *nelquë num. “thirteen”
- *canquë num. “fourteen”
- lepenquë num. “fifteen”
- enenquë num. “sixteen”
- otoquë num. “seventeen”
- *tolquë num. “eighteen”
- neterquë num. “nineteen”
- !yuquain num. “twenty”
- !nelquain num. “thirty”
- !canquain num. “forty”
- !lepenquain num. “fifty”
- !enquain num. “sixty”
- !otoquain num. “seventy”
- !tolquain num. “eighty”
- !neterquain num. “ninety”
Two special numbers are used for solitary items and pairs:
- er adj. and adv. “one, alone”
- yúyo adj. “both”
Numbers larger than one follow the noun:
- atta “two” is used with singular nouns: elda atta “two elf”.
- Larger numbers are used with plural nouns: eldar neldë “three elves”.
- atta “two” uses “The Last Declinable Word” rule: quenten elda attan “I spoke to two elf”.
- Larger numbers are not declined: quenten eldain neldë “I spoke to three elves”.
Ordinal numbers (mostly) change the final vowel to -ëa:
- minya num. “first”
- attëa num. “second”
- neldëa num. “third”
- otsëa num. “seventh”
- quainëa num. “tenth”
Combined numbers put the smaller digit first, followed by the larger one: canta lepenquain “four fifty”, instead of the English order “fifty four”.
See also Chapter 6, Section §6.5.
12.9 Tengwar Summary
This chart shows the tengwar values used in Quenya. It is a modified version of the table from Appendix E with the addition of the tyelpetéma (series V).
||þ s [þ]
||ñ n [ñ]
||ñw nw [ñw]
Quenya uses five vowel tehtar which can appear on short carriers (`), long carriers (~) or on preceding consonants (such as 1 = t):
- i = `B, í = ~B, ti = 1T
- e = `V, é = ~V, te = 1R
- a = `C, á = ~C, ta = 1E
- o = `N, ó = ~N, to = 1Y
- u = `M, ú = ~M, tu = 1U
The Quenya i-diphthongs use l and the u-diphthongs use .:
- ai = ai
- oi = oi
- ui = ui
- iu = iu
- eu = eu
- au = au
The tehtar for modifying Quenya consonants are:
- y-tehta: A pair of underdots Ï indicating a “y” sound; see series V in the tengwar chart above.
- long-tehta: An underbar ' indicating a double consonant - cc, ll, mm, nn, pp, rr, tt = cc ll mm nn pp rr tt.
- s-hook: A curl + indicating a following s - ps, ts, x [ks] = ps ts ks.
Tengwar punctuation symbols are:
- Comma “,” = =
- Period “.” = -
- Paragraph/document end = -= or --
- Question mark “?” = À
- Exclamation point “!” = Á
- Quotation marks “ ” = “ ”
See also Chapter 4, Section §4.1 and Chapter 5, Section §5.1.