Tolkien Gateway

Quenya Grammar

"The wise will stay here and hope to rebuild our town..." — Master of Lake-town
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Note: these rules apply only to Noldorin Quenya, being the only dialect spoken in Middle-earth.

Quenya was an agglutinative SVO language. It had a relatively free word order since most information was expressed morphologically rather than syntactically. The different word classes of Quenya are explained below.


[edit] Nouns

Nouns are declined for ten cases: the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, instrumental, possessive, locative, allative, ablative, and a tenth "mystery" case sometimes called the "respective".

  • The nominative is used mainly to mark the subject of a verb. In spoken Quenya it also functions as the accusative (see below). It is also used with prepositions.
  • The accusative marks the direct object of a verb. It is not used in spoken Quenya, having been replaced by the nominative after Elves left Aman, but appears in writing.
  • The genitive is mainly used to mark origin (e. g. the best smiths of Tirion). Its usage sometimes overlaps the ablative.
  • The dative marks the indirect object of a verb.
  • The instrumental marks a noun which is used as a tool or instrument.
  • The possessive marks possession or ownership. This usage sometimes overlaps with the genitive.
  • The locative expresses location or position.
  • The allative expresses motion towards.
  • The ablative expresses motion away from.
  • The "mystery" or respective case may be a figurative equivalent of the locative case (e.g. "about wolves" or "regarding wolves").

There are four numbers: the singular, dual, plural, and partitive plural.

[edit] Vocalic Declension

a-, i-, ie-, o-, and u-stems e-stems
Singular Dual Plural Part. Plural Singular Dual Plural Part. Plural
Nominative yulma yulmat yulmar yulmali aurë auret auri aureli
Accusative yulmá  ?yulmat yulmai yulmalí auré  ?auret aurí aurelí;
Genitive yulmo yulmato yulmaron yulmalion aurëo aureto aurion aurelion
Dative yulman yulmant yulmain yulmalin auren aurent aurín aurelín
Instrumental yulmanen yulmanten yulmainen yulmalínen aurenen aurenten aurínen aurelínen
Possessive yulmava yulmatwa yulmaiva yulmalíva aureva auretwa auríva aurelíva
Locative yulmassë yulmatsë yulmassen yulmalissë auressë auretsë auressen aurelissë
Allative yulmanna yulmanta yulmannar yulmalinna aurenna aurenta aurennar aurelinna
Ablative yulmallo yulmalto yulmallon yulmalillo aurello aurelto aurellon aurelillo
Respective yulmas yulmates yulmais yulmalis aures auretes aurís aurelís

[edit] Consonantal Declension

Singular Dual Plural Part. Plural
Nominative nat natu nati nateli
Accusative nat natú natí natelí
Genitive nato natuo nation natelion
Dative naten natun natin natelin
Instrumental natenen natunen natinen natelínen
Possessive natwa natuva nativa natelíva
Locative natsë natussë natissen natelissë
Allative natenna natenta natinnar natelinnar
Ablative natello natelto natillon natelillo
Respective nates natus natis natelis

[edit] Verbs

There are two main types of verbs: basic verbs, those which are formed from the basic verbal base, such as tirë (tiri-) "watch" from *TIR, and derivative verbs, which are formed either by putting verbal suffixes to a base like tulta- "summon", from *TUL "come", or derived from non-verbal bases like cúna- "bend", originally an adjective "bent".

Derivative verbs Basic verbs
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Infinitive tulta (tulta-) tirë (tir-) palo (palu-)
Aorist/Simple present tulta tultar tirë (tiri-) tirir palo (palu-) palur
Present continuative tultëa tultëar tíra tírar pálua páluar
Past tultanë tultaner tirnë tirner pallë paller
Future tultuva tultuvar tiruva tiruvar palúva palúvar
Perfect utultië utultier itírië itírier apálië apálier

[edit] Pronouns

Pronouns are seen as both independent words and enclitics; however the rules for this are not completely understood, although evidence sugests that independent forms are more emphatic in nature, while enclitics are the forms in use normally. What is known is that for intransitive verbs, the pronoun can appear as either an independent word or an enclitic. The enclitics often come in two different forms, long and short. The following table outlines the different forms attested. Hypothetical or reconstructed forms are indicated by either question marks or asterisks. Those forms that cannot be determined are not included and their absence is indicated by an emdash.

Independent Enclitic Independent Example Enclitic Example
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
First Person Inclusive ni, inyë *elvë, *elwë -n, -nyë -lvë,
inyë tirë elvë/elwë tirir tirinyë, tirin tirilvë, tirilwë
Exclusive *elmë -lmë elmë tirir tirilmë
Second Person le, elyë le, ellë -l, -lyë  ?-llë elyë tirë  ?ellë tirir, elyë tirir tiril, tirilyë  ?tirillë, tirilyë
Third Person se te -s, -ryë -t,
se tirë  ?entë tirir tiris, tiriryë tirit, tirintë

Aside from inclusive and exclusive modes in the first person plural, there is also a dual mode, denoted by emmë, -mmë. The pronouns can be declined much like the regular nouns; for instance, the dative form of emmë is emmen. This appears to be mostly regular, except for te, "they", which takes the dative form tien.