Summary of the Quenya Grammar

content:

  1. The Article
  2. The Noun
 
  2.1 Quenya Nouns
 
  2.2 Plural of Nouns
 
  2.3 Dual of Nouns
 
  2.4 The Use of the Cases
 
  2.5 The Case Endings
  3. The Adjective
  4. The Verb
 
  4.1 Two Kinds of Verbs
 
  4.2 The Verb Tenses & Their Endings
 
  4.3 Exception: "to be"
  5. The Pronoun system

 

  1. The Article

Unlike English, Quenya only has a definite article.
The definite article is   i ,
”the horse” is thus i rocco
but
”a horse” is  rocco ,without any addings, there is no Quenya equivalent for the English “a”.

! The article remains the same, even when the noun changes in number
”the horses” is  i roccorrocco changed to plural form but the article i has remained unchanged.

   
  2. The Noun

2.1  Quenya Nouns

Quenya Nouns can appear in many shapes, depending their function in the sentence.
The Quenya Nouns can change of number:      a horse =  rocco

                                                                       horses =  roccor
But, unlike in many languages, Quenya nouns have no specified genus that can change the noun form.

! Mostly the endings, like the plural marking ending, are added to the basic form noun itself, but some nouns have special stem forms to which the endings are added:      a mountain = oron

 mountains = oronti

Here, we have oront- as a special stem form of oron + the plural marker -i

Another example is:     a woman = ns
                                   women = nissi
niss- is a special stem form of the basic noun ns, to which endings have to be added.


Those special stem forms have to be learned by heart, there is simply no other way.

 


2.2  Plural of Nouns

The Plural of (almost) all Quenya nouns can be formed with the below scheme:

              Noun ending in       -a, -i, -o, -u or -i          + r for plural

 (for example:     rocco                      roccor)
                         (li                            lir)

              Noun ending in               -e                          i replaces e

             (for example:      vende                      vendi)

              Noun ending in              a consonant          + i

                         (for example:     aran                        arani)

! There is also said to be a partitive plural that gets the ending -li added to a noun, but the meaning of this kind of plural isn't fully known, perhaps it is used for describing a whole group of similar objects, or it can also mean "some", like in "some people" --> a part from a bigger group. But I would discourage the use of this plural form, as we do not sufficiently know what it is about.


2.3 Dual of Nouns

Apart from the singular and plural, there is also a third number present in Quenya, one that we not know in English:
the dual.
Latin Students will already know about this number, but I will give some explanation for those not familiar with Latin.

The Dual form is used to indicate that their are 2 of something, but not 2 separate things, rather 2 who make a whole.
For example:
hendu = 2 eyes --> a couple of eyes --> those 2 eyes belong together, (almost) everyone has 2 eyes, they ought to be seen as a whole rather than as 2 separate (what would be done with the plural form hendi)
The only way you could use hendi when speaking of 2 eyes, would be to talk about an eye of a first person and an eye of another person, in, say, comparing them.
(Notice
hend-, special stem form of the basic noun hen , "eye")

The eyes are a very clear example, but in some cases one could hesitate whether to use the plural or dual form.
The example given by Mr. Fauskanger is ciryat - ciryar.
Ciryat is a dual, and it would speak about a couple of ships that belong together, sister-ships if you wish.
Atta (= 2) Ciryar is a plural form, literally also meaning "2 ships", but these 2 ships have nothing to do with each other, they do not make a whole, they are just accidentally named in 1 phrase.

As perhaps you already noticed in the examples above, their are two dual endings: -u and -t
We don't always know for certain when to use -u and when to use -t, but there are some rules:

-t as dual ending In the normal cases
(e.g.: aiw (=bird) --> aiwet)
-u as dual ending
* When there is a d or t already present in the word.
(e.g.: ando (= gate) --> andu)
(oron (= mountain) --> orontu (= 2 mountains within the same mountain range)
(!Special stem form))

* When speaking of body parts (e.g.: hen (=eye)--> hendu)

! If -u has to be added to a word ending in a vowel, the vowel is replaced by -u.

2.4 The Use of Cases

  • Quenya has several cases, states of the noun that can indicate, for example, something belongs to someone or where something is. The cases actually tell us what the function of a word in a sentence is.
    In English, this is done by means of short words like "on, of, with, to, from, by,..."
    Quenya does not know any of such words, but indicates the same as these words do through putting an ending to a noun.
    For example:
    "They went to the ship" --> "To the ship" in Quenya is i ciryanna
    i is the article, cirya is the basic noun and -nna is the allative case ending; meaning "to"

    There are 9 Quenya cases of which we more or less know clearly what they stand for. Some are resembling the Latin cases.
  • Nominative: this is the "normal mode" for nouns, the basic form of a noun; it is used for the subject or the predicate of a sentence

    for example:

    The ship is big. ("the ship" is subject)
    That is a ship. ("a ship" is predicate)
  • (Accusative): The Accusative Case used to be for distinguising the direct object of a sentence, but in modern Quenya this case got out of use. Hence this case doesn't really exist anymore, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway.
  • Genitive: Both the Genitive and the Possesive Case (see below) are used for showing ownership, but there are differences in use. In English, we would use for both of them the short word "of" (the house of the king) or the suffix " 's " (the king's house).
    The noun that gets the genitive ending (the "possessor3) can be either before or after the other noun (which is the "possession"). But usually it is placed after (Alcar Endro --> Brilliance OF Middle-Earth)

    We will try to make clear boundaries for the use of Genitive or Possesive here.
    Genitive is not really used to connote simple ownership, thus not for something being your direct property, but rather for connoting:
    (the underlined would be the noun receiving the Genitive ending)
      - source --> where does something/someone originates from?(also for former possessions)
    (e.g.: a lover's kisses --> the lover doesn't own the kisses, but they come from him/her) (the source can also be a place)
      - family relationships (c.f.: the mother's child --> the child is not really the mother's property)
      - partitive genitive --> something/one being a part of bigger whole (often with a superlative followed by a genitive plural)
    (e.g.: the smartest of/among the children , the most beautiful in/of the world) (we are more likely to use the "of" structure here, although "the world's most beautiful" would be possible too.)
      - object / place relationship --> between a place and something located in that place
    (e.g.: Britain's youth -->the youth that lives in Britain) (it shouldn't necessarily be located in the place at the moment of speaking, it can also originate from that place)
      - mastership relation --> between a ruler and a ruled object/person/place
    (e.g.: King of Belgium , Lord of the Rings)
      - "concerning" relationship --> here, the Genitive actually describes the English "of", in the meaning of "about, concerning"
    (e.g.: the tale of Beren and Lthien --> it isn't really 'their' tale, but it is the tale telling us about Beren & Lthien)
      - --> the preposition (meaning "without") is always followed by a noun in the genitive.
      - subject genitive --> students of Latin may recognize this; there are a subject and an object genitive, these terms are used when we are able to make a sentence out of an ownership relation between 2 nouns, where the "possession" turns into an adjective.
    for example:
    the cat's death --> the cat is dead
    the boy's fear --> the boy is afraid

    --> these 2 examples are subject genitives, because the noun in the genitive (the one that gets the 's) is the subject of the sentence we can make with it. (Below we will also see what the object genitive looks like)


  • Possessive: Possessive Case (also called Adjectival Case) is the other case for denoting ownership relations. Like for Genitive, it is translated in English by means of ...'s ... and ... of .... Equally the noun receiving the Possessive ending (the possessor) is mostly placed after the possession. The Possessive Case is used in ownership relationships of:
      - simple ownership --> for something being your direct property.
    (e.g.: the teacher's coat, the old lady's car)
      - a permanent attribute --> c.f.: the queen's good taste
      - a place characteristic --> often in place's surnames
    (e.g.: Land of Darkness, Country of the rising sun)
      - makeup--> what does something consists of, what is it made of?
    (e.g.: a dress of fine silk, eggs of chocolate --> a dress made of fine silk, eggs that consist of chocolate)
      - object genitive --> This is thus the object genitive spoken about above. (quite strange to see the word genitive here in the possessive case table, but it is the Latin genitive we're refering to here.) Since subject genitive meant being able to make a sentence with the particular noun as subject, I suppose you can already reckon what objact genitive means? Right, making a phrase with that noun as a direct object. In this case, the "possession", which is always a verbal noun, turns into a verb (in a continuous tense!) in the sentence.
    for example:
    the killing of men --> <someone/thing> is killing men
    the healing of wounds --> <someone/thing> is healing wounds

    --> these 2 examples are object genitives, because the noun receiving the possessive ending (the underlined one) becomes the object of the sentence we can make with it.

  • Dative: The Dative Case, which handles the same as the primary function of the Latin Dative, is used to indicate the indirect object. Where we would often (not necessarily) indicate this in English with the prepositions to and for, Quenya uses a suffix added to the noun.
    for example: he gave a cup of milk to the cat
      she did it for her friend
      he offered the girl flowers
  • Allative: The Quenya Allative Case replaces the English prepositions to, towards and also on, upon, into.
    It is used to indicate where someone or something is
    going to, to indicate a direction.
    ( e.g.: the sailor is going towards the ship, the birds are flying to the south)
    It can also indicate upon, into or on, but not in the sense of indicating a physical position of someone, but rather figural:
    something doing something upon/on/into something
    (e.g. the famous quote: A star shines upon the hour of our meeting. --> The star isn't physically placed upon the hour) (with a slight meaning of "towards" left in it, because shining upon is also shining towards)
  • Ablative: The Ablative Case expresses the opposite of the primary Allative function: it replaces English prepositions from, out of.
    It is used to indicate where someone or something is
    coming from.
    (e.g.: he came out of the house, the sailors all came from the ship)
  • Locative: The Locative Case describes the location of something or someone, it replaces English prepositions in, on and upon. We are talking here about actual physical position.
    (e.g.: the King sat upon the throne, the maidens are in the house)
  • Instrumental: The last case, used for expressing with which or by which something is done, or what makes something happen. It replaces prepositions with, by, using, by means of.
    In Passive phrases it can indicate who/what does the action.
    (e.g.: he paints with special brushes, the food is eaten by the cat, the leaves are flying in the wind -->actually: using the wind)

2.5 The Case Endings

 

Singular

Plural

Dual

Nominative

BASIC NOUN


cirya

(see scheme)  + R
                      + I

ciryar

(see scheme) + T
                     + U

ciryat

(Accusative)      
Genitive

+ O
(replaces final a, i, o, u)

ciryo

Plural form + ON

 
cirya
ron

(if nominative dual on -t)    +TO
(if nominative dual on -u)   +UO

ciryato

Possessive

+ VA
(after a consonant) + WA

ciryava

+ IVA


cirya
iva

nominative dual on -t + WA
nominative dual on -u + VA

ciryatwa

Dative

+ N


ciryan

+ IN


cirya
in

(if nom. dual on -t) + NT
(if nom. dual on -u) + UEN

ciryant

Allative

+ NNA

ciryanna

+ NNAR

cirya
nnar

+ NTA

ciryanta

Ablative

+ LLO

ciryallo

+ LLOR

ciryallor

+ LTO

ciryalto

Locative

+ SSE


ciryasse

+ SSEN


ciryassen

(if nom. dual on -t) + TSE
(if nom. dual on -u) nom. dual +SSE

ciryatse

Instrumental

+ NEN


ciryanen

+ INEN


ciryainen

( if nom. dual on -t) + NTEN
(if nom. dual on -u)  + UNEN

ciryanten