The present tense in Quenya corresponds closely to the present continuous in English. It is used to describe ongoing actions, such as e.g. “the child is eating” (i hína máta) as opposed to “the child eats” (i hína matë). Notice that there is no “is” or other forms of the verb “to be” involved in the Quenya present tense – “máta” means “is eating” all by itself.

Most verbs in Quenya fall into one of these two main categories:
* a-stem verbs, also called “derived verbs” (all these verbs end in “-a”)
* primary or “basic” verbs (end in a consonant)

The main vowel of a verb is referred to as the “stem vowel”. This is usually the first vowel, unless that one is part of a prefix. Keep in mind that neither ‘y’, nor ‘u’ in the consonant cluster ‘qu’ are vowels.

The present tense of basic verbs is formed by lengthening the stem vowel and adding “-a”. The acute accent is used to show that the vowel is long.
Example: mat- (“eat”) > máta (“is eating”)

The present tense of a-stems is also formed by adding “-a”, but since there would now be two “a” in a row, they turn into “-ëa” instead. The stem vowel is lengthened, unless it is followed by a consonant cluster.
Example: anta (“give”) > antëa (“is giving”)

Verbs agree in number with their subjects. The plural is formed by adding the plural ending “-r” to the singular form.
Example: i hína máta (the child is eating) > i híni mátar (the children are eating).

Adjectival comparison: more and most

The comparative form of adjectives is not known, but this lack can be circumvented, at least in comparison, by using “lá” (beyond).
Example: I toron ná halla lá i seler. (The brother is taller than the sister; literally: The brother is tall beyond the sister).

Tolkien referred to the prefix “an-” as the “superlative or intensive prefix”. It is not clear whether he meant that the superlative of adjectives can be formed by adding “an-“, or if the prefix would just mean something like “very, exceedingly”. However, following the example “ancalima”, translated “brightest”, we will use it here for forming the superlative.

Example: vanima > anvanima (fair > fairest)
Assimilation, meaning that “an” changes to “al”, “ar”, “as”, or “am”, occurs when the adjectives begin in l, r, s, or m.

Examples: laica > allaica (green > “greenest”), ringa > arringa (coldest), saila > assaila (wisest), melda > ammelda (dearest)

Lesson 5 Vocabulary list
In word lists, verbs are usually given in their “stem form”, which ends in a hyphen to show that these aren’t complete forms and can’t be used “as is”.

harya- “possess, have”
ista- “know”
móta- “labour, toil”
anta- “give”
cen- “see”
hlar- “hear”
mat- “eat”
suc- “drink”
mer- “wish, desire, want”
tul- “come”
quet- “speak”
hir- “find”
mel- “love” (as friend)


Tengwar Lesson 5

In this lesson we meet the tengwar that denote a nasal sound. Two of them are very frequent, the other two only have restricted uses.
First the two important ones:

The next tengwa is a remainder of Primitive Elvish, the ancestor language of both Quenya and Sindarin (spoken during the First Age).

In Primitive Elvish it was pronounced as ‘ñ’, a sound that still exists in Spanish. But in modern Quenya (i.e. Third Age Quenya), we pronounce it just as ‘n’.

So in spoken Quenya we hear no difference between númen and noldo. But in writing it is important that a word which evolved from a Primitive Elvish word with an ‘ñ’ is still written with noldo and not with númen.


Words with noldo: nalmë “clamour”, nalta “radiance”, nanda “harp” (and all derived words), narmo “wolf”, naulë “wolf howl”, nauro “werewolf”, náva “mouth (lips + inside)”, nó “idea”, nol- “to smell”, nóla “wise”, nolda “dark haired”, Noldo “a Noldorian elf” (and all derived words), nólë “study, knowledge”, nólemë “wisdom”, nolmo “wise person”, nolwë “wisdom”, nolya “dark haired”, non “groan”, nona- “to groan”, nor “fear”, norta “horrible”, norto “horror”, notto “enemy”, núla “occult, mysterious”, núla “secrecy, black magic”, nuru “(the personification of) death”.

The other rare tengwa is only used at the beginning of a word:

If the combination ‘nw’ is found in the middle of a word, it is never written with nwalmë but with a separate ‘n’ and ‘w’.