13 – A Stem Verbs
We can split Sindarin verbs up into two distinct categories: the Basic Verbs also know as the I-Stems and the Derived Verbs called the A-Stems. We will only deal with the A-Stems this lesson, but don’t forget about the I-Stems.
Now on to the various forms of verbs… This may be a little tricky!
What is an infinitive? In Sindarin the infinitive is a modified form of the verb which is usually introduced by ‘to’.
In Sindarin, the infinitive is formed by replacing the ending -a with -o. For example:
Bronia “endure” > Bronio “to endure”
Dagra “make war” > Dagro “to make war”
Siria “flow” > Sirio “to flow”
Tiria “watch” > Tirio “to watch”
NOTE: The infinitive seems to have fallen out of use by the time of LOTR, instead relying upon the gerund. It may be best to use the gerund “in place of the infinitive” when writing in Sindarin. We shall discuss this possibility in later lessons on sentence formation.
THE PRESENT TENSE (3rd Person Singular)
The present tense 3rd person singular is identical to the A-Stem itself and therefore needs no modification. The present tense refers to events that are happening in the present, or at this moment in time.
Bronia “endure” > Bronia “endures”
Dagra “make war” > Dagra “makes war”
Siria “flow” > Siria “flows”
Tiria “watch” > Tiria “watches”
As you can see no change has been made to the verb because it is naturally in present tense (unlike many languages, in which the infinitive is the natural form).
You might use the present tense in such a manner:
I edhel TIRIA edrain “The elf WATCHES the border”
I orch DAGRA dan i edhel “The orc MAKES WAR against the Elf”
THE PAST TENSE (3rd Person Singular)
The past tense refers to events that already happened, or took place. In Sindarin, the 3rd person singular past tense is formed by adding -nt to the A-Stem.
Bronia “endure” > Broniant “endured”
Dagra “make war” > Dagrant “made war”
Siria “flow” > Siriant “flowed”
Tiria “watch” > Tiriant “watched”
Elrond TIRIANT i goth “Elrond WATCHED the enemy”
I Aran DAGRANT dan in yrch “The King MADE WAR against the orcs”
THE FUTURE TENSE
The future tense refers to events that are going to happen, or have not yet come to pass. The Sindarin 3rd person singular future tense is formed by adding the suffix -tha to the A-Stem.
Bronia “endure” > Broniatha “will endure”
Dagra “make war” > Dagratha “will make war”
Siria “flow” > Siriatha “will flow”
Tiria “watch” > Tiriatha “will watch”
The future tense might be used in such sentences:
Gildor BRONIATHA i orch. “Gildor WILL ENDURE the orc”
I edhel TIRIATHA i orch. “The elf WILL WATCH the orc”
The imperative is a form of the verb expressive of a command, entreaty (request), or exhortation (encouragement). In Lothlorien, Haldir commands the company to halt using the imperative form of dar-, Daro “halt, stop!”. The Sindarin imperative is formed by replacing the ending of the A-stem “-a” with “-o”. Please note that the imperative looks just like the infinitive.
Bronia “endure” > Bronio “endure!”
Dagra “make war” > Dagro “make war!”
Siria “flow” > Sirio “flow!”
Tiria “watch” > Tirio “watch!”
NODO i goth “BIND the enemy!”
BRONIO i auth “ENDURE the war!”
NOTE: Above it is stated that the imperative can be used to express an exhortation. The expression “may it be” is replaced by using the imperative in Sindarin. An example of this is the Praise for the Ringbearers: “Cuio i Pheriain anann ! (May the Haflings live long!)
THE ACTIVE PARTICIPLE (present participle)
The active (or present participle) is an adjectival word that is derived from the verb. It describes the state one is in when one is carrying out the action of the verb. For example: singing, laughing, crying etc. The active participle is formed by adding the suffix “-ol” to the verb stem, displacing the final “a”.
Bronia “endure” > Broniol “enduring”
Dagra “make war” > Dagrol “Making war”
Siria “flow” > Siriol “flowing”
Tiriol “watch” > Tiriol “watching”
The active participle is used in this way:
Gildor, TIRIOL i edrain, ú-vâd. “Gildor, WATCHING the border, does not eat.”
Elrond tiriant i ethir HIRIOL” Elrond watched the FLOWING river”
Adjectives that are formed in this way do not seem to possess a plural form. Therefore, it is not recommended to make these words plural when the noun is plural.
THE PERFECTIVE ACTIVE PARTICIPLE
In linguistics, “perfective” means that the action is completed; therefore, the perfective active participle describes not currently happening action, but rather that which “has happened”. For example: having sung, having laughed, having cried etc. This form of verb is also an adjectival word. It is formed in Sindarin by removing the final “-ia” or “-a” from an A-stem verb and adding the suffix “-iel”.
Luithia “quench” > Luithiel “having quenched”
Linna “sing” > Linniel “having sung”
See Advanced A-Stems for more on forming this tense.
THE PASSIVE PARTICIPLE (past participle)
The passive participle is similar to the past tense. In Sindarin, the passive participle is formed by adding the suffix “-en” to the 3rd person singular past tense form of the verb. However, because the 3rd person past tense ends in “-nt” and you cannot have “-nten”, it becomes “-nnen”.
Gosta “fears exceedingly” > Gostant “feared exceedingly” > Gostannen “feared exceedingly”
Egleria “glorify” > Egleriant “glorified” > Egleriannen “glorified”
E fara i goth ‘OSTANNEN “He hunts the FEARED enemy” (gostannen is in lenited form)
E tíra i berian EGLERIANNEN “He sees the GLORIFIED halfling”
Notice how in both examples, “gostannen” and “egleriannen” describe a noun and are lenited as needed.
The past participle is also our only way of showing “passive voice” right now.
E EGLERIANNEN na gwaith veren. “He was glorified by joyous people”
The gerund is a noun that is derived from a verb, the verbal action considered as a “thing”. In Sindarin, the gerund is formed by adding the suffix “-d” to the A-Stem.
Bronia “endure” > Broniad “enduring”
Dagra “make war” > Dagrad “making war”
Siria “flow” > Siriad “flowing”
Tiria “watch” > Tiriad “watching”
Elrond bronia DIRIAD “Elrond endures watching”
E gosta NODED “he fears binding”
Notice that “tiriad” and “noded” are the objects of the verbs “endure” and “fear” … being used as nouns and, therefore, are lenited as the direct objects.
Sindarin possesses what are known as “pronominal endings”. These are essentially pronouns that are stuck onto the ends of verbs. These will be discussed in the next lesson.
Remember also that the objects of verbs are lenited.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
Ok lots of stuff we learned today!
• Infinitive is formed with “–o”
• Present Tense (3rd person) is the natural state of a verb
• Past Tense (3rd person) is formed with “–nt”
• The future tense is formed with “–tha”
• The imperative is formed with “–o”
• The active participle is formed with “–ol”
• The perfective active participle is formed with “–iel”
• The passive participle is formed with “–n”
• The gerund is formed with “–d”
• The gerund is treated as a noun