The passive voice
The passive participle can, in addition to being an adjective, also be used to form passive sentences.
In a normal sentence in the active voice, the subject is the one performing the action of the verb: “he reads the book”. But we can make the object of the sentence (the book) the subject of an new sentence “the book is read” or “the book has been read”. The sentences belong to the passive voice because their subject undergoes the action of the verb.
In English we recognize these sentences by the use of “to be” as auxiliary verb. The main verb is changed into a past participle.
In lesson 10 we learned how to form the passive participle and how to use it as an adjective:
i coa carna (the built house)
But as any adjective we can put it into the predicative position with the copula “ná”:
i coa ná carna (the house is built)
Now we have made our first passive voice sentence. It is in the present tense, so it means that someone is builing the house at this very moment.
Because “carna” is an adjective, it changes into its plural form whenever the subject is plural:
i coar nar carnë (the houses are built)
Because “ná” makes no difference between present tense and aorist, these sentences could also be translated as:
i coa ná carna (the house is being built)
i coar nar carnë (the houses are being built)
Thus the passive voice in Quenya has only four tenses:
Present tense/Aorist: i harma ná nurtaina (the treasure is hidden)
Past tense/Perfect tense: i harma né nurtaina (the treasure was hidden)
Future tense: i harma nauva nurtaina (the treasure will be hidden)
Perfect tense: i harma anaië nurtaina (the treasure has been hidden / the treasure had been hidden)
In the passive voice there can be an agent in the sentence; it is the person that performs the action. So it corresponds to the original subject of the active sentence.
In English, an agent begins with the preposition “by”: “the book was written by an elf”. The corresponding active sentence is “an elf wrote the book”.
In Quenya, the agent is in the instrumental case.
i coa ná carna i nerinen (the house is built by the men)
i parma né técina i eldanen (the book was written by the elf)
Passive participles that are used as adjectives can also have an agent:
i naucoinen lomnë harmar (the treasures hidden by the dwarves)
In one passive sentence there can thus appear two words in the instrumental case; an agent and a normal instrumental:
i parma né técina i eldanen quessenen (the book was written by the elf with a feather)
There is a complication when we want to use an infinitive in a passive sentence.
Look at the following sentence:
i naucor polir matë i apsa (the dwarves can eat the food)
The verb “mat-” (to eat) is in the infinitive because it appears behind the modal verb “pol-” (can).
When we make this sentence passive, the infinitive gets the prefix a-. Example:
i apsa polë amatë i naucoinen (the food can be eaten by the dwarves)
Verbs that begin in a vowel get a hyphen between the prefixed “a” and the stem:
i corma polë a-anta atarinyan (the ring can be given to my father)
(In Tengwar writing this hyphen is not used; there the prefix is put on a separate short carrier.)
In some verbs the Old Elvish stems appear when we apply the prefix.
Example: i massa polë ambasta (the bread can be baked)
The verb “masta-” (to bake) has an Old Elvish stem “mbasta-” that reappears when a prefix is put in front of it: “ambasta”.
The following verbs have an irregular passive infinitive:
manca- (to trade) ambanca
masta- (to bake) ambasta
nol- (to smell) angolë
halya- (to conceil) axalya
harna- (to wound) axarna
hat- (to break) axatë
hyan- (to injure) aryanë
hyar- (to cleave) aryarë
hranga- (to thwart) arranga
hlar- (to hear) allarë
hloita- (to poison) alloita
Vocabulary List 25
tol (toll-) “island”