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Quenya lessons 1-5

Lesson 1-Pronunciation and stress

Please note that not all Quenya sounds occur in English, and I may sometimes refer to other languages (such as French). There are some sites where sound files are available, which you can consult for more information.


- long a, as in aaaaaaah
a- short a, a shorter version of the aaaaaah above (simply ah)
- long e, present in French (as in regard)
e- short e, as in mend
- a long i, makes an ee sound
i- short i, as in summit
- long o, makes an ooh sound, like chore
o- short o, as in clock
- long u, as in clue
u- short u, as in put


c- pronounced k
h- at the beginning of words, pronounced like English h, between consonants, pronounced like German ch.
l- like English l
ng- both letters must be pronounced, as in hanger
r- always trilled
s- always unvoiced, as in sorry
y- considered a consonant, pronounced as in your
qu- pronounced as kw

There are six dipthongs in Quenya; ai (dine), au (cow), eu (British hello), iu (you), oi (boy), ui (ruin). Vowels in any other instances are pronounced seperately, and e is always pronounced.

Word stress

In bisyllabic words, the first syllable is stressed. Words with three or more syllables are stressed are the second-to-last syllable if:
there is a vowel
there is a dipthong
there is a short vowel followed by a consonant cluster

If not, the stress falls on the syllable before it.

Lesson 2- Articles and plurals

The article

The definite article in Quenya is i (the in English). There is no indefinite article, however, and should be added where necessary when translating.


In Quenya, plurals are formed by adding either r or i to the end of a word.

R is added when the word ends in a vowel (except ), including the ending i.
I is added when the word ends in a consonant and .

Dual number

Dual number is used to denote things which occur in a natural pair (such as eyes). This form of plural does not need the word two before it, but is marked by either -t or -u.
-T is used when the word does not have a t or a d in it. (when the word ends in a consonant, an e is added before the t)
-U is used when the word has a t or a d in it (and if the word denotes a body part, even if there is no t or d).

Stem variation

Certain nouns, when they are changed (for example, made plural), their stems come into play and transforms the word slightly. For example, the word seler has the stem sell-, so the plural would be selli.

Lesson 3-Adjectives and copula

The adjective

Quenya adjectives have three possible endings: -a, - and, less often, -in. Adjectives, as in English, come before the noun in a sentance, though this order may sometimes be reversed in poetry or when the adjective is part of a title (like Samwise the Brave). Adjectives agree in number with the word they describe, which means they become plural before a plural noun, more than one noun or a dual noun.

Plural adjectival endings
- for adjectives that end in a
-i for adjectives that end in a
-i for adjectives that end in

The copula

The copula is the word is used to connect a noun with an adjective. In Quenya, the words n (is) and nar (are) are used for copula.

Adjectival comparasion

Though the comparative form of adjectives is not known, the words malda (more) or l (beyond) are used. The prefix an- is added to nouns to form their superlative form. (anma=evilest). An- changes to al, ar, as or am when the adjectives begin with l, r, s, or m.

Lesson 4-Quenya verbs

The next three lessons will be about the verb tenses in Quenya. Be sure not to mix these up; they are very important.

A note on verbal nouns

A verbal noun is formed by adding -l to the end of an a-stem verb, making an action a process or thing.

Quenya verbs are divided into two categories:
A-stems: verbs that end in -a
Primary: verbs that end in a consonant

The stem vowel is the main vowel in a verb, most often the vowel in the first syllable. Also remember that verbs agree in number with their subjects, so a plural verb will end in -r.

Two particular verbs

Equ, meaning says/said, has no tense or plural, is placed before the subject and is used in direct quotations with either a name or full pronoun

Auta-, meaning to go away, leave, pass, has two irregular sets of past and perfect tenses: oant/oanti, meaning went away/has gone away (physical sense), and vn/avni meaning passed/has passed (as in being lost, having disappeared or died).

The present tense

Quenya present tense is the equivalent of the English present continuous, which means it is used for ongoing actions (I am writing). The verb to be is not needed in Quenya; lla corresponds to is laughing, without the need to add n. The present tense is obtained by adding -a to the end of the verb and by lengthening the stem vowel.
Note: because a-stem verbs already end in -a, they take on the ending -a in the present tense

The past tense

For both primary and a-stem verbs, the past tense is obtained by adding the ending -n. This ending is added directly to primary verbs ending in -r, -m and -n, but for the other consonants, the n of n is placed before the last consonant (the verb quet- becomes quenta "spoke")

The future tense

This tense is obtained by adding the ending -uva to both primary and a-stem verbs. The final a on the a-stems is dropped, to avoid a double a.

The aorist

The aorist tense corresponds to the English present tense. A-stem verbs don't change, and primary verbs take on the ending -.

The gerund
This is a form of a verb that works like a noun, formed by adding the ending -i to the verbal stem. A-stems drop their -a and verbs ending in -ya drop this whole ending before adding -i.
The ending -i can be translated to the English ending -ing.

Lesson 5

The perfect tense

This tense differs from English in the sense that the verb is all in one word, like the present tense. For primary verbs, the ending -i is added to the verb stem. Then the stem vowel is copied to the beginning of the word and is lengthened, except if followed by more than one consonant.
Example: tec- (verb "write") becomes etci (has written).
A-stem verbs are conjugated in the same way, and the final -a drops.
Example: cenda- (verb read) becomes ecendi (has read).


-verbs ending in -ya drop this ending.
-though it is unsure, it is assumed that verbs beginning with a vowel take no prefix.

The infinitive

The infinitive is the basic form of a verb (to be, for example). For primary verbs, - is added to the stem, and a-stems remain the same.

The negative verb

There is a verb in Quenya used to form negative expressions, that can be used alone meaning not to be or with another verb. The stem is um-, past tense m, future tense va.

The active participle

This is an adjectival word, derived from an verb, used in much the same way as an adjective. Added to a verb, it is the equivalent to the English -ing at the end of an English verb. The active participle does not agree in number. For primary verbs, -ala is added, and for a-stems, -la is added. In both cases, the stem-vowel is lengthened, except before a consonant cluster.


In Quenya, pronouns are added to the end of verbs, becoming pronominal endings.

I= -n or -ny (example: venyany= I dare)
You= -l or -ly (example: ruhtal= You terrify)
He, she, it= -s or -ry (example: mery= He-she-it wants)

The short form of these pronouns are often used, but if a second pronoun is necessary, the long form is used (example: veryanyel= I dare you). Also, though the ending -ry is not verified in Tolkein's writings, it is accepted as the long form of -s. There are alternatives; -ro for he and -r for she.

Quenya has several pronominal endings denoting the English word we:

-lv, the inclusive we, that includes who is adressed
-lm the exclusive we, that excludes who is adressed
-mm the dual we, but whether inclusive, exclusive or both is not known

These possessive pronominal endings are added to nouns and denote ownership. When these are added to a noun beginning with a consonant, an -e is added except for -nya which takes an -i.

-nya = my
-lya = your
-rya = his, her, its
-lva = our (inclusive)
-lma = our (exclusive)
-mma = our (dual)
-nta = their