DISCLAIMER: This article is preliminary research on the part of its author (Paul Strack) and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the owner of this site. Since the source material is complex and its interpretation can be subjective, multiple conclusions are possible.
This entry is especially rough, since it is a high-level summary of basic grammar written before I’ve done any of the actual research. Take what is written here with some very large grains of salt. I will revisit this entry once the research in the more detailed entries is done.
This entry introduces the major features of Sindarin grammar. It lists these features with only minimal explanation, to provide a broader context for Sindarin grammar as a whole. Knowing these major elements at a general level is helpful for understanding the details of more specific grammatic rules, since they are often interrelated. This entry also serves as a standalone introduction to Sindarin grammar for relative beginners. Little enough is known about Sindarin grammar that a fair amount of what is described here is speculative, and thus falls into the realm of Neo-Sindarin rather than Sindarin proper.
Sindarin has the same major parts of speechs as most languages: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives and (less prominently than some languages) adverbs. The normal Sindarin word order is subject-verb-object (SVO), but adjectives are placed after the noun they modify, unlike English.
Sindarin is mainly a “fusional” language, a linguistic term for languages that encode multiple meanings into a single word element. In the case of Sindarin, this manifests via various sound changes called mutations. These mutations are the key to understanding Sindarin, but they can be difficult to learn for speakers of isolating languages English (where each word more or less stands alone). Take the English word “man”. It has an irregular plural form “men”, indicated by the vowel change of “a” to “e”, unlike most English plurals which simply add “-s”. Sindarin likewise indicates plurals with vowel changes, with singular adan becoming plural edain, but this shift in vowels is the normal plural pattern in Sindarin.
Sindarin also has a several kinds of consonant and vowel mutations, serving various grammatical functions. For example, when an adjective follows a noun, it undergoes soft mutation (sometimes called lenition), so that its initial consonant softens. S. beleg means “great, mighty”, so that “the great man” would be i adan veleg. Likewise, “the great men” would be in edain velig, undergoing both consonant and vowel mutations. To read Sindarin you need to understand how to work backwards and recognize that in edain velig = i adan-(plural) (lenited)-beleg-(plural). To make things easier for beginners, I often put unmutated forms as hints in translations: in edain velig “the great (beleg) men (adan-plural)”.
Note: In Sindarin, the term adan (or Adan) refers to “man” as a species, not a gender. A more exact translation might be “human”. English tends to use the same word for both the species (Man) and gender (man), but Sindarin distinguishes the two: adan, edhel = “man [human], elf” (of any gender) vs. benn, bess (or dîr, dî) = “man, woman” (of any species). In example sentences I often use adan and translate it as “man” since that sounds more natural in English sentences, but the Sindarin word actually refers to a human of either gender. I apologize in advance for the apparent gender bias of the examples, but that is a limitation of English, not Sindarin.
Consonant Mutations: Sindarin has several types of consonant mutations, but the most important are soft mutation, nasal mutation and mixed mutation. These consonant mutations apply to the initial consonant of a word, either when closely following another word or in compounds. They change the sound of initial consonants as follows:
|Category||Base||Soft Mutation||Nasal Mutation||Mixed Mutation|
|Voiceless Stops||p-, t-, c-||b-, d-, g-||ph-, th-, ch-||b-, d-, g-|
|Voiced Stops||b-, d-, g-||v-, dh-, ’-||m-, n-, ñ- (or ng-)||b-, d-, g-|
|Nasalized Stops||[m]b-, [n]d-, [n]g-||m-, n-, ñ- (or ng-)||mb-, nd-, ng-||mb-, nd-, ng-|
|Spirants||s-, h-||h-, ch-||s- (no change), ch-||h-, ch-|
|Voiceless Liquids||rh-, lh-||l-, r-||l-, r-||l-, r-|
|Nasals||m-||v-||m- (no change)||m- (no change)|
Some voiced stops were originally in ancient times nasalize stops: compare dôr “land” (from ancient ✶ndorē) vs. dû “night” (from ancient ✶dōmē). In modern Sindarin the nasalized stops (nd-) reduced to simple stops (d-) in unmutated forms, making them indistinguishable from words that originally began with simple stops. However, the distinction is restored in mutated forms, as with i nôr “the land” vs. i dhû “the night”. The dictionary entries in Eldamo put an [nd-] in brackets after the word to indicate which words began with ancient nasalized stops, as in:
- dôr [nd-] n. “land”.
Thus soft mutation transforms:
- Initial voiceless stops (p, t, c) to voiced stops (b, d, g).
- Voiced stops (b, d, g) to voiced spirants (v, dh, ’).
- Ancient nasalized stops ([m]b, [n]d, [n]g) to nasals (m, n, ñ).
- Spirants (s, h) to “softer spirants” (h, ch).
- Voiceless liquids (rh, lh) to voiced liquids (r, l).
- Nasal m to v.
In the case of g, the softening eliminates the sound completely, typically represented by an apostrophe [’] at the beginning of the word, so galadh “tree” → i ’aladh “the tree”. There is another special case for ñ-; this is an isolated initial velar nasal [ŋ], which Tolkien generally wrote as ng-, as in le nallon sí di’nguruthos [ŋuruθos] “here overwhelmed in dread of Death I cry” (LotR/729; RGEO/64). However, this can be confused with the initial nasalized stop ng- [ŋg], and some Neo-Sindarin writers (myself included) represent the isolated nasal as ñ- to avoid confusion: le nallon sí di’ñuruthos.
Soft mutation can be caused both for phonetic reasons (after a vowel like i “the”) or grammatical reasons (like with direct objects). I use the term “lenition” specifically for grammatical soft mutation, following the conventions of Fiona Jallings.
Nasal mutation transforms sounds as follows:
- Voiceless stops (p, t, c) become voiceless spirants (ph, th, ch).
- Voiced stops (b, d, g) become nasals (m, n, ñ).
- Ancient nasalized stops ([m]b, [n]d, [n]g) are restored to (mb, nd, ng).
- Voiceless liquids (rh, lh) to voiced liquids (r, l).
- Breath h becomes ch.
Unlike soft mutation, initial clusters resist nasal mutation, so you get i dhraug “the wolf (draug)” but in droeg “the wolves” and not **i nraug.
Mixed mutation is a soft mutation with some nasal influence. It mostly behaves like soft mutation except (a) voiced stops and nasals do not mutate (b, d, g, m → b, d, g, m) and (b) ancient nasalized stops are fully restored ([m]b, [n]d, [n]g → mb, nd, ng).
Vowel Mutations: The most important Sindarin vowel mutation is i-affection. This i-affection is most noticeable in Sindarin plurals, but it also plays a role in the formation of the Sindarin present tense for basic verbs. The basis for i-affection was an ancient i in the syllable following the mutated vowel, but sometimes this i has vanished, obscuring the cause. I designate three “flavors” of i-affection: interior i-affection, final i-affection and final i-intrusion.
Interior i-affection happens to vowels in the middle of words, and is the most limited form of i-affection. The vowels a, o, u become e, e, y; other vowels remain unchanged. Interior i-affection happens to the base vowel of basic verbs in the present tense, as in cerin “I make (car-)” vs. i adan câr “the man makes” or nerin “I run (nor-)” vs. i roch nôr “the horse runs”. It also happens in the non-final syllables of Sindarin plurals, as in:
- Non-final a → e: adan “man” → edain “men”.
- Non-final o → e: onod “Ent” → enyd “Ents”.
- Non-final u → y: ungol “spider” → yngyl “spiders”.
Final i-affection happens in the last syllable of words. The i that caused the affection has generally vanished by the time of modern Sindarin. Final i-affection mostly occurs in the final syllable of Sindarin plurals, where a, e, o, u become e, i, y, y. Thus:
- Final a → e: narn “tale” → nern “tales”.
- Final e → i: certh “rune” → cirth “runes”.
- Final o → y: amon “hill” → emyn “hills”.
- Final u → y: mund “bull” → mynd “bulls”.
Final i-intrusion is the result of an ancient lost i intruding into the final syllable, resulting in an i-diphthong. This generally only happens when the word ends in a single consonant, since consonant clusters block i-intrusion. Due to various historical accidents, i-intrusions is largely limited to either (a) monosyllables or (b) final syllables containing short a. With final i-intrusion, the vowels a (short or long), ô, û and the diphthong au become ai, ui, ui, oe:
- Intruded a → ai: adan “man” → edain “men”.
- Intruded â → ai: bâr “home” → bair “homes”.
- Intruded ô → ui: thôn “pine” → thuin “pines”.
- Intruded û → ui: lhûg “snake” → lhuig “snakes”.
- Intruded au → oe: naug “dwarf” → noeg “dwarves”.
The last example doesn’t involve an obvious i-diphthong, because the later phonetic developments were ǭi > oi > oe (vs. unmutated ǭ > au).
Some vowels (i, y) and most diphthongs (ae, ai, ei, oe, ui) are immune to i-affection, and never change. The vowel e is immune to interior i-affection, and it only changes to i in final syllables. Overlong ô is only subject to i-intrusion in monosyllables; short o always becomes y (in final syllables) or e (in non-final syllables); long ó does not normally occur (having become ú historically).
Vowel Lengthening Mutation: There is an additional vowel mutation resulting from ancient vowel lengthening, due to the differences in the phonetic development of short and long vowels in Sindarin. In particular lengthened a, e, o became ó, í, ú, vs. lengthened i, u which simply become í, ú. This vowel lengthening mutation plays a role in the Sindarin past tense of basic verbs:
- Lengthened a → ó: car- “to make” → agóren “I made”.
- Lengthened e → í: dew- “to fail” → edhíwen “I failed”.
- Lengthened o → ú: nor- “to run” → onúren “I ran”.
The Sindarin definite article “the” is either i (singular) or in (plural), as in i adan, in edain “the man, the men”. There is no indefinite article “a, an” in Sindarin, so “a man” is simply adan. When the singular definite article appears before a consonant, it causes soft mutations, as in i baur “the fist” vs. paur “a fist”. When the plural definition article appears before a consonant, it causes nasal mutation and the n (usually) vanishes: i phoer “the fists”. Thus before consonants the only sign of the n in in is (usually) in the nasal mutation of the following word.
Some examples of singular and plural definite articles:
- adan “man” → i adan “the man”; edain “men” → in edain “the men”.
- tâl “foot” → i dâl “the foot”; tail “feet” → i thail “the feet”.
- bereth “queen” → i vereth “the queen”; berith “queens” → i merith “the queens”.
- dôr [nd-] “land” → i nôr “the land”; duir “lands” → i nduir “the lands”.
- hên “child” → i chên “the child”; hîn “children” → i chîn “the children” (for h, soft and nasal mutation produce the same result).
- mallorn “gold tree” → i vallorn “the gold tree”; mellyrn “gold trees” → i mellyrn “the gold trees”.
The greatest challenge in Sindarin is recognizing all these mutations as being different forms of the same word.
Noun Plurals: The Sindarin general plural is the “normal” plural used in most circumstances for groups of things, and it is produced using i-affection as described above:
- Internal i-affection for non-final syllables: a, o, u → e, e, y.
- Final i-affection in final syllables: a, e, o, u → e, i, y, y.
- Final i-intrusion for certain monosyllables or for final syllables ending in a followed by a single consonant: a/â, ô, û, au → ai, ui, ui, oe.
- amarth “fate” → emerth “fates” (internal a → e, final a → e).
- bereth “queen” → berith “queens” (internal e → e, final e → i).
- orod “mountain” → eryd “mountains” (internal o → a, final o → y).
- ulun “monster” → ylyn “monsters” (internal u → y, final u → y).
- rath “street” → raith “streets” (intruded a → ai).
- bâr “home” → bair “homes” (intruded â → ai).
- thôn “pine” → thuin “pines” (intruded ô → ui).
- lhûg “snake” → lhuig “snakes” (intruded û → ui).
- naug “dwarf” → noeg “dwarves” (intruded au → oe).
In the case of a in final syllables, the plural depends on whether the noun ends in a cluster (amarth → emerth) or a single consonant (rath → raith) with the caveat that some clusters behave like single consonants (lass “leaf” → lais “leaves”) and some single consonants behave like clusters (cam “hand” → cem “hands”). Indeed, there are numerous special cases and irregularities in the Sindarin plural system, too many to cover in an introductory discussion like this one.
Class Plurals: The Sindarin class plural is used for an entire category of beings or things. Perian is a hobbit, Periain is a group of hobbits, but the class plural Periannath refers to all of hobbit-kind. The basic class plural suffix is -ath, used for most nouns and some types of people, but there are additional suffixes -rim and -hoth used with certain types of people (Rohirrim, Glamhoth), just as English has a variety of suffixes for the people of different nations (Germans, Flemish, Belgians). With -ath the ending of the word is frequently altered when the suffix is added, but the variations are too numerous to discuss here.
The class plural uses the plural definite article in, which triggers nasal mutation as usual. Thus i Pheriannath “[all] the Hobbits”. Without any context, the class plural refers to all of a given thing in existence: elenath “all stars”. But within a given context, it can mean all members of a group in that context, as in: Iorhael, Gelir, Cordof, a Baravorn, ionnath dîn “Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Hamfast, his sons” [with ar “and” instead of a in the original]. Here the class plural ionnath refers to all the sons in this context, which is all the sons of Samwise.
Subjects and Objects: When a noun is used as the subject of a sentence, it precedes the verb as in adan nôr “a man runs”. However, if it is the direct object, it follows the verb and undergoes soft mutation, as in cenin ’aladh “I see a tree (galadh)”. This a “grammatical mutation” (sometimes called lenition), not originating from any specific phonological phenomenon.
The indirect object can be marked by word position alone, and it follows the direct object, as in: annon higil adan “I give a man (adan) a knife (sigil)”. These Sindarin words are in the opposite order from English, where the indirect object precedes the direct object. It is, however, more common to mark the indirect object in Sindarin using the preposition an “to, for” (which causes nasal mutation), in which case the placement of the indirect object in the sentence is more free as in: an adan annon higil “to a man I give a knife”. With an the indirect object can even intervene between the verb and direct object (which still undergoes lenition): annon an adan higil.
- The direct object usually follows the verb, and undergoes lenition (grammatical soft mutation): cenin ’aladh “I see a tree (galadh)”.
- The indirect object follows the direct object: annon higil adan “I give a man (adan) a knife (sigil)”.
- The indirect object can instead by marked with the preposition an “to, for”: an adan annon higil “to a man I gave a knife”.
- Where appropriate an, causes nasal mutation: annon a phengolodh degil “I give to a teacher (pengolodh) a pen (tegil)”.
Genitive: A genitive relationship (“of”) in Sindarin can be marked in several ways. The most straightforward is to have the related noun follow the noun it modifies, so that aran Moria means “king [of] Moria”, with “of” not explicit in the Sindarin phrase. The would be analogous to saying “Moria king” in English, except the order of the Sindarin words is reversed. Alternately, the genitive can be expressed via the preposition en: aran e-Moria. This prefix causes mixed mutation.
Finally, the preposition na(n) marks a relationship similar to that of French á or the Quenya suffix -va, indicating a possessor or characteristic of the preceding noun. It is na before consonants and nan before vowels, and it (mostly) causes nasal mutation, except that voiced stops do not mutate: Dor-na-Daerachas “Land of Great Dread”, Taur-na-Delduath “Forest of Deadly Nightshade”. Thus for the sword belonging to Aragorn: megil nan Aragorn “sword of Aragorn, Aragorn’s sword”. Alternately Arphen-na-Megil “Knight of the Sword”, where “sword” is a defining characteristic of the knight.
- A genitive relationship (“of”) can be marked by either both nouns in apposition (aran Moria) or with the preposition en (aran e-Moria).
- A possessive/attributive relationship can be marked with the preposition na(n): megil nan Aragorn “Aragorn’s sword”.
Sindarin pronouns are still poorly understood, so the following is rather speculative. Sindarin has five basic sets of pronouns: independent, subject, object, dative and possessive:
|1st sg.||*ni “I/me”||-(o)n “I”||nin “me”||annin “to me”||nín “my”|
|2nd sg.||ci “you”||-(o)g “you”||*cin “you”||*echin “to you”||*cín “your”|
|2nd sg. (polite)||le “thou/thee”||-(o)l “thou”||*len “thee”||*allen “to thee”||lín “thine”|
|3rd sg.||*te “he/she”||— “he/she”||*ten “him/her”||*athen “to he/she”||tín “his/her”|
|1st pl.||*me “we/us”||-(o)f “we”||men “us”||ammen “to us”||mín “our”|
|2nd pl.||*de “ya’ll”||*-(o)dh “ya’ll”||*den “ya’ll”||*annen “to ya’ll”||*dín “your”|
|3rd. pl.||ti “they/them”||-r “they”||*tin “them”||*ethin “to them”||*tín “their”|
Forms marked with a * are not attested for that particular function, though they may be attested for other functions, such as de and -(o)dh which are attested as (archaic) 2nd sg. polite forms. The gaps in the chart are filled in based on other attested forms, though some of them (especially 3rd. sg.) are based on thin evidence; see pronouns for a more detailed discussion.
Sindarin, like Quenya, distinguishes between three kinds of “you”: familiar ci “you” (used with friends and family), polite le “thou” used respectfully or reverentially, and plural *de “ya’ll” (exact form unattested). In charts like the above, I use archaic English “thou” for the polite form, but in practice le is usually translated “you” since English does not distinguish familiar and polite forms anymore (and technically, English “thou” was originally familiar but is now perceived as reverential given its association with the Bible).
The independent form is most often used for direct objects, appearing either before or after the verb, as in: gohenam di “we forgive them (ti)”. If the object precedes then the verb also undergoes soft mutation: le garfon “to thee (le) I speak (carfa-)”. The independent form is also used as the subject when the verb is unexpressed, as in a “to be” statement: ni glassui “I [am] happy” (see below for a discussion of “to be”). The object form is used as the object of prepositions and imperatives: sui men “as us (men)” or tiro nin “watch me (nin)”.
The subject form is a suffix used with verbs that do not have an explicit noun as a subject, as in i adan tîr “the man watches” vs. tirin “I watch”. The (o) in the pronoun list above indicates that derived verbs change their final a to (o) as in i adan anna “the man gives” vs. annon “I give”. The dative form is used with indirect objects, as in anno annin hîdh “give to me (annin) peace (sîdh)”, though as mentioned above the direct object can be indicated by position alone, in which case I suspect the object form is used: anno hîdh nin “give me (nin) peace (sîdh)”.
Possessive suffixes follow the possessed noun, but unlike English the possessed noun is also preceded by the definite article as in i higil nín “my (nín) knife (sigil)”, or more literally translated: “the knife my”. Like adjectives, the possessive pronoun undergoes soft mutation, which means it almost always appears in mutated form, as in i degil dín “his (tín) pen (tegil)”.
Sindarin has a number of other more specialized pronouns beyond the scope of this introductory discussion.
In vocabulary lists, verbs are typically shown in the stem form with no inflections added (nor-, padra-). Verbs in Sindarin are inflected for both tense and subject, using the subject suffixes given above. The inflections for tense depends on the verb class. The “base vowel” (first vowel in the verb stem) is also important for inflecting verb tenses. There are two major verb classes:
- The basic verbs whose stem ends in a consonant: nor- “to run”.
- The derived verbs produced with a verbal suffix ending in the vowel a: padra- “to walk”.
There are probably additional verb classes, but we don’t know enough about them to say anything meaningful. These two classes are sometimes called i-stem (after their present-tense forms) and a-stem verbs, but I prefer basic and derived as more consistent with Quenya terminology. The Sindarin verb forms are rather different for basic and derived verbs, and also varies depending on whether or not it has a subject suffix.
Present Tense: For basic verbs, the (unsuffixed) third singular present form is simply the verb stem, with the vowel lengthened (but not mutated) if it is monosyllabic: i adan nôr “the man runs (nor-)”, i adan orthor “the man conquers (orthor-)”. With a pronominal subject suffix, the verb (a) adds an -i- between the verb stem and suffix and (b) the base vowel undergoes internal i-affection, a, o, u → e, e, y: nerin “I run”. This i-affection does not extend to any recognized prefixes: ortherin “I conquer”. With a plural subject, the verb also adds the suffix -r to agree in number with the subject, which again triggers internal i-affection: in edain nerir “the men run”, in edain ortherir “the men conquer”.
- i adan câr “the man makes”, cerin “I make”.
- i adan nôr “the man runs”, nerin “I run”.
- i adan orthor “the man conquers”, ortherin “I conquer”.
- *i adan rûn “the man rubs”, rynin “I rub”.
* Sindarin basic verbs with u are incredibly rare (none are attested), and this example verb *run- “to rub” is invented for demonstration purposes.
For derived verbs, the third singular (unsuffixed) present form is simply the verb stem: i adan padra “the man walks (padra-)”. With a suffix, the final a become o: padron “I walk”. The one exception is -r, which is added to derived verbs without changing the vowel in edain padrar “the men walk”.
Past Tense: Derived verbs have the most straightforward past tense: add the suffix -nt in third singular, or -nne + the subject suffix: i adan padrant “the man walked (padra-past)”, padrannen “I walked”, in edain padranner “the men walked”.
Basic verbs are divided into two groups for the past tense. The first group are those whose stem ends in b, d, g. These verbs originally had stems ending in ancient p, t, c [k], which are restored in the third singular (unsuffixed) past tense with a nasal infix: -mp, -nt, -nc. With a suffix, these become -mme-, -nne-, -nge- + the suffix. In addition to the sound shifts at the end of the word, the past form also adds the base vowel to the stem as a vocalic augment, which causes soft mutation of the initial consonant. No augment occurs if the verb already has a prefix. For example:
- i adan câb “the man leaps”, i adan agamp “the man leapt”, agammen “I leapt”.
- i adan pêd “the man says”, i adan ebent “the man said”, ebennen “I said”.
- i adan dâg “the man slays”, i adan adhanc “the man slayed”, adhangen “I slayed”.
- i adan echad “the man shapes”, i adan echant “the man shaped”, echannen “I shaped”.
The second group consists of all other basic verbs. These verbs (a) prefix their base vowel to the verb as a vocalic augment, (b) mutate their initial consonant according to soft mutation and (c) lengthen their base vowel and altering it via vowel-lengthening mutation i, e, a, o, u → í, í, ó, ú, ú. With a suffix, an -e- + the suffix is added. If there is no suffix, the base vowel shortens again but remains mutated. If the verb already has a prefix, no vowel augment is added, and no soft mutation occurs. For example:
- i adan tîr “the man watches”, i adan idir “the man watched”, idíren “I watched”.
- i adan cên “the man sees”, i adan egin “the man saw”, egínen “I saw”.
- i adan câr “the man makes”, i adan agor “the man made”, agóren “I made”.
- i adan nôr “the man runs”, i adan onur “the man ran”, onúren “I ran”.
- i adan orthor “the man conquers”, i adan orthur “the man conquered”, orthúren “I conquered”.
Note that the reason why the lengthened base vowel mutates in the past tense but not in the present is because the lengthening in the past tense was ancient, whereas in the present it is recent.
Future Tense: The basic Sindarin future is formed by adding the suffix -(a)tha to the verb stem. The final a becomes o when suffixes are added for reasons similar to those for the present tense of derived verbs (and with the same exception for -r). Thus:
- i adan nôr “the man runs”, i adan noratha “the man will run”, norathon “I will run”, in edain norathar “the men will run”.
- i adan padra “the man walks”, i adan padratha “the man will walk”, padrathon “I will walk”, in edain padrathar “the men will walk”.
Imperative: The Sindarin imperative is straight forward. Simply add -o to basic verbs, or change the final -a to -o from derived verbs: noro “run!”, padro “walk!”.
Gerunds and Infinitives: The basic Sindarin verbal noun is the gerund, formed by adding -ed to basic verbs and -d to derived verbs, as in cared “making”, padrad “walking”. The gerund can function as a noun in most respects, acting as a subject, an object, etc. There are a couple of examples of the Sindarin gerund being used as an infinitive: e aníra tírad “he wants to see”.
Verbal Participles: Sindarin has four basic verbal participles: the active participle, the passive participle, the imperfect (or continuative) participle and the perfective participle. The active participle is formed by adding -el to basic verbs and -(o)l to derived verbs: norel “running”, padrol “walking”. The active participle can function as an adjective where the modified noun is the one performing the action: i adan norel “the running man”, i adan badrol “the walking man”.
The passive participle is formed by adding the suffix -nnen to derived verbs and -nen to basic verbs, the latter causing various mutational effects (discussed in detail in the entry on the passive participle). Thus tir- “to guard” → tirnen “guarded” and ortha- “raise” → orthannen “raised”. The passive participle can function as an adjective where the modified noun is the object of the action: i adan dirnen “the guarded man”, i baur orthannen dín “his (tín) raised fist (paur)”.
The imperfect (or continuative) participle resembles the active participle, except it is explicitly for present and ongoing actions; it is formed with the suffix -(o)l for both basic and derived verbs (and thus is indistinguishable from the simple active participle for derived verbs): norol “(currently) running”, i adan norol “the (currently) running man”. The perfective participle is also active, but for completed actions; it is formed with the suffix -iel and (for basic verbs) vowel lengthening mutation of the base vowel: núriel “having run”, i adan núriel “the having run man” = “the man who has finished running”.
“To Be” Constructions
English uses the verb “to be” to equate a subject with its predicate as in “Arwen is an Elf”, “Arwen is beautiful”. The verb “is” is a copula, a linking word that joins the subject to the adjective or noun to which it is equated. In Sindarin, the copula is omitted, and the two words simply appear next to each other: Arwen edhel “Arwen [is] an elf” and Arwen bain “Arwen [is] beautiful”. The sentence “Arwen is beautiful” may be distinguished from the noun phrase “beautiful Arwen” by the lack of soft mutation: Arwen bain vs. Arwen vain [tôl sîr] “Beautiful (vain) Arwen [comes today]”.
Sindarin does have a verb na- “to be”, but it is used in limited circumstances. For example, its imperative form no is used in commands and wishes: no lim “be quick!”, no aer i eneth lín “hallowed be thy name” = “may your name be hallowed”.
Adjectives and Adverbs
The Sindarin adjective follows the noun it modifies, and undergoes soft mutation: i edhel veleg “the mighty (beleg) elf”. It is also declined into the plural to match its noun, using the same pluralization rules as nouns: in edhil velig “the mighty elves”. In a “to be” expression with an omitted copula, the adjective does not undergo soft mutation, but does agree with a plural noun: i edhel beleg “the elf [is] mighty”, in edhil belig “the elves [are] mighty”.
Sindarin does have some specialized adverbs, such as mae “well” and *dae “very” (a neologism adapted from a rejected Noldorin word). However, when they follow a verb, adjectives can function as adverbs, as in noro lim Asfaloth “run swift[ly] Asfaloth”. If an adverb precedes an adjective or verb, the modified word undergoes soft mutation: mae garnen “well done (carnen)”, i oron dae varadh “the mountain is very steep (baradh)”. If, however, the adverb (or an adjective functioning as an adverb) follows the verb, then it is the adverb/adjective that is mutated: nerin vregol “I run (nor-) sudden[ly] (bregol)”.
@@@ TBD: Conjunctions and Prepositions