(J.R.R. Tolkien > Arda > languages > Sindarin)

Also, see [Sindarin "to be"].

Like many Germanic languages, Sindarin employs strong and weak verb paradigms as regards their conjugation, and tense formation. Like English and German, so-called "strong" verbs exhibit irregularilty, whereas "weak" ones follow a pattern based on similarities between verbs.

This, however, is a simplistic view of Sindarin. Based on current understanding of Tolkien's work, and David Salo's interpretations and theories regarding the Sindarin verb, it can be said that, as in Quenya, Sindarin verbs are either derived verbs ("weak", A-stem) or basic verbs ("strong", I-stem). Basically, the latter come directly from a primitive stem (e.g. the very nag- "bite" comes directly from the stem NAK), whereas the former come from a stem plus an ending (*-nâ, *-jâ, *-tâ, etc., exhibiting themselves as -na, -ia, ida/-tha/-ta/-na, etc.).

Verbs are conjugated into persons using suffixes ("enclitics", see: [Sindarin pronouns]). Conjugation into the various tenses is as follows (examples lifted from HKF's mini-course, but thinking from Ryszard Derdzinski's grammar):

I. DERIVED VERBS (A-stems, "weak" verbs)

Infinitive: -o
e.g. bronia- "endure" > bronio "to endure"

Present (HKF's "Aorist):
3rd person sg. Present is equal to the A- stem
e.g. dagra- "make war" > dagra "makes war"

Pronominal endings make the rest of the present tense (though -n makes -a > -o, therefore -on).

3rd person sg. + -nt
hence esta "call, name" > estant " called, named"

If endings are added: -nt > -nne-
e.g. lachant > lachanner "they flamed(!?)"

N.B. -nnann- > -nn-
e.g. linnant > linnanner > linner "they sang"

Future Tense ("Simple"): add -tha
e.g. ertha- > erthatha "will unite"

Again, can use pronominal ending (-a + -n > -on).

Future Continuative: add -tho

Imperative: +a > +o!

Active participle: -a > -ol
e.g. linna- > linnol "singing"

Perfective Active Participle: -a > -iel
e.g. hwinia > hwíniel "having whirled"

It is necessary to lengthen the internal vowel,
But -e- > -ó- (A-stem)
-e- > (O- or U-s)

Passive Participle:-nt + -en > **-nten > -nnen
e.g. harna- > harnannen "wounded"

Plurals of derived verbs employ prestanneth,
e.g. erthannen "united" > pl. erthennin

Gerund ("-ing"; a noun): + -d
e.g. nara- "tell" > narad "telling"

II. BASIC VERBS (I-stems, "strong" verbs)

Infinitive: +i
e.g. fir- > firi "to fade, die"

(a and o are umlauted to e, though;
e.g. dar- > deri)

Present: 3rd person +0 (nil)
(though an internal monosyllable vowel will lengthen,
e.g. dar- > dâr)

Past tense:

-r > -r + -n
e.g. nor-norn "ran

-n > -nn

-l probably -ln > -ll

-d, -b, -g, -v(*), and -dh, all exploy nasal infixion,by which a nasal consonant (-n- or -m-) is infixed (introduced) into the root in the past tense, e.g.
had- > hant
cab- > camp
dag- > danc redh- > rend

(*) -v comes from -b therefore -mb , but -mb > -m
hence -v may > -m in past tense
e.g. lav- > lam "licked">

Pronominal ending as usual: use -i for connecting vowel, and the following rules are observed:
-nt- > -nn-;
-nc- > -ng-;
-mp- > -mm-;
-nd- > -nt-; and
-m- > -mm-.

Future: add -tha to infinitive
e.g. tol- > inf. teli > telitha future, "will come"

Imperative: +o

Active Participle: +el
(-i + -el > -iel)

Perfective Active Participle: lengthen vowel, +iel
e.g. glir- > glíriel "having recited"

Passive Participle: +en to 3rd person singular past
e.g. sol- > soll- > sollen

Internal -nt- > -nn-, etc., plus lenition

Gerund +ed


Some verbs employ "mixed conjugations" , for example having a regular infinitive, present tense, future tense, and imperative, but an irregular past tense. A good example of this is the verm drava-, whose past tense is not **dravant, but dram.

Examples suggest this group includes most verbs with single consonants before a final -a (but not th or ch):

Past tense

ava- > am
brona- > brom
drava- > dram
fara- > farn
gala- > gall
groga- > grunc
laba- > lamp
loda- > lunt
nara- > narn
pada- > pant
rada- > rant
soga- > sunc
toba- > tump

Long vowels are also shortened, e.g. aníra- > anirn; síla- > sill; and tíra- > tirn. An interconnecting vowel of -e- is used, and -nc- fold to -ng-, etc.

N.B. Gritchka tells me:

"The mixed conjugation is generally formed by nasal infixation: pat- > pant-, gal- > ganl- or galn-, etc with subsequent regular changes, as medial lenition pata- > pada-."
Aha! It all makes sense now...

Passive particle:

The passive particle is the 1st person singular + -en,
e.g. drava- > dram > drammen

Active participle: still -d


Lengthening of the internal vowel is employed and -iel is added
e.g. soga- > súgiel.


Like all languages there are some wholly irregular verbs. Their past participles generally end in -en, and are:

  • Original U- verbs
  • Impersonal verbs
  • Various
It is possible that these verbs also characterise a radical revision of the Sindarin verb system by Tolkien where verbs would undergo lenition as well as nouns, e.g. ped- > ebid "spoke" (not pent as we would hope). In this system prefixed verbs do not undergo prestanneth or lenition.

Some notes on "Movie Sindarin"


In the movie, the subjunctive uses the future tense + aen,
e.g. peditha aen "may it be (that) he speaks"
The passive also employs aen in movie Sindarin, this time with the 3rd person singular, e.g. I Amar prestar aen ("The World is changed") at the start of Galadriel's soliloquy in the FotR Prologue.


  • Derdzinski, Ryszard, Summary of Sindarin Grammar, at http://www.elvish.org/gwaith/sindarin_intro.htm
  • Fauskanger, Helge K., Sindarin the Noble Tongue, at http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/sindarin.htm
  • -, proposed Sindarin Course, [avail. Online, but URL unknown at present]
  • own notes

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