Neo-Quenya has 3 types of verbs. In the word list they can be recognized by the final letter of the stem:
- Primitive verbs, ending on a consonant
Some special verbs can be found on a separate page.
A Quenya verb has 5 tenses:
Quenya verb conjugation is rather special because it can have subject and object endings, e.g. hautanyel can be decomposed as follows: hauta - nye - l.
The verb is hauta- "stop", the first ending -nye is a subject ending and means "I", the second ending -l is an object ending and means "you". So the translation is "I stop you".
In the form hautalyen object and subject are reversed, so it means "you stop me".
When only one ending is present it is always a subject ending:
- hautan and hautanyë both mean "I stop"
- hautal and hautalyë both mean "you stop"
So let's have a look at the different endings:
- 1st person singular: -n or -nyë (both can be used as a subject ending, only -n as an object ending)
- 2nd person singular and plural: -l or -lyë (both can be used as a subject ending, only -l as an object ending)
- 3rd person plural: -t or -ntë (-ntë is always used as a subject ending, and -t always as an object ending):
- hautantë "they stop", hautanten "they stop me", hautanyet "I stop them", ...
The other 2 persons are more complicated: The 1st person plural has 3 different subject endings and no object endings. So when an object is in the 1st person plural it is always a separate pronoun (see Pronouns). The 3 subject endings are:
- -lmë: this is called the 'exclusive we', because it is used when the listener is not included in the group that is meant by "we":
- hautalmë means "we stop [but not you]"
- -lvë: this is called the 'inclusive we', because it is used when the listener is also included in the group that is meant by "we":
- hautalvë means "we stop [including you]"
- -mmë: this is used when "we" contains exactly 2 people, so it is usually translated as "both of us":
- hautammë "the two of us stop"
The 3rd person singular also has more than one ending:
- -s: this ending is used as an object ending or as a subject ending when no object ending is present:
- hautanyes "I stop him/her/it", hautas "he/she/it stops"
- -sse: this ending is used as a subject ending when an object ending is present, though also by itself:
- hautassel "he/she/it stops you"
- In the past an ending -rye was theorized based on the possessive -rya; however this has not yet been attested, and we instead find -sse as well as inanimate -ssa.
However, this is not all: there are also non-pronominal endings that are used when the subject is something other than a pronoun. In this case there can be no object ending, the object is thus always represented by a separate word or pronoun.
- The singular non-pronominal form does not have an ending: i aran hauta "the king stops"
- The plural non-pronominal ending is -r: i eldar hautar "the elves stop"
The plural non-pronominal ending is also used when the subject is in the dual or partitive plural:
- i eldu hautar "both elves stop"
- eldali hautar "some elves stop"
- in the third person singular there exist two alternative endings for -sse- that can express gender, though these seem to be limited to Qenya of the 1940s and earlier: -ro- for a male subject and -re- for a female subject:
- tirirot "he sees them"
- tiriret "she sees them"
It is interesting to note that in sentences where a free pronoun is present, which serves to emphasise the subject of the sentence, the presence of the free pronoun may allow a verb to stand without the corresponding ending:
- hautalyë "you (singular) will stop (it)"
- elyë hauta "even you (singular) will stop (it)" (without the expected ending -lyë "you")
More about this can be found on the page about personal pronouns.
The easiest tense is the Aorist as it is formed by the verbal stem from the dictionary and the endings we discussed before. So in fact all forms above are Aorists. It is used as an alternative present tense (see below), and so it isn't a past tense as its Greek namesake.
The formation of this tense can be seen in the next table. Only the non-pronominal forms are included as the others can be constructed by replacing the -r of the plural non-pronominal form with the right pronominal ending.
Note that the forms without an ending have a vowel change in the Primitive verbs and the U-stems.
Note that some verbs have a long vowel in the stem so their Aorists also contain a long vowel:
- cúna- "bow" → aorist: cúna
- súya- "breathe" → aorist: súya
- móta- "labour" → aorist: móta
This tense is also called the Continuative tense. The usage and its contrast with the Aorist Tense are explained below.
The major principle behind this tense is the central vowel-lengthening. The central vowel is the vowel in the final syllable of a primitive verb, or the vowel in the last syllable but one in an A-stem or U-stem verb. Of course this lengthening can only happen if the syllable isn't long by itself.
Following syllables are already long and cannot be lengthened:
- a syllable with a diphthong, e.g. hauta- "stop"
- a syllable with a long vowel, e.g. súya- "breathe"
- a syllable in which the vowel is followed by more than one consonant, e.g. harna- "wound"
Furthermore, the primitive and U-stems get an extra -a at the end of the stem and the final -a of the A-stems changes into -ëa. So this gives:
There is one verb with an irregular Present Tense: ten- "indicate, show". Its present tense is formed with the stem tëa-:
- tëan "I show", tëantë "they show", i sairon tëa "the wizard shows", ...
Another way of conjugating the present tense affecting certain verbs (coexistent with -ëa) lengthens the form before the derivative suffix, i.e. present mánata and aorist manta.
Usage of Aorist and Present tenses
Most of the time both tenses can be used interchangeably. But there are a few cases in which one of them is clearly preferred:
- The Present tense indicates duration, while the Aorist indicates a law or custom:
- i máma máta salquë "the sheep is eating grass"
- i máma matë salquë "the sheep eats grass"
- The first sentence means something like "the sheep you see over there is at this moment eating grass" and the second sentence "sheep eat grass to stay alive".
- The Aorist can be used to indicate an action in which the moment on which the action is performed is irrelevant:
- elen silë "there shines a star"
- lala "someone laughs"
- The Aorist can indicate sudden change while the Present tense indicates that a condition is true for a certain length of time:
- i nér ortëa "the man is standing" (he stood there and he is still standing)
- i nér orta "the mans stands" (he was sitting down and gets up)
- The Aorist can also be used to denote a custom or something recurring:
- i ohtar súca sí "the soldier is drinking now"
- i ohtar sucë ilya aurë "the soldier drinks each day"
Neo-Quenya has only one future tense, so it is used to indicate both near and distant future:
- cenuvas Isil "he shall see the moon/he is going to see the moon"
This tense can be recognized by the ending -uva. The Primitive verbs simply add it, with the A-verbs it replaces the final -a, and with the U-verbs the final -u changes -uva into -úva:
The verb quat- "fill" is irregular as its Future Tense is quantuva/quantuvar.
The past tense has many irregularities, so a separate article is dedicated to it.
It is used to denote a past action that still continues or that has finished without consequences. So it can be translated by either a Simple Past or a Present Perfect:
- fautanë aqua i aurë "it snowed/it was snowing/it has snowed the whole day"
The Perfect Tense is used to express an action that has finished but still has some consequences, so it can be used for the English Present Perfect and Past Perfect:
- amátien "I have eaten" (and I am still not hungry)
- nó ecénienyes, oantes "after I had seen him, he went away"
The conjugation of verbs in this tense can be found on a separate page: Perfect Tense.
Negation of verbs
Neo-Quenya has two ways to negate a sentence:
- when the sentence contains a verb without object ending or a modal verb with an infinitive, the verb ua- "not to be" is preferred
- in all other cases we use the particle lá
(Note: lá is also used with the comparison of adjectives).
Conjugation of ua-:
- Aorist Tense: ua (uan, ual, ...)
- Past Tense: únë (únen, únel, ...)
- Perfect Tense: uië (uien, uiel, ...)
- Future Tense: úva (úvan, úval, ...)
To negate a verb we use the corresponding conjugated form of ua- followed by the infinitive of the original verb:
- cenin i alda "I see the tree" → uan cenë i alda "I don't see the tree"
- Normally Quenya has the aorist form of ua followed by the tense-conjugated verb, but in archaic or verse Quenya ua can be conjugated and the following verb will remain in the aorist:
- (Normal / prose) uan mantë mámalya "I did not eat your sheep"
- (Archaic / verse) únen matë mámalya "I did not eat your sheep"
With a modal verb, the negation is expressed by two consecutive infinitives:
- i híni polir capë "the children can jump" → i híni uar polë capë "the children cannot jump"
The verb ua- is also used to negate a sentence with ná:
- i aran ná taura "the king is mighty" → i aran ua taura "the king is not mighty"
When a verb has an object ending (and thus also a subject ending) we never use ua- because it normally doesn't get object endings. In this case the verb form is unchanged but preceded by the particle lá:
- hirnenyes "I have found it" → lá hirnenyes "I haven't found it"
The verb ëa is also always negated by using lá:
- ëa huan i coassë "There is a dog in the house" → lá ëa huan i coassë "there is no dog in the house"
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