16pronouns (possessive)sindarin Lessons

Next, students complete sentences with a suitable possessive adjective or possessive pronoun. In the last exercise, students work in pairs. The students take it in turns to make sentences using possessive adjectives or pronouns by pointing at the people and matching them with the items that they think belong to them, e.g. An Introduction to the Sindarin Language of Middle-Earth 1. This document was created with Prince, a great way of getting web content onto paper. Lesson 16 - Pronouns (possessive) This lesson covers possessive pronouns, one of the most commonly used pronoun types in English. Examples: my book, your pen etc. The possessive pronoun in Sindarin always includes the definite article, i (the, singular). In the BrainPOP ELL movie, The Future is Ours (L2U2L1), Ben and Moby are at a school job fair, thinking about their future careers!In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-8, students will use possessive pronouns in interactive activities and create a project to teach the concept to the class.

Sindarin Lessons. Home Lessons Mutation chart Resources Forum Links & Products Lessons 1-11. Lesson 1 - Pronunciation Lesson 2 - Greetings Lesson 3 - Origins Lesson 4 - Questions Lesson 5 - Eating & Drinking Lesson 6 - Plurals (part one) Lesson 7 - Plurals (part two).


The Possessive-Adjectival case. Verbal or Abstract nouns and how theyinteract with the Genitive and Possessive cases.

This lessonis mainly devoted to a case that by its function in many ways complements thegenitive case. But first of all, let me say that there is no easy answer to thequestion of what this case should be called. Tolkien listed it in the PlotzLetter, but he did not name it. The case in -o or -on that wediscussed in the previous lesson is referred to simply as the'genitive' in several sources. But in WJ:369, Tolkien refers to theforms in -o(n) as 'partitive-derivative genitives',whereas the other case that we will now discuss is called a'possessive-adjectival [genitive]'. On the previous page, he notedregarding the case with the ending -o(n) that 'properly itwas used partitively, or to describe the source or origin, not as a'possessive'' (emphasis added). The context indicates that the othercase that he went on to describe is used as a 'possessive'. Sosimply to have some suitable designation of this case, I shall adopt the word possessiveas its name. (Another plausible term is 'adjectival case', which isalso used by some students.)


By itsfunction, this case – rather than the case in -o(n) which Tolkiennormally terms the 'genitive' when discussing Quenya grammar –corresponds much better to the English genitive in -'s. Even so, incertain contexts this case is also best translated using English of-constructions.

The possessive case is formed byadding the ending -va, e.g. Eldava as the possessive form of Elda.When it is to be added to a noun that ends in a consonant, this ending probablytakes the form -wa instead. The assumption that the ending -vaappears in the variant form -wa after consonants is supported by thisfact: The suffix -va is in origin a mere adjectival ending, found insome common adjectives as well, and in such cases it is seen to appear as -wafollowing a consonant – e.g. anwa 'real, actual, true' or helwa'pale blue'. In Primitive Elvish, the ending had the form -,but in Quenya, w normally became v when intervocalic (= occurringbetween vowels). Cf. another common adjective displaying this ending, tereva'fine, acute', which word Tolkien noted had been terêwâ inPrimitive Elvish (see Etym, entry TER, TERES). Since most Quenyanouns end in a vowel, the w of - typically became intervocalicwhen this ending was added, and therefore it normally turned into v(e.g. Eldâ-wâ, Eldawâ becoming Eldava, just like terêwâbecame tereva). But if we combine this ending with a noun ending in aconsonant, e.g. atar 'father' (unchanged since PrimitiveElvish), atar-wâ would presumably produce Quenya atarwa, originalw remaining w because it is not here intervocalic.

The Plotz Letter lists no dualforms of the possessive case, but I can't imagine why such forms should notexist. Even so, I won't construct any exercises involving these slightlyhypothetical forms, but presumably the simple suffix -va would be usedafter a dual form in -u – e.g. Alduva as the possessive form of Aldu'Two Trees'. The more frequent dual forms in -t would likelyhave possessive forms in -twa, a dual like ciryat 'a coupleof ships' becoming ciryatwa (accented on the second-to-lastsyllable because of the consonant cluster tw).

Just like the Plotz Letter lists nodual form of the possessive case, Tolkien mentioned no plural formeither – which fact led some investigators to conclude that this case has noplural at all! But other material does indicate that such a form exists(suggesting that we can also feel free to extrapolate a dual form as we triedto do above: the Plotz Letter does not necessarily include everything). InWJ:368 Tolkien indicates that the possessive has a plural form in -iva,combining the simple ending -va with the plural marker -i. Inthis case, this ending is used even if the possessive suffix is added to wordsthat would normally have nominative plurals in -r, like Eldar:The plural possessive is not **Eldarva or **Eldarwa orwhatever, but Eldaiva, attested in the phrase lambë Eldaiva'language of the Eldar' (WJ:369). The plural form -iva is saidto be an innovation in Quenya, not a form inherited from older stages ofElvish.

When the initial vowel of the ending -ivamerges with the last vowel of the noun to produce a diphthong, like aiin Elda + iva = Eldaiva, this diphthong of coursereceives the stress (eld-AI-va). Most nouns in -ë would at anolder stage have behaved in a similar way, a diphthong ei arising; theplural possessive of lassë 'leaf' may at one point have been lasseiva(for even older ?lasseiwâ, if such a form was ever in use). But thediphthong ei eventually became long í in Quenya, so perhaps thecurrent form was lassíva – with a long í still attracting thestress. In the Plotz Letter, such a long í is observed in the pluralform of another case: lassínen as the plural instrumental, to bediscussed in a Lesson Sixteen. (The form lassíva is of course notconfirmed by Plotz, since no plural forms of the possessive case are therediscussed, but the form lassínen seems to confirm the general principle:This form is in all likelihood meant to represent older lasseinen, andthen older lasseiva ought to produce Quenya lassíva.)

It is not quite clear what wouldhappen when the ending -iva is added to a noun already ending in -i,like tári 'queen', or a noun with a stem-form in -i,like lómë (lómi-) 'night' (SD:415). Possibly the two i'swould merge into a long í, so that 'of queens' or 'ofnights' is something like ?táríva, ?lómíva – whereas thesingular forms 'of a queen' and 'of a night' must be táriva,lómiva. (The pronunciation would be markedly different: these singularforms are accented on the first syllable, the third from the end, whereas theplural forms would be accented on the second-to-last syllable because of thelong vowel that suddenly turns up there – if the final -i of thenoun and the first vowel of the ending -iva do indeed merge into a long í.)But it is also possible that a form like táriva has to do duty for bothsingular and plural, so that one must rely on the context to distinguish'of a queen' from 'of queens'.

There are afew more things to say about the formation of the possessive case (see'Various notes' below), but we will now return to its function.

This is the case you use to describesimple possession, the typical function of the English genitive. In theprevious lesson, we have described how the Quenya genitive is rather used toindicate source or origin, not simple ownership. If the Quenyagenitive is used to describe the relationship between owners and the thingsthey own, we are dealing with former rather than current ownership.Tolkien nicely explained this by contrasting the genitive and possessive cases,and we can well afford to quote him, recapitulating the function of thegenitive in the process:

'Possession' was indicated by the adjectivalending -va... Thus 'Orome's horn' was róma Oroméva (if itremained in his possession)...but [the genitive phrase] róma Oromëomeant 'a horn coming from Orome', e.g. as a gift, in circumstances where therecipient, showing the gift with pride, might say 'this is Orome's horn'. If hesaid 'this was Orome's horn', he would say Oroméva. Similarly[the genitive phrase] lambe Eldaron would not be used for 'the languageof the Eldar' (unless conceivably in a case where the whole language wasadopted by another people), which is [rather] expressed...by...lambe Eldaiva.[WJ:368-369]

So thepossessive case may indicate simple ownership at the time that is beingconsidered (past or present – whereas origin, or former possession,is indicated by the genitive case). An example from the Silmarillion is MindonEldaliéva, the 'Tower of the Eldalië [= Elf-people]', meaningsimply a tower owned by the Eldalië. (Certainly they had also originated it,but they were still its owners, so a genitive would be less appropriate.) Wewould also have such phrases as (i) coa i Eldava 'the Elf'shouse'/'the house of the Elf', i parmar i vendíva'the books of the maidens', i míri i Naucoiva 'the jewelsof the Dwarves'. As for this word order, it should be observed that thenoun which receives the possessive ending appears as the last word ofthe possessive phrase in nearly all attested instances: The noun it governs(denoting the thing that is owned) typically comes before it.

16pronouns (possessive)sindarin Lessons

In the first version of this course, I wrote:'It may well be that one could reverse the word order and say (forinstance) ?i Eldava coa with the same word order as in English: 'theElf's house'. However, I would avoid this construction until we have itattested in Tolkien's papers.' Perhaps we have it attested now. In June2002, the phrase Amillë Eruva lissëo 'Mother of divine grace'turned up in VT44:12, in Tolkien's incomplete Quenya translation of the Litanyof Loreto. Literally, this seems to mean 'Mother of God's grace'.Removing Amillë 'Mother', as well as the genitive ending -ohere attached to lissë 'grace, sweetness', we are left with Eruvalissë for 'God's (Eru's) grace'. This could be a (currentlyunique) example of a possessive form preceding rather than following the nounit connects with. However, the opposite order seems to be much more common, andcertainly lissë Eruva could have been used here as well. In theexercises below, I consistently let the possessive form follow ratherthan precede the noun it connects with, using more common word order.

The noun governed by the possessive does notreceive the article in most of our attested examples; it is alreadysufficiently determined: Róma Oroméva is not indefinite 'ahorn of Oromë's', as if it is first introduced into the story, or it isimplied that Oromë had other horns as well. (According to Tolkien, this meaningwould be expressed by means of a 'loose compound', the words simplybeing juxtaposed without involving any case endings at all: Oromë róma ='an Oromë horn'.) Róma Oroméva is 'Oromë's horn' ='the horn of Oromë', róma being determined by Oroméva.But we could certainly slip in an explicit article and say i róma Oromévawithout changing the meaning; as demonstrated in the previous lesson, bothconstructions are equally valid in a phrase involving a genitive noun.An attested example involving the possessive case is the phrase i araniEldaivë 'the Kings of the Eldar' (WJ:369; this primarily means'those kings in a particular assembly who were Elvish', whereas iarani Eldaron with a genitive means 'those among the Eldar who werekings', or simply 'the kings ruling the Eldar'). The articlecould probably be omitted without changing the meaning: Arani Eldaivëwould still mean 'the kings of the Eldar', the possessive formEldaivë determining arani anyway. (As for why the ending -ivahere appears as -ivë, see below; this probably contradicts some evidencefrom LotR, so we may read Eldaiva instead.)

The possessive case does not alwaysindicate 'possession' in the narrowest sense, but may also describesomebody's relationship to their more-or-less abstract attributes orproperties. In such contexts, one can use the genitive as well. Tolkienmentioned that 'the splendour (glory) of Oromë' could be expressed intwo ways: One may use the possessive-adjectival case and say alcar Oroméva,referring to Oromë's alcar or splendour as a permanent attributeof his. But one could also use the genitive case; the wording alcar Oromëoemphasizes that Oromë is the source of the splendour. This could referto 'his splendour as seen at the moment (proceeding from him) or at somepoint in a narrative' – focusing on the moment rather than on somepermanent state (WJ:369). Cirion's Oath uses the genitive in the phrase Elenna·nórëo alcar 'the glory ofthe land ofElenna'. If one used the possessive instead, to produce the wording (i)alcar Elenna·nóreva, it would apparently put the emphasis on the'glory' of Elenna as a permanent attribute of the land. InMiddle-earth time, Cirion's Oath was spoken long after Elenna (Númenor) hadbeen destroyed and its 'glory' proven to be rather less thanpermanent, so perhaps this would be inappropriate.

In our home-made example alcarElenna·nóreva, we added the possessive ending to a noun that does notdenote a sentient being. This is hardly improper, for we have such attestedexamples as Taurë Huinéva 'Forest of Gloom' and NurtalëValinóreva 'Hiding of Valinor'. Where no sentientis involved, the possessive case obviously takes on other shades of meaning; no'ownership' can be involved, since things or substances can't ownanything. Cf. for instance the first example of this case that was everpublished, in Namárië in LotR. Here we have yuldar...lisse-miruvórevafor 'draughts of [the] sweet mead' (in the prose Namárië inRGEO:68, the words are actually directly juxtaposed as yuldarlisse-miruvóreva; in the poetic version in LotR, a number of other wordsintrude between the two elements of this phrase). For decades, this was thesole available example of the case in -va. Here, this case endingimplies '(made) of': The yuldar or 'draughts' consistof lisse-miruvórë or 'sweet mead'. Following this example, twonouns like rië 'crown' and telpë 'silver' canevidently be combined as rië telpeva, 'crown of silver'. Itmay be noted that in such a case – the possessive noun denoting a material– the noun it governs is not necessarily be determined by it (not 'thecrown of silver'). Otherwise, yuldar lisse-miruvóreva would have tomean **'the draughts of sweet mead', but Tolkien did nottranslate it in this way. – Having only this one example from Namárië towork from, early researchers thought the case in -va was what theycalled a 'compositive' case denoting what something consists of (is composedof). This usage should be noted, but we now know that this is only one of thesecondary functions of this case.

Yet the fact remains that the ending -vais in origin simply adjectival, so this case may easily take on a'descriptive' function. Regarding the genitive case in -o,Tolkien noted that properly it was NOT used 'adjectivally to describequalities' (WJ:368): this is rather the function of the case in -va.The example Taurë Huinéva (Etym, entry PHUY) apparently means'Forest of Gloom'; cf. the nouns taurë 'forest' and huinë'deep shadow, gloom'. One may almost just as well treat huinévaas a regular adjective and translate Taurë Huinéva as 'GloomyForest' or 'Shadowy Forest'. The idea is that the'forest' is characterized by 'gloom', so the case in -vacan describe what characterizes something or someone. Perhaps theexpression Eruva lissë (isolated from a longer phrase, VT44:12) alsofits in here: This could be translated 'God's grace', but the Litanyof Loreto that Tolkien was rendering into Quenya has 'divine grace'in this place, and it may well be that Eruva is here best understood asan adjective 'divine' – not as a noun 'God's'. The word Eruvadescribes the divine quality of the 'grace' as a characteristicof this grace.

Such a 'characteristic' may also bean abstract or action: In early material (LT1:14) we find theexample Mar Vanwa Tyaliéva 'Cottage of Lost Play' – the maror 'cottage' being characterized by vanwa tyalië, 'lostplay' (one must read the earliest Silmarillion manuscripts asreproduced in LT1 and LT2 to understand precisely what this refers to). Itshould however be noted that the genitive case may also be used in such acontext; in the late essay Quendi and Eldar we have Rithil-Anamofor 'Doom-ring' or more literally 'Ring of Doom' (WJ:401;the Old Quenya word rithil 'ring, circle' would probablybecome risil in Exilic Quenya). Rithil-Anamo does not refer toSauron's Ring, but to the Máhanaxar, the circle where the Valar passedjudgement. The word anamo is not otherwise attested, but must be thegenitive of either anama or anan (with stem anam-); itapparently means 'doom, judgement, judging' – the activitycharacterizing or going on in the Circle (Rithil). Perhaps thepossessive case could have been used instead (?Rithil Anamáva or ?RithilAnanwa) without changing the meaning.

In some instances one may indeed be indoubt which case to use, the genitive or the possessive; sometimes Tolkien'sown choice is slightly surprising. He used the possessive in the phrase Noldo-quentastaIngoldova 'Ingoldo's History of the Noldor' (VT39:16) – the ElfIngoldo being the author of this particular Noldo-quentasta or'Noldo-history'. Yet the emphasis is hardly on the fact that Ingoldo ownsthis 'Noldo-history' (unless copyright was a big issue in Valinor).Ingoldo is just the author or originator, and for this meaning we might expectthe genitive case to be used instead, since it frequently describes origin orsource. Yet there may be certain conflicting concerns here: Since the genitivecase may also signify about, concerning (as in QuentaSilmarillion), perhaps Noldo-quentasta Ingoldowith a genitive instead could easily have been misunderstood as 'theNoldo-history about Ingoldo'.

Anyhow, in one attested example, Tolkien'schoice of case certainly amounts to an outright contradiction of what he hadwritten earlier, in the essay Quendi and Eldar: We have quoted hisexplanation of why it would normally be improper to use the genitive in aphrase like lambë Eldaron 'the language of the Eldar' – thiswould imply 'the language coming from the Eldar, later taken over byothers'! One had to use the possessive case instead: lambë Eldaiva.Yet Tolkien himself used lambë Quendion for 'the language ofElves' in a very late source (PM:395) – and Quendion is unmistakablya plural genitive. The fact that Tolkien here uses another word for'Elf' (Quendë instead of Elda) can hardly make anydifference: According to the system set out in Quendi and Eldar, wewould expect lambë Quendíva, the possessive case being used of currentownership. Perhaps we can resolve the contradiction in 'internal'terms, appealing to a linguistic development within the mythos: Tolkien notedthat there was an increasing tendency to prefer the genitive case, peoplesometimes using it instead of the possessive case (WJ:369). So in 'lateusage' it would perhaps be more natural to say lambë Quendion,rather than lambë Quendíva – the former distinctions fading away. If oneis in doubt which case to use, the genitive or the possessive, it is probably bestto pick the former.


filling in some details

NOTE #1:Vowel-lengthening in the syllable precedingthe case ending: The observant student will have noted that sometimes, thelast vowel of a noun is lengthened when the ending -va is added.For instance, Eldalië + va produces Eldaliéva with a long é(which must then receive the stress, according to the normal rules). Oromévaand tyaliéva as the possessive forms of the nouns Oromë and tyaliëare other examples. Notice that the words Eldalië, Oromë, tyaliëall end in two short syllables (containing neither consonant clusters,diphthongs or long vowels). If the ending -va were added after them andno further changes were made, the extra syllable provided by this ending wouldmake the stress move to what is now the third syllable from the end (cf. thestress rules set out in Lesson One). This would result in the rather awkwardpronunciations **orOMeva, **eldaLIeva, **tyaLIeva.So where the ending -va is added to a noun ending in two shortsyllables, and there is no final consonant, the vowel of the last of thesesyllables is apparently lengthened to make sure that it will receive thestress: oroMÉva, eldaliÉva, tyaliÉva. But ifthe noun ends in a consonant, there is never any need to lengthen the vowel,for where we are dealing with a noun of such a shape, the suffixing of the caseending (probably appearing as -wa) will result in a consonant clusterwhich will make the stress move to the vowel before the new cluster anyhow. Forinstance, while a name like Menelmacar (the Quenya name of Orion) isnaturally accented on the third syllable from the end because it ends in twoshort syllables, its possessive form Menelmacarwa would be accented on -arw-because of the cluster rw here arising: This cluster makes what is nowthe second-to-last syllable long, and therefore it receives the stress.

In the original version of this course, Iwrote: 'It is unclear whether the system just sketched – the final vowelof a noun ending in two short syllables being lengthened before the ending -va– would still be valid in the case of a word that only consists of thesetwo short syllables.' As I also wrote, my gut feeling was that in such acase, there would be no lengthening. This has now been confirmed by the exampleEruva as the possessive form of Eru (VT44:12, published in June2002). Though Eru ends in two short syllables, we do not see **Erúvain the possessive, for the two short syllables of Eru are also theentire word. The lengthening rule only applies to words of more than twosyllables.

Huinéva (instead of **huineva) as thepossessive form of huinë 'shadow, gloom' is however a puzzlingexample. Here we do see lengthening of the final -ë to -é-. For awhile I actually thought final -ë is always lengthened before the ending-va, but the Plotz Letter indicates that the possessive form of lassë'leaf' is lasseva (not **lasséva). If the ui of huinëis counted as two syllables (u-i), not as a diphthong,this example would conform with the rule set out above: hu-i-në wouldhave its final vowel lengthened when -va is added, producing huinéva.But since Tolkien explicitly stated that Quenya ui is a diphthong –hence pronounced as one long syllable and not as two short ones – thisexplanation is not satisfactory. Yet ui is supposed to be a diphthong inSindarin as well, but in one Sindarin poem, ui occurs where the poeticmeter demands two syllables. Perhaps ui, although a diphthong, issomehow 'overlong' and sometimes counts as two syllables, eventhough it is perceived as one syllable by the ear. Bottom line is, if the caseending -va is to be added to a noun with ui in its second-to-lastsyllable, the vowel in the final syllable is apparently lengthened before -vais suffixed. So the possessive form of nouns like cuilë 'life'or tuima 'sprout' should evidently be cuiléva, tuimáva.

As for the genitive ending -o,there is no similar lengthening when the ending is to be added to a noun endingin two short syllables: The genitive form of Oromë is attested as Oromëo,not **Oroméo (contrast possessive Oroméva). The form Oromëomust be accented on -rom-. It seems likely, then, that nothing specialhappens when -o is added to a word like huinë either (genitive probablyhuinëo, hardly ?huinéo). However, I should like to see anattested example of what happens when the ending -o is added to a nounending in two short vowels in hiatus – most frequently -, as in Valië'female Vala'. ?Valiëo would have to be accented on i,which sounds rather awkward; the same goes for the plural form ?Valieron.I strongly suspect that in such a case, the vowel in the syllable before thegenitive ending would be lengthened, thus attracting the stress: Valiéo,Valiéron. But once again, there is no way of being certain; we mustawait further publications.

NOTE #2:Special stem-forms of nouns: Where anoun has a special stem-form, it would always appear when the genitive ending -ois added. The genitive of nís (niss-) 'woman' or talan(talam-) 'floor' would be nisso 'woman's' andtalamo 'floor's'. Yet the ending -va or -wa forpossessive may sometimes produce more complex results. Adding -wa to anoun like talan, talam- would probably result in talanwa,not **talamwa, since mw regularly becomes nw in Quenya.Suffixing -wa to filit (filic-) 'bird' wouldresult in filicwa all right, but this we must spell filiquaaccording to the normal conventions. I am not quite sure what the possessiveform of nís (niss-) 'woman' should be. **Nisswais certainly not a possible Quenya word; perhaps we would see something like nisseva,an extra e turning up before the ending to break up the impossibleconsonant cluster (and following a vowel, we would regularly see -vainstead of -wa). – The 'stem-form' of some nouns is simply acontraction, e.g. fern- as the stem of feren'beech-tree'. Surely the genitive would be ferno, but thepossessive may well be ferenwa with no contraction, since other examplesindicate that such contraction does not occur before a consonant cluster (**fernwais not a possible Quenya word). Of course we could slip in an e here aswell, producing ?ferneva, but I would certainly put my money on ferenwa.

NOTE #3:A Tolkienian rule we can afford to ignore(!): In WJ:407, Tolkien states that the case derived by adding -vanever lost its strong adjectival connotations; he actually says that it'was and remained an adjective'. Compare Eruva being used inthe sense 'divine' rather than 'God's' in Tolkien's QuenyaLitany of Loreto. As we remember from Lesson Four, adjectives in -a haveplural forms in -ë (for archaic -ai). According to what Tolkiensays in WJ:407, a possessive noun (with ending -va) that governs a pluralword would agree with it in number just like any other adjective, the ending -vaturning into -. For this reason, he used i arani Eldaivë for'the Kings of the Eldar' in WJ:369: Eldaiva 'of theEldar' becomes Eldaivë (archaic Eldaivai) to agree in numberwith the plural noun it is dependent on, namely arani 'kings'.

However, this may be one of the cases ofTolkien revising Elvish grammar without noticing that his new ideascontradicted something he had already published. For in Namárië in LotR,we have yuldar...lisse-miruvóreva for 'draughts of sweetmead', and Tolkien later confirmed this construction in his comments on Namáriëin The Road Goes Ever On. Since yuldar 'draughts'is a plural word, lisse-miruvóreva should have been lisse-miruvórevëaccording to the system Tolkien set out in WJ:407. As I said, the likeliest'external' explanation is simply that Tolkien introduced a new rulewithout noticing that he had already published something that contradicted it.In 'internal' terms, we may perhaps assume that the possessive formwas still perceived as a kind of derived adjective in the older period, andtherefore it also agreed in number like regular adjectives. But as the Ageswent by in Middle-earth, the forms derived by means of the ending -vacame to be perceived more strictly as a noun case only, and by the late ThirdAge when Galadriel composed her Lament, the adjective-style agreement in numberhad been abandoned. I do not use it in the exercises I have made for thiscourse.


and how they interact with the genitive and possessive cases

16 Pronouns (possessive)sindarin Lessons Activities

We haveearlier defined nouns as words denoting things, whereas verbs are wordsthat denote actions – but we have also hinted that linguists would findsuch definitions rather simplistic. Some nouns do denote actions, and they areappropriately called verbal nouns. Since such nouns may interact withthe genitive and possessive cases in a way that should be noted, this is a goodplace to introduce them.

A verbal noun is derived from the stemof a verb; in English, the relevant ending is -ing. (This is also theending used to derive active participles, but they are adjectives, not nouns;the forms merely happen to coincide in English.) Singing is the verbalnoun corresponding to the verb sing; in other words, singing isthe action you perform when you sing.

16 Pronouns (possessive)sindarin Lessons Learned


In Quenya, the stems of some primaryverbs are the source of abstract formations in -; some of them seem tohave been verbal nouns in origin. For instance, whereas the verb 'tolove' is mel-, the noun 'love' (or 'loving') ismelmë. Some of these may take on more specialized meanings. Carmëis used for 'art' (UT:439), though this is basically simply a kind ofverbal noun derived from the verb car- 'make, do' – henceliterally 'making'. (See below regarding oiencarmë.)

Primary verbs may also receive theending -; the verb tyal- 'to play' corresponds to theabstract formation tyalië 'play, playing' (as noun; cf. the MarVanwa Tyaliéva or 'Cottage of Lost Play' mentioned above). Addedto an A-stem verb, the ending - makes the final -a drop out;cf. naina- 'to lament' producing the abstract noun nainië'a lament(ing)'.

Yet another frequent formation is to lengthenthe stem-vowel of a primary verb and add the ending -ë. The verb ser-'rest' corresponds to the abstract noun sérë 'rest,repose, peace'. Very often, the nouns so derived have taken on a somewhatmore concrete meaning. From the verb sir- 'to flow' we have sírë,which would basically refer to a 'flowing', but this noun is used ='river'. The noun nútë connects with the verb nut-'to tie', but the noun has developed beyond the full abstract'tying, binding' and has come to signify 'knot' instead.From lir- 'to sing, chant' we have lírë, used for'song' rather than just 'singing, chanting'. Yet theunderlying idea of a verbal noun is often discernible still.

The stems of some A-stem verbs, especially in -ta,can also be used as abstract nouns with no additions. Vanta- is the verb'to walk', but vanta is also used as an abstract: 'awalk' (that is, 'walking' considered as a noun). Likewise, theverbs lanta- 'to fall' corresponds to the noun lanta'a fall(ing)'. However, the noun may also be lantë, as in thename of the song Noldolantë or 'Fall of the Noldor' mentionedin the Silmarillion. In Quenya, most abstract nouns indeed end in thevowel -ë, either alone or as part of a longer ending.

One such ending is -, which seems toone of the most versatile Quenya abstract suffixes. It may be that it can inprinciple be added to any A-stem verb, and the resulting word is basically averbal noun. The verb laita- 'to bless/praise' occurs in LotR(in the Cormallen Praise), and the corresponding abstract noun laitalë'praise' or 'praising' occurs in UT:166, 436 (wherereference is made to the Erulaitalë or 'Praise of Eru', aNúmenórean festival). In earlier lessons we have used the verb nurta-'to hide', which is actually only attested as a verbal noun nurtalë'hiding' (see below concerning the phrase NurtaValinóreva 'Hiding of Valinor').

Then let us return to the genitive andpossessive cases. If you combine a verbal noun (or an abstract formation thatstill clearly connects with a verb) with a noun in the genitive case, itsuggests that this noun is the 'subject' of the corresponding verb.An attested example is Altariello nainië for 'Galadriel'slament' (RGEO:66; the Quenya form of Galadriel's name is Altarielwith stem Altariell-). The genitive Altariello'Galadriel's' governing the abstract noun nainië 'lament,lamenting' indicates that Galadriel is the one who does the lamenting:subject genitive. Perhaps the phrase i equessi Rúmilo 'the sayingsof Rúmil' (WJ:398) may also be analyzedin such a way: Rúmil is the subject who originally 'said' the'sayings'. An obvious case is provided by the phrase OiencarmëEruo 'the One's [Eru's, God's] perpetual production' (MR:471).Eru is the one who does the 'perpetual production' (oi-en-carmë= probably 'ever-re-making'), and this is indicated by the genitiveform Eruo: subject genitive yet again.

Way back in Lesson Two, I pointed out the errorcontained in the title of the fanzine Parma Eldalamberon; it should havebeen Parma Eldalambion instead. I must now take affair with the title ofanother (good!) Tolkien-linguistic journal, Tyalië Tyelelliéva. This wasmeant to signify 'Play of the Tyelellië' (a folk of little Elves).But since the Tyelellië are the subject of the abstract noun'play' (the ones who do the playing), it would probably have beenbetter to use the genitive case here: perhaps Tyalië Tyelelliéo.

So far subject genitive; what about objectgenitive? This kind of genitive is usually replaced by an of-constructionin English: 'the discovery of America' = the discovery which Americawas the object of. Subject and object genitive can even be combined in a phraselike 'Columbus' discovery of America' (Columbus is the subjectwho does the discovery, America is the object that is discovered).

Our one-and-only attested example of a Quenyaobject genitive seems to indicate that for this meaning, Quenya uses the casein -va. This one example is found in the Silmarillion, near theend of Chapter 11: Nurtalë Valinóreva, the 'Hiding of Valinor'(Valinóreva is formed from Valinórë, an older variant of the namenormally shortened as Valinor). The point is that the Valar hid Valinor,so Valinor is the object of the nurtalë or 'hiding'. Ifone used the genitive case instead, saying Nurtalë Valinórëo, it mightimply that this is a subject genitive – Valinor doing the hiding insteadof being its object. This would make little sense, since Valinor is not aperson that can 'hide' anything. Conversely, oiencarmë Eruocannot be understood as 'perpetual production of the One' evenif some kind of sense could be made of this, for if Eru were the grammaticalobject that isproduced, we would evidently see oiencarmëEruva instead.

Probably, the o-case could beused for subject genitive and the va-case for object genitive within thesame phrase; if so it would probably be best to let the former genitive precedethe verbal noun. Nurtalë Valinóreva or 'Hiding of Valinor'could then be expanded to Valaron nurtalë Valinóreva, 'the Valar'shiding of Valinor'. Or, to use a wholly home-made example:

Eruomelmë Ataniva = 'God's love of Men'


Atanionmelmë Eruva = 'Men's love of God'

Summary of Lesson Twelve: The possessive (or adjectival) case is formed by addingthe ending -va (probably -wa after nouns ending in a consonant),in the plural -iva. (There is no explicit information about dual forms;presumably the ending -va can be added to nouns with dual forms in -u,whereas the case ending might appear as -wa when added to a dual form in-t.) If the ending -va is to be added to a noun of at least threesyllables that ends in a vowel, and the two last syllables are short,then the final vowel is lengthened before the case ending is added so as toattract the stress: the possessive form of Oromë is therefore Oroméva(not **Oromeva). For some reason, such lengthening also occur if thediphthong ui occurs in the second-to-last syllable of the noun; thepossessive form of huinë 'gloom' is therefore huinéva.– A possessive phrase like 'X Yva' may mean 'Y's X'or 'X of Y' referring to simple ownership, e.g. lambë Eldaiva'the language of the Elves' or coa i Eldava 'the Elf'shouse'. The pattern 'X Yva' may also refer to a permanentattribute (e.g. alcar Oroméva 'the glory of Oromë'), or to theprevalent characteristic of a place (e.g. Taurë Huinéva'Forest of Gloom'). Another use of this case is expressing 'Xthat consists of Y' (e.g. yuldar lisse-miruvóreva 'draughts ofsweet mead'). – Verbal nouns, or abstract nouns derived fromverbs, denote an action viewed as a 'thing' or process. Such nounsmay be derived in a variety of ways; relevant endings include -, -,- and -ë. Notice especially the ending -, which (itseems) may in principle be added to any A-stem verb, as when the verb linda-'to sing' produces lindalë 'singing, music'. Whendependent on a verbal noun or an abstract clearly associated with some verb,the genitive case takes on the meaning of a subject genitive (as in Altariellonainië 'Galadriel's lament'), whereas the possessive caseis used for object genitive (Nurtalë Valinóreva'Hiding of Valinor').


minquë 'eleven'

varya- 'to protect'

alya 'rich'

seler (sell-) 'sister'

malta 'gold' (so according toAppendix E of LotR; the Etymologies, entry SMAL, gives maldainstead – but post-LotR sources seem to indirectly confirm that maltawas Tolkien's final decision, as when PM:366 cites the Eldarin root yieldingwords for 'gold' as MALAT.)

engwë 'thing'

16 pronouns (possessive)sindarin lessons worksheets

muilë 'secrecy' (including one ofthe abstract endings mentioned above, -; in this case it is addeddirectly to the root MUY, here manifesting as mui-. Apparentlythis word is related to Sindarin muil as in one place-name occurring inLotR: Emyn Muil, possibly meaning something like Hills of Secrecy orHidden Hills).

sérë 'peace' (in origin anabstract formation based on the verb ser- 'to rest', derivedfrom the same root SED which also produces the name of Estë [fromEsdê/Ezdê], the Valië or 'goddess' of rest and sleep)

ramba 'wall'

ondo 'stone' (as material,though ondo is also used = 'a rock'; the Sindarin equivalent gon,gond occurs in the names Gondor and Gondolin, the latterof which is adapted from Quenya Ondolindë)

osto 'city' (according to latesources also used = 'fortress', but we will use it in the sense of'city' here; the word seems to refer primarily to a fortifiedcity, so there may not be much of a distinction anyway)

mornië 'darkness' (cf. morë'black'; the word mornië is actually an abstract formationbased on another adjective derived from the same primitive root MOR,namely morna = 'dark')


Theseexercises involve both the genitive case and the possessive/adjectival case.Make sure to pick the right case in Exercises I-P (thoughsometimes, either case will do).

1.Translate into English:

A. I limpë Eldaron vs. ilimpë Eldaiva(and since both phrases may have the same English translation, explainwhat the difference is)

B.Haryalyë yulma maltava.

C.I rocco i Eldava alantië mir inúra cilya.

D.Neri séreva úvar ohtari.

E.Altë rambar ondova nurtaner icoar i cainen analyë neriva i osto.

F.I coa i arano selerwa ná carnë.

G.Minë i mólion amápië i macil iaranwa.

H. I vendëo toron hirnë ilyë i harmar iminquë Naucoiva imbë i canta rassi i ninqui orontion.

2.Translate into Quenya:

I. Rivers of wine poured into theman's mouth.

J. The boys' sister [/the sister of theboys] gathered (together) the things of the boys and went into the house of thequeen.

K. The secrecy of the women protecteda great treasure of gold.

L. The eleven warriors could notprotect the peace of the city, for a great darkness fell.

M. They will go through a land ofgreat trees and many rocks, for they want to see the city of the mightywarrior.

N. A wall of secrecy protected thehidden gold of the city, and I did not find it.

O. The land of the Elves is a land ofmany beautiful things; a land without Elves is a land of darkness, for the Men(Atani) of the land do not hear the rich language of the Elves.

P. The king's sister's gathering ofbooks about Elves. (To make an abstract noun 'gathering', try adding the ending -'-ing' to the verb hosta- 'to gather'.)

Although there were many pronoun charts left behind by JRR Tolkien, no Sindarin pronoun chart has been published to give us any idea of a complete pronominal system as he envisioned one. Hopefully, this will change in the near future and we will be able to shed more light on the subject for our readers.

The attested independent pronouns are listed below. First you will need to know what each “person” (1st, 2nd, 3rd) emcompasses. 1st person is used when you are referring to yourself, either singularly or in a group. 2nd person is used when you are addressing a person(s) as “you”, either singular or plural. 3rd person is used when you are referring to “he, she, or it” in singular or plural form.

Any word marked by a ? or preceded by the word “possibly” means that it is not completely sure if this is a proper translated form.

16pronouns (possessive)sindarin Lessons


first person:second person:third person:
im (I)le (you)e (he, possibly she, it)
min (we)pen (one, someone, anyone)



first person:second person:third person:
nin (me)le (you) ?hain (them)
men (us)di (those)
den (it) ?



first person:second person:third person:
anim (for myself)le (to you) …………..
enni (to me)
ammen (for us, of us, to us)


The relative pronoun is used to introduce a clause that “relates” or explains characteristics of another noun.

i (who, that …. singular form) sometimes causes lenition of the following word
in (who, that …. plural form) sometimes causes nasal mutation of itself and following word


Possessive adjectives are not independent pronouns. They are like all other adjectives in that they are used to describe a noun, and like most adjectives, follow the noun they describe. This is just a “recap” from the adjective lesson, because they are “pronominal”.

first person:second person:third person:
nín (my)lín (your)dîn (his, possibly hers, its)
vín (our)


Reflexive possessive adjectives are used to reflect back to the subject of the sentence.

în (his, possibly hers, its)



first person:second person:third person:
-n (I)-ch (you sing.) – (no suffix attached for singular)
-m (we)-l (you pl.)-r (they)

NOTE: The above pronominal forms are all that are attested in Sindarin at this time.
It is probably safe to “extrapolate” subject forms of hain (them) as “san” (that) and “sain” (they), and singular object form as han. Subject forms of di (those) and den (if “den” indeed means “it”) would probably be “ti” (those) and “ten” (it).
Likewise, the mutated form “ben” (one, someone, anyone) from “pen” would probably be a safe direct object pronoun.

NOTE: The Etymologies lists several Noldorin forms for he, she, it and their plurals. I will list them below.
he: ho, hon, hono … pl. huin
she: he, hen, hene … pl. hîn
it: ha, hana … pl. hein

“Hein” later became “hain” in Sindarin due to regular sound change … as seen in the Moria Gate inscription. “Huin” later became “hýn” in Sindarin. David Salo uses “hon” in the LOTR movies for “he/him”, instead of “e” as seen in the King’s Letter.