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

See also [Sindarin verbs].

It is often argued that Sindarin employs copula-less constructions to form a predicate. For example, the following are valid sentences that would use the verb "to be" in English:

i Edhel adar
(lit. "the Elf father")
= "The Elf is a father"

im Arwen
(lit. "I Arwen")
= "I am Arwen"

rochon ellint im
(lit. "rider fastest I")
= "I am the fastest rider"

If there is no such thing as a Sindarin "to be" verb, then often it is asked how we would tell the difference between "the house is ancient" and "the ancient house" (both i adab iaur to the beginner). The answer is that in an adjectival predicate (the latter one) the adjective follows the noun, undergoing lenition (e.g. i adab galen "the green house" vs. i adab calen "the house is green", but the valid question has been asked "if the consonant is not one that undergoes lenition then we would have exactly the same phrase. Am I missing something?" (Maethorgalad on Elfling). This begs answering, and is compounded when I ask "how would we say 'the house was green', past tense?"

Luckily, it has been conjectured that whilst writing the dialogues for The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers the linguistic consultant, David Salo, came up with a "to be" verb closely modelled on that of Quenya. In both the movies and in primary sources(*), we see the imperative no. If we conjecture that that comes from the root na- (as in Quenya), we get the following:

nĂ¢: 3rd person sg. present tense

nant: past tense

natha: future

(*) v. imp. no "be!" (attested in VT#44,21) from *na- "to be".

N.B. Gritchka informs me that

"Russian and Arabic, with no present tense 'be', as here, use verbs in the past: kaana in Arabic, byl in Russian".


  • 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]
  • Vinyar Tengwar periodical
  • discussions on elfling mailing list at http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/elfling
  • own notes

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