(Grey-elven, the tongue of Beleriand, the noble tongue, the Elven-tongue)


The structure of Sindarin:


A. N o u n s



Sindarin has the singular and the plural, the dual early became obsolete except in written work.

The singular is the basic form. Plurals are mostly made with vowel change (as in Englisch ‘goose’ > ‘geese’, ‘woman’ > ‘women’). The rules for vowel change are the same for both nouns and adjectives (the latter agree in number with the noun they describe). The vowel changes go back on the so-called umlaut phenomena, and are an important feature of Sindarin phonology (one vowel "affects" another vowel in the same word, making it more like itself, assimilating it). The umlaut relevant for the plural formation is called i-affection, since it was the vowel i that triggered it. The primitive Elvish language had a plural ending î (still present in Quenya –i), which did not survive into Sindarin, but there are clear traces of its former presence in the mode of vowel change:


- primitive Elvish: spangâ (beard) > spangâi (beards)

- Old Sindarin: sphanga > sphangi

- (intermediate stage: fang > faing?)

- Classical Sindarin: fang > feng


The original a vowel drifted towards the quality of the plural ending –i before the ending was lost. The e in the plural of Classical Sindarin can be seen as a kind of compromise between the original a and the lost ending i.

When "affected", the various vowels and diphthongs undergo different changes:


- a: in the final syllable changes into ai (or e), in a non final syllable into e:

tâl (foot) > tail (feet)

cant (shape) > caint (shapes)

nawag (dwarf) > neweg (dwarves)

aran (king) > erain (kings)

adan (man) > edain (men)

lavan (animal) > levain (animals)


- e: in the final syllable changes into i, in non final syllables e is unaffected:

edhel (Elf) > edhil (Elves)

malen (yellow) > melin

certh (rune) > cirth (runes)

hên (child) > hîn (children)

têw (letter) > tîw (letters)


- i: does not change (it cannot move further upwards in the vocal duct), singular and plural can only be distinguished by e.g. an article or adjective connected to the noun:

dîs (dagger/daggers)

i dîs (the dagger) > in dîs (the daggers)

tawaren dîs (a wooden dagger) > tewerin dîs (wooden daggers)

Amon Ethir (Hill of a spy/spies)


- o: in the final syllable changes into y:

toll (island) > tyll (islands)

amon (hill) > emyn (hills)

thalion (hero) > thelyn (heros)

ithron (wizard) > ithryn (wizards)


- u: short u turns into y in all syllables, long û in a final syllable becomes ui:

tulus (poplar) > tylys

dûr (dark) > duir,

Barad-dûr (Dark Tower) vs Emyn Duir (Dark Mountains)


- au: changes into ui or oe:

nauw (idea) > nui (ideas)

naug (dwarf) > noeg (dwarves)


An additional Class plural includes all things of the same name, or those associated in some special arrangement or organization. The suffix –ath is added to the noun:

elenath (host of stars, all the visible stars of the firnament)

Periannath (the Hobbits as a race)

sellath dîn (all his daughters)


C. C o n s o n a n t m u t a t i o n


Consonant mutations are regular changes of the initial consonants of words. This is a very frequent phenomenon in Sindarin. There are several subcategories, of which the most important ones are soft mutation and nasal mutation.


1. Soft mutation (also known as lenition = softening):

By this mutation, hard (unvoiced) sounds like p or t become "softened" (or lenited) to voiced b or d. Voiced sounds like b or d are further softened to spirants: v and dh. The consonants h, s, m are lenited to ch, h, v. Typically, soft mutation occurs after particles ending in a vowel when such a particle immediately precedes a word and is closely associated with it (as a kind of unity), e.g. the definite article i. The phonological background of this soft mutation is the same process as consonant changes (after vowels) within words during the evolution of Sindarin from primitive Elvish, e.g. the original word atar (father, still preserved in Quenya) was lenited to adar.


Examples of soft mutation:


tâl (a foot) > i dâl (the foot)

pân (a plank) > i bân (the plank)

bess (a woman) > i vess (the woman)

daw (gloom) > i dhaw (the gloom)

brôg (a bear) > i vrôg (the bear)

trenarn (a tale) > i drenarn (the tale)

mellon (a friend) > i vellon (the friend)

hammad (clothing) > i chammad (the clothing)


Many prepositions also trigger soft mutation:

na (to) + benn (man) > na venn (to a man),

Additionally, prefixes like u (not, without) and the negative adverb avo used with an imperative cause lenition:

u (not) + hebin (I keep) > u-chebin (I do not keep),

caro! (do!) > avo garo! (don’t do!)


The rules for where soft mutation occurs differ somewhat from dialect to dialect and, therefore, sometimes no soft mutation occurs when we would expect it.


When a word is used as the second element of a compound, it often undergoes changes similar to soft mutation:

Gil (star) + calad (light) > Gilgalad (Starlight)


A noun is also lenited if it appears as the direct object of a verb (sort of accusative):

egleria (glorify) + Taur a Perhael (Frodo and Sam) > eglerio Daur a Berhael (glorify Frodo and Sam!)


2. Nasal mutation:

Just like the singular article i triggers soft mutation, the plural article in triggers nasal mutation. The same happens after the prepositions an (for/to) and dan (against):

in (the plural) + tîw (letters) > i thîw (the letters),

in (the plural) + Periannath (Hobbits) > i Pheriannath (the Hobbits)


3. Additional sorts of mutations:

The unvoiced stops t, p, c turn into spirants th, ph, ch:

ed (out of)+ pân (plank) > e phân (out of a plank),

ed + trenarn (tale) > e threnarn (out of a tale))


E. V e r b s


(The Sindarin verb system is far from being fully understood, because there are very few examples in Tolkien's texts.)

There seem to be two main categories of Sindarin verbs, derived verbs (a-stems) and basic verbs, as in Quenya. In many forms, Sindarin verbs take endings for number and person. Like in Quenya, Sindarin adds the ending -r to verbs with a plural subject:

cuina (lives) > cuinar (live)


The pronominal endings -n (I), -m (we), -ch/-g (you) are also suffixed to the verb:

cuina (lives) > cuinon (I live)

cuinam (we live)

cuinach/cuinag (you live)

cuinar (they live)


a) The conjugation of the a-stems mostly involves a series of suffixes:


infinitive ending -o displacing the ending -a:

linna (sing) > linno (to sing)

dagra (make war) > dagro (to make war)

bronia (endure) > bronio (to endure)

ertha (unite) > ertho (to unite)

lacha (flame) > lacho (to flame)

harna (wound) > harno (to wound)


The present tense (3. person singular) is identical to the a-stem itself:

linna > linna (sings/is singing)

dagra (make war) > dagra (makes war/is making war)

bronia (endure) > bronia (endures/is enduring)

ertha (unite) > ertha (unites/is uniting)

lacha (flame) > lacha (flames/is flaming)

harna (wound) > harna (wounds/is wounding)


linnon (I sing/am singing)

linnam (we sing/are singing)

linnar (they sing/are singing)

bronion (I endure/am enduring)

broniam (we endure/are enduring)

broniar (they endure/are enduring)


The past tense is mostly formed with the suffix -nt:

linna > linnant (sang)

bronia > broniant (endured)

esta (call/name) > estant (called, named)

When plural or pronominal endings are added, the suffix -nt becomes -nne before the ending follows:

broniant > broniannen (I endured)

broniannem (we endured)

bronianner (they endured)

The future tense is formed by adding the ending -tha:

linna > linnatha (will sing)

bronia > broniatha (will endure)

harna > harnatha (will wound)

linnathon (I will sing)

linnatham (we will sing)

linnathar (they will sing)


The imperative is formed with the ending -o (identical to infinitive). It is the same no matter whether the command is directed to one or to several persons.

linno! (sing!)

There are two active participles, the present participle formed by adding the ending -ol:

linna > linnol (singing)

bronia > broniol (enduring)

glavra (babble) > glavrol (babbling)

and the perfect participle formed by adding the ending -iel:

linna > linniel (having sung)

hwinia (whirl) > hwiniel (having whirled)

esta (call/name) > estiel (having called/named)

The present participle describes the condition one is in when carrying out the action denoted by the verb, whereas the perfect participle describes the state of someone already having carried out this action.


The passive participle (or past participle) describes the condition of something or someone that is or has been exposed to the action of the corresponding verb. It is formed by adding the ending -nnen (identical with the first person singular of past tense, the context must decide how it is to be understood):

esta (call, name) > estannen (called, named)

gosta (fear) > gostannen (feared)

maetha (fight) > maethannen (fought)

baugla (oppress) > bauglannen (oppressed)


The gerund in Sindarin is formed by adding the ending -d:

nara (tell) > narad (telling)

ertha (unite) > erthad (uniting)

mereth Aderthad (Feast of Reunion)

b) The conjugation of the basic verbs is more complex than that of the a-stems.


The infinitive is formed with the ending -i, which causes the vowels a and o to umlaut to e:

fir (fade/die) > firi (to fade/die)

ped (speak) > pedi (to speak)

blab (flap) > blebi (to flap)

dag (slay) > degi (to slay)

nor (run) > neri (to run)

tol (come) > teli (to come)


The present tense in the third person singular is identical with the verbal stem, except in the case of monosyllabic verbal stems, which undergo vowel lengthening:

osgar (amputate) > osgar (amputates)

dar (stop) > dâr (stops)

fir > fîr (fades/dies)

ped > pêd (speaks)

When a person ending is required, this ending is added to the infinitive of the verb:

fir > firin (I fade/die)

ped > pedin (I speak)

tol > telin (I come)

osgar > esgerin (I amputate)


The past tense of basic verbs involves a nasal suffix or infix (the latter is inserted before the final consonant of the stem, causes the in the course of language evolution lenited last consonant to shift back into its original):

dar (stop) > darn (stopped)

gir (shudder) > girn (shuddered)

nor (run) > norn (ran)

had (hurl) > hant (hurled)

cab (jump) > camp (jumped)

dag (slay) > danc (slew)

redh (sow) > rend (sowed)


For the future tense a formation by adding -tha to the infinitive is assumed:

dar > deri (to stop) > deritha (will stop)

ped > pedi (to speak) > peditha (will speak)

tol > teli (to come) > telitha (will come)


Imperative formation in basic verbs is similar to a-stems, a final -o is added:

daro! (stop!)

pedo! (speak!)

tiro! (watch!/look!)

A tiro nin, Fanuilos! (Look towards me, Everwhite!)


The present active participle seems to take the ending -el, when the stem-vowel is i, this ending is expanded to -iel:

dar > darel (stopping)

ped > pedel (speaking)

fir > firiel (fading/dying)

tir > tiriel (watching/looking)

The perfect active participle has the ending -iel combined with a lengthening of the stem-vowel:

tir > tîriel (having watched/looked)

The passive past participle can be constructed by adding -en to the third singular past tense form:

dar > darn > darnen (stopped)

tir > tirn > tirnen (watched/guarded)


The gerund of basic verbs is formed by adding the ending -ed:

cab (jump) > cabed (jumping)

tol (come) > toled (coming)


(Besides the a-stems and the basic verbs, there is also a mixed conjugation, and irregular and special verbs.)