The Pronouns

The pronouns have always been a problem. There are many uncertain points, and the subject is further muddied by the fact that Tolkien seems to have revised the pronominal system repeatedly. The system sketched here is pieced together from many sources and involves both extrapolations, reconstructions and some undeniably arbitrary choices. Not for a second do I think it is 100 % correct according to Tolkien's final intentions.

One thing, at least, is perfectly clear: Quenya pronouns usually appear as endings directly suffixed to a verb or noun, not so often as independent words, as in English. Examples from Namárië are the words máryat and hiruvalyë. Máryat means "her hands", "her" being expressed by the pronominal ending -rya (here followed by the dual ending -t to denote a natural pair of hands). Hiruvalyë is "thou shalt find", "thou" being expressed by the pronominal ending -lyë added to the verb hiruva "shall (shalt) find". Cf. also the ending -n "I" in Elendil's words Endorenna utúlien, "to Middle-earth I am come" (utúlië-n "have-come I").

This is an attempt, and nothing more, to compile a table of the pronominal endings used on verbs:

1. person sg: -n or -nyë "I"
2. person sg and pl, courteous: -lyë "thou, *you" (or use -lyë = "thou" and -l for pl. "you")
2. person sg and pl, familiar: *-ccë "you" (based on a Sindarin ending -ch, very hypothetical!)
3. person sg. masc.: -ro "he"
3. person sg. fem.: -"she" (hardly *-ryë, as has traditionally been thought)
3. person sg. neuter: -s "it" (can also be used as a short ending for both "he" and "she")
1. person pl. -mmë: "we" (exclusive), -lmë "we" (inclusive)
1. person dual *-lvë: "we" (inclusive, "thou and I" - some think it should be *-lwë)
3. person plural -ntë "they"

Note that there is a distinction between exclusive and inclusive "we", despending on whether the person addressed is included in "we" or not. Also note that -lme is the inclusive, not the exclusive "we" - exclusive "we" is -mmë! The ending *-lvë (or *-lwë?) is the inclusive dual "we", sc. "we" meaning "thou and I", not the general (plural) inclusive "we". This part of the Quenya pronominal system has long been misinterpreted (in Jim Allan's An Introduction to Elvish, Nancy Martsch' Basic Quenya etc. etc.)

Example: lendë "went", *lenden or *lendenyë "I went", *lendelyë "you [polite] went", *lendeccë "you [familiar] went", *lendéro "he went", *lendérë "she went", *lendes "it [or he/she] went", *lendemmë "we [exclusive] went", *lendelmë "we [inclusive] went", *lendelvë (*lendelwë?) "we [= thou and I] went", *lendentë "they went". (Note that the endings -ro and -cause the previous vowel to become long.) The object can also be expressed as a pronominal ending added directly to the verb, following the ending denoting the subject. Cf. Aragorn's exclamation when he found the sapling of the White Tree: Utúvienyes!, "I have found it!" (utúvie-nye-s "have found-I-it"; LotR3/VI ch. 5), or a word from Cirion's Oath: tiruvantes "they will keep it" (tiruva-nte-s "will keep-they-it, UT:317).

As indicated by the word máryat "her hands" discussed above, even possessive pronouns like "her, his, my" are expressed by endings in Quenya, added directly to the noun (in this case "hand"). The possessive endings used on nouns for the most part correspond to the pronominal endings used on verbs, but have the ending -a:

1. person sg: -nya "my"
2. person sg and pl, courteous: -lya "thy, *your"
2. person sg and pl, familiar: *-cca "your" (based on a Sindarin ending, very hypothetical!)
3. person sg: -rya "his, her" (and possibly "its")
1. person pl: *-mma: "our" (exclusive), *-lma "our" (inclusive)
1. person dual: *-lva: "our" (inclusive, "thou and I" - some think it should be *-lwa)
3. person pl.: *-nta "their"

Example: parma "book", *parmanya "my book", *parmalya "your (polite) book", *parmacca "your (familiar) book", *parmarya "his/her/?its book", *parmamma "our (exclusive - not your!) book", *parmalma "our (including your) book", *parmalva (or *parmalwa?) "our (thine and my) book", *parmanta "their book" (the last of which must not be confused with the dual allative "to a couple of books"). In the case of nouns ending in a consonant, an e may be inserted between the noun and the possessive ending, e.g. macil "sword", *macilerya "his sword". In the plural, the plural ending -i may serve to separate noun and ending, e.g. *macili "swords", *maciliryar "his swords" - but as we see, an additional plural ending r appears after the suffix; cf. the next paragraph. There are some indications that the ending -nya "my" always prefers i as its connecting vowel, even in the singular, as in Anarinya "my Sun" in LR:72 (Anar "Sun"). Hence *macilinya "my sword".

The forms with possessive endings are inflected like normal nouns. Example: Nominative *parmanya "my book" (pl. *parmanyar "my books"), genitive *parmanyo "of my book" (pl. *parmanyaron), possessive *parmanyava "my book's, of my book" (pl. *parmanyaiva), dative *parmanyan "for my book" (pl. *parmanyain), locative *parmanyassë "in my book" (pl. *parmanyassen), allative *parmanyanna "to my book" (pl. *parmanyannar), ablative *parmanyallo "from my book" (pl. *parmanyallon, *parmanyallor), instrumental *parmanyanen "by my book" (pl. *parmanyainen) - and respective *parmanyas pl. *parmanyais, whatever that means. Attested examples are tielyanna "upon your path" in UT:22 cf. 51 (tie-lya-nna "path-your-upon") and omentielvo "of our meeting" in the famous greeting Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo "a star shines upon the hour of our meeting" (omentie-lva-o "meeting-our-of", the genitive ending -o displacing the final -a of the pronominal ending; cf. Vardo for **Vardao).

However, Quenya does possess independent pronouns in addition to the numerous endings discussed above. Some of them are emphatic. The final lines of Namárië provide us with a good example of this. In the sentence nai hiruvalyë Valimar "maybe thou shalt find Valimar", "thou" is expressed with the ending -lyë attached to the verb hiruva "shall find", as explained above. But in the following sentence, nai elyë hiruva "maybe even thou shalt find [it]", the corresponding independent pronoun elyë is used for emphasis: hence the translation "even thou". Another attested independent pronoun is inyë "(even) I". It is assumed that most of the independent pronouns are formed by prefixing e- to the corresponding pronominal ending, like *emmë "(even) we", but these forms are not attested in our small corpus. The emphatic words for "he, she, it" are uncertain.

Other independent pronouns, apparently not emphatic, include ni "I" (dative nin "for me" in Namárië), tye "thee, you (as object)", ta "it", te "them" (and *"they"?), me "we" (dual me[t] "we two" in Namárië). "He, she" may be so, se (cf. LR:385)

©Helge Fauskanger