Quenya Compound Tenses

by Helios De Rosario Martínez


Quenya, as attested in its various conceptual stages, is a language with an elaborated verbal structure, as we can see in various grammars, conjugation tables, notes, and examples written by J.R.R. Tolkien through the years. Part of such elaboration is a system of compound tenses that was fully described in two different periods of time: first in the Early Qenya Grammar written in the 1920s, and later on in the texts about the Quenya Verb Structure that he composed in the late 1940s.

This article analyzes and compares those descriptions, as well as the information that can be found or inferred about them in various notes that Tolkien wrote in later years. This analysis will demonstrate some ideas and changes in Tolkien’s conceptions of the elements that are used in the formation of compound tenses, such as the system of basic tenses and participles in Quenya.

Compound tenses in the Early Qenya Grammar

The so-called Early Qenya Grammar (EQG) is the earliest extant comprehensive grammatical description of the Quenya language (at that time spelt Qenya), which Tolkien wrote between 1920 and 1925 during his time at Leeds (PE14:37). It is extant in two versions: an original manuscript, and an unfinished typescript that expands some points.

The section concerning verbs, which only exists in the manuscript version, describes a detailed conjugation of the regular verbs exemplified by the stem verb tul‑ come, together with some incomplete examples of mat‑ eat (PE14:57).

This description includes a list of nine compound tenses formed by the combination of the active participle of the main verb, which could be inflected in three basic tenses (present, past, and future), and the auxiliary verb be, also conjugated for those three tenses.

The conjugation of the three basic tenses is marked by the suffix that follows the verb stem. The suffix of each tense is the same in all verb forms. The present tense is formed with ‑i‑ (lowered to ‑e in final position), the past is formed with ‑ie plus some type of stem strengthening, and the future with ‑uva. Thus, the singular present form of tul‑ is tule, the past is túlie, and the future is tuluva. The examples with mat‑ show a different way of strengthening the stem in the past tense, by means of n‑infixion instead of stem-vowel lengthening.

The conjugation of the verb be follows the same pattern, but is seemingly stemless, such that the singular forms are: present e, past ie (or alternatively ye, hye), and future va.

Active participles are formed by addition of the infix ‑nd‑ to the inflected verb form, reduced to ‑n in final position. Thus for tul‑ we have the present participle tulin(d‑) coming, past participle túlien(d‑) having come, and future participle tuluvan(d‑) going to come.

The combination of any of the tenses of be and of the active participle of the main verb is a valid compound tense, and it can be formed periphrastically or (more often) using the auxiliary verb as a secondary inflection of the participle. Tolkien gives the example of e tulien vs. tuliende, both meaning is having come, or in more idiomatic English has come.1

The nine resulting compound tenses given in EQG are presented in table 1, which displays them in a three-by-three layout that allows a clearer comparison with the forms that are found in later sources. Each entry of the table shows the indicated tense, the example with verb tul‑ in singular form, and its English gloss.

Table 1. Compound tenses in EQG
Present Past Future
pres. imperfect
is coming
past imperfect
was coming
fut. imperfect
will be coming
has come
had come
fut. perfect
will have come
fut. imperfect
is going to come
past future
was going to come
fut. future
will be going to come

It may be noted that there is some redundancy between compound tenses. For instance there are two future imperfect tenses, resulting from the combinations of present participle + future (tulinwa), or future participle + present (tuluvande). These competing forms might have some minor difference in meaning, as do their English glosses, or be used in different syntactical contexts; or perhaps not all the forms were normally used, but only given in the list for the sake of completeness.

On the other hand, the auxiliary verb of the periphrastic forms can itself be inflected as a compound tense, and thus yield further compound tenses of the main verb. Tolkien gives the examples yende tulin has been coming and yendie tulin had been come, constructed with the past participle of be (*yend‑ having been) and the present participle of come.2 The nine compound tenses of the auxiliary verb combined with the three participles of the main verb would produce 27 secondary compound tenses of that type, although Tolkien notes that such forms were only made occasionally, so many of those forms might be rare or even grammatically awkward.

We may also mention other unattested, but likely, variations of the compound tenses in EQG. For instance, we may safely assume that all the forms given in table 1 would have a plural variant ending in ‑l, which was the regular plural marker of verbs at that time (including the auxiliary verb be). In the forms of the first column, the final ‑e would be raised back to the original ‑i before the consonant, so they would be *tulindil, *tuliendil,3 and *tuluvandil. All the other cases would be identical to the forms given in the table plus ‑l.

In addition, although the past in ‑ie is said to be the commonest (PE14:56), many verbs also have a past form ending in ‑ne (without stem strengthening), like the stem verb kar‑ make (past karne) and most non-stem or derivative verbs like tanga‑ beat (tangane), tantila‑ hop (tantilane), etc. (PE14:58). We may expect that the past active participle of those verbs would also contain ‑ne‑, such that their corresponding compound tenses would be perfect *karnende, pluperfect *karnendie, future perfect *karnenduva, etc.

The present of such derivative verbs is in most cases the bare stem (normally ending in ‑a), and their future forms might also show some variant endings like ‑uva, ‑va or ‑wa. But it would be phonologically acceptable to create active participles for those verbs in the regular fashion of tul‑ and mat‑, by addition of ‑nd‑, like *tangan(d‑) beating, or *lokatwan(d‑) *going to sprout (PE14:58; PE12:55 s.v. LOHO‑). Since the inflections of verbs are said to be always pretty regular (PE14:56), it is possible that many derivative verbs form compound tenses in that way.

Compound tenses in the Quenya Verbal System

In the 1940s, about twenty years after EQG, Tolkien worked on a larger historical and descriptive grammar about the Quendian languages that also contained a long chapter about verbs, published in Parma Eldalamberon 22 together with other texts under the collective title of Quenya Verb Structure. The first version of that chapter contains a section that Tolkien titled Quenya Verbal System (QVS), composed around 1948, about the time when he was finishing The Lord of the Rings (PE22:85).

QVS covers all the elements of the verbal system that are mentioned in EQG and many more. It also presents a system of compound tenses based on active participles, although they are not given in a compact list of conjugations as in EQG, but explained in descriptive texts. The morphology of those compound tenses is roughly similar: they are formed by adding secondary tense inflections to active participles, which are themselves formed from tense-inflected stems plus a characteristic participial ending (now ‑(y)ā or ‑lyā, instead of ‑nd‑). A major difference is the system of basic tenses, which comprises the following:

Aorist: this new tense4 is morphologically identical to the present of EQG (e.g. tule come), but used in statements true at all times, or as an ‘historic present’ for narrative; and for the future when defined by such words as ‘tomorrow’ (PE22:95). The corresponding participle is formed with the suffix ‑yā added to the aorist stem, which produces different results. In strong verbs (i.e. those that were called stem-verbs in EQG), like tul‑ or kar‑, with aorist stem tuli‑, kari‑, etc., the ending is reduced from *‑iyā to *‑ı̯ā, thus the suffix is seemingly reduced to ‑ā, which was eventually shortened, yielding tulia coming, karia making, etc. (PE22:106). In some classes of weak verbs like ist(ă) know or talta‑ slip down, the ending ‑ayā gave ‑ea (istea, taltea; cf. PE22:114).5

Present, specifically a continuous or imperfect tense that can only be used of what is happening ‘now’, implying a continued action that began before the immediate moment and is likely to continue for some time (PE22:95). The present tense in strong verbs is typically formed by stem vowel lengthening plus suffixed ‑ā, like kára is making or túla is coming. Some classes of weak verbs cannot form a present distinct from the aorist, so they use other verb forms for that function, as will be explained later on. The present imperfect participle is formed by appending the suffix ‑lyā to the verb stem. In strong verbs the stem vowel is not lengthened, but repeated between the stem and the suffix, e.g. karalya making [now]. The suffix is dissimilated to ‑rya for stems ending in l, e.g. tulurya coming [now] (PE22:107).

Past & Perfect. The two characteristic endings of the past tense in EQG, ‑ne and ‑ie, have in QVS specialized grammatical functions, for the simple past (referring to an action thought of as over) and perfect (referring to an action that was completed in the immediate past, but the effects of which are still present), respectively (PE22:95–96). The suffix -ne is considered the weak past inflexion, since it appears regularly in the past form of many derivative verbs (e.g. ortane raised from ortā́‑, PE22:114, 117). In strong monosyllabic verbs, the past tense is typically marked by final ‑e, without n but normally accompanied by n‑infixion or another type of stem strengthening, e.g. tulle came from tul‑, mante ate from mat‑, tyambe or tyáve tasted from tyav‑, etc. (PE22:102–104). Strong perfects are regularly formed by lengthening and prefixion of the stem vowel, like utúlie has come or akárie has made (PE22:103); whereas not all weak verbs are capable of producing such perfect forms, and some present other types of stem strengthening like ortanie has raised. Early classical Quenya had both past and perfect active participles, but the distinction betweeen them was eventually lost. The resulting mixed past-perfect participle is formed by adding the suffix ‑lya to the stem, either inflected for past or perfect (without augment), e.g. karnelya having made or túlielya having come; the preferred tense seems to be influenced by phonology, for instance it could be the one that least obscures the verbal stem (PE22:101, 108).

Future. The basic inflection of future forms is basically the same as in EQG, marked by the suffix ‑uva, or only -va in some weak verbs like ortáva *will raise (PE22:117). The corresponding participle is regularly formed by adding the suffix ‑lya to the future stem, e.g. karuvalya about to make, tuluvalya about to come, etc. (PE22:109).

QVS provides descriptions and examples of compound tenses based on some of those participles, but not all. In fact the aorist participle is qualified as just an ordinary substantival adjective … treated as a noun (PE22:106). On the other hand the present is the most used active participial form, often employed adjectivally as well as verbally (PE22:108), and QVS gives examples in which it is used verbally, with present, past and future secondary inflections (PE22:101, 115, 117). There are also examples of the past-perfect participle being used with present and past inflections (PE22:104, 108, 117). Table 2 shows the structure of such compound participial tenses, with the labels that Tolkien gives them, where the forms based on the future participle have been added for the sake of completeness and to facilitate the comparison with EQG. That includes new types of compound tenses, including long variants of basic tenses like present imperfect or perfect, and consuetudinal tenses, i.e. denoting habitual action. The examples are given for the strong verbs tul‑ come and kar‑ make, which are also present in many of Tolkien’s own examples, and for the weak verb ortā́‑ raise.

Table 2. Compound participial tenses in QVS
Present Past Future
long imperfect
*tulurye is coming
*karalye is making
ortalye is raising
consuetudinal past
tuluryane used to come
karalyane used to make
*ortalyane used to raise
consuetudinal/imperfect future
*tuluryuva shall be/go on coming
karalyuva shall be/go on making
*ortalyuva shall be/go on raising
long perfect
*túlielye has come
*karnelye has made
ortanelye has raised
túlielyane had come
karnelyane had made
*ortanelyane had raised





It may be noted that many of the examples in table 2 are not actually attested in QVS (those marked with an asterisk). In fact there is no compound tense that contains attested forms for both strong and weak verbs. The reason is that the full description of the verbal conjugation is only given for strong verbs, and weak verbs are explained in a section that basically comments on the points where they differed from the strong conjugation.

Thus, past and future secondary inflections are only attested for the strong verbs tul‑ and kar‑, whereas the long (present) imperfect and long perfect are only attested for ortā́‑, since they are presented in QVS as a specific resource of some weak verbs that did not have proper present or perfect forms. There is one reference to the long perfect of strong verbs, but only as a poetic device using kar‑ as example (PE22:104), and even in that case the given forms (akárielye, akărnelye) differ from the one presented in the table (*karnelye), in using a participle based (fully or partially) on the perfect stem instead of the past.6

The etymology of the secondary inflections in QVS is debatable. In one place the long imperfect ortalye is given next to the periphrastic form ye ortalya (PE22:117), with ye being the present inflection of the verb be at that time; and the original layer of the section that explained the long perfect also contained phrases like ni yē nahtalya I have slain and Orome nahtalya ye O. has slain — with the participle later emended to past-perfect nahtanelya (PE22:104 n.25). Thus, it seems that at least initially Tolkien had in mind the same formation of participial compound tenses as in EQG. However, in the revised text he describes the long perfect as originally formed with the bare, uninflected participle — ni nahtanelya, Orome nahtanelya, such that the final ‑e was a later development on analogy of the normal perfect ending. In other places we can also find the long perfect with uninflected participle istanelya have known, as well as long imperfects in ‑a like ni taltalya I am slipping down (PE22:115), or [ni] faralya I am hunting next to sinar Orome i·tauresse faralye today O. is hunting in the forest, without any commentary on the different endings (PE22:116).7

That apparent hesitation in the present secondary inflections might be related to a major change in the conception of the verb be during the composition of QVS (PE22:122–123). At some point Tolkien found that the root YE that originally was the base of that verb was unsuitable, and replaced it by Ē, changing also the full forms for the different tenses, thus: aorist-present > ëa, past yene > ëane, perfect yénie > ēne, future yéva > ēva or ëava. But those forms became appropriate only when be had the sense of exist, and in other cases (e.g. when used as a copula) it was just omitted or replaced by other verbs with a more physical meaning (cf. PE22:124–126), although the short past and future of the original version were allowed to stand. Therefore, while the endings of the past and future compound tenses might still be seen as an inflected form of the auxiliary verb with this new conception, the morphology was not so clear for the present tenses. In any case, we do not know if this motivated a conceptual change only for the forms with present secondary inflections, or if the idea of an auxiliary verb in participial compound tenses was fully abandoned.

Besides the participial compound tenses, QVS also presents other derivative tenses formed by the direct combination of present, past, and future inflections:

  • Past imperfect, formed from present imperfect + past inflections, e.g. kárane was making or túlane was coming (PE22:100–101).
  • Past future, formed from future + past, e.g. karuváne was going to make, in later classical and spoken Q. accented as karúvane, after the shape of weak ortávane *was going to raise, etc. (PE22:105)
  • Future perfect, formed from perfect + future, e.g. akáriéva shall have made, utúliéva *shall have come, etc. (PE22:105). Tolkien added that the augment is often omitted, i.e. that those examples might be presented as *káriéva, *túliéva. The loss of the augment could be related to the extension of the verb form with a long and accented suffix, which might have weakened the initial syllable.
  • Past future perfect, formed from the abovementioned future perfect + past, e.g. (a)káriévane was going to have made. (Originally Tolkien also wrote the alternative form kárielyúvane, seemingly based on the long perfect instead of the regular perfect, but it was eventually rejected, cf. PE22:105, n. 32.)

The combinations of past and future tenses are specially used for conditional tenses, e.g. the past future tuluváne *would come, and the past future perfect utúliévane *would have come or (a)káriévane *would have made (PE22:105, 122).8

Finally, it may be noted that the Quenya conjugation in QVS also includes plural and dual forms, formed with final ‑r and ‑t, respectively, as well as pronominal objects (PE22:99). This also applied to the compound tenses (PE22:115), so for all the examples mentioned above we can form variants like *tuluryaner [they] used to come, etc.

Comparison between the Early Qenya Grammar and the Quenya Verbal System

The compound tenses described in both EQG and QVS are presented side by side in table 3, with examples of the verb tul‑ come, which is the one used in EQG for the list of such compound tenses, and also has examples for most tenses in QVS. In a couple of cases the long weak forms are also given for the verb ortā́‑ raise. All tenses are formed by a participle (present, past, or future, abbreviated as “pr.p”, “pa.p”, “fut.p”, respectively) or a tense stem (“pr.t”, “pa.t”, “fut.t”, or perfect), normally followed by a tense inflection; and the morphology of each case is presented next to the corresponding example.

Table 3. Compound tenses in EQG and QVS
Tense Example with come EQG form QVS form
Present imperfect
is coming
[is raising]
tulinde (pr.p. + present)
túla (pr.t)
[ortalye (pr.p + present)]
Past imperfect was coming tulindie (pr.p + past) túlane (pr.t + past)
Consuetudinal past used to come —— tuluryane (pr.p + past)
Future imperfect (a) will be coming tulinduva (pr.p + future) *tuluryuva (pr.p + future)
Future imperfect (b) is going to come tuluvande (fut.p. + present) tuluva (fut.t)
Consuetudinal future shall go on coming —— *tuluryuva (pr.p + future)
(Present) perfect
has come
[has raised]
tuliende (pa.p. + present)
utúlie (perfect)
[ortanelye (pa.p + present)]
Pluperfect had come tuliendie (pa.p + past) túlielyane (pa.p + past)
Future perfect will have come tulienduva (pa.p + future) *(u)túliéva (perfect + future)
Past future perfect was going to have come —— *(u)túliévane (perfect)
Past future was going to come tuluvandie (fut.p + past) *tuluváne (fut.t + past)
Future future will be going to come tuluvanduva (fut.p + future) ——

Most compound tenses are present in both texts, although their morphology is different in many cases. The language in QVS tends to use the basic tenses more, either alone or in composition, for the same syntactical function as the participial compound tenses of EQG. Moreover, the conjugation of the present participle in QVS is chiefly dedicated to consuetudinal tenses that did not exist in EQG. Only the pluperfect is unequivocally formed the same way in both stages, by composition of past participle + past inflection. In addition the present imperfect and perfect tenses, which in QVS have their own proper inflections for strong verbs, also have long forms for some weak verbs and poetic usage, formed as in EQG — by present or past participle, followed by present inflection.

The future imperfect tense has various peculiarities. EQG presents two alternative formations: pr.p + future tulinduva will be coming, or fut.p + present tuluvande is going to come. Both variants refer to a future action with an earlier beginning; but in the latter the focus is rather on the present moment, when the future action is anticipated. QVS also presents a future imperfect formed with pr.p + future, which is also used as consuetudinal future; the only example of that compound is given for kar‑: karalyuva, translated (with implicit first person) as either I shall be making or I shall go on making, it will be my habit to make (PE22:101). That form coincides both in meaning (partially) and morphology with one of the future imperfect tenses of EQG. On the other hand, for the second variant there is no compound tense in QVS, but the “simple” future can also be used with that sense, thus karuva [I] am going to make, as well as shall/will make (PE22:105). In fact it seems that the Quenya future inflection ‑uva had originally that specific meaning, derived from the Eldarin root BĀ‑, BANA that meant go, proceed, and also related to the tense-vowel u, naturally produced in inceptive verbs with the notion of begin to do something now (completed later), like kelu begin to flow (PE22:97, 114).

Later developments

There are various texts later than QVS with some details that are relevant for the discussion of Quenya compound tenses and verbal formations based on active participles. One of them is the second version of the Eldarin Verbal Structure (EVS), the section that preceded QVS. That version was written soon after finishing the first one, around 1951 or earlier (PE22:91), and although it is limited to the discussion of Common Eldarin verbal features, it also incorporates some ideas that had been developed in QVS. There were, however, some changes that may be noted.

One that directly relates to compound tenses is found in the discussion of the Quenya future suffix ‑uva < ‑ubā, derived in this case from the verbal root UB ponder, have in mind. Although Q. matuvanye I shall eat < mat-ubā-njē originally meant I intend to eat (similarly to the conception of QVS),9 the newer text states that the Quenya inflection had become an undefined future, and on the other hand there was an A[ncient] Q[uenya] form for the future in the past (i.e. future imperfect) formed with the past tense of ub‑ (*umbe) and the aorist infinitive of the main verb, e.g. umbeste mate he was going to eat (PE22:132, with ‑ste seemingly being the third person subject pronoun). An apparently earlier, isolated note contains a similar commentary, although the O[ld] Q[uenya] past tense of ub‑ is given there as umne, and the future-past in that case is not a periphrastic form, but a compound tense made of the basic verb stem followed by umne, i.e. matumne (VT48:32).10 In either case it is not clear whether the Ancient/Old Quenya formation was later lost, such that the undefined future can also express the notion of future imperfect as in QVS, or if there is another specific tense for that purpose.

Another modification that would have affected the development of Quenya compound tenses is found in the note on the Eldarin suffixes used for the formation of active participles, which in the new text are ‑lā, ‑yā, or combined ‑lyā.11 They are said to be adjectival endings that were not organized as parts of conjugation in Eldarin, and merely expressed in adjectival form the sense of the verbal stem (PE22:136). Similar statements are given in QVS about the aorist participle formed with the suffix ‑yā́ and the passive participles, which are not used in the compound expression of verbal notions (PE22:110), although in QVS those statements exclude the active or true participles. The more general statement in the revision of EVS raises the question of whether Tolkien might have fully abandoned the idea of participial compound tenses, but the information that we have at our disposal does not provide a definite answer. In later notes and instances of Quenya participles, they seem to be used exclusively as adjectives and not in verbal forms (cf. Måns Björkman’s examination of that topic, 2013); but the mere absence of such examples does not mean that they could not be formed, and the cited note about the Common Eldarin grammar does not limit the possibility of the development of conjugated participles in later Quenya. In a much later note, dated 1967, Tolkien wrote that present participles were hardly part of the conjugation, echoing the previous statements (PE17:68), but the examples that accompany that note are participles ending in ‑ya, as are the aorist participles of which the same was stated in QVS, so it is possible that Tolkien used the term of present participle broadly with that sense, not referring to all active participles. In any event, at least non-participial compound tenses were allowed to stand, as seen in an even later text (c. 1969), which contains a reference to past continuous like mātane was eating, virtually the same as the past imperfect presented in QVS — although it was originally written with ‑nte, i.e. mātante, etc. (PE22:157).

Regarding the participial compound tenses, if they had been kept in later stages, their shape would have definitely changed. The active participles ending in ‑lā could remain, but the combined ‑lyā would eventually be abandoned, as explicitly indicated in another late note where Tolkien wrote that lya clashes with ‑lya, thine (PE22:152). In the same note he emended the (past and future) active participles kárielya, kăruvalya to káriéla, karuvaila — the aorist karil(y)a was allowed to stand, but possibly he meant to reject the alternative form with y as well. In fact, in another text of the same time concerning Quenya verbal adjectives (PE22:153–156) we find the same three participles with ‑la, and no trace of the ‑lya variants.

Yet another interesting point of those late texts is that, unlike in QVS, there are no distinct aorist and present participles in them: only the form based on the aorist stem exists (karila), which according to an annotation is also used as present. Tolkien’s commentaries on present/aorist active participles present several variations. We have the two different forms given in QVS (with ‑ya/‑ia for aorist, ‑lya for present imperfect), the aforementioned unique late form c. 1969 with ‑la, and the present form with ‑ya mentioned in the note from 1967 that seems to be used as aorist too. However that note indicates that such an ending was only used in compounds like melumatya honey-eating or saukarya evil-doing, so it might coexist with the aorist-present participles ending in ‑la mentioned in the other commentary. Now, while ‑ya was always added to the uninflected stem, the verb form to which ‑l(y)a was added varied over time. In the final text of QVS it is the verb stem followed by its basic vowel, but in a previous, rejected fragment the connecting vowel is always a, e.g. silalya shining; in the cited late commentary, ‑la is added to the aorist stem (karila); and in the late version of The Last Ark (dated probably from near the end of Tolkien’s lifetime, PE16:53) we see it added to present stems, e.g. sisílala shining (MC:222) — or *twinkling, glistening, cp. sisilla in PE22:136.


Compound tenses increase the possibilities for a language to express actions that take place, start, and end at different times with respect to the moment in which a sentence is made, and whose effects may have different durations. We have seen how Tolkien devised various ways in which Quenya could form such compound tenses, as detailed in two long grammatical descriptions about that language. It is remarkable that outside these texts there is little information about such compound tenses. In fact there is no clear example of them in the poems, excerpts, or phrases in Quenya that have been hitherto published, and there are only some isolated notes that are directly related to this topic in a couple of later texts.

The characteristic way of making compound tenses in EQG, through the aggregation of the verb be or tense inflections to active participles, was constrained in later stages, with explicit comments about the exclusive use of such participles, at least some of them, as adjectival forms. However this does not necessarily mean that Tolkien fully abandoned the idea of compound tenses, but that he had developed other ways of expressing them. As it seems, in later stages Quenya relies more on tense-inflected verb stems, rather than on participles. And in fact the basic tense system incorporates some forms (present imperfect, perfect, future) that could also be used to express some of the compound tenses of EQG.

1. We might have expected *e túlien and *túliende, with lengthened stem vowel as all the past forms of tul‑ in the table of the basic conjugation (including the past participle). But actually the u is short in all the examples of the compound tenses. Tolkien makes no comment on this, and while it’s possible he simply neglected to mark the vowel length in those examples, we preserve the examples as published throughout this article.

2. The past active participle of be is given only in its full forms ien, yen, yenda, but the stem *yend‑ can be assumed. Yendie tulin is glossed as had been come, although taking into account that tulin is a present participle, the actual intended meaning might be *had been coming.

3. Or maybe *túliendil, with the expected long stem vowel for the past participle (see note 1).

4. The aorist was not really new after EQG. It was already included in the tables of Qenya Verb Forms composed about the time of the Qenya Lexicon (PE14:25–34), although the morphology was different at that time. There the aorist was described as Indefinite or Habitual or Gnomic.

5. QVS presents five classes of the so-called weak or derivative verbs, which are distinguished from the strong verbs of simple monosyllabic stems. These five classes differ from each other by the way in which their stems are extended (by addition of consonants or vowels, suffixes, etc.), but in four of them the stems typically end in ‑a. The details of the weak inflections that are discussed in this article normally apply to one or various of the weak verb classes, but not to all.

6. The past-perfect participles chosen for table 2, túlienya and karnelya, are taken from PE22:108, where they are given as the forms of later classical Q[uenya] and TQ (i.e. Tarquesta, the spoken variety of Quenya). Akárielya (but not *akarnelya) is also given there as the specific perfect participle that existed in early classical Q.

7. It is possible that when Tolkien wrote the paragraph about the long imperfect in PE22:116 he still had in mind the original idea previously given for the long perfect in PE22:104; in fact the wordings of both explanations are very similar to each other, exchanging the verb nahta‑ slay for fara‑ hunt. Orome (…) faralye might be the compact form of *Orome (…) faralya ye — cp. the original Orome nahtalya ye; and the uninflected faralya, which is given as the form used to express I am (on this ocassion engaged in) hunting, might be part of a complete phrase like *ni yē faralya, or using the coalescent form of pronoun + be (PE22:123 n.130), *nie faralya — cp. ni yē (nie) nahtalya in PE22:104 n.25.

8. The conditional glosses of tuluváne and utúliévane are not provided by Tolkien, but inferred from the context. For (a)kariéváne Tolkien actually wrote would have gone; but there gone must be a mistake for made.

9. The 1st. singular future of mat‑ in QVS, however, would not have been matuvanye but *ni matuva, with the subject pronoun before the verb. This is a point where Tolkien’s ideas fluctuated over time: in the Qenya Lexicon and in conjugation tables written between EQG and QVS, the person is part of the suffix that defines the verb inflection (PE14:23, PE16:116–128), whereas in both EQG and QVS it is expressed by pronouns that precede the verb. In the revised EVS the subject pronoun is again suffixed (as eventually in The Lord of the Rings as published, and later texts).

10. The note cited in VT48:32 is apparently dating to the early 1940s, thus prior to QVS and the first version of EVS. However the etymology of the future suffix ‑uva and the examples given in that note are very close to the modified explanation that Tolkien wrote in the revision of EVS around 1951. The two alternative past forms of ub‑ are cited as strong past tenses: umbe as a basic past form of intransitive stem with suffix ‑nē (PE22:132), and umne abbreviated as str. pa.t. (VT48:32). Both show the medial phonological developments of verb stems ending in ‑b, mentioned as historic forms of the strong past in QVS (PE22:102). These observations address the question raised by Patrick H. Wynne with respect to the type of past tense represented by umne in his commentary to the isolated note.

11. The endings given here as ‑yā, ‑lyā were actually written as ‑jā, ‑ljā in that text. The change of y by j in that context is just a variation in Tolkien’s orthographical conventions, and here we stick to y throughout the article for the sake of simplicity.

Björkman, Måns. Quenya’s participles. Arda Philology 4, 2013, pp. 40–53.

Tolkien, J.R.R, edited by Patrick Wynne and Christopher Gilson. Early Qenya Fragments. Parma Eldalamberon 14, 2004, pp. 3–34.

———, edited by Carl F. Hostetter and Bill Welden. Early Qenya Grammar. Parma Eldalamberon 14, 2004, pp. 35–86.

———, edited by Patrick H. Wynne. Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part Two. Vinyar Tengwar 48, 2005, pp. 4–24.

———, edited by Christopher Tolkien. A Secret Vice. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, 2006, pp. 198–223.

———, edited by Christopher Gilson, Bill Welden and Carl F. Hostetter. Early Elvish Poetry. Parma Eldalamberon 16, 2006, pp. 52–104.

———, edited by Christopher Gilson and Carl F. Hostetter. Qenya Conjugations. Parma Eldalamberon 16, 2006, pp. 116–128.

———, edited by Christopher Gilson. Words, Phrases & Passages in The Lord of the Rings. Parma Eldalamberon 17, 2007.

———, edited by Christopher Gilson. Quenya Verb Structure. Parma Eldalamberon 22, 2015, pp. 79–168.

See also the general Tengwestië Bibliography.

Copyright ©2018 Helios De Rosario Martínez

Quotations from the works of J.R.R. or Christopher Tolkien are the copyright of their publishers and/or the Tolkien Estate, and are used here with their kind permission. The word TOLKIEN is a registered trademark of The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate Limited. The characters and scripts of Tolkien’s invented languages and works in those languages are the copyright of the Tolkien Estate.

URL: http://www.elvish.org/Tengwestie/articles/DeRosarioMartinez/quenyacompoundtenses.phtml

First published on January 22nd, 2018

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