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Note: these rules apply only to Noldorin Quenya, being the only dialect spoken in Middle-earth.
Quenya was an agglutinative SVO language. It had a relatively free word order since most information was expressed morphologically rather than syntactically. The different word classes of Quenya are explained below.
Nouns are declined for ten cases: the nominative, accusative, genitive, possessive, dative, instrumental, locative, allative, ablative, and a tenth case sometimes called the respective.
The nominative and accusative cases are almost identically analogous in Quenya. The nominative is used to mark the subject of a verb. In Middle Earth, the nominative took over the accusative case. The accusative marks the direct object of a verb. It is not used in spoken Quenya, but appears in writing. But even in writing, the only difference between the nominative and accusative is the final vowel is lengthened, so in words ending in a consonant, the accusative is not distinguishable from the nominative.
In Quenya their are two cases that are used to express possession: the genitive and the possessive. To be more specific, the genitive is mainly used to mark origin (e. g. the best smiths of Tirion), while the possessive is used to denote ownership. The two cases are very similar and very often overlap.
The dative, ablative, allative, instrumental, and locative cases are the prepositional cases of Quenya. The dative marks the indirect object of the verb, which can often be translated as "to" and "for". The ablative expresses motion away from an object and can be translated with "from" or "out of". The allative case is used when indicating motion towards something, and is translated with an "into", "onto", "against", "to", or "upon". The instrumental case denotes the means of cause of why something happened, often translated with the words "by", "with", "because", and in rare cases "in". The locative case expresses the position of an object, translated by using the words "in" or "on".
There is a tenth case called the respective. The respective case is a mysterious case, because it is not clear for what it is used. The most likely use for the respective is an alternate locative case. Others think the case can be translated with the words "about" or "regarding". Fortunately, the respective case is very rarely used, so it does not pose such a large problem.
There are four numbers in Quenya: the singular, dual, plural, and partitive plural.
In Quenya, there are two ways to denote one of something. The singular refers to one object, and is self-explanatory. The partitive plural is used to denote someone or something out of a larger group.
Quenya has more than one way of denoting more than one of something. The dual refers to two of something. The plural is a bit trickier. To refer to all the members of a specific type or race (so when talking about all of elves) you would use the plural without an article. But when you wish to denote more than one of something, you would use the plural in conjunction with an article.
|a-, i-, ie-, o-, and u-stems||e-stems|
|Singular||Dual||Plural||Part. Plural||Singular||Dual||Plural||Part. Plural|
There are two main types of verbs: basic verbs, those which are formed from the basic verbal base, such as tirë (tiri-) "watch" from *TIR, and derivative verbs, which are formed either by putting verbal suffixes to a base like tulta- "summon", from *TUL "come", or derived from non-verbal bases like cúna- "bend", originally an adjective "bent".
|Derivative verbs||Basic verbs|
|Infinitive||tulta (tulta-)||tirë (tir-)||palo (palu-)|
|Aorist/Simple present||tulta||tultar||tirë (tiri-)||tirir||palo (palu-)||palur|
Pronouns are seen as both independent words and enclitics; however the rules for this are not completely understood, although evidence sugests that independent forms are more emphatic in nature, while enclitics are the forms in use normally. What is known is that for intransitive verbs, the pronoun can appear as either an independent word or an enclitic. The enclitics often come in two different forms, long and short. The following table outlines the different forms attested. Hypothetical or reconstructed forms are indicated by either question marks or asterisks. Those forms that cannot be determined are not included and their absence is indicated by an emdash.
|Independent||Enclitic||Independent Example||Enclitic Example|
|First Person||Inclusive||ni, inyë||*elvë, *elwë||-n, -nyë|| -lvë,
|inyë tirë||elvë/elwë tirir||tirinyë, tirin||tirilvë, tirilwë|
|Second Person||le, elyë||le, ellë||-l, -lyë||?-llë||elyë tirë||?ellë tirir, elyë tirir||tiril, tirilyë||?tirillë, tirilyë|
|Third Person||se||te||-s, -ryë|| -t,
|se tirë||?entë tirir||tiris, tiriryë||tirit, tirintë|
Aside from inclusive and exclusive modes in the first person plural, there is also a dual mode, denoted by emmë, -mmë. The pronouns can be declined much like the regular nouns; for instance, the dative form of emmë is emmen. This appears to be mostly regular, except for te, "they", which takes the dative form tien.