Icelandic Tutorial by Daniel Roche


1. Pronunciation

Icelandic has many English sounds due the languages both coming from the same language tree. Unless mentioned, assume English pronunciation.

Á á - said as “ow” as in cow

Ð ð - said as “th” in the

E e - said as the short “ai” sound in air

É é - said as yeah, but shorter

F f - at the start of words it is said as the English f. Between vowels as English. Before l or n as a b. Fnd is said as English m and fnt is said as hm

G g - At the beginning of words it is said as a hard English g. In between vowels and at the end of a word a very soft throaty g resembling a toned down German “ch” at the back of the throat.

It is not pronounced between accented vowels. It is said as an Icelandic j between a vowel and j. After a vowel and before a t or s it is a hard German “ch”

I i - said as “I” in win

Í í - said as “ee” in we

J j - said as a “y” at the beginning of words. Elsewhere it is aspirated before the “y” sound

O o - said as “o” in hot

Ó ó - said as “oh”

R r - is always rolled

S s - always an “s”, never said as a z

U u - said as the French “eux” but shorter

Ú ú - said as the “ew” sound in yew

X x - said as a hard German “ch”

Y y - see I

Ý ý - see í

Þ þ - said as the “th” sound in thing

Æ æ - said as “eye”

Ö ö - said as “ ur ” as in murder

 

Hv - as “kf” in thankful

Ll - as “tl”

Nn - as tn after accented vowel or diphthong. This also happens between rl, rn, sl and sn

Pp, tt, kk are all aspirated

Au - is said as “öj”

Ei and ey - said as the “a” sound in case

 

  2. Alphabet & the names of the letters

A a  a

N n enn

Á á á

O o o

B b bé

Ó ó ó

D d dé

P p pé

Ð ð eð

R r er

E e e

S s ess

É é é

T t té

F f eff

U u u

G g ge

Ú ú ú

H h há

V v vaff

I i i

X x ex

Í í í

Y y ufsilon y

J j joð

Ý ý ufsilon ý

K k ká

Þ þ þorn

L l ell

Æ æ æ

M m emm

Ö ö ö

            

3. Nouns & Cases

Cases are simply the ending of a noun. In Icelandic most nouns are declined. There are 3 genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) and 4 cases (nominative, accusative, dative and genitive). Icelandic is not largely a grammatical language, but instead a lexical language. This means that is it is verbs and prepositions which govern cases, rather than sentence position. If there is both a verb and preposition in the sentence it will be the preposition rather than the verb which decides the case.

4. Nominative Case

This is the case in which all nouns appear in the dictionary. If the verb in the sentence does not govern a case, and there is no preposition then the noun will be in the nominative case. The nominative singular endings are as follows:

Masculine: ur , l, n, i

Feminine: a, or no ending

Neuter: no endings, although nouns ending with accented accents are usually neuter.

 

5. Accusative Case

The singular accusative case endings are as follows:

Masculine: remove the nominative ending. If the noun ends in i then it changes to a.

Feminine: if the noun had no ending in the nominative, it will have no ending in the accusative. If the noun ended in a it will change to ur .

Neuter: no ending.

           

6. Dative Case

The dative singular endings are:

Masculine: very irregular group. Some acquire i, others do not. If the noun ended in i in the nominative, it will end in a in the dative.

Feminine: the same rules apply as the feminine accusative.

Neuter: add i.

 

7. Genitive Case

Masculine: add s. If the noun ended in i in the nominative, it will end in an a in the genitive.

Feminine: nouns which ended in a become ar. Nouns which had no ending remain ur .

Neuter: add s.

8. Plurals

The table below shows the case endings in the plural:  

 

Masculine

- ur , l, n         -i

Feminine

No ending    -a

Neuter

Nominative

ir

ir

ur

Vowel shift See section 8

Accusative

a

ir

ur

Dative

U(m)*

Genitive

a

* The m is not added if definite article is being added.

 

  9. articles

There is no indefinate article, meaning that the word barn (child) means both child and a child.

The definite article is suffixed to the noun and its declension. The table below shows the definite article and its various declensions:

Singular

 

Masculine

- ur , l,n          -i

Feminine

No ending    -a

Neuter

Nominative

inn

nn

in

n

Accusative

inn

nn

ina

na

Dative

num

num

inni

nni

nu

Genitive

ins

ns

innar

nnar

ins

Plural

Nominative

nir

nar

nar

in

Accusative

na

nar

nar

in

Dative

num

Genitive

nna

10. A complete declension table

Here is an example of all noun classes without the definite article.

Singular

 

Masculine

- ur , l, n         -i

Feminine

No ending    -a

Neuter

Nominative

bíll

nemandi

rós

kirkja

barn

Accusative

bíl

nemanda

rós

kirkju

barn

Dative

bíl

nemanda

rós

kirkju

barni

Genitive

bíls

nemanda

rósar

kirkju

barns

Plural

Nominative

bílar

nemendur

rósir

kirkjur

börn

Accusative

bíla

nemendur

rósir

kirkjur

börn

Dative

bílum

nemendum

rósum

kirkjum

börnum

Genitive

bíla

nemanda

rósa

kirkja

barna

And with the definite article

Singular

 

Masculine

- ur , l, n         -i

Feminine

No ending    -a

Neuter

Nominative

bíllinn

nemandinn

rósin a

Kirkjan

barnið

Accusative

bílinn

nemandann

rósinni

kirkjuni

barnið

Dative

bílnum

nemandanum

rósinna

kirkjunna

barninu

Genitive

bílsins

nemandans

rósarinnar

kirkjunnir

barnsins

Plural

Nominative

bílarnir

nemendurnir

rósirnar

kirkjurnar

börnin

Accusative

bílana

nemendurna

rósirnar

kirkjurnar

börnin

Dative

bílunum

nemendunum

rósunum

kirkjunum

börnunum

Genitive

bílanna

nemandanna

rósanna

kirkjanna

barnanna

Bíll – car

Nemandi – pupil

Rós – rose

Kirkja – church

Barn – child

 

11. Prepositions

The following prepositions govern the accusative case:

Um – about

Gegnum – through

Kringum – around

Við – at, against

 

The following prepositions govern the dative case:

 

Að – towards

Frá – from

Af – off

Úr – out of

Nálægt – near

 

The following prepostitions govern the genitive case:

 

Til – to

Án – without

Milli – between

Vegna – because of

 

Prepositions governing more than one case:

 

Í and dative – in

Í and accusative – into

 

Á and dative – on

Á and accusative – onto

 

Undir and dative – under

Under and accusative – going under

 

Með and dative – means “with” but in an instrumental sense.

Með and accuasative – means “with" as in  bringing

 

12. Demonstratives

 

To form “the other” add an h in front of definite article and put it before the noun. There is only one irregularity – neuter singular becomes hitt not hið.

 

This

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

þessi

þessi

þetta

Accusative

þennan

þessa

þetta

Dative

þessum

þessari

þessu

Genitive

þessa

þessarar

þessa

Plural

Nominative

þessir

þessar

þessi

Accusative

þessa

þessar

þessi

Dative

þessum

þessum

þessum

Genitive

þessara

þessara

þessara

 

Referring to something mentioned earlier in the sentence

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

það

Accusative

þann

þá

það

Dative

þeim

þeirri

því

Genitive

þess

þeirrar

þess

Plural

Nominative

þeir

þær

þau

Accusative

þá

þær

þau

Dative

þeim

Genitive

þeirra

 

13. Personal Pronouns

Singular

 

I

You

He

She

It

Nominative

Ég

Þú

Hann

Hún

Það

Accusative

Mig

Þig

Hann

Hana

Það

Dative

Mér

Þér

Honum

Henni

Því

Genitive

Mín

Þín

Hans

Hennars

Þess

Plural

Nominative

Við

Þið

Þeir

Þær

Þau

Accusative

Okkur

Ykkur

Þá

Þær

Þau

Dative

Okkur

Ykkur

Þeim

Genitive

Okkar

Ykkar

Þeirra

In Icelandic it is important to refer back to a noun in the correct gender. An example: rós is feminine, so refer to it as hún.

Also note, that personal pronouns are only capitalised at the beginning of a sentence.

See the section on personal pronouns in the genitive for more accurate usage.

 

14. To Be, to Have and to Become

To be – Vera (this governs the nominative)

Ég er

Þú ert

Hann, Hún, Það er

Við erum

Þið eruð

Þeir, Þær, Þeim eru

There are three verbs for to have in Icelandic. The majority require the verb vera in its correct form followed by með and the object in the accusative, although there are two common alternatives.

To own – Eiga (this governs the accusative)

 

Ég á

Þú átt

Hann á

Við eigum

Þið eigið

Þeir eiga

 

To have – Hafa (this verb governs the accusative)

 

Ég hef

Þú hefur

Hún hefur

Við höfum

Þið hafið

Þær hafa

 

To become – Verða (this verb governs the nominative)

 

Ég verð

Þú verður

Það verður

Við verðum

Þið verðið

Þau verða

 

15. Vowel Shifts

In Icelandic vowels change, or “shift” for many reasons, the most common reasons being case endings or tense.

The most common shift is the ö shift. This occurs in the plural neuter nominative and accusative and when a syllable proceeding the letter a is a u.

For example, the feminine noun taska (case) will become tösku, not tasku, in the singular accusative, dative and genitive. There are however two rules. An accented á does not change. Also the combination au does not qualify (augu does not become öugu).

In unstressed positions, the a changes to u rather than ö

Another vowel shift in Icelandic is the I shift. This shift has many uses, but these will be dealt with when they occur, although the most important use is the present tense of strong verbs. The I shift involves the following changes:

 

A                     =                      e                      taka = tek

O                     =                      e                      koma = kem

Á                     =                      æ                     fá = fæ

Ú                                                                     búa = bý

                    =                      ý                      fljúga = flýg                

                                                                    brjóta = brýt

Au                   =                      ey                    auka = eyk

 

The I shift never occurs in the plural.

Taka – take

Koma – come

Fá – get

Búa – live

Fljúga – fly

Brjóta – break

Auka – increase

 

16. Verbs

In Icelandic, there are three categories of verbs. The first group is known as the –a group.  In the ég form use the infinitve and in the þú and hann, hún, það form and an r to the infinitive. An example:

Ég tala

Þú talar

Hann talar

 

The second group is the –I group. These follow the same rules as above except with an i, for example:

 

Ég þoli

Þú þolir

Hún þolir

 

The third group is the ur group and conjugate as follows:

 

Ég vinn

Þú vinnur

Það vinnur

 

All three groups have the same endings in the plural:

 

Við – um         Við tölum (ö shift)

Þið – ið           Þið talið

Þeir – a          Þeir tala

 

All verbs in Icelandic end in a in the infinitive, except munu and skulu which are used to express the future and a few other verbs which end in á.

 

Tala – to talk

Þola – to endure

Vinna – to work

17. Simple Past tense of Weak Verbs

In Icelandic, verbs can be either strong or weak. Strong verbs form their past tense with a vowel shift (an English example take becomes took). Weak verbs add an ending to show their past tense (English example talk becomes talked).

There is no way of telling if a verb is strong or weak. This is learned through usage. To form a weak past tense, simply take the infinitive and remove the last letter (with the exception of a group verbs which keep the a) and add the appropriate ending:

 

-ði                    Ég ætlaði

-ðir                  Þú ætlaðir

-ði                    Hún ætlaði

-ðum               Við ætluðum (ö shift)

-ðuð                Þið ætluðuð (ö shift)

-ðu                   Þær ætluðu (ö shift)

 

If the stem of the verb ends in –s or -t, the ð becomes t. If the stem ends in -l, -m or –n, the ð will change to d. If the stem ends in –ð do not add the extra ð.

In weak verbs, there is also a stem vowel shift. E goes to a and y goes to u. Similarly, ý goes to ú.

18. Simple Past Tense of Strong Verbs

Past tense of strong verbs are formed with a vowel shift, with only a few forms taking an ending as well. The shift changes are different for singular and plural verbs.

Stem Vowel

Singular

Plural

Example

Í

ei

i

Bíða beið  biðum

    ú

au

u

Fljúga flaug flugum

E

a

u

Drekka drakk drukkum

a

á

Gefa gaf gáfum

I

a

u

Finna fan fundum

a

á

Sitja sat sátum

a

ó

ó

Fara fór fórum

A

Á

Ei

 

é

 

é

Falla fell féllum

Láta lét létum

Heita hét héyum

Au

u

Hlaupa hljóp hlupum

The endings are easy to remember, but the plural ending may trigger of a ö shift

Ég (no ending)

Þú –st

Hann. Hún, Það (no ending)

Við –um

Þið –uð

Þeir, Þær, Þau –u

 

An example:

 

Lesa – read

 

Ég las

Þú last

Hann, Hún, Það las

Við buðum

Þið buðuð

Þeir, Þær, Þau buðu

19. Questions

Most Icelandic question words start in hv.

Where = hvar

Where from = hvaðan

When = hvenær

What = hvað

Why = hvers vegna

How = hvernig

Who = hver. However, this can be declined as follows:

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

hver

hver

hvert or hvað

Accusative

hvern

hverja

Dative

hverjum

hverri

hverju

Genitive

hvers

hverrar

hvers

Plural

Nominative

hverjir

hverjar

hver

Accusative

hverja

Dative

hverjum

Genitive

hverra

  To construct questions, simply invert the verb. For example:

  Ég er = I am

Er ég? = am I?

  When this happens with Þú, it becomes attached to the verb. The þ is either lost or changes:

  Þú ert = You are

Ertu? = Are you

  Hvað segjrðu? = What do you say?

 

20. Numbers (Simple)

  Numbers in Icelandic are incredibly complex. For correct usage of numbers see Numbers Advanced. This section is only intended as a rough introduction.

1. Einn

2. Tveir

3. Þrír

4. Fjórir

5. Fimm

6. Sex

7. Sjö

8. Átta

9. Níu

10. Tíu

11. Ellefu

12. Tólf

13. Þréttán

14. Fjórtán

15. Fimmtán

16. Sextán

17. Sautján

18. Átján

19. Nítján

20. Tuttugu

21. Tuttugu og einn

30. Þrjátíu

40. Fjörutíu

50. Fimmtíu

60. Sextíu

70. Sjötíu

80. Áttatíu

90. Níutíu

100. Hundrað

101. Hundrað og einn

1000. Þúsund

1000000. Milljón

 

21. Numbers (Advanced)

As mentioned earlier, Icelandic numbers are rather erratic. The first problem encountered is the fact that the numbers 1 through 4 are declined in both gender, case and in some instances singular and plural. The table below shows the declension and then gives an explanation of how to use them.

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

einn

ein

eitt

Accusative

einn

eina

Dative

einum

einni

einu

Genitive

eins

einnar

eins

Plural

Nominative

einir

einar

ein

Accusative

eina

Dative

einum

Genitive

einna

 

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

tveir

tvær

tvö

Accusative

tvo

Dative

tveimur

Genitive

tveggja

 

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

þrír

þrjár

þrjú

Accusative

þrjá

Dative

þremur

Genitive

þriggja

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

fjórir

fjórar

fjögur

Accusative

fjóra

Dative

fjórum

Genitive

fjögurra

The plural form of 2, 3 and 4 are tvennir, þrennir and fernir, and they follow the same declension pattern as einir.

Plural numbers are used to count pairs of something, for example, when counting socks, you would say þrenna sokka. If however, there were only one sock, and not a pair, you would use the singular version.

Further Numbers

  Numbers have to agree with what is being counted. This means that roses would be counted using the feminine version of 1, 2, 3 and 4 because rós is feminine. When reciting numbers use the masculine form.

  The numbers hundrað, þúsund and miljón have set genders (neuter, neuter and feminine), so it is important to decline these as plural numbers when using any number after 1 (ie tvö þúsund). It is also important to use the correct gender of the numbers 1 - 4 with these numbers.

  To make matters worse there can be more than one form of a number in a larger number. For example, hús (house) is neuter. So to say 2031 houses you must use the correct form of 2, 1000 must be plural and 1 must be neuter as it qualifies the noun house. 2031 houses in Icelandic would be tvö þúsund þrjátíu og eitt hús.

  Numbers in Icelandic can be extremely difficult, but these rules easily sink in with practise. Unfortunately, due to stubbornness, Icelanders will not hold back at telling you off for getting numbers wrong and desecrating the language. It has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years, and so they refuse to change it now. Mistakes are frowned upon, especially if the speaker is not a native.

 

22. Days of the Week

Week days (virkir dagar)

Mánudagur

Þriðjudagur

Miðvikudagur

Fimmtudagur

Föstudagur

Weekend (helgi)

Laugardagur

Sunnudagur

All the days are masculine and can be declined. Days are only capitalised at the beginning of sentences.

Daglega  - daily

Vikulega – weekly

 

23. Months of the Year

Mánuðir (months)

Janúar

Febrúar

Mars

Apríl

Maí

Júní

Júlí

Ágúst

September

Oktober

Nóvember

Desember

Months cannot be declined.

Mánaðarlega – monthly

 

24. Seasons

Árstíðir (seasons)

Vetur – winter

Vor – spring

Sumar – summer

Haust – autumn

Seasons can be declined. All the seasons are neuter except vetur, which is masculine.  

 

25. Directions

When it comes to directions, Icelandic most resembles Old English, with different forms of directions depending on whether you are going, coming or already there. English lost this distinction over time, but due to its geographical isolation, changes in other languages have had little effect on Icelandic. This is very extreme, with Icelanders being able to read sagas in Old Norse with no difficulty at all. It is often said that Icelandic is Old Norse with a few variations in pronunciation and a slightly different spelling system.

It is very important to note that the directions are always given in relation to the position of the speaker.

Left – vinstri

Right – hægri

Straight ahead – Beint áfram

Back – tilbaka

 

Here – hér (na)

From here – héðan

To here – hingað

 

There – þarna

From there – þaðan

To there – þangað

 

Where (not a question) – þar sem

 

Up – upp

Down – niður

All ready up at – uppi

All ready down at – niðri

 

If any of the words for up or down are followed by a vowel, the vowel at the end off the words for up or down will be replaced with an apostrophe, for example, upp´á.

 

26. Declensions of Adjectives

Adjectives can be tricky to master but once you are familiar with them, they are very easy to form. Adjectives always become before the noun they qualify.

Adjectives have fixed gender. This means that if someone was to say they are weak they would say “ég er slappur” despite the gender of the speaker. However, when qualifying a noun, the gender changes to match that of the noun.

There are 2 sets of declensions for adjectives in Icelandic. The first is known as weak declension and is used when the definite article is being added. This is the easiest declension pattern within Icelandic, and many find weak adjectives the easiest part of Icelandic.

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

i

a

a

Accusative

a

u

Dative

Genitive

Plural

Nominative

u

Accusative

Dative

Genitive

When being used with indefinite nouns, the adjective takes on strong declension, which has a rather more elaborate declension pattern.

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

Ur , ll, nn

Ö shift

t

Accusative

an

a

t

Dative

um

ri

u

Genitive

s

rar

s

Plural

Nominative

ir

ar

Ö shift

Accusative

a

Dative

um

Genitive

ra

To ease pronunciation, the following changes at the end of neuter adjectives occur:

Ð + t = tt

Vowels are followed by tt

Consonant + d = t

 

Adjectives that end in r get an additional r before an r ending is added. This means hlýr goes to hlýrrar. Adjectives ending in ll or nn lose the first r in r endings (eg lítillar)

In both weak and strong adjective declensions be aware of vowel shifts. Fraction and j insertion may also be necessary (see below).

 

27. Fraction

This is purely to ease pronunciation and to lessen the effects of harsh sounds. Fraction is very common, and thankfully, very easy to do. Any nouns or adjectives that have two syllables in the stem lose the second stem vowel when a vowel ending is added. Gamall means old. Fraction would occur here when an ending beginning with a vowel is added. So, instead of becoming gamalan we get gamlan.

Fraction does not apply to nouns with the definite article when it is at the end of the noun. Furthermore, fraction does not occur in adjectives ending in legur. This means that fallegur (beautiful) would become fallegan.

 

28. J Insertion

J insertion is used to keep a consistent relationship between spelling and pronunciation. It occurs naturally in speech so you need not worry about pronouncing it too much. The rules for J insertion are simple. Whenever an ending beginning a or u is added to a stem ending ý, æ or ey, a j will be placed between stem and ending. For example, nýr will become nýjum

 

29. Colours

 C olours are adjectives, and so are declinable. A few colours are false friends – they do not mean what they appear to mean.

Hvítur – white

Svartur – black

Blár – blue

Grænn – green

Rauður – red

Brúnn – brown

Gulur – yellow

Grár – grey

Fjólublár – purple

  Watch out for:

Bleikur – pink

Appelsínugulur – orange

 

30. Time

  Hvað er klukkan? – What time is it?

Klukkan er (+ neuter) – the time is….

  Fyrir + dative = ago

Í + acc = for

Eftir + acc = after

  Í morgun = this morning, in the morning

Í dag = today

Í kvöld = this evening

Í nótt = tonight

  Ein klukkustund  and Einn klukkutimi both mean 1 hour

Hálftími = half an hour

Korter = a quarter hour

Mínúta = a minute

Sekúnda = a second

  ….. past…. = klukken er ….. mínútur yfir …..

In Icelandic, you go half to the hour. So klukkan er hálf tvö is half one

Quarter to ….. = klukkan er korter í …..

  31. Weather  

Icelandic has many words for weather and its various extremes. Listing them all could take many months, even years. This is a list of the most common weather terms you are most likely to hear.

  Wind – vindur

Breeze – gola

Windy – hvass

Storm – stormur

Gale – rok

Sunshine – sólskin

Bright – heiðskír

Its cloudy – það er skýjað

Shower – skúr

Sleet – slydda

Its snowing – það snjóar

Mist – þoka

Warm – hlýtt, hlýr

Hot – heitt

Frost – frost

 

 32 . Family

Genealogy is very popular in Iceland . So popular that relatives for which there are no names in English are named in Icelandic (eg, there is a word for people who have the same great – great grandparents). Again, there are too many terms to list, so here are the essentials.

Mummy – mamma

Mother – móðir

Daddy – pabbi

Father – faðir

Parents – foreldrar

Sister – systir

Brother – bróðir

Siblings – systkini

Granamma

Granddad – afi

Grandchild – barnabarn

In – laws - tengdafólk

 

33. To Know

There are different verbs for “to know” depending on what it is you know. This may sound daunting, but it is not.

The verb kunna implies knowledge of a learned skill for example driving a car. When followed by another verb, must be placed between the two, otherwise it governs the accusative case and conjugates as follows:

Ég kann

Þú kannt

Hann Kann

Við kunnum

Þið kunnið

Þeir kunna

The next verb expressing knowledge is vita. This is more factual knowledge and it governs the accusative case. A very important rule is that this verb cannot stand alone. It has to be followed by something. You cannot say ég veit. Instead you must say ég veit það. When used as a subordinate clause, it is followed by að. An example þú veist að ég elska þig (you know that I love you)

Ég veit

Þú veist

Hún veit

Við vitum

Þið vitið

Þær vita

The verb þekkja implies knowledge due to previous exposure and again governs the accusative case.

 

  34. Personal Pronouns in the Genitive

  These pronouns show ownership. They follow the definite noun and like all other pronouns, they have to agree.

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

minn

mín

mitt

Accusative

minn

mína

Dative

mínum

minni

mínu

Genitive

míns

minnar

míns

Plural

Nominative

mínir

mínar

mín

Accusative

mína

Dative

mínum

Genitive

minna

Þín also declines the same.

The declension of “our” is different from that of above.

Singular

 

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Nominative

vor

vor

vort

Accusative

vorn

vora

Dative

vorum

vorri

voru

Genitive

vors

vorrar

vors

Plural

Nominative

vorir

vorar

vor

Accusative

vora

Dative

vorum

Genitive

vorra

35. Countries & Nationalities

Country                                                                                    Nationality

 

England                                                                                   Englendingur

Skotland                                                                                 Skoskur

Spánn                                                                                     Spænskur

Ítalía                                                                                        Ítalskur

Rússland                                                                                Rússneskur

Frakkland (France)                                                               Franskur

Kanada                                                                                  Kanadískur

Svíþjóð (Sweden)                                                                  Sænskur

36. Negative Sentences

  There are a few ways of negating statements in Icelandic, the most easiest being nei (no).

When making positive a negative statement, use instead of . For example, “Ertu ekki englendinger?” translates as “are you not English?” If you are, use rather than .

  If you require to make a statement negative, place ekki after the verb for example, ég ætla ekki … I don’t intend to…

 

37. Irregular Nouns

In Icelandic, some nouns follow a completely different declension pattern as the one you know. They take totally different forms and some are affected by I-shift. Here are the most common deviations, but this is by no means a full list:  

                        Father

Singular

Nominative

faðir

Accusative

föður

Dative

föður

Genitive

föður

Plural

Nominative

feður

Accusative

feður

Dative

feðrum

Genitive

feðra

                       Mother

Singular

Nominative

móðir

Accusative

móður

Dative

móður

Genitive

móður

Plural

Nominative

mæður

Accusative

mæður

Dative

mæðrum

Genitive

mæðra

                        Tree

Singular

Nominative

tré

Accusative

tré

Dative

tré

Genitive

trés

Plural

Nominative

tré

Accusative

tré

Dative

trjá(m)

Genitive

trjá(a)

The letters in brackets are only added if the definite article is not being added.

                         Cat

Singular

Nominative

köttur

Accusative

kött

Dative

ketti

Genitive

kattar

Plural

Nominative

kettir

Accusative

ketti

Dative

köttum

Genitive

katta

                          Book

Singular

Nominative

bók

Accusative

bók

Dative

bók

Genitive

bókar

Plural

Nominative

bækur

Accusative

bækur

Dative

bókum

Genitive

bóka

38. The Middle Voice

The middle voice is used to show that something is being done together. It can also replace reflexives. The middle voice is very easy to form. Simply add –st to the conjugated verb. There are only a few points to remember:

The middle voice is a useful of shortening sentence as it expresses the idea of “each other” or “self”. For example, insted of saying ég hitti þig og þú hettir mig (i meet you and you meet me) simply say ég og þú hittumst.

  There are a few verbs which change their meaning in the middle voice. Koma (come) becomes komast (get somewhere). Taka (take) becomes takast to mean succeed and gera becomes gerast meaning happen.

 

  39. Participles

  The present participle is the equivalent of –ing. In Icelandic add –ndi to the infinitive. For example hafa (to have) becomes hafandi (having).

  The other participle in Icelandic is the past participle, and this is slightly more complex:

  The –a verb group add – (talatalað)

The –i group add –t (reykjareykt)

  The other verbs end in – and undergo a vowel shift.

  E                                 goes to                                   a

Y or ý                                                                           u or ú

Í                                                                                   I

, , ú, e                                                                   o

  This vowel shift is very irregular and the above is only a rough guide. There are far too many exceptions to cater for.

 

 40. Past simple and Past Continuous

41. Food and Meals

 

42. Commands

Commands are far more common in Icelandic than in many other languages. This is due to the lack of the word please. Imperatives are used for even the most friendliest of situations, meaning that commands also act as requests.

Forming the imperative is very easy. Simply add –ðu to the verb.

When the stem of the verb ends in l, m, or n, -ðu becomes –du.

When the stem ends p, s, k, or t, -ðu becomes –tu.

If the stem already ends in dd or tt you will not add an extra d or t.

To form a plural imperative, add –iði.

Here are some irregular forms:

Be quiet – þegiðu

Be – vertu

Think - haltu

 

43. Impersonal Construction

These are very common in Icelandic. Simply, they are verbs that require the subject to be in a case other than the nominative, which is usually the case the subject has to be in.

Acc + langar í + acc = … would like …

Acc + vantar +´acc = … lacks … (ie, I don’t have…. So can I borrow…)

Acc + þyrstir = … is thirsty

Dat + finnst + acc = … thinks …

Dat + líður á + acc = … likes …

  These are the most common impersonal verbs. Another useful one is dat + vera (conjugated form) kalt: eg þér ert kalt means you are cold.


 


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