The One Wiki to Rule Them All
The One Wiki to Rule Them All
This is a featured article.
There's nothing - FotR "Can you see anything?" "Nothing. There's nothing."
The descriptive majority of this article's text is unsourced, and should be supported with references.

Quenya (IPA: [ˈkʷwɛnja]) was the language spoken by the non-Telerin Elves who reached Valinor. Sindarin however, almost like Quenya's simplified form, lasted many ages longer being spoken by Elves - and it is Sindarin, not Quenya, that is referred to by the modern term "Elvish".


Quenya words written in Tengwar lettering (Fëanorian characters)

The written script alphabet of the Elven languages is typically Tengwar, known also as the Fëanorian Characters. An older script alphabet, the Sarati was used also.


Quenya descended directly from Ancient Quenya,[1] which developed from an earlier language called Common Eldarin. Of the Three Houses of Elves, the Ñoldor and the Vanyar spoke slightly different, though mutually intelligible, dialects of Quenya (Ñoldorin Quenya and Vanyarin Quenya, respectively). The Vanyarin dialect was also called Quendya; IPA: [ˈkʷeɲɟa]). The language was also adopted by the Valar who also made some new introductions into it from their own original language, though these are more numerous in the Vanyarin dialect than the Ñoldorin one. This is probably the case because of the enduringly close relationship the Vanyar had with the Valar. The Third House, the Teleri, spoke a different, closely related language, Telerin. Quenya and Telerin are so much alike that many thought the latter a dialect of the former, but while linguistically plausible this is historically untrue though, as the languages do not share a common history.

The Ñoldor who fled to Middle-earth following the Darkening of Valinor spoke Quenya among themselves. However, when Elu Thingol of Doriath, who was the king of the Sindar (Elves of the Telerin line who remained in Beleriand instead of journeying to Valinor) learned about their slaying of the Teleri, he forbade the use of Quenya in all his realm. The Sindar, however, had been slow to learn Quenya, while the Ñoldor at this time had fully mastered Sindarin.

The Númenóreans used Quenya for record keeping, for the names of members of the royal House of Elros and Lords of Andúnië. It was not much used in their daily life. After the Downfall, the Kings of Gondor and High Kings of Arnor were given Quenya names, as were the early Stewards of Gondor. However, the Kings of Arthedain, Chieftains of the Dúnedain, and later Stewards switched to Sindarin. The tradition of Quenya names was eventually restored by King Elessar.

The Quenya used in Middle-earth in the Third Age (the time of the setting of The Lord of the Rings) had come to be a scholarly pursuit — something akin to Latin in the real world. (Indeed, Tolkien referred to Quenya as "Elf-Latin".) Quenya was used as a formal language and for writing and record keeping; Sindarin was the vernacular of all Elves. However, the Ñoldor still remembered Quenya and valued it highly, which can be seen in how they treat Frodo's greeting elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo. ("A star shines on the hour of our meeting.") Galadriel is perhaps the only major Elf character in The Lord of the Rings that had learned Quenya as a cradle-tongue: she was born in Valinor in the days of the Two Trees. Ñoldorin (Exilic) Quenya differed somewhat from Valinórean Quenya, because the language continued to evolve after exile, and it underwent some regularisation as it became a language of lore. There were also a few changes in pronunciation.

The poem Namárië is the longest piece of Quenya found in The Lord of the Rings. It is also known as "Galadriel's Lament".

Conceptual history[]

According to "The Lhammas", the Vala Oromë taught to the Elves the language of the Valar, and for this reason their language family was collectively called Oromëan. The Valar themselves had speech from the beginning. Over time, however, the Eldar changed the language, adding words of their liking and softening its speech from its original manner. The Valar soon adopted this language in order to converse with the Eldar of Valinor. Later, this theory was rejected by Tolkien.

In earlier versions of J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium, Teleri first and then Lindar were the names of the first tribe of the Elves. In the earliest stage of development, the Finnish-like language of the the first tribe of the Elves was generally spelled Qenya (pronounced the same as "Quenya" and also known as Eldarissa or Eldar) and is conventionally classified as Early Quenya, while the Gnomes, or Noldoli, spoke a Welsh-like language called Gnomish, or Noldorin.[2] A form of Qenya known as Arktik was used by Tolkien in Letters From Father Christmas. The term "Qenya" is now used to distinguish between the stages of the High Elvish language before and after the publication of the The Lord of the Rings. However, the fluid nature of Tolkien's languages makes such a distinction a highly disputed one.

From the 1930s, Tolkien introduced in the development of the Qenya a diachronic approach. In fact, he stated that from Primitive Elvish evolved a language conventionally called Middle Ancient Quenya,[3] which in turn evolved in Qenya, at this stage conventionally identified as Middle Quenya.[4] In particular, in this period the first tribe of the Elves spoke a dialect known as Lindarin.[5] Shortly before the publication of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien defined the features of the late version of Quenya, which was conceived as the language of both Vanyar and Ñoldor.


There's nothing - FotR "Can you see anything?" "Nothing. There's nothing."
The descriptive majority of this article's text is unsourced, and should be supported with references.

Quenya is, like many European languages, a nominative-accusative language, which means that the subject of a transitive verb is marked the same as the subject of an intransitive verb.


Nouns are declined into ten cases: the nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, instrumental, possessive, locative, allative, ablative, and a tenth "mystery" case sometimes called the "respective".

  • The nominative is used mainly to mark the subject of a verb. In spoken Quenya it also functions as the accusative (see below). It is also used with prepositions.
  • The accusative marks the direct object of a verb. It is not used in spoken Quenya, after Elves left Aman as it was replaced by the nominative, but appears in writing.
  • The genitive is mainly used to mark origin (e. g. the best painters of France). Its usage sometimes overlaps the ablative.
  • The dative marks the indirect object of a verb (to).
  • The instrumental marks a noun which is used as a tool or instrument.
  • The possessive marks possession or ownership (e. g. his rope, Galadriel's hair). This usage sometimes overlaps with the genitive.
  • The locative expresses location or position (at).
  • The allative expresses motion towards (towards).
  • The ablative expresses motion away from (from).
  • The "mystery" or respective case may be a figurative equivalent of the locative case (e.g. "about wolves" or "regarding wolves").

There are four numbers: the singular, dual, plural, and partitive plural.

Vocalic declension[]

a-, i-, i.e.-, o-, and u-stems e-stems
Singular Dual Plural Part. Plural Singular Dual Plural Part. Plural
Nominative yulma yulmat yulmar yulmali lasse lasset lassi lasseli
Accusative yulmā yulmat? yulmë yulmalā lassē lasset? lassi lasselī
Genitive yulmo yulmato yulmaron yulmalion lasseo lasseto lassion lasselion
Dative yulman yulmant yulmain yulmalin lassen lassent lassin lasselin
Instrumental yulmanen yulmanten yulmainen yulmalínen lassenen lassenten lassinen lasslínen
Possessive yulmava yulmatwa yulmaiva yulmalíva lasseva lassetwa lassiva lasselíva
Locative yulmasse yulmatse yulmassen yulmalisse lassesse lassetse lassessen lasselisse
Allative yulmanna yulmanta yulmannar yulmalinna lassenna lassenta lassennar lasselinna
Ablative yulmallo yulmalto yulmallon yulmalillo lassello lasselto lassellon lasselillo
Respective yulmas yulmates yulmais yulmalis lasses lassetes lassis lasselis

Consonantal declension[]

Singular Dual Plural Part. Plural
Nominative nat natu nati nateli
Accusative nat natu nati nateli
Genitive nato natuo nation natelion
Dative naten natuen natin natelin
Instrumental natenen natunen natinen natelínen
Possessive natwa natuva nativa natelíva
Locative natesse natusse natissen natelisse
Allative natenna natenta natinnar natelinna
Ablative natello natelto natillon natelillo
Respective nates natus natis natelis


There are two main types of verbs: basic verbs, those which are formed from the basic verbal base, such as tire (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 kúna- "bend", originally an adjective "bent".

Derivative verbs Basic verbs
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Infinitive tulta tire (tirita-)
Aorist/Simple present tulta tultar tire (tiri-) tirir
Present continuative tultea tultear tíra tírar
Past tultane tultaner tirne tirner
Future tultuva tultuvar tiruva tiruvar
Perfect utultie utultier itírie itírier


Pronouns are seen as both independent words and enclitics; however the rules for this are not completely understood, although evidence suggests 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 in Tolkien's material. 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
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
First Person Inclusive ni, inye *elve, *elwe -n, -nye -lve, -lwe inye tire elve/elwe tirir tirinye, tirin tirilve, tirilwe
Exclusive *elme -lme elme tirir tirilme
Second Person le, elye le, elle -l, -lye -lle? elye tirar elle tirir?, elye tirir tiril, tirilye tirille?, tirilye
Third Person te -s, -rye -t, -nte ente tirir? tiris, tirirye tirit, tirinte

Aside from inclusive and exclusive modes in the first person plural, there is also a dual mode, denoted by emme, -mme. The pronouns can be declined much like the regular nouns; for instance, the dative form of emme is emmen. This appears to be mostly regular, except for te, "they", which takes the dative form tien.

Sample phrases[]

In The Children of Húrin[]

  • Utúlie'n aurë! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanatarni, utúlie'n aurë! - "The day has come! Behold, people of the Eldar and Fathers of Men, the day has come!"[6]
  • Auta i lóme! - "The night is passing!"[6]
  • A Túrin Turambar turún' ambartanen. - "O Túrin master of doom by doom mastered."[7]

In The History of Middle-earth[]

  • Valar valuvar. - "The will of the Valar will be done."[8]
  • Manen lambë Quendion ahyanë? - "How did the language of Elves change?"[9]

Sample elements[]

  • aina - holy
  • áirë - sunlight
  • alqua - swan
  • anar - Sun
  • anga - iron
  • eär - sea
  • el - star (same as Sindarin)
  • fëa - spirit
  • laurë - gold
  • -ndil - friend (a common suffix)
  • nelya - third
  • tar - king, lord
  • tindómë - twilight of dawn


Quenya was influenced specifically by Welsh, which was used as an agglutination; grammatical inspiration also comes from Latin and Greek. The phonology is also based on Finnish, and to a lesser extent Latin, Italian and Spanish. Some interesting phonological rules are that no consonant cluster can begin or end a syllable (with one exception, the dual dative ending -nt), voiced stops must be preceded by sonorants, and a word may not end in a non-coronal consonant.

The most striking feature of Quenya is that it is a highly agglutinating language, meaning that multiple affixes are often added to words to express grammatical function. It is possible for one Quenya word to have the same meaning as an entire English sentence. For example, one could say "They have seen it." in Quenya in a single word, namely Ecénientes.

Tolkien wrote much more material about Quenya and his other languages than he published in his lifetime. The famous novels might be considered incidental to his further and more passionately developed linguistic hobby. The journals Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon are devoted to editing and publishing Tolkien's linguistic papers.

Quenya is one of many constructed languages introduced over the years by science fiction and fantasy writers, some others being Klingon, Newspeak, Nadsat, and Lapine.

See also[]


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ቅኡአኛ ?
Arabic كينيا
Armenian Քուենյա
Belarusian Cyrillic Квэнья
Bengali কুইন্যা
Bosnian Kvenija
Bulgarian Cyrillic Куеня
Cambodian ឃ្វីនយ៉ា
Chinese (Hong Kong) 昆雅語
Croatian Quenia
Czech Quenijština
Georgian ქუენია
Greek Κουένυα
Gujarati ક્વેન્યા
Hebrew קווניה
Hindi क्वेन्या
Hungarian Quenya nyelv
Indonesian Bahasa Quenya
Japanese クウェンヤ
Kannada ಕ್ವೆನ್ಯಾ
Kazakh Құенйа (Cyrillic) Quenya (Latin)
Komi Квенья
Korean 꿰냐
Macedonian Cyrillic Квења
Malayalam ക്യൂനിയ
Marathi क्वेन्या
Nepalese क्वेन्या
Pashto کوینیا
Persian کوئنیایی
Russian Квенья
Sanskrit क़ुएन्य
Serbian Квенија (Cyrillic) Kvenija (Latin)
Sinhalese ක්වෙන්යා
Slovak Quenijčina
Slovenian Kvenja
Tajik Cyrillic Қуенyа
Tamil குவென்யா
Telugu క్యూన్య
Thai ภาษาเควนยา
Ukrainian Cyrillic Квенья
Urdu قوانیا
Uzbek Қуеня (Cyrillic) Quenya (Latin)
Yiddish קוועניאַ
The one ring animated The Lord of the Rings Wiki Featured articles The one ring animated
People: Faramir · Sauron · Witch-king of Angmar · Gollum · Elrond · Frodo Baggins · Samwise Gamgee · Meriadoc Brandybuck · Peregrin Took · Gandalf · Aragorn II · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir · Galadriel · Elves · Hobbits
Locations: Middle-earth · Gondor · Mordor · Rohan
Other: Mithril · Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game · The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings · Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien · The Lord of the Rings · The Lord of the Rings (1978 film) · Ainulindalë · Tolkien vs. Jackson · Tengwar · Quenya

References & primary sources[]

  1. Eldamo - Ancient Quenya
  2. Eldamo - Early Quenya
  3. Eldamo - Middle Ancient Quenya
  4. Eldamo - Middle Quenya
  5. Eldamo - Lindarin
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Children of Húrin, Narn i Chîn Húrin, The Tale of the Children of Húrin, II: "The Battle of Unnumbered Tears"
  7. The Children of Húrin, Narn i Chîn Húrin, The Tale of the Children of Húrin, XVI: "The Death of Glaurung"
  8. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XI: The War of the Jewels, Part Four: Quendi and Eldar, Appendix D
  9. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, chapter XIV: "Dangweth Pengoloð"
  • The Silmarillion, Appendix: "Elements in Quenya Sindarin names"
  • Parma Eldalamberon, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien"

External links[]