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This article is about the language. For the Elven people, see Sindar.

Sindarin was the Elvish language most commonly spoken in Middle-earth during the Third Age. In the real world, Sindarin is often colloquially called "Elven" or "Elvish", outside canonical context. In The Lord of the Rings, "the Elven tongue" refers to Sindarin.

The written alphabet of both Sindarin and Quenya was typically Tengwar (the Fëanorian Characters), although the Cirth, the Elvish Runes, were also used.


Tengwar sindarin

Sindarin words written in Tengwar

Sindarin was the language of the Sindar, the Elves of Teleri lineage who chose to stay behind during the Great Journey to Aman before the First Age. It was derived from an earlier language called by J.R.R. Tolkien Old Sindarin, that may have been the language spoken shortly before the arrival of the Ñoldor in Beleriand. The Old Sindarin, in turn, descended directly from "Ancient Telerin" or "Common Telerin".[1] The turmoils caused by the War of the Jewels accelerated the change of the language, which was greatly modified in a few centuries.[2] The Mithrimin, a dialect spoken in northern Beleriand, split from Old Sindarin during the First Age. However, this dialect didn’t survive to the War of Wrath, and only a few ancient names such as "Hithlum" and "Dor-lómin" were preserved.[3] Other two dialects of the Sindarin, more closely related to each other, were the Doriathren and the Falathren. When the Ñoldor came back to Middle-earth, they adopted the Sindarin language, for the Sindar were more numerous and slower to learn the language of Valinor, Quenya, the Ñoldor's native language. For example, the followers of the sons of Fëanor adopted North Sindarin as their own language.[3] Later events led to the banning of the use of Quenya, sometimes called "High Elven", within and around Beleriand, leading to its eventual use as a "high language" of law. Millennia later, before the Downfall, most Men of Númenor also spoke their own dialect of the language. Knowledge of it was kept in the Númenorean realm in exile, Gondor, especially among the learned. Dwarves, notably Durin's Folk, used Sindarin when communicating with Elves.

Tolkien based the sound and some of the grammar of Sindarin on Welsh, and the language displays of the consonant mutations that characterise the Celtic (especially Brythonic) languages. The language was also probably influenced to an extent by the Germanic languages, as Tolkien was a scholar of both Old English and Old Norse.

Conceptual history[]

Originally J.R.R. Tolkien conceived the Teleri as the first tribe of the Elves and created for them a Finnish-like language conventionally called Qenya. On the other hand, the Gnomes, the second tribe of the Elves, were conceived as people speaking a Welsh-like language called Gnomish, or Goldorin.[4] From the early 1920s, Tolkien decided to change the name of that second tribe from Gnomes to Noldoli. Thus, the changes that he subsequently introduced were enough to conventionally classify their language as Early Noldorin.[5] In the same period, he conceived for the Elves who did not go to Valinor a language called Ilkorin.[6]

"It seems apt that Qenya [Quenya], the language of lore, had been devised when Tolkien was an undergraduate and a soldier in training, whereas Gnomish [Sindarin], the language of adventure, tragedy and war, should emerge after [Tolkien's experiences in the] Somme."
John Garth on the lasting difference between Sindarin's and Quenya's precursors[7]

From the 1930s, Tolkien developed Ilkorin, or Beleriandic, as the languange of the Elves of Beleriand[8]. Furthermore, he introduced in the development of the Noldorin language a diachronic approach. In, "The Etymologies" he states that Primitive Elvish evolved into Old Noldorin, which in turn evolved into Noldorin[9][10], and also describes several dialects of this language, including Doriathren and Falathren.[8][11] However, shortly before the publication of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien created from the early stages of his Welsh-like language Sindarin, while assigning to the Ñoldor a dialect of Quenya in constrast to Sindarin. Thus, some aspects of Ilkorin may have survived into Mithrimin.


Sindarin is mainly analytic, though traits of its highly inflected progenitor (Quenya) are visible.


Sindarin was designed with a Welsh-like phonology - it has most of the same sounds and similar phonotactics.

Letter IPA Notes
a, ä ɑ The "a" sounds most like the "a" in the word "father."
ae a͡ɛ Similar to "ai," but ends at a more open vowel height, like in "eye"
ai a͡ɪ "ai" is most like the "i " in the word "time" and ends at a less open vowel height.


a͡ʊ "au" sounds most like "ou" in the word "thousand" or like "ow" in "cow." Never pronounce it like "au" in the word "cause" or like "aw" in"law."
b b
c k Always a hard "c" like in the word "cake" but never a soft"c" like in "cell."
ch x The "ch" in the German word "Buch", or the Scottish word "loch", never as in "church"
d d
dh ð The "th" in "heather"
e, ë ɛ The "e" is most like the "e" in "get."
ei ɛ͡ɪ "ei" is most like "ey" in "grey," always with the "y" off-glide.
f f, v Represents [v] when final or before n, [f] everywhere else.
g g Always a hard "g" like in "gasp" but never soft "g" like

in "gem."

h h
hw ʍ Pronounced most like "wh" in the word "whale."
i j, i Represents [j] when initial, [i] everywhere else.
l l
lh ɬ The same as the Welsh LL.
m m
n n
nc ŋk Like "nk" in "think."
ng ŋ, ŋg Represents [ŋ] when final, [ŋg] everywhere else.
o, ö ɔ It is most like "o" in "hot," but with rounder lips.
p p
ph f, ff Represents [f] when final, [ff] everywhere else.
r r The "r" is always trilled or at least flapped wherever possible.
s s The "s" is always pronounced like the "s" in "safe."
t t
th θ The "th" in "heath"
u ʊ The "u" is most like the "u" in "put" or the vowel sound in "good."
ú ú The "ú" is pronounced like the oo in broom, or noon. Thus, names like Húrin become hoo-rin instead of hu-rin.
ui u͡ɪ The "ui" is most like "oo" y in the word "too."
v v
w w
y y Pronounced like German ü

An accent signifies a long vowel (á, é, etc.). In a monosyllabic word, a circumflex is used (â, ê, etc.). However, for practical reasons, users of the ISO Latin-1 character set often substitute ý for ŷ.

Diphthongs are ai (pronounced like aisle), ei (day), ui (too young), au (cow), and oi (boy). If the last diphthong finishes a word, it is spelt aw. There are also diphthongs ae and oe with no English counterparts; Tolkien recommended to substitute ai and oi respectively if one does not care about details. If one does care, it is similar to pronouncing a or o respectively in the same syllable as one pronounces an e (as in pet).

In archaic Sindarin, there was a vowel similar to German ö (IPA: [œ]), which Tolkien mostly transcribed as œ (usually not as oe as is often found in publications like the Silmarillion, cf. Nirnaeth Arnoediad [read: Nírnaeth Arnœdiad], Goelydh [read: Gœlydh]). This vowel later came to be pronounced ɛ and is therefore transcribed as such [sc. Gelydh].

Archaic Sindarin also had a spirant m or nasal v (IPA: [ɱ]), which was transcribed as mh (though always pronounced [v] in later Sindarin).



Sindarin plurals are characterised by i-affection, or umlaut. The Sindarin term for this is prestanneth (disturbance, affection). Almost all Sindarin words form their plurals like English man/men and goose/geese — by changing the vowels in the word. The plural patterns are:

  • In non-final syllables:
    • a > e — galadh > gelaidh
    • e > e — bereth > berith
    • i > i — dineth > dinith
    • o > e — gowest > gewist
    • u > y — tulus > tylys
    • y > y — (no example available)
  • In final syllables:
    • a > ai — anar > enair
    • â > ai — tâl > tail
    • e > i — adaneth > edenith
    • ê > î — hên > hîn
    • i > i — brennil > brennil
    • î > î — dîs > dîs
    • o > y — brannon > brennyn
    • ó > ý — bór > býr
    • ô > ý — thôn > thýn
    • u > y — urug > yryg
    • û > ui — hû > hui
    • y > y — ylf > ylf
    • ý > ý — mýl > mýl
    • au > oe — naug > noeg

Note that ai can sometimes become î (or, less commonly, ý).

The reason for this is that the primitive plural ending (still present in Quenya as -i) affected the vowels in the word by making them higher and fronter. After this sound change occurred, the suffix disappeared when all final vowels were lost.

Class Plural[]

Sindarin also has several suffixes which denote a so-called class plural. For example, -ath indicates a group of something, e. g. elenath from elen (an archaic form of êl), meaning star and -ath. It means a group of stars or all the stars in the sky. Another ending, -rim, is used to indicate a race, e. g. nogothrim from nogothdwarf and -rim, meaning the race of Dwarves. The ending -hoth is generally used in an unfriendly sense, e. g. gaurhoth from gaurwerewolf and -hoth, meaning werewolf-host.


Sindarin has a complex series of mutations. There are three main different types of mutations: soft mutation (or lenition), nasal mutation and stop (occlusive) mutation. Additionally, a mixed mutation is also observed after certain particles or prepositions. Finally, it is presumed that Sindarin also once had what we could call an archaic spirantal mutation (also sometimes called liquid mutation by scholars). It is still uncertain whether this mutation is still productive or if it only occurs in ancient constructs.

Initial mutations must not be confused with assimilations that may occur in compound words (such as, for instance, in the names Araphor, Arassuil and Caradhras).

The following table outlines how different consonants are affected by the different mutations.

Basic Soft Nasal Mixed Stop Liquid
b v m b b v
c g ch g ch ch
d dh n d d dh
g ' ng g g '
h ch ch h ch ch
lh thl 'l 'l thl 'l
m v m m m v
p b ph b b ph
rh thr 'r 'r thr 'r
s s s h s s
t d th d th th

Here the apostrophe indicates elision.

Words beginning in b-, d-, or g- which descend from older mb-, nd-, or ng- are affected differently by the mutations:

Basic Soft Nasal Mixed Stop Liquid
b m mb mb mb b
d n nd nd nd d
g ng g g g g

Take, for example, the deictic article i, which triggers soft mutation. When added to a word like tâl, it becomes i dâl. In Sindarin's phonological history, t became d in the middle of a word. Because i tâl at the time was considered one word, the t became d, and thus i dâl. However, without the article the word is still tâl.

Mutation is triggered in various ways:

  • Soft mutation, the most widely occurring mutation, is triggered by the singular article i, the prefixes athra-, ath-, go-, gwa-, ú-, and u-, as well as the prepositions ab, am, adel, be, dad, di, na, nu, and î, and after avo. It also affects the second element in a compound, an adjective following a noun, and the object of a verb.
  • Nasal mutation is triggered by the plural article in, and the prepositions an, dan, and plural 'nin.
  • Mixed mutation is triggered by the genitive article en, and the prepositions ben, erin, nan, 'nin, and uin.
  • Stop mutation is triggered by the prepositions ed, ned, and o(d).
  • Liquid mutation is presumably triggered by the preposition or.


Pronouns are perhaps the most poorly attested feature of Sindarin. What has been reconstructed by the comparative method is largely conjectural and is not agreed upon, and therefore will not be addressed in this article.

Sindarin pronouns, like those in English, still maintain some case distinction. Sindarin pronouns have nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative forms.

  First Person Second Person Third Person
  Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative im me le, ci le, ci e, te ti
Accusative nin men len, cin len, cin ten, den tin, hain
Genitive   mín   lín dîn  
Dative anim, enni ammen        
Enclitic -n -m -ch   -r


Sindarin verbs are also quite complex. The number of attested verbs in Sindarin is small, so the Sindarin verb system is imperfectly known; no verb has a full paradigm of forms available. There are two main types of verbs: basic and derived. Basic verbs have stems which end in a consonant, and derived verbs have stems which incorporate some sort derivational morpheme (such as a causative ending) which ends in -a.

Basic Verbs[]

Basic verbs, though smaller in number than derived verbs, have a very complex conjugation which arises from Sindarin's phonological history.

Basic verbs form the infinitve by adding -i: giri from gir-. This ending causes an a or o in the stem to umlaut to e: blebi from blab-. Sindarin does not use infinitive forms very often, and rather uses the gerund to achieve the same meaning.

For all persons except the third person singular, the present tense is formed by the insertion of -i, and the proper enclitic pronomial ending: girin, girim, girir. As with the infinitive, -i causes an a or o in the stem to umlaut to e: pedin, pedim, pedir, from pad-. The third person singular, because it has a zero-ending, does not require the insertion of -i. This leaves the bare stem, which, because of Sindarin's phonological history, causes the vowel of the stem to become long: gîr, blâb, pâd.

The past tense of basic verbs is very complicated and poorly attested. One common reconstructed system is to use -n: darn. However, the only time this -n actually remains is after a stem in -r. After a stem ending in -l, -n becomes -ll: toll. After -b, -d, -g, -v, or -dh, it is metathesized and then assimilated to the same place of articulation as the consonant it now follows. The consonant then experiences what could be called a "backwards mutation": -b, -d, and -g become -p, -b, and -c, and -v and -dh become -m and -d. The matter is complicated even further when pronomial endings are added. Because -mp, -mb, -nt, -nd, and -nc did not survive medially, they become -mm-, -mm-, -nn-, -nn-, and -ng. In addition, past tense stems in -m would have -mm- before any pronomial endings. Because this all may seem rather overwhelming, look at these examples which show step-by-step transformations:

  • cab- > **cabn > **canb > **camb > camp, becoming camm- with any pronomial endings.
  • ped- > **pedn > **pend > pent, becoming penn- with any pronomial endings.
  • dag- > **dagn > **dang (n pronounced in men) > **dang (n pronounced in sing) > danc, becoming dang- with any pronomial endings.
  • lav- > **lavn > **lanv > **lanm > **lamm > lam, becoming lamm- before any pronomial endings.
  • redh- > **redhn > **rendh > **rend > rend, becoming renn- before any pronomial endings.

The future tense is formed by the addition of -tha. An -i is also inserted between the stem and -tha, which again causes a and o to umlaut to e. Endings for all persons except for the first person singular can be added without any further modification: giritham, blebithar. The first person singular ending -n causes the -a in -tha to become -o: girithon, blebithon, pedithon.

The imperative is formed with the addition of -o to the stem: giro!, pado!, blabo!.

Derived Verbs[]

Derived verbs have a much less complex conjugation because they have a thematic vowel (usually a) which reduces the number of consonant combinations which occur.

The infinitive is formed with -o, which replaces the -a of the stem, e. g. lacho from lacha-.

The present tense is formed without modification to the stem. Pronomial endings are added without any change.

The past tense is formed with the ending -nt, which becomes -nne with any pronomial endings, e. g. erthant, erthanner.

The future tense is formed with -tha. With the addition of the first person singular -n, this becomes -tho.

The imperative is formed like the infinitive.


During the First Age there were several dialects of Sindarin:

  • Doriathren, or Doriathrin, was spoken in Doriath and was a form of Sindarin which preserved many archaic forms;
  • Falathren or the language of the Falas, later also spoken in Nargothrond;
  • Mithrimin, or North Sindarin, the dialects originally spoken in Dorthonion and Hithlum by the Sindar, these dialects contained many unique words and were not fully intelligible with the Sindarin of Beleriand proper.

With the exception of Doriathren, the dialects were changed under Ñoldorin influence, and adopted many Quenya features, as well as unique sound changes devised by the Ñoldor (who loved changing languages). The distinct dialects disappeared after the Ñoldor and Sindar were dispersed during the later Battles of Beleriand. In the refuges on the Isle of Balar and the Mouths of Sirion a new dialect arose under the refugees, which mainly took after Falathren. During the Second Age and Third Age Sindarin was a lingua franca for all Elves and their friends, until it was displaced as the Common tongue by Westron, a descendant of Adûnaic which was heavily influenced by Sindarin.

Sindarin is actually a Quenya term. The Sindarin word was perhaps Edhellen ("Elvish").

Sample Phrases[]

In The Lord of the Rings[]

  • Ai na vedui Dúnadan! Mae govannen! - Ah, at last, Westman! Well met![12]
  • Noro lim. - Run fast.[12]
  • Annon edhellen, edro hi ammen! Fennas nogothrim, lasto beth lammen! - Elvish gate open now for us; doorway of the Dwarf-folk listen to the word of my tongue![13]
  • Mellon nîn! - My friend![13]
  • Ennyn Durin Aran Moria: pedo mellon a minno. Im Narvi hain echant: Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant i thiw hin. - "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter. I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin [Eregion] drew these signs."[13]
  • Yrch! - Orcs![14]
  • Ónen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim - I gave Hope to the Dúnedain; I have kept no hope for myself.[15]
  • Telin le thaed. Lasto beth nîn, tolo dan nan galad. - I come to help you. Listen to my word, come back to [the] light/radiance.

Sample Elements[]

  • aglar - radiance, glory
  • ar, ara-, aran - high, noble, king
  • aur - sunlight, daylight
  • celeb - silver
  • dúath - dark, black shadow
  • el - star
  • eryn - forest, wood of trees
  • estel - hope
  • galad - radiance
  • galadh - tree
  • gond - stone
  • -ion - son (a male suffix)
  • mith - grey
  • nim - white
  • orn - tree
  • randir- wanderer
  • ross - foam
  • taur - forest
  • tirith - guard
  • rond - dome
  • -wen - maiden (a feminine suffix)
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See also[]


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ሲንዳሪን
Arabic صيندارين
Armenian Սինդարին
Belarusian Cyrillic Сіндарын
Bengali সিন্ডারিন
Bulgarian Cyrillic Синдарин
Catalan Síndarin
Chinese 辛達林
Dutch Sindarijns
Georgian სინდარული
Greek Σίνταριν
Hebrew סינדארין
Hindi षिन्दरिन
Japanese シンダール語
Kannada ಸಿಂಡರಿನ್
Kazakh Синдарин (Cyrillic) Sindarin (Latin)
Korean 신다린
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Синдарин
Macedonian Cyrillic Синдарин
Marathi सिंडरिन
Mongolian Cyrillic Синдарин
Nepalese सिन्दारिन
Pashto سیندارین
Persian زبان سینداری
Punjabi ਸਿੰਡਾਰੀਨ
Russian Синдарин
Serbian Синдарин (Cyrillic) Sindarin (Latin)
Sinhalese සින්ඩරාන්
Slovenian Sindarščina
Tajik Cyrillic Синдарин
Tamil ஷிந்தரிந்
Telugu సిన్దరిన్
Thai ซินดาริน
Ukrainian Cyrillic Синдарин
Urdu ساندآران
Uzbek Синдарин (Cyrillic) Sindarin (Latin)
Yiddish סינדאַרין


  • The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin names
  • Parma Eldalamberon, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

External links[]