(From: ´Icelandic Primerª by Henry Sweet, 1895)



1. This book deals with Old Icelandic in its classical period, between 1200 and 1350.


2. The Icelandic alphabet was founded on the Latin, with the addition of _ and ›, and of the modified letters o with a "branch" or cedille (in Icelandic usually written ö), ø, œ and æ



3. The vowel-letters had nearly the same values as in Old English. Long vowels were often marked by (´) . Tbe following are the elementary vowels and diphthongs, with examples, and key-words from English, French (F.), and German (G.)

a as in Mann (G.) halda (hold)

á ,, father rá› (advice)
e ,, été (F.) gekk (went)

é ..... lét (let, pret)

æ as in faire (F.) sær (sea)

i " fini (F.) mikill (greal)

í " ..... lítill

o " beau (F.) or› (word)

ó " tók (took)

ö " not hönd (hand)

ø " peur (F.) gøra (make)

ø " peu (F) døkkr (dark)

œ " ..... fœra (bring)

u " sou (F.) upp (up)

ú " hús (house)

y " tu (Fr) systir (sister)

‡ " l‡sa (shine)

au " haus (G.) lauss (loose)

ei " open e+i bein (bone)

ey " open e+y leysa (loosen)

4. The unaccented i in systir, etc. (which is generally written e in the MSS.) probably had the sound of y in pity, which is really between i and e. The unacc. u, fóru (they went), etc. (which is generally written o in the MSS.) probably had the sound of oo in good.

Note that several of the vowels go in pairs of close and open, thus:

close: e é o ó ø œ

open: e æ ö - ø -



5. Double consonants followed by a vowel must be pronounced really double, as in Italian. Thus the kk in drekka (to drink) must be pronounced like the kc in bookcase, while the k in dreki (dragon) is single, as in booking. When final (or followed by anotber cons.) double conss. are pronounced

long, as in munn (mouth acc.), hamarr (hammer nom.), steinn (stone nom.), distinguished from mun (will be), and the accusatives hamar, stein.

6. k and g had a more front (palatal) sound before the front vowels e, i, æ, ø, y and their longs, as also before j, as in kjenna (know), keyra (drive), gjøra (make), liggja (lie).

7. kkj, ggj were probably pronounced simply as double front kk, gg, they not being pronounced separately.

8. f had initially the sound of our f medially and finally that of v, as in gefa (give), gaf (gave), except of course in such combinations as ft, where it had the sound of f

9. g was a stopped (back or front–guttural or palatal) cons. initially and in the combination ng, tbe two g’s in ganga (go) being pronounced as in go. It had the open sound of G. g in sagen medially before the back vowels a, o, u, and all conss. except j, and finally :–saga (tale), gum (with days); sag›i (he said); lag (he lay). Before the front vowels andj it had the sound of G. g in liegen, or nearly that of j (our y), as in segir (says), segja (to say).

10. Before voiceless conss. (t, s) g seems to have been pronounced k, as in sagt (said), dags (day’s).

11. The g was always sounded in the combination ng, as in single, not as in singer.

12. h was sounded before j in such words as hjarta (heart) much as in E. hue (=hjú). hl hn, hr, hv probably represented voiceless l, n, r, w respectively, hv being identical with E. wh: hlaupa (leap), hniga (bend), hringr (ring), hvat(what).

13. j is not distinguished from i in tbe MSS. It had the sound of E. y in young: jör› (earth), setja (to set).

14. p in pt probably had the sound of f: lopt (air).

15. r was always a strong point trill, as in Scotch.

16. s was always sharp.

17. v (which was sometimes written u and w) had the sound of E. w: vel (well), höggva (hew).

18. z had the sound of ts: beztr (best).

19. _, and were used promiscuously in the older MS., the very oldest using ,_ almost exclusively. In Modern Icelandic, _ is written initially to express tbe sound of E. hard th, › medially and finally to express that of soft th; as there can be no doubt that this usage corresponds with the old pronunciation, it is retained in this book: _ing (parliament), fa›ir (father), vi› (against). In such combinations as p› the › must of course be pronounced _.


20. The stress (accent) is always on the first syllable.




21. The vowels are related to one anotber in different ways, the most important of which are mutation (Umlaut), fracture (Brechung), and gradation (Ablaut).


22. The following changes are i-mutations (caused by an older i or j following, which has generally been dropped) :

a (ö) . . e : —mann (man acc.), menn (men); hönd (hand), hendr (hands).

á . . æ : —mál (speech), mæla (speak).

e (ja, jö). . i : —ver›r (worth), vir›a (estimate).

u (o) . . y— ófullr (full), fylla (to fill) ; lopt (air), lypta (lift).

ú . . ‡ :— brún (eyebrow), pi. brßnn.

o . . e : koma (to come), kemr (comes).

ó . . œ : rót (root), rœtr (pl.).

au . . ey : — lauss (loose), leysa (loosen).

jú (jó) . . ‡ :— sjúkr (sick), s‡ki (sickness); ljósta (strike), l‡str (strikes).

23. The change of a into e is sometimes the result of a following k, g, or ng, as in degi dat. sg. of dagr (day), tekinn (taken), genginn (gone), inf. taka, ganga. i appears instead of e, and u instead of o before a nasal followed by another cons.: cp. binda (to bind), bundinn (bound) with bresta (burst) ptc. prt. brostinn.

24. There is also a u-mutation, caused by a following u, which has often been dropped:

a.. . ö : — dagr (day) dat. pl. dögum; land (land) pl. lönd.

25. Unaccented ö becomes u, as in sumur pl of sumar (summer), köllu›u (they called), infin. kalla.


26. The only vowel that is affected by fracture is e: When followed by original a it becomes ja, when followed by original u it becomes jö, as in jar›ar gen. of jör› (earth) . When followed by original i the e is, of course, mutated to i, as in skildir plur. nom. of skjöldr (shield), gen. skjaldar.


27. By gradation the vowels are related as follows:

a . . ó: — fara (go) pret. fór, whence by mut. fœra (bring).

e (i, ja) . . a . . u (o) :–bresta (burst), prt. brast, prt. pl. brustu, ptc. prt. brostinn; finna (find), fundinn (found ptc.), fundr (meeting).

e . . a . . á . . o :–stela (steal), prt. stal, prt. pl. stáu, ptc. prt. stolinn.

e . . a. . á.. . e :–gefa (give), gaf (he gave), gáfu (they gave), gefinn (given), gjjöf (gift), u-fracture of gef-, gæfa (luck) mut. of gáf-.

í . . ei . . i :–skína (shine), skein (he shone), skinu (they shone). sól-skin (sunshine).

jú (j6) . . au . . u . . o :–ljúga (tell a lie), prt. 1aug, prt. pl. lugu, ptc. prt. loginn. lygi (lie sbst.) mut. of lug-. skjóta (shoot), skfjótr (swift, skotinn (shot ptc.), skot (shot subst.).


Other changes.


28. All final vowels are long in accented syllables _á (then), nú (now).

29. Inflectional and derivative vowels are often dropt after long accented vowels: cp. ganga (to go) with fá (to get), the dat. plurals knjám (knees) with húsum (houses).

30. Vowels are often lengthened before l+ cons.: hálfr (half adj.), fó1k (people); cp. fölginn (hidden) with brostinn (burst ptc.).


31. v is dropped before o and u: vaxa (to grow), prt. óx, vinna (to win), unninn (won ptc.), svelta (to starve), sotinn (starved, hungry).

Final r is often assimilated to a preceding cons.

32.*-lr, *-nr, *-sr always become -ll, -nn, -ss after a long vowel or diphthong, as in stóll (chair nom.), acc. stól, steinn (stone nom.), acc. stein, víss (wise masc. nom. sg.), vis fem.

nom. sg., and in unacc. syllables, as in the masc. sg. nominatives mikill (great), fem. mikil, borinn (carried), fem. borin, ‡miss (various), fem. ‡mis.

33. Words in which l, n, r, s are preceded by a cons. drop the r entirely, as in the masc. nominatives jarl (earl), hrafn (raven), vitr (wise), _urs (giant), lax (salmon).

34. If i and n are preceded by a short accented vowel, the r is generally kept, as in stelr (steals), vinr (friend), sr becoming ss, as elsewhere.

35. r is kept after ll, and generally after nn, as in the masc. nom. allr (all), and in brennr (burns).

38. z often stands for ›s as well as ts, as in /_ér _ykkizk (ye seem) = *_ykki›sk, Vest-firzkr (belonging to the West Firths) = *-fir›skr (fjör›r, firth).

37. Inflectional t is generally doubled after a long accented vowel fár (few) neut. fátt (cp. allr ‘all,’ neut. allt), sá (I saw), sátt ’thou sawest.’



38. Gender. There are three genders in Icelandic –masculine, feminine, and neuter. The gender is partly natural, partly grammatical, generally agreeing with the gender in Old English. Cornpound words follow the gender of their last element.

39. Strong and Weak. All weak nouns end in a vowel in the nom. sg. and in most of the other cases as well. Most strong nouns end in a cons. in the nom. sg.

40. Cases. There are four cases–nominative, accusative, dative, genitive. All nouns (except a few contractions) have the gen. pl. in -a (fiska, of fishes), and the dat. pl. in -um (fiskum). All strong masculines (fiskr) and some strong

feminines (brú›r, bride) take r in the nom. sg. Most strong feminines show the bare root in the nom. sg. with u-mutation, if possible (ást, favour, fór, journey). The nom. pi. of all strong masc. and fem. nouns ends in r (fiskar, åstir). The acc. pl. of fem. nouns is the same as the nom. pl. (åstir). The acc. pi. of masc. strong nouns always ends in a vowel (fiska). The plur. nom. and acc. of neuters is the same as the sing. nom. and acc., except that in the plur. nom. and acc. they take u-mutation, if possible (hús, houses, lönd, lands).

41. The declensions are most conveniently distinguished by the acc. plur.

Strong Masculines.

(i) a.-plurals.


Nom. fisk-r (fisk) fisk-ar
Acc. fisk fisk-a
Dat. fisk-i fisk-um
Gen. fisk-s fisk-a

42. So also heimr (home, world); konungr (king); _órr (Thor), ac. _ór, gen. _órs; steinn (stone), acc. stein, gen. steins, pl. nom. steinar; hrafn (raven), acc. hrafn, pI. nom. hrafnar; _urs (giant), acc. gen. _urs, pi. nom. _ursar.

43. Dissyllables in -r, -i, -n generally throw out the preceding vowel before a vowel-inflection: hamarr (hammer), dat. hamri; jötunn (giant), pl. nom. jötnar. ketill (kettle) and lykill (key) show unmutated vowels in the contracted forms, as in the acc. plur. katla, lukla.

44. Some nouns of this decl. take -ar in the gen. sing., especially proper names, such as Hákon, gen. Hákonar.


45. Some nouns add v before vowels: sær (sea), gen. sævar.

46. The dat. sometimes drops the i: sæ (sea), _ór. dagr (day) mutates its vowel in the dat. degi.

47. Nouns in -ir keep the i in the sing., and drop it in the plur.:


Nom. helli-r (cave) hell-ar

Acc. helli hell-a

Dat. helli hell-um

Gen. helli hell-a

48. So also a number of proper names, such as Skr‡mir, _órir.

(2) i-plurals.


Nom. sta›r (place) sta›-ir
Acc. sta› sta›-i

Dat. sta› stö›-um

Gen. sta›ar sta›-a

49. So also gripr (precious thing), salr (hall).

50. gestr (guest) takes -i in the dat sg., and -s in the gen. sg.

51. Those ending in g or k (together with some others) insert j before a and u: bekkr (bench), bekk, bekk, bekkjar; bekkir, bekki; bekkjum, bekkja. So also mergr (marrow), strengr (string).

(3) u-plurals


Nom. skjöld-r (shield) skild-ir
Acc. skjöld skjöld-u

Dal. skild-i skjöld-um

Gen. skjald-ar skjald-a


52. So also vöndr (twig) völlr (plain), vi›r (wood). áss (god) has plur. nom. æsir, acc. ásu. sonr (son) has dat. sg. syni, plur. nom. synir. It regularly drops its r of the nom. in such compounds as Tryggva-son (son of Tryggvi).

(4) r-plurals

Nom. fót-r (foo/) fœt-r
Acc. fót fœt-r
Dat. fœt-i fót-um
Gen. fót-ar fót-a

53. So also fingr (finger), gen. fingrar, pl. fingr; vetr (winter), pl. vetr. ma›r (man) is irregular: ma›r, mann, manni, manns; menn, menn, mönnum, manna.

Nom. fa›ir (father) fe›r
Acc. fö›ur fe›r
Dat. fö›ur fe›rum
Gen. fö›ur fe›ra

54. So also bró›ir (brother), pl. brœ›r.
55. Pres. participles used as nouns follow this decl. in the
pl., following the weak class in the sg.:


Nom. bóndi (yeoman) bcendr

Acc. bónda bcendr

Dat. bónda bóndum

Gen. bónda bónda

56. So also frændi (kinsman), pl.frændr.

Strong Neuters.


Nom. skip (ship) skip
Acc. skip skip
Dat. skip-i skip-um
Gen. skip-s skip-a

57. So also or› (word), land (land) pl. lönd, sumar (summer) pl. sumur (§ 25)

58. men (necklace), kyn (race), grey (dog) insert j before a and u: greyjum. högg (stroke) inserts v before a vowel höggvi. kné (knee), kné; kné, knés; kné kné, kjnám, knjá. So also tré (tree).

59. fé (money) is contracted: gen. fjár, dat. fé.


Nom. kvæ›i (poem) kvæ›i
Acc. kvæ›i kvæ›i
Dat. kvæ›i kvæ›um
Gen. kvæ›i-s kvæ›a

60. So also klæ›i (cloth). Those in k insert j before a and u: merki (mark), merkjum, merkja. So also ríki (sovereignty).

Strong Feminines.

(1) ar-plurals.


Nom. gjöf (gift) gjaf-ar
Acc. gjöf gjaf-ar

Dat. gjöf gjöf-um

Gen. gjaf-ar gjaf-a

61. So also mön (mane), gjör› (girdie), ár (oar).

62. á (river) contracts: á, á, á, ár; ár, ár, ám, á.

63. Many take -u in the dat. sg.: kerling (old woman), krling, kerlingu, kerlingar; krlingar, kerlingar, kerlingum, kerlinga. So also laug (bath).

64. Those with a mutated root-vowel (or i) insert j in inflection: ey (island), ey, eyju, eyjar; eyjar, eyjar, eyjum, eyja. So also Frigg, Hel. mær (maid), mey, meyju, meyjar; meyjar, meyjar, meyjum, meya.

Nom. hei›-r (heath) hei›-ar
Acc. hei›-i hei›-ar
Dat. hei›-i hei›-um
Gen. hei›-ar hei›-a

(2) ir–plurals.

Nom. ti› ti›-ir
Acc. ti› ti›-ir
Dat. ti› ti›um
Gen. ti›ar ti›-a

66. So also sorg (sorrow), skipun (arrangement), höfn (harbour) pl. hafnir, and the majority of strong feminines.

67. Many have -u in the dat. sg.: sól (sun), sól, sólu, sólar; sólir, sólir, sólum, sóla. So also jör› (earth), stund (period of time).

68. One noun has r in the nom. sg., following hei›r in the sg. brú›r (bride), brú›i, brú›i, brú›ar; brú›ir, brú›ir, brú›um, brú›a.


(3) r —plurals


Nom. bók (book) bœk-r

Acc. bók bœk-r

Dat. bók bók-um

Gen. bók-ar bók-a

69. So also nött (night) pi. nætr, bót (compensation) pi. bœtr, tönn (tooth) gen. tannar pl. tennr.

70. hönd (hand) pl. hendr has dat. sg. hendi.

71. k‡r (cow) has acc. kú, pl. k‡r.

72. brún (eyebrow) assimilates the r of the pl.: br‡nn.


Nom. mó›ir (mother) mœ›r
Acc. mó›ur mœ›r
Dat. mó›ur mœ›rum
Gen. mó›ur mœ›ra
73. So also dóttir (daughter) pl. dœtr; systir (sister) pl.


Weak Masculines.

Nom. bog-i (bow) bog-ar
Acc. bog-a bog.a

Dat. bog-a bog-um

Gen. bog-a bog-a

74. So also måni (moon).félagi (companion).

75. höf›ingi (chief) and some otbers insert j in inflection:

höf›ingja, höf›ingjar, höf›ingjum.

76. lé (scythe) is contraeted; its gen. sg. is ljá.

77. oxi (ox) has pl. öxn.

78. herra (lord) is indeclinable in the sg.

Weak Neuters.

Nom. hjart-a (heart) hjört-u
Acc. hjart-a hjört-u
Dat. hjart-a hjört-um
Gen. hjart-a hjart-na
79. So also auga (eye).

Weak Feminines.

Nom. tung-a (tongue) tung-ur
Acc. tung-u tung-ur
Dat. tung-u tung-um
Gen. tung-u tung-na

80. So also stjarna (star) pl. stjörnur, kirkja (church), gen. plurals stjarna, kirkna.

Sg. Nom. elli (old age)

Acc. elli -

Dat. elli

Gen. elli

81. So also gle›i (joy) and many abstract nouns.

82. lygi (falsehood) has pl. lygar; so also gjørsimi (precious thing).


83. Adjectives have three genders, and the same cases as nouns, though with partly different endings, together with strong and weak forms.

Strong Adjectives.

Sg. Nom. ung-r (young) ung-t ung
Acc. ung-an ung-t ung-a
Dat. ung-um ung-u ung-ri
Gen. ung-s ung-s ung-rar
Pl. Nom. ung-ir ung ung-ar
Acc. ung-a ung ung-ar
Dat. ung-um
Gen. ung-ra

84. So also fagr (fair), fem. fögr, neut. fagrt.

85. Same insert j before a and u: n‡r (new), n‡jum, n‡jan.

86. Some insert v before a vowel: hár (high), hávan, dökkr (dark), dökkvir, kykr (alive), kykvir.

87. The t of the neut. is doubled after a long vowel: n‡tt, hátt. Monosyllables in ›, dd, tt form their neut. in -tt: brei›r (broad), breitt; leiddr (led), leitt. gó›r (good) has neut. gott. sannr (true) has neut. satt. In unaccented syllables or if a cons. precedes, tt is shortened to t: kalla›r (called), kallat; blindr (blind), blint, har›r (hard), hart, fastr (firm), fast.

88. 1 and n assimilate a following r: garnall (old), fem. gömul, fem. acc. gamla, dat. gamalli. vænn (beautiful), gen. pl. vænna.


Sg. Nom. mikill (great) mikit mikil

Acc. mikinn mikit mikla

Dat. miklum miklu mikilli

Gen. mikils mikils mikillar

Pl. Nom. miklir mikil miklar

Acc. mikla mikil miklar

Dat. miklum

Gen. mikilla

89. So also litill (little).

90. Dissyllables in -inn have -it in the neut., and -inn in the masc. sg. acc.: tiginn (distinguished), tigit, tiginn, pl. tignir. So also kominn (come).


Sg. Nom. annarr (other) annat önnur

Acc. annan annat a›ra

Dat. ö›rum ö›ru annarri

Gen. annars annars annarrar


Pl. Nom. .a›rir önnur a›rar

Acc. a›ra önnur a›rar

Dat. ö›rum

Gen. annarra

Weak Adjectives.


Sg. Nom ung-i ung-a ung-a

Acc. ung-a ung-a ung-u

Dat ung-a ung-a ung-u

Gen ung-a ung-a ung-u

Pl. Nom. ung-u

Acc. ung-u

Dat. ung-u

Gen. ung-u

92. So also fagri, hávi, mikli, etc

Sg. Nom. yngri (younger) yngra yngri

Acc yngra yngra yngri

Dat yngra yngra yngri

Gen. yngra yngra yngri

Pl. Nom. yngri

Acc. yngri

Dat. yngrum

Gen. yngri

93. So also all comparatives, such as meiri (greater), and pres. partic. when used as adjectives, such as gefandi (giving), dat. pl. geföndum.


94. (1) with -ari, -astr: nikr (powerful), rikari, rikastr; göfugr (distinguished), göfgari, göfgastr.

95. (2) with -ri, -str and mutation: langr (long), lengri, lengstr; stórr (big), stœrri, stœrstr; ungr (young), yngri; yngstr.

96. The following are irregular:

gamall (old) ellri elztr

gó›r (good) betri beztr

illr (bad) verri verstr

litill (little) minni minstr

margr (many) fleiri flestr

mikill (great) meiri mestr




1. einn (one) fyrstr (first)

2. tveir annarr

3. _rir _ri›i

4. fjórir fjór›i

5. fimm fimmti

6. sex sétti

7. sjau sjaundi

8. átta átti

9. níu níundi

10. tíu tíundi

11. ellifu ellifti 12. tólf tólfti 13. _rettán _rettándi 14. fjórtán

15. fimmtån

16. sextán

17. sjaután

18. átján


19. nitjan

20. tuttugu

21. einn ok tuttugu, etc.

30. _rír tigir, etc.

100. tíu tigir

110. ellifu tigir

120. hundra›

1200. _úsund.

einn is declined like other adjectives:—

98. MASC. NEUT. FEM. Nom. einn eitt ein Acc. einn eitt eina Dat. einum einu einni Gen. eins eins einnar

It also has a pl. einir, ein, einar, ; gen. einna, etc. in the sense of ‘ some.’

The next three show various irregularities.

99. MASC. NEUT. FEM. Nom. tveir tvau tvær Acc. tvá. tvau tvær

Dal. tveim

Gen. tveggja

Similarly bá›ir (both):


Nom. bá›ir bæ›i bá›ar

Acc. bá›a bæ›i bá›ar

Dat. bá›um

Gen. beggja


Nom. _rir _rjú _rjár

Acc. _rjá _rjú _rjár

Dat. _rim

Gen. _riggja


Nom. fjórir fjogur fjórar

Acc. fjagur fjogur fjórar

Dat. fjórum

Gen. fjogurra

103. The others are indeclinable up to _rír tigir, etc.; the tigir being declined regularly as a plural strong u-masculine:

tigir, tigu, tigum, tiga.

104. hundra› is a strong neut.: tvau hundru› (240), tveim hundru›um, etc. It governs the gen. (as alsa does _úsund):

fimm kundru› gölfa, ‘five (six) hundred chambers.’

105. _úsund is a strong ir-feminine: tvær _úsundir (2400).

106. hundra› and _úsund are rarely = 100 and 1000.

107. Of the ordinals fyrstr and annarr (§ 91) are strong, the others weak adjectives. _ri›i inserts a j: _ri›ja, etc.


108. Personal.

Sg.Nom. ek (I) _ú (thou) —

Acc. mik _ik sik (oneself) Dat. mér _ér sér

Gen. mín _ín sín

Dual Nom. vit it

Acc. okkr ykkr sik

Dat. okkr ykkr sér

Gen. okkar ykkar sín

Pl. Nom. vér (we) _ér (ye) —

Acc. oss y›r sik

Dat. oss y›r sér

Gen. vár y›ar sín


Sg. Nom. hann (he) _at (it) hon (she)

Acc. hann _at hana

Dat. honum _ví henni

Gen hans _ess hennar

Pl..Nom. _eir (they) _au _ær

Acc. _á _au _ær

Dat. _eim

Gen. _eira

109. ek was often suffixed ta its verb, especially in poetry, being sometimes added twice over: mætta-k (I might), sá-k-a-k (I saw not; a=’ not’). So also _ú: er-tu (art thou), skalt-u (shalt thou) = *skalt-tu.



Sg. Nom. minn mitt mín

Acc. minn mitt mína

Dat. mínum mínu minni

Gen. míns míns minnar

Pl. Nom. mínir mín mínar

Acc. mína mín mínar


110. So also _inn (thy), sinn (his etc., reflexive).

111. várr, várt, vár (our) is regular: acc masc. várn, masc. plur. várir, vára, várum, várra, etc., see hvárr


Sg. Nom. y›arr (your) y›art y›ur

Acc. y›arn y›art y›ur

Dat. y›rum y›ru y›arri

Gen. y›ars y›ars y›arrar

Pl. Nom. y›rir y›ur y›rar

Acc. y›ra y›ur y›rar

Dat. y›rum

Gen. y›arra

112. So also okkarr (our two) and ykkarr (your two)

113. hans (his), _ess (its), hennar (her), and _eira (their) are indeclinable.



Sg. Nom. sá (that) _at sú

Acc. _ann _at _á

Dat. _eim _ví _eiri

Gen. _ess _ess _eirar

Pl. Nom. _eir _au _ær

Acc. _á _au _ær

Dat. _eim

Gen. _eira

115. hinn, hitt, hin (that) is inflected like minn (except that its vowel is short throughout): acc. masc. hinn, plur. mase. hinir, hina, hinum, hinna.


Sg. Nom. _essi (this) _etta _essi

Acc. _enna _etta _essa

Dat. _essum _essu _essi

Gen. _essa _essa _essar



Pl. Nom. _essir _essi _essar

Acc. _essa _essi _essar

Dat. _essum

Gen. _essa



The prefixed definite article is declined thus:


Sg. Nom. inn it in

Acc. inn it ina

Dat. inum inu inni

Gen. ins ins innar

Pl. Nom. inir in inar

Acc. ina in inar

Dat. inum

Gen. inna

118. When suffixed to its noun it undergoes various changes. In its monosyllable forms it drops its vowel after a short (un-accented) vowel, as in auga-t (the eye), but keeps it after a long vowel, as in á-in (the river), tré-it (the tree). The dissyllabie forms drop their initial vowel almost everywhere; not, however, after the -ar, -r, of the gen. sg., nor in menninir (men, nom.), menn-ina (men, acc.). The -m of the dat. pl. is dropped before the suffixed -num.


Sg. Nom. fiskr-inn skip-it gjöf-in

Acc. fisk-inn skip-it gjöf-ina

Dat. fiski-num skipi-nu gjöf-inni

Gen. fisks-ins skips-ins gjafar-innar


Pl. Nom. fiskar-nir skip-in gjafar-nar

Acc. fiska-na skip-in gjafar-nar

Dat. fisku-num skipu-num gjöfu-num

Gen. fiska-nna skipa-nna gjafa-nna

Sg. Nom. bogi-nn auga-t tunga-n

Acc. boga-nn auga-t , tungu-na

Dat. boga-num auga-nu tungu-nnl

Gen. boga-ns auga-ns tungu-nnar

Pl. Nom. bogar-nir augu-n tungur-nar

Acc. boga-na augu-n tungur-nar

Dat. bogu-num augu-num tungnu-num

Gen. boga-nna augna-nna tungna-nna


119. The ordinary relative pron. is the indeclinable er, often preceded by sá:. sá er =he who, who, sú er = who fem.


120. The neut. hvat has gen. hvess, dat. hví, which last is chiefly used as an adverb =’ why.’


Sg. Nom. hvárr (which of hvárt hvár

Acc. hvárn /who) hvárt hvára

Dat. hvárum hváru hvárri

Gen. hvárs hvárs hvárrar

Pl. Nom. hvárir hvár hvárar

Acc. hvára hvár hvárar

Dat. hvárum

Gen. hvárra




Sg. Nom. hverr (which, hvert hver

Acc. hvern who) hvert hverja

Dat. hverjum hverju hverri

Gen. hvers hvers hverrar

Pl. Nom. hverir hver hverjar

Acc. hverja hver hverjar

Dat. hverjum

Gen. hverra


123. einn-hverr, eitthvert, einhver (some one) keeps an invariable ein- in the other cases, the second element being infiected as above.

124. sumr (some) is declined like an ordinary adjective.



Sg. Nom. nakkvarr (some) nakkvat nökkur

Acc. nakkvarn nakkvat nakkvara

Dat. nökkurum nökkuru nakkvarri

Gen. nakkvars nakkvars nakkvarrar

Pl. Nom. nakkvarir nökkur nakkvarar

Acc. nakkvara nökkur nakkvarar

Dat. nökkurum

Gen. nakkvarra


Sg. Nom. engi (none, no) ekki engi

Acc. engan ekki enga

Dat. engum engu engri

Gen. engis engis engrar


Pl. Nom. engir engi engar

Acc. enga engi engar

Dat. engum

Gen. engra

127. In hvár-tveggja (each of the two, both) the first element is declined as above, the second is left unchanged.



128. There are two classes of verbs, strong and weak. Strong verbs are conjugated partly by means of gradation, weak verbs by adding › (d,t).

129. The › of the 2 pl. is dropt before _it (ye two) and _ér (ye): gefi _it, gövu _ér.

130. There is a middie voice, which ends in -mk in the 1 pers. sg. and pl., the rest of the verb being formed by adding -sk to the active endings, r being dropt, the resulting ts, ›s being written z (§ 36): kvezk (active kve›r ‘says‘), _u fekkzk (fekkt ‘gottest ‘).

131. The following is the conjugation of the strong verb gefa (give), which will show those endings which are common to all verbs:



Present sg. 1. gef gef-a

2. gef-r gef-ir

3. gef-r gef-i

pl. 1. gef-um gef-im

2. gef-i› gef-i›

3. gef-a gef-i


Preterite sg. 1. gaf gæf-a

2. gaf-t gæf-ir

3. gaf gæf-i

pl. 1. gáf-um gæf-im

2. gáf-u› gæf-i›

3. gáf-u gæf-i

Imperative sg. 2 gef; pl. 1. gef-um, 2 gef-i›.

Participle pres. gef-andi; pret. gef-inn.

Infin. gefa.



Pres. Sg. 1. gef-umk gef-umk

2. gef-sk gef-isk

3. gef-sk gef-isk

pl. 1. gef-umk gef-imk

2. gef-izk gef-izk

3. gef-ask gef-isk

Pret. sg. 1. gaf-umk gæf-umk

2. gaf-zk gæf-isk

3. gaf-sk gæf-isk

pl. 1. gáf-umk gæf-imk

2. gáf-uzk gæf-izk

3. gáf-usk gæf-isk

Strong Verbs.

132. In the strong verbs the plur. of the pret. indic. generally has a different vowel from that of the sing. The 1 sg. pret. of the middle voice always has the vowel of the pl. pret.:


gáfumk. The pret. subj. has the vowel of the pret. indic. plur. mutated: skaut (he shot), skutu (they shot), skyti (he might shoot). But there is no mutation in verbs of the first conj.: hljópi, inf. hlaupa (leap).

133. The pres. indic. sing. mutates the root-vowel in all

three persons: ek sk‡t , _ú sk‡tr, hann sk‡tr ; infin. skjóta (shoot). e however is not mutated: ek gef, _ú gefr. The inflectional r is liable to the same modifications as the r of nouns

(§ 32). skínn, vex, infin. skína (shine), vaxa (grow).

134. Verbs in ld change the d into l in the i, 3 sg. pret. indic. and in the imper. sg.: helt (held), hall (hold!), infin. halda, nd becomes tt, and ng becomes kk under the same conditions: binda (bind), ganga (go), pret. batt, gekk, imper. bitt, gakk.

135. The t of the 2 sg. pret. indic. is doubled after a long accented vowel: _ú sátt (thou sawest). If the 1 sg. pret. indic. ends in t or ›, the 2 sg. ends in zt: lét (I let), _ú létz , bau› (I offered) _ú bauzt

136. There are seven conjugations of strong verbs, distinguished mainly by the characteristic vowels of their preterites.

137. I. 'Falla'-conjugation.


falla (fall) fellr fell fellu fallinn

rá›a (advise) ræ›r ré› ré›u rá›inn

heita (ca//) heitr hét hétu heitinn

halda (hold) heldr helt heldu haldinn

ganga (go) gengr gekk gengu genginn

fá (get) fær fekk fengu fenginn

auka (increase) eykr jók jóku aukinn

búa (dwell) b‡r bjó bjoggu búinn


höggva (hew) höggr hogg hjoggu höggvinn

hlaupa (leap) hleypr hljóp hljópu hlaupinn

138. The following have weak preterites in r:

gróa (grow) grœr gröri gröru gróinn

róa (row) rœr röri röru róinn

snúa (twitch) sn‡r snöri snöru snúinn

139. heita in the passive sense of 'to be named, called' has a weak present: ek heiti, _ú heitir.

140. II. 'Skaka '-conjugation.

fara (go) ferr fór fóru farinn

grafa (dig) grefr gróf grófu grafinn

hla›a (load) hle›r h1o› h1o›u h1a›inn

vaxa (grow) veksr óx óxu vaxinn

skaka (shake) skekr skók skóku skekinn

standa (stand) stendr stó› stó›u sta›inn

aka (drive) ekr ók óku ekinn

taka (take) tekr tók tóku tekinn

draga (drag) dregr dró drógu dreginn

flá (flay) flær fló flógu fleginn

slá (beat) slær slóg slógu s1eginn

141. The following have weak presents:

hefja (lift) hefr hóf hófu hefinn

deyja (die) deyr dó dó dainn

hlæja (laugh) hlær hló hlógu hleginn

142. III. 'Binda '-conjugation.

bresta (burst) brestr brast brustu brostinn

hverfa (turn) hverfr hvarf hurfu horfinn


svelga (swallow) svelgr svalg sulgu sölginn

ver›a (become) ver›r var› ur›u or›inn

skje1fa (shake) skelfr skalf skulfu skolfinn

drekka (drink) drekkr drakk drukku drukkinn

finna (find) finnr fann fundu fundinn

vinna (win) vinnr vann unnu unninn

binda (bind) bindr batt bundu bundinn

springa (spring) springr sprakk sprungu sprunginn

stinga (pierce) stingr stakk stungu stunginn

breg›a (pull) breg›r brá brug› brug›inn

sökkva (sink) søkkr sökk sukku sokkinn

stökkva (spring) støkkr stökk stukku stokkinn

143. The following have weak presents (which makes however no difference in their conjugation):

brenna (burn) brennr brann brunnu brunninn

renna (run) rennr rann runnu runninn

144. IV. 'Bera '-conjugation.

bera (carry) berr bar báru borinn

nema (take) nemr nam námu numinn

fela (hide) felr fal fálu fólginn

koma (come) kemr kom kómu kominn

kvám kvámu

sofa(sleep) sefr svaf sváfu sofinn

145. V. 'Gefa '-conjugation.

drepa (kill) drepr drap drápu drepinn

gefa (give) gefr gaf gáfu gefinn

kve›a (say) kve›r kva› kvá›u kve›inn

meta (estimate) metr mat mátu metiinn

reka (drive) rekr rak ráku rekinn

eta (eat) etr át átu etinn

sjá (see) sér sá sá sénn

146. The fo]lowing have weak presents

bi›ja (ask) bi›r ba› bá›u be›inn

sitja (sit) sitr sat sátu setinn

liggja (lie) liggr lá lágum leginn

_iggja (receive) _iggr _á _águ _eginn

147. VI. 'Skína '-conjugation.

bíta (bite) bitr beit bitu bitinn

drífa (drive) drifr dreif drifu drifinn

grípa (grasp) gripr greip gripu gripinn

lí›a (go) li›r lei› li›u li›inn

líta (look) litr leit litu litinn

rí›a (ride) ri›r rei› ri›u ri›inn

síga (sink) sigr seig sigu siginn

slíta (tear) slitr sleit slitu slitinn


148. The following has a weak present:

víkja (move) víkr veik viku vikinn

149. VII. 'Kjósa '-conjugation.

bjó›a (offer) b‡r bau› bu›u bo›inn

brjóta (break) br‡tr braut brutu brotinn

fljóta (float) fl‡tr flaut flutu fiotinn

h1jóta (receive) hl‡tr hlaut hlutu hiotinn

kjósa (choose) k‡ss kaus kusum kosinn

njóta (enjoy) n‡tr naut nutu notinn

skjóta (shoot) sk‡tr skaut skutu skotinn

drjúpa (drip) dr‡pr draup drupu dropinn

ljúga (lie) l‡gr 1aug lugu loginn

lúka (close) l‡kr lauk luku lokinn

lúta (bend) l‡tr laut lutu lotinn

fljúga (fly) fl‡gr fló flugu floginn

Weak Verbs.

150. There are three conjugations of weak verbs. All those of the first conjugation have mutated vowels in the pres., and form their pret. vith › (d, i): heyra (hear), heyr›a. Those of the second form their pret. in the same way, but have unmutated vowels in the pres.: hafa (have) haf›a. Those of the third form their pret. in -a›a: kalla (call), kalla›a.

151. I. 'Heyra '-conjugation.



Pres. sg. 1. heyr-i heyr-a

2. heyr-ir heyr-ir

3. heyr-ir heyr-i

pl . 1. heyr-um heyr-im

2. heyr-i› heyr-i›

3. heyr-a heyr-i

Pret. sg. 1. heyr-›a heyr-›a

2. heyr-›ir heyr-›ir

3. heyr-›i heyr-›i

pl. 1. heyr-›um heyr-›im

2. heyr-›u› heyr-›i›

3. heyr-›u heyr-›i

Imper. sg. 1. heyr ; pl. 1. heyr-um, 2. heyr-i›.

Partic. pres. heyr-andi; pret. heyr-›r.

Infin. heyr-a.



Pres. sg. 1. heyr-umk heyr-umk

2. heyr-isk heyr-isk

3. heyr-isk heyr-isk

pl. 1. heyr-umk heyr-imk

2. heyr-izk heyr-izk

3. heyr-ask heyr-isk

Pret. sg. 1. heyr-›umk heyr-›umk

2. heyr-›isk heyr-›isk

3. heyr-›isk heyr-›isk

pl. 1. heyr-›umk heyr-›imk

2. heyr-›uzk heyr-›izk

3. heyr-›usk heyr-›isk

Imper. sg. 2. heyr-sk; pl. 1. heyr-umk, 2. heyr-izk.

Partic. pres. heyr-andisk; pret. heyr-zk neut.

Infin. heyr-ask.

A. Without vowel-change.

152. The inflectional › becomes d after long syllables ending in l or n: sigla (sail), siglda; nefna (name), nefnda, nefndr.

153. -›› becomes -dd: lei›a (lead), leidda.

154. › after s and i becomes t: reisa (raise), reista; mœta (meet), mœtta. Also in a few verbs in l, n: mæla (speak), mælta; spenna (buckle), spenta.

155. After nd and pt it is dropped: senda (send), senda, sendr; lypta (lift), lypta.

156. It is preserved in such verbs as the following: dœma (judge), dœm›a; fœra (lead), fœr›a; her›a (harden), her›a; hleypa (gallop), hleyp›a.

B. With vowel-change.

157. All these verbs have j preceded by a short syllable (telja), or a long vowel without any cons. after it (d‡ja), or gg (leggja); the

j being kept before a and u, as in the pres. ind. of spyrja (ask): spyr, spyrr, spyrr; spyrjum, spyri›, spyrja, pres. subj. 1 sg. ek spyrja; they unmutate their vowel in the pret. and ptc. pret. (spur›a, spur›r), the mutation being restored in the pret. subj. spyr›a, spyr›ir, etc. The ptc. pret. often has an i before the ›.

berja (strike) bar›a bar›r

leggja (lay) lag›a lag(i)›r

telja (tell) tal›a tal(i)›r

vekja (wake) vak›a vak›r

flytja (remove) flutta fluttr

d‡ja (shake) dúda dú›r

158. The following keep the mutated vowel throughout:

selja (sell) selda seldr

setja (set) setta settr


159. The following are irregular:

sœkja (seek) sótta sóttr

_ykkja (seem) _ótta _óttr

Subj. pret. sœtta, _œtta.

160. Tbe following has an adj. for its partic. pret.:

gøra (make) gør›a gørr.

II. 'Hafa '-conjugation.

161. The few verbs of this class are conjugated like those of conj. I, except that some of them have imperatives in -i:

vaki, _egi, uni. lifa, segja have imper. lif; seg. They rnutate the vowel of the pret. subj. (yn›a). Their partic. pret. generally occurs only in the neut.; sometimes the a is dropped.




lifa (live) lifi 1ifa lifat

una (be contented) uni un›a unat

skorta (be wanting) skorti skorta skort

_ola (endure) _oli _o1›a _olat

_ora (dare) _ori _or›a _orat

ná (attain) nái ná›a ná›r, náit

162. The following show mutation:

segja (say) segi sag›a sag›r

_egja (be silent) _egi _ag›a _agat

hafa (have) hefi haf›a haf›r

kaupa (buy) kaupi keypta keyptr

163. The present indic. of the first three is as follows

Sing. 1. hefi segi _egi

2, 3. hefir segir _egir

Plur. 1. höfum segjum _egjum

2. hafi› segi› _egi› 3. hafa segja _egja.

164 The rest of hafa is regular. Pres. subj. hafa, hafir, hafir, hafim, hafi›, hafi. Pret. indic. haf›a, haf›ir, haf›i; höf›um, höf›u›, höf›u . Pret. subj. hef›a, hef›ir, hef›i; hef›im hef›i›, hef›i. Imper. haf, höfum, hafi› . Ptc. hafandi, haf›r .

III. 'Kalla '-conjugation.



Pres. sg. 1. kall-a kall-a

2. kall-ar kall-ir

3. kall-ar kall-i

pl 1. kö11-um kall-im

2. kalI-i› kall-i›

3. kall-a kall-i



Pret. sg. 1. kall-a›a kall-a›a

2. kall-a›ir kal1-a›ir

3. kall-a›i kall-a›i

pl. 1. köll-u›um kall-a›im

2. köll-u›u› kall-a›i›

3. köll-u›u kall-a›i

Imper. sing. 2.kall-a; plur. 1. köll-um, 2. kall-i›. Partic. pres kall-andi; pret. kalla›r (neut. kallat) Infin. kalla



Pres. sg. 1. köll-umk köll-umk

2. kall-ask kall-isk

3. kall-ask kall-isk

pl. 1. köll-umk kall-inik

2. kall-izk kall-izk

3. kall-ask kall-isk

Pret. sg 1. köll-u›umk köll-u›umk

2. kall-a›isk kall-a›isk

3. kall-a›isk kall-a›isk

pl. 1. köll-u›umk köll-u›umk

2. köll-u›uzk kall-a›izk

3. köl1-u›usk kall-a›isk

Imper. sing. 2. kall-ask; pl. 1. köll-u›umk, 2. köll-u›uzk Partic. pres. kall-andisk; pret. kall-azk neutr.. Infin. kall-ask.

165. So also byrja (begin), herja (make war), vakna (awake)

Strong-Weak Verbs.

166. These have old strong preterites, for their preseuts, from which new weak preterites are formed.


eiga (possess) á eigu átta áttr

kunna (can) kann kunnu kunna kunnat

mega (must) má megu mátta mátt n.

muna (remember) man munu munda munat n.

munu (will) mun munu munda

skulu (shall) skal skulu skylda skyldr

_urfa (need) _arf _urfu _urfta _urft n.

unna (ove) ann unnu unna unnt n.

vita (know) veit vitu vissa vita›r.

167. Of these verbs munu and skulu have preterite infinitives: mundu, skyldu.

Anomalous Verbs.

168. Vilja (will):


Sing. Plur.

1. vil viljum

2. vill vili›

3. vill vilja

Subj. pres. vili. Pret. 1. vilda. Ptc. prt. viljat. Inf. prt. vildu

169. Vera (be):


Pres. sg. 1. em sé

2. ert sér

3. er sé

pl. 1. erum sém

2. eru› sé›

3. eru sé


Pret. sg. 1. var væra

2. vart værir

3. var væri

pl. 1. várum. værim

2. váru› væri›

3. váru væri

Imper. sg. ver; pl .veri›. Ptc. prt. verit n.


170. Composition with the genitive is very frequent in Icelandic. Thus by the side of skip-stjörn (ship-steering) we find skips-brot (ship's breaking, shipwreck), skipa-herr (army of ships, fleet). Genitival composition often expresses possession, as in konungs-skip (king's ship).



171. Prefixes are much less used in Icelandic than in Old English.

al- 'quite,' 'very': al-búinn 'quite ready,' al-snotr 'very clever.' fall- all- 'all'-, 'very': all-valdr 'all-ruler, monarch,' all-har›r ' very hard,' all-stórum 'very greatly.'

and- 'against': and-lit 'countenance, face' (lita, look), andsvar 'answer'

fjö1- 'many' : fjö1-menni 'multitude' (ma›r, man).

mis- 'mis-' : mis-lika 'displease.'

ú- 'un-': ú-fri›r 'war' (fri›r, peace), ú-happ 'misfortune' (happ, luck).


(a) Nouns.


172. -ingr, -ingi, -ing: vikingr ‘pirate,’ höf›ingi ‘chief,’

kerling ‘old woman.’


173. -›, fem. with mutation : fegr› ‘beauty’ (fagr, fair), fer› ‘journey’ (fara, go), leng› ‘length’ (langr, long).

-ing, fem.: svipling ‘pulling,’ viking ‘piracy,’ vir›ing ‘honour.’

-leikr, masc.: kær-leikr ‘affection’ (kærr, dear), skjöt-leikr ‘speed’ (skjötr, swift).

-an, -un, fem.: skipan ‘arrangement,’ skemtun ‘amusement.’

(b) Adjectives.

174. -ugr: rá›ugr ‘sagacious,’ _rú›ugr ‘strong.’

-óttr: kollótr ‘bald,’ öndóttr ‘fierce.’

-lauss ‘-less’: fé-lauss ‘moneyless,’ ótta-lauss ‘without fear.’

-ligr ‘-ly’: undr-ligr ‘wonderful,’ sann-ligr ‘probable’ (sannr, true).

-samr: likn-samr ‘gracious,’ skyn-samr ‘intelligent.’

-ver›r ‘-ward’; ofan-ver›r ‘ upper.’


(c) Verbs.

175. -na: brotna ‘be broken’ (brotinn, broken), hvitna ‘become white,’ vakna ‘awake.’ Used to form intransitive and inchoative verbs of the third conj.


(d) Adverbs.

176. -liga ‘-ly’: undar-liga ‘wonderfully,’ sterk-liga ‘strongly’ (sterkr, strong).

-um, dat. pl.: stórum ‘greatly’ (stórr, great).




177. Icelandic syntax greatly resembles Old English, but has several peculiarities of its own.


178. Concord is carried out very strictly in Icelandic: allir menn váru búnir ‘all the men were ready,’ allir váru drepnir ‘all were killed.’

179. A plural adj. or pronoun referring to two nouns of different (natural or grammatical) gender is always put in the neuter: _å gekk hann upp, ok me› honum Loki (masc.), ok _jalfi (masc.), ok Röskva (fem.) _á er _au (neut.) höf›u litla hrí› gengit. . ‘he landed, and with him L., and _., and R. When they had walked for some time . .


180. The extensive use of ihe instrumental dative is very characteristic of Icelandic: whenever the direct object of a verb can be considered as the instrument of the action expressed by the verb, it is put in the dative, as in kasta spjóti ‘throw a spear’ (lit. ‘throw with a spear‘), hann hell hamarskaptinu ‘he grasped the handle of the hammer,’ heita _ví ‘promise that,’ jóta _ví ‘agree to that.’


181. The weak form of adjectives is used as in O. E. after the definite article, _essi and other demonstratives. annarr (other) is always strong.

182. An adj. is often set in apposition to a following noun to denote part of it: eiga hálft d‡rit ‘to have half of the animal,’ önnur _au ‘the rest of them,’ of mi›ja nátt ‘in the middle of the night.’


183. sá is often put pleonastically before the definite article inn, both before and after the subst.: sá inn ungi ma›r ‘that young man,’ hafit _at it djúpa ‘the deep sea.’

184. The definite article is generally not expressed at all, or else einn, einnhverr is used.

185. A noun (often a proper name) is often put in apposition to a dual pron. of the first and second persons, or a plur. of the third person ,_it félagar, ‘thou and thy companions,’ me› _eim Áka ‘with him and Áki.’ Similarly stendr _órr upp ok _eir félagar ‘Thor and his companions get up.’

186. The plurals vér, _ér are sometimes used instead of the singulars ek, _ú, especially when a king is speaking or being spoken to.

187. sik and sér are used in a strictly reflexive sense, referring back to the subjeet of the sentence, like se in Latin _órr bau› honum til matar me› sér ‘Thor asked him to supper with him.’


188. The tenses for which there is no inflection in the active, and all those of the passive, are formed by the auxiliaries skal (shall), hafa (have), vera (be) with the infin. and ptc. pret., much as in modern English

189. The historical present is much used, often alternating abruptly with the preterite.

190. The middle voice is used: (1) in a purely reflexive sense: spara spare, sparask ‘spare oneself, reserve one s strength.’ (2) intransitively: búa ‘prepare,’ búask ‘become ready, be ready’; setja ‘set,’ setjask ‘sit down’; s‡na ‘show,’ s‡nask ‘appear, seem.’ (3) reciprocally: berja ‘strike,’ berjask ‘fight’; hitta, ‘find,’ hittask ‘meet.’ In other cases it specializes the meaning of the verb, often emphasizing the idea of energy or effort: koma ‘come,’ komask ‘make one’s way.’

191. The impersonal form of expression is widely used in Icelandic: rak á storm (acc.) fyrir _eim ‘a storm was driven in their face.’

192. The indef. ‘one’ is expressed in the same way by the third pers. sg., and this form of expression is often used when the subject is perfectly definite: ok freista skal _essar í›róttar 'and this feat shall be tried (by you).’

193. The abrupt change from the indirect to the direet narration is very common: Haraldi konungi var sagt at ,_ar var komit bjarnd‡ri, ‘ok á Íslenzkr ma›r, ‘King Harold was told tbat a bear had arrived, and that an Icelander owned it.’ The direct narration is also used after at (that): hann svarar at ‘ek skal rí›a til Héljar’ ‘he answers that he will ride to Hel.’