Icelandic Adjectives

Declensions of Icelandic Adjectives

Adjectives can be tricky to master but once you are familiar with them, they are very easy to form. Adjectives always come 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. For weak adjectives, add the following endings:

singular masculine feminine neuter
nominative i a a
accusative a u a
dative a u a
genitive a u a
plural masculine feminine neuter
nominative u u u
accusative u u u
dative u u u
genitive u u u

When being used with indefinite nouns, the adjective takes on strong declension, which has a rather more elaborate declension pattern. For strong adjectives, add the following endings:

singular masculine feminine neuter
nominative ur, ii, nn ö (shift) t
accusative an ar t
dative um ri u
genitive s rar s
plural masculine feminine neuter
nominative ir ar ö (shift)
accusative a ar ö (shift)
dative um um um
genitive ra ra 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 (e.g. lítillar)

In both weak and strong adjective declensions be aware of vowel shifts.




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Dr. Jennifer Wagner

PhD in Applied Linguistics, ESL/French teacher, author of two French books, and helping others to learn languages online at ielanguages.com.

  • This is coming in really useful in my studies. Kærar þakkir!