Icelandic Nouns

Icelandic Nouns: Gender, Case, and Plural

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 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.

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

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

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

Genitive Case
The genitive singular endings are:

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

Plural of Icelandic Nouns

The table below shows the case endings in the plural:

masculine feminine neuter
-ur, -l, -n -i no ending, -a
nominative -ir -ir -ur vowel shift
accusative -a -ir -ur vowel shift
dative -u(m) -u(m) -u(m) -u(m)
genitive -a -a -a -a

The m is not added to the dative form if the definite article is being added. 

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Dr. Jennifer Wagner

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