“Ég” means “I”.
The letter É is pronounced . It is not a single sound but two, being pronounced like “yeah” in English.
The letter G in the word “ég” is a soft G sound. The soft G sound is often so soft that it completely disappears, and that is the case for the word “ég”. You do not pronounce the “g” in “ég” at all, you just pronounce it as [é].
“Ég er” means “I am”. The letter R is pronounced by tapping the roof of your mouth once quickly with the tongue, like the American pronunciation of autumn or better.
Remember that “ég” is just pronounced [é].
Like all other adjectives, the word “good” changes its form depending on the gender of the person or word it’s describing. There are three grammatical genders in Icelandic: he (masculine), she (feminine), and it (neuter).
- Hann er góður. = He is good.
- Hún er góð. = She is good.
- Það er gott. = It is good.
The letter Ó pronounced , like in the English “goal”. Ó is pronounced as a sequence of two sounds: “oú”. In both “góð” and “góður” it’s a long sound, and it’s better to exaggerate the length of long sounds rather than making them too short.
If you’re male, you use the masculine form and say:
- Ég er góður í íslensku. = I am good at Icelandic (“I am good in Icelandic”); I know Icelandic well.
If you’re female, you use the feminine form and say:
- Ég er góð í íslensku.
Remember that “ég” is just pronounced [é]. “Ég er góð” is therefore pronounced [é er goooúð].
In the last chapter, you saw the phrase “Hvað segirðu gott?”. The word “good” doesn’t refer to a particular person or a particular word, so by default we use the neuter form “gott” to refer to a vague “it/that”.
Notice which form of the word “good” is used in the following conversation:
Hvað segirðu gott?
Allt gott. En þú?
Ert þú góður í íslensku.
Já. Ég er mjög góður í íslensku.
Það er gott.
Er mamma þín líka góð í íslensku?
Já, hún er líka mjög góð í íslensku.
- Þú ert góður í íslensku. = You are good at Icelandic. (“You are good in Icelandic.”)
- Þ is pronounced like “thick”.
- Ú is pronounced like “food”.
- The R in “ert” is pronounced differently from the R in “er”. The R in “ert” is a breathy R . It may sound more similar to an S than an R at first, but it is an R sound. To pronounce it, do the following: Start with the r sound in the American red. Keep your tongue in that position. Then blow air over the tip of your tongue.
Notice how the form of the word “is” changes:
- ég er = I am
- þú ert = you are
- hún er = she is
“Mjög” means “very”. Like with the word “ég”, the letter G in “mjög” is a soft G that isn’t pronounced at all.
The letter Ö is pronounced similarly to the English bird or nurse, but you do have to make your mouth circle-shaped and you have to pronounce it in the front of your mouth. In the word “mjög” it’s a very long sound, and you should exaggerate its length. Since the G is silent, you can imagine it being written [mjööö].
Practice pronouncing the following by exaggerating the length of “mjög” and “góð”:
- Ég er mjög góð í íslensku. [é er mjuööö goooúð í íslensku]
you: Er þetta gott? me: Já, þetta er mjög gott. you: Ert þú góður í íslensku? me: Já, ég er mjög góður í íslensku.