Level A1

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“Hvenær” means “when?”. Rembember that “hv” is always pronounced “kv”. There is one additional exception that only applies to the word “hvenær” that is fairly annoying for students: The letter “æ” in the word isn’t fully pronounced, instead it is pronounced as an “a”. “Hvenær” is pronounced [k(h)venar].
Hæ. Hvað segirðu gott?
Allt gott.
Ert þú á Íslandi?
Nei, ég er ekki á Íslandi, ég er í Ameríku.
Hvenær ætlarðu að koma til Íslands?
Ég ætla að koma til Íslands í janúar.
“Ísland” means “Iceland”, but in the above text we used “Íslandi” and “Íslands”. The reason is that Icelandic words change their form depending on what is happening to them, like how the English word “he” changes to “him” depending on the word’s purpose in the sentence. These forms are known as cases and there are four of them in Icelandic. You can click here to see all the forms the word “Ísland” can have. You should not study the cases for now, you just need to be aware of the reason why the words change their form.
The prepositions “í” (in) and “á” (on) are used to say you’re in a place. You are on Iceland and on Spain, but you’re in America and in France (see the article í vs. á for a longer list). There is no rule behind which one you should use, the only thing that matters is whether native speaker feel like they’re in or on something. Therefore, you as a language learner just need to remember each one individually.

Disappearing sounds

The sentence “Ætlarðu að koma?” is pronounced [æ(h)tlar a koma]. The “-ðu” part (which is just the word “þú” which has become affixed to the verb) is still a part of the sentence even though it isn’t pronounced here. Native speakers do not notice that there’s anything missing as the brain fills in the gaps. There are two things that have happened here:
  • Ð is such a soft letter that it has a tendency to disappear. When “-ðu” is suffixed to a verb, the ð is never pronounced.[a] “Ætlarðu” is pronounced [æ(h)tlaru].
  • When a word ends in a vowel that doesn’t have an accent mark (a, e, i, o, u, ö) and the next word starts in a vowel, the first vowel disappears (read further here). In “Ætlarðu að koma?”, the “a” completely overshadows the “u” and the “u” isn’t pronounced at all. After removing the ð's (which are too soft) and the “u”, we’re left with [æ(h)tlar a koma].