Conjugating -i Verbs in the Past Tense

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by Siggi
Predicting the future with tarot cards.

Conjugating -i verbs in the past tense is a hefty step up in complexity from -a verbs and the present tense, I’m not going to lie. It’s a good thing we’re in this together!

If you’re wondering how you can tell which verbs are -i verbs, check out my Overview of the Icelandic Verb Categories

If you’d like to check out how to conjugate -i verbs in the present tense, I’ve got you covered right here.

Now, let’s make conjugating -i verbs in the past tense a little easier! 

Rule of Thumb

Basically, it works like this.

  1. remove the infinitive ending
  2. add one of three dental suffixes – ð, d or t – and then
  3. add the appropriate ending

The Dental Suffix – ð, d, or t

“Dental” means “related to the teeth”. Here, that just means “you make this sound by touching your tongue to your teeth”. 

Knowing which dental suffix to use can be pretty confusing when you’re not familiar with it. In fact, it’s an art unto itself, so we’ll devote a whole article to that. Here, let’s just focus on the endings.

The Infinitive Ending

The infinitive ending of -i verbs can be:

  • -a (like gera, reyna, bæta)
  • -ja (like byggja, fylgja, samþykkja)
  • no ending at all (like skrá, spá, tjá. These usually end in -á, but you don’t remove it, so we don’t call it an ending)

Let’s take a look at some examples of what that looks like.

-a Infinitive

-ja Infinitive

Remember to remove the whole -ja infinitive ending, not just the -a.

No Infinitive Ending

Good news on the dental fricative front: for verbs with no infinitive ending, we always add an ð. Yay, consistency!


  1. Remove the infinitive ending
  2. add one of three dental suffixes – ð, d or t – and then
  3. add the appropriate ending.

Check out this article for details on picking the dental suffix.


Some verbs don’t like being pegged to just one category. You’ll occasionally run into words which sometimes conjugate like -i verbs but sometimes like strong verbs.

You can check out my articles on hybrid verbs and ey-j-ur verbs for a review of this loose conglomeration of verbs that sort of passes as a category.

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