-i verbs are the second-largest category of verbs, accounting for about 15% of all verb use. Conjugating -i verbs in the present tense is really no problem, as they’re about as regular as the -a verbs.
If you’re wondering how you can tell which verbs are -i verbs, check out my Overview of the Icelandic Verb Categories.
When you’d like to move on to the past tense, I’ve got you covered right here.
Now, let’s make conjugating -i verbs in the present tense a little easier!
Rule of Thumb
Basically, it works like this.
- Remove the infinitive ending, then
- add the appropriate ending
Let’s take a look at a few examples of what that looks like.
The Infinitive Ending
The infinitive ending can be:
- -a (like gera, reyna, bæta)
- -ja (like byggja, fylgja, samþykkja)
- no ending at all (like skrá, spá, tjá)
Let’s take a look at some examples of what that looks like.
-a Infinitive Ending
For the 3rd person plural (þeir, þær, þau) we don’t add an ending: it’s just exactly like the infinitive. It LOOKS like an -a ending, but saying it’s an -a ending would break down in these next groups.
-ja Infinitive Ending
For the -ja verbs, notice that the j pops back up in the 1st person plural (við) in the spelling. Yes, the spelling rules surrounding j can be quite convoluted at times, but that’s beyond the scope of this article. Focus on the sound, not the spelling.
Verbs Without an Infinitive Ending
These all end in -á, but it’s part of the stem; it’s not the infinitive ending.
These verbs are part of the reason we think of the 3rd person plural (þeir, þær, þau) as being like the infinitive, rather than having an ending. This makes the system all nice and regular.
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.