* Lesson XVI – Conditional and Subjunctive Moods


Conditional sentences

The Second Nazgul, Witch-Queen Of Angmar, maybe the only member of Black Speech Community who knew Scatha said “Conditional tense works the same way as in English, except for one thing: you use the subjunctive tense. Subjunctive tense is simply the stem of the verb, just like the imperative.”

She didn't give any example, and I think one tense for all types of conditions isn't enough. It will be hard to translate back from Black Speech because just verb stem already means Present Tense and Imperative. Both in English and Russian the most of Subjunctive Mood forms are closer to Past Tenses (as opposing to Present like The Second Nazgul supposed). Therefore I've made my own rules.

I think Subjunctive can be in Present and Past (Perfect) forms, but they have no person suffix (-at or -ut).

Almost real event

If we are sure that both condition and specially the result are real we don't use Subjunctive Tense. We use Present Tense for condition and Future Tense for main clause, the same as in English. Main clause could be Imperative (the second example).

If he steals our food we will kill him
Ghung orskat-ta throqûm izubu izgu azub ta

Kill anything that moves if you want to eat
Az kilûk za rûmat ghung nargzab throquat


Unsure but still quite possible (Suppositional Mood)

If the event is unlikely to happen but still possible, and the result is intended, then main sentence is in Future Tense and condition is unnecessary word trosh (lit. “suddenly”) + Subjunctive Tense. The same structure is used for hinting or hidden offer (the second example).

If he should get the money he will buy a horse
Ghung trosh nânt-ta draugum tûzubat rûk

Should you come, I'll drink with you
Trosh skât-lat akrub-izg lat-sha


Supposing almost unreal things

If we're just supposing what could be happen, if we're dreaming without any prediction, or we're quite unsure about possibility, we use Past Subjunctive (-uz without person suffixes) in condition and shulg (= would) + Present Subjunctive in main clause. Compare the first example here with the first example of previous case. Instead of “would” words “could” (pâshuz) and “might” (gâkhuz) can be used. Expressions like “If I were smb./smth.” are translated as “ghung kuluz-izg …” (not plural as opposed to English).

If he got the money he would buy a horse1)
Ghung nântuz-ta draugum shulg tûz rûk

If I had a dragon, I would fight against Balrog
Ghung brusuz-izg gothbork, shulg-izg mauk Balrog-bug

Goblin would run away, if Balrog attacked him
Kâpul shulg irzkrât2) ghung Balrog dîsuz-ta

If I were Goblin, I would run away
Ghung kuluz-izg kâpul, shulg-izg irzkrât

Shagrath might kill an elf tonight if he saw any
Shagrath gâkhuz az golug zabûrz ghung honuz hin

If I could buy this magical sword, I could kill a dragon3)
Ghung pâshuz-izg tûz za shapar dushûrz pâshuz-izg az gothbork

1) The condition isn't real, but in comparsion to previous case, we're unsure about consequences too (may be he will buy something else).
2) “at” here is the part of word “krât” (away), not 3rd person ending. In overall sentence Goblins will definitely run away (close to the first case), but probability of meeting Balrog is very low.
3) Both main clause and condition are could + infinitive in English as well as in Black Speech.


Absolutely impossible, already missed

Some event can be totally unreal only if it already didn't happen. These sentences have some shade of regret or missed opportunity. Condition is Past Subjunctive like previous case, but main sentence is would/could/might + Past Subjunctive. It wouldn't be a big mistake to mutually mix it with previous type of Subjunctive Mood.

If he had got the money he would have bought a horse1)
Ghung nântuz-ta draugum shulg tûzuz rûk

If he had thought less about girls he wouldn't had been caught
Ghung ûsuz-ta yûlarz fând-gus narshulg-ta kuluz atsuga2)

Had I seen a trap, I would had alerted you3
Honuz-izg grak shulg-izg golbuz-lat

1) We think he will never get money.
2) Yûl (= less) is an adjective. Suffix -arz added to make an adverb. See Lesson XV for more information on passive voice (“kuluz atsuga”, another variant was “atsaguz”).
3) It's a reduced form, fortunately reverse word order in English sentence doesn't change anything in Black Speech.

The main difference between variants above is certainty of consequences in main sentence. In hasty speech last three cases could be mixed.


Even though

Condition may be also expressed in phrases started with words like “even though” (= yal, from Horngoth), “even if” (= yal ghung), “although” (= nân), “however” (= molkû), “whenever” (= muhkû), “whoever” (= mirzkû), “whatever” (= mashkû) etc., then we use modal verbs “may” (= gâkh), “might” (= gâkhuz), “would” (= shulg), “should” (= zauguz) with Present Subjunctive or just Past Subjunctive without modal verb. Some examples:

He won't come although he would like to go very much
(Ta) narskâtubat nân ta shulg brogb ukhat shum

You should give him your axe whenever he may come*
Lat zauguz thrak ta pilik-lab muhkû ta gâkh skât

He wouldn't help you even if he were there*
Ta narshulg ghûlb lat yal ghung ta kuluz atîg

He was always glad whatever I might bring him to drink
Ta kulat kraibhog ûkil mashkû gâkhuz-izg thrak-ta akrat

* Both main sentence and dependent clause are in subjunctive mood here


Subjunctive without condition

All examples above were complex conditional sentences, where word “if ” (ghung) was indicating subjunctive mood (or was meant but skipped). But simple sentences and complex sentences without condition are more tricky!

Simple sentences

Both Sunbjuntive tenses (present and past/perfect) are used in simple sentences with modal verbs could (pâshuz), might (gâkhuz), should (zauguz), would (shulg), would/should like (shulg brogb), would rather (shulg ashbazg), had rather/better (zauguz mâz) without condition. Last three expressions also met in complex sentences. Compound sentences consist of two simple sentences are made the same way. Subjunctive tenses also used in questions expressing polite ask or demand after words mentioned just now.

Dragon could devour you
Gothbork pâshuz throqu lat

Could you help me?
Lat marpâshuz ghûlb-izish?

You shouldn't have come to this forest
Lat narzauguz skâtuz u za tau1)

Oh Morgoth! You might have been killed!
Morgoth skai! Lat gâkhuz kuluz azuga!

He might kill an elf
Ta gâkhuz az golug

He would be glad to drink with you
Ta shulg kul kraibhog akrat lat-sha

Would you shut up?
Lat marshulg shar?

I'd like to eat a hobbit
Shulg-izg brogb throquat akashuga

I'd like a drink of blood
Shulg-izg brogb akr grish-ob

My master would like you to die
Goth-izub shulg brogb lat matat

I would rather go
Shulg-izg ashbazg ukh

I would rather you did it instead of me
Shulg-izg ashbazg lat krampuz ta izish-stazgishi

I had better stay at home than go to that cave
Zauguz-izg mâz shakrop mokh-shi snût ukh u za fil

Shagrath might kill an elf tonight, but (he) didn't saw any
Shagrath gâkhuz az golug zabûrz nân (ta) narhonuzat hin2)

Be it so he would be glad
Kultazash ta shulg kul kraibhog

1) “tau-zau” would sound like island somewhere in Polynesia, also there is noun “zau” (soup, stew) in dictionary
2) Compare with similar example for conditional sentences.


Just a condition or wish

A condition without consequence is mostly used in exclamations of regret. Use Past Subjunctive or modal verb (in Past Subjunctive) with Present Subjunctive verb in such expressions:

If only my sword were here!
Ghung tug shapat-izub kuluz tul!

If he hadn't lost his magical power!
Ghung narfuluz-ta gothum-tab dûshûrz!

If only I could kill a dragon!
Ghung tug pâshuz-izub az gothbork!

We can express our unrealized wish in complex declarative sentence instead of exclamation. The rule is the same as above.

I wish my rings were here now
Nargzab(-izg) nazg-izubu kuluz tul rad

He dreamed they hadn't found their rings
Taurzuzat-ta nargimbuz-ulu nazg-ulubu

Balrog hopes the rain would stop
Balrog fauzabat za batar shulg puzg


Wish somebody something

Use simple Present Subjunctive in exclamation sentences like:

May the force be with you!
Gâkh ikhum kul lat-sha!

Morgoth bless you!
Morgoth bhogh lat!


As if / Like

Translation of sentences with “as if” or “like” conjugation depends on tense used in clause of manner. Past and all Perfect tenses are translated as Past Subjunctive, Present tense as Present Subjunctive appropriately. Tense in main clause isn't changed. The whole phrase “as if” could be translated as one word “zash”.

You speak so as if I do something wrong
Ghashn-lat zash (ghung) kramp-izg kilûk fikarz

Men looked at him as if he had said scary things
Shara honuzut ta-shi zash gashnuz-ta kûlu uf

Dragon looked at hobbit like (as if) he would eat him
Gothbork honuzat akashuga-shi zash shulg throqu-ta


So that

Subjunctive tenses are used in dependent clauses of purpose started with “so that” (= zash zamal, or just zash) or just simply “that” (= zamal). Usually an action of such clauses is expressed with modal verbs may, might, should with Present Subjunctive. Instead of expression “in order that” with subjunctive you may use just infinitive (with -at ending), which is better, laconical way.

Always sleep with your weapon nearby so (that) enemies may not kill you by surprise
Ûkil flogr duluglab-sha musharz zash ish nargâkh az lat trosharz

He weared a helm shut so that nobody should recognize him
Ta koluzat kazn gûkrûrz zash zamal narmirz zaug gimthak ta

Morgoth granted me a magical sword so that I might kill a dragon in the arena
Morgoth thrakuzat-izish shapat dûshûrz zash zamal gâkhuz-izg az gothbork lam-ishi

I'll take some beer, that I may not be tired of long road
Norkub-izg rau mupsh zamal nargâkh-izg kul frâtûrz mûl-ob sigûrz


After impersonal constructions

After expressions like it's important that, it was possible that etc. infinitive without “to” (sometimes preceeded by “should”) is used in English. Translation of such constructions into Black Speech would be long and ugly, and most of these words were absent in dictionary, therefore I've made my own shorter translations presented in following table:

Expression Translation Expression Translation
it's important hormarza it's necessary bolkarza
it's (im)possible (nar)falgashaz it's desirable nargza
it's unbelievable narghugarza it's likely ghugza
it's natural gilrolarza it's strange razarza

Please note “is” might be in past or future tense (was, will be) in English, but translation to Black Speech would be the same.

If action in dependent clause is simultaneous to the action in main clause or will be in the future then use Present Subjunctive, if it was preceeding main clause use Past Subjunctive. Finally, some examples:

It's impossible that he have flown away.
Narfalgashaz zamal ta skoiuz-krât

It's necessary that you be at the gates of Gondor tomorrow at dusk
Bolkarza zamal lat kul doraz-shi Gondor-ob ârshu agon-shi

Is it important that we (should) kill him?
Mar hormarza zamal izgu az ta

It will be desirable (that) you be present at our next meeting
Nargza lat kulrad traf-izubushi nûkhud



Present Subjunctive is used in complex sentences when someone asks another person to do something after words like urdanogat, ghashnat (= to command, to order), shagat (= to demand), gundat-ir (= to insist), lûpat (= to request), thrâgat (= to suggest, to propose), lubhat (= to recommend) and so on.

Morgoth demands that you bring him hobbits alive
Morgoth shagat zamal lat thrak-ta akashuga slaiûrz

I ordered that he steal the ring
Urdanoguz-izg zamal ta orsk nazg

Frodo insisted that Sam (should) leave him
Frodo gunduz-ir zamal Sam (zauguz) âdhn ta

Most of dependent clauses in these examples can be replaced with infinitive (i.e. “I ordered him to steal the ring” = “Urdanoguz-izg ta orskat nazg”), which is easier and more elegant way.

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