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What is the function of the world "the" in Icelandic?

Why is "hundur" dog and "hundurinn" THE dog? I notice that sometimes "að" is used as well? Does it matter which?
Also, are articles such as "a" and "the" as important in Icelandic as they are in English? Or is it okay to leave them out?

Any help you could throw my way would be helpful! To be honest, I haven't even begun to delve into that kind of grammatical stuff. I was hoping to learn it "by accident," if you know what I mean...

For learning: Icelandic
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Best Answer - Chosen by Voting
    Hello Mae!

    ***In Icelandic, definite articles (the) are attached at the end of nouns.
    barn - kid
    barnið - the kid
    kona - woman
    konan - the woman
    maður - man
    maðurinn - the man
    (as you can see, the articles change according to the word's gender.
    inn for masculine nouns
    in for feminine
    ið for neuter)

    ***there are no indefinite articles (a, an) in Icelandic :
    Þetta er penni. (literally "this is pen)"

    ***að means "to":
    að keyra - to drive
    að kasta - to throw
    ég verð að fara - I have to go


    I hope this answers your questions!

     

    By the way, I don't think it's possible to learn Icelandic grammar by "accident", at least at the beginning stages :-) But that doesn't mean you have to spend all your time cramming grammatical rules into your brain. Have you had a look at Icelandic Online or at the Beginner's Course by Hippocrene?

    Well, I would say knowing when to use the definite articles are important, but it won't jeopardise the meaning you want to carry across (perhaps with some exceptions). As Pierre-Emmanuel mentioned, these definite articles are placed as suffixes, although there are others (sá, sú, það) that would mean the same thing, but placed in front of the word. For example: sá hundur (the dog), sú bók (the book), það hús (the house), these though have a secondary function that won't be important until later stages.

    It might be good to know that these definite suffixes also decline into the four cases, i.e. hundurinn, um hundinn, frá hundinum, til hundsins (the dog, about the dog, from the dog, to the dog). Of course, if you get this wrong, you won't be misunderstood, but it's always good to speak/write as grammatically correct as you can. =) Icelanders make mistakes too.

    "Að" has any functions, and it'll be good to know them by context. I.e. "að' as an infinitive marker (að hlaupa 'to run'), or as a preposition 'towards' (að húsinu 'towards the house').

    As far as Icelandic grammar is concerned, don't worry about having to learn or memorise rules in the beginning, but it's good to know of them and take note of their usage. From my experience. =) Hope it helps!

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