Icelandic: Í því

Daniel20

Member
English
Sælt fólk,

Allt í lagi, I know I´m opening a can of worms here, but can someone just explain to me the uses of í því or því in general? For example, I know the phrase af því að but I don´t really understand what´s going on here aside from what it means in general. And I´ve seen the phrase því miður. I just don´t see how these are related.

I know this might be an impossible question, but any guidance.

þakka þér fyrir
 
  • Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Sælt fólk,

    Allt í lagi, I know I´m opening a can of worms here, but can someone just explain to me the uses of í því or því in general? For example, I know the phrase af því að but I don´t really understand what´s going on here aside from what it means in general. And I´ve seen the phrase því miður. I just don´t see how these are related.

    I know this might be an impossible question, but any guidance.

    þakka þér fyrir
    They're not really related, that's why it looks so confusing. I mean, it's the same word, yes. You should think about a lot of these uses you first stumble across with því as just one element. Don't split it apart and make sense of the individual parts. Once you've got it down what the phrases mean then the walls will start to fall away and you can see how they relate, but it's not something that can be explained with a concise explanation that is in any way useful for someone in your position.

    Því miður just should be viewed as something like [þvímiður] or [því-miður] but definitely not [því] [miður] as two separate things. The same with [af því að] - there is an explanation that will become clear as you progress where you see how af really works in Icelandic. The way to express 'because' is by saying (in a circumlocutionary fashion) 'of it that' but that won't become clear until you have experience with more of the language. So, there is no því "in general" (and yes, that's frustrating) but there are normal usages like í því which can be 'about it' in a lot of cases.

    Hvað ætlarðu að gera?
    What are you going to do?

    Hvað ætlarðu að gera í málinu?
    What are you going to do about the issue?

    Hvað ætlarðu að gera í því?
    What are you going to do about it?

    So, your first mistake is to see all these things as related somehow. Once you abandon that notion, you'll get places, then as you progress some of those things will become more clearly related, but many of them still not. That's the best way to progress, in my opinion.
     

    Daniel20

    Member
    English
    Thanks for the reply!

    They're not really related, that's why it looks so confusing. I mean, it's the same word, yes. You should think about a lot of these uses you first stumble across with því as just one element. Don't split it apart and make sense of the individual parts. Once you've got it down what the phrases mean then the walls will start to fall away and you can see how they relate, but it's not something that can be explained with a concise explanation that is in any way useful for someone in your position.
    Well, I can deal with a non-concise one if you're willing or able to give one. I see this come up a lot, and I was watching something that used því to denote why, which I just didn't get and confused me even more.

    Því miður just should be viewed as something like [þvímiður] or [því-miður] but definitely not [því] [miður] as two separate things. The same with [af því að] - there is an explanation that will become clear as you progress where you see how af really works in Icelandic. The way to express 'because' is by saying (in a circumlocutionary fashion) 'of it that' but that won't become clear until you have experience with more of the language. So, there is no því "in general" (and yes, that's frustrating) but there are normal usages like í því which can be 'about it' in a lot of cases.
    Því miður, I guess it´s something that I´ll just have to pick up.

    Hvað ætlarðu að gera?
    What are you going to do?

    Hvað ætlarðu að gera í málinu?
    What are you going to do about the issue?

    Hvað ætlarðu að gera í því?
    What are you going to do about it?
    I guess there´s no point asking why það doesn´t exist here? :rolleyes:
     

    Daniel20

    Member
    English
    :eek:

    I know why I didn´t pick up on it - the online dictionary usually has the inflections alongside it, but not in this case. Still, stupid mistake. :rolleyes:
     

    Silver_Biscuit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Því is a very confusing word. It was probably the number one stumbling block for me in learning to read Icelandic.

    In the case of af því að, think about the corresponding phrase af hverju. Af governs the dative and here means 'because of'. Then I'm sure you know it's common in Icelandic to use það að [something] where we in English would probably just say [something]. So think of it like:
    Af hverju? Because of what? (Why?) Note, hverju is hvað in the dative.
    Af því að... Because of it that... (Because) Note, því is það in the dative.

    Get it?

    Usually því is the dative form of það. There are a number of phrases, like því miður where it kind of is I think, but that won't help you understand the phrase. Then sometimes, as you have seen, it means 'because'. It took me ages to notice that so I would confuse myself no end when I came across it. I think of it as the counterpart to hví, which is a short form for 'why'. Personally I enjoy saying hví and því because they're short and snappy, but I try not to overdo them :)
     
    Last edited:

    Daniel20

    Member
    English
    Því is a very confusing word. It was probably the number one stumbling block for me in learning to read Icelandic.
    Glad I'm not the only one (though, I have lots more stumbling blocks :) )

    In the case of af því að, think about the corresponding phrase af hverju. Af governs the dative and here means 'because of'. Then I'm sure you know it's common in Icelandic to use það að [something] where we in English would probably just say [something]. So think of it like:
    Af hverju? Because of what? (Why?) Note, hverju is hvað in the dative.
    Af því að... Because of it that... (Because) Note, því is það in the dative.

    Get it?
    Allt í lagi, ég skil. But I don't quite get what you mean by the bit in bold. I definitely get now why words change with af, because it governs the dative. It never really occurred to me. But I see how these things are related in some way (even a tenuous way).

    Usually því is the dative form of það. There are a number of phrases, like því miður where it kind of is I think, but that won't help you understand the phrase. Then sometimes, as you have seen, it means 'because'. It took me ages to notice that so I would confuse myself no end when I came across it. I think of it as the counterpart to hví, which is a short form for 'why'. Personally I enjoy saying hví and því because they're short and snappy, but I try not to overdo them :)
    Alright, now I see why I kept missing it - because it seemed to retain the same því form regardless, like in því miður. And that's probably why the dictionary didn't point it out as a form of það.

    Takk kærlega!
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Því exists as a pronoun (dative of það) but it also is a separate conjunction in the language (since/because) and also as an adverb (therefore).
    Once you see the three categories it can belong to, you can appreciate the complexity but it also helps you to group the different usages. Now, the því miður kind of thing still just needs to be memorised as a phrase meaning 'unfortunately'. There's no further linking that is going to happen there, I don't believe. I don't understand the því there any more now than I did the first time I learned it. It's just an idiom as far as my brain is concerned.

    Old English had the same problems with the cognate of því, which was þȳ (you can see here how the meanings match how it is in Icelandic today). It does become clearer with time (I was suspicious whether this issue would ever clear up) but it does!
     
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