Characteristics of the Icelandic language in AX Semantics


In Icelandic, you need to know the gender of a noun to form (together with number and case) the accompanying adjectives, determiners and pronouns correctly. Icelandic has three genders for nouns: masculine, feminine, and neuter. There are two numbers: singular and plural. Additionally, Icelandic has four cases (nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive) for nouns.

grammatical namevaluesexamples
gendermasculinegamli læknirinn
(the old doctor)
femininegamla konan
(the old woman)
neutergamla þorpið
(the old village)
numbersingulargamla bílinn
(the old car)
pluralgömlu bílunum
(the old cars)
cases (noun)nominativeprófessorinn
(the professor)
accusativespyr ég prófessorinn
(I ask the professor)
dativeÉg gef prófessornum bókina.
(I give the book to the professor.)
genitiveBók prófessorsins
(The book of the professor)
adjectives (noun)before nounrautt hús
(red house)
verb tensespresenthann lærir
(he studies)
pasthann lærði
(he studied)

The standard order of a noun phrase in Icelandic is the following: preposition + determiner + numeral + adjective + noun. See for example:

um     þessar þrjár  vinsælu    bækur
about  these  three  popular    book
PREP   DET    NUM    ADJ        NOUN
"about these three popular books"



Icelandic nouns are inflected for gender, number, case, and definiteness (indefinite/definite). When the lexicon entry is missing, the NLG platform will first try to find the most probable gender based on heuristics. However, nouns should be added to the lexicon with their grammatical gender if they do not inflect regularly.

Lexicon entries for nouns may also be necessary for inflecting determiners, adjectives and pronouns correctly. They are omitted, if a lexicon entry is required, but missing.


The basic lexicon entry for borg (city) contains:

  • inflection table for case and number:

Definiteness is expressed by a definite article that is suffixed to the noun . Again, take borg (city) for example:

borg (a city)
borgin (the city)


If you need lexicon entries for countries, write to the support about that and you will get them for Icelandic with automatic handling of prepositions.


In the lexicon, the inflection table encodes gender, case, number, and definiteness. For adjective position, the default is "before noun". Icelandic adjectives have weak and strong declensions. If an adjective is modified by a definite article, then the weak declension is used. For example:

með íslenskri konu (with an Icelandic woman) [indef./strong]
með íslensku konunni (with the Icelandic woman) [def./weak]


Icelandic verbs inflect for person, number, and tense. The most common verbs are encoded in our software. If a verb inflects incorrectly, you should add it to the lexicon.

Container settings


The AX NLG platform supports the following determiners for Icelandic: definite, demonstrative, distal, and possessive. Icelandic definiteness (definite/indefinite) is expressed by suffixing the definite article to nouns, adjectives, and numerals.

Note that definite articles are suffixed to all adjectives/numerals if they exist in the noun phrase:

gömul falleg borg (an old beautiful city)
gamla fallega borgin (the old[def.] beautiful[def.] city[def.])
fyrsta fallega borgin (the first[def.] beautiful[def.] city[def.])

Demonstrative determiners are an exception. If they are used in a noun phrase, definiteness is only added to the adjectives/numerals, while the noun is used in its indefinite form:

falleg borg(a beautiful city)
þessi fallega borg (this beautiful[def.] city[indef.])

Furthermore, when a possessive determiner is used, the word order will change to preposition + numeral + adjective + noun + determiner. See for example:

með    þremur vinsælum bókum  sínum
with   three  popular  book   his
"with his three popular books"


The noun will automatically agree with the numeral number when a numeral variable is used. Four types of numerals are possible on the AX NLG platform: cardinal, cardinal as digit, ordinal, and ordinal as digit.

textníu dagar
(nine days)
níunda daginn
(the ninth day)
digit9 dagar
(9 days)
9. daginn
(the 9th day)

For Icelandic, both cardinal and ordinal numerals are written out until 12, otherwise (above 12) the output is in digit form. Take cardinal numerals for example:

tólf bílar
(twelve cars)
13 bílar
(13 cars)

Preposition switch

On the AX NLG platform, the settings for the container Þýskaland (Germany) are: preposition="í" and case="dat".

í Þýskalandi
(in Germany)

For the below sentence with a different place (i.e. Ísland), the platform settings are the same as above (preposition="í", case="dat"), but the lexical information changes the preposition and shows a switch from i to á:

á Íslandi
(on Iceland)

Sound shifts

The AX platform applies sound shifts in Icelandic automatically. For instance, the U-umlaut occurs when the stem vowel of a word changes from a to ö during inflection because of a u in the next syllable. See for example:

tala (talk)
við tölum (we talk)