Learn to Write Tengwar: A Practical Guide for Beginners
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. What is Tengwar?
  2. The basics of Tengwar script
  3. How to write Tengwar consonants
  4. How to write Tengwar vowels
  5. Writing complete words in Tengwar
  6. Tips for Tengwar handwriting
  7. Common mistakes in writing Tengwar
  8. Practice exercises for Tengwar writing
  9. How to use Tengwar in daily life
  10. Resources for continued learning

If you've ever been enchanted by the elegant curves and lines of the Elvish alphabet in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, you're in the right place. This blog post will guide you through the process of learning to write in tengwar (Elvish alphabet), a fascinating script that carries the magic of the elven world. Don't worry if you're a beginner; we'll start from scratch and take it step by step.

What is Tengwar?

Tengwar, also known as the Elvish alphabet, is a script invented by J.R.R. Tolkien for his fantasy world of Middle-earth. The word "tengwar" itself means "letters" in the High-Elven language, Quenya. It's not just a random series of squiggles; it's a fully developed system of writing that can be used to represent multiple languages, including English.

The beauty of learning to write in tengwar (Elvish alphabet) lies in its unique structure and design. Here are some things you should know about it:

  • Tengwar is phonetic: Unlike English, where a single letter can represent different sounds, in Tengwar, each symbol corresponds to a specific sound. This means that you write how you speak, making it a more intuitive system once you get the hang of it.
  • It has consonants and vowels: Just like English, Tengwar has symbols for both consonants and vowels. However, vowels are represented as diacritics (tiny symbols) placed above the consonant they follow — a bit different, but you'll get used to it.
  • It's flexible: Tengwar can be adapted to represent different languages and dialects. This means you can write in English using the Elvish alphabet. How cool is that?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Tengwar is, let's take a closer look at how to actually write in this beautiful script. Grab a pen, some paper, and let's dive into the magical world of Elvish writing!

The basics of Tengwar script

Before we start penning down Elvish letters, we need to understand the basic structure of Tengwar. It's like learning the ABCs before you start forming words and sentences. In learning to write in tengwar (Elvish alphabet), we'll start with a basic overview of the script's layout.

Tengwar script consists of a series of letters, or tengwa, which are organized in a systematic and logical manner. Let's break it down:

  • Rows and Columns: The tengwa are organized in a grid of four vertical columns and six horizontal rows, making a total of 24 primary letters. Each column represents a different type of consonant sound, and each row changes the way that sound is pronounced.
  • Additional Symbols: Beyond these 24 primary letters, there are additional symbols for unique sounds, punctuation, and numbers. This might seem overwhelming at first, but don't worry, you'll get the hang of it!
  • Vowels: Remember how we said vowels are represented differently in Tengwar? They're not part of the grid. Instead, they're small marks that sit above the preceding consonant.

Got all that? Great! You're ready to move on to the next step in learning to write in tengwar (Elvish alphabet): writing individual letters. Let's start with the consonants.

How to write Tengwar consonants

So, you're ready to conquer Tengwar consonants? Excellent! In this part of our guide to learning to write in tengwar (Elvish alphabet), we'll focus on those four columns of consonants we mentioned earlier.

Each column represents a different place where a sound is produced in your mouth. Sounds a bit weird, but bear with me:

  • Column 1: These consonants are produced at the back of your throat. Think of the hard 'g' in 'gate' or the 'k' in 'kite'.
  • Column 2: Moving forward a bit, these sounds are made at the roof of your mouth. The 't' in 'tomato' or the 'd' in 'dog' are good examples.
  • Column 3: Even further forward, these sounds are made with the tip of your tongue against your upper teeth. Think of the 'th' in 'the' or the 's' in 'snake'.
  • Column 4: The final column! These sounds are made with your lips. The 'p' in 'pumpkin' or the 'b' in 'ball' are examples.

Now, that's a lot of information. But don't worry, you don't have to memorize everything right away! The key here is practice. The more you write and speak these sounds, the easier it will become. So, why not grab a pen and start practicing?

Once you've got the hang of Tengwar consonants, you're halfway through learning to write in tengwar (Elvish alphabet). Next up, we'll tackle Tengwar vowels.

How to write Tengwar vowels

Having mastered Tengwar consonants, it's time to dive into the world of Tengwar vowels. You're doing great so far on this journey of learning to write in tengwar (Elvish alphabet).

Unlike English, where vowels are written as individual letters, Tengwar vowels are represented by special marks called "tehtar". These tehtar are placed above the consonant that follows them in the word. Yes, you read that right, the vowel comes first! Let's break it down:

  1. A: This is represented by a single dot or "tehta" above the next consonant. Try saying 'apple' but start with the 'p', like 'pple-a'.
  2. E: Think of the 'e' in 'elf'. This vowel is marked by a single acute accent (a line slanting up to the right) above the next consonant. So, 'elf' would look like 'lf-e'.
  3. I: For the 'i' in 'ink', you place three dots forming a triangle above the next consonant. 'Ink' now looks like 'nk-i'.
  4. O: This is represented by a single ring above the consonant that follows. 'O' in 'orange' now changes to 'range-o'.
  5. U: Finally, for 'u', you use a rightward hook or "úre" above the next consonant. So, 'umbrella' would now be 'mbrella-u'.

Remember, this might seem strange initially, but with some practice, it will become second nature. Keep practicing, and soon writing Tengwar vowels will be as easy as ABC!

With the knowledge of Tengwar consonants and vowels, you're well on your way to mastering the art of writing in tengwar (Elvish alphabet). Now, let's put it all together and start forming complete words!

Writing complete words in Tengwar

Now that we've dipped our toes into the Tengwar vowels and consonants, let's work on swimming through full words. Remember, learning to write in Tengwar (Elvish alphabet) is like learning any new skill: practice makes perfect!

Let's start with a simple word: "star". In Tengwar, this would be written with the consonants first, followed by the vowels. The Tengwar consonants for 's' and 't' are 'silme' and 'tinco'. The vowel 'a' is a single dot or "tehta" above the next consonant. So, "star" will look like this: 'rt-sa'.

Let's try another word, "moon". 'M' and 'n' in Tengwar are 'malta' and 'númen'. The vowel 'o' is a ring above the next consonant. So, "moon" becomes 'nm-oo'. Make sure you put the ring above both the 'm' and 'n' to represent the two 'o's in "moon".

Remember, the key here is to keep practicing. It might seem tricky at first, but soon you'll be writing Tengwar as naturally as you write in English. Keep in mind that practicing a little bit each day is better than trying to cram a lot of practice into one session. Consistency is key when learning to write in Tengwar (Elvish alphabet).

Ready for a challenge? Try writing your name in Tengwar. Remember the rules for vowels and consonants, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. That's how we learn!

Tips for Tengwar handwriting

Isn't it exciting, stepping into the world of Elvish writing? But before you start scribbling Tengwar all over your notebooks, there are a few tips that can make your handwriting more legible and beautiful. Let's explore them.

Keep Consistent: When learning to write in Tengwar (Elvish alphabet), consistency is key. Make sure your letter shapes and sizes are uniform. This not only makes your writing look neat, but it also helps to avoid confusion between similar-looking letters.

Adopt a Steady Pace: Don't rush it. Each stroke of a Tengwar letter is a work of art. Take your time to draw each line and curve. It's not a race.

Use the Right Tools: A fine-tip pen or a pencil can make a huge difference in writing Tengwar. This is because Tengwar letters have intricate designs that need clear, fine lines.

Practice Daily: Like any other skill, practice is the secret ingredient here. The more you write, the better you get. Set aside a few minutes each day for Tengwar writing. You'll be surprised how much progress you can make in a short time.

Be Patient: Remember, you're not just learning a new alphabet, you're learning a whole new writing system. It's okay to make mistakes and it's okay to get frustrated. But don't give up. Keep practicing and keep learning. You're doing something amazing — give yourself some credit!

So, ready to pick up that pen and start your journey to becoming a Tengwar scribe?

Common mistakes in writing Tengwar

As you step into the enchanting world of Tengwar, it's understandable that you might stumble a little. Here are some common mistakes beginners often make when learning to write in Tengwar (Elvish alphabet). Don't worry; we've all been there.

Mixing up similar-looking letters: Tengwar script has quite a few letters that look similar but represent different sounds. It's easy to mix them up. Be mindful of the subtle differences.

Forgetting about vowels: In Tengwar, vowels often appear as little markings above or below the consonants. But sometimes, they might get overlooked. Remember, no letter likes to be forgotten!

Writing from left to right: While in English we write from left to right, Tengwar can also be written in the opposite direction. This might take some getting used to, but it's part of the charm.

Ignoring line spacing: Tengwar letters are taller than English ones, which means they need more space. If you're used to writing in English, you might need to adjust your line spacing.

Using the wrong pen: Tengwar letters are intricate, so using a thick pen can make them look clunky. Using a fine-point pen can help keep your writing elegant and readable.

Remember, mistakes are not failures. They're stepping stones on your journey to mastering Tengwar. Keep practicing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process.

Practice exercises for Tengwar writing

Practice is the key to mastering any skill, and learning to write in Tengwar (Elvish alphabet) is no different. Here are a few exercises that will help you get the hang of this elegant script.

Exercise 1: Copy Basic Tengwar Characters

Begin by copying each Tengwar consonant and vowel onto a piece of paper. Pay attention to the shape and size of each character. This will not only help you remember the letters, but also improve your handwriting in Tengwar.

Exercise 2: Write Your Name in Tengwar

Now that you're familiar with the Tengwar characters, try to write your name. This will give you a taste of how words are formed in this script. Don't forget to check your work against a Tengwar chart to ensure accuracy!

Exercise 3: Translate Simple English Words into Tengwar

Pick a few simple English words and try to translate them into Tengwar. Start with one-syllable words like "cat" or "run", and gradually move on to more complex words.

Exercise 4: Write a Short Sentence in Tengwar

Once you're comfortable with individual words, try writing a whole sentence in Tengwar. Remember, it's not about speed, it's about accuracy and neatness. Keep practicing until you can write Tengwar as easily as you write in English.

With these exercises, you'll be writing fluently in Tengwar in no time. Remember, it's all about enjoying the process and appreciating the beauty of this unique script!

How to use Tengwar in daily life

Learning to write in Tengwar (Elvish alphabet) can be a fascinating and rewarding journey. But the question might arise, "how can I incorporate this ancient script into my everyday life?" Well, the answer to that is simpler than you might think.

Personalizing Your Belongings

Who says that Tengwar has to be confined to the pages of a book? Use this script to add a personal touch to your belongings. Imagine having your name written in Tengwar on your laptop, water bottle, or even your car! It's a unique way to express your love for this script.

Art and Calligraphy

With its intricate characters and elegant curves, Tengwar is perfect for calligraphy and artwork. You can create beautiful wall art, greeting cards, or even tattoos. The possibilities are endless when you start to explore the artistic potential of this script.

Secret Code

Remember when we were kids and loved creating secret messages and codes? Well, why not reignite that excitement? Tengwar can be your secret language, allowing you to pass notes or write in your diary in a script that few people understand. It's fun and adds an air of mystery to your writings.

Online Communication

With the rise of online communities dedicated to Tolkien and his works, there's a whole world out there where you can use Tengwar. From online forums to social media groups, you can impress fellow fans with your knowledge and use of Tengwar.

So there you have it, a few ways to incorporate Tengwar into your daily life. Remember, learning Tengwar is not just about the script, it's about embracing a piece of the magical world that J.R.R. Tolkien created. Have fun with it and let Tengwar become a part of your daily life!

Resources for Continued Learning

Now that you've dipped your toes into the world of Tengwar, you might be thinking, "Where do I go from here?" Don't worry, there are plenty of resources out there for you to continue your journey in learning to write in Tengwar (Elvish alphabet).

Tengwar Textbooks

Yes, you heard it right. There are textbooks dedicated to teaching Tengwar. These books break down the script, providing in-depth explanations and practice exercises. "A Gateway to Sindarin" and "The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-earth" are two great places to start.

Online Tutorials

Thanks to the internet, learning Tengwar has become more accessible than ever. Websites like "Tengwar Art" and "Council of Elrond" offer free online tutorials. These sites cover everything from the basics to advanced concepts.

Community Forums

Joining online communities like "The One Ring" or "Elfling" not only provides you with additional resources but also connects you with like-minded individuals who share your passion for Tengwar. They can provide tips, answer questions, and even critique your work.

In the end, the most important resource is your passion and dedication to learning Tengwar. Remember, practice makes perfect, and with these resources at your disposal, you'll be writing in Tengwar like a pro in no time!

If you enjoyed this practical guide to writing Tengwar and want to expand your skills in the art of beautiful writing, check out the workshop 'Getting Started with Hand Lettering' by Shannon Layne. This workshop will teach you the fundamentals of hand lettering and help you develop your unique style, enhancing your Tengwar writing abilities along the way.