Congratulations on your decision to learn Icelandic! You are part of an elite club of only 320,000 or so native speakers, several thousand who speak it as a second language, and a smattering of crazy people like us who are learning it for fun 🙂 I’ve been studying Icelandic on my own for a year or so now and decided to start blogging about it as a way to focus my learning on specific topics, and in the process find other learners who might find it useful. If any native speakers happen upon this site, your input and corrections are certainly welcome. The posts will generally be about whatever I’ve learned or reviewed recently, or some interesting vocabulary or phrases I came across.

I’ve listed some resources that have helped me in my studies in the Icelandic Resources section, hopefully you have one more more of beginning books listed, and we can use those as reference points. If there are any specific topics you’d like to discuss, let me know and I’ll put together a post about it.


Since this initial post represents a beginning, let’s talk about ‘begin’ in Icelandic:

byrj/un f (-unar, -anir) beginning, outset
singular plural
nom byrjun byrjanir
acc byrjun byrjanir
dat byrjun byrjunum
gen byrjunar byrjana

Some phrases:
frá byrjun til enda – from start till finish / beginning till end

í byrjun + gen. – at the beginning of something:
í byrjun árs – at the beginning of the year
í byrjun næsta mánaðar – at the beginning of next month

góð/slæm byrjun – good/bad start

It can also be used in the sense of onset, as in the onset of an illness:
í byrjun flensu – at the onset of the flu


And a term that is especially applicable to us students:

byrj/andi m (-anda, -endur) beginner
singular plural
nom byrjandi byrjendur
acc byrjanda byrjendur
dat byrjanda byrjendum
gen byrjanda byrjenda

að vera byrjandi í + dat. – to be a beginner at something
Hann er byrjandi í skák. – He is a beginner at chess.
I’ve also seen á used instead of í, but I’m not sure what the distinction is.


byrja is a regular verb that conjugates as:

byrj/a v (acc) ( -aði) start, begin
present past
ég byrja byrjaði
þú byrjar byrjaðir
það byrjar byrjaði
við byrjum byrjuðum
þið byrjið byrjuðuð
þau byrja byrjuðu

byrja + inf – begin to do something
Ég byrja að vinna klukkan sjö á morgnana. – I start work at 7 o’clock in the morning.

Við byrjuðum í skóla í síðustu viku. – We started school last week.

Hope this helps you talk about getting started with something 🙂