Anglo-Saxon Grammar and Exercise Book - with Inflections, Syntax, Selections for Reading, and Glossary
by C. Alphonso Smith
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[Transcriber's Note:

This text is intended for users whose text readers cannot use the "real" (Unicode/UTF-8) version of the file. Characters that could not be fully displayed are shown in alternative forms:

(circumflex in place of macron or "long" mark; the circumflex in its own right does not occur) y: : : (long y and ; the sequence "y:" does not occur in the Old English material, and ":" does not occur at all)

Characters with more than one diacritic (rare), and some less common combinations such as accented , are shown "top to bottom" in brackets: [] [] (long a with accent, with accent). Greek words (also rare) have been transliterated and shown between marks; there should be no confusion between this and the + as printed.

The short vowels e and o are sometimes shown with ogonek (reversed cedilla). In the introductory section on vowel sounds, and in the overall Glossary, these are shown as Ȩ ȩ O o. Elsewhere the ogonek was simply omitted; there are no minimal pairs (different words distinguished only by this sign).

See the Poetry section (between V and VI in Part III, Readings) for display of characters specific to that section.

Italics are shown with lines. Boldface is shown with hash marks. In the printed book, boldface was used for all Anglo-Saxon other than exercises and reading passages; it has been omitted from the e-text except when necessary for clarity.

In references to numbered Sections, "Note" may mean either an inset Note or a footnote.

In the prose reading selections (pages 99-121), page numbers and line breaks have been retained for use with the linenotes and Glossary. Page numbers are shown in [[double brackets]]. In the verse selections, line numbers in the notes have been replaced with line numbers from the original texts, printed in brackets as shown. The distinction between linenotes and numbered footnotes is in the original.

Single brackets [] and asterisks * are in the original, as are the symbols + = . Text in [[double brackets]] was added by the transcriber.]



With Inflections, Syntax, Selections for Reading, and Glossary



Late Professor of English in the United States Naval Academy

ALLYN and BACON Boston New York Chicago Atlanta San Francisco

Copyright, 1896, by C. ALPHONSO SMITH.


Norwood Press J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith Norwood Mass. U.S.A.


The scope of this book is indicated in 5. It is intended for beginners, and in writing it, these words of Sir Thomas Elyot have not been forgotten: "Grammer, beinge but an introduction to the understandinge of autors, if it be made to longe or exquisite to the lerner, it in a maner mortifieth his corage: And by that time he cometh to the most swete and pleasant redinge of olde autors, the sparkes of fervent desire of lernynge are extincte with the burdone of grammer, lyke as a lyttell fyre is sone quenched with a great heape of small stickes." —The Governour, Cap.X.

Only the essentials, therefore, are treated in this work, which is planned more as a foundation for the study of Modern English grammar, of historical English grammar, and of the principles of English etymology, than as a general introduction to Germanic philology.

The Exercises in translation will, it is believed, furnish all the drill necessary to enable the student to retain the forms and constructions given in the various chapters.

The Selections for Reading relate to the history and literature of King Alfred's day, and are sufficient to give the student a first-hand, though brief, acquaintance with the native style and idiom of Early West Saxon prose in its golden age. Most of the words and constructions contained in them will be already familiar to the student through their intentional employment in the Exercises.

For the inflectional portion of this grammar, recourse has been had chiefly to Sievers' Abriss der angelschsischen Grammatik (1895). Constant reference has been made also to the same author's earlier and larger Angelschsishe Grammatik, translated by Cook. Amore sparing use has been made of Cosijn's Altwestschsische Grammatik.

For syntax and illustrative sentences, Dr. J. E. Wlfing's Syntax in den Werken Alfreds des Grossen, Part I. (Bonn, 1894) has proved indispensable. Advance sheets of the second part of this great work lead one to believe that when completed the three parts will constitute the most important contribution to the study of English syntax that has yet been made. Old English sentences have also been cited from Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader, Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader, and Cook's First Book in Old English.

The short chapter on the Order of Words has been condensed from my Order of Words in Anglo-Saxon Prose (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, New Series, Vol. I, No.2).

Though assuming sole responsibility for everything contained in this book, Itake pleasure in acknowledging the kind and efficient assistance that has been so generously given me in its preparation. To none do I owe more than to Dr. J.E. Wlfing, of the University of Bonn; Prof. James A.Harrison, of the University of Virginia; Prof. W.S. Currell, of Washington and Lee University; Prof. J.Douglas Bruce, of Bryn Mawr College; and Prof. L.M. Harris, of the University of Indiana. They have each rendered material aid, not only in the tedious task of detecting typographical errors in the proof-sheets, but by the valuable criticisms and suggestions which they have made as this work was passing through the press.


Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, September, 1896.


In preparing this enlarged edition, a few minor errors in the first edition have been corrected and a few sentences added. The chief difference between the two editions, however, consists in the introduction of more reading matter and the consequent exposition of Old English meter. Both changes have been made at the persistent request of teachers and students of Old English.

Uniformity of treatment has been studiously preserved in the new material and the old, the emphasis in both being placed on syntax and upon the affinities that Old English shares with Modern English.

Many obligations have been incurred in preparing this augmented edition. Ihave again to thank Dr. J.E. Wlfing, Prof. James A.Harrison, Prof. W.S. Currell, and Prof. J.Douglas Bruce. To the scholarly criticisms also of Prof. J.M. Hart, of Cornell; Prof. Frank Jewett Mather, Jr., of Williams College; and Prof. Frederick Tupper, Jr., of the University of Vermont, Iam indebted for aid as generously given as it is genuinely appreciated.


August, 1898.


Among those who have kindly aided in making this edition free from error, Iwish to thank especially my friend Dr. John M.McBryde, Jr., of Hollins Institute, Virginia.


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, February, 1903.



Chapters Pages

I. History ( 1-5) 1 II. Sounds ( 6-11) 4 III. Inflections ( 12-19) 10 IV. Order of Words ( 20-21) 18 V. Practical Suggestions ( 22-24) 21


VI. The a-Declension: Masculine a-Stems ( 25-30) 27 VII. Neuter a-Stems ( 31-36) 30 VIII. The -Declension ( 37-42) 33 IX. The i-Declension and the u-Declension ( 43-55) 35 X. Present Indicative Endings of Strong Verbs ( 56-62) 39 XI. The Weak or n-Declension ( 63-66) 44 XII. Remnants of Other Consonant Declensions ( 67-71) 47 XIII. Pronouns ( 72-77) 50 XIV. Adjectives, Strong and Weak ( 78-87) 53 XV. Numerals ( 88-92) 57 XVI. Adverbs, Prepositions, and Conjunctions ( 93-95) 60 XVII. Comparison of Adjectives and Adverbs ( 96-100) 64 XVIII. Strong Verbs: Class I, Syntax of Moods ( 101-108) 68 XIX. Classes II and III ( 109-113) 74 XX. Classes IV, V, VI, and VII; Contract Verbs ( 114-121) 78 XXI. Weak Verbs ( 122-133) 82 XXII. Remaining Verbs; Verb Phrases with habban, bon, and weoran (134-143) 90



Introductory 98 I. The Battle of Ashdown 99 II. A Prayer of King Alfred 101 III. The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan 102 Ohthere's First Voyage 103 Ohthere's Second Voyage 106 Wulfstan's Voyage 107 IV. The Story of Cdmon 111 V. Alfred's Preface to the Pastoral Care 116


Introductory 122 VI. Extracts from Beowulf 136 VII. The Wanderer 148


I. Old English—Modern English 155 II. Modern English—Old English 190

* * * * * * * * *



* * * * * * * * *






1. The history of the English language falls naturally into three periods; but these periods blend into one another so gradually that too much significance must not be attached to the exact dates which scholars, chiefly for convenience of treatment, have assigned as their limits. Our language, it is true, has undergone many and great changes; but its continuity has never been broken, and its individuality has never been lost.

2. The first of these periods is that of OLD ENGLISH, or ANGLO-SAXON,[1] commonly known as the period of full inflections. E.g. stn-as, stones; car-u, care; will-a, will; bind-an, to bind; help-a (=ath), they help.

It extends from the arrival of the English in Great Britain to about one hundred years after the Norman Conquest,—from A.D. 449 to 1150; but there are no literary remains of the earlier centuries of this period. There were four[2] distinct dialects spoken at this time. These were the Northumbrian, spoken north of the river Humber; the Mercian, spoken in the midland region between the Humber and the Thames; the West Saxon, spoken south and west of the Thames; and the Kentish, spoken in the neighborhood of Canterbury. Of these dialects, Modern English is most nearly akin to the Mercian; but the best known of them is the West Saxon. It was in the West Saxon dialect that King Alfred (849-901) wrote and spoke. His writings belong to the period of Early West Saxon as distinguished from the period of Late West Saxon, the latter being best represented in the writings of Abbot lfric (955?-1025?).

[Footnote 1: This unfortunate nomenclature is due to the term Angli Saxones, which Latin writers used as a designation for the English Saxons as distinguished from the continental or Old Saxons. But Alfred and lfric both use the term Englisc, not Anglo-Saxon. The Angles spread over Northumbria and Mercia, far outnumbering the other tribes. Thus Englisc (=Angel + isc) became the general name for the language spoken.]

[Footnote 2: As small as England is, there are six distinct dialects spoken in her borders to-day. Of these the Yorkshire dialect is, perhaps, the most peculiar. It preserves many Northumbrian survivals. See Tennyson's Northern Farmer.]

3. The second period is that of MIDDLE ENGLISH, or the period of leveled inflections, the dominant vowel of the inflections being e. E.g. ston-es, car-e, will-e, bind-en (or#bind-e#), help-eth, each being, as in the earlier period, adissyllable.

The Middle English period extends from A.D. 1150 to 1500. Its greatest representatives are Chaucer (1340-1400) in poetry and Wiclif (1324-1384) in prose. There were three prominent dialects during this period: the Northern, corresponding to the older Northumbrian; the Midland (divided into East Midland and West Midland), corresponding to the Mercian; and the Southern, corresponding to the West Saxon and Kentish. London, situated in East Midland territory, had become the dominant speech center; and it was this East Midland dialect that both Chaucer and Wiclif employed.

NOTE.—It is a great mistake to think that Chaucer shaped our language from crude materials. His influence was conservative, not plastic. The popularity of his works tended to crystalize and thus to perpetuate the forms of the East Midland dialect, but that dialect was ready to his hand before he began to write. The speech of London was, in Chaucer's time, amixture of Southern and Midland forms, but the Southern forms (survivals of the West Saxon dialect) had already begun to fall away; and this they continued to do, so that "Chaucer's language," as Dr. Murray says, "is more Southern than standard English eventually became." See also Morsbach, Ueber den Ursprung der neuenglischen Schriftsprache (1888).

4. The last period is that of MODERN ENGLISH, or the period of lost inflections. E.g. stones, care, will, bind, help, each being a monosyllable. Modern English extends from A.D. 1500 to the present time. It has witnessed comparatively few grammatical changes, but the vocabulary of our language has been vastly increased by additions from the classical languages. Vowels, too, have shifted their values.

5. It is the object of this book to give an elementary knowledge of Early West Saxon, that is, the language of King Alfred. With this knowledge, it will not be difficult for the student to read Late West Saxon, or any other dialect of the Old English period. Such knowledge will also serve as the best introduction to the structure both of Middle English and of Modern English, besides laying a secure foundation for the scientific study of any other Germanic tongue.

NOTE.—The Germanic, or Teutonic, languages constitute a branch of the great Aryan, or Indo-Germanic (known also as the Indo-European) group. They are subdivided as follows:

{ North Germanic: Scandinavian, or Norse. { { { Old High German, Germanic { East Germanic: Gothic. { (to A.D. 1100,) { { { { High German { Middle High German, { { { (A.D. 1100-1500,) { { { { West Germanic { { New High German. { { (A.D. 1500-.) { { Low German { Dutch, { Old Saxon, { Frisian, { English.



Vowels and Diphthongs.

6. The long vowels and diphthongs will in this book be designated by the macron (). Vowel length should in every case be associated by the student with each word learned: quantity alone sometimes distinguishes words meaning wholly different things: fr, he went, for, for; gd, good, God, God; mn, crime, man, man.

Long vowels and diphthongs:

as in f_a_ther: stn, _a stone_. : as in m_a_n (prolonged): sl:pan, _to sleep_. as in th_e_y: hr, _here_. as in mach_i_ne: mn, _mine_. as in n_o_te (pure, not diphthongal): bc, _book_. as in r_u_le: tn, _town_. y: as in German gr_n, or English gr_ee_n (with lips rounded):[1] bry:d, _bride_.

The diphthongs, long and short, have the stress upon the first vowel. The second vowel is obscured, and represents approximately the sound of er in sooner, faster (soon-uh, fast-uh). The long diphthongs (: is not a diphthong proper) are o, e, and a. The sound of o is approximately reproduced in mayor (m-uh); that of e in the dissyllabic pronunciation of fear (f-uh). But a = :-uh. This diphthong is hardly to be distinguished from ea in pear, bear, etc., as pronounced in the southern section of the United States (b-uh, p-uh).

7. The short sounds are nothing more than the long vowels and diphthongs shortened; but the student must at once rid himself of the idea that Modern English red, for example, is the shortened form of reed, or that mat is the shortened form of mate. Pronounce these long sounds with increasing rapidity, and reed will approach rid, while mate will approach met. The Old English short vowel sounds are:

a as in artistic: habban, to have. as in mankind: dg, day. e, ȩ as in let: stelan, to steal, sȩttan, to set. i as in sit: hit, it. o as in broad (but shorter): God, God. o as in not: lomb, lamb. u as in full: sunu, son. y as in miller (with lips rounded)[1]: gylden, golden.

NOTE.—The symbol ȩ is known as umlaut-e ( 58). It stands for Germanic a, while e (without the cedilla) represents Germanic e. The symbol o is employed only before m and n. It, too, represents Germanic a. But Alfred writes manig or monig, many; lamb or lomb, lamb; hand or hond, hand, etc. The cedilla is an etymological sign added by modern grammarians.

[Transcriber's Note: The diacritic is not a cedilla (open to the left) but an ogonek (open to the right).]

[Footnote 1: Vowels are said to be round, or rounded, when the lip-opening is rounded; that is, when the lips are thrust out and puckered as if preparing to pronounce w. Thus o and u are round vowels: add -ing to each, and phonetically you have added -wing. E.g. go^{w}ing, su^{w}ing.]


8. There is little difference between the values of Old English consonants and those of Modern English. The following distinctions, however, require notice:

The digraph th is represented in Old English texts by and , no consistent distinction being made between them. In the works of Alfred, (capital, ) is the more common: s, those; t, that; binde, he binds.

The consonant c had the hard sound of _k_, the latter symbol being rare in West Saxon: cyning, _king_; cwn, _queen_; c, _known_. When followed by a palatal vowel sound,—_e_, _i_, _, _ea_, _eo_, long or short,—a vanishing _y_ sound was doubtless interposed (_cf._ dialectic _k^{y}ind_ for _kind_). In Modern English the combination has passed into _ch_: cealc, _chalk_; cdan, _to chide_; l:ce, _leech_; cild, _child_; cowan, _to chew_. This change (_c_ > _ch_) is known as Palatalization. The letter g, pronounced as in Modern English _gun_, has also a palatal value before the palatal vowels (_cf._ dialectic _g^{y}irl_ for _girl_).

The combination cg, which frequently stands for gg, had probably the sound of dge in Modern English edge: ecg, edge; secgan, to say; brycg, bridge. Initial h is sounded as in Modern English: habban, to have; hlga, saint. When closing a syllable it has the sound of German ch: slh, he slew; hah, high; urh, through.

9. An important distinction is that between voiced (orsonant) and voiceless (orsurd) consonants.[2] In Old English they are as follows:


g h, c d t , (as in though) , (asin thin) b p f (= v) f s (= z) s

It is evident, therefore, that (), f, and s have double values in Old English. If voiced, they are equivalent to th (inthough), v, and z. Otherwise, they are pronounced as th (inthin), f (infin), and s (insin). The syllabic environment will usually compel the student to give these letters their proper values. When occurring between vowels, they are always voiced: er, other; ofer, over; rsan, to rise.

NOTE.—The general rule in Old English, as in Modern English, is, that voiced consonants have a special affinity for other voiced consonants, and voiceless for voiceless. This is the law of Assimilation. Thus when de is added to form the preterit of a verb whose stem ends in a voiceless consonant, the d is unvoiced, or assimilated, to t: settan, to set, sette (but treddan, to tread, has tredde); sl:pan, to sleep, sl:pte; drencan, to drench, drencte; cyssan, to kiss, cyste. See 126, Note1.

[Footnote 2: A little practice will enable the student to see the appropriateness of calling these consonants voiced and voiceless. Try to pronounce a voiced consonant,—d in den, for example, but without the assistance of en,—and there will be heard a gurgle, or vocal murmur. But in t, of ten, there is no sound at all, but only a feeling of tension in the organs.]


10. A syllable is usually a vowel, either alone or in combination with consonants, uttered with a single impulse of stress; but certain consonants may form syllables: oven (ov-n), battle (bt-l); (cf. also the vulgar pronunciation of elm).

A syllable may be (1)weak or strong, (2)open or closed, (3)long or short.

(1) A weak syllable receives a light stress. Its vowel sound is often different from that of the corresponding strong, or stressed, syllable. Cf. weak and strong my in "Iwant my lrge hat" and "Iwant m[y] hat."

(2) An open syllable ends in a vowel or diphthong: #d-man#, to deem; #, thou; #sca-can#, to shake; #d-ges#, by day. A closed syllable ends in one or more consonants: #ing#, thing; #gd#, good; #gld#, glad.

(3) A syllable is long (a) if it contains a long vowel or a long diphthong: dr-fan, to drive; l-can, to lock; sl:-pan, to sleep; co-san, to choose; (b) if its vowel or diphthong is followed by more than one consonant:[3] crft, strength; heard, hard; lib-ban, to live; feal-lan, to fall. Otherwise, the syllable is short: e, which; be-ran, to bear; t, that; gie-fan, to give.

NOTE 1.—A single consonant belongs to the following syllable: h-lig, holy (not hl-ig); wr-tan, to write; f-der, father.

NOTE 2.—The student will notice that the syllable may be long and the vowel short; but the vowel cannot be long and the syllable short.

NOTE 3.—Old English short vowels, occurring in open syllables, have regularly become long in Modern English: we-fan, to weave; e-tan, to eat; ma-cian, to make; na-cod, naked; a-can, to ache; o-fer, over. And Old English long vowels, preceding two or more consonants, have generally been shortened: brost, breast; h:l, health; sl:pte, slept; l:dde, led.

[Footnote 3: Taken separately, every syllable ending in a single consonant is long. It may be said, therefore, that all closed syllables are long; but in the natural flow of language, the single final consonant of a syllable so often blends with a following initial vowel, the syllable thus becoming open and short, that such syllables are not recognized as prevailingly long. Cf. Modern English at all (=a-tall).]


11. The accent in Old English falls usually on the radical syllable, never on the inflectional ending: brngan, to bring; st[]nas, stones; brende, bearing; []delnes, idleness; fr[]ondscipe, friendship.

But in the case of compound nouns, adjectives, and adverbs the first member of the compound (unless it be ge- or be-) receives the stronger stress: hofon-rce, heaven-kingdom; nd-giet, intelligence; s-fst, truthful; gd-cund, divine; all-unga, entirely; bl[]e-lce, blithely. But be-h[]t, promise; ge-bd, prayer; ge-f[]alc, joyous; be-sne, immediately.

Compound verbs, however, have the stress on the radical syllable: for-gefan, to forgive; of-lnnan, to cease; -cn[]wan, to know; wi-stndan, to withstand; on-scan, to resist.

NOTE.—The tendency of nouns to take the stress on the prefix, while verbs retain it on the root, is exemplified in many Modern English words: prference, prefr; cntract (noun), contrct (verb); bstinence, abstan; prfume (noun), perfme (verb).




12. There are five cases in Old English: the nominative, the genitive, the dative, the accusative, and the instrumental.[1] Each of them, except the nominative, may be governed by prepositions. When used without prepositions, they have, in general, the following functions:

(a) The nominative, as in Modern English, is the case of the subject of a finite verb.

(b) The genitive (the possessive case of Modern English) is the case of the possessor or source. It may be called the of case.

(c) The dative is the case of the indirect object. It may be called the to or for case.

(d) The accusative (the objective case of Modern English) is the case of the direct object.

(e) The instrumental, which rarely differs from the dative in form, is the case of the means or the method. It may be called the with or by case.

The following paradigm of m, the mouth, illustrates the several cases (the article being, for the present, gratuitously added in the Modern English equivalents):

Singular. Plural.

N. m = the mouth. m-as = the mouths.

G. m-es[2] = of the mouth m-a = of the mouths (= the mouth's). (= the mouths').

D. m-e = to or for the m-um = to or for the mouths. mouth.

A. m = the mouth. m-as = the mouths.

I. me = with or by means m-um = with or by means of the mouth. of the mouths.

[Footnote 1: Most grammars add a sixth case, the vocative. But it seems best to consider the vocative as only a function of the nominative form.]

[Footnote 2: Of course our "apostrophe and s" (= 's) comes from the Old English genitive ending -es. The e is preserved in Wednesday (= Old English Wdnes dg). But at a very early period it was thought that John's book, for example, was a shortened form of John his book. Thus Addison (Spectator, No. 135) declares 's a survival of his. How, then, would he explain the s of his? And how would he dispose of Mary's book?]


13. The gender of Old English nouns, unlike that of Modern English, depends partly on meaning and partly on form, or ending. Thus m, mouth, is masculine; tunge, tongue, feminine; age, eye, neuter.

No very comprehensive rules, therefore, can be given; but the gender of every noun should be learned with its meaning. Gender will be indicated in the vocabularies by the different gender forms of the definite article, s for the masculine, so for the feminine, and t for the neuter: s m, so tunge, t age = the mouth, the tongue, the eye.

All nouns ending in -dm, -hd, -scipe, or -ere are masculine (cf. Modern English wisdom, childhood, friendship, worker). Masculine, also, are nouns ending in -a.

Those ending in -nes or -ung are feminine (cf. Modern English goodness, and gerundial forms in -ing: seeing is believing).

Thus s wsdm, wisdom; s cildhd, childhood; s frondscipe, friendship; s fiscere, fisher(man); s hunta, hunter; so gelcnes, likeness; so leornung, learning.


14. There are two great systems of declension in Old English, the Vowel Declension and the Consonant Declension. Anoun is said to belong to the Vowel Declension when the final letter of its stem is a vowel, this vowel being then known as the stem-characteristic; but if the stem-characteristic is a consonant, the noun belongs to the Consonant Declension. There might have been, therefore, as many subdivisions of the Vowel Declension in Old English as there were vowels, and as many subdivisions of the Consonant Declension as there were consonants. All Old English nouns, however, belonging to the Vowel Declension, ended their stems originally in a, , i, or u. Hence there are but four subdivisions of the Vowel Declension: a-stems, -stems, i-stems, and u-stems.

The Vowel Declension is commonly called the Strong Declension, and its nouns Strong Nouns.

NOTE.—The terms Strong and Weak were first used by Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) in the terminology of verbs, and thence transferred to nouns and adjectives. By a Strong Verb, Grimm meant one that could form its preterit out of its own resources; that is, without calling in the aid of an additional syllable: Modern English run, ran; find, found; but verbs of the Weak Conjugation had to borrow, as it were, an inflectional syllable: gain, gained; help, helped.

15. The stems of nouns belonging to the Consonant Declension ended, with but few exceptions, in the letter n (cf. Latin homin-em, ration-em, Greek poimen-a). They are called, therefore, n-stems, the Declension itself being known as the n-Declension, or the Weak Declension. The nouns, also, are called Weak Nouns.

16. If every Old English noun had preserved the original Germanic stem-characteristic (orfinal letter of the stem), there would be no difficulty in deciding at once whether any given noun is an a-stem, -stem, i-stem, u-stem, or n-stem; but these final letters had, for the most part, either been dropped, or fused with the case-endings, long before the period of historic Old English. It is only, therefore, by a rigid comparison of the Germanic languages with one another, and with the other Aryan languages, that scholars are able to reconstruct a single Germanic language, in which the original stem-characteristics may be seen far better than in any one historic branch of the Germanic group (5, Note).

This hypothetical language, which bears the same ancestral relation to the historic Germanic dialects that Latin bears to the Romance tongues, is known simply as Germanic (Gmc.), or as Primitive Germanic. Ability to reconstruct Germanic forms is not expected of the students of this book, but the following table should be examined as illustrating the basis of distinction among the several Old English declensions (O.E. = Old English, Mn.E. = Modern English):

{ {Gmc. staina-z, {(1)a-stems {O.E. stn, { {Mn.E. stone. { { {Gmc. hall, {(2)-stems {O.E. heall, I. Strong or Vowel { {Mn.E. hall. Declensions { { {Gmc. bni-z, {(3)i-stems {O.E. bn, { {Mn.E. boon. { { {Gmc. sunu-z, {(4)u-stems {O.E. sunu, { {Mn.E. son.

{(1)n-stems {Gmc. tungn-iz, { (Weak {O.E. tung-an, { Declension) {Mn.E. tongue-s. { { { {Gmc. ft-iz, { {(a) {O.E. ft, II. Consonant {(2)Remnants { {Mn.E. feet. Declensions { of other { { Consonant { {Gmc. frijnd-iz, { Declensions {(b) {O.E. frend, { { {Mn.E. friend-s. { { { { {Gmc. brr-iz, { {(c) {O.E. bror, { { {Mn.E. brother-s.

NOTE.—"It will be seen that if Old English age, eye, is said to be an n-stem, what is meant is this, that at some former period the kernel of the word ended in -n, while, as far as the Old English language proper is concerned, all that is implied is that the word is inflected in a certain manner." (Jespersen, Progress in Language, 109).

This is true of all Old English stems, whether Vowel or Consonant. The division, therefore, into a-stems, -stems, etc., is made in the interests of grammar as well as of philology.


17. There are, likewise, two systems of conjugation in Old English: the Strong or Old Conjugation, and the Weak or New Conjugation.

The verbs of the Strong Conjugation (the so-called Irregular Verbs of Modern English) number about three hundred, of which not one hundred remain in Modern English (101, Note). They form their preterit and frequently their past participle by changing the radical vowel of the present stem. This vowel change or modification is called ablaut (pronounced hp-lowt): Modern English sing, sang, sung; rise, rose, risen. As the radical vowel of the preterit plural is often different from that of the preterit singular, there are four principal parts or tense stems in an Old English strong verb, instead of the three of Modern English. The four principal parts in the conjugation of a strong verb are (1)the present indicative, (2)the preterit indicative singular, (3)the preterit indicative plural, and (4)the past participle.

Strong verbs fall into seven groups, illustrated in the following table:


I. Btan, to bite:

Ic bt-e, I bite or shall bite.[3] Ic bt, I bit. W bit-on, we bit. Ic hbbe ge[4]-biten, I have bitten.

II. Bodan, to bid:

Ic bod-e, I bid or shall bid. Ic bad, I bade. W bud-on, we bade. Ic hbbe ge-boden, I have bidden.

III. Bindan, to bind:

Ic bind-e, I bind or shall bind. Ic bond, I bound. W bund-on, we bound. Ic hbbe ge-bund-en, I have bound.

IV. Beran, to bear:

Ic ber-e, I bear or shall bear. Ic br, I bore. W b:r-on, we bore. Ic hbbe ge-bor-en, I have borne.

V. Metan, to measure:

Ic met-e, I measure or shall measure. Ic mt, I measured. W m:t-on, we measured. Ic hbbe ge-met-en, I have measured.

VI. Faran, to go:

Ic far-e, I go or shall go. Ic fr, I went. W fr-on, we went. Ic eom[5] ge-far-en, I have (am) gone.

VII. Feallan, to fall:

Ic feall-e, I fall or shall fall. Ic foll, I fell. W foll-on, we fell. Ic eom[5] ge-feall-en, I have (am) fallen.

[Footnote 3: Early West Saxon had no distinctive form for the future. The present was used both as present proper and as future. Cf. Modern English "Igo home tomorrow," or "Iam going home tomorrow" for "Ishall go home tomorrow."]

[Footnote 4: The prefix ge- (Middle English y-), cognate with Latin co (con) and implying completeness of action, was not always used. It never occurs in the past participles of compound verbs: o-feallan, to fall off, past participle o-feallen (not o-gefeallen). Milton errs in prefixing it to a present participle:

"What needs my Shakespeare, for his honour'd bones, The labour of an age in piled stones? Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid Under a star-ypointing pyramid." —Epitaph on William Shakespeare.

And Shakespeare misuses it in "Y-ravished," apreterit (Pericles III, Prologue l.35).

It survives in the archaic y-clept (Old English ge-clypod, called). It appears as a in aware (Old English ge-wr), as e in enough (Old English ge-nh), and as i in handiwork (Old English hand-ge-weorc).]

[Footnote 5: With intransitive verbs denoting change of condition, the Old English auxiliary is usually some form of to be rather than to have. See 139.]

18. The verbs of the Weak Conjugation (the so-called Regular Verbs of Modern English) form their preterit and past participle by adding to the present stem a suffix[6] with d or t: Modern English love, loved; sleep, slept.

The stem of the preterit plural is never different from the stem of the preterit singular; hence these verbs have only three distinctive tense-stems, or principal parts: viz., (1)the present indicative, (2)the preterit indicative, and (3)the past participle.

Weak verbs fall into three groups, illustrated in the following table:


I. Fremman, to perform:

Ic fremm-e, I perform or shall perform. Ic frem-ede, I performed. Ic hbbe ge-frem-ed, I have performed.

II. Bodian, to proclaim:

Ic bodi-e, I proclaim or shall proclaim. Ic bod-ode, I proclaimed. Ic hbbe ge-bod-od, I have proclaimed.

III. Habban, to have:

Ic hbbe, I have or shall have. Ic hf-de, I had. Ic hbbe ge-hf-d, I have had.

[Footnote 6: The theory that loved, for example, is a fused form of love-did has been generally given up. The dental ending was doubtless an Indo-Germanic suffix, which became completely specialized only in the Teutonic languages.]

19. There remain a few verbs (chiefly the Auxiliary Verbs of Modern English) that do not belong entirely to either of the two conjugations mentioned. The most important of them are, Ic mg I may, Ic mihte I might; Ic con I can, Ic ce I could; Ic mt I must, Ic mste I must; Ic sceal I shall, Ic sceolde I should; Ic eom I am, Ic ws I was; Ic wille I will, Ic wolde I would; Ic d I do, Ic dyde I did; Ic g I go, Ic ode I went.

All but the last four of these are known as Preterit-Present Verbs. The present tense of each of them is in origin a preterit, in function a present. Cf. Modern English ought (=owed).



20. The order of words in Old English is more like that of Modern German than of Modern English. Yet it is only the Transposed order that the student will feel to be at all un-English; and the Transposed order, even before the period of the Norman Conquest, was fast yielding place to the Normal order.

The three divisions of order are (1)Normal, (2)Inverted, and (3)Transposed.

(1) Normal order = subject + predicate. In Old English, the Normal order is found chiefly in independent clauses. The predicate is followed by its modifiers: S hwl bi micle l:ssa onne re hwalas, That whale is much smaller than other whales; Ond h geseah tw scipu, And he saw two ships.

(2) Inverted order = predicate + subject. This order occurs also in independent clauses, and is employed (a) when some modifier of the predicate precedes the predicate, the subject being thrown behind. The words most frequently causing Inversion in Old English prose are # then, #onne# then, and #:r# there: # fr h#, Then went he; #onne rna hy: ealle tweard :m fo#, Then gallop they all toward the property; #ac :r bi medo genh#, but there is mead enough.

Inversion is employed (b) in interrogative sentences: Lufast m? Lovest thou me? and (c) in imperative sentences: Cume n rce, Thy kingdom come.

(3) Transposed order = subject ... predicate. That is, the predicate comes last in the sentence, being preceded by its modifiers. This is the order observed in dependent clauses:[1] onne cyme s man s t swiftoste hors hafa, Then comes the man that has the swiftest horse (literally, that the swiftest horse has); Ne mtte h :r nn gebn land, sian h from his gnum hm fr, Nor did he before find any cultivated land, after he went from his own home (literally, after he from his own home went).

[Footnote 1: But in the Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan, in which the style is apparently more that of oral than of written discourse, the Normal is more frequent than the Transposed order in dependent clauses. In his other writings Alfred manifests a partiality for the Transposed order in dependent clauses, except in the case of substantival clauses introduced by t. Such clauses show a marked tendency to revert to their Normal oratio recta order. The norm thus set by the indirect affirmative clause seems to have proved an important factor in the ultimate disappearance of Transposition from dependent clauses. The influence of Norman French helped only to consummate forces that were already busily at work.]

21. Two other peculiarities in the order of words require a brief notice.

(1) Pronominal datives and accusatives usually precede the predicate: H hine oferwann, He overcame him (literally, He him overcame); Dryhten him andwyrde, The Lord answered him. But substantival datives and accusatives, as in Modern English, follow the predicate. The following sentence illustrates both orders: Hy: genmon Ioseph, ond hine gesealdon cpemonnum, ond hy: hine gesealdon in gypta lond, They took Joseph, and sold him to merchants, and they sold him into Egypt (literally, They took Joseph, and him sold to merchants, and they him sold into Egyptians' land).

NOTE.—The same order prevails in the case of pronominal nominatives used as predicate nouns: Ic hit eom, It is I (literally, Iitam); # hit eart#, It is thou (literally, Thou it art).

(2) The attributive genitive, whatever relationship it expresses, usually precedes the noun which it qualifies: Breoton is grsecges gland, Britain is an island of the ocean (literally, ocean's island); Swilce hit is ac berende on wecga rum, Likewise it is also rich in ores of metals (literally, metals' ores); Cyninga cyning, King of kings (literally, Kings' king); G witon Godes rces gery:ne, Ye know the mystery of the kingdom of God (literally, Ye know God's kingdom's mystery).

A preposition governing the word modified by the genitive, precedes the genitive:[2] On ealdra manna sgenum, In old men's sayings; t :ra str:ta endum, At the ends of the streets (literally, At the streets' ends); For ealra nra hlgena lufan, For all thy saints' love. See, also, 94,(5).

[Footnote 2: The positions of the genitive are various. It frequently follows its noun: # bearn ra Aeniensa#, The children of the Athenians. It may separate an adjective and a noun: n ly:tel s:s earm, A little arm of (the) sea. The genitive may here be construed as an adjective, or part of a compound = A little sea-arm; Mid monegum Godes gifum, With many God-gifts = many divine gifts.]



22. In the study of Old English, the student must remember that he is dealing not with a foreign or isolated language but with the earlier forms of his own mother tongue. The study will prove profitable and stimulating in proportion as close and constant comparison is made of the old with the new. The guiding principles in such a comparison are reducible chiefly to two. These are (1)the regular operation of phonetic laws, resulting especially in certain Vowel Shiftings, and (2)the alterations in form and syntax that are produced by Analogy.

(1) "The former of these is of physiological or natural origin, and is perfectly and inflexibly regular throughout the same period of the same language; and even though different languages show different phonetic habits and predilections, there is a strong general resemblance between the changes induced in one language and in another; many of the particular laws are true for many languages.

(2) "The other principle is psychical, or mental, or artificial, introducing various more or less capricious changes that are supposed to be emendations; and its operation is, to some extent, uncertain and fitful."[1]

[Footnote 1: Skeat, Principles of English Etymology, Second Series, 342. But Jespersen, with Collitz and others, stoutly contests "the theory of sound laws and analogy sufficing between them to explain everything in linguistic development."]

(1) Vowel-Shiftings.

23. It will prove an aid to the student in acquiring the inflections and vocabulary of Old English to note carefully the following shiftings that have taken place in the gradual growth of the Old English vowel system into that of Modern English.

(1) As stated in 3, the Old English inflectional vowels, which were all short and unaccented, weakened in early Middle English to e. This e in Modern English is frequently dropped:

OLD ENGLISH. MIDDLE ENGLISH. MODERN ENGLISH. stn-as ston-es stones sun-u sun-e son sun-a sun-e sons ox-an ox-en oxen swift-ra swift-er swifter swift-ost swift-est swiftest lc-ode lok-ede looked

(2) The Old English long vowels have shifted their phonetic values with such uniform regularity that it is possible in almost every case to infer the Modern English sound; but our spelling is so chaotic that while the student may infer the modern sound, he cannot always infer the modern symbol representing the sound.


o[2] { n = no; stn = stone; bn = bone; (as in no) { rd = road; c = oak; hl = whole; { hm = home; swan = to sow; gst = { ghost.

e { h = he; w = we; = thee; m = (as in he) { me; g = ye; hl = heel; wrig = { weary; gelfan = to believe; gs = { geese.

(y:) i (y) { mn = mine; n = thine; wr = wire; (as in mine) { my:s = mice; rm = rime (wrongly spelt { rhyme); ly:s = lice; b = by; { scnan = to shine; stig-rp = sty-rope { (shortened to stirrup, stgan meaning { to mount).

o { d = I do; t = too, to; gs = goose; (as in do) { t = tooth; mna = moon; m = { doom; md = mood; wgian = to woo; { slh = I slew.

ou (ow) { = thou; fl = foul; hs = house; (as in thou) { n = now; h = how; tn = town; { re = our; t = out; hld = loud; { send = thousand.

:, ea { :: s: = sea; m:l = meal; d:lan = a, (as in sea) { to deal; cl:ne = clean; gr:dig = o { greedy. { { a: are = ear; ast = east; dram = { dream; gar = year; batan = { to beat. { { o: ro = three; drorig = dreary; { so = she, hrod = reed; dop = { deep.

[Footnote 2: But Old English preceded by w sometimes gives Modern English o as in two: tw = two; hw = who; hwm = whom.]

(2) Analogy.

24. But more important than vowel shifting is the great law of Analogy, for Analogy shapes not only words but constructions. It belongs, therefore, to Etymology and to Syntax, since it influences both form and function. By this law, minorities tend to pass over to the side of the majorities. "The greater mass of cases exerts an assimilative influence upon the smaller."[3] The effect of Analogy is to simplify and to regularize. "The main factor in getting rid of irregularities is group-influence, or Analogy—the influence exercised by the members of an association-group on one another.... Irregularity consists in partial isolation from an association-group through some formal difference."[4]

Under the influence of Analogy, entire declensions and conjugations have been swept away, leaving in Modern English not a trace of their former existence. There are in Old English, for example, five plural endings for nouns, -as, -a, -e, -u, and -an. No one could well have predicted[5] that -as (Middle English -es) would soon take the lead, and become the norm to which the other endings would eventually conform, for there were more an-plurals than as-plurals; but the as-plurals were doubtless more often employed in everyday speech. Oxen (Old English oxan) is the sole pure survival of the hundreds of Old English an-plurals. No group of feminine nouns in Old English had -es as the genitive singular ending; but by the close of the Middle English period all feminines formed their genitive singular in -es (or-s, Modern English 's) after the analogy of the Old English masculine and neuter nouns with es-genitives. The weak preterits in -ode have all been leveled under the ed-forms, and of the three hundred strong verbs in Old English more than two hundred have become weak.

These are not cases of derivation (as are the shifted vowels): Modern English -s in sons, for example, could not possibly be derived from Old English -a in suna, or Middle English -e in sune (23, (1)). They are cases of replacement by Analogy.

A few minor examples will quicken the student's appreciation of the nature of the influence exercised by Analogy:

(a) The intrusive l in could (Chaucer always wrote coud or coude) is due to association with would and should, in each of which l belongs by etymological right.

(b) He need not (for He needs not) is due to the assimilative influence of the auxiliaries may, can, etc., which have never added -s for their third person singular (137).

(c) I am friends with him, in which friends is a crystalized form for on good terms, may be traced to the influence of such expressions as He and I are friends, They are friends, etc.

(d) Such errors as are seen in runned, seed, gooses, badder, hisself, says I (usually coupled with sayshe) are all analogical formations. Though not sanctioned by good usage, it is hardly right to call these forms the products of "false analogy." The grammar involved is false, because unsupported by literary usages and traditions; but the analogy on which these forms are built is no more false than the law of gravitation is false when it makes a dress sit unconventionally.

[Footnote 3: Whitney, Life and Growth of Language, Chap.IV.]

[Footnote 4: Sweet, A New English Grammar, Part I., 535.]

[Footnote 5: As Skeat says ( 22, (2)), Analogy is "fitful." It enables us to explain many linguistic phenomena, but not to anticipate them. The multiplication of books tends to check its influence by perpetuating the forms already in use. Thus Chaucer employed nine en-plurals, and his influence served for a time to check the further encroachment of the es-plurals. As soon as there is an acknowledged standard in any language, the operation of Analogy is fettered.]






(a) Masculine a-Stems.

[O.E., M.E., and Mn.E. will henceforth be used for Old English, Middle English, and Modern English. Other abbreviations employed are self-explaining.]

25. The a-Declension, corresponding to the Second or o-Declension of Latin and Greek, contains only (a) masculine and (b) neuter nouns. To this declension belong most of the O.E. masculine and neuter nouns of the Strong Declension. At a very early period, many of the nouns belonging properly to the i- and u-Declensions began to pass over to the a-Declension. This declension may therefore be considered the normal declension for all masculine and neuter nouns belonging to the Strong Declension.

26. Paradigms of s m, mouth; s fiscere, fisherman; s hwl, whale; s mearh, horse; s finger, finger:

Sing. N.A. m fiscer-e hwl mearh finger G. m-es fiscer-es hwl-es mar-es fingr-es D.I. m-e fiscer-e hwl-e mar-e fingr-e

Plur. N.A. m-as fiscer-as hwal-as mar-as fingr-as G. m-a fiscer-a hwal-a mar-a fingr-a D.I. m-um fiscer-um hwal-um mar-um fingr-um

NOTE.—For meanings of the cases, see 12. The dative and instrumental are alike in all nouns.

27. The student will observe (1)that nouns whose nominative ends in -e (fiscere) drop this letter before adding the case endings; (2)that before a consonant (hwl) changes to a in the plural;[1] (3)that h, preceded by r (mearh) or l (seolh, seal), is dropped before an inflectional vowel, the stem diphthong being then lengthened by way of compensation; (4)that dissyllables (finger) having the first syllable long, usually syncopate the vowel of the second syllable before adding the case endings.[2]

[Footnote 1: Adjectives usually retain in closed syllables, changing it to a in open syllables: hwt (active), gld (glad), wr (wary) have G. hwates, glades, wares; D. hwatum, gladum, warum; but A. hwtne, gldne, wrne. Nouns, however, change to a only in open syllables followed by a guttural vowel, a or u. The in the open syllables of the singular is doubtless due to the analogy of the N.A. singular, both being closed syllables.]

[Footnote 2: Cf. Mn.E. drizz'ling, rememb'ring, abysmal (abysm = abiz^{u}m), sick'ning, in which the principle of syncopation is precisely the same.]

28. Paradigm of the Definite Article[3] s, so, t = the:

Masculine. Feminine. Neuter.

Sing. N. s (se) so t G. s :re s D. :m (m) :re :m (m) A. one t I. y:, on —— y:, on

All Genders.

Plur. N.A. G. ra D. :m (m)

[Footnote 3: This may mean four things: (1)The, (2)That (demonstrative), (3)He, she, it, (4)Who, which, that (relative pronoun). Mn.E. demonstrative that is, of course, the survival of O.E. neuter t in its demonstrative sense. Professor Victor Henry (Comparative Grammar of English and German, 160,3) sees a survival of dative plural demonstrative :m in such an expression as in them days. It seems more probable, however, that them so used has followed the leadof this and these, that and those, in their double function of pronoun and adjective. There was doubtless some such evolution as, Isaw them. Them what? Them boys.

An unquestioned survival of the dative singular feminine of the article is seen in the -ter of Atterbury (= t :re byrig, at the town); and :m survives in the -ten of Attenborough, the word borough having become an uninflected neuter. Skeat, Principles, First Series, 185.]


s bcere, scribe [bc]. s cyning, king. s dg, day. s ende, end. s engel, angel [angelus]. s frodm, freedom. s fugol (G. sometimes fugles), bird [fowl]. s gr, spear [gore, gar-fish]. s heofon, heaven. s hierde, herdsman [shep-herd]. ond (and), and. s secg, man, warrior. s seolh, seal. s stn, stone. s wealh, foreigner, Welshman [wal-nut]. s weall, wall. s wsdm, wisdom. s wulf, wolf.

[Footnote 4: The brackets contain etymological hints that may help the student to discern relationships otherwise overlooked. The genitive is given only when not perfectly regular.]


I. 1. ra wulfa mas. 2. s fisceres fingras. 3. ra Wala cyninge. 4.:m englum ond :m hierdum. 5.ra daga ende. 6.:m bcerum ond :m secgum s cyninges. 7.:m sole ond :m fuglum. 8. stnas ond gras. 9.Hwala ond mara. 10.ra engla wsdm. 11.s cyninges bceres frodm. 12.ra hierda fuglum. 13.y: stne. 14.:m wealle.

II. 1. For the horses and the seals. 2. For the Welshmen's freedom. 3.Of the king's birds. 4.By the wisdom of men and angels. 5.With the spear and the stone. 6.The herdsman's seal and the warriors' spears. 7.To the king of heaven. 8.By means of the scribe's wisdom. 9.The whale's mouth and the foreigner's spear. 10.For the bird belonging to (=of) the king's scribe. 11.Of that finger.


(b) Neuter a-Stems.

31. The neuter nouns of the a-Declension differ from the masculines only in the N.A. plural.

32. Paradigms of t hof, court, dwelling; aet bearn, child; t bn, bone; t rce, kingdom; t spere, spear; t werod, band of men; t tungol, star:

Sing. N.A. hof bearn bn rc-e G. hof-es bearn-es bn-es rc-es D.I. hof-e bearn-e bn-e rc-e

Plur. N.A. hof-u bearn bn rc-u G. hof-a bearn-a bn-a rc-a D.I. hof-um bearn-um bn-um rc-um

Sing. N.A. sper-e werod tungol G. sper-es werod-es tungl-es D.I. sper-e werod-e tungl-e

Plur. N.A. sper-u werod tungl-u G. sper-a werod-a tungl-a D.I. sper-um werod-um tungl-um

33. The paradigms show (1)that monosyllables with short stems (hof) take -u in the N.A. plural; (2)that monosyllables with long stems (bearn, bn) do not distinguish the N.A. plural from the N.A. singular;[1] (3)that dissyllables in -e, whether the stem be long or short (rce, spere), have -u in the N.A. plural; (4)that dissyllables ending in a consonant and having the first syllable short[2] (werod) do not usually distinguish the N.A. plural from the N.A. singular; (5)that dissyllables ending in a consonant and having the first syllable long (tungol) more frequently take -u in the N.A. plural.

NOTE.—Syncopation occurs as in the masculine a-stems. See 27,(4).

[Footnote 1: Note the many nouns in Mn.E. that are unchanged in the plural. These are either survivals of O.E. long stems, swine, sheep, deer, folk, or analogical forms, fish, trout, mackerel, salmon, etc.]

[Footnote 2: Dissyllables whose first syllable is a prefix are, of course, excluded. They follow the declension of their last member: gebed, prayer, gebedu, prayers; gefeoht, battle, gefeoht, battles.]

34. Present and Preterit Indicative of habban, to have:


Sing. 1. Ic hbbe, I have, or shall have.[3] 2. hfst (hafast), thou hast, or wilt have. 3. h, ho, hit hf (hafa), he, she, it has, or will have.

Plur. 1. w habba, we have, or shall have. 2. g habba, ye have, or will have. 3. he habba, they have, or will have.


Sing. 1. Ic hfde I had. 2. hfdest, thou hadst. 3. h, ho, hit hfde, he, she, it had.

Plur. 1. w hfdon, we had. 2. g hfdon, ye had. 3. he hfdon, they had.

NOTE.—The negative ne, not, which always precedes its verb, contracts with all the forms of habban. The negative loses its e, habban its h. Ne + habban = nabban; Ic ne hbbe = Ic nbbe; Ic ne hfde = Ic nfde, etc. The negative forms may be got, therefore, by simply substituting in each case n for h.

[Footnote 3: See 17, Note 1. Note that (as in hwl, 27, (2)) changes to a when the following syllable contains a: hbbe, but hafast.]


t dl, dale. t dor, animal [deer[4]]. t dor, door. t ft, vessel [vat]. t fy:r, fire. t gar, year. t geoc, yoke. t geset, habitation [settlement]. t hafod, head. t hs, house. t lc, body [lich-gate]. t lim, limb. on (with dat.) in. t spor, track. t w:pen, weapon. t wf, wife, woman. t wte, punishment. t word, word.

[Footnote 4: The old meaning survives in Shakespeare's "Rats and mice and such small deer," King Lear, III, iv, 144.]


I. 1. H hafa s cyninges bearn. 2. Walas habba speru. 3. wf habba ra secga w:pnu. 4. hfst one fugol ond t hs s hierdes. 5.Hf[5] ho fatu[6]? 6.Hfde h s wfes lc on :m hofe? 7.H nfde s wfes lc; h hfde s dores hafod. 8.Hf s cyning gesetu on :m dle? 9.S bcere hf solas on :m hse. 10.G habba frodm.

II. 1. They have yokes and spears. 2. We have not the vessels in the house. 3.He had fire in the vessel. 4.Did the woman have (Had the woman) the children? 5.The animal has the body of the woman's child. 6. Ishall have the heads of the wolves. 7.He and she have the king's houses. 8.Have not (Nabba) the children the warrior's weapons?

[Footnote 5: See 20, (2), (b).]

[Footnote 6: See 27, (2).]



37. The -Declension, corresponding to the First or -Declension of Latin and Greek, contains only feminine nouns. Many feminine i-stems and u-stems soon passed over to this Declension. The -Declension may, therefore, be considered the normal declension for all strong feminine nouns.

38. Paradigms of so giefu, gift; so wund, wound; so rd, cross; so leornung, learning; so swol, soul:

Sing. N. gief-u wund rd leornung swol G. gief-e wund-e rd-e leornung-a (e) swl-e D.I. gief-e wund-e rd-e leornung-a (e) swl-e A. gief-e wund-e rd-e leornung-a (e) swl-e

Plur. N.A. gief-a wund-a rd-a leornung-a swl-a G. gief-a wund-a rd-a leornung-a swl-a D.I. gief-um wund-um rd-um leornung-um swl-um

39. Note (1) that monosyllables with short stems (giefu) take u in the nominative singular; (2)that monosyllables with long stems (wund, rd) present the unchanged stem in the nominative singular; (3)that dissyllables are declined as monosyllables, except that abstract nouns in -ung prefer a to e in the singular.

NOTE.—Syncopation occurs as in masculine and neuter a-stems. See 27,(4).

40. Present and Preterit Indicative of bon (wesan) tobe:

PRESENT (first form). PRESENT PRETERIT. (second form).

Sing. 1. Ic eom 1. Ic bom 1.Ic ws 2. eart 2. bist 2. w:re 3. h is 3. h bi 3. h ws

Plur. 1. w } 1. w } 1.w } 2. g } sind(on), sint 2. g } bo 2. g } w:ron 3. he } 3. he } 3. he }

NOTE 1.—The forms bom, bist, etc. are used chiefly as future tenses in O.E.They survive to-day only in dialects and in poetry. Farmer Dobson, for example, in Tennyson's Promise of May, uses be for all persons of the present indicative, both singular and plural; and there be is frequent in Shakespeare for there are. The Northern dialect employed aron as well as sindon and sind for the present plural; hence Mn.E. are.

NOTE 2.—Fusion with ne gives neom, neart, nis for the present; ns, n:re, n:ron for the preterit.

NOTE 3.—The verb to be is followed by the nominative case, as in Mn.E.; but when the predicate noun is plural, and the subject a neuter pronoun in the singular, the verb agrees in number with the predicate noun. The neuter singular t is frequently employed in this construction: aet w:ron eall Finnas, They were all Fins; t sind englas, They are angels; :t w:ron engla gstas, They were angels' spirits.

Notice, too, that O.E. writers do not say It is I, It is thou, but I it am, Thou it art: Ic hit eom, # hit eart#. See 21, (1), Note1.


so brycg, bridge. so costnung, temptation. so cwalu, death [quail, quell]. so fr, journey [faran]. so frfor, consolation, comfort. so geogu, youth. so glf, glove. so hlignes[1], holiness. so heall, hall. hr, here. hw, who? hw:r, where? so lufu, love. so mearc, boundary [mark, marches[2]]. so md, meed, reward. so mildheortnes, mild-heartedness, mercy. so stw, place [stow away]. :r, there. so earf, need. so wylf, she wolf.

[Footnote 1: All words ending in -nes double the -s before adding the case endings.]

[Footnote 2: As in warden of the marches.]


I. 1. Hw:r is :re brycge ende? 2. Hr sind ra rca mearca. 3.Hw hf glfa? 4.:r bi :m cyninge frfre earf. 5.So wund is on :re wylfe hafde. 6.W habba costnunga. 7.He n:ron on :re healle. 8.Ic hit neom. 9.t w:ron Walas. 10.t sind s wfes bearn.

II. 1. We shall have the women's gloves. 2. Where is the place? 3.He will be in the hall. 4.Those (t) were not the boundaries of the kingdom. 5.It was not I. 6.Ye are not the king's scribes. 7.The shepherd's words are full (full + gen.) of wisdom and comfort. 8.Where are the bodies of the children? 9.The gifts are not here. 10.Who has the seals and the birds?



The i-Declension. (See 58.)

43. The i-Declension, corresponding to the group of i-stems in the classical Third Declension, contains chiefly (a) masculine and (b) feminine nouns. The N.A. plural of these nouns ended originally in -e (from older i).

(a) Masculine i-Stems.

44. These stems have almost completely gone over to the a-Declension, so that -as is more common than -e as the N.A. plural ending, whether the stem is long or short. The short stems all have -e in the N.A. singular.

45. Paradigms of s wyrm, worm; s wine, friend.

Sing. N.A. wyrm win-e G. wyrm-es win-es D.I. wyrm-e win-e

Plur. N.A. wyrm-as win-as (e) G. wyrm-a win-a D.I. wyrm-um win-um

Names of Peoples.

46. The only i-stems that regularly retain -e of the N.A. plural are certain names of tribes or peoples used only in the plural.

47. Paradigms of # Engle#, Angles; # Norymbre#, Northumbrians; # lode#, people:

Plur. N.A. Engle Norymbre lode G. Engla Norymbra loda D.I. Englum Norymbrum lodum

(b) Feminine i-Stems.

48. The short stems (frem-u) conform entirely to the declension of short -stems; long stems (cwn, wyrt) differ from long -stems in having no ending for the A. singular. They show, also, apreference for -e rather than -a in the N.A. plural.

49. Paradigms of so frem-u, benefit; so cwn, woman, queen [quean]; so wyrt, root [wort]:

Sing. N. frem-u cwn wyrt G. frem-e cwn-e wyrt-e D.I. frem-e cwn-e wyrt-e A. frem-e cwn wyrt

Plur. N.A. frem-a cwn-e (a) wyrt-e (a) G. frem-a cwn-a wyrt-a D.I. frem-um cwn-um wyrt-um

The u-Declension.

50. The u-Declension, corresponding to the group of u-stems in the classical Third Declension, contains no neuters, and but few (a) masculines and (b) feminines. The short-stemmed nouns of both genders (sun-u, dur-u) retain the final u of the N.A. singular, while the long stems (feld, hond) drop it. The influence of the masculine a-stems is most clearly seen in the long-stemmed masculines of the u-Declension (feld, feld-es, etc.).

NOTE.—Note the general aversion of all O.E. long stems to final -u: cf. N.A. plural hof-u, but bearn, bn; N. singular gief-u, but wund, rd; N. singular frem-u, but cwn, wyrt; N.A. singular sun-u, dur-u, but feld, hond.

(a) Masculine u-Stems.

51. Paradigms of s sun-u, son; s feld, field:

Sing. N.A. sun-u feld G. sun-a feld-a (es) D.I. sun-a feld-a (e)

Plur. N.A. sun-a feld-a (as) G. sun-a feld-a D.I. sun-um feld-um

(b) Feminine u-Stems.

52. Paradigms of so dur-u, door; so hond, hand:

Sing. N.A. dur-u hond G. dur-a hond-a D.I. dur-a hond-a

Plur. N.A. dur-a hond-a G. dur-a hond-a D.I. dur-um hond-um

53. Paradigm of the Third Personal Pronoun, h, ho, hit = he, she, it:

Masculine. Feminine. Neuter. Sing. N. h ho hit G. his hiere his D. him hiere him A. hine, hiene he hit

All Genders. Plur. N.A. he G. hiera D. him



s cierr, turn, time [char, chare, chore]. so d:d, deed. s d:l, part [a great deal]. Dene, Danes. s frondscipe, friendship. so hy:d, skin, hide. londlode, natives. Mierce, Mercians. Rmware, Romans. Seaxe, Saxons. s stede, place [in-stead of].


so flr, floor. so nosu, nose. s sumor (G. sumeres, D. sumera), summer. s winter (G. wintres, D. wintra), winter. s wudu, wood, forest.

NOTE.—The numerous masculine nouns ending in -hd,—cildhd (childhood), wfhd (womanhood),—belong to the u-stems historically; but they have all passed over to the a-Declension.


I. 1. Seaxe habba s dores hy:d on :m wuda. 2. Hw hf giefa? 3. Mierce he[1] habba. 4.Hw:r is s Wales fugol? 5. Dene hiene habba. 6.Hw:r sindon hiera winas? 7.He sindon on s cyninges wuda. 8. Rmware ond Seaxe hfdon gras ond geocu. 9.Ho is on :m hse on wintra, ond on :m feldum on sumera. 10.Hw:r is s hofes duru? 11.Ho[2] (=so duru) nis hr.

II. 1. His friends have the bones of the seals and the bodies of the Danes. 2.Art thou the king's son? 3.Has she her[3] gifts in her[3] hands? 4.Here are the fields of the natives. 5.Who had the bird? 6.Ihad it.[2] 7.The child had the worm in his[3] fingers. 8.The Mercians were here during (the) summer (on + dat.).

[Footnote 1: See 21, (1).]

[Footnote 2: Pronouns agree in gender with the nouns for which they stand. Hit, however, sometimes stands for inanimate things of both masculine and feminine genders. See Wlfing (l.c.) I, 238.]

[Footnote 3: See 76 (last sentence).]



56. The unchanged stem of the present indicative may always be found by dropping -an of the infinitive: feall-an, to fall; cos-an, to choose; bd-an, to abide.

57. The personal endings are:

Sing. 1. -e Plur. 1. } 2. -est 2. } -a 3. -e 3. }


58. The 2d and 3d singular endings were originally not -est and -e, but -is and -i; and the i of these older endings has left its traces upon almost every page of Early West Saxon literature. This i, though unaccented and soon displaced, exerted a powerful back influence upon the vowel of the preceding accented syllable. This influence, aform of regressive assimilation, is known as i-umlaut (pronounced om-lowt). The vowel i or j (=y), being itself a palatal, succeeded in palatalizing every guttural vowel that preceded it, and in imposing still more of the i-quality upon diphthongs that were already palatal.[1] The changes produced were these:

a became e (): menn (< *mann-iz), men. " : :nig (< *n-ig), any. u " y wyllen (< *wull-in), woollen. " y: my:s (< *ms-iz), mice. o " e dehter (< *dohtr-i), to or for the daughter. " ft (< *ft-iz), feet. ea " ie wiex (< *weax-i), he grows (weaxan = to grow). a " e hew (< *haw-i), he hews (hawan = to hew). eo " ie wiercan (< *weorc-jan), to work. o " e lehtan (< *loht-jan), to light.

[Footnote 1: The palatal vowels and diphthongs were long or short , e, i, (ie), y, ea, eo; the guttural vowels were long or short a, o, u.]

The Unchanged Present Indicative.

59. In the Northumbrian and Mercian dialects, as well as in the dialect of Late West Saxon, the 2d and 3d singular endings were usually joined to the present stem without modification either of the stem itself or of the personal endings. The complete absence of umlauted forms in the present indicative of Mn.E. is thus accounted for.

In Early West Saxon, however, such forms as the following are comparatively rare in the 2d and 3d singular:

Sing. 1. Ic feall-e cos-e bd-e (I fall) (I choose) (Iabide) 2. feall-est cos-est bd-est 3. h feall-e cos-e bd-e

Plur. 1. w } 2. g } feall-a cos-a bd-a 3. he }

The Present Indicative with i-Umlaut and Contraction.

60. The 2d and 3d persons singular are distinguished from the other forms of the present indicative in Early West Saxon by (1)i-umlaut of the vowel of the stem, (2)syncope of the vowel of the ending, giving -st and - for -est and -e, and (3)contraction of -st and - with the final consonant or consonants of the stem.


61. The changes produced by i-umlaut have been already discussed. By these changes, therefore, the stems of the 2d and 3d singular indicative of such verbs as (1)stondan (=standan), to stand, (2)cuman, to come, (3)grwan, to grow, (4)brcan, to enjoy, (5)blwan, to blow, (6)feallan, to fall, (7)hawan, to hew, (8)weorpan, to throw, and (9)cosan, to choose, become respectively (1)stend-,[2] (2)cym-, (3)grw-, (4)bry:c-, (5)bl:w-, (6)fiell-, (7)hew-, (8)wierp-, and (9)ces-.

If the unchanged stem contains the vowel e, this is changed in the 2d and 3d singular to i (ie): cwean to say, stem cwi-; beran to bear, stem bier-. But this mutation[3] had taken place long before the period of O.E., and belongs to the Germanic languages in general. It is best, however, to class the change of e to i or ie with the changes due to umlaut, since it occurs consistently in the 2d and 3d singular stems of Early West Saxon, and outlasted almost all of the umlaut forms proper.

If, now, the syncopated endings -st and - are added directly to the umlauted stem, there will frequently result such a massing of consonants as almost to defy pronunciation: cwi-st, thou sayest; stend-st, thou standest, etc. Some sort of contraction, therefore, is demanded for the sake of euphony. The ear and eye will, by a little practice, become a sure guide in these contractions. The following rules, however, must be observed. They apply only to the 2d and 3d singular of the present indicative:

(1) If the stem ends in a double consonant, one of the consonants is dropped:

1. feall-e (I fall) 1. winn-e (I fight) 1. swimm-e (Iswim) 2. fiel-st 2. win-st 2. swim-st 3. fiel- 3. win- 3. swim-

(2) If the stem ends in -, this is dropped:

1. cwe-e (I say) 1. weor-e (I become) 2. cwi-st 2. wier-st 3. cwi- 3. wier-

(3) If the stem ends in -d, this is changed to -t. The - of the ending is then also changed to -t, and usually absorbed. Thus the stem of the 2d singular serves as stem and ending for the 3d singular:

1. stond-e (= stand-e) (I stand) 1. bind-e (I bind) 2. stent-st 2. bint-st 3. stent 3. bint

1. bd-e (I abide) 1. rd-e (I ride) 2. bt-st 2. rt-st 3. bt (-t) 3. rt (-t)

(4) If the stem ends already in -t, the endings are added as in (3), - being again changed to -t and absorbed:

1. brot-e (I break) 1. feoht-e (I fight) 1. bt-e (Ibite) 2. bret-st 2. fieht-st 2. bt-st 3. bret (-t) 3. fieht 3. bt (-t)

(5) If the stem ends in -s, this is dropped before -st (toavoid -sst), but is retained before -, the latter being changed to -t. Thus the 2d and 3d singulars are identical:[4]

1. cos-e (I choose) 1. rs-e (I rise) 2. ce-st 2. r-st 3. ces-t 3. rs-t

[Footnote 2: The more common form for stems with a is rather than e: faran, to go, 2d and 3d singular stem fr-; sacan, to contend, stem sc-. Indeed, a changes to e via (Cosijn, Altwestschsische Grammatik, I, 32).]

[Footnote 3: Umlaut is frequently called Mutation. Metaphony is still another name for the same phenomenon. The term Metaphony has the advantage of easy adjectival formation (metaphonic). It was proposed by Professor Victor Henry (Comparative Grammar of English and German, Paris, 1894), but has not been naturalized.]

[Footnote 4: This happens also when the infinitive stem ends in st:

1. berst-e (I burst) 2. bier-st 3. bierst.]


I. 1. S cyning fiel. 2. wf cosa giefa. 3. stentst on :m hse. 4.H wierp t w:pen. 5.S secg hew lc. 6.t s:d grw ond wiex (Mark iv.27). 7.Ic stonde hr, ond stentst :r. 8. "Ic hit eom," cwi h. 9.He bera s wulfes bn. 10.H he bint, ond ic hine binde. 11.Ne rtst?

II. 1. We shall bind him. 2. Who chooses the child's gifts? 3. "He was not here," says she. 4.Wilt thou remain in the hall? 5.The wolves are biting (bite) the fishermen. 6.He enjoys[5] the love of his children. 7.Do you enjoy (Enjoyest thou) the consolation and friendship of the scribe? 8.Will he come? 9. Ishall throw the spear, and thou wilt bear the weapons. 10.The king's son will become king. 11.The army (werod) is breaking the doors and walls of the house.

[Footnote 5: Brcan, to enjoy, usually takes the genitive case, not the accusative. It means "to have joy of any thing."]



The Weak or n-Declension.

63. The n-Declension contains almost all of the O.E. nouns belonging to the Consonant Declensions. The stem characteristic n has been preserved in the oblique cases, so that there is no difficulty in distinguishing n-stems from the preceding vowel stems.

The n-Declension includes (a) masculines, (b) feminines, and (c) neuters. The masculines far outnumber the feminines, and the neuters contain only age, eye and are, ear. The masculines end in -a, the feminines and neuters in -e.

64. Paradigms of (a) s hunta, hunter; (b) so tunge, tongue; (c) t age, eye:

Sing. N. hunt-a tung-e ag-e G.D.I. hunt-an tung-an ag-an A. hunt-an tung-an ag-e

Plur. N.A. hunt-an tung-an ag-an G. hunt-ena tung-ena ag-ena D.I. hunt-um tung-um ag-um


s adesa, hatchet, adze. s :metta, leisure [empt-iness]. s bona (bana), murderer [bane]. so cirice, church [Scotch kirk]. s cnapa (later, cnafa), boy [knave]. s cuma, stranger [comer]. t are, ear. so eore, earth. s gefra, companion [co-farer]. s guma, man [bride-groom[1]]. so heorte, heart. s mna, moon. so n:dre, adder [a nadder > an adder[2]]. s oxa, ox. s scowyrhta, shoe-maker [shoe-wright]. so sunne, sun. s tona, injury [teen]. biddan (with dat. of person and gen. of thing[3]), to request, ask for. cwelan, to die [quail]. gescieppan, to create [shape, land-scape, friend-ship]. giefan (with dat. of indirect object), to give. healdan, to hold. helpan (with dat.), to help. scean[4] (with dat.), to injure [scathe]. wistondan (-standan) (with dat.), to withstand. wrtan, to write.

[Footnote 1: The r is intrusive in -groom, as it is in cart-r-idge, part-r-idge, vag-r-ant, and hoa-r-se.]

[Footnote 2: The n has been appropriated by the article. Cf. an apron (< a napron), an auger (< a nauger), an orange (< a norange), an umpire (< a numpire).]

[Footnote 3: In Mn.E. we say "I request a favor of you"; but in O.E. it was "Irequest you (dative) of a favor" (genitive). Cf. Cymbeline, III, vi, 92: "We'll mannerly demand thee of thy story." See Franz's Shakespeare-Grammatik, 361 (1900).]

[Footnote 4: Scean is conjugated through the present indicative like fremman. See 129.]


I. 1. S scowyrhta bry:c his :mettan. 2. guman bidda :m cnapan s adesan. 3.Hw is s cuma? 4.Hielpst :m bonan? 5.Ic him ne helpe. 6. bearn scea s bonan agum ond arum. 7.S cuma cwiel on :re cirican. 8.S hunta wistent :m wulfum. 9. oxan bera s cnapan gefran. 10.S mna ond tunglu sind on :m heofonum. 11. huntan healda :re n:dran tungan. 12.H hiere gief giefa. 13. werod scea s cyninges feldum.

II. 1. Who will bind the mouths of the oxen? 2. Who gives him the gifts? 3.Thou art helping him, and I am injuring him. 4.The boy's companion is dying. 5.His nephew does not enjoy his leisure. 6.The adder's tongue injures the king's companion. 7.The sun is the day's eye. 8.She asks the strangers for the spears. 9.The men's bodies are not here. 10.Is he not (Nish) the child's murderer? 11.Who creates the bodies and the souls of men? 12.Thou withstandest her. 13.He is not writing.


Remnants of Other Consonant Declensions.

67. The nouns belonging here are chiefly masculines and feminines. Their stem ended in a consonant other than n. The most important of them may be divided as follows: (1)The foot Declension, (2)r-Stems, and (3)nd-Stems. These declensions are all characterized by the prevalence, wherever possible, of i-umlaut in certain cases, the case ending being then dropped.

68. (1) The nouns belonging to the foot Declension exhibit umlaut most consistently in the N.A. plural.

Sing. N.A. s ft s mon s t so c Sing. N.A. (foot) (man) (tooth) (cow) Plur. N.A. ft men t cy:

NOTE.—The dative singular usually has the same form as the N.A. plural. Here belong also so bc (book), so burg (borough), so gs (goose), so ls (louse), and so ms (mouse), all with umlauted plurals. Mn.E. preserves only six of the foot Declension plurals: feet, men, teeth, geese, lice, and mice. The c in the last two is an artificial spelling, intended to preserve the sound of voiceless s. Mn.E. kine (= cy-en) is a double plural formed after the analogy of weak stems; Burns in The Twa Dogs uses kye.

No umlaut is possible in so niht (night) and s mna (month), plural niht and mna (preserved in Mn.E. twelvemonth and fortnight).

(2) The r-Stems contain nouns expressing kinship, and exhibit umlaut of the dative singular.

Sing. N.A. s fder s bror so mdor (father) (brother) (mother) D. fder brer mder

Sing. N.A. so dohtor (daughter) so swuster (sister) D. dehter swyster

NOTE.—The N.A. plural is usually the same as the N.A. singular. These umlaut datives are all due to the presence of a former i. Cf. Lat. dative singular patri, frtri, mtri, sorori (< *sosori), and Greek thugatri.

(3) The nd-Stems show umlaut both in the N.A. plural and in the dative singular:

Sing. N.A. s frond (friend) s fond (enemy) D. frend fend

Plur. N.A. frend fend

NOTE.—Mn.E. friend and fiend are interesting analogical spellings. When s had been added by analogy to the O.E. plurals frend and fend, thus giving the double plurals friends and fiends, a second singular was formed by dropping the s. Thus friend and fiend displaced the old singulars frend and fend, both of which occur in the M.E. Ormulum, written about the year 1200.

Summary of O.E. Declensions.

69. A brief, working summary of the O.E. system of declensions may now be made on the basis of gender.

All O.E. nouns are (1)masculine, (2)feminine, or (3)neuter.

(1) The masculines follow the declension of m ( 26), except those ending in -a, which are declined like hunta (64):

Sing. N.A. m N. hunta G. mes G.D.A. huntan D.I. me I. huntan

Plur. N.A. mas huntan G. ma huntena D.I. mum huntum

(2) The short-stemmed neuters follow the declension of hof (32); the long-stemmed, that of bearn (32):

Sing. N.A. hof bearn G. hofes bearnes D.I. hofe bearne

Plur. N.A. hofu bearn G. hofa bearna D.I. hofum bearnum

(3) The feminines follow the declensions of giefu and wund (38) (the only difference being in the N. singular), except those ending in -e, which follow the declension of tunge (64):

Sing. N. giefu wund tunge G. giefe wunde tungan D.I. giefe wunde tungan A. giefe wunde tungan

Plur. N.A. giefa wunda tungan G. giefa wunda tungena D.I. giefum wundum tungum


ac, but. btan (with dat.), except, but, without. s Crst, Christ. s eorl, earl, alderman, warrior. t Englalond, England [Angles' land]. faran, to go [fare]. findan, to find. s God, God. htan, to call, name. s hlford, lord [hlf-weard]. mid (with dat.), with. on (with acc.), on, against, into. t (with dat.), to. uton (with infin.), let us.

NOTE.—O.E. mon (man) is frequently used in an indefinite sense for one, people, they. It thus takes the place of a passive construction proper: And man nam gebrotu e r belifon, twelf cy:pan fulle, And there were taken up of fragments that remained there twelve baskets full; but more literally, And one (or they) took the fragments, etc.; Ond Hstenes wf ond hs suna twgen mon brhte t :m cyninge, And Hsten's wife and his two sons were brought to the king.


I. 1. Mn hine h:t lfred. 2. Uton faran on t scip. 3. God is cyninga cyning ond hlforda hlford. 4.S eorl ne gief giefa his fend. 5.Ic ns mid his frend. 6.So mdor fr mid hiere dehter on burg. 7.Fintst s bceres bc? 8.H bint ealle (all) dor btan :m wulfum. 9. eart Crst, Godes sunu. 10. "Uton bindan s bonan ft," cwih.

II. 1. Christ is the son of God. 2. Let us call him Cdmon. 3. He throws his spear against the door. 4.Thou art not the earl's brother. 5.He will go with his father to England, but I shall remain (abide) here. 6.Gifts are not given to murderers. 7.Who will find the tracks of the animals? 8.They ask their lord for his weapons (65, Note3).



(1) Personal Pronouns.

72. Paradigms of #ic#, I; #, thou. For #h#, #ho#, #hit#, see 53.

Sing. N. ic G. mn n D. m A. m (mec) (ec)

Dual N. wit (we two) git (yetwo) G. uncer (of us two) incer (ofyou two) D. unc (to or for us two) inc (to or for you two) A. unc (us two) inc (you two)

Plur. N. w g G. ser (re) ower D. s ow A. s (sic) ow (owic)

NOTE 1.—The dual number was soon absorbed by the plural. No relic of it now remains. But when two and only two are referred to, the dual is consistently used in O.E.An example occurs in the case of the two blind men (Matthew ix. 27-31): Gemiltsa unc, Davdes sunu! Pity us, (thou) Son of David! Se inc fter incrum gelafan, Be it unto you according to your faith.

NOTE 2.—Mn.E. ye (< g), the nominative proper, is fast being displaced by you (< ow), the old objective. The distinction is preserved in the King James's version of the Bible: Ye in me, and I in you (John xiv.20); but not in Shakespeare and later writers.

(2) Demonstrative Pronouns.

73. Paradigm of s, os, is, this. For the Definite Article as a demonstrative, meaning that, see 28, Note3.

Masculine. Feminine. Neuter. Sing. N. s os is G. isses isse isses D. issum isse issum A. isne s is I. y:s —— y:s

All Genders. Plur. N.A. s G. issa D. issum

(3) The Interrogative Pronoun.

74. Paradigm of hw, hwt, who, what?

Masculine. Neuter. Sing. N. hw hwt G. hws hws D. hw:m hw:m A. hwone hwt I. —— hwy:

NOTE 1.—The derivative interrogatives, hwer (< *hw-er), which of two? and hwilc (< *hw-lc), which? are declined as strong adjectives (79-82).

NOTE 2.—The instrumental case of hw survives in Mn.E. why = on what account; the instrumental of the definite article is seen in the adverbial the: The sooner, the better = by how much sooner, by so much better.

NOTE 3.—How were the Mn.E. relative pronouns, who and which, evolved from the O.E. interrogatives? The change began in early West Saxon with hwt used in indirect questions (Wlfing, l.c. 310,[beta]): N ic wt eall hwt woldest, Now I know all that thou desiredst. The direct question was, Hwt woldest ? But the presence of eall shows that in Alfred's mind hwt was, in the indirect form, more relative than interrogative.

(4) Relative Pronouns.

75. O.E. had no relative pronoun proper. It used instead (1)the Indeclinable Particle e, who, whom, which, that, (2)the Definite Article (28), (3)the Definite Article with the Indeclinable Particle, (4)the Indeclinable Particle with a Personal Pronoun.

The Definite Article agrees in gender and number with the antecedent. The case depends upon the construction. The bird which I have may, therefore,be:—

(1) S fugol e ic hbbe; (2) S fugol one ic hbbe; (3) S fugol one e (= the which) ic hbbe; (4) S fugol e hine ic hbbe.

NOTE.—O.E. e agrees closely in construction with Mn.E. relative that: (1)Both are indeclinable. (2)Both refer to animate or inanimate objects. (3)Both may be used with phrasal value: y: ylcan dge e h hine t :m de beran wylla, On the same day that (= on which) they intend to bear him to the funeral pile. (4)Neither can be preceded by a preposition.

(5) Possessive Pronouns.

76. The Possessive Pronouns are mn, mine; n, thine; re, our; ower, your; [sn, his, her, its]; uncer, belonging to us two; incer, belonging to you two. They are declined as strong adjectives. The genitives of the Third Personal Pronoun, his, his, hiere, her, hiera, their, are indeclinable.

(6) Indefinite Pronouns.

77. These are :lc, each, every; n, a, an, one; :nig (< n-ig), any; n:nig (< ne-:nig), none; er, other; sum, one, a certain one; swilc, such. They are declined as strong adjectives.

NOTE.—O.E. had three established methods of converting an interrogative pronoun into an indefinite: (1)By prefixing ge, (2) by prefixing :g, (3)by interposing the interrogative between sw ... sw: (1)gehw, each; gehwer, either; gehwilc, each; (2):ghw, each; :ghwer, each; :ghwilc, each; (3)sw hw sw, whosoever; sw hwer sw, whichsoever of two; sw hwilc sw, whosoever.



78. The declension of adjectives conforms in general to the declension of nouns, though a few pronominal inflections have influenced certain cases. Adjectives belong either to (1)the Strong Declension or to (2)the Weak Declension. The Weak Declension is employed when the adjective is preceded by s or s, the, that, or this; otherwise, the Strong Declension is employed: # gdan cyningas#, the good kings; s gda cyning, this good king; but gde cyningas, good kings.

NOTE.—The Weak Declension is also frequently used when the adjective is employed in direct address, or preceded by a possessive pronoun: Dryhten, lmihtiga God ... ic bidde for nre miclan mildheortnesse, Lord, almighty God, Ipray thee, for thy great mercy.

(1) Strong Declension of Adjectives.

(a) Monosyllables.

79. The strong adjectives are chiefly monosyllabic with long stems: gd, good; eald, old; long, long; swift, swift. They are declined as follows.

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