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Classes of strong verbs in OE

The OE verb.

The development of articles.

Demonstrative Pronouns (DPs)


OE Personal Pronouns (PPs)

The Old English pronouns

The OE Pronoun

OE pronouns fell into the same classes as NE pronouns, though their number was restricted. They were personal, demonstrative and to a certain extent relative and possessive. They were characterised by the following categories: Gender (3), Number (3) and Case (4).

The demonstrative pronouns had the Instrumental Case and there were a lot of suppletive forms in the system of OE pronouns.

1. Due to the frequency of use, the Pers Ps in Old languages preserved a fairly complete system of inflexions. They distinguished three genders in the third person singular.

hē (masculine) hēa/hio (female) hit (neuter)

Four Cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative.

Two numbers in the third person and three numbers in the first and second.

  sg dual pl
1st ic wit
2nd Þū зit зē
  sg dual pl
Nom ic wit
Gen mīn uncer ūre
Dat unc ūs
Acc mē, mec unc(it?) ūs

3nd person sg

  m   n
Nom   hit
Gen his   his
Dat him   him
Acc hine   hit

The Possessive Pronouns developed from the Genitive Case of the Personal Pronouns.

Nom sg sē(m тот) seō (f та) Þæt (n тo) (the most frequently used)

DPs were adjectival pronouns and they were declined. They had 2 numbers and 5 cases?(+Instrumental)? They agreed with the noun they modified. In OE they were often used in the weakened meaning and later on developed into the definite article. In Modern English this and that are the descendants from the OE Demonstrative Pronouns of the neuter gender (þis, þæt)?.

The Definite Article originated from the Demonstrative Pr. In OE DPs were usually used in a weakened meaning when they denoted a known thing. Ex. Hē būde wiÞ Þā West s æ. (He lived near that West Sea.) The definite article (Þā) began to loose its forms of declension in Middle English (North – 12 cent, South –beg of the 14cent).

The Indefinite Article originated form the numeral one. Ex. Þa læз Þær ān micel eā. (Then lay there a long river).

1.All the verbal forms were built from 4 principle forms of the verb in OE.They were Present, Past sg, Past pl, Participle II. Following the way they built their forms OE verbs fell into 3 subdivisions: strong, weak, minor. (strong, weak verbs –Grim).

The main differences between weak and strong verbs are the following:

1) Strong verbs formed their past tense by means of (changing the root vowel without adding any suffix). Weak verbs formed their past tense by means of a special dental suffix, as a rule there was no vowel interchange.

2) Strong verbs formed their Part II by adding the suffix –en and vowel interchange.

3) Weak verbs fell into 3 classes (according to the stem-building suffix); strong verbs fell into 7 classes according to the vowel interchange in the root.

In addition to weak and strong verbs there were minor groups of verbs: Preterite – Present verbs; Suppletive verbs; Irregular or Anomalous verbs.

In OE there were about 300 strong verbs. They did not show any tendency to increase in number.

2. OE strong verbs were divided into 7 classes. Each class had a peculiar vowel gradation, which went back to the Indo-European ablaut (ĕ─ŏ). Vowel interchange was later modified in Proto Germanic. (OE ŏ→PG ǎ).

ĕ─ŏ – qualitative ablaut

Ø – нулевой or zero ablaut (беру, брал).


ĕ - a front vowel, ŏ - a back v, Ø - a zero v.

IEĕ ↓ PG e/i ↓ OE e/i ↓ eo ŏ ↓ a ā ↓ (в др. герм. пер. æ a o носовыми) ↓ ea Ø ↓ ē Ø u ↓ ↓ ↓ ǽ Ø u вставной гласный

Ex. Вставной u



3 bundum-b u ndan

The original IE vowel gradation series split into several serious because the gradation vowel was inserted in the root and was combined there (?in the sound of the root?).

The gradation series used in classes 1-5 go back to the IE qualitative ablaut ĕ─ŏ.

Class I

In this class the gradation vowel was combined with short i in the root, as a result we find long vowels in the first two forms and short i in the zero grade.

1form i ↓ PG e/i ↓ OE ī rīsan (rise) Inf 2 form ŏ IE ŏ→a+i>ai ai ↓ ā rās (rose) a-stem Past sg 3 form Ø ↓ i ↓ i rison Past pl 3 ф. 4 form risеn Part II

Class II

In this class the gradation vowel was combined with u -vowel of the root. Long diphthongs in the first two forms and u in the zero grade.

IEe/i + u ↓ PG en/in ↓ OE eo cēosan (ME choose) ă?ŏ? ↓ a+u=au ↓ ea ceas Ø ↓ u ↓ u curon (rotacism)   coren

u remained before- n (nasal) -i/j, o - in other cases.

Class III

To this class belong all strong verbs in which the root was followed by a sonant + one more consonant. e-o- Ø

PG e/i OE i findan (ME find) a fand u fundon   funden

Class IV

In this class the root was followed by a consonant.

PG e/i OE e/i beran (ME bear) ă æ bær ē æ bæron o boren

Class V

To this class belong the strong verbs in which the root was followed by a noise consonant.

Wesan Sittan wæs sæt wæron sæton weren seten

Class VI

In this class the original IE gradation was quantitative (short, long). In PG it was transformed into a qualitative-quantitative series.

IE o PG a OE a standan (stand) ō ō ō stōd (stood) ō ō ō stōden o a a staden

Class VII

The strong verbs of this gram class built their forms by reduplication (doubling) of the root syllable. Both the consonant and vowel were doubled.

Gth haitan haihait haihaitum haitans (call)

OE hātan hāitans heht

In OE the direct traces of reduplications were very rare, only a few verbs of the class remained?and then lost?.

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