Old English Verbs Classification

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What is a weak verb in the Germanic languages?

Indicates change in tense by adding a suffix, usually in "-ed"

How did strong verbs in the Germanic languages indicate change in tense?

Using vowel interchange

What was the system of the Old English verb like compared to present-day English?

Less developed

Which form-building devices were employed in the Old English verb?

Inflections combined with vowel interchange or suppletion

Were all paradigmatic forms of the Old English verb synthetic?

Yes, all of them were synthetic

What were the categories of the Old English verb?

Person, number, tense, and mood

Which grammatical category is represented by the opposition of singular and plural forms?


In which mood does the Imperative mood express orders or requests to a second person?


What was the main difference between strong verbs and weak verbs in Old English?

Conjugation patterns

Which mood is represented as a real fact in the text?


What determines the choice between singular and plural verb forms in Old English?

Subject's number

Why do some suggest calling the Subjunctive mood 'Optative'?

It expresses a wish or desire.

Study Notes

Types of Verbs in Germanic Languages

  • Weak verbs indicate change in tense by adding a suffix, usually in "-ed", e.g., walk, walked; love, loved
  • Strong verbs indicate change in tense by changing the root vowel, e.g., think, thought; drink, drank, drunk; bring, brought; run, ran

The Old English Verb System

  • The system was less developed than it is now, with fewer forms and different categories
  • The paradigm was fairly complicated, with numerous morphological classes and various form-building means
  • Form-building devices included gradation (vowel interchange), suffixes, inflections, and suppletion
  • Inflections were used in combination with vowel interchange or suppletion, or as pure inflection

Categories of the Old English Verb

  • Person: represented by all three persons, but often neutralized in many positions
  • Number: singular and plural, with the choice of form depending on the subject's number
  • Tense: present, past, and imperative
  • Mood: indicative, subjunctive, and imperative
  • Indicative mood represents the action as a real fact
  • Imperative mood expresses order or request, used in singular or plural, and sometimes has an optative meaning
  • Subjunctive mood is debated, with some calling it Conjunctive or Optative mood

Verb Conjugation

  • Present tense singular has all forms, while plural has no distinct form
  • Past tense singular has one form for the 1st and 3rd person
  • Imperative and Subjunctive mood have no person category
  • Strong verbs and weak verbs have different conjugation patterns

Learn about weak and strong verbs in Old English and how they indicate change in tense with suffixes or by changing the root vowel. Explore the differences in the verb system between Old English and modern languages.

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