Wikipǣdia:Tutorial on Old English

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Hū man sceolde ƿrītan[ādihtan fruman]

For information on typing, see Help:Innung#Typing

Gif þē is nīed, brūc þā stafas: ǣ æ ā ē ī ō ū ȳ þ ð ƿ oþþe Ǣ Æ Ā Ē Ī Ō Ū Ȳ Þ Ð Ƿ in þīnum geƿritum.

When writing, use the early West Saxon spellings:

  1. Use ie instead of y (thus sierƿung instead of syrƿung, his instead of hys, etc.)
  2. Use an instead of on (thus and instead of ond, mann instead of monn, etc.)

OE Style[ādihtan fruman]

As a general rule for the OE wiki, try to remember the following OE guidelines to give this wiki a consistent look and feel:

Don'ts

  1. Do not use y for ie in words such as his, hire, sierwung, or for eo in words such as feorran, feorsian
  2. Do not syncopate verb endings on verbs ending in consonant clusters or t/d. It is well known that the Anglo-Saxons did this, but it will make reading articles so much easier if one finds "bīteþ" and "biddeþ" instead of "bitt" and "bītt." And "hyngrest" not "hyngrst." However, you can probably get away with "bītst."
  3. Do not use on instead of an. It is easier to see and understand "mann," "and," and "band" than "monn," "ond," and "bond."
  4. Do not link to external sites within an article if you can help it. Save that for the end of the article.
  5. Do not link to images outside the article. Having little thumbnails that one may click on is nicer, and makes the article better to look at.

Do's

  1. Use the same spelling throughout your article. It is well known that the Anglo-Saxons didn't do this, but it will make reading articles so much easier with consistent spelling.
  2. Use the special words and characters under the edit box if you need them.
  3. Use the following for definite articles: se, sēo, þæt; þæs, þǣre; þǣm, þǣre; þȳ/þon, þǣre; þone, þā, þæt; and plural: þā; þāra/þǣra; þǣm; þā - don't use thaet, þat, sio, sīo, þām, þāre, etc. Consistency!
  4. Use the distinctive accusative forms of pronouns (mec, þec, ūsic, uncit, ēowic, incit, hine, hīe, hit). This will make the articles that much easier to read.
  5. Use the þ for the same sound as in "theta" and ð for the same sound as in "that." It is well known that the Anglo-Saxons didn't do this, but it will make pronouncing what is read in the articles so much easier.
  6. Use internal links within this wiki. We are not an advertising service for other websites.
  7. Use image thumbnails within an article rather than simply linking to the image page. This makes for prettier articles, and is already common practice in other wikis.

Or: be consistent, make it easy for your readers to understand. And remember, this is an encyclopedia, so Neutral Point of View applies!

Punctuation[ādihtan fruman]

  1. Punctuate sentences as you normally would, i.e. a period for sentences, question mark for questions, and exclamation mark for imperatives/commands.
  2. For subordinate clauses, separate them from the main clause by a comma, e.g. "Ic cann secgan, þæt hē is mīn brōðor." Or, "Þes is sē mōnaþ, þe ƿē 'Hāligmōnaþ' hātton." This makes it a bit clearer to understand.
  3. In series, place commas after each word, including one before 'and' (mōdor, fæder, and sweostor).

Runes[ādihtan fruman]

Please visit the How to write with Runes article if you wish to write using the runic alphabet. If you wish to do so, please have a version of the page written using the Latin alphabet first, then transliterated into runes.

And as for Grammar[ādihtan fruman]

Information about Syllables Relevant to Old English[ādihtan fruman]

Syllables break when:

  • There are two consonants between two vowel clusters, e.g. hab-ban, en-gel.
  • There is one consonant between two vowel clusters (the consonant going to the latter syllable), e.g. ē-þel, fre-mast.

It is important to know what the stem of a word is: It is the most basic factor of a word (compound or not) minus declension/conjugation suffixes, therefore the Modern English word fireman has two stems: fire and man, the same rules apply to Old English; but in compound words, the declension/conjugation of a noun/adjective/verb is purely dependent on the last word in the compound (so the noun "sealtȳþ - salt-wave" may look like it takes the endings of a long-stemmed disyllable; but it is, in fact, a compound word of "sealt - salt" and "ȳþ - wave" (ȳþ being the final member of the compound), therefore it takes the conjugation of a long-stemmed monosyllable: ȳþ).

At many times in Old English, it is important to be able to distinguish four different types of syllables.

Short-stemmed monosyllables: end with short vowel and one consonant, e.g. scip, in, glæd.

Long-stemmed monosyllables: end with either a long vowel and one consonant or a short vowel and two consonants, e.g. hand, cniht, fōt, tōþ.

Short-stemmed disyllables: end with a short vowel, then one consonant, then another short vowel, then one consonant, e.g. metod, ƿerod, hacod.

Long-stemmed disyllables: end with the same pattern as above (e.g. vowel, consonant cluster, vowel, consonant cluster) but must have at least one long vowel or one cluster of two consonants, e.g. engel, habban, ƿindig, ēþel.

Verbs[ādihtan fruman]

The verb is conjugated as follows: ic (stem)-e, þu (stem)-est, hē (stem)-eþ/aþ, ƿē/gē/hīe (stem)-aþ

  1. Strong Verbs: ic -e, þu -(e)st, hē -(e)þ, ƿē/gē/hīe -aþ

--The () means the e of the ending can be syncopated if the ending is still understandable. Bisen: stendeþ hē, ne stent hē, ac nimþ hē, ne nimeþ hē. Understendest þu?

Weak Verbs[ādihtan fruman]

Type 1a[ādihtan fruman]

Verbs with stems ending in a double consonant or in -rian, unless otherwise marked. Infinitive Forms: nerian, fremman, settan, gremman, etc.

  1. Note how the infinitive ending is always -an.
Weak Verb 1a Present Indicative: nerian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic nerie ƿē neriaþ
þu nerest neriaþ
hē, hēo, hit nereþ hīe neriaþ
Weak Verb 1a Present Subjunctive: nerian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic nerie ƿē nerien
þu nerie nerien
hē, hēo, hit nerie hīe nerien
Weak Verb 1a Past Indicative: nerian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic nerede ƿē neredon
þu neredest neredon
hē, hēo, hit nerede hīe neredon
Weak Verb 1a Past Subjunctive: nerian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic nerede ƿē nereden
þu nerede nereden
hē, hēo, hit nerede hīe nereden
Weak Verb 1a Imperative: nerian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) nere (gē) neriaþ
Weak Verb 1a Participles: nerian
Present Past
neriende genered


And doubled consonant verbs (with fremman as an example):

Weak Verb 1a Present Indicative: fremman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic fremme ƿē fremmaþ
þu fremest fremmaþ
hē, hēo, hit fremeþ hīe fremmaþ
Weak Verb 1a Present Subjunctive: fremman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic fremme ƿē fremmen
þu fremme fremmen
hē, hēo, hit fremme hīe fremmen
Weak Verb 1a Past Indicative: fremman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic fremede ƿē fremedon
þu fremedest fremedon
hē, hēo, hit fremede hīe fremedon
Weak Verb 1a Past Subjunctive: fremman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic fremede ƿē fremeden
þu fremede fremeden
hē, hēo, hit fremede hīe fremeden
Weak Verb 1a Imperative: fremman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) freme (gē) fremmaþ
Weak Verb 1a Participles: fremman
Present Past
fremmende gefremed


And one last type, settan/lecgan type 1a verbs:

Weak Verb 1a Present Indicative: settan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic sette ƿē settaþ
þu setest settaþ
hē, hēo, hit seteþ hīe settaþ
Weak Verb 1a Present Subjunctive: settan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic sette ƿē setten
þu sette setten
hē, hēo, hit sette hīe setten
Weak Verb 1a Past Indicative: settan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic sette ƿē setton
þu settest setton
hē, hēo, hit sette hīe setton
Weak Verb 1a Past Subjunctive: settan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic sette ƿē setten
þu sette setten
hē, hēo, hit sette hīe setten
Weak Verb 1a Imperative: settan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) sete (gē) settaþ
Weak Verb 1a Participles: settan
Present Past
settende geseted



Notes: Weak Verb 1a[ādihtan fruman]
  • The first person is the infinitive, without -an (the stem), plus -e. (nerian -> neri+an -> neri+e)
  • The second/third person is formed from the bare stem plus -est/-eþ (nerian -> ner+ian -> nerest, nereþ)
  • The plural is the infinitive without -an (the stem), plus -aþ. (nerian -> neri+an -> neri+aþ)
  • The imperative is formed from the þu (minus -st) and ge (same) forms. (nerest ->nere-st -> nere)
  • The subjunctive is formed from the stem + -e, -en. (nerian -> neri+e, neri+en) Thus, it is just like the first person indicative and the first person indicative plus -n.
  • The present participle is formed from the stem plus -ende (nerian -> neri+ende)
  • The past participle is formed from the past tense and ge-, minus the -e (nerede -> ge+nered-e -> genered)
  • Verbs ending in -rian and with doubled consonants drop the -i- or doubled consonant in the same positions: 2nd/3rd person singular, imperative singular, and throughout the past tense.
  • Verbs like settan (ātreddan, cnyttan, hreddan, hƿettan, lettan, spryttan, lecgan) typically have the above declension. Lecgan has (legde, geleged). You may find past forms as "setede."
Type 1b[ādihtan fruman]

Verbs with stems ending in more than one consonant (not a doubled consonant) or with a long vowel and one consonant. Infinitive Forms: dēman, hyngran, drencan, gierƿan, etc.

  1. Note how the infinitive ending is always -an.
Weak Verb 1b Present Indicative: dēman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic dēme ƿē dēmaþ
þu dēmst dēmaþ
hē, hēo, hit dēmþ hīe dēmaþ
Weak Verb 1b Present Subjunctive: dēman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic dēme ƿē dēmen
þu dēme dēmen
hē, hēo, hit dēme hīe dēmen
Weak Verb 1b Past Indicative: dēman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic dēmde ƿē dēmdon
þu dēmdest dēmdon
hē, hēo, hit dēmde hīe dēmdon
Weak Verb 1b Past Subjunctive: dēman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic dēmde ƿē dēmden
þu dēmde dēmden
hē, hēo, hit dēmde hīe dēmden
Weak Verb 1b Imperative: dēman
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) dēm (gē) dēmaþ
Weak Verb 1b Participles: dēman
Present Past
dēmende gedēmed


And multiple consonant verbs (ending in -c, -sc, -p, -f, with drencan as an example):

Weak Verb 1b Present Indicative: drencan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic drence ƿē drencaþ
þu drencest, drencst drencaþ
hē, hēo, hit drenceþ, drencþ hīe drencaþ
Weak Verb 1b Present Subjunctive: drencan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic drence ƿē drencen
þu drence drencen
hē, hēo, hit drence hīe drencen
Weak Verb 1b Past Indicative: drencan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic drencte ƿē drencton
þu drenctest drencton
hē, hēo, hit drencte hīe drencton
Weak Verb 1b Past Subjunctive: drencan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic drencte ƿē drencten
þu drencte drencten
hē, hēo, hit drencte hīe drencten
Weak Verb 1b Imperative: drencan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) drenc (gē) drencaþ
Weak Verb 1b Participles: drencan
Present Past
drencende gedrenced


And multiple consonant verbs (using hyngran as an example):

Weak Verb 1b Present Indicative: hyngran
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic hyngre ƿē hyngraþ
þu hyngrest hyngraþ
hē, hēo, hit hyngreþ hīe hyngraþ
Weak Verb 1b Present Subjunctive: hyngran
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic hyngre ƿē hyngren
þu hyngre hyngren
hē, hēo, hit hyngre hīe hyngren
Weak Verb 1b Past Indicative: hyngran
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic hyngrede ƿē hyngredon
þu hyngredest hyngredon
hē, hēo, hit hyngrede hīe hyngredon
Weak Verb 1b Past Subjunctive: hyngran
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic hyngrede ƿē hyngreden
þu hyngrede hyngreden
hē, hēo, hit hyngrede hīe hyngreden
Weak Verb 1b Imperative: hyngran
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) hyngre (gē) hyngraþ
Weak Verb 1b Participles: hyngran
Present Past
hyngrende gehyngred



And one last type, gierƿan verbs (ending in -ƿan):

Weak Verb 1b Present Indicative: gierƿan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic gierƿe ƿē gierƿaþ
þu gierest gierƿaþ
hē, hēo, hit giereþ hīe gierƿaþ
Weak Verb 1b Present Subjunctive: gierƿan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic gierƿe ƿē gierƿen
þu gierƿe gierƿen
hē, hēo, hit gierƿe hīe gierƿen
Weak Verb 1b Past Indicative: gierƿan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic gierede ƿē gieredon
þu gieredest gieredon
hē, hēo, hit gierede hīe gieredon
Weak Verb 1b Past Subjunctive: gierƿan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic gierede ƿē giereden
þu gierede giereden
hē, hēo, hit gierede hīe giereden
Weak Verb 1b Imperative: gierƿan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) giere (gē) gierƿaþ
Weak Verb 1b Participles: gierƿan
Present Past
gierƿende gegierƿed, gegiered



Notes: Weak Verb 1b[ādihtan fruman]
  • See notes on Weak Verb 1a for formation of the different forms of the verb.
  • The most 'regular' 1b verbs are those like dēman (long vowel, 1 consonant) and hyngran (short vowel, multiple consonants), in that they don't have much variation in formation like drencan and gierƿan verbs.
  • Verbs having a long vowel and one consonant, like dēman, don't generally have the full -est, -eþ endings. Thus, the imperative is simply the þu form without -st (dēm!, not dēme!).
  • Verbs like dēman include verbs ending in -rn, -ng, -rg, -lg, ƿiernan (ƿiernde, geƿierned), lengan (lengde, gelenged), byrgan (byrgde, gebyrged), and fylgan (fylgde, gefylged). It also includes contracted verbs like hēan (hēade, gehēad), rȳn, tȳn, þēon, þȳn.
  • Verbs like drencan include those ending in -nc, -sc, -p, -sp, -t, -rp. They add -te in the past tense (ācƿencte, ādƿæscte, etc.).
  • Verbs like hyngran, with a short vowel and multiple consonants, are more 'regular' than other 1b verbs. Their past tense is always -ede, and the past participle is always ge-(stem)-ed (bīecnede, þrysmede, symblede, ræfnede).
  • Verbs like gierƿan, ending in -ƿan, drop the -ƿ- in the same places as the -i- in 1a verbs (smierƿan -> smierest, nierƿan -> niereþ). Verbs like getrīeƿan, lǣƿan, forslǣƿan, hlēoƿan (with a long vowel/diphthong) kept the -ƿ- in all forms, however.

Weak Verb 2[ādihtan fruman]

These are all other verbs, and are about half of all weak verbs.

Weak Verb 2 Present Indicative: endian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic endie ƿē endiaþ
þu endast endiaþ
hē, hēo, hit endaþ hīe endiaþ
Weak Verb 2 Present Subjunctive: endian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic endie ƿē endien
þu endie endien
hē, hēo, hit endie hīe endien
Weak Verb 2 Past Indicative: endian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic endode ƿē endodon
þu endodest endodon
hē, hēo, hit endode hīe endodon
Weak Verb 2 Past Subjunctive: endian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic endode ƿē endoden
þu endode endoden
hē, hēo, hit endode hīe endoden
Weak Verb 2 Imperative: endian
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) enda (gē) endiaþ
Weak Verb 2 Participles: endian
Present Past
endiende geendod


Verbs like tƿēogan to doubt are slightly irregular, since they were originally class 3 verbs, but decline alike, so it's not too difficult to learn them. There are only tƿēogan, fēogan to hate, frēogan to love, make free, smēagan to ponder, consider, and þrēagan to reprove, rebuke. Sometimes these verbs show up as tƿēon, fēon, frēon, smēan, and þrēan.

Weak Verb 2 Present Indicative: tƿēogan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic tƿēoge ƿē tƿēogaþ
þu tƿēost tƿēogaþ
hē, hēo, hit tƿēoþ hīe tƿēogaþ
Weak Verb 2 Present Subjunctive: tƿēogan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic tƿēoge ƿē tƿēogen
þu tƿēoge tƿēogen
hē, hēo, hit tƿēoge hīe tƿēogen
Weak Verb 2 Past Indicative: tƿēogan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic tƿēode ƿē tƿēodon
þu tƿēodest tƿēodon
hē, hēo, hit tƿēode hīe tƿēodon
Weak Verb 2 Past Subjunctive: tƿēogan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
ic tƿēode ƿē tƿēoden
þu tƿēode tƿēoden
hē, hēo, hit tƿēode hīe tƿēoden
Weak Verb 2 Imperative: tƿēogan
Pronoun Singular Pronoun Plural
(þu) tƿēo (gē) tƿēogaþ
Weak Verb 2 Participles: tƿēogan
Present Past
tƿēogiende, tƿēonde (poetical) getƿēod



Notes: Weak Verb 2[ādihtan fruman]
  • See notes on Weak Verb 1a for formation of the different forms of the verb.
  • These verbs all end in -ian.
  • These verbs are the most 'regular' verbs in that all verbs of this class decline the same aside from a small group of exceptional verbs.
  • The second and third person singular have the endings -ast and -aþ, without the -i-.
  • The imperative is still the second person, minus -st.
  • The verbs that act like twēogan are remnants of class 3 verbs that became class 2 verbs before the written history of Old English.

Pronouns[ādihtan fruman]

In dæftunge: nemniendlic, āgniendlic, forgifendlic, ƿregendlic

First Person Singular: I, We Two, We
I We two We
Nom. ic ƿit ƿē
Gen. mīn uncer ūser, ūre
Dat. unc ūs
Acc. mec uncit ūsic
Second Person Pronouns: Thou, Ye two, Ye
Thou Ye two Ye
Nom. þu git
Gen. þīn incer ēoƿer
Dat. þē inc ēoƿ
Acc. þec incit ēoƿic
Third Person Pronouns: He, She, It, They
He She It They
Nom. hēo hit hīe
Gen. his hire his hira, hiera
Dat. him hire him him, heom
Acc. hine hīe hit hīe
Interrogative Pronoun: Who, What
Who What
Nom. hƿā hƿæt
Gen. hƿæs hƿæs
Dat. hƿǣm hƿǣm
Inst. hƿȳ/hƿī hƿȳ/hƿī
Acc. hƿone hƿæt

Notice how the Interrogative pronouns look like the pronouns and hit (hƿǣm and him, hƿone and hine, hƿæt and hit, hƿæs and his). If you compare to the Definite Article, you'll see the same similarities, mostly a difference of þ-/hƿ- (þone and hƿone, þǣm and hƿǣm, þȳ and hƿȳ, þæt and hƿæt, þæs and hƿæs).

Declension[ādihtan fruman]

The genitive pronoun functions as an adjective. As such, it declines to agree with the case, gender, and number of the noun which it describes. The pronouns mīn, þīn, sīn, ūser, ēoƿer, uncer, incer decline, whereas his, hire, and hira do not. The following table illustrates the declensions of these pronouns, which is exactly like the adjective blind.

First Person Singular Genitive Declension: mīn
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. mīn mīn mīn
Gen. mīnes mīnes mīnre
Dat. mīnum mīnum mīnre
Inst. mīne mīne mīnre
Acc. mīnne mīn mīne
First Person Singular Genitive Declension: mīn
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. mīne mīn mīna
Gen. mīnra mīnra mīnra
Dat. mīnum mīnum mīnum
Inst. mīnum mīnum mīnum
Acc. mīne mīn mīna
Second Person Singular Genitive Declension: þīn
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. þīn þīn þīn
Gen. þīnes þīnes þīnre
Dat. þīnum þīnum þīnre
Inst. þīne þīne þīnre
Acc. þīnne þīn þīne
Second Person Singular Genitive Declension: þīn
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. þīne þīn þīna
Gen. þīnra þīnra þīnra
Dat. þīnum þīnum þīnum
Inst. þīnum þīnum þīnum
Acc. þīne þīn þīna
First Person Plural Genitive Declension: ūser
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. ūser ūser ūser
Gen. ūseres ūseres ūserre
Dat. ūserum ūserum ūserre
Inst. ūsere ūsere ūserre
Acc. ūserne ūser ūsere
First Person Plural Genitive Declension: ūser
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. ūsere ūser ūsera
Gen. ūserra ūserra ūserra
Dat. ūserum ūserum ūserum
Inst. ūserum ūserum ūserum
Acc. ūsere ūser ūsera


Nouns[ādihtan fruman]

The following tables show the most common noun declensions for the three genders (~68% masculine, ~73% feminine, ~91% neuter).

The Strong Masculine Noun Declension
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. se - þā -as
Gen. þæs -es þāra -a
Dat. þǣm -e þǣm -um
Inst. þȳ/þon -e þǣm -um
Acc. þone - þā -as
The Weak Masculine Noun Declension
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. se -a þā -an
Gen. þæs -an þāra -ena
Dat. þǣm -an þǣm -um
Inst. þȳ/þon -an þǣm -um
Acc. þone -an þā -an
The Strong Feminine Noun Declension
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. sēo -/-u þā -a
Gen. þǣre -e þāra -a
Dat. þǣre -e þǣm -um
Inst. þǣre -e þǣm -um
Acc. þā -e þā -a
The Weak Feminine Noun Declension
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. sēo -e þā -an
Gen. þǣre -an þāra -ena
Dat. þǣre -an þǣm -um
Inst. þǣre -an þǣm -um
Acc. þā -an þā -an
The Strong Neuter Noun Declension
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. þæt - -/-u -/-u
Gen. þæs -es þāra -a
Dat. þǣm -e þǣm -um
Inst. þȳ/þon -e þǣm -um
Acc. þæt - þā -/-u
The Weak Neuter Noun Declension
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. þæt -e þā -an
Gen. þæs -an þāra -ena
Dat. þǣm -an þǣm -um
Inst. þȳ/þon -an þǣm -um
Acc. þæt -e þā -an

Masculine Nouns[ādihtan fruman]

Strong Masculine[ādihtan fruman]
Strong Masculine Noun: stān
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. se stān þā stānas
Gen. þæs stānes þāra stāna
Dat. þǣm stāne þǣm stānum
Inst. þȳ/þon stāne þǣm stānum
Acc. þone stān þā stānas

This declension has about 63.8% of all masculine nouns. Since this declension was so common, it became the basis for the modern English plural -(e)s ending. One-syllable nouns, like stān, gang, and ǣl all decline alike. Nouns ending in a double consonant, like bucc, hnæpp, and cropp, also decline like stān. The first irregularity comes with nouns like dæg, which have the letter 'æ' followed by one consonant. The 'æ' becomes 'a' in the plural.

Strong Masculine Noun: dæg
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. se dæg þā dagas
Gen. þæs dæges þāra daga
Dat. þǣm dæge þǣm dagum
Inst. þȳ/þon dæge þǣm dagum
Acc. þone dæg þā dagas

Nouns like dæg include: pæþ, stæf, hƿæl, etc. One noun, mǣg, has both māgas and mǣgas for plural.

Nouns like mearh are also a litle different from stān. They drop the -h before endings, and lengthen the vowel.

Strong Masculine Noun: mearh
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. se mearh þā mēaras
Gen. þæs mēares þāra mēara
Dat. þǣm mēare þǣm mēarum
Inst. þȳ/þon mēare þǣm mēarum
Acc. þone mearh þā mēaras

Nouns like mearh include: ealh, eolh, fearh, healh, sealh, seolh, ƿealh, etc. The word scōh simply adds endings, since it already has a long vowel:

Strong Masculine Noun: scōh
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. se scōh þā scōs
Gen. þæs scōs þāra scōna
Dat. þǣm scō þǣm scōm, scōum
Inst. þȳ/þon scō þǣm scōm, scōum
Acc. þone scōh þā scōs
Weak Masculine[ādihtan fruman]

Note that all weak masculine nouns have the letter a as an ending in the nominative singular (making weak masculine nouns very easy to detect), which is a suffix which is often the equivalent in meaning to the Modern English suffix -er.

Note that some masculine nouns ending in a long ā are weak (e.g. rā "roebuck), but not all.

Weak Masculine Noun: Nama - Name
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. se nama þā naman
Gen. þæs naman þāra namena
Dat. þǣm naman þǣm namum
Inst. þȳ/þon naman þǣm namum
Acc. þone naman þā naman

Neuter Nouns[ādihtan fruman]

Neuter nouns are much the same as masculine nous in declension, and, if you have already learnt the masculine noun declensions, these should be no problem.

Strong Neuter[ādihtan fruman]

Here's where your knowledge of long-stemmed and short-stemmed syllables comes in handy.

Short-stemmed monosyllables and long-stemmed disyllables take these endings:

Strong Neuter Noun: Scip - Ship
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. þæt scip þā scipu
Gen. þæs scipes þāra scipa
Dat. þǣm scipe þǣm scipum
Inst. þȳ/þon scipe þǣm scipum
Acc. þæt scip þā scipu

And long-stemmed monosyllabes/short-stemmed disyllables take these endings:

Strong Neuter Noun: Hūs - House
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. þæt hūs þā hūs
Gen. þæs hūses þāra hūsa
Dat. þǣm hūse þǣm hūsum
Inst. þȳ/þon hūse þǣm hūsum
Acc. þæt hūs þā hūs

Note that the only difference between the two declensions is that u is in the neuter plural for short-stemmed monosyllables and long-stemmed disyllables; but in long-stemmed disyllables and short-stemmed mono-syllables, the u is not there.

All of the rules for the masculine strong sub-declensions occur (e.g. æ in singular and a in plural; h after a vowel is lost before declension suffixes, and the vowel is lengthened; and h after a consonant is lost, and the first stem-vowel is lengthened) in the neuter strong declension, too.

Weak Neuter[ādihtan fruman]

Weak neuter nouns are almost exactly the same as weak masculine nouns in declension, but singular nominative and accusative has -e instead of -a and -an.

Weak Neuter Noun: Ēare - Ear
Article Singular Article Plural
Nom. þæt ēare þā ēaran
Gen. þæs ēaranan þāra ēarena
Dat. þǣm ēaran þǣm ēarum
Inst. þȳ/þon ēaran þǣm ēarum
Acc. þæt ēare þā ēaran

There is only one other noun belonging to this declension: ēage - eye.

Case Usage[ādihtan fruman]

General Notes[ādihtan fruman]

A noun's case tells what it is doing in a sentence. And when there is an appositive phrase, it matches the noun to which it refers. E.g., "I gave it to John, the new president - Ic geaf hit Iohanne, þǣm nīƿan foresittende." John and "the new president" are both in the dative case.

Nominative[ādihtan fruman]

Subject of a sentence, or the object of copula verbs (bēon, ƿesan, ƿeorðan). This is the dictionary form of a noun.

Genitive[ādihtan fruman]

Case of possession, and the object of some prepositions and adjectives. This tells whose thing a specific thing is. E.g., "cyninges þorp" - "king's village."

Dative[ādihtan fruman]

Case of giving, telling to/for whom something is done, the benificiary of some action. E.g., Ic geaf him þæt - I gave him that. It is also the case of many prepositions.

Instrumental[ādihtan fruman]

Case telling "by what means" something is done. It is inflected in nouns like the dative, but with an adjective describing the noun, the difference is made clearer (or with an article - þȳ or þon). E.g., þȳ hamore slōg hē þone cyning - with the hammer he hit the king.

Accusative[ādihtan fruman]

Direct Object of a sentence, and the object of some prepositions (ƿiþ, etc.). It is uninflected in masculine/neuter nouns, but has an -e ending with most feminine nouns.

It is also used to show duration of length or time, e.g. "I ran a mile," "I waited an hour," "I'll be running the whole length of the school," etc.

Adjectives[ādihtan fruman]

These are those words that come before a noun, describing what kind of noun it is. There are two ways to decline an adjective, either strong or weak. A Strong adjective is that which stands alone, preceded by no article or possessive. A Weak adjective is that which is preceded by se/sēo/þæt, mīn/þīn, etc.


  • NOTE: eall, genōg, manig, and ōðer are always declined strong. You may find "Se ōðer mann" instead of *"Se ōðera mann."

One-Syllable Adjectives[ādihtan fruman]

Strong Adjective Singular Declension: glæd
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. glæd glæd gladu
Gen. glades glades glædre
Dat. gladum gladum glædre
Inst. glade glade glædre
Acc. glædne glæd glade
Strong Plural Adjective Declension: glæd
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. glade gladu glada
Gen. glædra glædra glædra
Dat. gladum gladum gladum
Inst. gladum gladum gladum
Acc. glade gladu glada
Strong Adjective Singular Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. blind blind blind
Gen. blindes blindes blindre
Dat. blindum blindum blindre
Inst. blinde blinde blindre
Acc. blindne blind blinde
Strong Adjective Plural Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. blinde blind blinda
Gen. blindra blindra blindra
Dat. blindum blindum blindum
Inst. blindum blindum blindum
Acc. blinde blind blinda
Strong Adjective Singular Declension: hēah
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. hēah hēah hēa
Gen. hēas hēas hēare
Dat. hēa(u)m hēa(u)m hēare
Inst. hēa hēa hēare
Acc. hēane hēah hēa
Strong Plural Adjective Declension: hēah
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. hēa hēa hēa
Gen. hēara hēara hēara
Dat. hēa(u)m hēa(u)m hēa(u)m
Inst. hēa(u)m hēa(u)m hēa(u)m
Acc. hēa hēa hēa


Variations in Declension[ādihtan fruman]
  1. Adjectives like glæd, have æ followed by one consonant, and change the æ to a with endings beginning in a vowel (-es, -u, etc.). Also declined like glæd are all adjectives ending in -lic and -sum.
  2. Adjectives like blind, have a short vowel followed by two consonants (sƿift, scearp), or a long vowel followed by one consonant (ƿāc, frōd). Also declined like blind are all adjectives ending in -cund, -feald, -fæst, and -lēas. The possessives mīn, þīn, sīn, ūser, uncer, ēoƿer, incer are declined like blind also.
  3. Adjectives like hēah, ending in -h, drop the -h before any ending beginning in a vowel, and drop that vowel. Thus, where glæd has gladu, glades, hēah will have hēa, hēas.

Two-Syllable Adjectives[ādihtan fruman]

Strong Adjective Singular Declension: manig
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. manig manig manig
Gen. maniges maniges manigre
Dat. manigum manigum manigre
Inst. manige manige manigre
Acc. manigne manig manige
Strong Plural Adjective Declension: manig
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. manige manig maniga
Gen. manigra manigra manigra
Dat. manigum manigum manigum
Inst. manigum manigum manigum
Acc. manige manig maniga
Strong Adjective Singular Declension: hālig
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. hālig hālig hāligu
Gen. hālges hālges hāligre
Dat. hālgum hālgum hāligre
Inst. hālge hālge hāligre
Acc. hāligne blind hālge
Strong Adjective Plural Declension: hālig
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. hālge hālig hālga
Gen. hāligra hāligra hāligra
Dat. hālgum hālgum hālgum
Inst. hālgum hālgum hālgum
Acc. hālge hālig hālga
Strong Adjective Singular Declension: ƿilde
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. ƿilde ƿilde ƿildu
Gen. ƿildes ƿildes ƿildre
Dat. ƿildum ƿildum ƿildre
Inst. ƿilde ƿilde ƿildre
Acc. ƿildne ƿilde ƿilde
Strong Plural Adjective Declension: ƿilde
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. ƿilde ƿildu ƿilda
Gen. ƿildra ƿildra ƿildra
Dat. ƿildum ƿildum ƿildum
Inst. ƿildum ƿildum ƿildum
Acc. ƿilde ƿildu ƿilda


Variations in Declension[ādihtan fruman]
  1. Adjectives like manig, with a short stem (one short vowel and one consonant, plus an ending with one short vowel and one consonant, -ig, -od, -en, -or, -ol, -oþ, -er), simply add the endings to the adjective, but never add the -u ending.
  2. Adjectives like hālig, with a long stem (one short vowel and two consonants, or a long vowel with one consonant, plus an ending with one short vowel and one consonant, -ig, -od, -en, -or, -ol, -oþ, -er), will syncopate the second stem vowel (hālges, ēacne, hǣðna) in endings beginning with vowels. These adjectives will always add the -u ending (but won't syncopate in that case).
  3. Adjectives ending in -e, such as ƿilde, will always have the u-ending in the feminine singular and neuter plural. They simply drop the -e, and add endings as necessary.

U-Ending and Weak Adjectives[ādihtan fruman]

Strong Adjective Singular Declension: gearu
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. gearu gearu gearu
Gen. gearƿes gearƿes gearore
Dat. gearƿum gearƿum gearore
Inst. gearƿe gearƿe gearore
Acc. gearone gearu gearƿe
Strong Plural Adjective Declension: gearu
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. gearƿe gearu gearƿa
Gen. gearora gearora gearora
Dat. gearƿum gearƿum gearƿum
Inst. gearƿum gearƿum gearƿum
Acc. gearƿe gearu gearƿa
Weak Adjective Singular Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. blinda blinde blinde
Gen. blindan blindan blindan
Dat. blindan blindan blindan
Inst. blindan blindan blindan
Acc. blindan blinde blindan
Weak Plural Adjective Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. blindan blindan blindan
Gen. blindra blindra blindra
Dat. blindum blindum blindum
Inst. blindum blindum blindum
Acc. blindan blindan blindan


Weak Declension with definite article and possessive pronoun:

Weak Adjective Singular Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. se blinda þæt blinde sēo blinde
Gen. þæs blindan þæs blindan þǣre blindan
Dat. þǣm blindan þǣm blindan þǣre blindan
Inst. þȳ blindan þȳ blindan þǣre blindan
Acc. þone blindan þæt blinde þā blindan
Strong Plural Adjective Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. þā blindan þā blindan þā blindan
Gen. þāra blindra þāra blindra þāra blindra
Dat. þǣm blindum þǣm blindum þǣm blindum
Inst. þǣm blindum þǣm blindum þǣm blindum
Acc. þā blindan þā blindan þā blindan
Weak Adjective Singular Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. mīn blinda mīn blinde mīn blinde
Gen. mīnes blindan mīnes blindan mīnre blindan
Dat. mīnum blindan mīnum blindan mīnre blindan
Inst. mīne blindan mīne blindan mīnre blindan
Acc. mīnne blindan mīn blinde mīne blindan
Strong Plural Adjective Declension: blind
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. mīne blindan mīn blindan mīna blindan
Gen. mīnra blindra mīnra blindra mīnra blindra
Dat. mīnum blindum mīnum blindum mīnum blindum
Inst. mīnum blindum mīnum blindum mīnum blindum
Acc. mīne blindan mīn blindan mīna blindan


Variations in Declension[ādihtan fruman]
  1. Adjectives ending in -u change it to -o- before -re, -ra, -ne. The -u changes to -ƿ- before endings beginning with a vowel.
  2. Adjectives occur in the weak declension after se, sēo, þæt, þes, þēos, þis, mīn, þīn, sīn, etc.
  3. Adjectives like glæd will have -a- throughout the weak declension.

Numbers[ādihtan fruman]

We did not have Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0) in Old English. Rather, they used Roman numerals (i, v, x, c, d, m...). For the purposes of this website, it is requested that all pages use Arabic numerals for ease of reading.

Cardinal Numbers[ādihtan fruman]

The cardinal numbers are:

  1. ān; forma
  2. tƿēgen, tƿā, tū; ōðer
  3. þrīe, þrēo; þridda
  4. fēoƿer; fēorða
  5. fīf; fīfta
  6. six; sixta
  7. seofon; seofoða
  8. eahta; eahtoða
  9. nigon; nigoða
  10. tīene; tēoða
  11. endleofan; endleofta
  12. tƿelf; tƿelfta
  13. þrēotīene; þrēotēoða
  14. fēoƿertīene; fēoƿertēoða
  15. fīftīene; fīftēoða
  16. sixtīene; sixtēoða
  17. seofontīene; seofontēoða
  18. eahtatīene; eahtatēoða
  19. nigontīene; nigontēoða
  20. tƿentig; tƿentigoða
  21. ān and tƿentig; ān and tƿentigoða
30. þrītig; þrītigoða
40. fēoƿertig; fēoƿertigoða
50. fīftig; fīftigoða
60. sixtig; sixtigoða
70. hundseofontig; hundseofontigoða
80. hundeahtatig; hundeahtatigoða
90. hundnigontig; hundnigontigoða
100. hund, hundred, hundtēontig; hundtēontigoða
110. hundendleofantig; hundendleofantigoða
120. hundtƿelftig; hundtƿelftigoða
200. tū hund
300. þrēo hund
1000. þūsend

Simply use the Arabic numbers when writing a number. In regards to declension, only the numbers 1, 2, and 3 decline with the noun. The others do not decline except when acting as a noun themselves (mid 4 manna, but mid fēoƿerum).

Usage with nouns[ādihtan fruman]
  • Numbers 1, 2, 3 decline with the noun, just like any other adjective (in þrim dagum).
  • Numbers 4 - 12 simply precede the noun, just like modern English (fēoƿer þegnas, seofon mōnþas).
  • Decades (20, 30,...90) take a noun in the genitive, or in agreement (fīftig manna, on fēoƿertigum gēarum).

Declension of 1, 2, 3 in Old English[ādihtan fruman]

  • Note that the numeral 1 could decline strong or weak, and in the weak declension, could be plural.
Strong Singular Declension of Numeral: One
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. ān ān ān
Gen. ānes ānes ānre
Dat. ānum ānum ānre
Inst. āne āne ānre
Acc. ǣnne ān āne
Weak Plural Declension of Numeral: ān
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. ānan ānan ānan
Gen. ānra ānra ānra
Dat. ānum ānum ānum
Inst. ānum ānum ānum
Acc. ānan ānan ānan
Declension of Numeral: 2
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. tƿēgen tƿā
Gen. tƿēga tƿēga tƿēga
Dat. tƿǣm tƿǣm tƿǣm
Inst. tƿǣm tƿǣm tƿǣm
Acc. tƿēgen tƿā
Declension of Numeral: 3
Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nom. þrīe þrēo þrēo
Gen. þrēora þrēora þrēora
Dat. þrim þrim þrim
Inst. þrim þrim þrim
Acc. þrīe þrēo þrēo


Ordinal Numbers[ādihtan fruman]

For ordinal numbers, simply write the number and the declension afterwards: se 6a mann, þǣm 3an mann, etc.

The ordinal numbers, for the purposes of the wiki, are:

forma, ōðer, þridda, fēorþa, fīfta, sixta, seofoða, eahtoða, nigoða, tēoða, endleofoða, tƿelfta, þrēotēoða (fēoƿer~, etc.), tƿentigoða (þrītigoða, etc.), hundtēontigoða (100th), hundendleofontigoða (110th), hundtƿelftigoða (120th).

Sentence Construction[ādihtan fruman]

Main Clauses[ādihtan fruman]

Typically, sentences have normal modern word order (called SVO, subject-verb-object). The exception is with pronoun objects, which are typically placed before the verb.

  1. Ic hine geseah - I saw him.
  2. Hīe mē gēafon þæt hūs - they gave me the house.

Verb Agreement[ādihtan fruman]

Verbs agree with their subject in number and person.

  1. Ic hine geseah (singular, 1st person)
  2. Ƿē tȳdon þā leorneras (plural, 1st person)

Subordinate Clauses[ādihtan fruman]

Subordinate clauses are introduced with þe, or sē (sēo, þæt) with/without þe.

  1. Þonne is ān port on sūðeƿeardum þǣm lande, þone man hǣteþ Sciringes heal - Then is one port in the south of that country, which is called Skringssalr. (þone is a relative pronoun, referring to "se port", and taking the accusative case, which is the correct case in the clause).

The type of relative pronoun "sē þe," "sēo þe," and "þæt þe" are more common when the antecedent has no demonstrative/qualifier.

  1. þæt þu onfō his gelēafan and his bebodu healde, sē þe þē fram ƿilƿendlicum earfeðum generede - that thou may receive the trust of the one who has saved thee from earthly hardships, and obey his commands.

Complex Sentences[ādihtan fruman]

Verbs with þæt-complements[ādihtan fruman]

  • The verbs forbeodan forbid, forberan refrain from, gesƿīcan stop, ƿiþcƿeðan deny, refuse, and several others, take a þæt-clause as objects.
  1. ...and forbead þæt hine man God hēte - and forbade anyone to call him God (literally, "and forbade that one called him God").
  2. and forbead þæt man nā þǣr eft ne timbrode - and forbade anyone to build there afterward (literally, "and forbade that one never there after not built").
  • Also, verbs like tƿēonan doubt, tƿēo bēon to be in doubt
  1. ...forþon nis nān tƿēo, þæt hē forgifnesse sellan nelle, þǣm þe hīe geearnian ƿillaþ - ...therefore there is no doubt that he will give forgiveness to those who want to earn it. (literally, "therefore is not no doubt that he will not give forgiveness, to them that want to earn it").

Questions[ādihtan fruman]

Questions are formed in 2 ways: with verb-subject word order, or with question words.

Method 1: Verb-subject order[ādihtan fruman]

  • Simply place the verb first, then the subject. This is one of the ways we ask questions in modern English.
  • Example: hæfst þu ænigne geferan? (Hast thou any companion?)

Method 2: Question Words[ādihtan fruman]

  • Hƿæt, hƿā, hƿǣr, hƿilc, hū, hū fela, etc.
  1. Hƿā eart þu? Who are you?
  • Using hƿæðer-subject-verb is used to express doubt or incredulity, or even when expecting the answer 'no.' The verb is most often in the subjunctive, but may be indicative with impersonal verbs.
  1. Example: hƿæðer gē nū sēcen gold of trēoƿum? (Surely you aren't looking for gold in trees?, Are you looking for gold in trees?, literally, "whether ye may seek gold in trees?").
  2. Example: hƿæðer Rōmāne hit ƿiten nū ænigum menn tō secgenne, hƿæt hiera folces forƿurde? (Do the Romans now know enough to say how many of their people perished?, Surely the Romans know enough now to say how many of their people perished?)