Additionally, the participles (Participle I and Participle II) are formed by the suffix -ende to the Infinitive stem (participle I), or the prefix ge- + the Past Plural stem + the ending -en (Participle II).
Tired of the theory? Here is the preactice. We give several examples of the typical verbs - first strong, then weak, then irregular.
Class I strong - wrtan (to write) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imper. Ind. Subj. Sg. 1 wrte - wrt 2 wrtest wrte wrt write } wrte 3 wrte - wrtPl. wrta wrten 2 wrta writon writen
Infinitive Participle wrtan I wrtende II gewriten
Class II weak - lufian (to love) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imp. Ind. Subj.Sg. 1 lufie - lufode 2 lufast }lufie lufa lufodest } lufode 3 lufa - lufodePl. lufia lufien 2 lufia lufodon lufoden Part. I lufiende II gelufod
Class III strong - bindan (to bind) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imp. Ind. Subj.Sg. 1 binde - band, bond 2 bindest } binde bind bunde } bunde 3 binde - band, bondPl. binda binden binda bundon bunden
Inf. Part. bindan I bindende II gebunden
Class V strong - son (to see) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imp. Ind. Subj. Sg.1 so - seah 2 sehst } so seoh swe } swe, 3 seh - seah sgePl. so son 2 so sawon swen Participle I sonde II gesewen, gesegen
Class VII strong - fn (to catch) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imp. Ind. Subj.Sg. 1 f - feng 2 fhst } f fh fenge } fenge 3 fh - fengPl. f fn 2 f fengon fengen Participle I fnde II gefangen, gefongen
Class III weak - secgan (to say) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imp. Ind. Subj.Sg.1 secge - sgde 2 sgst }secge sge sgdest }sgde 3 sg - sgdePl. secga secgen 2 secga sgdon sgden Part. I secgende II gesgd
Class III weak - libban (to live) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imp. Ind. Subj.Sg.1 libbe - lifde 2 liofast }libbe liofa lifdest } lifde 3 liofa - lifdePl. libba libben 2 libba lifdon lifden Part. I libbende II gelifd
A special group is made by the so-called Present-Preterite verbs, which are conjugated combining two varieties of the usual verb conjugation: strong and weak. These verbs, at all not more than seven, are nowadays called modal verbs in English.
Present-Preterite verbs have their Present tense forms generated from the Strong Past, and the Past tense, instead, looks like the Present Tense of the Weak verbs. The verbs we present here are the following: witan (to know), cunnan (can), urfan (to need), dearan (to dare), munan (to remember), sculan (shall), magan (may).
Present of witan (= strong Past) Ind. Subj. Imp.Sg. 1 wt - 2 wast } wite wite 3 wt -Pl. witon 2 witen wita Past (= Weak) Ind. Subj.Sg.1 wisse, wiste 2 wissest, wistest } wisse, wiste 3 wisse, wistePl. wisson, wiston wissen, wisten Participles: I witende, II witen, gewiten
cunnan (can) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Ind. Subj.Sg. 1 cann ce 2 canst } cunne cest } ce 3 cann cePl. cunnon cunnen con cen
urfan (need)Sg. 1 earf orfte 2 earft } urfe orftest } orfte 3 earf orftePl. urfon urfen orfton orften
magan (may)Sg. 1 mg meahte mihte, mihten 2 meaht } mge meahtest 3 mg meahtePl. magon mgen meahtonThe main difference of verbs of this type in modern English is their expressing modality, i.e. possibility, obligation, necessity. They do not require the particle to before the infinitive which follows them. In Old English in general no verb requires this particle before the infinitive. In fact, this to before the infinitive form meant the preposition of direction.
And now finally a few irregular verbs, which used several different stems for their tenses. These verbs are very important in Old English and are met very often in the texts: wesan (to be), bon (to be), gn (to go), dn (to do), willan (will). Mind that there was no Future tense in the Old English language, and the future action was expressed by the Present forms, just sometimes using verbs of modality, willan (lit. "to wish to do") or sculan (lit. "to have to do").
wesan (to be) - has got only the Present tense forms, uses the verb bon in the Past Present Ind. Subj. Imp.Sg.1 eom - 2 eart } se, s wes 3 is -Pl. sind sen, sn 2 wesa
bon (to be) Present Ind. Subj. Imp.Sg. 1 bo - 2 bist }bo bo 3 bi -Pl. bo bon 2 bo Past Ind. Subj.Sg. 1 ws 2 wre } wre 3 wsPl. wron wren Participle I is bonde (being).
gn (to go) Pres. Past Ind. Subj. Imp. Ind. Subj.Sg.1 g - ode 2 g'st } g g odest } ode 3 g' - ode Pl. g 2 gn g odon oden Participles: I gnde, gangende II gegn
So there were in fact two verbs meaning 'to be', and both were colloquial. In Middle English, however, the verb wesan replaced fully the forms of bon, and the words bo (I am), bist (thou art) fell out of use. The Past tense forms was and were are also derivatives from wesan.
Syntactically, the language had only two main tenses - the Present and the Past. No progressive (or Continuous) tenses were used, they were invented only in the Early Middle English period. Such complex tenses as modern Future in the Past, Future Perfect Continuous did not exist either. However, some analytic construction were in use, and first of all the perfective constructions. The example Hie geweorc geworhten hfdon 'they have build a fortress' shows the exact Perfect tense, but at that time it was not the tense really, just a participle construction showing that the action has been done. Seldom you can also find such Past constructions, which later became the Past Perfect Tense.
Verb syntax includes a number of suffices and prefixes which can be met in Old English texts and especially in poetry:
Suffices: 1. -s- (from substantive or adjective stems) - m'rsian (to announce; from m're - famous) 2. -lc- - nlcan (to approach) 3. -ett- - bliccettan (to sparkle) Prefixes 1. - = out of, from - rsan (arise), wakan (awake), beran (sustain) 2. be- = over, around, by - begn (go around), beencan (think over), behafdian (behead) 3. for- = destruction or loss - fordn (destroy), forweoran (perish) 4. mis- = negation or bad quality - mislcian (displease) 5. of- = reinfors - ofslan (kill), ofton (take away) 6. on- = change or separation - onbindan (unbind), onlcan (unlock) 7. t- = destruction - tbrecan (break)
The Old English Auxiliary Words.
These traditionally include prepositions, conjunctions, different particles and
interjections. All Indo-European languages have this system of auxiliary parts of speech, though there are languages which lack some of them. Japanese, for example, has no prepositions, and the service function in the sentence belongs to postpositive words which have cases, the same as nouns. Korean does not use any conjunctions, replacing them by about 50 different kinds of verbal adverbs. As for Chinese, it simply does not make any distinction in the sentence between basic and auxiliary words.
Most of Old English prepositions are easily recognizable:
Primary: of (of, out of), t (to), fram (from), t (to), wi (against), in, of, mid (with), on (on, at), be (by, near, to, because of, about), urh (through), under, ofer (over), fter (after), bufan (above), t (out).
Secondary: beforan (before), btan (without), benoran (north of), etc.
t means 'to' and wi means 'against'. In Germanic all prepositions divided into those who used nouns in dative, accusative or genitive. But in the Old English period this distinction begins to disappear, and only some of the prepositions use dative (mid, btan, sometimes on, in) or genitive (fram, t, fter).
Conjunctions included the following:
Primary: and / ond (and) , ac (but), gif (if), or. Secondary: ger ge... ge (both... and..., either ... or...), hwonne (when), a (when), onne (when), h (though), tte (that), r (before), sw... sw... (so... as...).
And a few interjections: i (yes), w (woe!, wow!), hwt (there! what!).