Royal Holloway, University of London<white space>Department of English

Old English Adjectives

- like nouns and verbs, adjectives are described as ‘strong’ or ‘weak’.
- unlike nouns and verbs, ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ do not indicate the kind of adjective, but rather how the adjective is used.
- weak adjectives are used with demonstratives.  eg. se swifta hund (the swift dog)
- strong adjectives are used alone.  eg. swifte hundas (swift dogs).
- for additional paradigms and explanation, refer to:
A Guide to Old English, eds. Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinsion, 5th edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992)
Bruce Mitchell, An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995)
Weak Adjectives
Guilty Kings (masc)
se scyldiga cyning  (nom) 
  the guilty king
þa scyldigan cyningas (nom) 
  the guilty kings
þone scyldigan cyning (acc) 
  the guilty king
þa scyldigan cyningas (acc) 
  the guilty kings
þæs scyldigan cyninges (gen) 
  of the guilty king
þara scyldigra/-ena cyninga (gen) 
  of the guilty kings
þæm scyldigan cyninge (dat) 
  to/for/with  the guilty king
þæm scyldigum cyningum (dat) 
  to/for/with  the guilty kings
Great Slaughter (neut)
þæt micle wæl (nom) þa miclan wælu (nom)
þæt micle wæl (acc) þa miclan wælu (acc)
þæs miclan wæles (gen) þæra miclena wæla (gen)
þæm miclan wæle (dat) þæm miclum wælum (dat)
Anxious Souls (fem)
sio cearfule sawol (nom) þa cearfulan sawla (nom)
þa cearfulan sawle (acc) þa cearfulan sawla (acc)
þære cearfulan sawle (gen) þæra cearfulra/-ena sawlena (gen)
þære cearfulan sawle (dat) þæm cearfulum sawlum (dat)
  Strong Adjectives
Mighty Warriors (masc)
mihtig rinc (nom) mihtige rincas (nom)
mihtigne rinc (acc) mihtige rincas (acc)
mihtiges rinces (gen) mihtigra rinca (gen)
mihtigum rince (dat) mihtigum rincum (dat)
Weak Minds (neut)
wac mod (nom) wacu mod (nom)
wac mod (acc) wacu mod (acc)
waces modes (gen) wacra moda (gen)
wacum mode (dat) wacum modum (dat)
Grim Battles (fem)
grimu beadu (nom) grime/-a beadwa (nom)
grime beadwe (acc) grime/-a beadwa (acc)
grimre beadwe (gen) grimra beadwena (gen)
grimre beadwe (dat) grimum beadwum (dat)
Comparative and Superlative Forms

- normally the comparative is formed by adding ‘-ra’ and the superlative by adding ‘-ost.’
eg.  halig (holy)  haligra (holier)  haligost (holiest)
- some comparative and superlative forms are irregular, like their modern English equivalents.
eg. god (good)  betera / selra (better)  betst / selest (best)

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Page created by Dr Jennifer Neville
Last updated 2 July 1999