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

Old English Strong Verbs

Notes on Strong Verbs

- strong verbs correspond to Modern English (and German) irregular verbs
- examples include::

  • sing, sang, sung
  • write, wrote, written
  • take, took, taken
  • choose, chose, chosen
  • find, found, found

  • etc.
    - instead of adding ‘d’ to form the past tense (also known as the ‘preterite’) as in weak verbs, strong verbs form the past through vowel changes.
    - there can be vowel changes in the present tense (in the 2nd and 3rd person singular) as well.
    - there are seven classes of strong verbs.
    - it is worth memorising some of the information on this page!

    class infinitive 1st person preterite 2nd person preterite past participle
    I ridan (to ride) rad ridon riden
    II ceosan  (to choose) ceas curon coren
    III bindan  (to bind) band bundon bunden
    IV stelan  (to steal) stæl stælon stolen
    V cweðan  (to say, 'quoth') cwæð cwædon cwedon
    VI standan  (to stand) stod stodon standen
    VIIa) cnawan  (to know) cneow cneowon cnawen
    VIIb) fon  (to seize) feng fengon fangen

    beran IV (to bear)
    Present Tense
    indicative subjunctive
    ic bere we berað ic bere we beren
    þu bir(e)st ge berað þu bere ge beren
    he bir(e)ð hie berað hio bere hie beren
    singular plural
    ber berað
    Preterite Tense
    indicative subjunctive
    ic bær we bæron ic bære we bæren
    þu bære ge bæron þu bære ge bæren
    hie bær hie bæron hio bære hie bæren
    infinitive: beran
    inflected infinitive/gerund: to beranne
    present participle: berende
    past participle: (ge)boren

    Go back to:

    Language Aids

    Page created by Dr Jennifer Neville
    Last updated 2 July 1999