Lesson 1

Verbs: Strong verbs

Strong verbs have four principal parts

A) Present. With change of endings, this produces:

Present Participle (an adjective)
Present Indicative
Present Subjunctive
All Passive forms

B) Past singular: produces

1st, 2nd, and 3d person Preterite Indicative

C) Past plural produces

dual and plural Preterite Indicative
all numbers of Preterite Subjunctive

D) Past Participle (an adjective)
Present Stem

Let’s start with the Present Stem:

The infinitive ending of the strong verb is -an
The third person singular ending of the strong Present Indicative is -ith
The third person plural ending of the strong Present Indicative is -and

Here are a few strong verbs (at this point I’m going to choose cognates, real or apparent, by preference, to make remembering them easier):

Class I: Present stem contains -ei-

beitan bite
dreiban drive (remember b = v)
speiwan spit (cf. “spew”)
greipan seize (cf. grip, archaic English “gripe”)
skeinan shine (sk = English sh, German sch)

Class II: Present stem contains -iu-

biugan bend (cf. the related “bow”)
kiusan test (cf. “choose”)
liugan lie
siukan be sick
sliupan slip

Class III: Present stem contains -in-, -il-, -air-

bindan bind
brinnan burn
hilpan help
drigkan drink
finthan find (note: -nth- < -nd- in English) siggwan sing sigqan sink spinnan spin thriskan thresh (again sk = sh) wairpan throw (cf. warp, the threads “thrown” across a loom)(ai=short e) windan wind Class IV: Present stem contains -i-, -ai- bairan bear, carry (ai= short e) brikan break niman take (cf. German nehmen) qiman come stilan steal trudan tread Class V: Present stem contains -i-, -ai- (this Class only differs from IV in the past participle) diwan die giban give (b=v) itan eat ligan lie down (note this is distinct from liugan tell a lie) mitan measure (cf. “mete”) qithan say (cf. “quoth”) sitan sit saihwan see (ai =short e) Class VI: Present stem contains -a- faran go (cf. “fare”) skaban shave (sk=sh, b=v) standan stand swaran swear wakan wake Class VII: Various falthan fold (lth > English ld; cf. nth > nd in finthan)
gaggan go (cf. Scots “gang”, meaning go, walk)
hahan hang (< *hanhan)
haldan hold
letan let
saian sow
slepan sleep
tekan touch

I wouldn’t bother trying to memorize all of these at one go; but the chances are in any case that you’d recognize them right away.

Okay, now for a few nouns to go with these: these are all strong masculine a-stems.

Of which, the Nominative Singular ends in -s (with a few exceptions)

The Nominative Plural ends in -os. The nominative is used as the subject of a verb.

fisks fish
fugls bird (cf. “fowl”, “Vogel”)
gaits goat (cf. German “Geiss”; note that Gothic ai frequently = English o or oa, but German ei)
hunds dog (cf. “hound”, “Hund”)
skalks servant (cf. German “Schalk”)
thiudans king (cf. Old English théoden)
wulfs wolf

The plural of laufs is laubos, because the stem is laub-; cf. English leaf but leaves. The masculine article (which is also a demonstrative pronoun) is

Nominative Singular sa
Nominative Plural thai

The word for “not” is ni. The word for “and” is jah. Noun phrases joined by jah take a plural verb. So, now for some sentences:

Sa hunds ni beitith.
Thai wulfos beitand.
Sa thiudans saihwith.
Sa skalks ni slepith.
Thai fiskos ni itand.
Thai fuglos siggwand.
Sa fugls jah sa gaits ni spinnand.

(Answers to this exercise.)

Now, try some on your own:

The bird drinks.
The king dies.
The servants do not lie.
The wolves eat.
The fish does not bite.
The dogs do not seize.
The king and the servant drink.

(Answers to this exercise.)

Okay, those weren’t very interesting, were they? It would be a lot more fun if we could say something like “the dogs bite the wolf” and have more than one kind of thing involved. To do that, we need the Accusative case, to mark the direct object of the verb.

For strong masculine a-stems,

the Accusative Singular ends in zero (no ending)
the Accusative Plural ends in -ans

For the masculine article,

the Accusative Singular is thana
the Accusative Plural is thans

Here are some more masculine a-stems that can be used as direct objects:

aiths oath (ai = oa)
asts twig
bagms tree (cf. German Baum, English “beam” (of wood))
laufs leaf (Gothic au frequently = English ea)
maithms gift
stains stone (ai=o)
winds wind

Now we can have a little action!

Thai hundos beitand thana wulf.
Sa wulfs itith thans gaitans.
Sa thiudans gibith maithm.
Thai skalkos brikand thans stainans.
Thai fuglos ni saihwand thana wind.
Sa skalks ni swarith aithans.
Sa thiudans jah sa skalks itand thans fiskans.

(Answers to this exercise.)

Try these:

The servant carries the goat.
The birds break the branches.
The king swears an oath.
The wolves do not see birds.
The goat eats leaves.
Birds, wolves, and goats do not spin.
The servants give gifts.

(Answers to this exercise.)

On to Lesson 2.
Back to Introduction.