Lesson 3

The Genitive Case

The Genitive is normally used to express possession or other close relationship between nouns, and can usually be represented in English by either “of” or by the possessive ” ‘s “. There are a number of other specialized uses (e.g., partitive, adverbial) which we can get to later. In both masculine and neuter a-stems:

The Genitive Singular ends in -is
The Genitive Plural ends in -e

The forms of both the masculine and neuter article are:

Genitive Singular: this
Genitive Plural: thize

For example:

Thiudanis barna A king’s children
Thiudane barna Kings’ children
This thiudanis barna The king’s children
Thize thiudane barna The kings’ children
Tho barna this thiudanis The children of the king
Tho barna thize thiudane The children of the kings

The Dative Case

In both masculine and neuter a-stems:

The Dative Singular ends in -a
The Dative Plural ends in -am

The forms of both the masculine and neuter article are:

Dative Singular: thamma
Dative Plural: thaim

The dative case can be used, as the name suggests, to represent an indirect object, e.g.:

Sa thiudans gaf thamma barna maithm The king gave (to) the child a gift.
Thai thiudanos gebun thaim skalkam silubr. The kings gave silver to the servants.

Sometimes it can be used to represent a direct object with certain verbs; among those already mentioned are included tekan “to touch” and wairpan “to throw” (which also takes the accusative).

Sa skalks taitok thamma barna. The servant touched the child.
Thata barn warp thamma staina. The child threw the stone.

Most often it will be seen used together with prepositions. Some prepositions taking the dative:

af of, from
*afar after, according to
*ana on, upon
*at at, by, to
*bi by, about, around
du to
faura before
fram from
in in, into, among
mith with
*uf under
*ufar over, above
us out, out of

The prepositions with asterisks can also be followed by the accusative. Some prepositions taking the accusative:

faur for, before
in in, into, towards
thairh through, by
undar under
withra against

We now have the complete paradigms of the normal a-stem nouns: they are (using as examples stains and barn, with accompanying article)
Masculine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nom. sa stains thai stainos thata barn tho barna
Acc. thana stain thans stainans thata barn tho barna
Gen. this stainis thize staine this barnis thize barne
Dat. thamma staina thaim stainam thamma barna thaim barnam

Here are some more nouns; from now on I’ll put the article sa (for masculine) or thata (for neuter) before them to indicate the gender.

sa akrs: field (cf. “acre”)
sa dags: the day
sa himins: the heaven, the sky
sa hlaifs: the bread (cf. “loaf”, ai=oa; the plural is thai hlaibos, cf. “loaves”)
thata land: the land
sa ligrs: the bed (cf. the verb ligan “to lie”)
sa maurgins: the morning (in maurgin: in the morning)
thata milith: the honey
thata razn: the house
thata riqis: the darkness (the plural is tho riqiza)
thata swein: the pig (cf. “swine”, German Schwein)
sa sitls: the seat
thata wein: the wine
sa wigs: the way

Some sentences with genitive and dative (and other!) cases:

Sa thiudans this landis sat ana thamma sitla.
Thai bagmos standand in thaim akram.
Tho barna thize skalke ni sehwun thana thiudan in thamma daga.
Thai skalkos this thiudanis forun du thaim raznam.
Thata barn wok in maurgin.

(Answers to this exercise.)

The children’s dogs slept under the bed.
The wolves walk in the darkness.
The child saw a bird in the sky.
The twigs of the tree did not bear leaves.
Kings eat bread and honey and drink wine in the day.

(Answers to this exercise.)
Personal Pronouns

And now for something completely different: Personal pronouns!

In the first and second persons of the personal pronouns, Gothic distinguishes three numbers: singular, dual, and plural The dual is used when two people, usually linked in some way, are concerned. The nominatives of these two persons are:

1st person singular: ik “I” (German “ich”)
2nd person singular thu “you” (referring to one person; cf. archaic English “thou”, German “du”)
1st person dual wit “we two”
2nd person dual jut “you two”
1st person plural weis “we” (German “wir”)
2nd person plural jus “you” (referring to several people)

These are declined as follows:
1s 2s 1d 2d 1p 2p
Nom. ik thu wit jut weis jus
Acc. mik thuk ugkis igqis uns izwis
Gen. meina theina ugkara igqara unsara izwara
Dat. mis thus ugkis igqis uns izwis

Some facts are worth noting about this array:

The nominative is usually quite different from the other, “oblique” cases. This is also often true in English; cf. I vs. me, my; we vs. us, our.
The singular has one set of endings for the oblique cases: Acc. -k, Gen. -eina, Dat. -s, and the dual and plural have another: Acc. -is, Gen. -ara, Dat. -is.
In the dual and plural the Accusative and Dative forms are identical.

Unsis is found as well as uns for the 1st person plural Accusative and Dative “us”. The genitive of the 1st and 2nd personal pronouns is not found so often as the related adjective (which we’ll be getting to soon!); both normally follow the nouns they modify, rather than preceding it, e.g. hunds meina “my dog”.
Third Person Pronouns (masculine and neuter)
Masculine “he” Neuter “it”
Nom. is eis ita ija
Acc. ina ins ita ija
Gen. is ize is ize
Dat. imma im imma im

These share “pronominal” endings with the demonstrative pronoun/article already used: cf. thana/ina, thata/ita, thamma/imma, thans/ins, thize/ize. Pronouns agree with their antecedent in gender, e.g.

Is nam thata barn jah bar ita “He took the child and carried him”

where ita agrees with barn in being neuter. The genitives of the 3rd person pronouns are quite often used, and follow the noun they modify: fuglos is “his birds”, bagms ize “their tree”.
1st and 2nd persons of verbs

As with the third person, present and preterite have quite different endings (though not totally different) in the first and second persons.


1st person singular ends in -a: Ik saihwa ina. I see him.
2nd person singular ends in -is: Thu saihwis mik. You see me.
1st person dual ends in -os: Wit saihwos ins. We two see them.
2nd person dual ends in -ats: Jut saihwats uns. You two see us.
1st person plural ends in -am: Weis saihwam izwis. We see you.
2nd person plural ends in -ith: Jus saihwith ita. You see it.


1st person singular ends in zero: Ik sahw thuk. I saw you.
2nd person singular ends in -t: Thu sahwt ugkis. You saw us two.
1st person dual ends in -u: Wit sehwu ija. We two saw them.
2nd person dual ends in -uts: Jut sehwuts mik. You two saw me.
1st person plural ends in -um: Weis sehwum igqis. We saw you two.
2nd person plural ends in -uth: Jus sehwuth uns. You saw us.

The Present 2nd person plural (jus…) is the same as the 3rd person singular, as both end in -ith. The Past 1st person and 3rd person singular are the same, as both have the past singular stem followed by zero.

The 2nd person singular past ending (-t) is unusual in that it is not preceded by a vowel. (With this ending, compare archaic English forms like “thou wilt”, “thou shalt”.) This gives rise to some changes in the consonant preceding it.

The sequence -bt changes to -ft:

From giban to give, we have thu gaft you gave (cf. ik gaf I gave).
From dreiban to drive, we have thu draift you drove.
From skaban to shave, we have thu skoft you shaved.

The sequence -dt changes to -st:

From trudan to tread, we have thu trast you trod (cf. ik trath I trod).

The sequence -tt changes to -st:

From beitan to bite, we have thu baist you bit (ik bait I bit).
From itan to eat, thu est you ate (ik et I ate).

The sequence -tht changes to -st:

From qithan to say, we have thu qast you said (ik qath I said).

So we now have the full present and preterite indicative active paradigms of the strong verb. The personal pronouns are actually rarely used with the verbs, but I’ll include them as an aid to memory:

Present of hilpan to help:
ik hilpa I help wit hilpos we two help weis hilpam we help
thu hilpis you help jut hilpats you two help jus hilpith you help
is hilpith he helps eis hilpand they help

Past of hilpan:
ik halp I helped wit hulpu we two helped weis hulpum we helped
thu halpt you helped jut hulputs you two helped jus hulputh you helped
is halp he helped eis hulpun they helped

Some more sentences:

Ik sahw thana thiudan. Is gaf mis silubr is.
Ni qamt du thamma akra theina.
Thana hlaif ize etum, jah thata wein ize drugkum.
Bairats gaitans meina du razna igqara.
Is saiso thata kaurn in akra unsara.
Eis gebun ugkis thans maithmans.
Thai wulfos qethun, “weis etum thata leik this thiudanis.”

(Answers to this exercise.)

Try these:

I gave the gold and the silver to the servant of the king.
You two came into my field.
We sat with our children on the branch (asts) of the tree.
We two gave them our land.
The birds ate your grain.
You (sg.) drink wine and you do not sow in your field.
You (pl.) went to my house on that day.

(Answers to this exercise.)

On to Lesson 4
Back to Lesson 2