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The verbal grammatical categories.

1. Grammatical categories.

In Finite Forms they were: mood (3), tense (2), number (2), person(3).

1) There were 3 moods: Ind, Subj, Imp. They had approximately the same meanings which they have today with the exception of the Subj Mood, which was frequently used to express a problematic action and was found in indirect speech. It was much more often than in the Present.

2) The OE verbs had 2 tenses: the Present and the Past. The present form was used to denote both tenses present and future (..to denote Pr and Future actions as in other Germanic langeages). There were no analytical forms, only inflexion. Futurity was shown lexically with the help of adverbial modifiers and the context. It is true that in OE there were combinations with the verbs: sculan (shall), willan (will), but they had there own lexical meaning. They were not auxiliary verbs. From these constructions the future forms (the future tense was) were formed later.

3) The category of person was represented only in the Indicative sg and in the Imperative in OE. There was no indication of person in the Ind pl or in the Subj forms. (One form for all persons.) Three persons were distinguished only in the present tense of the Ind Mood.

4) The Ind and Subj had 2 numbers in both tenses. The Imp Mood also distinguished 2 numbers. No dual number. At that time they were ?homonymous? forms. In the Subj M the past and the present pl were the same and also in the sg present and past. In the Indicative they were homonymous forms in the sing and plural.

Lōcian (look) wv2 (weak verb class 2).


Tense Present Sg   Ind 1. lōcie 2. lōcast 3. lōcaÞ Subj   lōcie (only one form -present sg)   Imp   lōca  
Pl   lōciaÞ   lōcien   lōciaÞ  


Tense Past Sg Ind 1. lōcode 2. lōcodes 3. lōcode   Subj   lōcode      
Pl lōcodon lōcoden  


Non-Finite forms.

The non-finite forms were the Infinitive and two Participles (Part I, Part II).

Inf Part I Part II
lōcian (weak v) wrītan (strong v I) lōciende wrītende (çe)lōcod (çe)wrīten

The Participle in OE was a verbal adj and it did not possess any verbal categories. But Part I was opposed to Part II in the same way as in Modern Eng. Part I was always active in meaning. Part II was active in meaning in intransitive verbs, but passive in transitive. Ex. Hē wæs çeslegen. (He was killed (passive m-g).Hē wæs cumen. (He has come (active m-g). Part I was formed from the present tense stem (the Infinitive without the ending -an/ian with the help of the suffix -ende. Part II has a stem of its own in strong verbs and the suff –en/n. In weak verbs it was formed by the dental suffix d. (ME –ed). Participles shared the categories of the adj (nominal Gr Categories). They were declined as weak and strong and agreed with the noun in Number, Gender and Case.


The Infinitive. The Inf was a verbal noun. It was also devoid of any verbal gram.category but it had a kind of a noun declension, a sort of reduced Case system. It had 2 forms which roughly corresponded to the Nominative and the Dative Cases of nouns. The so-called Dative Case of the Inf was used with the preposition tō [òî] and it was an inflected form.

Ex. tō drincenne (Dat Case – purpose or direction)

Nom drincan



As for form-building means they were the same as in the nominal system: inflexions, sound interchange, suppletive formations (forms) and the prefix çe. It was sometimes used to help to build Part II. Ex. macian>(çe)macod.

All the verbal forms were build from 4 principle forms of the verb in OE. They were Present, Past sg, Past pl, Participle II. Following the way they built their forms OE verbs fell into 3 subdivisions: strong, weak, minor.(strong, weak verbs –Grim).


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 637

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