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The Old English Adjective

Adjectives in Old English are declined using the same categories as nouns: five cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and instrumental), three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), and two numbers (singular, plural). In addition, they can be declined either strong or weak. The weak forms are used in the presence of a definite or possessive determiner, while the strong ones are used in other situations. The weak forms are identical to those for nouns, while the strong forms use a combination of noun and pronoun endings.


The strong adjective declension

blæc (black)

  Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative blæc blæc blacu
Genitive blaces blaces blæcre
Dative blacum blacum blæcre
Accusative blæcne blæc blace
Instrumental blace blace
Nominative blace blacu blaca
Genitive blacra blacra blacra
Dative blacum blacum blacum
Accusative blace blacu blaca



There is a slight difference in declension between short-stemmed (such as glæd, smæl) and long-stemmed (such as gōd, eald) adjectives: in the feminine nominative singular and the neuter nominative or accusative plural the short-stemmed adjectives have the ending u, while long-stemmes adjectives have a zero ending.

Adjectives with æ in the root syllable change it to a before all endings beginning with a vowel.



The weak adjective declension

  Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative blaca blace blace
Genitive blacan blacan blacan
Dative blacan blacan blacan
Accusative blacan blace blacan
Nominative blacan
Genitive blæcra (blacena)
Dative blacum
Accusative blacan



Degrees of comparison

Positive degree Comparative degree Superlative degree
earm (poor) earmra earmost
blæc (black) blæcra blacost



Several adjectives have suppletive forms of comparative and superlative

Positive degree Comparative degree Superlative degree
gōd (good) betera sēlra betst sēlest
yfel (bad) wiersa wierest
micel (large) māra mǣst
lӯtel (little) lǣssa lǣst


The comparatives are declined as strong adjectives; the superlatives rarely take the forms of the strong declension and mostly follow the weak declension.

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 4498

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