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Preterite-Present Verbs

Page history last edited by David 15 years, 3 months ago

Preterite-present verbs get their name from their origin in preterites (past tense) of strong verbs, whose present forms fell out of that paradigm, and whose forms were anatomized with present sense. The present tense forms are built on what was the second principal part of the singular, and the third principal part of the plural. Infinitive forms and past participles are often lacking. These verbs commonly acquired new finite past tense forms through the mechanism of the dental suffix found in the weak verbs.


Because of their origin in the strong verbs there are six original classes/ gradations of preterite-present verbs.


First Gradation of preterite-present verbs is typified by the verb wáit 'I know'.

1st Gradation    
  wáit 'I know' láis 'I know'
Present Indicatve    
1 Singular wáit láis
2 wáist  
3 wáit  
2 Dual wituts  
1 Plural witum  
2 wituþ  
3 witun  
Present Subjunctive    
1 Singular witjáu  
2 witeis  
3 witi  
2 Plural witeiþ  
Past Indicative    
1 Singular wissa  
2 wisseis  
3 wissa  
2 Plural wisseduþ  
3 wissedun  
Past Subjunctive    
1 Singular wissedjáu  
2 wissedeis  
3 wissedi  
3 Plural wissedeina  
Infinitive witan  
Present Part. witands  









































Second Gradation has only one surviving form.

2nd Gradation  
  dáug 'benefits/good for'
3 Singular dáug


Third Gradation of preterite-present verbs is typified by the verb kann 'I know (how to)'.

3rd Gradation      
  kann 'I know how to' þarf 'I need' ga-dars 'I dare'
Present Indicative      
1 Singular kann þarf ga-dars
2 kannt þarft  
3 kann   ga-dars
1 Plural kunnum þaúrbum ga-daúrsum
  kunnuþ þaúrbuþ  
  kunnun þaúrbun  
Present Subj.      
1 Singular kunnjáu   ga-daúrsjáu
2 kunneis    
3 kunnei    
1 Plural   þaúrbeima  
2 kunneiþ þaúrbeiþ  
3 kunneina    
Past Indicative      
1 Singular kunþa þaúrfta ga-daúrsta
2 kunþes    
3 kunþa    
1 Plural kunþedum    
3 kunþedun   ga-daúrstedun
Past Subj.      
1 Singular kunþedjáu    
3 af-kunþedi    
2 Plural kunþedeiþ    
Infinitive kunnan þaúrban* ga-darúsan
Present Part. kunnands þaúrbands  
Past Part. kunþs þaúrfts  

The infinitive þaúrban is a hyopthetical construction.


Fourth Gradation of preterite-present verbs is typified by the verb skal 'I shall, owe'.

Fourth Gradation        
  skal 'I shall' man 'I think' bi-nah 'it is permitted' ga-nah 'it suffices'
Present Indicative        
1 Singular skal man    
2 skalt      
3 skal   bi-nah ga-nah
1 Plural skulum      
2 skuluþ ga-munuþ    
3 skulun      
Present Subj.        
1 Singular skuljáu      
2   ga-muneis    
3 skuli muni    
1 Plural   ga-muneima    
2 skuleiþ ga-muneiþ    
Past Indicative        
1 Singular   munda    
3 skulda ga-munda    
1 Plural skuldedum ga-mundedum    
3 skuldedun ga-mundedun    
Past Subj.        
3 Singular skuldedi      
2 Plural skuldedeiþ      
Infinitive   ga-munan    
Present Part.   munands    
Past Part. skulds munds bi-naúhts  


Fifth Gradation of preterite-present verbs is typified by the verb mag 'I am able, can, may'.

Fifth Gradation  
  mag 'I may'
Present Indicative  
1 Singular mag
2 magt
3 mag
1 Dual magu
2 maguts
1 Plural magum
2 maguþ
3 magun
Present Subj.  
1 Singular magjáu
2 mageis
3 magi
1 Plural mageima
2 mageiþ
Past Indicative  
3 Singular mahta
1 Plural mahtedum
3 mahtedun
Past Subj.  
3 Singular mahtedi
3 Plural mahtedeina
Present Part. magands
Past Part. mahts


Sixth Gradation of preterite-present verbs is typified by the verb ga-mōt 'I find room'.

Sixth Gradation      
  ga-mót 'I find room' óg 'I fear' áih 'I have'
Present Indicative      
1 Singular   óg áih, áig
3 ga-mót   áih, áig
1 Plural     áihum, áigum
2     áihuþ
3     áigun
Present Subj.      
2 Singular   ógjeis  
3 ga-móteima   áigi
2 Plural     áigeiþ
3     áigeina
2 Singular   ógs  
2 Plural   ógeiþ  
Past Indicative      
1 Singular   óhta  
3   óhta áihta
3 Plural ga-mostedun óhtedun áihtedun
Past Subj.      
2 Singular     áihtedeis
Infinitive     fáir-áirhan*
Present Part.   ógands áihands, áigands

The present participle of ōgs also survives in the compound adjective un-agands 'fearless'. The verb -áihan 'to have' may have originally been a verb of class VII. Its infinitive appears only in the compound form faír-áihan 'to partake of'.



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