Adverbs, Conjunctions, and Prepositions Overview

Adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions are the small words that enhance, join, and show the relationship between nouns, adjectives and verbs in a sentence. Unlike nouns and adjectives, they are uninflected for case, gender, or number.

Adverbs

Adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs in more detail. For example, in the sentence, 'Sancta Maria forhtode ond eaðmodlice ondswarode him - Saint Mary was afraid and humbly answered him', 'eaðmodlice' modifies the verb 'ondswarode'.

Sancta Maria
Subject
forhtode
Verb
ond
Conj.
eaðmodlice
Adverb
ondswarode
Verb
him
Object

Many adverbs are formed from other nouns and adjectives by adding an 'e' like 'hearde - severely', 'lice' like 'leoflice - lovely' or 'unga' like 'eallunga - entirely', but some adverbs are standalone and just need to be memorized. Adverbs also have comparative and superlative forms, which are made by dropping the final vowel in the adverb and adding 'or' or 'ost'.

Base Comp Super
hearde heardor heardost
soþe soþor soþost
leoflice leoflicor leoflicost
forþ furþor forþost
oft oftor oftost

Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that join other words, phrases or clauses together. Some are short and easy to recognise, for example, 'ond - and', 'ac - but', or 'swa þæt - so that'. However, conjunctions also come in pairs that relate sentence elements to each other. For example, in the sentence, 'Swa swa lim gefæsnað fel to sumum brede, swa getigð seo conivnctio þa word togædere - Just as lime fastens skin to a board, so the conjunction ties words together', the first conjunction 'swa swa - just as' and the second conjunction 'swa - so', work together to relate the first clause to the second.

Swa
Conj.
swa
Conj.
lim
Subject
gefæsnað
Verb
fel
Object
to
Prep.
sumum
Pronoun
brede
Object
swa
Conj.
getigð
Verb
seo
Demon.
conivnctio
Latin
þa
Demon.
word
Object
togædere
Verb
Old
English
Modern
English
ac but
ond and
ne nor
oþþe or
for þæm þe because
swa þæt so that
þeah although
gif...þonne... if...then...
ne...ne neither...nor
oþþe...oþþe... either...or...
swa...swa... just...as...

Prepositions

Prepositions like 'in', 'on', 'æfter', and 'mid' help establish relationships in time, space, and among people and things. For example, in the sentence, 'Fram þisum men ic underfeng feoh - From this man I took money, the relationship between the speaker, the man, and the money is established by the word 'fram'.

Fram
Prep.
þisum
Demon.
men
Object
ic
Subject
underfeng
Verb
feoh
Object

In Old English, most prepositions are followed by the dative case.

There are a few prepositions which change meaning depending on whether they are followed by a word in the accusative or dative. A preposition usually precedes the accusative if the preposition itself specifically relates to motion or time.

Dative or Accusative
Old
English
Dative
Trans
Accusative
Trans
binnan in/
within
into
bufan above/
upon
over
(movement)
in/
innan
in into
ofer above/
over
over
(movement)
on on/
in
onto/
into
under under/
beneath
under
(movement)

There are four prepositions which only precede the accusative case. These are 'geond - through', 'oð - until', 'þurh - through' and 'ymb - surrounding/about'.

Accusative Only
Old
English
Modern
English
geond through
until
þurh through
ymb surrounding/about

Test Your Vocabulary

You were introduced to a lot of new vocabulary in this module. Test your understanding of those new words by clicking the button below. This opens a modal where you can translate words on a flashcard.