Weak Adjectives

The weak form of an adjective is used when the adjective is preceded by a demonstrative pronoun, such as 'se' or 'þes', or the possessive pronouns 'min', 'þin', 'ure', 'eower'. For example, 'se goda mann geaf to me hund – the good man gave a dog to me' or 'heo lufaþ ure godan hundas - she loves our good dogs'.

Se
Subject
Pronoun
goda
Weak
Adjective
mann
Subject
Noun
geaf
Verb
 
to
Preposition
 
me
Indirect
Pronoun
hund
Direct
Object

Heo
Subject
Pronoun
lufaþ
Verb
 
ure
Possessive
Pronoun
godan
Weak
Adjective
hundas
Direct
Object

Weak adjectives are considered grammatically weak as they have comparatively few suffixes compared to strong adjectives. In the table below, you will see that only the nominative singular, neuter accusative, and the plural genitive and dative have different endings. Remember, an adjective always takes the gender of the noun it is modifying.

  Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative goda gode gode godan
Accusative godan gode godan godan
Genitive godan godan godan godra/godena
Dative godan godan godan godum
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative halga halge halge halgan
Accusative halgan halge halgan halgan
Genitive halgan halgan halgan haligra/halgena
Dative halgan halgan halgan halgum
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative heaga heage heage heagan
Accusative heagan heage heagan heagan
Genitive heagan heagan heagan heagra/heagena
Dative heagan heagan heagan heagum
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative wisa wise wise wisan
Accusative wisan wise wisan wisan
Genitive wisan wisan wisan wisra/wisena
Dative wisan wisan wisan wisum

Just like nouns, adjectives with two syllables often lose the vowel of the second syllable when they gain a suffix. So the plural nominative of halig is almost always written halgan. You will also see this with hefig - heavy, ligen - flaming, or yfel - evil.

Since weak suffixes begin with vowels, 'h' is dropped before the suffix. The nominative plural of words like heah - high and hnah - lowly can be written 'hean' and 'hnan', but it is more common for 'h' to be replaced by 'g' making 'heagan' and 'hnagan'.

Adjectives ending in a vowel drop that vowel when a suffix is added. So the nominative plural of æðele - noble is wisan, niwe - new is niwan, and gifre - greedy is gifran.

As you can see, adjectives follow very similar rules to nouns. You can practice weak adjectives using the questions below. Otherwise, feel free to continue on to Strong Adjectives.

Return to Intro to Adjectives Continue to Strong Adjectives

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