Strong Adjectives

The strong form of an adjective is used when the adjective is linked to a noun without any demonstrative pronoun or possessive personal pronoun. For example, 'Hie sind halig ond eaþmod menn - they are holy and humble men' and 'Hat ðu me heagne tor getimbrian - you, order a high tower to be built'. The strong form of the adjective is also used in sentences with a linking verb (what we call a predicative adjective): so 'se cyning is eald' would take the strong form of the adjective because it follows a linking verb rather than appearing between the demonstrative pronoun and the noun.

Hie
Subject
Pronoun
sind
Verb
 
halige
Strong
Adjective
ond
Preposition
 
eaþmode
Strong
Adjective
menn
Direct
Object

Hat
Verb
 
ðu
Subject
Pronoun
heagne
Strong
Adjective
tor
Direct
Object
getimbrian
Verb
 

Strong adjectives follow the same rules as weak adjectives. They agree with the case, number and gender of the noun they modify; if the final letter of the stem is 'h', it is dropped or replaced by 'g' before a suffix is added; if the stem ends in a vowel, the vowel is dropped before the suffix is added; and if the stem is dysllabic with an unstressed vowel in the second syllable, the unstressed vowel is usually dropped when the suffix is added. The main difference between weak and strong adjectives is that strong adjectives have a wider variety of suffixes as can be seen in the table below.

  Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative god god god gode/godu/goda
Accusative godne god gode gode/godu/goda
Genitive godes godes godre godra
Dative godum godum godre godum
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative halig halig halgu halge/halgu/halga
Accusative haligne halig halge halge/halgu/halga
Genitive halges halges haligre haligra
Dative halgum halgum halgre halgum
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative heah heah hea heage/heagu/heaga
Accusative heagne heah hea heage/heagu/heaga
Genitive heages heages heagre heagra
Dative heagum heagum heagre heagum
Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative wilde wilde wildu wilde/wildu/wilda
Accusative wildne wilde wilde wilde/wildu/wilda
Genitive wildes wildes wildre wildra
Dative wildum wildum wildre wildum

The endings of plural adjectives with long stems differ from those with short stems. Short stemmed plural masculine adjectives end in 'e', neuter in 'u', and feminine in 'a'. Long stemmed plural masculine and neuter adjectives end in 'e', and feminine in 'a'. However, be aware the nominative and accusative plural endings normalise to 'e' in later Old English.

Adjectives with long vowels in the root do not take any feminine singular ending. So adjectives like 'god - good', 'wis - wise', and 'geong - young' remain the same in all versions of the nominative. Adjectives with short vowels, like 'halig - holy', 'weste - deserted' or 'til - good' take the 'u' suffix in the nominative feminine singular.

Don't let the variety of endings throw you. If you look closely you should notice most strong adjective endings resemble those of either the matching strong noun or demonstrative pronouns. You can practice strong adjectives below.

Return to Weak Adjectives Continue to Comparatives and Superlatives

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