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. For example: 'se cyning is eald - the king is old' would take the strong form of the adjective because it follows a linking verb rather than appearing between the demonstrative pronoun and the noun. These adjectives are known as predicative adjectives.
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.
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.
Possessive pronouns can be used as adjectives and decline strong. For example, in the sentence 'Syle us urne hlaf - Give us our bread', the pronoun 'ure' takes the accusative masculine singular ending 'ne' to become 'urne' because it is modifying 'hlaf'.
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