Gan and Don

Just like 'beon' and 'wesan', the verbs 'gan' and 'don' conjugate irregularly and are suppletive verbs, so their past tense does not share the same root as their present tense. Examine the sentences, 'hie gaþ to cyrcan - they go to church' versus 'hie eodon to cyrcan - they went to church' and 'ic do it nu - I do it now' versus 'he dyde it forma - he did it first'.

Hie
Pronoun
gaþ
Verb
to
Prep.
cyrcan
Indirect Object

Hie
Pronoun
eodon
Verb
to
Prep.
cyrcan
Indirect Object
Ic
Pronoun
do
Verb
it
Object
nu
Adverb

He
Pronoun
dyde
Verb
it
Object
forma
Ordinal

In the module on weak verbs we came across the verb 'feran - to go'. The difference between 'gan' and 'feran' is 'feran' more specifically means to 'set out' or 'journey' and so is more likely to be used when discussing long distances and non-finite forms forms of travel, while 'gan' is more likely to be used for shorter journeys and more finite forms of travel. It might be helpful to translate 'feran' as 'journeys'. So 'he gæþ to cyrcan - he goes to church' but 'he ferþ to þæm beorgum - he journeys to the mountains'.

Gan - to go
1st ga eode
2nd gæst eodest
3rd gæþ eode
Plural gaþ eodon
Don - to do
1st do dyde
2nd dest dydest
3rd deþ dyde
Plural doþ dydon

Always look for similarities when encountering new grammar. The endings of 'gan' and 'don' are identical to the endings of class I weak verbs. However, if you examine the second and third person singular present verb forms of 'gan' and 'don', you'll notice the vowel in the root changes from 'a' to 'æ' and 'o' to 'e'. This is an example of i-mutation which will be explained in more detail in a later module so just keep it in mind when practicing the verbs below.

Return to Beon and Wesan Continue to Willan

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