Irregular Verbs Overview
As you have seen, irregular verbs do not exactly follow standard patterns of conjugation, though they retain many of the suffixes we see in other verbs. Once you know that a verb is irregular, and are aware of major stem changes, like 'ga' to 'eode' or 'eom' to 'wæs' you should be able to figure out the number and tense of the word.
Pay attention to the differences that make these verbs irregular. For example, the vowel in the stem of 'don - to do' changes to 'y' in the past tense. The verbs 'beon - to be', 'wesan - to be', and 'gan - to go' borrow their past tense from another verb, so it is not immediately apparent they're related. Lastly, 'willan - to want' has distinctive inflections which are not seen in other verbs.
|Beon and Wesan - to be||Gan - to go||Don - to do||Willan - to want|
|Fremman - to do|
|Nerian - to save|
|Hieran - to hear|
An important thing to remember about 'beon' and 'wesan' is that they are used to mean slightly different forms of being. For example, the verb 'wesan' is generally used to express the present form of 'to be'. For example, 'Se stan is micel - the stone is big'. While 'beon' tends to be used to express permanent truths or the future tense. For example, 'I am your God'.
Similarly, the verb 'gan - to go' is used in specific situations while other verbs of motion, such as 'feran' or 'wendan', are used to describe different types of travel. 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 of travel, while 'gan' is more likely to be used for shorter journeys and more finite forms of travel. So 'she journey's to the mountains' would be written with 'ferþ' if the mountains were far away, while 'she goes to the mountains' would be written with 'gæþ' if she was going there and staying there.
|Beon - to be|
|1st Person Singular||beo||wæs|
|2nd Person Singular||bist||wære|
|3rd Person Singular||biþ||wæs|
|Wesan - to be|
|1st Person Singular||eom||wæs|
|2nd Person Singular||eart||wære|
|3rd Person Singular||is||wæs|
|Don - to do|
|1st Person Singular||do||dyde|
|2nd Person Singular||dest||dydest|
|3rd Person Singular||deþ||dyde|
|Gan - to go|
|1st Person Singular||ga||eode|
|2nd Person Singular||gæst||eodest|
|3rd Person Singular||gæþ||eode|
|Willan - to want|
|1st Person Singular||wille||wolde|
|2nd Person Singular||wilt||woldest|
|3rd Person Singular||wile||wolde|
Feel free to practice the irregular verbs below so you can get more comfortable with them. When you are ready, continue on to the next module. You can download a pdf of this module using the link below. The pdfs contain a glossary of all vocabulary used in the module.