Class I Strong Verbs

Class I verbs have an (i + consonant) in the root of the verb. When they conjugate to form the past tense, they follow the vowel change pattern ī - ā - i (with the macrons included here indicating the long vowels). This means that the root vowel in the present is 'i', the root vowel in the past first and third person singular is 'a', and the root vowel in the past second person singular and pural is 'i'. So 'ic bite - I bite', becomes 'ic bat - I bit' or 'hie biton - they bit'.

In addition to the root vowel change when forming the past tense, Strong Verbs also conjugate for person and number. In fact, they have the same forms as Weak Verbs in the present tense. Examine the verb 'writan' in: 'Þu writst mid þinum fingre on ðære eorþan - You write on the earth with your finger' and 'We writaþ be ðæm leode - We write about the people'. You should recognise the suffixes.

Þu
Subject
writst
Verb
mid
Prep.
þinum
Possessive
fingre
Object
on
Prep.
ðære
Demon.
eorþan
Object

We
Subject
writaþ
Verb
be
Prep.
ðæm
Demon.
leode
Object

It is when we come to the past tense that Strong Verbs differ from Weak Verbs. Notice that there has been a vowel change from 'ic write' to 'ic wrat'. As you can see in the following sentences, there are different vowel changes for the third person singular and plural past forms.

He
Subject
wrat
Verb
mid
Prep.
his
Possessive
fingre
Object
on
Prep.
ðære
Demon.
eorþan
Object

We
Subject
writon
Verb
be
Prep.
ðæm
Demon.
leode
Object

In addition to the usual inflectional endings in present tense, and the vowel changes specific to strong verbs, there is one other letter change you need to watch out for with Class I Strong Verbs. If a verb has an eth (ð) or a thorn (þ) after the vowel, then this letter changes to a 'd' in the past tense when a suffix is added. For example, 'hie sniþaþ - they cut' and 'hie liþaþ - they travel' become 'hie snidon' and 'hie lidon' in the past tense. This shift is caused by a sound change known as Verners Law.

Strong Verbs Class I
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic bite Ic bat
2nd Person Singular Þu bitst Þu bite
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo bit He/Hit/Heo bat
Plural We/Ge/Hie bitaþ We/Ge/Hie biton
Strong Verbs Class I
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic write Ic wrat
2nd Person Singular Þu writst Þu write
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo writ He/Hit/Heo wrat
Plural We/Ge/Hie writaþ We/Ge/Hie writon
Strong Verbs Class I
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic ripe Ic rap
2nd Person Singular Þu ripst Þu ripe
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo ripþ He/Hit/Heo rap
Plural We/Ge/Hie ripaþ We/Ge/Hie ripon
Strong Verbs Class I
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic sniþe Ic snaþ
2nd Person Singular Þu snist Þu snide
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo sniþ He/Hit/Heo snaþ
Plural We/Ge/Hie sniþaþ We/Ge/Hie snidon
Strong Verbs Class I
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic liþe Ic laþ
2nd Person Singular Þu list Þu lide
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo liþ He/Hit/Heo laþ
Plural We/Ge/Hie liþaþ We/Ge/Hie lidon


When voiceless stops (a consonant made with no audible sound in the throat, for example, p, t, þ, ð, k, and s) are not the first or final letter, next to other voiceless consonants, or are not immediately proceeded by the stress, they become a voiced stop. So p becomes b; t, þ and ð become d; k becomes g; and s becomes r.

There are several changes between present and past to keep track of in Strong Verbs, but notice that for Class I Strong Verbs the 1st person singular present and 2nd person singular past are the same (for the verbs not affected by Verner's Law). The 1st and 3rd person past are always the same and the plural past has the same form for first, second and third person past. You can practice Class I Strong Verbs below.

Return to Strong Verbs Pronunciation Guide Continue to Strong Verbs II

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