Class II Strong Verbs

Class II Strong Verbs have an (eo/u + consonant) in the root of the verb. When they conjugate to form the past tense, they follow the vowel change pattern ēo - ēa - u or ū - ēa - u (with the macrons included here indicating the long vowels). This means that the root vowel in the present is either 'eo' or 'u', the root vowel in the past first and third person singular is 'ea', and the root vowel in the past second person and pural is 'u'. So 'ic lute - I bend', becomes 'ic leat - I bent' or 'hie luton - they bent'.

Class II verbs have a further vowel change visible in the 2nd person singular and 3rd person singular, as the 'eo' changes to 'ie' and the 'u' changes to 'y'. This is not related to the vowel change that indicates the past tense of Strong Verbs, and is due to a different process called i-mutation. (See i-mutation for more information.) Examine the verb 'brucan' in the following sentences: 'Ðu brycst ðines hlafes - You enjoy your bread ' and 'Ðu bruce giefstolas- You enjoyed gifts'.

Ðu
Subject
brycst
Verb
ðines
Possessive
hlafes
Object

Ðu
Subject
bruce
Verb
giefstolas
Object

As another example, i-mutation is reponsible for the different variants of the verb in first and second person present forms of 'beodan' in the following sentences 'Ic ðe beode - I announce/give to you' and 'ðu me bietst - you announce/give to me'.

Ic
Subject
ðe
Object
beode
Verb

Ðu
Subject
me
Object
bietst
Verb

Verner's Law also affects several common Class II verbs such as 'freosan - to freeze', 'dreosan - to fall', 'leosan - to lose', and 'seoðan - to boil', with the 's' becoming 'r' and the 'ð' becoming 'd'. So 'hie freosaþ - they freeze' becomes 'hie fruron - they froze', and 'hie seoþaþ - they boil' becomes 'hie sudon - they boiled'.

Strong Verbs Class II
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic beode Ic bead
2nd Person Singular Þu bietst Þu bude
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo biet He/Hit/Heo bead
Plural We/Ge/Hie beodaþ We/Ge/Hie budon
Strong Verbs Class II
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic leoge Ic leag
2nd Person Singular Þu liegst Þu luge
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo liegþ He/Hit/Heo leag
Plural We/Ge/Hie leogaþ We/Ge/Hie lugon
Strong Verbs Class II
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic bruce Ic breac
2nd Person Singular Þu brycst Þu bruce
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo brycþ He/Hit/Heo breac
Plural We/Ge/Hie brucaþ We/Ge/Hie brucon
Strong Verbs Class II
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic lute Ic leat
2nd Person Singular Þu lytst Þu lute
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo lyt He/Hit/Heo leat
Plural We/Ge/Hie lutaþ We/Ge/Hie luton
Strong Verbs Class II
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic seoþe Ic seaþ
2nd Person Singular Þu siest Þu sude
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo sieþ He/Hit/Heo seaþ
Plural We/Ge/Hie seoþaþ We/Ge/Hie sudon


Watch out for i-mutation in the 2nd Person Singular and 3rd person singular presents of Strong Verbs. Almost all Strong Verbs that do not have an 'i' as the root vowel undergo i-mutation.

With Class II verbs, it is important to bear in mind not only the vowel change between present and past, but also the affects of Verner's Law and i‑mutation. This may seem very complicated, but remember that in modern English we also have strong verbs which change their vowels, and irregular words which show the influence of i-mutation, such as 'foot/feet', 'mouse/mice'. It is not about memorising all these rules, but about being able to refer back to them when you encounter a form that you are not expecting. You can practice Class II Strong Verbs below.

Return to Strong Verbs I Continue to Strong Verbs III

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