Class III Strong Verbs

Class III verbs fall into four sub-categories and can have a (vowel + l + consonant), a (vowel + r + consonant), a (vowel + h + consonant), or a (vowel + n + consonant). For example, 'helpan - to help', 'weorpan - to throw', 'feohtan - to fight', and 'findan - to find'.

When they conjugate, they follow the vowel change pattern i - a - u, eo - ea - u or e - ea - u. This means that the root vowel in the present is 'i', 'eo' or 'e', the root vowel in the past first and third person singular is 'a' or 'ea', and the root vowel in the second past and past pural is 'u'. So 'ic findan - I find', becomes 'ic fand - I found' or 'hie fundon - they found'. Examine the verbs 'melcan - to milk' and 'feohtan - to fight' in the sentences below.

Ic
Subject
melce
Verb
þa
Demon.
cu
Object

Ic
Subject
mealc
Verb
þa
Demon.
cu
Object

Hie
Subject
molcen
Verb
þa
Demon.
cu
Object
Ic
Subject
feohte
Verb
þa
Demon.
cu
Object

Ic
Subject
feaht
Verb
þa
Demon.
cu
Object

Hie
Subject
fuhton
Verb
þa
Demon.
cu
Object

When a verb has an 'ie' in the root, for example, 'gieldan - to repay' or 'giellan - to yell', treat them as if it were an 'e'. This is because the vowels 'æ' and 'e' are changed into the diphthongs 'ea' and 'ie' when preceded by an initial palatal (g, c, or sc). This is known as palatal diphthongization and it affects Class IV and Class V verbs also, so bear it in mind when you see an 'ie' in the root of a verb.

Strong Verbs Class III
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic drince Ic dranc
2nd Person Singular Þu drincst Þu drunce
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo drincþ He/Hit/Heo dranc
Plural We/Ge/Hie drincaþ We/Ge/Hie druncon
Strong Verbs Class III
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic helpe Ic healp
2nd Person Singular Þu hilpst Þu helpe
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo hilpþ He/Hit/Heo healp
Plural We/Ge/Hie helpaþ We/Ge/Hie hulpon
Strong Verbs Class III
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic feohte Ic feaht
2nd Person Singular Þu fiehst Þu fuhte
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo fieht He/Hit/Heo feaht
Plural We/Ge/Hie feohtaþ We/Ge/Hie fuhton
Strong Verbs Class III
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic weorpe Ic wearp
2nd Person Singular Þu wierpst Þu wurpe
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo wierpþ He/Hit/Heo wearp
Plural We/Ge/Hie weorpaþ We/Ge/Hie wurpon
Strong Verbs Class III
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic gielde Ic geald
2nd Person Singular Þu gielst Þu gulde
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo gielt He/Hit/Heo geald
Plural We/Ge/Hie gieldaþ We/Ge/Hie guldon


Don't forget, when a 'þ/ð' comes after a consonant + 't' or 'd', both the 'd/t' and the 'þ/ð' become 't'. So 'gieldan' becomes 'he gielt - he repays' and 'meltan - to melt' becomes 'hit milt - it melts'.

Class III verbs are complex with many variations, so take your time and practice them below until you feel comfortable with the vowel changes. The important thing is to understand the way that strong verbs work, rather than trying to remember all the different patterns. As with all strong verbs, the key takeaways are that there is a vowel change in the root of the verb to indicate the past tense; that these vowel changes follow certain patterns that link them to other verbs; and that within a strong verb's conjugation this vowel change is always the same for first and third person singular, and for second person singular and plural past.

Return to Strong Verbs II Continue to Strong Verbs IV

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