Class VI Strong Verbs

Class VI verbs have two forms. The first form has an (a + consonant) in the infinitive. For example, 'dragan - to draw/pull' or 'spanan - to seduce'. When they conjugate, they follow the vowel change pattern a - о̄ - о̄ (with the macrons included here indicating the long vowels). So the root vowel in the present is 'a', the root vowel in the past first and third person singular is 'o', and the root vowel in the second past and past plural is 'o'. For example, 'ic draga - I draw', becomes 'ic drog - I drew' or 'hie drogon - they drew'. Examine the verb 'wascan - to wash' in the sentences 'Heo wæsceþ his hrægl - She washes his clothes' and 'Heo wosc his hrægl - She washed his clothes'.

Heo
Subject
wæsceþ
Verb
his
Possessive
hrægl
Object

Heo
Subject
wosc
Verb
his
Possessive
hrægl
Object

The second form has an (ie + double consonant) or an (e + double consonant) in the infinitive. For example, 'hliehhan - to laugh' or 'steppan - to step'. The conjugation pattern remains the same with the past singular and past plural changing the 'ie' or 'e' to 'o'. For example, 'ic stepe - I step' becomes 'heo stop - she stepped' and 'hie stopon - they stepped'. Examine the verb 'swerian - to swear' in the sentences 'Ic swerie ðurh God - I swear by God' and 'Ic swor ðurh God - I swore by God'. Note that the same vowel change occurs in the verb 'to swear' in modern English.

Ic
Subject
swerie
Verb
ðurh
Prep.
God
Object

Ic
Subject
swor
Verb
ðurh
Prep.
God
Object
Strong Verbs Class VI
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic wasce Ic wosc
2nd Person Singular Þu wæscst Þu wosc
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo wæscþ He/Hit/Heo wosc
Plural We/Ge/Hie wascaþ We/Ge/Hie woscon
Strong Verbs Class VI
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic drage Ic drog
2nd Person Singular Þu drægst Þu droge
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo drægþ He/Hit/Heo drog
Plural We/Ge/Hie dragaþ We/Ge/Hie drogon
Strong Verbs Class VI
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic slea Ic slog
2nd Person Singular Þu sliehst Þu sloge
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo sliehþ He/Hit/Heo slog
Plural We/Ge/Hie sleaþ We/Ge/Hie slogon
Strong Verbs Class VI
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic steppe Ic stop
2nd Person Singular Þu stepest Þu stope
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo stepeþ He/Hit/Heo stop
Plural We/Ge/Hie steppaþ We/Ge/Hie stopon
Strong Verbs Class VI
Present Tense Past Tense
1st Person Singular Ic hliehhe Ic hlog
2nd Person Singular Þu hliehst Þu hloge
3rd Person Singular He/Hit/Heo hliehþ He/Hit/Heo hlog
Plural We/Ge/Hie hliehhaþ We/Ge/Hie hlogon


Verbs like 'slean - to slay', 'flean - flay' and 'lean - blame' are Contracted Verbs. This means they originally had additional letters, for example 'slean' was 'slahana' in Proto-Germanic, but it underwent several reductions before entering Old English. This is why a 'h' appears in the 2nd and 3rd person present singular forms of these verbs, but not the infinitive, 1st person or plural present singular.

Another element of Verners Law, causes voiceless fricatives, like 'h' [x] to become a voiced fricative, like 'g' [ɣ], when the voiceless fricative comes after an unstressed syllable. You will see this in the past tense of verbs like 'hliehhan', 'flean', 'lean' and 'slean' as their root vowel changes to 'o'.

When you encounter a compound verb like 'ofersteppan - to step over' or 'forþfaran - to die', only the second part of the verb conjugates and it conjugates as it would normally. For example, the past second person singular of 'ofersteppan' is 'þu oferstope', following the conjugation of 'steppan'.

You can practice Class VI verbs below.

Return to Strong Verbs V Continue to Strong Verbs VII

Test Your Conjugations!

In the textboxes below, fill out the fully declined version of the word in brackets.


Use these buttons to insert thorn, ash and eth when you have an input selected.