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Germanic verb

Germanic verb

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The Germanic language family
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 is one of the language groups that resulted from the breakup of Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 (PIE). It in turn divided into North, West
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

 and East Germanic groups, and ultimately produced a large group of mediaeval and modern languages, most importantly: Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

, and Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 (North); English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 and Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 (West); and Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 (East, extinct).

The Germanic verb system lends itself to both descriptive (synchronic)
Descriptive linguistics
In the study of language, description, or descriptive linguistics, is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language is spoken by a group of people in a speech community...

 and historical (diachronic)
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

 comparative analysis. This overview article is intended to lead into a series of specialist articles discussing historical aspects of these verbs, showing how they developed out of PIE, and how they came to have their present diversity.

Verb types


The Germanic verb system carried two innovations over the previous Proto-Indo-European verb
Proto-Indo-European verb
The verbal system of the Proto-Indo-European language was a complex system, with verbs categorized according to their aspect — stative, imperfective, or perfective. The system utilized multiple grammatical moods and voices, with verbs being conjugated according to person, number and tense...

 system:
  1. Simplification to two tenses: present (also conveying future meaning) and past (sometimes called "preterite" and conveying the meaning of all of the following English forms: "I did, I have done, I had done, I was doing, I have been doing, I had been doing").
  2. Development of a new way of indicating the preterite and past participle, using a dental suffix.

Later Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 developed further tenses periphrastically, that is, using auxiliary verbs, but the constituent verbs of even the most elaborate periphrastic constructions are still only either in present or preterite (cf I would have done with would in the preterite and have in the present).

Germanic verbs fall into two broad types, strong and weak. Elements of both are present in the preterite-present verbs. Despite various irregularities, most verbs fall into one of these categories. Only two verbs are completely irregular, being composed of parts of more than one Indo-European verb.

Strong verbs


Strong (or vocalic) verbs display vowel gradation or ablaut
Indo-European ablaut
In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

, and may also be reduplicating
Reduplication
Reduplication in linguistics is a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word is repeated exactly or with a slight change....

. These are the direct descendants of the verb in Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

, and are paralleled in other Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 such as Greek: leipo leloipa elipon. All Indo-European verbs that passed into Germanic as functioning verbs were strong, apart from the small group of irregular verbs discussed below.

Examples in Old English:
  • fallan feoll feollon (ge)fallen
  • hātan hēt hēton (ge)hāten


Or Old High German:
  • fallan fiall fiallun (gi)fallan
  • heizan hiaz hiazun (gi)heizan


In Proto-Germanic consonant alternations known as grammatischer Wechsel
Grammatischer Wechsel
In historical linguistics, the German term Grammatischer Wechsel refers to the effects of Verner's law when viewed synchronically within the paradigm of a Germanic verb.-Overview:...

 developed, as a result of Verner's law
Verner's law
Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

. An example in modern Dutch:
  • verliezen verloor verloren


The preterite of strong verbs are the reflex of the Indo-European perfect. Because the perfect in late Indo-European was no longer simply stative
Stative verb
A stative verb is one that asserts that one of its arguments has a particular property . Statives differ from other aspectual classes of verbs in that they are static; that is, they have undefined duration...

, but began to be used especially of stative actions whose source was a completed action in the past (e.g. Greek), this anterior aspect of it was emphasized in a couple of Indo-European daughter languages (e.g. Latin), and so it was with Germanic that the perfect came to be used as a simple past tense. The semantic justification for this change is that actions of stative verbs generally have an implied prior inception. An example of this is the typical and widespread PIE stative *woida 'I know': one who "knows" something at some point in the past "came to know" it, much as the natural inference from noting someone in a sitting state is that a prior action of becoming seated occurred. The classical
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

/Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 perfect is essentially an early step in the development of the stative aspect to a past tense, being a hybrid of the two that emphasizes the ongoing (present/stative) effects of a past action (e.g. leloipa "I have left"). Apparently it was this latter anterior respect that is responsible for the Indo-European perfect showing up as a past tense in Germanic, Italic, and Celtic.

The Indo-European perfect took o-grade in the singular and zero grade in the dual and plural. The Germanic strong preterite shows the expected Germanic development of short o to short a in the singular and zero grade in the plural; these make up the second and third principal parts of the strong verb. The Indo-European perfect originally carried its own set of personal endings, the remnants of which are seen in the Germanic strong preterite. The reduplication characteristic of the Indo-European perfect remains in a number of verbs (seen most clearly in Gothic), a distinction by which they are grouped together as the seventh class of Germanic strong verbs.

Weak verbs


Weak (or consonantal) verbs are those that use a dental suffix in the past or "preterite" tense, either -t- or -d-. In Proto-Germanic such verbs had no ablaut -- that is, all forms of all tenses were formed from the same stem, with no vowel alternations within the stem. This meant that weak verbs were "simpler" to form, and as a result strong verbs gradually ceased to be productive
Productivity (linguistics)
In linguistics, productivity is the degree to which native speakers use a particular grammatical process, especially in word formation. Since use to produce novel structures is the clearest proof of usage of a grammatical process, the evidence most often appealed to as establishing productivity is...

. Already in the earliest attested Germanic languages strong verbs had become essentially closed classes, and almost all new verbs were formed using one of the weak conjugations. This pattern later repeated itself—further sound changes meant that stem alternations appeared in some weak classes in some daughter languages, and these classes generally became unproductive. This happened, for example, in all of the West Germanic languages besides Old High Germanic, where umlaut
Germanic umlaut
In linguistics, umlaut is a process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined and is used principally in connection with the study of the Germanic languages...

 produced stem alternations in Class III weak verbs, and as a result the class became unproductive and most of its verbs were transferred to other classes. Later, in Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

, stem alternations between long and short vowels appeared in Class I weak verbs (examples are "meet" vs. "met" and "hear" vs. "heard"), and the class in its turn became unproductive, leaving the original Class II as the only productive verb class in Modern English
Modern English
Modern English is the form of the English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift in England, completed in roughly 1550.Despite some differences in vocabulary, texts from the early 17th century, such as the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, are considered to be in Modern...

.

In Proto-Germanic, there were five main classes of weak verbs:
  • Class I verbs were formed with a suffix -j- (-i- in the past), e.g. Gothic
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

     satjan "to set" (Old English settan), sandjan "to send" (Old English sendan), sōkjan "to seek" (Old English sēcan). As shown in the Old English cognates, the -j- produced umlaut of the stem vowel in languages other than Gothic
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

     and then disappeared in most verbs in old Germanic languages other than Gothic
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

     and Old Saxon
    Old Saxon
    Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, is the earliest recorded form of Low German, documented from the 8th century until the 12th century, when it evolved into Middle Low German. It was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany and in the Netherlands by Saxon peoples...

    . (It also resulted in West Germanic gemination
    West Germanic Gemination
    West Germanic gemination is a sound change that took place in all West Germanic languages, around 300 AD. All single consonants except were geminated before . The second element of the diphthongs iu and au was still underlyingly at this time and therefore was still considered a consonant, so...

     in some verbs, and palatalization
    Palatalization
    In linguistics, palatalization , also palatization, may refer to two different processes by which a sound, usually a consonant, comes to be produced with the tongue in a position in the mouth near the palate....

     of velar consonant
    Velar consonant
    Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

    s in Old English.)
  • Class II verbs were formed with a suffix -ō- (sometimes -ōja-), e.g. Gothic
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

     salbōn "to anoint", Old English sealfian < *salbōjan, cf. "to salve".
  • Class III stative verbs were formed with a suffix that was -ja- or -ai- (later -ē-) in the present and was null in the past, e.g. Old English hebban "to have" < *habjan, past tense iċ hæfde "I had". The West Germanic languages outside of Old High German
    Old High German
    The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

     preserved this conjugation best, but in these languages the conjugation had become vestigial and had only four verbs in it. In other languages, it was merged with the Class III factitive verbs (see below) and significantly modified, e.g. Gothic
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

     haban, past tense ik habáida; Old High German
    Old High German
    The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

     habēn, past tense ih habēta.
  • Class III factitive verbs were formed with a suffix that was -ā- or -ai- in the present and -a- in the past. This class merged with the Class III stative verbs in Gothic
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

    , Old High German
    Old High German
    The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

     and (mostly) Old Norse
    Old Norse
    Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

    , and vanished in the other Germanic languages.
  • Class IV verbs were formed with a suffix -n- (-nō- in the past), e.g. Gothic
    Gothic language
    Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

     fullnan "to become full", past tense ik fullnōda. This class vanished in other Germanic languages; however, a significant number of cognate verbs appear as Class II verbs in Old Norse
    Old Norse
    Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

     and as Class III verbs in Old High German
    Old High German
    The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

    .

Preterite-presents


The so-called preterite-present verbs are a small group of anomalous verbs in the Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 in which the present tense shows the form of the strong preterite.

Source


The Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 perfect usually developed into a Germanic past tense. Some perfects, however, developed into Germanic present-tense verbs and are called preterite-presents, since they have the meaning of the present tense and the form of the past or preterite tense. The Indo-European perfect originally signified a current state
Stative verb
A stative verb is one that asserts that one of its arguments has a particular property . Statives differ from other aspectual classes of verbs in that they are static; that is, they have undefined duration...

 of being rather than any particular tense. Since the preterite-present verbs are non-past and signify current states (temporalized as present tense), they constitute a retention of the non-past nature of the Indo-European perfect.

For example, Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 } originally meant "I see, I am a witness". This meaning developed to the meaning "I know" in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 oîda and Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 veda, as well as in Gothic wait. The original semantic meaning of "seeing" is preserved in Latin vīdī 'I saw' (probably an old root aorist
Aorist
Aorist is a philological term originally from Indo-European studies, referring to verb forms of various languages that are not necessarily related or similar in meaning...

). Compare Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 widzieć (to see) and wiedzieć (to know).

Preterite-presents in Proto-Germanic


The known verbs in Proto-Germanic (PGmc):
Infinitive Meaning Class Present Preterite
*witanan "know" I wait wissa
*lisanan "know" I lais lissa
*aiganan "have", "own" I aig aihta
*duganan "be useful" II daug duhta
*unnanan "grant" III ann unþa
*kunnanan "know (how to)", later "can" III kann kunþa
*þurbanan "need" III þarb þurfta
*dursanan "dare" III dars dursta
*skulanan "must", later "shall" IV skal skulda
*munanan "think" IV man munda
*gamunanan "remember" IV gaman gamunda
*binuganan "behoove" V binag binuhta
*ganuganan "be enough" V ganag ganuhta
*maganan "can", later "may" VI mag mahta
*ōganan "fear" VI ōg ōhta
*mōtanan "may", later "must" VI mōt mōsta
*gamōtanan "have room" VI gamōt gamōsta

Ablaut


The present tense has the form of a vocalic (strong) preterite, with vowel-alternation between singular and plural. A new weak
Germanic weak verb
In Germanic languages, including English, weak verbs are by far the largest group of verbs, which are therefore often regarded as the norm, though historically they are not the oldest or most original group.-General description:...

 preterite is formed with a dental suffix. The root shape of the preterite (in zero-grade
Indo-European ablaut
In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

) serves as the basis for the infinitive and past passive participle, thus Gothic inf. witan and past participle witans; this contrasts with all other Germanic verb types in which the basis for those forms is the present stem.
Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

Old Norse Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

infinitive
Infinitive
In grammar, infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In the usual description of English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives...

witan witan wissen weten vita vita vide veta
present
Present tense
The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

 1st & 3rd sg
wait wāt weiß weet veit veit ved vet
present
Present tense
The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

 3rd pl
witun witon wissen weten vitu vita ved (veta)*
preterite
Preterite
The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

 1st & 3rd sg
wissa wisse wusste wist vissa/vissi vissi vidste visste
present participle witands witende wissend wetend vitandi vitandi vidende vetande
past participle witans gewiten gewusst geweten vitat** vitað** vidst vetat**
*(Plural forms have been lost in modern central Swedish, but are retained in some dialects.)

**(Actually, not the past participle but the supine
Supine
In grammar a supine is a form of verbal noun used in some languages.-In Latin:In Latin there are two supines, I and II . They are originally the accusative and dative or ablative forms of a verbal noun in the fourth declension, respectively. The first supine ends in -um. It has two uses. The first...

.)

Personal endings


For the most part, the personal endings of the strong preterite are used for the present tense. In fact, in West Germanic the endings of the present tense of preterite-present verbs represent the original IE perfect endings better than that subgroup's strong preterite verbs do: the expected PGmc strong preterite 2 sg. form ending in -t was retained rather than replaced by the endings -e or -i elsewhere adopted for strong preterites in West Germanic.

The endings of the preterite (except for *kunnana) are the same as the endings of the first weak class.

Subsequent developments


In modern English, preterite-present verbs are identifiable by the absence of an -s suffix on the 3rd person singular present tense form. Compare, for instance, he can with he sings (pret. he sang); the present paradigm of can is thus parallel with the past tense of a strong verb
Strong verb
*for the strong inflection in various languages, see strong inflection*for irregular verbs, see irregular verb*for the strong verbs in Germanic languages, see Germanic strong verb...

. (See English modal verb.) In modern German there is also an ablaut
Indo-European ablaut
In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

 shift between singular ich kann (I can) and plural wir können (we can). In the older stages of the Germanic languages (Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

, Middle High German
Middle High German
Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

) the past tense of strong verbs also showed different ablaut grades in singular and plural.

Many of the preterite-present verbs function as modal verb
Modal verb
A modal verb is a type of auxiliary verb that is used to indicate modality -- that is, likelihood, ability, permission, and obligation...

s (auxiliaries which are followed by a bare infinitive, without "to" in English, and which convey modality
Linguistic modality
In linguistics, modality is what allows speakers to evaluate a proposition relative to a set of other propositions.In standard formal approaches to modality, an utterance expressing modality can always roughly be paraphrased to fit the following template:...

) and indeed most of the traditional modal verbs are preterite-presents. Examples are English must and shall/should, German dürfen (may), sollen (ought), mögen (like), and müssen (must). The early history of will (German wollen) is more complicated, as it goes back to an Indo-European optative, but the result in the modern languages is likewise a preterite-present paradigm.

Suppletive verbs


A small number of Germanic verbs show the phenomenon of suppletion
Suppletion
In linguistics and etymology, suppletion is traditionally understood as the use of one word as the inflected form of another word when the two words are not cognate. For those learning a language, suppletive forms will be seen as "irregular" or even "highly irregular". The term "suppletion" implies...

, that is, they are made up from more than one stem. The verb to be has its forms from four IE roots (*es-, *er-, *bhu- and *wes-).

The phenomenon of verb paradigms being composites of parts of different earlier verbs can best be observed in an example from recorded language history. The English verb to go was always irregular, having the past tense eode in Old English; in the 15th century, however, this was replaced by a new irregular past tense went. In fact went is originally the past tense of the verb to wend (compare wend-went with send-sent); today wend has the regular past tense wended.

IE optative


A special case is *wiljana (to want, will), which has its present forms from an IE optative. Today, only Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

 retains the optative, and it is mostly used in fixed syllables.

Regular and irregular verbs


When teaching modern languages, it is usually most useful to have a narrow definition of a "regular verb" and treat all other groups as irregular. See the article irregular verb
Irregular verb
In contrast to regular verbs, irregular verbs are those verbs that fall outside the standard patterns of conjugation in the languages in which they occur. The idea of an irregular verb is important in second language acquisition, where the verb paradigms of a foreign language are learned...

. By this standard, English has 283 irregular verbs, and only the most straightforward weak verb counts as regular. (In English, the strong verb system has collapsed so far that all strong verbs can be regarded as irregular.) However, Faroese still counts both its strong and weak verbs as regular verbs, counting vocal changes as regular. Faroese irregular verbs change their consonantal composition, e.g. at doyggja (to die), doyr (dies), doyði (died), etc. Despite this, 'at vera' (to be) is still regular even when it loses its initial 'v' in present tense (hann er - he is).

In historical linguistics however we seek patterns to explain anomalies and tend only to speak of "irregular verbs" when these patterns cannot be found. Most of the 283 English "irregular" verbs belong to historical categories that are regular within their own terms. However, the suppletive verbs are irregular by any standards, and for most purposes the preterite-presents can also count as irregular. Beyond this, isolated irregularities occur in all Germanic languages in both the strong and the weak verb system.

General

  • Verb
    Verb
    A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

  • Regular verb
    Regular verb
    A regular verb is any verb whose conjugation follows the typical grammatical inflections of the language to which it belongs. A verb that cannot be conjugated like this is called an irregular verb. All natural languages, to different extents, have a number of irregular verbs...

  • Irregular verb
    Irregular verb
    In contrast to regular verbs, irregular verbs are those verbs that fall outside the standard patterns of conjugation in the languages in which they occur. The idea of an irregular verb is important in second language acquisition, where the verb paradigms of a foreign language are learned...

  • Copula
  • Principal parts
    Principal parts
    In language learning, the principal parts of a verb are those forms that a student must memorize in order to be able to conjugate the verb through all its forms.- English :...

  • Infinitive
    Infinitive
    In grammar, infinitive is the name for certain verb forms that exist in many languages. In the usual description of English, the infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to: therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives...

  • Past tense
    Past tense
    The past tense is a grammatical tense that places an action or situation in the past of the current moment , or prior to some specified time that may be in the speaker's past, present, or future...

  • Present tense
    Present tense
    The present tense is a grammatical tense that locates a situation or event in present time. This linguistic definition refers to a concept that indicates a feature of the meaning of a verb...

  • Future tense
    Future tense
    In grammar, a future tense is a verb form that marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future , or to happen subsequent to some other event, whether that is past, present, or future .-Expressions of future tense:The concept of the future,...

  • Suppletion
    Suppletion
    In linguistics and etymology, suppletion is traditionally understood as the use of one word as the inflected form of another word when the two words are not cognate. For those learning a language, suppletive forms will be seen as "irregular" or even "highly irregular". The term "suppletion" implies...


Specialist subsidiary and related articles

  • Germanic weak verb
    Germanic weak verb
    In Germanic languages, including English, weak verbs are by far the largest group of verbs, which are therefore often regarded as the norm, though historically they are not the oldest or most original group.-General description:...

  • Preterite-present verb
  • Germanic strong verb
    Germanic strong verb
    In the Germanic languages, a strong verb is one which marks its past tense by means of ablaut. In English, these are verbs like sing, sang, sung...

  • Indo-European copula
    Indo-European copula
    A feature common to all Indo-European languages is the presence of a verb corresponding to the English verb to be. Though in some languages, such as Russian, it is vestigial, it is present nonetheless in atrophied forms or derivatives.-General features:...

  • Go (verb)
    Go (verb)
    Go is an irregular English verb whose basic definition is "to move from one place to another". Be and go are the only English verbs with a suppletive past tense.-Principal parts:...


The verb in particular Germanic languages

  • English grammar
    English grammar
    English grammar is the body of rules that describe the structure of expressions in the English language. This includes the structure of words, phrases, clauses and sentences...

  • English verbs
    English verbs
    Verbs in the English language are a part of speech and typically describe an action, an event, or a state.While English has many irregular verbs , for the regular ones the conjugation rules are quite straightforward...

  • English irregular verbs
    English irregular verbs
    The English language has a large number of irregular verbs. In the great majority of these, the past participle and/or past tense is not formed according to the usual patterns of English regular verbs...

  • Wiktionary appendix: Irregular English verbs
  • German verbs
    German verbs
    German verbs may be classified as either weak, with a dental consonant inflection, or strong, showing a vowel gradation . Both of these are regular systems. Most verbs of both types are regular, though various subgroups and anomalies do arise. The only completely irregular verb in the language is...

  • :de:Liste starker Verben (deutsche Sprache)
  • :de:Liste starker Verben (bairische Sprache)
  • Dutch conjugation
    Dutch conjugation
    This is a paradigm of Dutch verbs, that is, a set of conjugation tables, for the model regular verbs and for some of the most common irregular verbs.-Explanation of the notes:...


Other aspects of Germanic verbs

  • Indo-European ablaut
    Indo-European ablaut
    In linguistics, ablaut is a system of apophony in Proto-Indo-European and its far-reaching consequences in all of the modern Indo-European languages...

  • Germanic Umlaut
    Germanic umlaut
    In linguistics, umlaut is a process whereby a vowel is pronounced more like a following vowel or semivowel. The term umlaut was originally coined and is used principally in connection with the study of the Germanic languages...

  • Verner's law
    Verner's law
    Verner's law, stated by Karl Verner in 1875, describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby voiceless fricatives *f, *þ, *s, *h, *hʷ, when immediately following an unstressed syllable in the same word, underwent voicing and became respectively the fricatives *b, *d, *z,...

  • grammatischer Wechsel
    Grammatischer Wechsel
    In historical linguistics, the German term Grammatischer Wechsel refers to the effects of Verner's law when viewed synchronically within the paradigm of a Germanic verb.-Overview:...