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Old English minor groups of verbs

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The most important group of these verbs were the so-called “preterite-presents” or “past-present” verbs. Originally the Present tense forms of these verbs were Past tense forms. Later these forms acquired a present meaning but preserved many formal features of the Past tense. Most of these verbs had new Past Tense forms built with the help of the dental suffix. Some of them also acquired the forms of the verbals: Participles and Infinitives. In OE there were twelve preterite-present verbs. Six of them have survived in Mod E: OE āз; cunnan; cann; dear(r), sculan, sceal; maзan, mæз; mōt (NE owe, ought; can; dare; shall; may; must). Most preterite-presents did not indicate actions, but expressed a kind of attitude to an action denoted by another verb, an Infinitive which followed the preterite-present. In other words they were used like modal verbs, and eventually developed into modern modal verbs.

Among the verbs of the minor groups there were several anomalous verbs with irregular forms. OE willan was an irregular verb with the meaning of volition and desire; it resembled the preterite-presents in meaning and function, as it indicated an attitude to an action and was often followed by an Infinitive.

 

 

– Suppletive verbs:

refer to the introduction of phonologically unrelated forms within an inflectional paradigm, as in go/went.In other words suppletive verbs build up different forms from different roots.

Supplition is one of the oldest means of form-building. All IE languages have suppletive verbs. Two OE verbs were suppletive

bēon (to be) – wæs / wære – (Participle I: bēonde (being)

gān (to go) – ēode – gegān (Participles: gānde, gangende)

 

– Anomalous verbs:

dōn (to do) – dyde – gedōn

willan (will) – wolde (Participle I willende)

. Anomalous verbs are verbs with irregular forms: They have some individual peculiarities. .

Willan with the meaning of volition, desire resembles the preterite-present verbs in meaning and function as it indicates an attitude to an action and it was often followed by an Inf. The form of the Past T. wolde is similar to the Past T scolde of the prêt.-pres. verb sculan. Eventually, on analogy with prêt.-pres. verbs it developed into a modal verb and later together with scullan – into an auxiliary verb.



The verb dōn combined the features of weak and strong verbs.

Like weak verbs it formed its Past tense with the help of a dental suffix (d) and had a vowel interchange (ō–y) and -n in Part 2 which is characteristic of strong verbs.


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