Introduction to Gothic VerbsEdit

Gothic has the most complex verbal system of all attested Germanic languages. There exist two voices: active and passive; three numbers: singular, dual, and plural; two tenses: present and past; and finally two moods: indicative and subjunctive (also called optative). In Gothic, as in other Germanic languages, there is a distinction between strong and weak verbs. The difference between the two depends on the formation of the preterite, or past tense. The section will deal with weak verbs.

How to Conjugate Gothic VerbsEdit

In the present tense all verbs follow a similar conjugation. All infinitives end in a combination similar to -an. To conjugate a verb, one must isolate the verb stem by removing the -an ending of the infinitive, then add the desired endings. Using the verb siggwan "to sing" as an example, we can see its -an ending. If we remove the -an ending, we are left with siggw-; this is the verb stem. To this we add the endings: -a, -is, -iþ, etc. We use this formula to conjugate all Gothic verbs in the present tense. Some verbs take a different conjugation in the 3rd person singular and 2nd person plural, namely the class I and class III of weak verbs. The average Gothic verb is conjugated thus:

Gothic English
ik siggwa I sing
þu siggwis you (thou) sing
is siggw he sings
wit siggwōs we two sing
jut siggwats you two sing
weis siggwam we sing
jus siggw you all sing
eis siggwand they sing

Weak verbs form their past tense by means of a dental suffix. Weak verbs are divided into four classes according to the ending of the infinitive. The following table shows the possible infinitive endings of a weak verb, each representing a class. On the right is their preterite ending.

Class Infinitive Ending Preterite
Class I -jan -ida
Class II -on -oda
Class III -an -aida
Class IV -nan -noda

Class I Weak VerbsEdit

Class I weak verbs end in -jan. Verbs within this class are subdivided into two subgroups: (1) verbs with a short stem-syllable, such as nasjan "to save", or verbs with a long open syllable, such as stōjan "to judge"; (2) verbs with a long closed syllable, such as sōkjan "to seek". Verbs with a polysyllabic root behave like sōkjan regardless of the nature of the last syllable of the root; hence, glitmunjan "to shine" behaves like sōkjan. These two subgroups only differ slightly in their conjugation; namely in the 2nd person and 3rd person singular, in the 2nd person plural of the present indicative, and in the second person plural imperative.

Present TenseEdit

Notice sōkeis instead of *sōkjis

Present 1st sing nasja stōja sōkja
2nd sing nasjis stōjis sōkeis
3rd sing nasjiþ stōjiþ sōkeiþ
1st dual nasjōs stōjōs sōkjōs
2nd dual nasjats stōjats sōkjats
1st plur nasjam stōjam sōkjam
2nd plur nasjiþ stōjiþ sōkeiþ
3rd plur nasjand stōjand sōkjand

Past TenseEdit

All class I weak verbs follow the same conjugation in the past tense regardless of which subgroup they belong to.

Past 1st sing nasida stauida sōkida
2nd sing nasidēs stauidēs sōkidēs
3rd sing nasida stauida sōkida
1st dual nasidēdu stauidēdu sōkidēdu
2nd dual nasidēduts stauidēduts sōkidēduts
1st plur nasidēdum stauidēdum sōkidēdum
2nd plur nasidēduþ stauidēduþ sōkidēduþ
3rd plur nasidēdun stauidēdun sōkidēdun

Some class I verbs have an irregular past.

Class II Weak VerbsEdit

Class II weak verbs end in -ōn. The verb salbōn (to anoint) will serve as a model for class II weak verbs.

Present TenseEdit

salbōn 1st sing salbō
2nd sing salbōs
3rd sing salbōþ
1st dual salbōs
2nd dual salbōts
1st plur salbōm
2nd plur salbōþ
3rd plur salbōnd

Past TenseEdit

Their past tense ends similarly to class I weak verbs, but with /ō instead of /i.

salbōn 1st sing salbōda
2nd sing salbōdēs
3rd sing salbōda
1st dual salbōdēdu
2nd dual salbōdēduts
1st plur salbōdēdum
2nd plur salbōdēduþ
3rd plur salbōdēdun

Class III Weak VerbsEdit

Verbs in this class have infinitives that end in -an. Verbs in this class have /ai/ in the 2nd person singular, 3rd person singular, and 2nd person singular. All persons have /ai/ in the past tense. The verb haban will serve as a model for class III weak verbs.

Present TenseEdit

Haban 1st sing haba
2nd sing habais
3rd sing habaiþ
1st dual habōs
2nd dual habāts
1st plur habām
2nd plur habaiþ
3rd plur haband

Past TenseEdit

Haban 1st sing habaida
2nd sing habaidēs
3rd sing habaida
1st dual habaidēdu
2nd dual habaidēduts
1st plur habaidēdum
2nd plur habaidēduþ
3rd plur habaidēdun

Class IV Weak VerbsEdit

Verbs in this class have infinitives that end in -nan, which becomes -noda in the past tense. Verbs of this class denote entering into a state. Example: fullnan "to become full"; andbundnan "to become unbound", compare with fulls "full" and andbindan "to unbind". The verb fullnan will serve as a model for class IV weak verbs.

Present TenseEdit

Present 1st sing fullna
2nd sing fullnis
3rd sing fullniþ
1st dual fullnōs
2nd dual fullnats
1st plur fullnam
2nd plur fullniþ
3rd plur fullnand

Past TenseEdit

Past 1st sing fullnōda
2nd sing fullnōdēs
3rd sing fullnōda
1st dual fullnōdēdu
2nd dual fullnōdēduts
1st plur fullnōdēdum
2nd plur fullnōdēduþ
3rd plur fullnōdēdun