Old English Wiki

Hi, this is a list of some common linguistic terms (especially ones commonly used with Old English) and an explanation of the term. I hope this helps you to understand all the linguistic jargon on here more clearly!


Accusative Case[]

Accusative case: the case which signifies the direct object of a verb; it is also often used after certain prepositions. Examples of the accusative case: "He kicked me.", "I love him.". Accusative is often shortened to Acc.

See also: cases.


Adjective: a word describing a noun or pronoun.

See also: noun, pronoun, adverb, describer.


Back Vowel[]

Back vowel: vowel produced in the back of the mouth (including OE "a", "o", and "u".

See also: vowel, high vowel, low vowel, front vowel, center vowel, mid vowel.



Case: shows what part in a sentence a noun or pronoun plays. There are many historical cases, but Old English has only five of them. In modern English we replace much usage of cases with usage of prepositions instead. In Modern English we have only two (in pronouns three) cases: common (subject, object, prepositional), accusative (direct object) (pronominal only, in which case it is prepositional), and genitive (possessive).

See also: accusative case, dative case, genitive case, instrumental case, nominative case.

Copulative Verb[]

Copulative verb (also often known as linking verb): verbs that do not show an action, but rather are used to link the subject to its factors.

See also: verb.


Dative Case[]

Dative case: the case which signifies the indirect object of a verb, usually corresponding to Modern English "for or to. E.G. "I did this thing for you, I am giving this pen to you, and, I want to do this for/to you. Dative is often shortened to Dat.

See also: cases, nominative case, genitive case, accusative case, instrumental case.




Genitive Case[]

Genitive case: the case which signifies possession or relation to something: "my friend", "the brother of Tom", etc. Genitive is often shortened to gen.

See also: case, nominative case, dative case, accusative case, instrumental case.

Grammatical Gender[]

Grammatical gender: a way of classifying nouns and pronouns, usually based lightly upon scientific gender. There were three genders in OE: masculine (shortened often to "masc." or just "m."), feminine (shortened often to "fem." or just "f."), and neuter (shortened often to "neut." or just "n.")

See also: case, masculine grammatical gender, feminine grammatical gender, neuter grammatical gender, noun, pronoun, scientific gender.



Instrumental Case[]

Instrumental case: the case which signifies the thing or person by which or through which something is done: "That was done by Sam.", "I killed him with my sword.", and "we arranged a deal through a go-between." It usually corresponds to the usage of by, with, and (less often) through in Modern English. Instrumental is often shortened to ins. in writing.

See also: case, nominative case, genitive case, accusative case, dative case.




Linking Verb[]

See: copulative verb.

See also: verb.



Mood: linguistically speaking, a mood indicates slightly different senses or usages of a verb within a verb. There are three moods in OE: indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. Indicative generally refers to a concrete or known action in the past, present, or future. Subjunctive generally refers to an uncertain event in the past, present, or future. Imperative is the command form of a verb, as in: "Go!", "Stay here!", and "Don't suck your thumb.".

See also: indicative, subjunctive, imperative, verb.


Nominative Case[]

Nominative case: the case which signifies the subject of a sentence. We still have this case in Modern English (I think every language does, actually). Examples: "Fred was naughty.", "Sam hates me.", and "Bill's a nice kind of bloke.". Nominative is often shortened to nom. in writing.

See also: cases


Noun: a word which donates a person ("Fred"), place ("park"), thing ("car"), idea ("bravery"), quality ("beauty"), or action ("fighting, kissing"), etc. Simply put, a noun is the same as a name.

See also: verb, adjective, pronoun, grammatical gender, gender, case, abstract noun.





Reflexive Pronoun[]

Reflexive pronoun: pronoun that shows the object of a verb to be the same as the subject of a verb ("He shaves himself."). They were used far more often in Old English than in Modern English.

See also: pronouns.



Stem: the most basic components of words. E.g. "fireman" is made of two stems, "fire" and "man"; fireman takes the plural ending of the last word (-men), just like Old English. In Old English, stems were either monosyllabic or disyllabic.

See also: disyllabic, monosyllabic, stem vowels

Stem Vowel[]

Stem Vowel: the main (e.g. vowel bearing the most stress) vowel of a word, as in: man, silver.

See also: vowel, stem.

Subjunctive Mood[]

Subjunctive mood: the verb mood which indicates something that is not a concrete event in the past, present, or future. We don't don't distinguish much between the subjunctive and indicative case in Modern English, but here are a few examples: "If I were to kick you, I would get in big trouble.", "Would you like to send me ten dollar bill in through the mail?", "He could have saved her life.", and "He demands that he remain behind.".

See also: mood.





Verb: word that signifies an action or perform as a copulative (linking) verb. Some examples of action verbs: "Fred kicks people all the time.", "they sneak around like wolves.", and, "are you having as shower?". Some examples of linking verbs: "Tom smells funny.", "He is not a good boy.", and "Doesn't he look unique?".

See also: copulative verb, action verb.


Vowel: a sound produced by the vocal cords with little restriction in the oral cavity.

See also: consonant, back vowel, front vowel, low vowel, high vowel, center vowel, mid vowel.