Old English Wiki
Lesson 2: Verbs Lesson 3: Nouns Lesson 4: Pronouns

Nouns fall into two main Declensions, one being called strong and the other being called weak, and, aside from these, there are a few other lesser declensions.

Strong Nouns[]

Examples of the declensions (all declension endings are written in bold text so that you can see them clearly):

(Masc.) stān - stone
Singular Plural
Nom. stān stanas
Acc. stān stānas
Gen. stānes stāna
Dat. stāne stānum

(neut. short-stemmed) scip - ship (neut long-stemmed) bold - building
sing. pl. sing. pl.
nom. scip scipu bold bold
acc. scip scipu bold bold
gen. scipes scipa boldes bolda
dat. scipe scipum bolde boldum

(fem. short-stemmed) ġiefu - gift (fem. long-stemmed) ār - grace (forgiveness)
sing. pl. sing. pl.
nom. ġiefu ġiefa ār āra
acc. ġiefe ġiefa āre āre
gen. ġiefe ġiefa āre āra
dat. ġiefe ġiefum āre ārum

Notice how one of the feminine nouns ended with a -u in the nominative singular, and also one of the neuter nouns in the nominative and accusative plural? The way you can tell whether or not to use -u for strong neuter plurals and strong feminine singulars is this:

long syllable+u:no (example:bold) short syllable+u:yes (example: sċipu)
long syllable+short syllable+u:yes (example: timber, pl. timbru) short syllable+short syllable+u:do what ya want (example:ƿæteru - "waters", but also ƿæter - "waters")

Strong Noun Subclasses[]

Æ to A[]

Short æ before a back vowel (e.g. a, o, or u) turns to a:

(Masc.) dæġ - day (Neut.) fæt - vat
Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl.
Nom. Dæġ Dag-as Fæt Fat-u
Acc. Dæġ Dag-as Fæt Fat-u
Gen. Dæġ-es Dag-a Fæt-es Fat-a
Dat. Dæġ-e Dag-um Fæt-e Fat-um

Vowel+H Ending[]

Long-stemmed monosyllables ending in long vowel+h or diphthong+h lose the h when it is between two vowels, also the unaccented vowel (the vowel in the ending) is absorbed like so:

(Masc. long-stemmed) scōh - shoe
Sing. Pl.
Nom. Scōh- Scō-s
Acc. Scōh- Scō-s
Gen. Scō-s Scō-na
Dat. Scō- Scō-m

Short-stemmed monosyllables ending with a vowel+h or a diphthong+h take the same declension, but they lengthen the stem-vowel like so:

(Neut. short-stemmed) feoh - wealth
Sing. Pl.
Nom. Feoh- Fēo-
Acc. Feo-h Fēo-
Gen. Fēo-s Fēo-na
Dat. Fēo- Fēo-m

Notes on this declension:

One would expect the gen. pl. of this declension to be "scō" (for "scōh") (by reason that scōh+a=scōa=scō), but not so, instead these nouns act as if they would have one of the fem. gen. pl. endings and become "scōna".

Consonant+H Ending[]

Just like short-stemmed monosyllables ending in h, nouns ending with a consonant+h lose the h and lengthen the vowel before an ending, but, unlike the short-stemmed monosyllables ending in h, words ending in consonant+h do not lose the vowel of the ending. They are declined like so:

(Masc.) wealh - foreigner, alien (to a certain land)
Sing. Pl.
Nom. Ƿealh- Ƿēal-as
Acc. Ƿealh- Ƿēal-as
Gen. Ƿēal-es Ƿēal-a
Dat. Ƿēal-e Ƿēal-um

The U Ending Declension[]

This declension affects only very few masc. and neut. nouns; there are no feminine nouns in this group, as pretty much all feminine nouns ending in u are regular strong declension nouns. The u in this declension becomes a w before declension endings are added. This declension follows the following pattern:

(Masc.) bearu - grove (Neut.) searu - device
Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl.
Nom. Bearu Bearƿ-as Searu- Searu-
Acc. Bearu- Bearƿ-as Searu- Searu-
Gen. Bear-wes Bear-ƿa Sear-ƿes Searƿa
Dat. Bearw-e Bearƿ-um Searƿ-e Searƿ-um

The I-Mutation Declension[]

The i-mutation was a phenomenon that happened to certain Germanic words as, over time, certain endings were shortened. For more information on the i-mutation, follow the fore-given link.

The i-mutation borders on being a completely different declension to the strong declension. There are only masc. and fem. nouns in this declension. Words in this class decline like follows:

(Masc.) Mann - man (Fem.) Bōc - book
Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl.
Nom. Mann- Menn- Bōc- Bēċ-
Acc. Mann- Menn- Bōc- Bēċ-
Gen. Mann-es Mann-a Bēċ/Bōc-e Bōc-a
Dat. Menn- Mann-um Bēċ- Bōc-um

Notes on this declension:

Bōc sometimes takes on the gen. sing. form "bōce" as opposed to "bēċ" because this declension, like most other sub-declensions, has been influenced by the more common, regular strong declension.

Nouns belonging to this group are: fōt masc. (foot), mann masc. (man), tōþ masc. (tooth), āc fem. (oak (tree)), burg fem. (city), gāt fem. (goat), gōs fem. (goose), hnutu fem. (nut), lūs fem. (louse), and mūs fem. (mouse). These changing their vowels like so: fōt - fēt, mann - menn, tōþ - tēþ, āc - ǣc, burg - byrig, gāt - gǣt, gōs - gēs, hnutu - hnytm lūs - lȳs, and mūs - mȳs.

There are two more nouns that can follow either this declension or the regular strong declension: fēond (masc.) (- fiend) and frēond (masc.) (- friend), both changing the their diphthongs (ēo) to īe in the dat. sing. and the nom. and acc. pl (e.g. fēond to fīend and frēond to frīend).

Even today the effects of the i-mutation can be seen in all of the above stated words except bōc, āc, burg, gāt, fēond, frēond, and hnutu, which all have become fully regular.

Nouns with -r- Plurals[]

In Old English, there was a small group of nouns taking -r- in the plural before adding the normal declension endings, such as:

(neut.) ċild - child
Sing. Pl.
Nom./Acc. ċild ċildru
Gen. ċildes ċildra
Dat. ċilde ċildrum

Weak Nouns[]

Weak nouns are so called because their declension is less diverse in endings, and therefore easier to remember.

There are only a very modern nouns taking the weak plural ending, including children, brethren, and oxen.

Here are some examples of this declension:

(Masc.) nama - name (Neut.) ēage - eye (Fem.) cwene - woman
Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl.
Nom. Nam-a Nam-an Ēag-e Éag-an Cƿen-e Cƿen-an
Acc. Nam-an Nam-an Ēag-e Ēag-an Cƿen-an Cƿen-an
Gen. Nam-an Nam-a Ēag-an Ēaga Cƿen-an Cƿen-a
Dat. Nam-an Nam-um Ēag-an Ēag-um Cƿen-an Cƿen-um

Notes on this declension:

The pl. endings for all genders in the weak declension are the same.

The weak declension has the same dat. and gen. pl. endings as the strong declension (e.g. -um and -a respectively).

As always, the neut. gender has the same endings in the nom. and acc.

The only two neut. nouns in this declension are "ēage" and "ēare".

Miscellaneous Other Lesser Declensions[]

There are a few other very small declension groups.


The difference between long-stemmed syllables and short-stemmed syllables is important in this declension.

Here are some examples of this declension:

(Masc. short-stemmed monosyllable) wudu - wood (Fem. long-stemmed monosyllable) hand - hand
Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl.
Nom. Ƿud-u Ƿud-a Hand- Hand-a
Acc. Ƿud-u Ƿud-a Hand- Hand-a
Gen. Ƿud-a Ƿud-a Hand-a Hand-a
Dat. Ƿud-a Ƿud-um Hand-a Hand-um

Notes on this declension:

As always, the dat. and gen. pl. are the same as the strong declension.

It does not make any difference whether the noun is fem. or masc. for this declension, only the length matters. The only effect that gender has is on the adjective declension used with these nouns.

The other nouns belonging to this group are: (fem. short-stemmed) duru - door, (masc. long-stemmed) feld - field, (masc. long-stemmed) ford - ford, (masc. short-stemmed) sunu - son, and (masc. long-stemmed) weald - woods/forrest.

Irregular Nouns[]

Some nouns are irregular:

(Fem.) bēo - bee (Masc.) fæder - father
Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl.
Nom. Bēo- Bēo-n Fæder- Fæder-as
Acc. Bēo- Bēo-n Fæder- Fæder-as
Gen. Bēo- Bēo-na Fæder- Fæde-ra
Dat. Bēo Bēo-um Fæder- Fæder-um

Note: The plural of "bēo" declines like a weak noun, but the singular is indeclinable. "Fæder" is also indeclinable in the singular, but it is a strong the the plural.

(Fem.) sƿeostor
Nom. Seostor- (Ġe)sƿeostor-
Acc. Sƿeostor- (Ġe)sƿeostor-
Gen. Sƿeostor- (Ġe)sƿeostor-a
Dat. Sƿeostor- (Ġe)sƿeostor-um

Note: "Sweostor" only shows declension in the plural gen. and dat.

(Masc.) brōþor - brother (Fem.) dōhtor - daughter (Fem.) mōdor - mother
Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl. Sing. Pl.
Nom. Brōþor (Ġe)brōþor- Dōhtor- (Ġe)dōhtor- Mōdor- (Ġe)mēdor-
Acc. Brōþor- (Ġe)brōþor- Dōhtor- (Ġe)dōhtor- Mōdor- (Ġe)mēdor-
Gen. Brēþor (Ġe)brōþr-a Dēhtor- (Ġe)dōhtr-a Mēdor- (Ġe)mōdr-a
Dat. Brēþor- (Ġe)brōþr-um Dēhtor- (Ġe)dōhtr-um Mēdor- (Ġe)mōdr-um

Note: These nouns show the i-mutation in the sing. gen. and dat., take the normal strong gen. and dat. plur. endings, but aside from that are indeclinable (note the the i-mutation can still be seen the in noun brōþor (brother) in the archaic plur. form "bretheren" (which also shows the weak declension)).

Indeclinable Nouns[]

It's not very hard to remember the declension of nouns like these:

lȳt - a little, a small amount
Sing. Pl.
Nom. Lȳt- Lȳt-
Acc. Lȳt- Lȳt-
Gen. Lȳt- Lȳt-
Dat. Lȳt- Lȳt-

Semi-Indeclinable Nouns[]

Some nouns appear to be indeclinable at a first glance, but are often regular. These nouns are usually fem. strong nouns ending in a long vowel, thus absorbing the short vowel endings. The clearest example of this is "ǣ - law f":

(Fem.) ǣ - law
Sing. Pl.
Nom. Ǣ- Ǣ-
Acc. Ǣ- Ǣ-
Gen. Ǣ- Æ/ǣ-na
Dat. Ǣ- Ǣ-m