In many nouns (and adjectives) the -u ending (as in lufu "love" and scipu "ships") is omitted. This generally happens with one-syllable words that have a long vowel as the feminine noun lār (not laru) "lore", or in one syllable words that end in two consonants as the neuter noun word "word", also word (not wordu) in the plural. Words with more than one syllable may sometimes omit it and sometimes not: as wæteru or wæter "waters", the plural of the neuter noun wæter "water".2. Loss of e or h.
(a) When a word ends in e or h it drops the e or h to add the normal endings. Therefore the neuter noun rice "scribe" with plural -u is ricu (not riceu) and the masculine noun mearh "horse" with the plural as is mearas (not mearhas) "horses". The only exception is the neuter noun feorh "life". Since it ends in two consonants it omits the plural -u ending: feorh (not feoru) "lives".3. Plural e
(b) If there is no consonant before the h then the vowel of the ending is absorbed into the vowel of the word, or in other words, only the consonant of the ending appears, as sceos, (not sceoas) "shoes", the plural of the masculine word sceoh.
A few words may show up with -e in the plural. For example, the masculine noun wine "friend" is sometimes wine or winas "friends". As well, some special masculine nouns referring to groups/tribes have this -e and are only plural, as Engle "Angles" and Seaxe "Saxons".4. æ/a
If a word ends with an æ followed by one consonant the æ turns to a when the endings beginning with a or u are added. Therefore, the masculine noun dæg with the ending -as is dagas (not dægas).5. u/w
(a) There is a small group of nouns that end with a u that becomes w when endings are added.. There is one masculine noun bearu "grove", six neuter nouns bealu "woe", cudu "cud", teoru "tar", meolu "meal, flour", searu "device", smeoru "fat", and three feminine nouns beadu "battle" and sceadu "shadow" nearu "distress". The neuter nouns use this u for the plural -u ending as well, as bealu (not bealuu) "woes". Whenever other endings are added the u becomes w. For example, the masculine noun bearu with plural -as is bearwas (not bearuas) "groves".6. Syncopation.
b) Two feminine nouns omit the -u but have the -w when endings are added: mæd "meadow" (meadwa "meadows") and læs "pasture" (læswa "pastures").
Some two-syllable words usually omit the vowel of the second syllable when endings are added. This "syncopation" usually happens if the first syllable has a long vowel as the neuter noun heafod "head", or if the first syllable ends in two consonants as the masculine noun engel "angel". Therefore when the plural -u is added to heafod it usually shows up as heafdu (instead of heafodu) "heads" and engel with the plural -as usually shows up as englas (instead of engelas).7. Doubled Consonants
Some words end in a consonant that is sometimes single or double as feminine godnes or godness "goodness". When endings are added the doubled consonant is usually used: godnessa "goodnesses". Despite the double consonants the neuter nouns like this usually add the plural -u ending, as beddu "beds", the plural of bed or bedd "bed".8. Compound words.
If a compound word ends with a masculine word it is masculine, if it ends with a neuter word it is neuter, and if it ends with a feminine word it is feminine. For example, lifwynn "life-joy" has the neuter noun lif in it, but is feminine because it ends with the feminine noun wynn "joy".9. Genitive -ena.
(a)The plural ending in the Genitive is sometimes -ena instead of -a. This ending is from the other main group of nouns called the Weak Declension, as we shall see below. On words ending in a vowel followed by h this ending shows up as -na. Therefore when the masculine noun sceoh "shoe" with the ending -ena shows up as sceona.10. Suffixes.
A special suffix such as the -ere of bacere "baker" or the -ung of leornung "learning" also belongs to a specific gender, therefore when a word ends with that suffix it belongs to that specific gender. Belong is a list of suffixes and the genders they belong to:
Masculine: -ere, -scipe, -dom, -had, -oÞ or -aÞ, -ing or ling
Neuter: -lac, et or ett
Feminine: -ung, -nes or ness, -ð or ðu
|1. Sunu Nouns|
|This group includes only masculine and feminine nouns that both take endings like the masculine noun sunu "son". As in the Strong Declension, many nouns omit the -u ending. Below is a list of all the nouns that belong to this declension:
Masculine: sunu "son", medu "mead", wudu "wood", sidu "custom", lagu "lake", bregu "prince", hearu "sword", eard "land", flod "flood", ford "ford", had "condition", weald "forest", hearg "shrine", æppel "apple", sumor "summer", winter "winter", færelt "journey"
Feminine: duru "door", nosu "nose", hand or hond "hand", cweorn "mill", flor "floor".
|2. Mann Nouns|
This group includes some masculine and feminine nouns, that originally had a special letter i in some of their endings. This i vanished but left behind a trail of influenced vowels to remind us it was there. Its influence included changing a in some places to e or æ (as in menn "men" and gæt "goats" ), o to e (as in fet "feet"), and u to y (as in mys "mice"). The feminine nouns of this group differ from the masculine only in the singular genitive. Instead of -es the feminine words use the word with its vowel changed and no ending, or else use only the ending -e: as bec or boce "book's". |
Masculine: mann "man", wifmann "woman", fot "foot", toð
Feminine: boc "book", broc "pair of breeches", gos "goose", cu "cow", mus "mouse", lus "louse", burg "city", turf "turf", hnutu "nut", studu "post", ac "oak", gat "goat", furh "furrow", sulh "plough".
|3. -End Nouns|
|These nouns are all masculine and have the special ending -end. This ending was more commonly used to make present tense adjectives from verbs, equivelent to modern English -ing as in singing. A few of these adjectives however became specially used as nouns. Two words from this group that survived into Modern English are freond "friend" and feond "fiend". Freond "freeing one/ loving one" is from the verb freon "to free, to love" and feond "hating one" is from the verb feon "to hate".|
Four nouns of this group have -nd instead of -end: freond "friend", feond "fiend", teond "accuser" and goddond "good-doer". In the singular dative and in the plural nominative and accusative the eond of the first three words shows up as iend instead. These four nouns also usually use the ending -a instead of -ra in the genitive plural. .
All nouns in this group sometimes mimic the Strong Declension and use the plural -as ending, as hettend or hettendas "enemies" plural of hettend "enemy".
|4. Family Nouns|
|The family nouns include the masculine nouns broðer "brother" and fæder "father", and the feminine nouns modor "mother", dohtor "daughter" and sweostor|
All of these have some oddities and variations:
(a) Those with the vowel -o- : Broðor, modor, dohtor become breðer, meder, and dehter in the singular singular.
(b) Broðor, modor, and sweostor sometimes have plural in -u: broðru "brothers", modru "mothers", sweostru "sisters".
(c) fæder often uses endings from the Strong Declension: fæder or fædres "father's", fæder or fædras "fathers".
|5. Cildru Nouns|
|The "Cildru Nouns" include some neuter nouns that have a unique -r- in their plural forms. One word with this -r- still survives in Modern English: children. The original plural of cild was cildru, but later on it came use -an from the Weak Declension, and eventually this an became en. Below are the seven words that belong to this declension: |
Neuter: cild "child", æg "egg", cealf "calf", lamb "lamb", bread "crumb", speld "torch", hæmed "cohabitation".
|6. Hæleþ Nouns|
This group includes the two masculine nouns, hæleþ "hero" and monaþ or moneþ "month", the feminine noun mægeþ "maiden", and the neuter noun ealu "ale". All of these may sometimes lose the vowel before þ when endings are added. For example hæleþes "hero's" may also be hælþes|
(a) Hæleþ sometimes has the form hæle (without -þ) in the singular nominative and accusative. Also hæleþ and monaþ sometimes use the -as ending from the Strong Declension: hæleþas "heroes" moneþas "months".
(b) Mægeþ is different from the masculine nouns only in using no endings in the singular.
(c) Ealu has forms with and without -þ-:
Nominative: ealu "ale" ealoþ "ales"
Accusative: ealu "ale" ealoþ "ales"
Genitive: ealoþ "ale's" ealoþa "ales' "
Dative: ealoþ "to ale" ealoþum "to ales"