A Simplified Grammar of the Swedish Language/Part II/Modes of Inflection in Old Swedish

A Simplified Grammar of the Swedish Language by E. C. Otté
Modes of Inflection in Old Swedish
Older Swedish Modes of Inflection.

We give the following examples of the manner in which nouns, adjectives, pronouns and nouns were inflected in the Forn-Svenskan (Ancient Swedish), in order to show the leading characteristic differences between that earlier form of the language and Modern Swedish.

As has already been noticed in the Introduction, the so-called Forn-Svenskan which was spoken by Goths as well as Swedes, and which was almost identical with the Dönsk Tunga (Danish Tongue), and Forn-Norskan (Ancient Norse) of the early Northmen, continued with slight modifications to be the spoken speech of the Swedish people till about the time of the Reformation. At that period, under Gustaf Vasa, the language passed to that middle stage of its development which is characterized as that of Gammal-Svenskan, or Old Swedish, in contradistinction to its latest and still existing phase Ny-Svenskan, or Modern Swedish.

In Forn-Svenskan we have, therefore, the earliest intermediate link between the Swedish of our own times and the Old Northern, which was the common tongue of all the Scandinavian peoples before their separation into distinct nations as Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes. This remnant of ancient Scandinavian consequently possesses an interest second only to that of its sister-form of speech the Icelandic, or Forn-Norskan of the ninth century, whose earliest literary remains are admitted to be the most perfect representatives extant of the so-called Old Northern. And if Forn-Svenskan has comparatively little importance from a merely literary point of view, a study of its grammatical structure, and of numerous survivals in the later forms of Swedish, will be found to throw considerable light on the process of development through which many English as well as Scandinavian words have passed, showing that notwithstanding their actual differences they have had one common origin.

Strong mode of declension without the Article.
Masculine. Feminine. Neuter.
Sing.: N. brander, fire. sak, thing. land, country.
G. brands sakar lands
D. brandi(e) saku(sak) landi(e)
A. brand sak land
Plur.: N. brandar sakar(ir, er) land
G. branda saka landa
D. brandum(om) sakum(om) landum(om)
A. branda sakar land.
With the Article.
Sing. N. brandrin(en) sakin(en) landit(et)
G. brandsins sakinnar landsins
Masculine. Feminine. Neuter.
D. brandinum sakinni landinu
A. brandin sakina landit
Plur.: N. brandanir (ni, ne) sakanar (na) landin (en)
G. brandanna sakanna landanna
D. brandumin sakumin landumin
A. brandana sakanar landin

Strong Mode of Declension of Adjectives.

Sing.: N. goðer, good. goð got
G. goðs goðrar goðs
D. goðum (om) goðri goðu (o)
A. goðan goða got
Plur.: N. goðir goðar goð
G. goðra goðra goðra
D. goðum (om) goðum (om) goðum (om)
A. goða goðar goð.

Comparative, bætri, bætra; Superlative, bæsti. bæsta.

Personal Pronouns.

Sing.: N. ik (iak), I. ðu, thou. han, he. hun (hon), she.
G. min ðin hans hænnar
D. mer ðer hanum hænni
A. mik ðik han hana (hona).
Plur.: N. vir, we. ir, ye.
G. var iðar
D. & A. os iðer

Demonstrative Pronouns.

Masc. Fem. Neut.
Sing. N. sar (sa) su ðat, 'that.'
G. ðes ðeirrar ðes
D. ðeim ðeirri ðy
A. ðan (ðæn) ða ðat
Plur. N. ðeir ðær ðau, 'those.'
G. ðeirra ðeirra ðeirra
D. ðeim ðeim ðeim
A. ða ðær ðau
Sing. N. ðessi ðessi ðetta, 'this.'
G. ðessa ðessar ðessa
D. ðessum ðessi ðessu
A. ðenna ðessa ðetta
Plur. N. ðessir ðessar ðessi, 'these.'
G. ðessa ðessa ðessa
D. ðessum ðessum ðessum
A. ðessa ðessar ðessi.

The third demonstrative pronoun in Old Swedish hin, hin, hint, from which the modern definite and terminal affix-articles have been derived were declined like the possessive pronouns min, 'my;' ðin, 'thy,' &c.

Masc. Fem. Neut.
Sing. N. hin hin hint (hit), 'this,' 'that.'
G. hins hinnar hins
D. hinum hinni hinu,
A. hin hina hint (hit)
Plur. N. hinir hinar hin, 'these,' 'those.'
G. hinna hinna hinna
D. hinum hinum hinum
A. hina hinar hin
It will be observed that the modern Swedish demonstrative pronouns, den, denne, which appeared early in the language in their present form, have been directly derived from the older accusatives ðan, ðæn, ðenna.


Weak mode of Conjugation. Strong mode of Conjugation.
Infinitive, kalla, 'to call.' brinna, 'to burn.'
Pres. Part. kallandi brinnandi.
Perf. Part. kallaðer brunnin.

The supine does not appear in the Old Swedish.



Sing. 1, 2, 3 Pers. kallar brinder
Plur. 1. " kallum (om) brinnum (om)
2. " kallin (en) brinnin (en)
3. " kalla brinna.


Sing. 1, 2, 3 Pers. kallaði 1, 3, Pers. bran
2 Pers. brant
Plur. 1. " kallanðum brunnum
2. " kallaðin brunnin
3. " kallaðu brunnu (o).


Sing. 2nd Pers. kalla brin
Plur. 1. " kallum brinnum
2. " kallin brinnin.