In another question on this site, there is some discussion on the view that the so-called "strong verb" class in English is no longer "productive" - that is, newly formed or coined words (neologisms) are never (or at least are not properly supposed to be) assigned to this class. For example, most speakers would not make the past tense of "I gerrymander" as "I gerrymoonder" - they would say "I gerrymandered". Since English has only two verb classes (strong and weak), this makes it easy to assign a verb class to a new word.

I've noticed that neologisms or loanwords in Spanish tend to belong to the ar verb class in Spanish, for example, hackear and emailear, although there are two additional primary verb classes, er and ir. I can't recall anyone ever saying "prohibido spamir", "el presidente ha gerrymanderido los distritos", or similar.

Is it standard in Indo-European languages for there to be only one productive verb class for neologisms? If not, are there rules for how to determine to which verb class a newly coined term should belong?

I have some experience with Hebrew (an Afro-Asiatic language with seven verb classes), in which the verb classes themselves ("binyanim") are vaguely associated with specific types of voice (for example, reflexive, passive, intensive, etc.) (there are exceptions), and so neologisms are sometimes intentionally placed in the binyan that corresponds most closely to the intended meaning. I've never seen this sort of behavior, though, with an Indo-European language, in which the verb classes have always appeared to lack underlying meanings.

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    But the strong verb class is still productive in English, for example yeet/yote.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 6:02
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    @curiousdannii that is controversial, though. The prevailing view seems to still be that strong verbs are not productive. The point still stands as to why that is the case - is there a strong (no pun intended) tendency in Indo-European languages to harmonize on a single class of verb for all new verbs, or do we just have a problem with some Germanic and Romance speakers acting in a historically unprecedented way (forcing or trying to force all new verbs into one class)? Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 11:52
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    In Hebrew I'm pretty sure that only two classes of verbs are productive for neologisms (piel, hitpael); the only exception I can think of (hishprits as hifil) was apparently chosen to preserve the shpr cluster and not for semantic reasons
    – b a
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 11:57
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    It is as you say in French too. The only productive class of verb if what Franch grammarians call the "first group", namely verbs whose infinitive ends in er (donner, nager, bloguer, etc.).
    – Joël
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 12:16
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    Arguably, there’s not one strong verbs class in English; rather a couple of handfulls of them. But I like the question.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


In Czech several verb classes are productive, although most neologisms are third class.

II. class: klikne

III. class: googluje, esemeskuje, louduje,... many more

IV. class: snowboardí, zapaří si

V. class: steals some first class verbs + kliká, nahrává, esemeskovává

The verbal aspect (perfective/imperfective) also plays a role in needing multiple class (klikne/kliká = she will click / she is clicking) as do iteratives (klikává would be V. class).


As a counterexample, there is Classical Latin with at least two productive verb classes:

  1. The first productive class are the verbs in -o, -are, adding freely new verbs, and stealing from other classes, e.g., by forming intensified verbs like agitare (from agere)
  2. Second comes the verbs of the consonantic conjugation in -o, -ere, with the subclass of verbs ending in -sco, -scere (verba incohativa) being productive

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