Can a strong verb in the course of time change to weak verb?

MoDu "scheiden" (to seperate) is weak: scheidde, gescheiden.

Its ancestor ODu *skeidan < PWGm *skaiþan < PGm *skaiþana is strong class 7a.

Declination in ODu class 7a would therefore be skied, geskeidan, but that doesn't feel right, since the examples of class 7a in grammars are all verbs ending in -on. What do I do wrong?

Thanks for any answer.

  • 4
    Many strong verbs transformed to weak verbs. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Arfrever
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 10:15
  • I don’t know much about Old Dutch, but the Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek entry for this verb shows forms like sciet and geschieden, which would seem to confirm that forms like skied, geskiedan are reasonable enough. As for the question in the title, the answer is very clearly yes – strong verbs becoming weak has happened lots of times all over the Germanic languages. Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


A concrete example: Old English helpan was a strong verb, Modern English help is a completely regular weak verb.

  • 1
    "Completely"? I think the form "holp" did survive well into Modern English. Although, my spell checker doesn't seem to like it. Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 15:45
  • Oh, maybe you mean "modern English", with a lower-case m? Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 15:45
  • @Lorraine holp, holpen forms are still mentioned in Wiktionary and marked "(archaic)". Their usage was decreasing in last 3 centuries, but is not yet zero: books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Arfrever
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 22:33
  • @Arfrever add "helped" to that graph: books.google.com/ngrams/… I don't think it makes sense to look at increasingly tiny numbers that were already tiny 3 centuries ago compared to the now-regular verb form.
    – LjL
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 22:06

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