Part 1: Nominal declensions

Strong masculine and neuter declensions

1. The general strong masculine and neuter declension

This is the most numerous class of nouns. Neuter nouns and masculine nouns of this class share many similarities of declension, to the point where it is sometimes impossible to tell from our surviving corpus whether a particular noun was in fact masculine or neuter.

The inflectional endings are the following:

Singular Plural
Nominative ø -as
Accusative ø -as
Genitive -es -a
Dative -e -um
Singular Plural
Nominative ø ø or -u
Accusative ø ø or -u
Genitive -es -a
Dative -e -um


Monosyllabic neuter nouns have the null ending (ø) in the nominative and accusative plural if they are heavy-stemmed, that is, if their stem-syllable (a.k.a. root-syllable) either has a long vowel or ends in a cluster of more than one consonant sound, and they have the ending -u if they are light-stemmed (i.e. have a short vowel and end in only one consonant sound). Polysyllabic neuter nouns most often follow the heavy-stemmed pattern, unless they are a) compound words in which the last element is a light-stemmed neuter monosyllabic noun or b) certain disyllabic words where the first syllable is heavy (has a long vowel or ends in a cluster of more than one consonant sound).

The endings given in this and the following tables of this section are those of classical Old English; late in the period (so in much of the surviving corpus) the tendency to remove stress from inflectional endings results in uncertainty of pronunciation, so the –u ending of neuter nouns in particular is often spelled as –o or –a, and the –um of the dative plural of both masculines and neuters as –an, with more sporadic alteration of the other endings, such as –as for –es and vice versa.

The largest class of a-stem nouns simply follow the paradigm above by adding these endings to the root or stem according to the following pattern:

Masculine stān (stone)
Singular Plural
Nominative stān stānas
Accusative stān stānas
Genitive stānes stāna
Dative stāne stānum
Neuter long-stemmed word (word, speech, etc.)
Singular Plural
Nominative word word
Accusative word word
Genitive wordes worda
Dative worde wordum
Neuter short-stemmed scip (ship)
Singular Plural
Nominative scip scipu
Accusative scip scipu
Genitive scipes scipa
Dative scipe scipum


1) Nouns with the short vowel æ in the stem change this to a in the plural:

Masculine hwæl (whale)
Singular Plural
Nominative hwæl hwalas
Accusative hwæl hwalas
Genitive hwæles hwala
Dative hwæle hwalum
Neuter fæt (cup, vessel)
Singular Plural
Nominative fæt fatu
Accusative fæt fatu
Genitive fætes fata
Dative fæte fatum


2) Nouns whose stems end in an -h lose it before vowels:

Masculine mearh (horse)
Singular Plural
Nominative mearh mearas
Accusative mearh mearas
Genitive mēares meara
Dative meare mearum
Neuter feorh (life)
Singular Plural
Nominative feorh feorh
Accusative feorh feorh
Genitive feores feora
Dative feore feorum


3) Many disyllabic nouns lose the vowel of the second syllable when an inflectional ending adds a syllable:

Masculine fugol (bird)
Singular Plural
Nominative fugol fuglas
Accusative fugol fuglas
Genitive fugles fugla
Dative fugle fuglum
Neuter hēafod (head)
Singular Plural
Nominative hēafod hēafdu
Accusative hēafod hēafdu
Genitive hēafdes hēafda
Dative hēafde hēafdum


4) Nouns ending in –e in the nominative/accusative singular work the same way as the general case except that the –e ending is replaced by the inflectional endings elsewhere in the paradigm (rather than having those endings added after the –e).

Masculine ende (end)
Singular Plural
Nominative ende endas
Accusative ende endas
Genitive endes enda
Dative ende endum