Adjectives & Adverbs
At a glance
The key differences between Early Middle English (eME) and Modern English (ModE):
- -e is added before plural nouns or when an adjective represents a plural noun or pronoun;
- -e is added after 'the', demonstrative adjectives and possessive pronouns;
- -e is added to an adjective to form the corresponding adverb.
adding ~e to adjectives
Adjectives ending in a consonant add an e in the following circumstances:
- when accompanying a plural noun or pronoun - t`ey` alle sungen, t`ey` sungen alle imae_n (Orm), Alle hi_ wae_ren forsworen, T`a_ diden hi_ alle wunder1, and go_de men (PC2)
- when representing a plural noun or pronoun - and he_ dide alle in prisun (PC2), gre_tinges to_ alle his holde (PH3)
- when used with the definite article t`e, a demonstrative adjective t`is or t`at, a possessive pronoun such as hire or u_re, or a name or term of address - t`e ilke pi_ning (PC2), his wi_de throte (AW)
In ModE, adverbs are generally formed from adjectives, by adding -ly. In ME the corresponding ending is -e. Hence ModE bold boldly is equivalent to ME ba_ld ba_lde.
The ending -li_ce exists in ME, but this is the adverbial form of the adjectival ending -lic. It is not applied universally, to all adverbs in ME.
Note also that there are traces of the ME adjectival ending -lic in the ModE adjectives lively and lovely.
The adverbial use of the genitive case of nouns is also common in ME. Examples are day`es (daily) and t`ankes (willingly).
- note - plural noun but no marker