Adjectives are words that are used to describe nouns.
Alfred was a great king.
"great" describes the noun "king", so it is an adjective.
There are two types of adjectives in Old English:
Strong Adjectives, which are the subject of this chapter, and weak adjectives, which we cover in the next chapter. Almost all Old English adjectives can be either strong or weak, depending on how they are used in a sentence. That's right: the same word is a strong adjective in some contexts and weak in others. Fortunately the rules for determining whether an adjective is strong or weak are very simple, and in any event, "strong" and "weak" are just labels that tell you what ending the adjective takes depending on the case (which, you'll remember, marks the grammatical function) of the noun it is modifying,
Strong Adjectives can stand on their own; they do not need a demonstrative to assist them:
Wise kings are kind to their subjects.
Notice there is no demonstrative assisting the adjective. "Wise" is therefore, in this sentence, a Strong Adjective.
If an adjective has a demonstrative assisting it, it will be weak. If the same adjective has no demonstrative, it will be strong. (If the sentence read: "The wise king is kind to his subjects," "wise" would be a weak adjective).
This characteristic of Old English adjectives is important, because there are different declensions that are used depending on whether or an an adjective is used in a grammatically strong or weak manner. A "declension" is simply a list of the different endings that go on a word to indicate that it is in a certain case (i.e., that it is fulfilling a certain grammatical function).
(A dash - in a paradigm indicates that the stem gets no ending)
|Dative and Instrumental||um||um||um|
til = good
|Dative and Instrumental||tilum||tilum||tilum|
|Note:The genitive personal pronouns (possessive pronouns) min, þin, sin, eower, uncer and incer (see Chapter 1) can be used as adjectives ("My sword looked old," "Alfred spoke to your friend"). When possessive pronouns are used adjectivally, they are declined like the strong adjective "til" (good).|