Practice Exercises in Identification

            Now that we have translated a couple of riddles together you will have the opportunity to practice your recognition skills. Each exercise focuses on a different part of the translation process. Try completing these practice activities without the use of your textbook. If you find yourself having difficulty answering the question, however, feel free to refer to past lessons. Looking up the grammar will help you to become familiar with it. Some of the drills are little more difficult and will require you to return to the paradigms, so do not question your translation skills for having to do so. Write your answers in the text boxes and check your accuracy with the provided solutions.

On this Page:

Exercise #1: Case & Number Exercise #4: Endings
Exercise #2: Parts of Speech   Exercise #5: Word Order & Sentence Structure
Exercise #3: Tense, Person & Number         


Exercise #1: Case & Number

Indicate what case and number each of the following words are:

1) scipes: 6) frēondum:
2) cynne: 7) wolcna:
3) wīf: 8) bearwe:
4) bēagas: 9) trēowum:
5) eorlas: 10) woruldes:


Answer Key:  
1) genitive singular    6) dative plural 
2) dative singular       7) genitive plural      
3) nominative/accusative singular    

8) dative singular

4) nominative/accusative plural  

9) dative plural

5) nominative/accusative plural   10) genitive singular


Exercise #2: Parts of Speech                                                                                                       

Indicate what part of speech each of the following words are (i.e adjective, noun, verb, etc.):

1) gæst: 6) hēah:
2) mētan: 7) miċel:
3) tōgædere: 8) þæt:
4) scrīþan: 9) mid:
5) nymþe: 10) rōd:


Answer Key:  
1) noun    

6) adjective

2) verb 

7) adjective

3) adverb          

8) pronoun

4) verb  9) preposition
5) conjunction  10) noun


Exercise #3: Tense, Person & Number                                                                     

Determine the tense, person and number of each of the following verbs (i.e. present third person plural):

1) hæbbe: 6) sunge:
2) āhebbađ: 7) is:
3) seah: 8) fægnodon:
4) scēaf: 9) rēafađ:
5) sægde: 10) willaþ:


Answer Key:  
1) present first person singular 6) preterite second person singular
2) present third person plural  7) present third person singular
3)preterite first person singular 8) preterite third person plural
4) preterite third person singular   9) present third person singular
5) preterite third person singular 10) present third person plural


Exercise #4: Endings

Determine the appropriate endings with regards to the grammatical information provided [33] :

1) dative plural of a weak masculine noun: 6) class three strong verb in its present third person singular form:
2) genitive singular of a strong masculine noun: 7) weak adjective in its genitive plural:
3) class two weak verb in its present second person singular form: 8) class seven strong verb in its present first person singular form:
4) strong adjective in its accusative singular: 9) class one weak verb in its present first person plural form:
5) dative singular of a strong feminine noun: 10) accusative plural of a strong feminine noun:


Answer Key:  
1) um   6) eþ
2) es  7) ra, ena
3) ast 8) e
4) ne 9) aþ
5) e  10) a, e

Exercise #5: Word Order and Sentence Structure

            For the following activity I have provided all of the grammatical information for riddle seventy-four of the Exeter book, while you will have to determine how the information fits together. This exercise will allow you to focus on the meaning of the cases, giving you ample time to think about word order and sentence structure without being consumed with referring to your textbook for glossary or paradigms. Always remember that piecing together grammatical information is like doing a difficult puzzle. You cannot simply put the pieces together when they do not fit. The cases of the words always have to agree; think of them as clues that guide you to solving the puzzle. Try not to get to focused on one clause or sentence, but rather, work on an individual component of the riddle and then step back a moment in order to read the puzzle as a whole. Slowly but surely the words on the page will begin to come into focus as you uncover their use in the sentence. Use the commas, periods and other existent grammar to guide you in your work. Generally speaking each separate sentence will have its own subject, verb and action. Read the words out loud and speak slowly; hearing the different parts of the passage will not only allow you to become more familiar with the language, but will also make the grammatical clues more noticeable. Try to pay attention to all the little cues, but do not panic if you cannot recognize them all. You can always refer to your textbook or pages on this website if you need assistance. Take a deep breath and let the meaning gradually emerge as you uncover the riddle's hidden message.

Legend:   Riddle 74
Nouns   Ic wæs fæmne geong, feaxhār cwene,
Pronouns   ond ænlic rinc     on āne tīd ;
Verbs   flēah mid fuglum       ond on flōde swom,
Adjectives   dēaf under ỹþe      dēad mid fiscum
Adverbs (5) ond on foldan stōp ; hæfde ferđ cwicu.
Line 1: Line 2:
Ic: I [ns] ond: and
wæs: was [anom, preterite singular] ænlic:excellent/beautiful/solitary [nsm]
fæmne: maiden/woman [nsf] rinc: warrior [nsm]
geong: young [nsm] on: on, upon, in
feaxhār: light-haired/grey-haired [nsf] āne: an, one [dsf]
cwene: woman [nsf] tīd: time [dsf]
Line 3: Line 4:
flēah: flew [class two strong, preterite first person singular] dēaf: dive [class two strong, preterite first person singular]
mid: with under: under
fuglum: bird [dpm] ỹþe: wave [asf]
ond: and dēad: dead [nsm]
on: on, upon, in mid: among
flōde: water [dsm] fiscum: fish [dpm]
swom: swam [class three strong, preterite first person singular]  
Line 5:  
ond: and  
on: on, upon, in  
foldan: earth, ground [asf]  
stōp: stepped [class six strong, preterite first person singular]  
hæfde: had [class three weak, preterite third person singular]  
ferđ: spirit [nsn]  
cwicu: alive, living [nsf]  


Your Translation:

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  Riddle 74  
  Ic wæs fæmne geong, feaxhār cwene,
ond ænlic rinc     on āne tīd ;
  flēah mid fuglum       ond on flōdeswom,
  dēaf under ỹþe      dēad mid fiscum
(5) ond on foldan stōp ; hæfde ferđ cwicu.

Translation Example

  Ic wæs fæmne geong, feaxhar cwene, I was [a] young maiden , [a] light-haired woman,
  ond ænlic rinc on ane tid ; and at [the] same time an excellent warrior ;
  mid fuglum ond on flode swom, [I] flew with birds and swam in [the] water,
  deaf under þe dead mid fiscum dove under the wave, dead among fish,
(5) ond on foldan stop ; hæfde ferd cwicu

and stepped on [the] earth, [I] had [a] living spirit.


            Can you figure out what the subject of the riddle is? Most scholars believe the answer is 'siren,' while still others assert that it is 'rain.' Both solutions seem to fit the puzzle, and perhaps you can come up with another. When it comes to Anglo-Saxon riddles there are a wide variety of plausible responses. If the answer is in fact rain, the riddle describes it in different forms, first coming down gently among birds in the water, and then walking on the earth, hitting it hard in the form of hail. [34]

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[33] As you have come to notice, there are always exceptions to these general patterns but for practical purposes please indicate the endings of the basic paradigms found in your text.

[34] Paull F. Baum, Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book (Durham: Duke University Press, 1963) 51.