- Alternative form of
- plural of
From Proto-West Germanic *beun, from Proto-Germanic *beuną (“to be”), related to būan (“to dwell”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰew-, *bʰuH-. The past tense forms are from Proto-Germanic *wesaną (from which also wesan), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂wes-.
The verb "to be" in Old English was suppletive, and used forms from at least three different roots. There were two distinct present stems, for which wesan and bēon were the two infinitive forms. The present bēon was used to express permanent truths (the "gnomic present"), while wesan was used for the imperative, present participle, and the preterite. They both shared the same past tense forms.
|indicative mood||present tense||past tense|
|first person singular||bēo||—|
|second person singular||bist||—|
|third person singular||biþ||—|
|subjunctive||present tense||past tense|