v. (pres. pl.)

Gaw arn, are; Pe ar, arn, arne; Cl arn; Pat arn; Erk are; WA ere, er

'are' (Modern English are)


Still sometimes derived from ON (e.g. Fennell 2001: 92, Hogg and Denison 2006, Grant 2009: 375), which has forms of the pres. ind. pl. of the v. ‘to be’ in -r- from PGmc *ar- (incl. the OSw 3 pl. variant aru) and the dominant form continuing  PGmc *er- (cp. OIcel 1 pl. erum, 2 pl. eruð, 3 pl. eru);  contrast OE sind, sindon, which is the norm in WS (and occurs also in Angl.), cognate with the usual root for the pres. ind. pl. of ‘to be’ elsewhere in WGmc (cp. OFris send, sind, OS sind(on), OHG sint). This is unnecessary, however, as forms in -r- (from PGmc *ar-) occur in English, represented by Angl. aron (WMerc. earun etc.) (see further Hogg-Fulk §§6.146–51, DOE, Seebold, Fulk 2008: 87). At most it is possible to speculate that the presence of er- forms (< ON er-) in N dial (or the similarity of ON er-, ar- and Angl. ar- more broadly) reinforced the position of Angl. aron (etc.) as the unmarked choice for the pres. ind. pl. in other varieties of N and Midland English (thus e.g. Kisbye 1982: 80, Kubouchi 2006: 140).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

cp. eru 'are'
(ONP vera (2) (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

OE Cognate

Angl aron (WMerc earun etc.) 'are'; cp. WS, Angl sind, sindon

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



LALME dot maps 118–20 show <ar-> forms as widespread in late ME across the N, NM and EAngl, and that they also extend into the southern part of the Midlands; <er-> forms (dot maps 121–2) are by contrast predominantly a feature of the ‘Great Scandinavian Belt’.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 207, 280, 1094, etc.; Pe 384, 402, 628 etc.; Cl 8, 15, 55, etc.; Pat 13, 15; Erk 164; WA 1, 12, 14 etc.

On the distribution of forms of the pres. ind. pl. of ‘to be’ in the Gaw MS, see further Putter and Stokes 2007: 475. Morris inserts a further ar by emendation at Gaw 1510, but this was abandoned from MG onwards (see further Knott 1915: 103). Madden and Morris read Gaw 352 <haʒerer> as haʒer er, with er as a form of the pres. pl. of the v. ‘to be’, but this is corrected to a comp. form of the adj. haʒer by Maetzner and all subsequent editors.


MED bēn (v.) , OED be (v.) , HTOED , Dance ar, de Vries erum, eruð, eru, Mag. er (2), Bj-L. være, Seebold es-, Orel *wesanan (I), Kroonen *wesan- (1), AEW earon, DOE bēon