Word Matching

Matching words across 1000 years...

This exercise may be easier if you have worked through Topic Origins: Beowulf, Topic Origins: Chaucer, and Inflections activities first.

The task is to find the three versions of each word and put them together, using your knowledge and perhaps some intuition. Once complete, you have a way of looking at the development of those words over a thousand years.

Download a worksheet in PDF format giving a number of words in Standard English and their Old English and Middle English equivalents.

Either print the words then cut them out and arrange them into their triplets under the three headings in the frame, or use 'cut and paste' within your word processor to complete the task.

Remember that þ is a 'th' sound.

When you have finished matching, look down the columns and see what has happened to these words over time.

  • Which modern word still has an old plural inflection?
  • What happens to inflections in general in Standard English?
  • Why is it necessary to put 'to care' instead of just 'care'?
  • Notice how we pronounce 'wh' today - 'What', 'why', 'when' and 'where' all begin with a 'w' sound but 'who' is different - how?
  • What often happens to the 'y'?
  • What happens to the vowel sounds?
  • How do we use the word 'sooth' today?
  • What has happened to 'hw' and 'hl'?