Go (verb)  

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The verb go is an irregular verb in the English language (see English irregular verbs). It has a wide range of uses; its basic meaning is "to move from one place to another". Apart from the copular verb be, the verb go is the only English verb to have a suppletive past tense, namely went.



Go descends from Middle English gon, goon, from Old English gān, from Proto-Germanic *gēnan, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰēh₁- 'to go, leave'. Cognates in the Germanic languages include West Frisian gean, Dutch gaan, Low German gahn, German gehen, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish , Crimean Gothic geen.

Origin of ēode

Old English did not use any variation of went for the general preterite of go; instead, the word ēode (variant ġeēode) was used, which lingered on as the now obsolete yede, yode and yead.

Old English ēode 'he went' (plural ēodon) is made up of a defective preterite base ēo- and the weak dental suffix -de common in most modern English past tense forms (cf. ache : ached). The base ēo- and its Gothic counterpart iddja (pl. iddjedum) show the following development:

Both forms are derived from the PIE root *Template:PIE (late *Template:PIE) based on close matches with past tense forms of Sanskrit yā́ti 'he goes, travels' (cf. imperfect áyāt, perfect yayáu, and aorist áyāsam). The root is regarded as an iterative-intensive derivative of the more common *Template:PIE- 'go' (present *Template:PIE). One reflex of *Template:PIE- is Latin īre 'to go' (present 'I go') which gave many English words such as ambition, exit, introit, issue, preterite, and so forth.

Development of a new preterite

In Middle English, ēode evolved into ȝede, yede, and yode. By the 15th century in southern England, wende (wend) had become synonymous with go, but its infinitive and present tense forms had ceased to be in frequent use. This was also true of the various ēode-derived preterites of go, thus a variant preterite of wend absorbed the function. After went became established as the preterite of go, wend took on a new preterite, wended. In Northern English and Scots, yede was gaed, regularly formed by suffixing -ed to a variant of go. Due to the influence of the region, southern English forms constitute the standard language of England, and so went is the standard English preterite. Spencer used yede to mean go with yode as its preterite form but as dialect.

Summary of the main Proto-Indo-European roots

Go is historically derived from at least three Proto-Indo-European roots: *ǵʰēh₁, the source of go and gone (← ME gon, ygon ← OE ġegān); *h₁ei, the source of ēode; and *u̯endʰ, the source of went as well as wend and wind. Only two roots are continually used in their modern English reflexes go/gone and went.

See also

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