Why are Icelandic verbs presented in groupings of four?

I'm seeing verbs presented in written materials in groups of fours such as:

bíða, beið, biðum, beðið (To wait, I waited, We waited, It is waiting)

geta, gat, gátum, getað (To be able, I was able, We were able, It has been able)

sitja, sat, sátum, setið (To sit, I sat, We sat, It was sitting)

From what I can pull back from primary school days, it appears the pattern is:

- infinitive,

- past tense (1st person singular)

- past tense (1st person plural)

- (and I think...) past perfect (3rd person)

Is this correct (or close)? Is this a standard pattern presented in language classes? Do most language dictionaries have this pattern? Are these four used most often in language?

May 3, 2019 9:42 PM
Comments · 1
Hi Rick,

yes the first is always the infinitive: Geta - to can, then gat and gátum is first singular and first plural for the (simple) past tense. Its mostly done like this because you only need to know these two to get the other ones.

And the last one is the past participle. Most language books therefore provide you with the infinitive, the first singular and first plural for past tense and then the past participle.

July 2, 2019