Courses

Lesson 7 - Introduction to the Verb


Vocabulary


Translation Hebrew
to eat lka)f
to learn dmalf
to write btakf@
to say rma)f
to give birth dlayF
to sit b#$ayF
to finish rmag%F
to give NtanF
to guard, keep rma#$f
to walk, go K7lahf
to shut rgAsf
to stand dma(f
Verbs

What is a verb? A verb conveys the action or state of the sentence. The itallicized words in the following example sentences are all verbs:

The boy licks the dog.
The tree is ugly.
The man ran fast.

The Hebrew Verb

Hebrew, like other Semitic languages, has a triconsonant (triliteral) root system; that is, the root (or most basic) form of each Hebrew verb is most often composed of three consonants. Upon this foundation of three consonants, all other aspects of the verb will be constructed.

Hebrew is referred to as an inflected language, meaning that the verb forms themselves convey information that in English would be conveyed by additional words surrounding the verb. That is, one can tell, by the verb alone, what the number and gender of the subject might be.

Qal

The simple or base form of the Hebrew verb is referred to as Qal; in modern Hebrew, it is sometimes called the Pa'al form. In comparative Semitics (comparing Hebrew to other, related languages such as Akkadian), this base form is referred to as the G stem (from German Grund, meaning base). Hebrew has a total of seven forms or "stems" that the verb may appear in. You will eventually learn to conjugate all seven forms. For now, we will begin with the Qal.

Aspect vs. Tense

Biblical Hebrew does not have past, present and future tenses like English (modern Hebrew is another story altogether, however). Instead, action is regarded as either complete or incomplete. Complete action is referred to as perfect and incomplete action is referred to as imperfect. Generally speaking, the perfect aspect will be translated into English with the English past tense and the imperfect will be translated into English with the English future tense. However, this is only an approximation of the situation, and so there will be times when altogether different tenses will be better in certain circumstances. In Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step, Mansoor will refer to the perfect as the past tense and the imperfect as the present tense (and the participle, which we will get to in a moment) as the present. I do not think this is really appropriate, and thus in these online notes I will consistently speak of the imperfect and perfect aspects. It is better, I think, to try to wrap your mind around the somewhat alien way of ancient Hebrew thinking, than to accept the imprecision of forcing the ancient forms into modern molds into which they simply do not fit.

Active Participles of the Qal

Singular
Masculine Feminine
dm'wOlhdfm;wOl or tdemewOl
Plural
Masculine Feminine
Mydim;wOltwOdm;wOl

Participles correspond to English words that end with -ing, such as running, sitting, sewing, and so forth.

The Hebrew masculine singular participle is formed by inserting the vowel wO after the first letter of the root and putting the vowel sere under the second letter of the root. The accent is on the last syllable. It should be noted that the holem can be written with or without the vowel letter vav. Its presense or absence does not affect the meaning at all; it is mearly a varient spelling possibility.

The participles agree with the nouns and pronouns associated with them. They may precede or follow the subject of the sentence. Please memorize the paradigms (lists of the possible participle forms) above. NOTE: the participle is formed by taking any verb and inserting the appropriate vowels and endings as listed above. The verb dmalf is simply used as an example. Any verb would work equally well.

Notice, too, that there are two possible forms of the feminine singular participle. The form tdemewOl is the more common form by far. The form hdfm;wOl is actually rare.


Reading

Please read pages 69-72 in Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step.

Exercises

1. Memorize the vocabulary and paradigms.

2. Do the Exercises on pages 72-73.