Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar

By Robert Ray Ellis | Go to book overview
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Lesson 12
VERBS IN GENERAL,
PERFECT CONJUGATION OF THE VERB,
PERFECT CONJUGATION IN THE QAL STEM

12A VERBS IN GENERAL
1. Verb roots

Most verbs have three basic consonants; for example, the verb

(“he ruled”) is triconsonantal. The three consonants of a verb, written without vowels, comprise the verb&s root. Thereby, is the root for . The various forms of a verb are created by inflections or changes made to its root, such as the addition of certain vowels, prefixes, or suffixes; or the doubling of the middle consonant of the root.

2. Strong and weak verbs

Verbs are classified as strong (or regular) and weak. Strong verbs follow a fixed, regular pattern for the inflection of a triconsonantal verb root. Weak verbs follow irregular patterns of inflection and sometimes require the dropping of a consonant from a verb root. A weak verb is identified by the appearance of a weak consonant (

, or [see Lesson 6C]) or a doubled consonant in a verb root. This Grammar will present the strong verb first.

3. Moods and tenses
a. Hebrew verbs appear in the indicative and imperative moods, which function in the same manner as they do in English. The indicative mood is declarative (making a statement), while the imperative expresses a command. Hebrew has no distinct subjunctive mood (expressing non-reality), as does English. Subjunctive notions are usually expressed by the context in which a Hebrew verb appears.1 Indicative and imperative verbs are also called finite (“limited”) verbs because they are limited to particular persons, genders, and numbers.

1 Horsnell, 306.

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Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar
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