Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar

By Robert Ray Ellis | Go to book overview

Lesson 16
VAV WITH PERFECT AND
IMPERFECT VERBS,
ORIENTATION TO THE HEBREW BIBLE
AND LEXICON

16A VAV WITH PERFECT AND IMPERFECT VERBS

1. Introduction
a. When the vav is added to perfect and imperfect verbs, it can function in two different ways: either as a simple vav conjunction or as a vav consecutive.
b. The simple vav conjunction (vav conj) on perfect and imperfect verbs has already appeared many times in this Grammar. The vav is pointed according to the rules in Lesson 6B.2b, and is translated by “and” or some other appropriate English conjunction.

+ vav cong = (“And he ruled”)

+ vav cong (“And he will rule”)

c. Perfect and imperfect verbs can also take a vav consecutive (vav cons) which has two functions. One is to convey the idea of a conjunction, just as the simple vav conj does. The other function is to invert the meaning of the verb&s tense, so that a perfect verb with a vav cons has generally the same meaning as an imperfect, and an imperfect verb with a vav cons has roughly the same meaning as a perfect verb.1 To say it another way, a vav consecutive typically changes the action of a perfect verb from complete to incomplete, and it changes the action of an imperfect from incomplete to complete.

2. Vav consecutive with perfect verb
a. A vav cons on a perfect verb is pointed in the same way as the simple vav conj. The vav cons, however, does in some cases impact the accent of the verb to which

1 While this Grammar maintains the traditional terminology of “vav consecutive,” others have used such terms as “vav conversive,” “vav inversive,” and “relative vav.” See Joüon, §117; and Waltke and O’Connor, §32.1.1a.

-160-

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