VERB TENSES AND STEMS
20A CONNOTATIONS OF VERB TENSES AND STEMSIn order to simplify the process of learning the verb, the discussion thus far has
focused on one basic meaning for each of the tenses (perfect and imperfect) and stems
(qal, nifal, etc.). However, verb tenses and stems are actually capable of expressing a
broad range of connotations, which is the subject of this lesson.
1. Connotations of verb tenses
|a. ||As previously discussed, the perfect and imperfect tenses of the indicative verb do
not convey the temporal ideas of past, present, or future in the way that English
tenses do. Instead the Hebrew perfect typically indicates a completed action or
state, while the imperfect usually indicates an incomplete action or state. The
following chart elaborates on these basic distinctions.1|
|(1) The perfect implies the
perspective of an outsider,
viewing an event or state as a
unity or whole from beginning
to end.||(1) The imperfect implies the
perspective of an insider, viewing
an event or state as something that
|(2) The perfect usually connotes
an action or state that is
instantaneous and singular. It
may view a series of events as
a unified whole.||(2) The imperfect connotes an action
or state that is continuing. It often
conveys a pluraity of events that
are repetitive or that extend over a
period of time.|
|b. ||While Hebrew tenses are not limited to temporal notions of past, present, or
future, English tenses are. Thus a translator must determine which English tense
appropriately conveys the notion of a Hebrew verb based upon the context in|
1 See Joüon, §111c; Kautzsch, §106a, 107a; and Seow, 147.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar.
Contributors: Robert Ray Ellis - Author.
Publisher: Baylor University Press.
Place of publication: Waco, TX.
Publication year: 2006.
Page number: 222.
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