Lesson 2
Lesson 1 Exercises / Courses / Lambdin. Introduction to Sahidic Coptic / Lesson 2 Lesson 2 Vocabulary

Lesson 2

2.1 The indefinite article. The indefinite article for nouns of either gender is ⲟⲩ in the singular, ϩⲉⲛ in the plural, prefixed directly to the noun:



a ship


ships, some ships


a man


men, some men


a road


roads, some roads.



The plural indefinite article may be translated as "some, certain" or be omitted entirely in translation, as the context requires. The plural indefinite article is frequently written as ϩⲛ̄ and is easily confused with the preposition ϩⲛ̄. In the exercises to the lessons we shall always distinguish between the two, but in part of the Reading Selections the orthography of the source is maintained.

Because the use of the Coptic articles, both definite and indefinite, corresponds closely to the use of the articles in English, only exceptions to this general correspondence will be noted in the following lessons when appropriate. References to the omission of the article require special attention. For the present lesson note that indefinite nouns designating unspecific quantities of a substance require an indefinite article in Coptic where there is none in English:










The choice between the singular and plural article here is lexical, i.e. it depends on the particular noun. All such nouns, if definite and specific, may of course appear with the definite article: ⲡⲙⲟⲟⲩ, ⲡⲟⲉⲓⲕ, ⲡⲁϥ. Abstract nouns, such as ⲙⲉ truth, often appear with either article (ⲟⲩⲙⲉ, ⲧⲙⲉ) where English employs no article.

2.2 Indefinite nouns cannot be used as subjects of sentences with adverbial predicates unless introduced by the word ⲟⲩⲛ̄- or its negative:


ⲟⲩⲛ̄-ⲟⲩϩⲗ̄ⲗⲟ ϩ ⲧⲉϩⲓⲏ

A monk is on the road.




ⲟⲩⲛ̄- is actually a predicator of existence ("there is, there are"), and the sentence given may also be translated as "There is a monk on the road."

The negative of ⲟⲩⲛ̄- is ⲙⲛ̄- (also spelled ⲙ̄ⲙⲛ̄-). In general, an indefinite article is deleted (omitted) in negation in Coptic:


ⲙⲛ̄-ϩⲗ̄ⲗⲟ ϩ ⲧⲉϩⲓⲏ.

There is no monk on the road.

ⲙⲛ̄-ⲣⲱⲙⲉ ϩⲙ̄ ⲡⲏⲓ.

There is no man in the house.



ⲟⲩⲛ̄- and ⲙⲛ̄- are not used before definite nouns.

The sentence ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ϩⲙ̄ ⲡⲏⲓ is negated by adding ⲁⲛ:


ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ϩⲙ̄ ⲡⲏⲓ ⲁⲛ.

The man is not in the house.



2.3 The genitive (or possessive) relationship between two nouns is expressed by the preposition ⲛ̄ (of):


ⲡⲏⲓ ⲙ̄ ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ

the house of the man, the man's house

ϣⲉⲉⲣⲉ ⲛ̄ ⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ

the woman's daughter



If the first noun is indefinite, however, the preposition ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ is used instead of ⲛ̄:



ⲟⲩϫⲱⲱⲙⲉ ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ ϩⲗ̄ⲗⲟ

a book of the monk

ⲟⲩϩⲙ̄ϩⲁⲗ ⲛ̄ⲧⲉ ⲡⲣ̄ⲣⲟ

a servant of the king