Lesson 7
Lesson 6 Exercises / Courses / Lambdin. Introduction to Sahidic Coptic / Lesson 7 Lesson 7 Vocabulary

Lesson 7

7.1 The First Perfect. Verbal inflection, in Coptic is commonly, but not solely, of the form: verbal prefix + subject (noun/pronoun) + verb. The infinitive is the main lexical form of the verb and may occur in all of the verbal conjugations. Its uses and further modifications will be dealt with in subsequent lessons. The conjugation known as the First Perfect is the narrative past tense par excellence and corresponds to the English preterite (simple past: I wrote, I wept, I sat down) or, if the con-text demands, the English perfect (I have written):

ⲁⲓⲃⲱⲕ              I went

ⲁⲕⲃⲱⲕ             you (m.s.) went

ⲁⲣⲃⲱⲕ              you (f.s.) went

ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ                         he went

ⲁⲥⲃⲱⲕ              she went

ⲁⲛⲃⲱⲕ             we went

ⲁⲧⲉⲧⲛ̄ⲃⲱⲕ        you (c.pl.) went

ⲁⲩⲃⲱⲕ             they went


The pronominal elements are for the most part familiar from the possessive prefixes of Lesson 4. In the 1st person singular ⲓ is normal for most of the verbal system (contrast the -ⲁ- of ⲡⲁⲉⲓⲱⲧ). The pronominal element of the 2nd person feminine exhibits much variation and should be noted carefully for each conjugation introduced: ⲁⲣⲉⲃⲱⲕ and ⲁⲃⲱⲕ are also attested in the First Perfect. If the subject is nominal, the verbal prefix is ⲁ-:

ⲁ-ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲃⲱⲕ  the man went

There are two other ways in which nominal subjects may be used in a verbal phrase: (1) they may stand before the verbal unit, which in the First Perfect still requires a pronoun as well:

ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ  the man went.

ⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ ⲁⲥⲃⲱⲕ            the woman went.

or (2) they may stand after the verbal unit, again with a pronominal subject, introduced by the element ⲛ̄ϭⲓ:

ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲛ̄ϭⲓ ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ       the man went.

ⲁⲥⲃⲱⲕ ⲛ̄ϭⲓ ⲧⲉⲥϩⲓⲙⲉ      the woman went.

All three constructions are common and differ only in the emphasis accorded the subject. When the verbal prefix is followed by the indefinite article, the resulting ⲁ-ⲟⲩ... may be spelled ⲁⲩ..., as in

ⲁ-ⲟⲩϩⲗ̄ⲗⲟ ⲃⲱⲕ ⲁⲩϩⲗ̄ⲗⲟ ⲃⲱⲕ      a monk went.


7.2 The prepositions ⲉ, ϣⲁ, ⲉϫⲛ̄ are frequent after verbs of motion.

1)         ⲉ indicates motion to or toward a place or person, less commonly motion onto or into:

ⲁϥⲃⲱⲕ ⲉ ⲡⲉⲕⲣⲟ.           Не went to the shore.

ⲁⲩⲡⲱⲧ ⲉ ⲧⲉⲕⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ.    They ran to the church.

ⲁⲩⲁⲗⲉ ⲉ ⲡϫⲟⲓ. They got on (or into) the ship.

Otherwise the preposition ⲉ is very frequent in a general referential sense: "to, for, in regard to," with many other nuances that will be noted in passing.

2)         ϣⲁ indicates motion to, up to; it is used more frequently with persons than places:

ⲁϥⲡⲱⲧ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉϥⲉⲓⲱⲧ.    He ran to his father.

ⲁⲛⲃⲱⲕ ϣⲁ ⲡⲉⲡⲓⲥⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ.           We went to the bishop.

3)         ⲉϫⲛ̄      indicates motion onto, on:

ⲁϥⲁⲗⲉ ⲉϫⲙ̄ ⲡⲉⲓⲱ.         He got on the donkey.

ⲁⲥϩⲉ ⲉϫⲙ̄ ⲡⲕⲁϩ.                        She fell on the ground.

ⲉϫⲛ̄ properly denotes motion onto, while ϩⲓϫⲛ̄ denotes static location; the two are sometimes interchanged. The same contrast exists with the less frequent pair ϩⲓⲣⲛ̄ (at the entrance of) and ⲉⲣⲛ̄ (to the entrance of).

Several of the prepositions we have already introduced also occur freely with verbs of motion. For example ϩⲓ, ϩⲓϫⲛ̄ (on or along a surface), ⲛ̄ⲥⲁ (behind, after), ⲙⲛ̄ (along with),  ϩⲛ̄  (within a circumscribed area), ⲛ̄ⲛⲁϩⲣⲛ̄ (into the presence of), ϩⲁϩⲧⲛ̄ (up to, near). The preposition ⲛ̄ⲥⲁ often has the sense of English "after" in "to go after," i.e. to go to fetch, or "to run after," i.e. to try to overtake. The reader should give particular attention to the use of prepositions with verbs, since these combinations are sometimes quite idiomatic and unpredictable.