Present Tense

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by lowcountry, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. lowcountry Member

    Why is it that some hebrew verbs appear to have to 8 forms to the present tense? For example in Barrons 501 Hebrew verbs the first entry אבד is listed as having eight forms:Two Masculine and Feminine singular and two Masc. and Fem. plural. The pronunciation difference for masculine singular would be something like "Ovayd" and "Avood".
    What is the reason for this?
  2. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    אוֹבֵד is the active participle (פוֹעֵל), and אָבוּד is the (static) passive participle (פָעוּל) form of אָבַד (Only pâˁal verbs can be subject to this phenomenon).

    Other examples:
    לוֹכֵד ('captures'), לָכוּד ('trapped', an adjective)
    שוֹבֵר ('breaks'), שָבוּר ('broken')
  3. origumi Senior Member

    The terms "participle" and "adjective" are somewhat misleading: Hebrew present tense root conjugations can be treated as verbs, adjectives, nouns, depending on context, and are considered as participle in historical linguistics. This is also the case for בינוני פעוּל, the passive form of binyan qal (pa`al) described above by trigel.
  4. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    But the principle remaines, the present sense forms are declined, not conjugated. It is still the best way to understand the different behaviour by analysing present tense forms as predicative adjectives, similar to the continuous form in English:
    Ani gadol = I [am] big.
    Ani godel = I [am] growing.
  5. origumi Senior Member

    In the Modern Hebrew perception, present tense is a tense, with conjugations and all. The present tense conjugations "happen" to show some peculiarities, for example same form to 1st, 2nd, 3rd person. This is regardless of the language history and past development. This is the usual debate between Western scholars and Modern Hebrew natives.

    Oh well, we've been there: gadel or godel?

    And I don't see how the isolated example of g-d-l, which happens to have an adjective that is not a participle, helps to understand the differences.

  6. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Then take any other adjective. The important thing is that the present tense behaves syntactically/morphologically like an ordinary adjective. After all, in this thread we are talking syntax not semantics.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  7. origumi Senior Member

    Verb or adjective- that's a matter of definition and depends on the time axis. Open an Israeli Modern Hebrew grammar book and you'll see that verb conjugation tables refer to past/present/future tenses (also imperative/infinitive), practically never to perfect/participle/imperfect moods. Each tense is conjugated by person, number, gender, with present tense peculiarity that 1st/2nd/3rd person are conjugated identically. The pre Modern Hebrew (maybe pre Biblical Hebrew) language development is apparently different, and yet in the present time Hebrew speakers consider "participle" as "present tense", class A citizen of the verb conjugation system, and this is likely to also influence the language development to the future. One can say that "Modern Hebrew speakers don't speak/conceive Hebrew perperly" but such statement wouldn't be constructive.
  8. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    That wasn't my point. Pointing out that the present tense behaves formally like a nominal sentence with a declined adjective as predicate makes the morphological structure more transparent. At least it helped me. The native speaker who explained me the basics of Hebrew grammar many years ago explained it to me like this (don't recall the exact words but roughly like that): "Hebrew has no finite verb form expressing present tense so we use the participle in a nominal sentence construct". This made immediate sense to me and made the morphology of the present tense easy to understand. Admittedly, both of us had above the average knowledge of formal logic. That might have influenced the way he taught me things.

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