The meaning of prefix conjugation verbs

Sharjeel72

Member
English
Hi, the meaning of prefix conjugation verbs is 1. future 2. habitual 3. modal. Are there any additional meanings it can have? Thank you in advance.
 
  • Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I recommend you get yourself a book like Joüon and Muraoka's A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. It has a whole chapter answering this question.
     

    JAN SHAR

    Member
    pashto
    It can have any imperfect meaning, because what you call the prefix verb is an imperfect verb.

    But actually, I can't think of any additional imperfect meanings. The only imperfect meanings that come to mind are the three you mentioned.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    It can have any imperfect meaning, because what you call the prefix verb is an imperfect verb.

    This is not true actually. Each form of the verb has very specific combinations of tense-aspect-mood that apply to it. Aspect itself is much more complicated than just "perfect vs. imperfect". In fact, according to Joüon and Muraoka, the meaning of the yiqtol form almost never can be described as an "incomplete action", which is the main connotation of "imperfect". Incomplete actions are almost always described by the participle.

    EDIT: Correction: What Joüon and Muraoka actually say is that completeness and incompleteness are not an adequate way to describe Hebrew verb forms, and attempts to do so were influenced by Indo-European languages.
     
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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Summary of Joüon and Muraoka on the yiqtol of active verbs:

    - Future: time marked, aspect unmarked
    - Present: time and aspect marked
    - Past: time unmarked, aspect marked

    Future: The yiqtol mainly expresses the future, with any aspect. In can also express a future relative to a past moment. It can even express a future perfect (as can the qatal form, the difference being that the time is marked, rather than the aspect).

    Present: The yiqtol may express a present-tense repeated action, or durative action. Only in very rare instances it can be used as a declarative to express a present ongoing action.

    Past: The yiqtol may refer to a past action, expressing only its aspect, which may be repeated, habitual, or durative. This may only be used when the context has already situated the action in the past. It is sometimes used simply in places where the qatal form could have worked equally well, often in logically (but not necessarily syntactically) subordinate clauses. It may also occur as a preterite with no durative or iterative aspect with the same meaning as qatal.

    It is also used with a few specific adverbs/conjunctions (אז, טרם, עד). It sometimes expresses a modal nuance of "can/may/must/want".
     
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    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    It can have any imperfect meaning, because what you call the prefix verb is an imperfect verb.

    But actually, I can't think of any additional imperfect meanings. The only imperfect meanings that come to mind are the three you mentioned.
    Drink is right. The reason the prefix conjugation has those three functions is because it is not an imperfect; it is an imperfective. That is, it is an aspect, not a tense.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Drink is right. The reason the prefix conjugation has those three functions is because it is not an imperfect; it is an imperfective. That is, it is an aspect, not a tense.

    That is not correct. Please see my other comment posted just before yours. The reason "imperfect" or "imperfective" are not adequate descriptors is simply because they do not correctly describe the majority of uses of the yiqtol form (which is future with unmarked aspect).
     
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