vav-consecutive before a past verb

Qutbuddin17

Member
Urdu
Shalom!

Does vav-consecutive before a past verb convert it into the future? Or does it convert it into the past habitual?

וְהָלְכוּ בָנָיו וְעָשׂוּ מִשְׁתֶּה בֵּית אִישׁ יוֹמוֹ וְשָׁלְחוּ וְקָרְאוּ לִשְׁלֹשֶׁת אחיתיהם [אַחְיוֹתֵיהֶם] לֶאֱכֹל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת עִמָּהֶם

What does וְהָלְכוּ mean? Does it mean "his sons used to go and used to make" or "his sons will go and will make"?

Thank you!
 
  • Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Usually waw consecutive for past verb makes it future.
    In the specific case of Job 1:4, it's traditionally interpreted as habitual.

    מצודת דוד for this verse says:
    לפי שהדבר היה תמידי נופל בו לשון עבר אף לשון עתיד
    Meaning: "as the act was habitual it refers to past tense as well as to future tense".

    And המלבי"ם (same link) elaborates:
    היו רגילים לעשות משתה ולאכל ביחד, והיה לכל אחד יום מיוחד בשבעה ימי המשתה שביומו היו אוכלים אצלו
    Meaning: "they were used to have a feast and eat together, each of them had his own day of the seven feast days in which all of them were eating at his place".

    So it's "his sons used to go and make".
     
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    Adeejay

    New Member
    English
    I don’t think it’s accurate to call it “consecutive” because if you look at the following you will see that there’s nothing before it. So, how can it be consecutive if it’s not following anything?
    ַיְהִי֩ אִ֨ישׁ אֶחָ֜ד מִן־הָרָמָתַ֛יִם צֹופִ֖ים מֵהַ֣ר אֶפְרָ֑יִם וּשְׁמֹ֡ו אֶ֠לְקָנָה בֶּן־יְרֹחָ֧ם בֶּן־אֱלִיה֛וּא בֶּן־תֹּ֥חוּ בֶן־צ֖וּף אֶפְרָתִֽי
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Some entire books start with a vav-consecutive. So that's not really a counterargument.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    I guess this "va-" phenomenon started as consecutive and later became a stylistic trait, already idiomatic in bible times.
     
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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    There are also books that start with a regular vav: ואלה שמות בני ישראל.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    I guess that if you regard the biblical Hebrew tenses as perfect and imperfect (vs. past and future), as linguists (but not modern Hebrew speakers) do, it's easier to grasp.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I guess that if you regard the biblical Hebrew tenses as perfect and imperfect (vs. past and future), as linguists (but not modern Hebrew speakers) do, it's easier to grasp.

    It's not exactly like that. The linguists who regard them that way are doing so by analogy to Arabic. Such linguistics has long been superseded by much more thorough analysis. This is why linguists these days just use the terms "suffix conjugation" and "prefix conjugation". And they leave the function of these forms to a thorough description of how they're used, rather than limited it to simplistic terminology like "imperfect" or "future" that ignores all other nuances of usage.

    From what I've seen, the prefix conjugation is more often describes a future action than it does a specifically imperfect action, so future is more accurate than imperfect. Yet there are still instances where the meaning is not the future.
     

    zjamal

    New Member
    Urdu
    Thanks. But nonetheless his point remains: the vav-conversive does not always flip the tense.

    Look at the first verb in וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ הָאִ֣ישׁ הַה֗וּא תָּ֧ם וְיָשָׁ֛ר וִירֵ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים וְסָ֥ר מֵרָֽע

    Actually, maybe I should change my wording and say that although the vav-conversive does indeed always flip the tense, not every vav before a perfect verb is a vav-conversive. The one in the sentence above is clearly not a vav-conversive. It's probably just an ordinary vav-conjunctive. Does anybody know if there's any way (other than context) to tell a vav-conjunctive from a vav-conversive?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Actually, maybe I should change my wording and say that although the vav-conversive does indeed always flip the tense, not every vav before a perfect verb is a vav-conversive. The one in the sentence above is clearly not a vav-conversive. It's probably just an ordinary vav-conjunctive.

    That is correct. Not every vav before a suffix-conjugation form is a vav-conversive. It could just be a vav-conjunctive.

    Does anybody know if there's any way (other than context) to tell a vav-conjunctive from a vav-conversive?

    Sometimes you can't tell. But very often, in the 1.sg. and 2.m.sg. forms (and maybe also the 1.pl. form?), the stress shifts to the final syllable when it is a vav-conversive, but this never happens with the vav-conjunctive. In other cases, you cannot tell except from context.
     

    Uzair00la

    Member
    English
    How can אִיּ֣וֹב שְׁמ֑וֹ mean "Job was his name."? It would mean "Job IS his name". Or, rather, "His name is Job."



    Shalom!

    Does vav-consecutive before a past verb convert it into the future? Or does it convert it into the past habitual?

    וְהָלְכוּ בָנָיו וְעָשׂוּ מִשְׁתֶּה בֵּית אִישׁ יוֹמוֹ וְשָׁלְחוּ וְקָרְאוּ לִשְׁלֹשֶׁת אחיתיהם [אַחְיוֹתֵיהֶם] לֶאֱכֹל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת עִמָּהֶם

    What does וְהָלְכוּ mean? Does it mean "his sons used to go and used to make" or "his sons will go and will make"?

    Thank you!
    Usually waw consecutive for past verb makes it future.
    In the specific case of Job 1:4, it's traditionally interpreted as habitual.

    מצודת דוד for this verse says:

    Meaning: "as the act was habitual it refers to past tense as well as to future tense".

    And המלבי"ם (same link) elaborates:

    Meaning: "they were used to have a feast and eat together, each of them had his own day of the seven feast days in which all of them were eating at his place".

    So it's "his sons used to go and make".
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    How can אִיּ֣וֹב שְׁמ֑וֹ mean "Job was his name."? It would mean "Job IS his name". Or, rather, "His name is Job."

    In copulative constructions, the tense is actually unspecified. It is usually present, but sometimes past or future, as determined by context.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Isn't אִישׁ הָיָה בְאֶרֶץ-עוּץ, אִיּוֹב שְׁמוֹ like "A man called Job lived in the land of Uz"? No specific tense for איוב שמו, the preceding היה makes us understand it's past.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    וְלֹו֙ שְׁתֵּ֣י נָשִׁ֔ים שֵׁ֤ם אַחַת֙ חַנָּ֔ה וְשֵׁ֥ם הַשֵּׁנִ֖ית פְּנִנָּ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י לִפְנִנָּה֙ יְלָדִ֔ים וּלְחַנָּ֖ה אֵ֥ין יְלָדִֽים׃
    וְעָלָה֩ הָאִ֨ישׁ הַה֤וּא מֵֽעִירֹו֙ מִיָּמִ֣ים ׀ יָמִ֔ימָה לְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֧ת וְלִזְבֹּ֛חַ לַיהוָ֥ה צְבָאֹ֖ות בְּשִׁלֹ֑ה וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִ֗י חָפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣נְחָ֔ס כֹּהֲנִ֖ים לַיהוָֽה׃

    (1 Samuel 1:2-3)

    It's clear that וְעָלָה֩ contains a vav-retentive (because otherwise the meaning would be "he went up (once)"). Since it has a vav-retentive, the meaning is that of the PC (prefix conjugation, as Drink mentioned above). But how can a PC be used when narrating a story that obviously took place in the past?

    I think the only answer is that the PC and SC (suffix conjugation) are not marked for tense (i.e. time) but for whether or not the action is complete.

    So, וְעָלָה֩ means "he used to go up", i.e. habitually. What do you guys think?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I'm very confused by what you're saying. Firstly, what do you mean by vav-retentive? Is that the same thing as vav-consecutive?

    Secondly, I don't see the problem. Why can't עלה refer to multiple past actions?
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Yes, "vav-retentive" is another name for "vav-consecutive".

    Take a look at it again:

    וְעָלָה֩ הָאִ֨ישׁ הַה֤וּא מֵֽעִירֹו֙ מִיָּמִ֣ים ׀ יָמִ֔ימָה לְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֧ת וְלִזְבֹּ֛חַ לַיהוָ֥ה צְבָאֹ֖ות בְּשִׁלֹ֑ה וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִ֗י חָפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣נְחָ֔ס כֹּהֲנִ֖ים לַיהוָֽה׃

    וְעָלָה֩ obviously has a vav-consecutive. We agree on that. And we know that this vav makes the SC (suffix conjugation) have the meaning of the PC (prefix conjugation). And the prefix conjugation, according to you, has the meaning of a tense, specifically, the present-future tense. (And you also believe that the suffix conjugation has the meaning of the past tense.)

    So, you believe that וְעָלָה֩ refers to the present-future in the sentence quoted above. Am I correct?
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Well, judging by the form alone you can never be sure if a vav before a SC verb is a vav-conversive (unless the SC verb happens to be 1cs or 2ms, e.g. וכתבתי and וכתבתה respectively, because then the stress usually moves to the last syllable, as you mentioned above).

    But the context for וְעָלָה֩ הָאִ֨ישׁ הַה֤וּא מֵֽעִירֹו֙ מִיָּמִ֣ים ׀ יָמִ֔ימָה לְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֹ֧ת וְלִזְבֹּ֛חַ לַיהוָ֥ה צְבָאֹ֖ות בְּשִׁלֹ֑ה וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִ֗י חָפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣נְחָ֔ס כֹּהֲנִ֖ים לַיהוָֽה׃ makes it clear that the vav is a vav-conversive (vav-consecutive), doesn't it? I mean, look at מִיָּמִ֣ים ׀ יָמִ֔ימָה. What does it tell you?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Well what is it that you think the context is telling you?

    מימים ימימה implies we're talking about the past. So the natural assumption is to see this as a regular vav, and not a vav-conversive.
     

    utopia

    Senior Member
    Israel, Hebrew
    If I'm not mistaken, מימים ימימה in the bible means from day to day or from year to year
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    But regardless, my point is it in no way precludes interpreting the vav as a regular vav hachibur rather than a vav hahipuch.
     

    sahmadye

    New Member
    English
    But what about in the following?


    וְהָיָה בִּהְיוֹת רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים אֶל שָׁאוּל וְלָקַח דָּוִד אֶת הַכִּנּוֹר וְנִגֵּן בְּיָדוֹ וְרָוַח לְשָׁאוּל וְטוֹב לוֹ וְסָרָה מֵעָלָיו רוּחַ הָרָעָה.


    You can see that וְלָקַח is a converted perfect, but nevertheless the tense is the past. So, this shows that the suffix conjugation (i.e. perfect) and prefix conjugation (i.e. imperfect) are not marked for tense, because the present-future tense makes no sense in וְלָקַח דָּוִד אֶת הַכִּנּוֹר

    They are marked for aspect. The SC is used for complete actions while the PC is used for incomplete actions, especially habitual ones, as is the case here: "David used to/would take his harp."
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    How do you know that ולקח is not an unconverted past?

    You're making too many assumptions. There are certainly verses you can pull out where a suffix-conjugation without vav refers to a future event or where a prefix-conjugation without vav refers to a past or present event, but they are not the norm. You cannot define the entire basis of the verbal system by a small set of exceptional uses.

    Now that said, let me remind about some facts about the English language:

    - "am eating" is the present continuous
    -- but here it refers to a planned future action:
    --- "Tomorrow I am eating the leftover muffin with my lunch."

    - "will eat" is the future simple
    -- but here it refers to non-time-bound habitual action:
    --- "Every Tuesday he will eat my leftover muffins. Last week when he did that, he left a huge mess."

    - "eats" is the present simple
    -- but here it refers to a past action:
    --- "Yesterday I brought a muffin to work to have with my morning coffee, but while I was away from my desk making myself a cup of coffee, my coworker comes over to my cubicle and eats it!"
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Drink: If ולקח were the unconverted past it would mean He took, not He used to take.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    You're making too many assertions.

    In this case seemingly we have two possibilities:
    - an unconverted suffix-conj. form is referring to what seems to be a past habitual action
    - a converted suffix-conj. form is referring to what seems to be a past habitual action

    I see no reason to throw out either of these two possibilities out of hand.

    You're assuming that an unconverted suffix-conj. form cannot refer to a past habitual action. But where did you get this assumption from?
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    You are right that although we can be certain that ולקח in וְהָיָה בִּהְיוֹת רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים אֶל שָׁאוּל וְלָקַח דָּוִד אֶת הַכִּנּוֹר וְנִגֵּן בְּיָדוֹ וְרָוַח לְשָׁאוּל וְטוֹב לוֹ וְסָרָה מֵעָלָיו רוּחַ הָרָעָה refers to a habitual action in the past, we cannot rule out the possibility that it is an unconverted suffix conjugation form.

    However, Lambdin (see attachment) makes it clear that the text sahmadye cited is a non-problematic example of a circumstantial clause sequence. Given the frequency of /wayhî …/ perfective sequences that are mirrored by /wᵊhāyāh/ imperfective sequences, I see no reason whatever to doubt that the example sahmadye cited belongs to the latter. The reference is to a series of acts that is presented as recurring within a broader historical situation, not to a single set of point-in-time historical events—the latter would have been in the /wayhî …/ form.

    In linguistic analysis, forms are not defined by overt marking of single forms alone, but also by function within context and by well-established larger structures, of which this is certainly one.
     

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    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    You seem to be basing all your views on one source. There is a lot of literature out there discussing the peculiar exceptional cases of the "weqatal" form, with many different explanations provided by many different linguists.

    But let me break down for you the problems with your logic. We have two general rules here:
    - a "converted" weqatal form generally refers to future actions
    - a series of consecutive actions are usually marked with a "converted" form

    In this particular example, it is clear that one of these of these general rules cannot be applied. But there is no reason to assume a priori that the second rule is more important than the first.

    Furthermore, there are cases such as Genesis 28:6, where the weqatal form in a consecutive action indicates not a past habitual, but a past perfect. So I'm not sure how that would fit into your theory that weqatal is an imperfect.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Drink: But then how would you interpret וְהָיָה, which occurs earlier in the same chapter?

    אִישׁ הָיָה בְאֶרֶץ עוּץ אִיּוֹב שְׁמוֹ וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ הַהוּא תָּם וְיָשָׁר וִירֵא אֱלֹהִים וְסָר מֵרָע.

    The way I see it, וְהָיָה can be analyzed as follows:

    particle, coordinating conjunction + vb. 3m.s. SC Qal היה 'to be'/'he was'
    syntactic analysis: predicate of verbal sentence, 'and he always was'

    This vav-retentive gives the verb the meaning of the PC (prefix-conjugation), which, according to you, is the future tense. However, 'and he will be' doesn't make any sense here; 'and he always was' makes much more sense.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I don't see how this new case is any different from what we've already discussed (namely the one about Shaul and David). So I've already answered this question. Reread this thread to refresh your memory.
     

    JAN SHAR

    Member
    pashto
    There are three points of view on this issue: 1. that the prefix conjugation verb refers to the present/future, 2. that it refers to a durative action, and 3. that it refers to an action that from the speaker's point of view is incomplete.

    Everybody I think will agree that when the vav-consecutive precedes a suffix conjugation verb it gives it the meaning of a prefix conjugation verb. But, as I just pointed out, what exactly a prefix conjugation verb means remains an open question
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    This "debate" seems to come from oversimplification.

    Once you recognize that verb forms don't have to be limited to one meaning, as the reasonable experts recognize these days, this answers the vast majority of general questions, and leaves only specific usages to be disputed.

    I already gave the examples from English to illustrate, but I'll mention them again. Everyone will agree that in English the verb form "eats" is a so-called "simple present" whose meaning is an ongoing repeated action applicable to the present. But what about the following?

    - "It happened yesterday. He comes home, sees the apple, and eats it." (Here, the meaning of "eats" is singular completed action in the past)
    - "Next week, he eats dinner late all week." (Here, the meaning of "eats" is a planned ongoing repeated action in the future)

    So while it's called the "simple present", that doesn't mean it doesn't have other types of usages.

    I personally refer to the prefix conjugation as "future" and the suffix conjugation as "past", because I believe these are the simplest terms to use. I recognize that the terminology we use to describe these forms is just that: terminology. It does not actually present a comprehensive and nuanced view of the usage of the verb form. And no terminology can possibly do that (without being at least a page long, which is not useful as terminology). Therefore I believe any set of terms is possible to use "future/past", "imperfect/perfect", "irrealis/realis" or whatever you want. But whenever someone says that one of these sets of terms is "wrong", that's when I have a problem. They are all "wrong", and therefore they are "right".
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    How would you translate vav-consecutive + suffix conjugation verb in the following?

    וְזֹ֣את הַמִּצְוָ֗ה הַֽחֻקִּים֙ וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּ֛ה יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם לְלַמֵּ֣ד אֶתְכֶ֑ם לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת בָּאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתֶּ֛ם עֹבְרִ֥ים שָׁ֖מָּה לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ׃
    לְמַ֨עַן תִּירָ֜א אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ לִ֠שְׁמֹ֠ר אֶת־כׇּל־חֻקֹּתָ֣יו וּמִצְוֺתָיו֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָנֹכִ֣י מְצַוֶּ֒ךָ֒ אַתָּה֙ וּבִנְךָ֣ וּבֶן־בִּנְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֣י חַיֶּ֑יךָ וּלְמַ֖עַן יַאֲרִכֻ֥ן יָמֶֽיךָ׃
    וְשָׁמַעְתָּ֤ יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְשָׁמַרְתָּ֣ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֲשֶׁר֙ יִיטַ֣ב לְךָ֔ וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּרְבּ֖וּן מְאֹ֑ד כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ דִּבֶּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֱלֹהֵ֤י אֲבֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ לָ֔ךְ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָֽשׁ׃
    (דברים ו)

    My guess: And then you will listen, o Israel, and then you will see to it that you follow (the commandments)
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Either that, or more accurately with "shall" instead of "will".

    But the point is that it is a future used as a command.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Well nowadays most people don't make this distinction. But "will" implies more of an intention, and "shall" more of an obligation.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    I should add that at the beginning of a sentence one should not translate vav-consecutive as "and". One should simply translate the following verb, e.g.

    וְ֠כִבֶּ֠ס הָאֹסֵ֨ף אֶת־אֵ֤פֶר הַפָּרָה֙ אֶת־בְּגָדָ֔יו וְטָמֵ֖א עַד־הָעָ֑רֶב וְֽהָיְתָ֞ה לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְלַגֵּ֛ר הַגָּ֥ר בְּתוֹכָ֖ם לְחֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָֽם׃

    The gatherer of the cow's ashes will full his clothes and (then) he will be ritually impure until the evening and (then) it (the cow) will serve as a perpetual statute for the children of Israel and for the sojourner sojourning in their midst.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    I believe this view to be incorrect. It should almost always be translated as "and" or some sort of conjunction to the previous thing.
     

    Sharjeel72

    Member
    English
    If vav consecutive flips the past verb and makes it a future verb, then what about והמלכת here?

    ויאמר יהוה אל שמואל שמע בקולם והמלכת להם מלך ויאמר שמואל אל אנשי ישראל לכו איש לעירו

    It has the meaning of an imperative, doesn't it?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    If vav consecutive flips the past verb and makes it a future verb, then what about והמלכת here?

    ויאמר יהוה אל שמואל שמע בקולם והמלכת להם מלך ויאמר שמואל אל אנשי ישראל לכו איש לעירו

    It has the meaning of an imperative, doesn't it?

    Imperative is a mood. If you think about it, imperatives are really future tense (or maybe sometimes present). The flipped suffix conjugation can often have an imperative meaning. In phrases such as "Do this and (then) do this", the first verb will usually be imperative in form, and the second would be a flipped suffix-conjugation.
     
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