Lesson 2

2.1 Noun Classifications: Nouns are classified by gender, masculine (m) or feminine (f), and by number, singular (sg) or plural (pl). In most cases there are no distinctions between singular and plural forms of the same noun, only the prefixed article provides such distinction. Examples:


iwt father mau mother
kahi earth ve heaven


iwt father io] fathers
con brother cn/ou brothers


2.2 Definite Article: Coptic uses three distinct characters to define gender and number of a noun. They are 'p' for the singular masculine, 't' for the singular feminine, and 'n' for the plural. This arrangement occurs in many nominal prefixes. The first one that we will deal with is the "Definite Article".

2.2.1 Form: The Bohairic dialect has two distinct types of articles in the singular. The longer form is referred to as 'Strong' and the shorter one is labeled 'Weak'. The definite article is always prefixed to the noun it modifies. In English the definite article is equivalent to 'the'.



  Masculine Feminine  
Strong pi- ]- ni- nen-
Weak p- v- t- y  

2.2.2 Uses: Singular: Weak articles are used to specify the word in a less exact way, so they are used for generic nouns, abstract nouns, and nouns that are one of a kind. Strong articles on the other hand specify the word in a more exact way by referring to specific person or thing, as follows:



v.nou] God pi.nou] the god
t.ve Heaven ].ve m.beri the new heaven Plural: For plural articles (both genders) nen- is used only with prefixed nouns, while ni- is used everywhere else, example:

nen.s/ri m.p.icra/l The sons of Israel

2.3 Prepositions: In Coptic, prepositions (prep.) are unstressed and bound to the word they govern.

Note: The preposition nem (with) is also used as the conjunctive 'and' in joining two nouns, example:

pi.rwmi nem pi.noub The man and the gold

2.4 Simple Bipartite Clause: Coptic can achieve full predication (complete sentence) with or without the benefit of a verb. One type of these sentences is called a 'bipartite sentence', which means a sentence made out of two parts. For the sake of brevity, we will deal with only one of the five forms of this sentence construction. To achieve the correct meaning in English, the appropriate form of verb 'to be' is used in the translation.

2.4.1 Affirmative: In the affirmative, the bipartite is formed in the following manner:

Definite noun + Prepositional phrase


(Definite article + Noun )+ (Preposition + Definite article + Noun)

pi.rwmi hi pi.joi The man is on the ship

2.4.2 Negative: In the negative the sentence form is as follows:

Definite noun + Prepositional phrase + Negative particle

pi.rwmi qen pi./i an The man is not in the house

2.5 Vocabulary:

an not wni m. rock, stone
/i m. house qa- prep. under
/ou pl. houses qello m. old man, monk
mwit m. road, way qelloi pl. old men, monks
nem- prep. with, and qellw f. old woman
noub m. gold qen- prep. in
rwmi m. man hi- prep. on
chimi f. woman hijen- prep. upon
twou m. mountain jwm m. book

2.6 Exercises 2: Translate the following into English:

A 1. hi pi.mwit 8. nem ni.rwmi
  2. hijen pi.twou 9. nem ].chimi
  3. qen pi.mwit 10. nem pi.qello
  4. qen p./i 11. qa ni./ou
  5. qa p./i 12. hi pi.twou
  6. qa pi.wni 13. qen ni./ou
  7. hi pi.jwm    
B 1. ni.rwmi nem ].chimi 3. pi.noub qa pi.jwm
  2. pi.qello hijen pi.twou 4. ni.jwm qen pi./i an

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