Lesson 4

4.1 Relative Clause: Coptic uses three forms of the relative pronoun. They are used with nouns of either gender or number as well as verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. The forms are as follows:

e- et- ete-

The most common form is et-. They all are translated in English as, 'who', 'whom', or 'which'. They are usually used with sentences containing adverbial predicates, examples:

pi.rwmi et.qen p./i The man who is in the house
pen.iwt et.qen ni.v/oui Our father who is in the heavens

4.1.1 The relative pronoun et- functions as the subject of the relative clause:

].chimi et.hi v.mwit The woman who is on the road
ni.qelloi et.qen ].ekkl/cia the monks who are in the church


ni.qelloi et.qen ].ekkl/cia an the monks who are not in the church

4.1.2 The relative clause cannot be used to modify an indefinite noun.

4.2 Relative Nouns: Nouns can be formed out of adjectives by prefixing the definite article to the relative pronoun and attaching the new prefix to an adjective, as follows:

Singular Masculine


pet- pete-

net- nete-


pey.ouab The holy one, the one who is holy
pet.hwou The evil one, the one who is evil

4.3 Demonstrative Adjectives - Far Objects: The demonstrative for the far objects trails the noun it modifies. It is formed from a combination of the relative pronoun 'ete-' and the adverb 'mmau'. In English it is translated as 'that' for singular and 'those' for plural. However Coptic has one form for either gender or number, as follows:

pi.rwmi etemmau that man
].chimi etemmau that woman
ni.cn/ou etemmau those brothers

4.4 Greek Nouns: A typical Coptic text contains a large number of Greek loan-words, mostly nouns. Greek masculine and feminine nouns retained their gender when they were used in Coptic. Neuter nouns were treated as masculine nouns. All Greek nouns came into Coptic in the nominative singular case and such form is kept the same in all other cases in Coptic, examples:

pi.aggeloc m. The angel
].epictol/ f. The letter
pi.pneuma n.. The spirit

4.5 Vocabulary 4:

mmau adv. there seri f. daughter, girl
nahren prep in the presence of s/ri m. son, child, boy
nou] m. god hiren prep. at the entrance of
vnou] m. God hwou adj. evil
ro m. door, gate, mouth [oic m. master, owner
rwou pl. doors, gates p[oic m. the Lord
,aki m. darkness [iceu pl. masters, owners
,ro m. shore, bank ]mi m. village

Greek Nouns

aggeloc m. angel, messenger may/t/c m. disciple, pupil
ekkl/cia f. church polic f. city
epictol/ f. letter, epistle tavoc m. tomb
yalacca f. sea      

4.6 Exercises 4: Translate the following into English:

A 1. hiren ].ekkl/cia 5. ou.ekkl/cia nte pi.]mi
  2. qen v.ran m.p.[oic 6. ni.jwm m.pi.may/t/c
  3. nahren p.ouro 7. p.[oic m.pi.joi
  4. pi.,ro m.pi.iaro 8. qen ou.,aki
B 1. pi.wni et.qen ]emrw 4. ni.rwmi n.].polic etemmau
  2. ni.aggeloc et.qen t.ve 5. ni.ekkl/cia nte ].polic
  3. pi.,aki et.hijen ].polic 6. ni.s/ri m.pi.bwk etemmau

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