Lesson 6

6.1 Nominal Sentence: Coptic, like many of the languages of the Middle East, has full sentences that are constructed without the aid of a true verb. These sentences are characterized by the frequent use of a helping verb, sometimes called 'copula'. This helping verb follows the same format that we have seen in defining nouns in Coptic. In other words, it has a form for masculine singular 'pe', a form for feminine singular 'te', and a form for the plural 'ne'. In English, the meaning rendered for such helping verb is the appropriate form of verb 'to be'.

6.1.1 Two-member Nominal Sentence: This type of sentence contains two parts. The first is a predicate noun, with a prefixed article, and the second is the helping verb, as follows:

pa.iwt pe he is my father ou.rwmi pe he is a man
ta.mau te she is my mother ou.chimi te she is a woman
na.cn/ou ne they are my brothers han.ej/ou ne they are ships

6.1.2 Three-member Nominal Sentence: This is the more common form of the nominal sentence. It contains a subject noun and a predicate noun along with the helping verb. The position of the helping verb is dependent on the predicate. If indefinite, it is always followed by the helping verb regardless of its position in the sentence. When the predicate is definite, then the helping verb usually falls in between it and the subject. The position of the predicate and the subject is mostly dependent on style and emphasis, as follows:

ou.caq pe pa.iwt my father is a teacher
pa.iwt ou.caq pe my father is a teacher
pai.rwmi pe pen.caq this man is our teacher
pen.caq pe pai.rwmi this man is our teacher

6.1.3 Rules of Agreement: The rules for choosing the gender and number of the helping verb are as follows: Two-member Nominal Sentence: The helping verb agrees with the predicate noun in gender and number, as shown in the examples of 6.1.1 above. Three-member Nominal Sentence: The rules here are more complex by virtue of having three parts in the sentence to contend with. These rules can be summarized as follows:

a. The helping verb agrees in gender and number with both the subject and predicate if they in turn are nouns (or pronouns in the 3rd person) and in agreement with each other.

b. If there is disagreement in gender or number, then the helping verb in the masculine singular form 'pe' is used.

c. If The subject is a pronoun in the 1st or 2nd person then the masculine singular form 'pe' is usually used regardless of the gender and number of the predicate.


han.rem.n.,/mi ne na.io] my fathers are Egyptian
t.ve pe pa.yronoc the Heaven is my throne
nyo pe ].sour/ you (f) are the censer
nyoc te ta.mau she is my mother

6.1.4 Negative Construction: The negation of the nominal sentence is achieved by placing the particle 'n(m)' before the predicate and 'an' before the helping verb, as follows

2-member sentence: m.pa.iwt an pe he is not my father
3-member sentence: pa.iwt n.ou.caq an pe my father is not a teacher

6.1.5 Relative Construction in the Nominal Sentence: nominal sentences are converted to the status of relative clauses by using the relative pronoun 'ete', as follows:

pi.rwmi ete ou.caq pe the man who is a teacher
pi.rwmi ete n.ou.caq an pe the man who is not a teacher
ete vai pe that is (namely)

6.2 Demonstrative Pronouns - Nearer Objects:

6.2.1 Form: The demonstrative pronoun for the nearer objects has a similar form to the demonstrative adjective explained in Lesson 5. However they are not prefixed to any other word. In English, they would be translated as 'this one, these ones', as follows:

Masculine Singular Feminine Singular Plural
vai yai nai

6.2.2 Uses: They are frequently employed as subjects in sentences with nominal predicates, and they agree in gender and number with the predicate:

nai ne nef.caji these are his words
yai ou.bwki te this is a maidservant
ou.bwki te yai this is a maidservant

6.3 Vocabulary 6:

ervei m. temple, sanctuary ou/b m. priest
m/] f. middle, midst hai m. husband
qen ].m/] n-   in the midst of hamse m. carpenter
m/s m. crowd, multitude jamoul m. camel
caq m. teacher, scribe jom f. power

Greek Nouns

acpacmoc m. greeting cwt/r m. savior
euaggelion m. gospel ,rictoc m. Christ
paryenoc f. virgin      

6.4 Exercises 6: Translate the following into English:

A 1. ou.bwki te nte ta.mau 4. ou.paryenoc te
2. ou.tebt pe 5. pi.jamoul pe m.pef.iwt
3. ou.jwm pe nte pek.con
B 1. yai te t.jom m.v.nou] 3 pef.s/ri ou.ou/b pe
2. nai ne ni.caji m.pi.euaggelion
C 1. pai.jwm ete vai pe pi.euaggelion
2 ].qellw ete ou.paryenoc te

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