Insights into uses of adjectives, pronouns and other parts of speech

Insights into uses of adjectives, pronouns and other parts of speech

Uses and Functions of Adjectives in Biblical Hebrew

  • Descriptive function: Adjectives, by definition, are used to describe or modify nouns. They can describe qualities such as size, colour, number, and manner.

  • Attributive adjectives: Usually come after the noun they modify and agree with the noun in gender, number, and definiteness. For example, בֵּית גָּדוֹל (beith gadol), meaning ‘a big house’.

  • Predicative adjectives: Located in the predicate of a sentence and linked to the noun by a verb. In Biblical Hebrew, the verb “to be” is often omitted, and thus can be interpreted based on context.

  • Substantive adjectives: When used alone without a noun, an adjective can function as a noun. For instance, הקדוש (haqadosh) means ‘the Holy One’, referring to God.

Pronouns and Their Use in Biblical Hebrew

  • Personal pronouns: Hebrew has separate forms for first, second and third person in both singular and plural form, and gender is distinguished in the second and third person. These pronouns can function as subjects, direct objects, or indirect objects.

  • Demonstrative pronouns: Words like this and that are used to point to something specific within a sentence. In Biblical Hebrew, these pronouns usually follow the noun they are modifying.

  • Interrogative pronouns: These pronouns are used to ask questions. Who, what, where, when, why, and how are all interrogative pronouns. For instance, מִי (mi - who) and מַה (mah - what).

  • Relative pronouns: These pronouns are used to link different clauses or sentences together. The relative pronoun in Biblical Hebrew is אֲשֶׁר (asher), and it does not change forms to match number, gender or case.

  • Reflexive pronouns: Translated as ‘self’ (e.g., myself, yourself), these pronouns are always used with a reflexive verb or verb in the reflexive voice (Hithpael), indicating an action reflexes back to the subject itself.

Other Parts of Speech in Biblical Hebrew

  • Conjunction: A word used to connect sentences, clauses, phrases, or words. The most common conjunction in Biblical Hebrew is ו (va - and).

  • Adverbs: Words that modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs, providing more information about how the action is performed. In Biblical Hebrew, adverbs often take the same form as masculine singular nouns.

  • Prepositions: These words indicate direction, location, or time, and other abstract relations. Common prepositions in Biblical Hebrew include: ב (in), ל (to), and מ (from).

  • Particles: These include interrogative particles (introducing a question), negative particles (denying the truth of the verb), directive particles (adding a direction to the verb) etc. They usually cannot stand alone and must be connected to other words in the sentence.

  • Interjections: Words or phrases that express strong emotion or surprise. In Biblical Hebrew, these are often standalone phrases or exclamations.