Understanding grammatical terminology around sentence structures

Understanding grammatical terminology around sentence structures

Grammatical Terms for Sentence Structure in Biblical Hebrew

Subject: The entity or actor that is carrying out the action or being described in the phrase. Normally comes before the verb in biblical Hebrew.

Predicate: Describes something about the subject, typically following the subject in non-verbal sentences.

Predicate Nominative: A noun, pronoun, or noun clause that provides more information about the subject of a sentence, often following a linking verb.

Object: The recipient of the action in a sentence. Transitive verbs will have an object, whereas intransitive verbs will not.

Transitive Verb: A verb that requires an object to express a complete thought. For example, “Gideon defeated the Midianites.”

Intransitive Verb: A verb that doesn’t require an object to express a complete thought. For example, “Moses slept.”

Cohortative Mood: Expresses a desire or command for oneself or one’s group. Usually observed in verbs in first person plural.

Imperative Mood: Used for commands and instructions, typically observed in second person verbs.

Jussive Mood: Expresses a command that is less forceful than the imperative, typically observed in third person and occasionally first person singular and plural.

Common Sentence Structures

Nominal Sentence: A sentence that has no verb and begins with a subject (typically a noun).

Verbal Sentence: Sentence where the verb appears first, followed by subject(s) and object(s).

Circumstantial Clause: Describes an event or situation that happens simultaneously with another action in the sentence. Often introduced by the conjunction ‘waw’.

Participial Construction: Phrases where a participle operates as the main verb.

Sequential Verbs: Sentences that depict a series of events, usually connected by the waw-consecutive.

Delving Deeper into Sentence Structures

Parallelism: Repetitive structure used for emphasis or to draw contrasts. Common in Hebrew poetry such as Psalms and Proverbs.

Chiasmus: A specific type of parallelism where concepts are repeated in reverse order (known as an ‘ABBA’ structure)

Ellipsis: When an expected element of the sentence (such as a verb or a noun) is left out. This is common in biblical Hebrew prose and poetry.

Stichometry: The division of text into lines, often seen in biblical poetry.

Inclusio: A type of bracketing that repeats the same or similar words, concepts, or themes at the start and end of a section of the text. May demarcate a particular unit within the text.