Chapter XI. The Conjunctive.  (Negation: §230)


    Singular   Plural

  1 com

  n-ta-, ta-

  2 masc

  n.g-- (§2n)  [n-te.k-]


  2 fem


  3 masc

  n.3-- (ne.3-)  [n-te.3-][n-to.u-,]

  3 fem

  n.s-- (ne.s-)  [n-te.s-]

Nom subj  nte-

(The forms in square brackets are the Bohairic forms, which preserved the t throughout.) The alternate forms of the 3rd pers masc and fem sing are only occasionally found, being liable to be confused with the Imperfect forms. On the whole, ta is more common than nta for 1st pers sing.
§226. Uses of the Conjunctive. The chief function of this auxiliary is  to join together sentences , the tense of the verb in the opening sentence being continued in the sentence introduced by the Conjunctive. This tense is most frequently found after a sentence containing an Imperative. It is also used very frequently after a Future Tense. Though strictly speaking the Conjunctive has no tense of its own, depending upon a previous auxiliary for its time standpoint, yet on the whole it may be said that it implies the sense of action still to be achieved. Only very infrequently does it appear after the Past Tense, and then not as a simple continuation of the previous tense, but with a final meaning to express the object of an order. (a) After the Imperative: e.g.  n.tetn.ouwm ‘Come and eat’ (Jn 21:12), 6moos  6n.tek.ri  n.g.rime ‘Sit in thy cell and weep’ (Z 347.21). (b) After the Future: e.g. p.rime  na.4wpe  e.rou6e  nte.p.telhl  4wpe  e.6tooue ‘Weeping will happen at evening, and joy will happen in (the) morning’ (Ps 30:5),  nek.2i`  ebol  nte.keoua  mor.k-  ‘Thou wilt stretch out thy hands, and another will gird thee’ (Jn 21:18),`w  ta.yallei  e.p.`oeis ‘I will sing and praise the Lord’ (Ps 26:6). (c) After the Past: e.g. p.douc  de  a.3.keleue  nse.talo.ou  e.p.6ermhtarion ‘The governor ordered them to lift them on to the rack.’ (Mor. 587.f.101.v), etbe.ou  mp.ou.5  pei.so2n  ebol  6a  4mt.4e  n.sateere  nse.ta.ou  n.n.6hke ‘Why did they not sell this ointment for 500 staters in order to give them to the poor?’ (Jn 12:5). Note: It must not be thought that the Conjunctive only follows the above mentioned tenses. It is found after the Present, Habitude, Optative, Causative Infinitive, Conditional Clause, Temporal Clause, etc. But its use after Imperative and Future is so common that the more regular use is here indicated instead of quoting all the less frequent uses. The use of this auxiliary after the Past, though comparatively rare, is noted in that the sense implied by its use is not merely continuity of the previous action.
§227. The Conjunctive is frequently used after verbs of wishing, commanding and allowing; e.g. keleue  na.i  ta.4a`e ‘Order me and I will speak’ (Pistis Sophia 202), ka  nai  thr.ou ‘Allow all these to go’ (Jn 18:8), k.ouw4  ebw.k  n.g.moute  na.n ‘Dost thou wish to go and to call him who ministers to us?’ (Z 294.c.5).
§228. The Conjunctive sometimes appears in direct speech without an introductory verb. The reason for this is not clear. Perhaps in such cases a verb of wishing, commanding or requesting is mentally understood; e.g., pe`e.pilatos  na.u  `e  ta.s5rou  m.petn.rro ‘Pilate said to them: (Do you wish that) I crucify your king?’ (Jn 19:15), pe`e  6rouq  t.mwabiths  n.noemein  `e  ta.bwk  ebol  e.t.sw4e ‘Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi: (Let me) go to the field’ (Ruth 2:2).
§229. The Conjunctive is used after a number of Greek Conjunctions:


‘So that’


‘In order that’


‘Lest in any way’


‘For fear lest’



E.g. kalws  6wb  nim  a.3.aa.u  6wste  swtm  auw  4a`e ‘He has done everything well, so that he has caused the deaf to hear and has caused the dumb also to speak’ (Mk 7:37), 5.r.6ote  gar  `e  mhpote  ta.ei  ta.6e  n.q.e  e.n5.oua4  an ‘For I fear lest I come to you and find you in the way which I do not wish’ (II-Cor 12:20), eimhti  anon ‘Unless we go and buy’ (Lk 9:13).
§230. Negation of the Conjunctive. Negation of the Conjunctive is effected by  the negative particle tm-  being placed before the Infinitive; e.g.  eroi ‘You will seek for me, and you will not find me’ (Jn 7:34), etbe.ou  na.n  ebol  m.p.kosmos ‘Why wilt thou reveal thyself to us, and not reveal thyself to the world?’ (Jn 14:22).
§231.  Compound Tenses with e- and ne To a number of Auxiliaries can be prefixed the verbal forms e- and ne- to form compound verbal structures; e.g.


(a)  e- precedes the auxiliary  when it is used in a subordinate or co-ordinate sentence with  past time  meaning; e.g. ntere.p.arxitriklinos  de  twpe  m.p.moou  e.a.3.r.hrp ‘When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water after it became wine’ (Jn 2:9). Note 1: It is possible, as Dr. H.J. Polotsky has pointed out (Étude de Syntaxe Copte, 49), that in some cases e.g. e.a.3.swtm  has been employed as a II Perfect tense. (b)  e- prefixed to the negation of the I Perfect renders  ‘Until’ ; e.g.  ou.eine ‘This generation shall not pass away until they have occurred’ (Lk 21:32). Note 2: mp.3- and mpat.3- sometimes are found as bad spellings for and e.mpat.3-.
  ne- prefixed to past tenses gives a Pluperfect meaning  (originating from the old wn ‘To exist’, §194); e.g. ne.a.u.ei  pe ‘When they had come’ (Jn 11:19), ne.4are.p.6hgemwn  ka.oua  ebol ‘The governor had been accustomed to release one’ (Mt 27:15), ne.mpat.ou.soun te.grafh ‘They had not yet understood the Scripture’ (Jn 20:9; cf also §233n).
§232. Impersonal Verbs. When verbs are used impersonally, the 3rd pers fem sing -s is generally used; e.g. a.s.4wpe ‘It happened’. But occasionally the 3rd masc -3 is used; e.g. 3.sh6 ‘It is written (as follows)’. There are, however, a small number of verbs which are impersonal; the most important of these are:

ouon, (oun--)

 ‘To be’, and its negative: m-mon, ([m-]mn--)  (§233)


 To be befitting or appropriate’ (§184.1)


 To be needful’ (§237)


 ‘to be enough’ (§237a)

§233.  ouon, oun-  ‘There is/are’ (Existential), and  mmon, (m)mn-  ‘There is/are not’ (Negative Existential): (1) The Construct forms are far more common than the Absolute forms, and are used in a Verbal Sentence employing one of the Durative tenses when the subject is undefined or has only the Indefinite Article (§190, 195) or the I Future (§209.1). (2) In the Non-Verbal sentence (§314); e.g. oun.ou.4hre  4hm ‘There is a young boy here’ (Jn 6:9), mn  agaqos  oua  p.noute ‘There is not (anyone) good except one, God’ (Mt 19:17). Note: The past tense is formed by means of  ne-  (§231); e.g. ne.oun  oua  6n.khme ‘There was one in Egypt’ (Z 338.c.1),  ero.ou ‘There was not a helper for them’ (Ps 107:12). Frequently ne.oun  contracts to ne.un; e.g. ne.un.ou.rwme  de  n.rm.mao ‘There was a rich man’ (Lk 16:19).
§234. (3) Possession: In the forms:


Old Form

Affirmative: oun-te-,  oun--te=,  oun--ta=

wn mdi

Negative: mn-te-, mn-te=,  mn-ta=

nn wn  mdi

—literally, ‘There exists in the hand of’, ‘There exists not in the hand of’; by which forms Coptic conveys the notion of possession or the lack of possession. Thus in order to say ‘The man has a house’, Coptic must say ‘There exists in the hand of the man a house’ (ounte.p.rwme  hi). It is to be noted that the object stands directly after the subject without any introductory particle; e.g. ounte.p.4hre  n.p.rwme  ecousia ‘The Son of Mankind has authority’ (Mt 9:6). When, however, the subject is a pronoun, the relation of the object possessed to the possessor depends on the form of the verb used:
§235. With ounte= and mnte=, the object stands directly after the pronoun; e.g. oun5  5ou  gar  n.son ‘For I have five brothers’ (Lk 16:28), 6en.esoou  e.mnt.ou.4we  6i`w.ou ‘Sheep which have no shepherd over them’ (Mk 6:34). Note: The adverb  mmau ‘There’  (C196b) frequently follows the object, but is often left untranslated; ount.ou  mwushs  mmau  mn  ne.profhths ‘They have Moses and the prophets’ (Lk 16:29), m.mn5  6ai  m.mau ‘I have no husband’ (Jn 4:17).
§236. (b) With ounta= and mnta= the object, if nominal, must always be introduced by the particle n. It may be noted that the adverb mmau (§235n), when used after ounta=, usually stands directly after the subject; e.g. ounta.mmau  n.ou.kolasis ‘She has punishment’ (I-Jn 4:18), ne.unta.3 (for ne.oun.ta.3)  mmau  n.6a6  n.n.ka ‘He had many possessions’ (Mt 19:22). But when the object is pronominal, the rule is that it is added directly to the verbal form— thus presenting the curious form of two suffixes added directly to the verb; e.g. ounta.i.3 ‘I have him’, ounta.3.s ‘He has it’ (§232), ou  gar  pet.e.ounta.i.3 ‘For who is it whom I have in heaven?’ (Ps 72:25). Note 1: Sometimes a euphonic s is introduced between the two suffixes; e.g. kata  pete  ounta.3.s.3 ‘According to him who has it’, kata  pete  mnta.3.s.3 ‘According to him who has it not’ (II-Cor 8:12). Note 2: With the preposition e-, ero=, an idiomatic use of ounte-, ounta= has the meaning  ‘To be in debt’ ; e.g.`oeis  ouhr  ero.k ‘How much dost thou owe my lord?’ (lit. My lord has how much against thee?) (Lk 16.5), pai  ero.n.4e  n.satreere ‘This one who owed him a hundred staters’ (lit. This one who, he had against him a hundred staters) (Mt 18:28).
§237.  6aps ‘it is necessary’  is an impersonal verb and is usually followed by the Causative Infinitive (§256); e.g. 6aps  e.tre.u.`pe.thutn ‘It is necessary for you to be born again’ (lit. ... that they beget you again; §259(Jn 3:7), mh  n.6aps  an  4ep.nai ‘Is it not necessary for Christ to receive these (things)?’ (Lk 24:26). Sometimes the Existential Particle  pe  appears after the verb; e.g. 6aps  gar  pe  etre.r.rro ‘It is necessary for him to reign’ (I-Cor 15:25), 6aps  on  pe  e.tre.u.pwwne  4wpe ‘It is necessary again for a change to happen in the law also’ (Heb 7:12).
§237a.  6w ‘To suffice, become enough’  is generally used impersonally, and is followed by the preposition e-; e.g. ma.tsbo.n  e.pek.eiwt  auw  6w  ero.n ‘Show us thy Father, and it is sufficient for us (Jn 14:8), 6w ‘It is sufficient for the disciple’ (Mt 10:25).
§238. The Imperative. As a rule  the Imperative is expressed by means of the Infinitive , the same form being used for both singular and plural, and no distinction in gender is made; swtm ‘Hear!’, me6  n.6udria ‘Fill the water pots!’, moute  e.n.ergaths ‘Call the laborers!’, `it.3 ‘Take him!’
§239. A few verbs have preserved old Imperative forms, mostly showing initial a- which originated from the old Imperative prefix i. These Imperatives are:



a.`w  (with direct object a.`i-, a.`i=)



‘Become unclean!’

a.uwn  (for a.ouwn, §16)


Note: a.lo.k,  (require object suffix)

‘Cease thou, you!’

§240. A few verbs show quite irregular forms:





‘To come’

amou (masc),  amh (fem), amh(e) (pural)


‘To bring’

an(e)ine, ani-, ani=


‘To do’

arire, ari-,  ari=, 3 pl ari.sou  (§44)

 5 ‘To give’  occasionally uses the Infinitive to express the Imperative; e.g. ‘Give heed!’ (Mt 7:15). But far more common is the form  ma  (Absolute and Construct forms are identical); e.g. ma  na.n ‘Give to us!’ (Mk 10:37). ma  is also frequently used in forming the Imperatives of the Causative verbs with t- prefix; e.g. ma.t.bbo ‘Be cleansed/purified!’, ma.tamio ‘Make!’ However, the Infinitive of these causatives can also be used to express the Imperative; e.g. t.bbo ‘Become clean!’, tamio ‘Make!’ Note: au-, auei= ‘Give away!’ and mo- ‘Take!’, which shows a plural
§241. When more than one Imperative appears in a sentence, the second Imperative and any further Imperative is replaced by the Conjunctive (§226a); e.g. amou  n.g.nau ‘Come (and) see!’
§242. Negation of the Imperative. Negation is effected by means of the verbal prefix  mp.r- ‘Do not do’, placed before the infinitive; e.g. mp.r.swtm ‘Do not hear’, mp.r.r.6ote ‘Do not fear’. For use of mp.r- with the Causative Infinitive to form the negation of the Optative, cf §221.
§243. Uses of the Infinitive. Three forms of the Infinitive exist in Coptic:
(1)  The Simple Infinitive ; e.g. 
swtm ‘To hear’, kmom ‘To become black’.
(2)  The Potential Infinitive , a compound form; e.g.
4.4a`e ‘To be able to speak’.
(3)  The Causative Infinitive , also a compound form, which takes an object, nominal or pronominal, after the prefix
tre-; e.g. tre.3.swtm ‘To cause him to hear’, tre.p.rwme.swtm ‘To cause the man to hear’, tre.k.swtm ‘To cause thee to hear’. When the object is pronominal the following forms of the Causative occur:




  1 com



  2 masc

  tre.k-,  tre.tetn-

  2 fem


  3 masc



  3 fem


Before the Nominal Subject: tre-

§244.  Negation of the Infinitive. Negation of the three forms of the Infinitive is effected by means of the particle  tm-  placed immediately before the infinitive; e.g. tm.swtm ‘Not to hear’.
§245. The Simple Infinitive. As has already been noted (§138), the Infinitive is a masculine noun and as such it can be defined by the Definite Article, the Possessive Adjective or the Demonstrative Pronoun; e.g. p.4w3 ‘The desolation’, p.swtm ‘The hearing’, p.4a`e ‘The saying, the Logos’, pes.kwte ‘Its surrounding’, petn.rw4e ‘Your sufficiency’, peu.6ise ‘Their toil’, pei.4a`e ‘This saying/Logos’. Note: When followed by a genitive, the Infinitive is linked to its possessor by means of the particle  n ; e.g. p.swnt  m.p.noute ‘The creation of God’. Often the Infinitive retains its verbal force and takes an object; e.g. p.mere.nen.erhu ‘The love of our fellows’, p.koos.t ‘My burial’ (lit. The burying me).
§246. The Infinitive with the Indefinite Article is used mainly with the preposition  6n-  ‘In’ to form adverbial phrases; e.g. 6n.ou.wr` ‘Securely’ (lit. In a becoming secure), 6n.ou.rw4e ‘Moderately’ (lit. In a becoming sufficient), 6n.ou.ouwn6  ebol ‘Openly’ (lit. In a showing forth). The Infinitive with the Indefinite Article is less frequently used independently; e.g. 5.swtm  `e oun 6en.pwr`  n.6ht.thutn  ‘I hear that there are divisions among you’ (I-Cor 11:18).
§247. The Infinitive preceded by the preposition  6n-  and the Indefinite Article is sometimes used to strengthen the verbal action (cf the Hebrew Infinitive Absolute in similar use: van der Merwe, Naudé & Kroeze, A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar, 20.2). As a rule the Infinitive stands before the verb which it intensifies; e.g. auw  6n.ou.fwte  ebol ‘And he will utterly destroy the Canaanite(s)(lit. In a destroying he will destroy ..., Josh 3:10).
§248. The Infinitive is used without the Article: (1) As the Subject of a Non-Verbal Sentence; e.g.  pe  ou.`ai  xwris  pe.qbbio  n.6ht ‘Salvation without humbleness of heart is not possible’ (lit. An impossibility it is, salvation without the humbleness of heart) (Z 301.b.2),  an  pe ‘Knowledge of the times and the seasons is not yours’ (lit. Not yours it is, knowing the times and seasons, Acts 1:7).
§249. (2) As a genitive after 4ou- ‘Worthy of’ (§60f). This rule also holds good in the case of many compound nouns and in Adjective equivalents (§60, 63, 88, 90, 101).
§250. (3) As the direct object in Compound Verbs (§177); e.g. 5.wp ‘To give account’, 5.2wnt To Provoke’.
§251. (4) After prepositions: (a)  e- ‘in order to’  (i) Expressing aim or purpose; e.g. a.3.`oou  n.ne3.6m6al  4a.n.oueeih  e.`i.n.ne3.karpos ‘He sent his servants to the husbandmen to take his fruits’ (Mt 21:34). It frequently follows the Greek 6wste (wste ‘so as to’); e.g. mp.r.6w6  6wste  e.r.ponhros ‘Do not be angry so as to commit wickedness’ (Ps 37:8). (ii) After verbs of wishing, allowing, ordering, promising, swearing, intending, being able; and after the impersonal verbs to be possible, to be befitting, and their negatives; e.g.  e.`oo.s ‘And do not think to say’ (Mt 3:9),  e.eia.rat  ene6 ‘I shall never allow thee to wash my foot’ (Jn 13:8), oun.2om  esw ‘Is it possible for you to drink?’ (Mt 20:22), 4-4e  de  ero.n  e.ra4e ‘It is befitting for us to rejoice’ (Lk 15:32), 6n.ou.ana4  a.n.wrk  n.nen.erhu  6wtb  m.paulos ‘By an oath we have sworn among our fellows not to taste anything until we have killed Paul’ (Acts 23:14).
§252. (b)  n-  with object verb of willing, desiring, beginning, anticipating, understanding, loving, fearing, and after mp4a ‘To be worthy’; e.g. a.i.epiqumei  n.ouwm ‘I have desired to eat’ (Lk 22:15),  n.a6.erat.ou  6n  n.sunagwgh ‘They love to stand in the synagogues’ (Mt 6:5),  n.3i  6a  pe3.tooue ‘I am not worthy to bear his shoe’ (Mt 3:11).
§252a. (c)  nsa-  Subsequently, consequently’; e.g. a.3.4ine  nsa.swtm  e.p.4a`e ‘He sought to hear the Logos’ (Acts 13:7).
§253. The Potential Infinitive. The Construct form  e4- or 4- ‘To be able’  can stand before another Infinitive to express potentiality; e.g. 6ws  de  6a.tes.6aibes ‘So as they are able to dwell under its shadow’ (Mk 4:32). Often it is used with reference to Future time; e.g. te3.genea  nim ‘As for his generation, who will be able to show it?’ (Acts 8:33). It is very common before the compound verb  2m.2om ‘To be powerful’ ; e.g. mpe.laau  e.4.2m.2om  e.ouo4be.n.ou.4a`e ‘No one was able to answer him a word’ (Mt 22:46), mp.ou.e4.2m.2om  e.pisteue ‘They were not able to believe’ (Jn 12:39). In the form  4.2om   it is used as an undefined Substantive after the Impersonal verbs oun- and (m)mn-; e.g. oun.4.2om  mmo.i  ebwl  ebol  m.p.noute ‘It is possible for me to overthrow the temple of God’ (Mt 26:61), mmn.4.2om  etre.3.4wpe  na.m.maqhths ‘It is not possible to cause him to become a disciple to me’ (Lk 14:27).
§254. The Causative Infinitive. Like the Simple Infinitive, the Causative Infinitive can be used as a substantive; e.g. eis  gar  kata  p.noute  a.3.r.6wb  nhtn  e.u.no2  n.spoudh ‘For lo, this causing you to grieve in respect of God has produced for you a great earnestness’ (II-Cor 7:11).
§255. It can be preceded by one of the auxiliaries; e.g. a.3.tra.ouw6  n.ouotouot ‘He caused me to dwell in a green place’ (Ps 23:2),  e.u.telhl  mn  ou.ouno3 ‘Thou wilt cause me to hear joy and gladness’ (Ps 50:8).
§256. Preceded by a Preposition: (a) e- precedes the Causative Infinitive, especially when the main verb is one of expressing a wish, a command, a decision, a prohibition, a petition or the like; e.g.  pai  an  e.tre.3.r.rro  e`w.n ‘We do not wish that this man should reign over us’ (lit. We do not wish this [one] to cause him to reign over us, Lk 19:14), a.3.oue6  sa6ne  de  na.u`.ou  thr.ou ‘He commanded them that they should all recline’ (Mk 6:39), a.u.arxei  de  etre.3  p.wwne  ebol  6n.neu.to4 ‘They began to beseech him to cause him to remove out of their boundaries’ (Mk 5:17). Thus preceded by e-, the Causative Infinite is very common following an Impersonal Verb; e.g. 6aps  etre.6hlias  ei ‘It is necessary for Elijah to come’ (Mt 17:10), a.s.4wpe  e.tre.3.lo  6m.p.4wne ‘It happened for him to recover from the sickness’ (Z 288.a.12), mmn.4.2om  gar  `in  tenou  e.tre.koikonomei ‘For it is not possible from now on for thee to be steward’ (Lk 16:2).
§257. (b)  mnnsa   precedes the Causative Infinitive to form the Temporal clause meaning  ‘after’ ; e.g. mnnsa.tre.3.mou  n2i  mwushs ‘After the death of Moses’ (lit. After he died, namely Moses, Josh 1:1), mnnsa.tre.3.4a`e  nmma.u ‘After he spoke with them’ (Mk 16:19; cf §389).
§258. (c)  6n   precedes the Causative Infinitive, which takes the Definite Article p-, to form Temporal Clauses with the meaning  ‘when, while, as’  (always contemporaneous time). It should be noted that the Article shows the form p-, and not pe- as would normally be expected before the double consonants tre-; e.g. a.s.4wpe  de  6m.p.tre.3.bwk  e.6oun  e.p.hi ‘It happened when he was going into the house’ (Lk 14:1), 6m.p.tre.p.rwme  na`.3  mauaa.n.na6.rm.p.noute ‘When the man casts himself before God’ (Z 332.d.1; cf §392).
§259. The Passive. A separate formation for the Passive does not exist in Coptic. As has been noted (§139), the Infinitives of many verbs may express either an Active or a Passive sense. In order to express the Passive, Coptic has to resort to circumlocution by employing the 3rd pers plural suffix with the active tense. Thus to express ‘he was killed’, Coptic has to say ‘They killed him’; e.g. is  de  nte.r.ou  `po.3  6rai  6n.bhqleem ‘When Jesus had been born in Bethlehem’ (lit. Jesus, when they had brought him forth in Bethlehem) (Mt 2:1), a.u.`oo.s ‘It was said’ (lit. They said it). The agent is introduced by the preposition:  6itn-, 6itoot=  (or ebol  6itn-, ebol  6itoot=); e.g. ou.rwme  e.a.u.tnnoou.3  ebol  6itm.p.noute ‘A man who had been sent by God’ (Jn 1:6), a.u.swbe  mmo.3  ebol  6itn.m.magos ‘He was mocked by the Magi’ (Mt 2:16). Note: Compound verbs which are formed by means of `i- ‘receive’ and a following infinitive or noun (§177) are passive; e.g. 6m.p.tre.p.laos  thr.3  `i  baptisma ‘When all the people were being baptized’ (Lk 3:21),`i.smou  n2i m.patria  thr.ou  m.p.ka6 ‘They will be blessed, namely all the families of the earth’ (Acts 3:25).