Chapter IV. The Article

§80. The Definite Article

Singular masc

p-, pe-


n--, ne-

Singular fem

t-, te-

In old texts the forms  pi-,  5-,  ni-  are found.

Note: In the New Testament ni.ene6 (for n.ene6) ‘Forever’ and 5.rhnh (for t.eirhnh) ‘The peace’.
§81. The article stands immediately before its substantive. When this begins with a vowel or a single consonant, the forms  p-, t-, n-  are used; e.g. p.hrp ‘The wine’, p.son ‘The brother’, t.swne ‘The sister’, n.rwme ‘The men’. Note: Occasionally before 6, p- and t- become f- and q- (§3); e.g. f.wb (p.6wb) ‘The work’, q.e (t.6e) ‘The manner’. Note: Sometimes when the plural article appears before a vowel, it loses its sonant function; e.g. n.asebhs ‘The evil doers’, but n.asebhs  also occurs.
§82.   pe-, te-, ne-  are used: (a) when the substantive begins with a double consonant or a consonant followed by a semi-consonant; e.g. pe.xristos ‘The Christ’, pe.smot ‘The form’, te.s6ime ‘The woman’, ne.6bhue ‘The works’, pe.souo ‘The corn’, te.6ih ‘The way’. Note: When the first letter of a double consonant is ou, the form of the article is determined by the original formation of  the word; thus p.oumot ‘The thickness’, p.ourot ‘The rejoicing’. But with other words the article coalesces with ou; e.g. p.eu6or ‘The dog’, t.eu4h ‘The night’ (§16). (b) When the substantive begins with a double consonant, the first of which is functioning as a sonant; e.g. rpe ‘Temple’ pe.rpe ‘The temple’.
§83. (c) When the substantive is a word denoting time; e.g. pe.6oou ‘The day’, te.rompe ‘The year’.
§84. The Vocative is expressed by means of the Definite Article; e.g. p.eiwt ‘Oh father’, ne.`po ‘Oh generations of vipers’.
§85. The Indefinite Article


Sing masc and fem

‘A, An’

ou- (construct of oua ‘one’)

Pl masc and fem


6en- (construct of 6oeine ‘some’)


E.g. ou.rwme ‘A man’, ou.s6ime ‘A woman’, 6en.rwme ‘Some men’. Note: With verbal prefix a- and verbal and prepositional prefix e-, contraction with the article is usual; e.g. au.son  bwk (for a.ouson  bwk) ‘A brother went’, 3.swtm  e.u.4a`e (for 3.swtm  e.ou.4a`e) ‘He hears a word’. Note: In carelessly written MSS 6n- often appears for 6en-.
§86. Uses of the Indefinite Article. With Abstract Nouns; e.g. ou.ra4e ‘Joy’, ‘Truth’. With the preposition 6n- ‘In’, it is frequently used to form adverbs (§246); e.g. ‘Truly’ (lit. In a truth), 6n.ou.mnt.rm.mao ‘Richly’ (lit. In a wealth, C296a).
§87. With nouns indicating substance or material; e.g. ou.noub  mn  ou.libanos  mn.ou.4al ‘gold and frankincense and myrrh’ (Mt 2:11). For use with the Infinitive, see §245.
§88. Omission of the Article occurs: (1) In Compound words: (a) When a Compound Noun is formed by placing two nouns together, the second noun does not take the article; e.g. 4br.6m6al ‘Fellow servant’, ma.m.pwt ‘Place of refuge’ (§60). Likewise in Compounds in which the second noun is preceded by a preposition; e.g. p.baampe  6a.nobe ‘The scapegoat’ (lit. The goat with sin).
§89. (b) When a Compound Noun is formed by placing a verbal form before a noun, the noun is without the Article; e.g. se.hrp ‘Wine-drinker’, p.sek.moou ‘The water-drawer’, ou.6al2.6ht ‘A mild person’ (lit. One who is sweet of heart).
§90. (c) When a Compound Verb is formed by placing a verbal form either directly before a noun, or by linking the two forms indirectly by means of a preposition, the noun does not take the article; e.g. Directly: r.6ik ‘To bewitch’ (lit. To make magic), 5.pa6re ‘To heal’ (lit. To give drugs); Indirectly: 6moos  mn  6ai ‘To be married’ (lit. To sit with a husband), ei ebol 6n  swma ‘To die’ (lit. To come out of body). For a list of verbs used in forming compounds, see §177.
§91. (2) In enumerating nouns, especially when the items are connected by 6i, eie, eite, oude; e.g. noub  6i  6at ‘Gold and silver’, eite  6oout  eite  s6ime  eite  no2  eite  koui ‘Both man and woman, both great and small’.
§92. (3) In negative sentences and questions expecting a negative answer; e.g. mn  sboui  `ose  e.pe3.sa6 ‘There is no disciple higher than his teacher’ (Lk 6:40), mhti  4a.u.`eele  eloole  ebol  6n.4onte  h  4a.u.ket.3  knte  ebol  6n.arooue ‘Are they wont to gather grapes from thorns, or are they wont to pluck figs from thistles?’ (Mt 7:16).
§93. (4) In precise adverbial phrases, mostly with preceding preposition; e.g. n.rou6e ‘At evening’, n.4wrp ‘At morning’, n.kro3 Guilefully’, e.6oun ‘Inwardly’. Note: Without preceding preposition:  sop  ‘Sometimes’.
§94. (5) With the nouns which can take suffixes (§38). Definition in such cases is implied by the suffix, which is in accord with the following word; e.g. koun.3  n.abra6am ‘The bosom of Abraham’ (lit. His bosom of Abraham), rw.ou  n.n.asebhs ‘The mouth of the evildoers’ (lit. Their mouth of the evildoers).
§95. Note: The Greek words qalassa ‘Sea’ and qhbais ‘Thebes’ were frequently treated as if they were contracted forms for t.6alassa and t.6hbais, and the initial t was mistaken for the fem Definite Article. Hence the form n.6alassa ‘The seas’. However, the correct forms te.qalassa and ne.qalassa do occur. Likewise rro ‘King’ is really prro (old pr3, the Pharaoh of the Bible); the initial p was mistaken for the masc Definite Article; hence a plural form ne.rrwou ‘The kings’ (§66).
§96. Apposition. The word in apposition follows the noun which it enlarges, and always takes the Definite Article; e.g. hsaias  pe.profhths ‘Isaiah the Prophet’, petros p.rwme  m.p.noute ‘Peter, the man of God’. Note: Where the word in apposition is a Proper Name, it is introduced by the particle `e- ‘namely’; e.g. oua  `e  apa  paulos ‘One (namely) Apa Paulos’.
§97. The Genitive. The oldest construction of the genitive was formed by placing the noun of possession in the Construct Form, before the noun of the possessor in the Absolute Form. This construction had almost disappeared in Coptic. The few remaining examples of this construction are the Compound Nouns (§59 ff).
§98. The usual construction is by linking the noun indicating the possession to the noun indicating the possessor by means of the particle  n ; e.g. t.2i`  n.ou.rwme ‘The hand of a man, t.mnt.ero  n.m.phue ‘The kingdom of the heavens’, p.4hre  m.p.noute ‘The Son of God’. This construction is also widely used in the formation of phrases equivalent to adjectives (§101).
§99. In the place of n, the particle  nte-  is used: (1) When the noun indicating the possession has the Indefinite Article; e.g. ou.mhh4e  nte.t.polis ‘A multitude of the city’, ou.pneuma  nte.p.noute ‘A Spirit of God’. Note: The particle  nta=  can take suffixes; e.g. ou.son  nta.3 ‘A brother of his’, ou.swne  nte.thutn ‘A sister of yours’. Note: When the genitival construction is used as an equivalent for an adjective, especially when describing substance, material or type, even though the noun indicating the possession has the Definite Article, the particle  n   is used; e.g. ou.mappa  n.4n-s ‘A cloth of linen’, ou.maniakhs  n.6at ‘A necklace of silver’, ou.4hre  n.ouwt ‘An only son’. (2)  nte   is used as the genitive between two Proper Names; e.g. bhqleem  nte  5.oudaia ‘Bethlehem of Judaea’.
§100. (3)  nte  is used when the noun indicating the possession is qualified by an adjective or a phrase equivalent to an adjective; e.g. si4e  nim  nte  p.ponhros ‘All the bitterness of depravity’, ou.4hre  n.ouwt  nte  te3.maau ‘An only son of his mother’, p.ran  m.p.4r.n.ouwt  n.te p.noute ‘The name of the only Son of God’. Note: After the adjective thr ‘All’, the genitive is as a rule n; e.g. m.mnt.erw.ou  thr.ou  m.p.kosmos ‘All the kingdoms of the world’.
§101. The Adjective. There are few true adjectives. This is due to the fact that the old form of the language was rich in adjective-verbs, as well as the fact that even transitive verbs could express the idea of a condition arising as a result of an action performed, by means of the old Perfective Form of the verb—in Coptic preserved in the Qualitative (§141). Generally speaking the adjective is expressed in Coptic by means of a relative clause or by substantives linked together by the genitival  n, less frequently the noun and its qualifying substantive are in direct apposition; e.g. 6wb  nim ‘Everything’ (noun + true adjective), p.ran  et.ouaab ‘The name which (is) holy’ (noun + relative clause), ksour  n.noub ‘Ring of gold’ (noun-n--noun).
§102. True adjectives are mostly invariable in number and gender; e.g. alau ‘White’, as or  apas ‘Old’, bwwn ‘Evil’, brre ‘New, young’, koui ‘Little’, nim ‘Every’, nou` ‘Lying’, no2 ‘Great’, ouwt ‘Single’, 4hm ‘Little’, 6ak ‘Sober’, 6a6 ‘Many’, 6oout ‘Male’.
§103. However, adjectives ending in generally form the fem in h; e.g. sabe (masc) sabh (fem) ‘Wise’, 6ae (masc) 6ah (fem) ‘Last’. Note: 4ire (masc) 4eere (fem) ‘Small’, o (masc) (fem) ‘Great’.
§104. Position of the adjective in relation to its noun. At first sight the syntax of the true adjective seems confusing and illogical. But if it is borne in mind that even the few true adjectives were felt to be in the nature of substantives, the apparent confusion is accounted for.
§105. The adjective is placed immediately after the noun it qualifies, which is in the Absolute Form; e.g. 6wb  nim ‘Everything’, rwme  nim ‘All men’. This is always the usage with nim ‘Every. It is a usage much less frequent with other adjectives. Examples which may be quoted are: 4hre  4hm ‘Little son’ (fem 4eere  4hm), ou.6oou  ouwt ‘A single day’.
§106. But note that the noun appears in its Construct Form when it precedes one of the following Adjectives: o ‘Great’, 4ire ‘Little’, nou3e ‘Good’, bwwn ‘Evil’, 6oout ‘Male’; e.g. eier  o ‘River’ (lit. Great canal), rmp  4ire ‘Famine’ (lit. Year of little), s5  bwwn ‘Evil smell’, 4r  6oout ‘Male child’.
§107. The adjective follows its noun but is linked to it by  n. This is the most usual construction; e.g. pe3.4hre  n.ouwt ‘His only son’, ne.profhths  n.nou` ‘The lying prophets’. In point of fact the adjective is treated as if it were a noun, and as such follows the normal construction used to form adjective equivalents, i.e. noun-n-noun; e.g. 4a`e  n.4lo3 ‘Shameful saying’ (lit. Saying of shame), bw  n.`oeit ‘Olive tree’ (lit. Tree of olive).
§108. But Note: The adjective can also stand before its noun. This is especially common in the case of no2  and 6a6; e.g. ou.no2  dipnon ‘A great supper’, 6a6  n.6ise ‘Much suffering’, pe3.merit  n.son ‘His beloved brother’, ou.4hm  n.ne6 ‘A little oil’.
§109. Concord. Where masc and fem forms of the adjective exist, they agree in gender with their noun; e.g. p.rwme  n-.sabe ‘The wise man’, t.4eere  n.sabh ‘The wise daughter’. Note: Greek adjectives follow their noun and usually show the masc for persons, and neuter form for things; e.g., ou.rwme  n.dikaios ‘A righteous man’, ne.yuxooue  n.teleion ‘The perfect souls’.
§110. The three adjectives  thr=  ‘All’,  ouaa=  ‘Alone, self’,  mauaa=  ‘Alone, own’, follow their noun and take suffixes in accord; e.g. p.kosmos  thr.3 ‘All the world’, ntwtn ‘You all’, nto.k  ouaa.k ‘Thou alone’, pe3.ou`ai  mauaa.3 ‘His own salvation’.
§111.  ke-  ‘Other’ is a construct form which stands before its noun; e.g. ke.rwme ‘Another man’, ke.6wb ‘Another thing’. But note the plural  Others e.g. ‘Other men’, ‘Other things’. Note: The use of ke  in the adverbial phrase  ‘Again’ (lit. In another time) (§283).
§112. ke  combines with oua  and laau  to form the substantive ‘Another’:  ke.oua, ke.laau . This form can take the Definite Article or the Demonstrative Pronoun; e.g.  ‘The other’, ‘This other’. It can also be linked to a following noun by the particle n; e.g.  n.rwme ‘The other man’,  n.rompe ‘The other year’.
§113. When ke stands directly before a noun and is itself preceded by the Definite Article or Possessive Article, it conveys the meaning  ‘Also’ ; e.g. ‘The man also’, ‘The year also’, ‘My father also’. Note:  ke is rarely used in the absolute form as a substantive; e.g. or ‘This other’, though a plural form kooue  is fairly commonly used; e.g. 6en.kooue ‘Others’, n.kooue ‘The others’, nei.kooue ‘These others’.
§114. Comparison. Special forms of the adjective to express the comparative or superlative do not exist in Coptic. The comparative is expressed by means of the preposition  e- or ero=  (§261); e.g. peto  n.no2  e.p.rpe ‘One who (is) greater than the temple’ (Mt 12:6), 3.`oor  ero.i ‘He (is) stronger than I’.
§115. The Superlative is sometimes expressed by the use of the adverb  e.mate or  m.mate  ‘Very, much’ placed after the adjective; e.g. ou.toou  e.3.`ose  e.mate ‘A very high mountain’ (lit. A mountain which (is) very high). But frequently the context alone can decide whether or not a superlative meaning is implied; cf Mt 18:1 where the Coptic p.no2  6n.t.mnt.ero  n.m.phue ‘The great one in the kingdom of the heavens’ represents the Greek meizwn ... en th basileia twn ouranwn.