Chapter VI. The Verb

§137. Coptic possesses two fundamental forms of the verb: Infinitive and Qualitative. With the help of the auxiliaries, all the necessary tenses of the verb can be formed from the Infinitive. The Qualitative is restricted in use to a few tenses only (§145). The Infinitive may be said to express a verbal action, which in Transitive Verbs passes to an object and in Intransitive Verbs affects the subject initiating the action. The Qualitative may be said to express the condition or state resulting from a verbal action.
§138. The Infinitive. In point of fact the Infinitive is a verbal noun and may show either a masculine or a feminine form, though syntactically it is always treated as a masculine substantive. As a general rule the masculine form ends in a consonant and favors an sound for its formative vowel; e.g. bwl ‘To loose’, mou6 (for mw6, cf §14) ‘To fill’, swtm ‘To hear’. Feminine forms end in e, and favor a or i as the formative vowel; e.g. mise ‘To give birth to’, ra4e ‘To rejoice’. But some infinitives ending in e are really masculine, their original final radical having fallen away; e.g. 4wpe ‘To become’ from original *hoprrw6e ‘To wash’ from original *roht.
§139. Meaning. The Infinitive can express either an active or a passive sense (§259); e.g. ouwn ‘To open’ or ‘To be opened’, tako ‘To destroy’ or ‘To be destroyed’, ta`ro ‘To make strong’ or ‘To be strengthened’. With Intransitive verbs the Infinitive expresses an action without a direct object, e.g. 6wn ‘To come near’; or it denotes the beginning of a condition or circumstance, e.g. 56e ‘To become drunken’.
§140. Forms. The Infinitive may have Absolute, Construct and Pronominal forms (§25); e.g. bwl,  bel-,  bol= ‘To loose’; solsl,  slsl-,  slswl= ‘To comfort’; thus:


‘He comforted’, or ‘He was comforted’


‘He comforted our brother’


‘He comforted her’


(for use of suffixes with the Pronominal form, cf §39-44)

Note: Not all verbs show the three forms; many possess only the Absolute form. This is particularly the case with the Intransitive verbs; e.g. rime ‘To weep’, mike ‘To rest’, brbr ‘To boil’, etc.
§141. The Qualitative. The Qualitative originated from the Perfective form in Old Egyptian. In most verbs it has no special ending, being derived from the 3 masc sing of the Old Perfective that ended originally in the weak semi-consonant w, which was lost at an early period (in hieroglyphic texts it is more often omitted than written). Occasionally, however, the ending is attached to the stem; e.g. smont Qualitative of smine ‘To establish’, `raeit (also `oor) Qual of `ro ‘To become strong’, tntont  (also tntwn) Qual of tontn ‘To become like’. This ending, which is more often found in Bohairic, originated from the 3 fem sing of the Old Perfective -ti. Note: Not all verbs have a Qualitative form; e.g. `nou ‘To ask’, `w ‘To say’, 4ipe ‘To be ashamed’, mou6 ‘To look’, etc. It would appear that many verbs which have no Qual had also lost the power to form Construct and Pronominal forms.
§142. A few verbs have lost all their forms with the exception of the Qualitative, which is then used as an Infinitive; e.g. a6e ‘To stand’, bost ‘To be dry’, kiwou ‘To be fat’, sht ‘To be fat’, s2ra6t ‘To rest’, 4oueit ‘To be empty’, 6loulwou ‘To be high’, 6moos ‘To sit’, 6oou ‘To be putrid or wicked’, `oor(e) ‘To be strong’.
§143. MeaningIn contrast to the Infinitive, the Qualitative indicates the result of a verbal action, the effect or state produced by an action, the quality which it finally produces. In contrast to the Infinitive of Intransitive verbs, it suggests the permanent character of the verbal action effected. It might almost be said to suggest a neuter sense; e.g. tamio ‘To make’, Qual tamihu ‘To be created’, kmom ‘To become black’, Qual khm ‘To be black’.
§144. Note:  nhu , which is employed as the Qual of ei ‘To come’, is commonly used to express a future sense ‘To be in the act of coming’; e.g. 3.nhu  gar  ebol  n.6ht.n2i  ou.6hgoumenos ‘For a prince will come out of thee’ (lit. He is in the act of coming out of thee, namely a prince) (Mt 2:6).
§145.  As the Qualitative expresses the meaning of state or quality, it can with the relative particle supply the deficiency of adjectives in Coptic; e.g. nei.tafos  et.`h6 ‘These white-washed tombs’ (lit. These tombs which are smeared/whitened), p.pna  et.ouaab ‘The Holy Spirit’ (lit. The Spirit who [is] holy). In verbal sentences the Qual can only be used with the auxiliaries of I and II Present and Imperfect (§187.1). Note: In Crum's Coptic Dictionary, Qualitative forms are indicated by means of the dagger (). In this grammar the abbreviation Qual or Q is adopted to avoid confusion with the letter 5.