Chapter XVI. Adverbial Clauses

§369. I. Final Clauses. Final clauses can be expressed in their simplest form by means of the Infinitive (§251) or the Causative Infinitive (§256) placed after the main verb, both forms being prefaced by the preposition  e-; e.g. a.3.twoun  e.w4 ‘He rose in order to read’ (Lk 4:16), a.u.moo4e  6n.te.6ih  etre.u.kto.ou  e6rai  e.p.ka6  n.iouda ‘They proceeded in the way in order that they should return to the land of Judah’ (Ruth 1:7).
§370. The Clause can be introduced by the conjunction  `e  or its compound  `eka(a)s , followed by the III Future, less frequently by the II Future (§199a)e.g. a.u.sepswp.3  `ekas  e.3.e.tal  e.toot.3  e`w.3 ‘They besought him that he should place his hand on him’ (Mk 7:32),  twn  `e  e.r.e.nai  na.ouwm ‘Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?’ (Jn 6:5), a.3.6wn  de  e.toot.ou  `ekas  nne.u.`oo.s  e.laau ‘He ordered them that they should not say it to anyone’ (Mk 7:36).
§371. The Greek conjunctions 6wste,  mhpws,  mhpote, usually followed by the Conjunctive, can be used to introduce a Final Clause (§229).
§372. The Conjunctive without introductory conjunction, to express purpose (§226c).
§373. II. Causal Clauses. Causal clauses are introduced by the conjunction  `e , or its compounds  ebol.`e  and  etbe.`e  (for ebol  an  `e, §396.1.a); e.g. 5.4p.6mot  n.toot.k  `e  5.o  an  n.n.rwme ‘I thank Thee because I am not like the rest of men’ (Lk 18:11), kte.thutn  na.4eere  n.tetn.bwk  `e  a.i.r.6llw ‘Return, my daughters, and go, because I have become an old woman’ (Ruth 1:12), ebol.`e  ne.t.paraskeuh  te ‘Because it was the Day of Preparation’ (Jn 19:31), pe`a.u  na.3  `e  etbe.`e  mpe.laau (t.6no.n) ‘They said to him: Because no one has hired us’ (Mt 20:7). Sometimes appear the Greek conjunctions epei,  ep(e)idh; e.g. epeidh  gar  nta.p.mou  4wpe  ebol  6itn  ou.rwme ‘For because through man death has come into being’ (I-Cor 15:21).
§374. III. Conditional Clauses Conditional clauses can be divided into two main groups: Real Conditions, and Irreal Conditions. The former group must be further divided into Open Conditions and Prospective Conditions.
§375. A. Real Conditional Clauses (1) Open. Conditions in which nothing is implied as to the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of the supposition. The protasis is introduced by  e4`e  (represents Greek ei), and is followed by the Auxiliary of the Present, the Perfect, and less frequently the Future; e.g. e4`e  pek.bal  de  n.ounam  skandalize  mmo.k  pork.3`.3  n.bol  mmo.k ‘If thy right eye is offending thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee’ (Mt 5:29), e4`e  a.u.moute  e.p.`oeis  `e  beelzeboul  posw  mallon  ne3.rm.n.hi ‘If they have called the Lord: Beelzebul, how much more his domestics?’ (Mt 10:25), e4`e  mp.i.4.2m.2om  e.twoun  6a.p.no2ne2  n.ta.maau ‘If I have not been able to bear the reproach of my mother’ (Z 289.a.6).
§376. Often the Apodosis is introduced by the particle  eie (eeie) ‘then’ ; e.g. e4`e  anok  de`.daimonion  ebol  6n.p.pna  m.p.noute  eie  a.s.pw6  e.6rai  e`  n2i  t.mnt.ero  m.p.noute ‘If I by the Spirit of God am casting out devils, then the Kingdom of Heaven has come upon you’ (Mt 12:28), e4`e`.n  ebol  eie  ma.`oou.n  e6oun  e.ta.gelh ‘If thou wilt cast us out, then send us into the herd of swine’ (Mt 8:31).
§377. (2) Prospective: Conditions in which the fulfillment of the supposition contained in the protasis is regarded as being reasonably likely. The Protasis in introduced by the auxiliary of the II Present followed by the particle  4an- and the verbal form  er4an- (represents the Greek ean). It is to be noted that the form e.r.e.4an-, which would normally be expected before the Nominal Subject or with the 2 fem sing pronoun (§199a), is only found in archaic texts; e.g.  de  baabe  n.ou ‘If the salt shall become insipid, with what shall they salt it?’ (Mt 5:13), er4an.`o6  m.mate  n.te3.4thn`a.i ‘If I shall touch only the fringe of his garment, I shall become whole’ (Mt 9:21).
§378. Negation of this form of the Prospective Conditional is effected by the particle  tm- placed before the Infinitive; e.g.  an ‘If we shall not eat, we shall not be in want’ (I-Cor 8:8). But as a general rule, the particle 4an- is omitted; e.g.  gar  ebol  n.n.rwme  n.neu.nobe ...  de  ebol ‘If you shall forgive men their sins,... if you shall not forgive’ (Mt 6:14-15).
§379. The prospective conditional may be introduced by  e4wpe , especially if the Protasis is Non-Verbal. When the Protasis contains a future supposition, e4wpe  is usually followed by er4an-; e.g. e4wpe  2e  pek.bal  ou.6aplous  pe ‘If thy eye is sound’ (Mt 6:22), e4wpe  p.hi  m.p.4a  mare.tetn.eirhnh  ei  e6rai  e`w.3 ‘If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it’ (Mt 10:12), e4wpe  de  e.tetn.4an.6e  ero.3  ma.tamo.i ‘If you shall find him, inform me’ (Mt 2:8). Note:  e4wpe  mmon  renders ‘otherwise’; e.g.`  mris  e.6wt  e4wpe  mmon  4a.u.pw6  n.2in.6wt ‘They are not wont to put new wine into old skins; otherwise the skins become rent’ (Mt 9:17; §63c).
§380. B. Irreal Conditional Clauses. When the supposition contained in the Protasis is clearly impossible of fulfillment, it is introduced by the verbal prefix  ene-. The Protasis may be Non-Verbal, or contain the Imperfect or II Perfect tenses. The Apodosis usually contains the Future Imperfect, less frequently the Imperfect. Note: The form of the Imperfect tense in the Protasis, owing to contraction, presents the curious appearance of a Present tense with the prefix ene-; e.g. ene.ou.profhths  pe  pai `e ou te ‘If this one were a prophet, he would perceive what she is’ (Lk 7:39), ene.tetn.pisteue  gar  e.mwushs  ero.i  pe ‘For if you were believing Moses, you would believe me’ (Jn 5:46), ene.nta.u.souwn.s  gar  an  pe  m.p.`oeis ‘For if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory’ (I-Cor 2:8).
§381. Sometimes the particle  e4`pe  introduces the Apodosis; e.g. ene.nta.n.2om  enta.u.4wpe  n.6ht.thutn  4wpe  6n  turos  mn  sidwn e4`pe  a.u.metanoei  6n.ou.2ooune  mn  ou.krmes ‘If the mighty works which have happened among you, had happened in Tyre and Sidon, then they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes’ (Mt 11:21).
§382.  Remarks on the Conditional Clause. As a general rule the Protasis precedes the Apodosis. The exceptions which occur are no doubt due to the desire to retain as far as possible the word order of Greek originals; e.g. mare.3.tou`o.3  e4`e  a.3.oua4.3 ‘Let him deliver him, if he has desired him’ (Ps 22:8).
§383. ‘Except, unless’ is rendered by the compound conjunction  n.sabhl  `e e.g. n.sabhl  `e  a.p.`oeis  bohqei  ero.i  para  ou.koui  a.ta.yuxh  ouw6  6n  amnte ‘Unless the Lord had helped me, in a little (time) my soul had dwelt in Sheol’ (Ps 94:17); or by means of the Greek eimh-ti followed by the conjunctive; e.g. mmn.4.2om  n.laau  e.ei  4aro.i  ei-mh-ti  e.nta.3.tauoi  swk  mmo.3 ‘It is not possible for anyone to come to me, except My Father who sent me draws him’ (Jn 6:44).
§384. The Conditional Clause sometimes renders a concessive meaning. In fact, the Concessive Clause is a variation of the Conditional, but with the difference that the supposition of the Protasis is regarded as conceded. In this sense Coptic occasionally uses  e4`e ; e.g. e4`e  p.noute  n.5.r.6ote  6ht.3  an ‘Although I do not fear God’ (Lk 18:4), e4`e  a.i.r.ke¹.lupei  6n.t.epistolh ‘Although I made you very¹ sorry by the letter’ (II-Cor 7:8; ¹Crum 84a). But as a rule Coptic employed the Greek conjunctions kan (kai ean) followed by er4an (And if, even if, if only’), kaiper (Since, although’), kaitoi (And yet, since’); e.g. kan  e.s.4an.4wpe  e.tra².mou  mmo.k  an Although it should happen for me to be put to death with thee, I shall not deny thee’ (Mt 26:35; ²§243.3), kaiper  e.nta.u.ei  ebol  6n.t.5pe  n.abra6am ‘Although they have come forth from the loins of Abraham’ (Heb 7:5).
§385. IV. Temporal Clauses. (a) Temporal clauses can be expressed by the Circumstantial tenses (§197, 212). In these clauses the time standpoint is determined by the tense of the verb in the main sentence. The clause can stand before or after the main sentence.
§386. (b) Temporal clauses with a specific reference to a point in time can be expressed in terms of Past (i.e. completed action), Contemporaneous, or Prospective Action. Such clauses, expressing themselves in a particular time standpoint, generally but not invariably (§388n) precede the main sentence.
§387. Past Temporal Clauses. 

The Past Temporal Auxiliary




1 com



2 masc


2 fem


3 masc



3 fem


nom subj


The auxiliary n-tere- is used to express action completed prior to the action of the verb of the main sentence; e.g. ntere.noemin  de  nau  `e  a.s.ta`ros  e.moo4e  nmma.s  a.s.lo  e.s.4a`e  nmma.s  e.pei.6wb ‘When Naomi had seen that she was determined to proceed with her, she ceased to speak to her concerning this matter’ (Ruth 1:18), nter.ou.ei  e6oun  e.bhqleem ... a.p.soit  swr  ebol ‘When they had entered Bethlehem ... the report spread’ (Ruth 1:19). Negation of the Past Temporal is effected by means of  tm-; e.g.  de  e.`it.3  na.3  e6oun ‘When they had not been able to take him in to him’ (Mk 2:4).
§388.  `in-  ‘from’, followed by the II Perfect, refers back to action completed in the past, and renders  ‘since’  (Note: `in.nta- contracts to `i.nta-); e.g. eis  aouhr  n.ou.oei4  `i.nta.pai  ta6o.3 ‘Lo, about how long since this had seized him?’ (Mk 9:21), p.me6.4omnn.6oou  pe  p.oou  `i.nta.nai  4wpe ‘It is the third day since these things have happened’ (Lk 24:21). Note: Clauses containing `i.nta- do not conform to the rule that the temporal clauses, other than those containing the Circumstantial tense, generally precede the main sentence.
§389. For  mnnsa+the Causative Infinitive  ‘After’, see §257. In contrast to the temporal clause introduced by the Past Temporal ntere- (§387) which, to some extent at least, stresses the fact that an action has been completed in the past mnnsa+the Causative Infinitive indicates the event itself which thus happened in the past. It might be described as a ‘dating Clause’; e.g. mnnsa t.re3.mou  n2i  mwushs ‘After the death of Moses’ (Josh 1:1).
§390. For  e.a-  and  e.m-p-  to express temporal clauses, cf §231.
§391. Contemporaneous Temporal Clauses. As noted in §197, the Circumstantial Tense is normally used to express contemporaneous action. Prefaced by  `in-, it expresses the meaning  ‘while yet’ ; e.g. pei.planos  a.3.`oo.s  `in.e.3.on6  `e  4omnn.6oou ‘This deceiver said, while he was yet alive, I shall rise after three days’ (Mt 27:63). The Greek conjunctions 6ws ‘as’, 6oson ‘as long as’, efoson ‘as long as, insofar as’, eti ‘yet, still’, can also precede the Circumstantial tense to render the meaning ‘while, as’. But it is to be noted that these conjunctions can stand before other auxiliaries and before the Non-Verbal sentence; e.g. 6oson  4oop  nmma.u ‘As long as the bridegroom is with them’ (Mk 2:19), 6oson  5.6m.p.kosmos ‘As long as I (am) in the world’ (Jn 9:5).
§392. For  6m.p.tre-  ‘When, while, as’, see §258. The syntactical function of this adverbial compound is similar to that of the Causative infinitive prefaced by, the essential difference being that the event referred to is contemporaneous with the action of the main sentence; e.g. 6m.p.tre.u.nkotk  de  n2i  n.rwme a.3.ei  n2i  pe3.`a`e ‘During (the time that) the men were sleeping, his enemy came’ (Mt 13:25).
§393. Prospective Temporal Clauses.  er4an-  (§377) introduces the Prospective Temporal Clause as well as the Prospective Conditional. Context alone must in many cases decide whether a temporal or a conditional meaning is implied. Sometimes the main sentence contains the Greek tote ‘then’, which decides the temporal nature of the preceding clause; e.g. er4an  pe.xs  ouwn6  ebol  ete.pen.wn6  pe  tote  6wt.thutn  ebol  nmma.3  6n.ou.eoou ‘When Christ who is our life will appear, then you will also appear with Him in glory’ (Col 3:4). The Greek conjunction 6otan ‘whenever’ can introduce temporal clauses with er4an-; e.g. 6otan  `ise  m.p.4hre  m.p.rwme  tote  `e  anok  pe ‘When you will be raising up the Son of Mankind, then you will perceive that I Am’ (Jn 8:28).
§394. The Circumstantial Tense (§188) can often express a temporal clause with reference to the future; e.g. e.tetn.ei  de  e.tetn.a.4lhl  nne¹.tn.4wpe  n.q.n.n.6upokriths ‘When you come, being about to pray, do not by any means become as the hypocrites’ (Mt 6:5; ¹III Fut Neg, §199a).
§395. The Tenses of Unfulfilled Action,  4ant-  and   mpat-  (§222), can be used in Prospective Temporal Clauses; e.g. mh  e.tetn.a2w  e.tetn.2w4t  6ht.ou  4ant.ou.r.no2 ‘Will you continue looking for them until they are grown up?’ (Ruth 1:13), e.mpate.ou.alektwr  moute  mmo.n.4omnt  n.sop ‘Before a cock has crowed thou wilt deny me three times’ (Mt 26:34).
§396. Negation. Coptic employs three methods of negation:

   (1) n- ... an
   (2) Negative Auxiliaries
   (3) tm--

 (1)  n ... an  These particles are used to negate:
(a) Single words and prepositional phrases; e.g. n.q.e  an  n.neu.grammateus ‘Not as their scribes’ (Mt 7:29), 6n.ou.tbbo  an ‘Not humbly’ (Phil 1:17), ebol  an  `e  pe3.roou4  pe  6a.n.6hke ‘Not because his concern is for the poor’ (Jn 12:6).
(b) Non-verbal sentences (§312).
(c) The Old Conjugation verbs (§182ff); e.g. n.nanou  petn.4ou4ou  an ‘Your boasting is not good’ (I-Cor 5:6).
(d) The Auxiliaries of I Present (§193), Imperfect (§196), Circumstantial (§198), I Future (§213), Future Imperfect (§215).
(e) The Second Tenses: Present (§193), Perfect (§203), Habitude (§207), Future (§213).
(f) In relative clauses (§354, 361).
Note 1: The first particle
n is frequently omitted (§193, 196, 203), also before Old Conjugation verbs (§182)Note 2: an is placed immediately after the word in the sentence which is to be negated.
§397. Examples of negation of the Qualitative are not common. As was the case in the older stages of the Egyptian language, so also in Coptic there is a marked hesitation to deny a state. Thus Coptic writes mp.s.mou ‘She has not died’ (Mk 5:39) rather than n.s.moout  an ‘She is not dead’. What is denied is the inception of action, rather than the state or condition resulting from an incepted action.
§398.  (2) The Negative Auxiliaries

I Perfect



I Habitude



III Future



Unfulfilled Action









§399.  (3) tm- is used to negate:
(a) The Infinitive, both Simple and Causative
(§244), and so is used to provide the negation of auxiliary forms which have sprung from prepositional phrases:
(b) The Prospective Conditional
er4an- (§378).
(c) The Past Temporal
ntere- (§387).
(d) The Conjunctive