Learn Hieroglyphs

I. Verb structure and class

1) Verb Structure

Ancient Egyptian verbs are structurally classified into two classes, as is the case in the Arabic language.
  • Strong verbs: are those which contain no vowels such as  sDm ‘to hear’.
  • Weak verbs: are those which contain one or two weak signs,  i or  w as in verbs  pri ‘to go out’,   sAw ‘to protect’ or ‘to guard’.

2) Verb Classes

   The following are the basic verb classes according to number and nature of the radical consonants.

a)  Strong verbs

1. Biliteral verbs:  Dd  ‘to say’.
2. Trilateral verbs:  sDm ‘to hear’.
3. Quadrilateral verbs:  iAkb ‘to mourn’.
4. Quinquiliteral verbs:  nhmhm ‘to rent’.

b) Weak verbs

1. These are verbs where the second consonant is weak i or w, ex.  si ‘to walk’.
2. Trilateral verbs of which the third and last consonant is weak, ex.  msi ‘to give brith’.
3. Quadrilateral verbs in which the fourth consonant is weak, ex.  Hmsi ‘to set down’.
4. Quinquiliteral verbs in which the fifth consonant is weak, ex. Haawt. These, however, might be considered as infinitives or probably nouns.
1. There is only one verb in the Egyptian language that is made of one consonant  i ‘to say’ and is written with various forms.
2. The stem or root of the verbs in the Egyptian language consists of three consonants as is the case in Semitic languages.
3. Verbs with four consonants are usually made through the reduplication of bilateral verbs  nDnD ‘to consult’, in addition to normal four consonant signs.
4. Verbs including five consonants are usually through reduplication, such as nhmhm.
5. Verbs of six consonants are usually made through the reduplication of three consonant verbs, such as nDmnDm.

 c) Geminating

    The verb stem ends in a double consonant, without consideration to the verb structure or class.

 d)  Bi-consonant verb

Trilateral verbs in which the second and third consonants are identical (secundae geminate verbs).
1)   qbb ‘to be cool’.
2) Bilateral weak verb  ii ‘to come’.
3) Triconsonant verb where the third and fourth consonants are identical    pHrr ‘to run’.
4) Verbs with third and fourth weak consonant are identical   pry ‘to go out’.

e)  Causative verbs

The consonant  s when prefixed to a verb-stem, gives it a causative meaning, whether the verbs are strong or weak.
Classification of causative verbs according to number and nature of radical consonant:

1) Verbs made of one radical consonant.

2) Verbs made of two radical consonants.
    a)    smn ‘to establish’ from mn ‘remain’.
    b)  Verbs in which the second consonant is weak.
    c)  Bilateral verb in gemination.
3)  Verbs made of three consonants:
    a) Verbs with three radical consonants   sanX ‘make to live’ 'nourish' from anx ‘to live’.
    b) Verbs with a weak third consonant  smsy ‘cause to give birth, deliver from msi ‘bear’.
    c) Geminated three radical consonant verbs   sqbb ‘to make cool’ from qbb ‘to be cool’.
4) Verbs made of four consonants.
    a) Four radical consonant verbs.
    b) Verbs with a weak fourth consonant   smAwi ‘to make new’ from mAw ‘to be new’.   
    c) Geminated verbs  sbAkk = ‘to give advice or to advise’.
5) Verbs made of five radical consonants  snfXfX ‘to unite’.
    a) Verbs made of five consonants in which the fifth consonant is weak.
    b) Verbs made of five consonants in which the fourth and fifth consonants are identical.
6) Verbs made of six consonants.
    a) Strong.
    b) Weak.
    c) Geminated.
Note: The verb sDm is used as a paradigm for Egyptian verb forms.