Learn Hieroglyphs

The Passive Voice

 The ancient Egyptian language has two voices:

  • Active voice

 Where a verb is followed by its subject.
iw ip HkA iwAw.i
The governor counted my cattle.
  • Passive voice

These are verbal sentences where the subject is omitted and is replaced by an agent. The object is used in Egyptian as a passive ending. It follows any determinative that the verb stem may have, and is in all cases inseparable from the verb stem. There are three passive forms:

 I. The particle  .tw 

A) A present tense in both active and passive voice.
  • Active
Dd sS sxr pn
The scribe says this plan
  • Passive
Dd.tw sxr pn
This plan is said.
B) Active and passive sDm.n.f.
The passive in.tw is not very common, since the passive sDm.f form corresponds to active sDm.n.f in various uses.
It is common to find sDm.n.tw but here .tw serves as an impersonal subject mis.n.tw ‘one called’.
sDm.n.tw r pn
This spell was heard.
  • The agent is the grammatical term of a particular subject which is expressed in the external form of an indirect object. The agent follows the passive.
Dd.tw sxr pn in sS
This plan is said by the scribe.

II. Doubling of the last letter in the verb

The most common form is the passive sDmm.f form which is frequently used in pyramid texts and religious texts from the Middle Kingdom.
n nHmm tp.f im.f
His head is not taken away from him.

 III. Adding w  to the origin of the verb

The sDmw.f form (passive) later appears as a sDm.f form
rdi(w).n.i tp 10 m fqA
Ten heads (of slaves) were given to me as a reward.
Occasionally, the w passive ending is replaced by y particularly with weak verbs.
msy.i m Hat sp 1 n sA Ra Imn m HAt
I was born in the first year (of the reign) of the son of Re Imn-m-@At.