Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction/The So-Called "Suffix Conjugation"

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During the studies of hieroglyphics in the 1800's many of the scholars attempted to coin the grammatical resemblance of Egyptian to other well-known languages in order to have a better understanding of the grammatical skeleton of Egyptian but Egyptian does not utilize verbs the way most Indo-European (and to an extent Afro-Asiatic) languages do instead they suffixed the same pronouns to any word no matter their function in a sentence. This ideology is the basis of what defines the Egyptologically termed suffix conjugation - Egyptian verbs which are conjugated using suffix pronouns (many scholars have thus adopted the term Pronoun Conjugation instead). For the purpose of the very interesting topic of suffix conjugation, I will mainly use verb forms as examples and we will delve into the renovated way Egyptian expressed tense and words of action. First we must learn the pronouns:


Undoubtedly the pronouns in Egyptian were born from an identical Afro-Asiatic stock and can be be reconstructed without much debate (though a vowel or two and gender distinction[1] may be disputed):

Suffix Pronouns[edit]

  • I have chosen to use an indiscriminate epenthetic vowel /a/, when in unstressed position it is pronounced like a schwa ə - go here for pronunciation rules of unstressed vowels) which is inserted between the word and the pronoun not including 2nd or 3rd person plurals. Unless the word/verb ended in another vowel due to remnants of case endings or participles, /a/ is used. In any case, this epenthetic vowel did not always appear to be stable in pronunciation and was probably enunciated variably according to how the speaker chose to speak- indirect evidence of this is shown in Coptic where the vowels |Ⲉ/Ⲏ, Ⲁ, ect..| are used => ϨⲢⲈⲔ/ϨⲢⲀⲔ - your face, ect.

Pronoun Egyptian
I i[2] / -y(a / i)[3] ϨⲢⲀⲒ / ϨⲢⲈⲈⲒ ~ (ḥr.j) ḥarúi = my face
In Proto-Semitic, the suffix pronoun of the 1st person singular, added
to a noun or preposition is -iy / -ī after a consonant or short vowel,
and -ya after a long vowel and after the originally short vowel -i of the genitive;
this cooresponds to the Egyptian suffixed pronoun -i[4]
You (masc)
You (fem)
-at(i) ~ -atMEg
ϨⲢⲈⲔ / ϨⲢⲀⲔ ~ ḥarúk your face
ϨⲢⲈ ~ ḥarúk, ḥarúki > ḥarúki > ḥarút > ḥarút > ḥarúʔ- your face
The vowel /i/, that causes palatalization, is usually absorbed in the palatal[5]
-af(u) < -hu
-as(i) ~ -as(a)
We -un(u) ϨⲢⲀⲚ, ḥarún - our face
You (pl masc)
You (pl fem)
They (masc)
They (fem)

Reconstruction of the dual by experts have been divided into two different main theories:

  • WORD + wa ~ i.e., -unwa (we dual)
  • WORD + a(j)[6] / +i(j) ~ i.e., -afa(j) / -afi(j) (he dual)
In Coptic, the dual exists as:
ⲠⲀϨOⲨ ~ ⲠⲀϨⲀⲨ - buttocks; back
Note the feminine forms: ⲤⲚⲦⲈ, ⲤⲚOⲨⲦⲈ, ⲤⲎⲚϮ, ⲤⲎⲚⲦⲒ - two (fem)
ⲤⲘⲀⲨ ~ ⲤⲘⲀⲀⲨ - eyelids; temples
In Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, the letters used for the masculine dual were; 𓅱𓏭, 𓏲𓏭 or 𓅱; feminine 𓏏𓏭, 𓏏 or sometimes 𓍘, 𓍘𓇋

In Semitic languages the dual is:

  • Arabic - baħr "sea" + -ayn "two"
  • Hebrew - (šana means "one year", šnatayim means "two years", and šanim means "years")[7]
  • Mehri - əkəy (1st person dual) ... the ending of the first person pronoun əkəy of the Mehri dual corresponds to the dual -ay morpheme of the oblique case. For the Proto-Semitic dual, we assume a suffix -kā with the ā of the subject case, like in the Arabic dual. In Arabic, this ending is added to the plural stems, exactly as it is in Old Egyptian where the suffixed dual pronouns are: -nj - of us two, tnj < -knj - of you two, -snj = -šnj - of them two.[8]

Dependent Pronouns[9][edit]

Pronoun Egytian
I yu(wa) / wu
You (masc)
You (fem)
ku(wa) ~ tuOEg ~ tu
kima ~ tin
súwa ~ su
síya ~ si ... sít(a) (neutral pronoun[10])
In Proto-Semitic, the distinction between masculine and feminine was indicated
by the morphemes -wa and -ya, which resulted in a masculine pronoun šú-wa
and a feminine pronoune ši-ya, with a vowel corresponding qualitatively
to the semivowels w and y, paralleled, for example, in Omotic:
-isā -him, his and - isī - her [11]
We nu
You (pl masc)
You (pl fem)
They (masc)
They (fem)
(as a pronoun)

Simulated Tense[edit]

In order to properly translate Egyptian into English (or any other language for that matter), it is necessary to learn how to put a sentence together using modern day grammar which does utilize time/tense versus it's Egyptian equivalent which does not utilize time/tense. Bare in mind the following examples use the participal or nominal vocalization who's definition imitates that of a modern day verbal tense.

Neutral Tense: The Nominal in Direct Genitive Form[edit]

This form is usually found in Egyptian Grammar resources as a Present Tense sdm=f - one out of the many Suffix Conjugation forms currently acknowledged. Also to be noted is the following forms below all constitute one nominal form (CaCaC) which are syntactically used in different ways defining various meanings.

The following vocalic forms would obviously not only include the a-Type vocalization but also any other vowel combination which took over for the a-Type vocalization. This form is mechanically an unmarked tense form following the Egyptological rule termed the direct genitive- all in all the direct genitive is a way of expressing possession without the use of a conjunction (lit: Egyptian verbs would be best translated as- my going to house mine rather than I go to my house).

According to more recent research, some scholars have unanimously reconstructed three pronominal forms based upon a shift of stress but there is some debate on their syntactic roles so for this reason I have chosen to name these three forms: Nominal Forms Shift I, II and III.

Antonio Loprieno[15] mentions that the difference between Shift I & Shift II[16] is:

  • [Shift I] is in initial position (without a participle), used in nominal environments or in headings/titles[17].
  • [Shift II] is in non-initial position (i.e. when preceded by a particle or some other element).
  • [Shift III], according to Antonio Loprieno[18], represents the mood of command, used as an independent form in sentences referring to the future.

Note: Stress Accent [in the sdm=f forms can be quite debatable]- it is generally believed the stress accent moves one syllable to the right after the addition of the suffix pronoun following the 'law of the two syllables' but in the older phases of the language it is believed the stress is in free form or the stress could fall on the 3rd to last syllable following the law of the three syllables[19].

Shift I[20][edit]

This reconstructed form appears to be specific to those verbs which are deemed dynamic or durative- pictured as lasting over time and/or shows continued or progressive action on the part of the subject. James P. Allen mentions this form as expressing an imperfective or extended action: action that is in some way repeated, ongoing, or incomplete[21].

Example Translation Notes
3-lit. sadǎmaf He hears/listens
of the type: AǎBAaB
patpǎti I trample

Weak roots show gemination of their second radical when used in initial position (based upon hieroglyphics- indirectly telling us that the middle syllable may have been accented but it is pure guess work to assume):

Example Translation Notes
3ae-inf. jarǎraf He does
  • The same applies to 2ae-gem. verbs:
maꜢǎꜢas she sees
  • In Old Egyptian a prefix |j| was added to 2-lit verb forms and other weak classes in the hieroglyphics- this may be indirect evidence of the second to last syllable being accented while also prefixing an additional syllable towards the beginning of the word [this form appears to be obsolete in Middle Egyptian]:
Example Translation Notes
2-lit. jadǎdaf He says

Shift II[22][edit]

Patrick C. Ryan hypothesizes this form is of a momentary or punctual origin - as an activity viewed from the point of its inception ("start to ...") or conclusion ("cease; stop")[23]. To be noted is this shift appears to follow the Coptic infinitival construction. Patrick C, Ryan continues by stating (on the structural form of Shift II):

  • Early Egyptian (and Late Egyptian but Middle Egyptian hardly at all) shows forms with the i-prefix, which Elmar Edel calls "j-Augment", and discusses (Edel 1955/64: 199-203) its appearance in various verbal classes without assigning it a defined function...
  • The momentary form, *saD"maf, became *ya"saDmaf when prefixed with it. Since the form without ya- was distinctive, ya- could be deleted, leaving *"saDmaf (corresponding to Vergote's "såDmaf"). This new formulation could be used tense-like as a past opposed to *saD"maf, future (and therefore, prospective)....
  • The proof that i- originally indicated any non-concomitant time [not happening at the same time as something else] is its employment in Coptic as a component of the imperative of bi-consonantal verbs: e.g. aco: (from *iDd from *ya+Da"da -> ya"Dad). An imperative, is, of course a kind of future...

Root Class Egyptian
Translation Notes
2-lit. dǎdi I said No ya- prefix which was
was used in Shift I
2ae-gem. wǎn Existed 2ae-gem. roots appear to be dubious in this form;
according to this book ([24]) it is geminated but
according to Antonio Loprieno's book ([25]) and
James P. Allen ([26]) it is
not geminated.
3-lit. dmaf He heard/listened
3ae-inf. šǎdi
I took
He does

Shift III[27][28][edit]

This form also expresses action and is tenseless and it always indicates that a statement is in some way possible, desirable, or contingent on some other action or situation. Actions that are contingent, possible, or desirable are most often seen as lying in the future, either with respect to the speaker’s viewpoint or with respect to some other action.
We know from Coptic that this form was distinguished in speech by a stressed final vowel |a| after the verb stem: for example, ꜥanḫǎf - he shall live.

Antonio Loprieno[29] states: The a-suffix could be connected with the old accusative or absolutive case ending inherited from Afroasiatic[30]. There are several other scholars who have also noted remnants of a case system in Egyptian.

Root Class Egyptian
Translation Notes
2-lit. dadǎi I will say Sometimes there is a ja- prefix:
Formula- jaCCa
2ae-gem. ganǎi I will find
3-lit. waḥmǎi I will repeat
3ae-inf. misiǎs
She shall give birth
3ae-inf. sanbabǎsun They may converse Uses geminated stem
4-lit. wastanǎk
you shall stride
should revert

The Infinitive[edit]

Is actually a nominal form and in the older phases of the language (including Middle Egyptian) in order to express a true "verbal infinite action" additions were added (i.e., the iterative (-t)[31] or conjunctions/prepositions) and the word order slightly changed. By the time Late Egyptian/Demotic became the spoken language it appeared the nominal form was almost exclusively used as the infinitive form for the reason that the nominal form (CaCaC) was a popular defaulted vocalization which could be easily recognized as well as the vowel |a| in Afroasiatic seemingly signaled the accusative case merging over into Egyptian and indirectly continued to be used as such all the way into Coptic.

There were also two other forms of the infinitive:

The Complimentary Infinitive[edit]

Was an infinitve form used to compliment the same root/stem of that infinitive, i.e;
nj js msy.t - I was not born through regular birth (lit. "I was not born a bearing)
The complementary infinitive of strong verbal classes sometimes displays the ending .t, whereas 111-inf. verbs often show the ending yt[32]

The Negatival Compliment[edit]

Is another form of the infinitive documented by Egyptologists. It is marked morphologically by the ending .w (in hieroglyphics) (rarely -y in older texts), which remains mostly unwritten. [33][34][35].

The origin of the form known as the Negatival Complement has been a matter of controversy among scholars. We present here the main lines of the arguments, in order to introduce and discuss other types of prohibitive constructions that are encountered in the Earlier Egyptian corpora.

  • 1) Sethe (1899: II,1017) suggested recognizing a kind of participle
  • 2) Gardiner (1957: 262, §341) was of the opinion that one could hypothesize “a survival of the 3d pers. m. of the active old perfective” that became “stereotyped and invariable for all persons and numbers in this particular use.
  • 3) For Edel, who reviewed and criticized (1) and (2), it is likely to be a noun-like verb form and may be originally identical to the gerund27 (see e.g. Edel 1955, 373 who refers to the “Abstraktbildung auf -w”). This could explain the fact that the negatival complement is (1) immutable, (2) indifferent to diathesis (see e.g. Edel 1955: 372-374, §743; exx. after tm in Edel 1964: 584, 586, 587, §1121, §1125, §1129), and (3) can take an accusative-like object (i.e., dependent pronoun).

More recently, based on the observation that the classes of verbs that occur with the ending -w are the same when used as Negatival Complement and when used as prospective/subjunctive in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts, Allen (1984: 479, §686) and Schenkel (2000) suggested that the Negatival Complement might originally be a prospective/subjunctive form with zero subject. The emergence of the Negatival Complement would, in this scenario, be linked to the non-expression of a coreferential subject: m sdm-w=k > m sDm-w=ø > m sDm-w. Compare in the Pyramid Texts what would then be the original and later constructions, in different versions of the same spell.[36]

Past Tense: The Adjectival/Nominal in Indirect Genitive Form[edit]

It is believed Old Egyptian may have exhibited two preterites, one of them being called the indicative and the other the stative which is discussed here. The indicative appeared to mirror the formula of the Nominal: Shift III but instead utilizing the vowel |i| in stressed final syllabic position signaling the genitive/possessive/adjectival case; i.ex., haꜢbǐf - he sent, in contrast to the vowel |a| which signaled the accusative case; i.ex., ganǎi - I will find.

By the time of Middle Kingdom the Egyptological termed indirect genitive form took over for the indicative (that is the preposition < n > was used after the verb (and the verb form used was the participle vocalization CaCiC according to the |a-i-u| Theory or it was all < a > according to the a-Vowel Theory); i.ex., jǎr(ij)nak - you said, lit: which says of he.

  • To be noted is these forms are not actually preterites/past tense vocalizations rather they can be assumed as such by usage of the genitive case marker- there are instances which the English translation would be best translated using the present tense.

The vocalization of the indicative is highly speculative and will only be mentioned here with no further explanations.

Here's some more examples:

  • jrj-n-j gmt-n-j jrj-n-tn - I have done what I found that you have done

The Relative Forms[edit]

There appears to be another adjectival in indirect genitive form documented in Egyptological studies. Much is said about the relative forms in Ancient Egyptian Grammars. According to Antonio Loprieno's book[37] the participle forms + affixal additions (to be exact: a morphological relation between relative forms and passive participles is often assumed[38]) were used before the preposition |n| and the vowel following the preposition |n|, according to Antonio Loprieno is |u| what he then terms a temporal affix.
The main morphosyntactic feature of the relative forms is their agreement in gender and number with the antecedent. Earlier Egyptian has three relative forms:

  • Perfective - which he made (past)
  • Aorist - which he makes (general present)
  • Prospective - which he will make (future; sometimes used as an aorist)

To be noted is the vocalization of the temporal affix is highly speculative and will only be mentioned here with no further explanations.

Suffixing the Pronoun: Using the a-Vowel Theory[edit]

All the previous forms learned were treated in Egyptian as if they were a modern day tensed verb- that is in order to state that someone/thing is doing something Egyptian simply added a subject/agent (in this particular case a pronoun) to any of these forms (or to a surrounding auxiliary word instead of the verb form, i.e., the past tense adjectival indirect genitive...) thus creating a simulated verb tensed sentence. These shifts more-so illustrate phonological changes due to morphological additions and can affect any word no matter their function in a sentence (in my opinion)- take, for example, the stress alternations between transitive and intransitive infinitives as well as prepositions.

Below, we have some quick references:

  • sadǎmas - she listens (Shift I: The Regular Nominal Form/Direct Genitive Form)
This shift in stress is also used in Coptic intransitive infinitives.


  • dmi - I listened/heard (Shift II)
Which is mechanically the same as the pronominal infinitival construction in Coptic as well as the imperfective and the Qualitative.


  • ganǎi - I will find (Shift III)
Which technically follows the imperfective plural construction- to be exact; some (nisba-)adjectives and some infinitives that end in a weak consonant also follow this pattern.


  • haꜢbǐf - He sent (Shift III: Indicative, is speculative)
Technically follows the perfective and nisba constructions.


  • jǎrnak - He said (Indirect Genitive)
Follows a general indirect genitive construction that can be used for any word.


  • Coptic does show some evidence of older Egyptian suffixal stress in verbal forms once a pronoun is attached; the same can be said of nouns.

  • Here is an example in Coptic of suffixal stress in a noun:
ϨⲢⲈⲔ/ϨⲢⲀⲔ - your face
  • And here we have suffixal stress in verbs:
ⲠⲈϪⲀ.Ϥ - he says (from pɜdd - old relative form of 'that which he/she/it says')
And notice the pronominal forms in the adjective verbs (many of them are actually contractions of more than one word):
ⲚⲀⲚOⲨ - to be good
ⲚⲈⲤⲰ - to be beautiful
ⲚⲀϢⲰ - to be numerous
ⲚⲈϬⲰ - to be hateful
ⲚⲀⲀ - to be great


Greek Loan-verbs in Coptic[edit]

Greek verbs were not borrowed into Coptic in all their inflected forms. Egyptian/Coptic verbs had no conjugated forms but the person inflection was in the pre Coptic stage added in suffix form and in the Coptic stage as a prefix to the verb. According to Layton, Greek verbs were borrowed in their infinitive form and in Coptic only used in the absolute infinitive form, and handled also otherwise differently than native language verbs in e.g. adding direct objects only through using a preposition. Morphologically, as e.g. the Greek infinitive ending -ein was truncated to -e, it looked like the active imperative singular form (Layton 2000: 155). Infinitive and imperative did not have separate forms in Coptic.

There is ongoing debate about the morphological form in which the Greek verbs were borrowed into Egyptian. Arabic loanverbs in Coptic were borrowed in the imperative form (Richter 2015: 231-232), which according to Wohlgemut (2010: 79) is a well-attested form cross-linguistically for verb borrowing. However, it also seems that the form varied within the Coptic dialects: the Northern dialects seem to have borrowed the Greek verbs in the infinitive (with the ending -(i)n) while others seem to have used the imperative as the basic form (with the ending -e/i). Fayyumic is strictly speaking a part of the Middle Egyptian major dialect group but perhaps could phonologically speaking be considered more Northern than Southern, as it contains more similarities on the phonological level with Bohairic (a Northern dialect) than Sahidic (Southern) (see Worrell 1934: 78-79; 83 and Kasser 1991b). The Demotic ostraca of Narmouthis have Greek loanverbs that carry the distinctive ending -in (Grossman & Richter 2017: 215-217) so it seems to be part of the infinitive borrowing group. After a comprehensive analysis, Grossman & Richter however conclude that the two separate forms, one ending in -in and one in -e/i, have to do with the loss of the final -n from the bare verbal stem, which had to do with Coptic phonology (which makes all the borrowings to have come from the infinitive, ending in different forms through phonological processing). (Grossman & Richter 2017: 208-223)...

The matter is, of course, a bit more complicated than this, as Coptic dialects used differing strategies for Greek verb integration in Coptic. Bohairic and e.g. Fayyumic, for instance, used the er- + Greek infinitive structure (the light verb structure), in which the Greek verb behaves like an undetermined noun. Sahidic and e.g. Middle Egyptian (i.e. Mesokemic), on the other hand, do not use auxiliary verbs, i.e. no light verb occurs, but the Greek verb occurs in environments in which Egyptian infinitive verbs occur (direct insertion strategy). In this formation, the Greek verb derives either from the infinitive or the imperative. Also other strategies exist within the Coptic dialects, with the light verb in e.g. Lycopolitan being written with a singular r-, and in the Fayyumic varieties also as el-. (Grossman & Richter 2017: 207-209).

... the verbs are in active infinitive form as per Coptic convention of borrowing Greek verbs...[39]

Notes on Case[edit]

Egyptian only holds possible remnants of a case system derived from the mother language; only believed if using the |a-i-u| Vowel Semitic-centric Theory. To understand the 'Afroasiatic Case Sysytem' I have included some notes mostly taken from here[40].

Scholars reconstructed the following case system for Proto-Semitic:

Case Singular 5 Nouns
Dual Masculine
Nominative u(m) u ū ā(na) ū(na) ātu(n)
Genitive i(m) ī a ay(na) ī(na) īti(m)
Accusative ā a ay(na) ī(na) Example āti(m)

A final and very important point made by E. Cohen in the session of this paper on goes as follows:

Not only form-related peculiarities are attested across the Semitic languages, but yet another thing, just as important—the functions this case system exhibits: a three-case system may work in different ways (compare, for instance, Modern Greek). Yet there are things in the Semitic languages which are unique to the group and are the result of shared retention. For instance:

  • 1. The idea that a verb complement is in the accusative, no matter which verb type is involved. ḫabar kāna is basically an accusative complement. The same phenomenon is found in Akkadian, and perhaps elsewhere, whereas non-verbal clauses behave in a totally different way (the predicates are marked as nominative)
  • 2. The genitive case is not only adnominal as is usually the case elsewhere but rather follows construct state, or entities marked as heads (prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, etc.). It is never a verbal complement.

These idiosyncratic functional and formal peculiarities shared by the Semitic languages tell only one story: they are original, from day [one] of Proto-Semitic, and when they are absent, as in the Arabic dialects, it is simply because they were lost.

Some Semitic languages without case are Geez, Aramaic, Amoritic, Hebrew. Although Geez (like Egyptian), does show some degree of case:

It marks the direct object of transitive verbs, adverbs, and other syntactic functions with a final /a/, which is cognate with the accusative in other Semitic languages. Moreover, when the writing conventions of Geez were fixed, the nominative and genitive were still expressed by a word-final /ə/, the normal outcome of *u and *i. At a later point, /ə/ was lost in word-final position. The sound plurals ūna / īna have been lost, replaced by a single termination, ān, and the dual, which also exhibits case, is lost, which happened eventually in most Semitic languages.Finally, Geez still retains case in the construct forms of three of the so-called “five nouns”, with nom./gen. -ū, and acc. -ā before pronominal suffixes.The only thing one needs to account for is the apparent merger of the nominative and the genitive. While this cannot be achieved through regular sound law, it is trivially easy to understand the breakdown of the distinction. In all other positions where case is expressed, the nominative and genitive merge (through the regular sound law *i, *u > ə). That this distinction would be lost in the Five Nouns, as the distinction no longer existed anywhere else, is unsurprising.

Case Geez
Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic
Nom. ʔab(ə) ʔabū-ka ʔabun ʔabū-ka - father
Gen. ʔab(ə) ʔabū-ka ʔabin ʔabī-ka
Acc. ʔaba ʔabā-ka ʔaban ʔabā-ka

The exact same paradigm is also found for ʔəḫʷ ‘brother’ (N/G ʔəḫū; A ʔəḫʷā -) cf. CAr. ʔaḫ - and ʔaf ‘mouth’ (N/G ʔafū; A ʔaā-), cf. CAr. fum[41] - . This morphological idiosyncrasy which is completely isolated in Geez and Classical Arabic cannot be explained in any other way but shared inheritance.

This same exact reduction in the Geez language (nom. -u & gen. -i => ə) with the final case vowels is also believed to be found in Ancient Egyptian, according to some experts, for example, Antonio Loprieno and Helmut Satzinger:
ϨⲢⲀⲚ - our face ~ (alternative version: ϨⲢⲈⲈⲒ)
ϨⲢⲀⲒ - my face ~ (alternative version: ϨⲢⲈⲔ)
ϨⲢⲀⲔ - your (masc) face
ϨⲢⲈ - your (fem) face

The Way A Case System Works[edit]

Using excerpts from the Semitic language Ugaritic, which is thought to utilize case, we have the following examples of how case was used:

Ugaritic (Script) tʕdb ksủ w yttb
Abbreviations/Notes was prepared throne.NOM CONJ sat down.3MPL
Translation A throne was prepared (for them) and they sat down (nom)

Ugaritic (Script) grš-h l-ksi mlk-h
Abbreviations/Notes drove.3MS-3MS PREP- throne.GEN royal-3MS
Translation He drove him from his royal throne (gen)

Ugaritic (Script) yʕdb kså w ytb
Abbreviations/Notes place.3MS chair.ACC CONJ sit.3MS
Translation He places a chair and sits down (acc)

There are many other examples, e.g. ṣbů ‘army, militia’ and llů ‘suckling (lamb or kid).

Ugaritic (Script) ṣbủ-k ůl mad
Abbreviations/Notes army.NOM-2MS force immense
Translation your army (will be) an immense force

Ugaritic (Script) ršp ṣbỉ
Abbreviations/Notes Ršp.CONSTRUCT army.GEN
Translation Ršp (deity name) of the army/militia (gen)

Ugaritic (Script) ṣbủ špš
Abbreviations/Notes setting.NOM.CONSTRUCT sun
Translation the setting of špš (nom)

Ugaritic (Script) al yʕdb-km (...) k-llỉ b-tbrn
Abbreviations/Notes NEG he places -2MPL PREP- suckling.GEN PREP-opening
Translation let him not place you (...) like a suckling in the opening of his esophagus’ (gen.)

Ugaritic (Script) aḥ (...) llả kl[atn]
Abbreviations/Notes take suckling.ACC both hands
Translation take (...) a suckling with both (hands)’ (acc.)

Likewise, we can find examples of the masculine sound plural suffix - ūma and - īma with fully functioning case, e.g. in the rpů ‘divine ancestral hero’ in the plural is spelled rpům for the nominative and rpim for the oblique

Ugaritic (Script) tlḥm rpủm tštyn
Abbreviations/Notes Ate Rpu.NOM.PL drank
Translation The Rpu's ate and drank

Ugaritic (Script) qrů rpỉm
Abbreviations/Notes invoke Rpu.ACC.PL
Translation Invoke the Rpu's

Case in Berber[edit]

The Berber noun appears in two forms: one being called the absolute state, viz. (sing.:) m. a-, fem. ta-, and the other the “annexed” state, viz. (sing.:) m. (w)u-, f. t-. Traditionally, Berberologists regard the functional difference between them as one of status[42].

Possible Case in Egyptian[edit]

An example of how to accomplish this in Egyptian (only within the pronouns)[43]:

Independent Pronouns (old series) Dependent Pronouns Suffix Pronouns
Quotation form; predicate (ı͐nk pw “it is I”) partly,
subject of nominal predicate (jnk sn=k “I’m your brother”)
subject of adjectival predicate
(nfr wı͐ “I am good”)
* possessive=genitive (pr=j “my house”)
* prepositional (ḥr=f “on him”)
augens; (m pr=j jnk “in my own house”) object (sḏm wı͐ “hear me!”) with thetic elements
(m=k wı͐ “here I am!”; nn sw “he does not exist”)
subject of verbal predicate (sḏm=j “I shall hear”)
~ absolutive case ~ absolutive case ~ nominative / genitive case


  1. Vocalic Gender distinction in the 2nd and 3rd person plurals were possibly lost at some point through Pre-Egyptian into Middle Egyptian if it ever existed.
  2. Some sources vocalize aj but I have chosen to use 'i'. in cases where a root ended in a consonant and the final syllable was stressed -aj was possibly preferred over -ayi/-aji, but the vowel did not appear to be associated to the pronoun on its own.
  3. If following a vowel.
  6. The original duals were perhaps distinguished by final *a (na, tǔna / tǐna, sǔna / sǐna) ... The Ancient Egyptian Language: An Historical Study by Jame P Allen pg 66
  9. ... pg 4
  10. Does not exist in Old Egyptian
  12. These vowels must have assimilated into one another and the gender distinction was probably lost at an early date.
  13. These vowels must have assimilated into one another and the gender distinction was probably lost at an early date.
  14. Based upon hypothesis that if |i| would have been used the |t| may have been palatalized - this is a popular pronunciation rule hypothesized from the combination of| -t- + front vowel/s i sometimes u| in (Pre-)Old Egyptian... Though the pronunciation could have equally been pronounced ta but this seems specific to the stative pronouns or taw which appears unnatural.
  15. Egyptian Language: Linguistic Introduction pg 79.
  16. There appears to be conflicting syntactic opinions between these two underlining forms throughout the research in the field of Ancient Egyptian grammar as will be noted/quoted when approached during the discussion of the following verbal forms.
  17. James P. Allen (Egyptian Grammar pg 271) contradicts Antonio's findings stating: Such examples, where the imperfective is the first word in the clause, are relatively rare. Usually the imperfective is introduced by a particle of some sort, most often jw.
  18. Egyptian Language: A Linguistic Introduction pg 82
  19. Loprieno, Antonio; Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction pg 37... Since the stress can only affect the last two syllables of an Egyptian word. the governing rule of syllabic patterns is known with the German term Zweisilbengesetz ("law of the two syllables"). For the prehistory of the Egyptian language, some scholars posit a situation in which, as in the related Semitic languages, the stress could also affect the antepenultimate syllable (Dreisilbengesetz , i.e. "law of the three syllablesn). Following the loss of the short vowel in the open posttonic syllable, words displaying this syllabic pattern were subsequently integrated into the regular patterns with penultimate stress: **/xupiraw/ > */xupraw/ "transformation." Generally speaking, tonic stress played in the history of Egyptian a much more crucial role for the development of prosodic patterns than is the case in related Afroasiatic languages, for example Semitic, for which one can easily posit an original 'free' stress. It would be preferable, therefore, to posit the 'foot' rather than the individual word as the basic stress unit in Egyptian.
  20. In James P. Allen's grammar book Middle Egyptian, James P. Allen calls this form the Imperfective (pg 267)... Antonio Loprieno in his book 'A Linguistic Introduction' (pg 79) calls this form the Nominal/Emphatic sdm=f.
  21. James P. Allen Middle Egyptian Grammar pg 267.
  22. James P. Allen in his Middle Egyptian Grammar terms this form 'Perfective' (pg 267) this was originally made known by J. Vergote (Vergote, J. 1971. Egyptian (40-67) in Afroasiatic: A Survey. Edited by Carleton T. Hodge. The Hague/Paris: Mouton; on pg 56)...James P. Allen continues by saying: The perfective is a verb form that simply expresses action, without any indication of tense or mood. Although it is used almost exclusively with reference to past actions, and therefore usually corresponds to the English past tense, its past tense comes from the constructions and contexts in which it is used and is not a feature of the verb form itself. Note that the perfective is not the same as the perfect, which expresses completed action.... Antonio Loprieno does not give a vocalization but does term this form the 'Aorist' (pg 79 of his book Egyptian Language Linguistic Introduction).
  24. Hieroglyphic Egyptian. A Practical Grammar of Middle Egyptian by by Claude Obsomer and Sylvie Favre-Briant (in Chapter 6, pg 149)
  25. Egyptian Language: A Linguistic Introduction (pg 79).
  26. Middle Egyptian Grammar pg 267.
  27. James P. Allen in his book Middle Egyptian Grammar terms this form the Subjunctive (pg 249)... In the Standard Theory this form is termed Prospective.
  28. Patrick C. Ryan also terms this form momentary (as an activity viewed from the point of its inception ("start to ...") or conclusion ("cease; stop").
  29. Egyptian Language A Linguistic Introduction pg 82.
  30. J. B. Callender, 'Afroasiatic cases and the formation of Ancient Egyptian constructions with possessive suffixes," Afioasiatic Linguistics II/6 (Malibu: Undena, 1975); J. D. Ray, "An approach to the sdm=f forms and purposes," LingAeg 1 (1991) 243-58.
  31. Termed as such by Patrick C. Ryan.. and he continues by stating: since the -i connotes perfective, an element to suggest duration is needed: *ink m ii would mean "I am arrived"; in order to express repeated activity aimed at the goal of arriving, the iterative -t must be added: ink m ii.t, "I am arriving" contrasting with ink m iw.t, "I am coming". -
  32. Antonio Loprieno - A Linguistic Introduction pg 89.
  33. Antonio Loprieno, in his book, A Linguistic Introduction on pg 89, states: The only indication of the original vocalization of the negatival complement is by the Coptic negative imperative: ⲘⲚⲰⲢ < m jrj.w - do not do, in which |-ⲰⲢ| <jrj.w */'ja:rvw/.
  34. However, this article: - pg 31 states: In the southern dialects, mainly Lycopolitan and some southern varieties of Sahidic, one finds the construction mpôr-V alongside mpr-V, i.e., Ex. 134) mpôr-ee-f [PROH-do-3SGM] “Don’t do it!” or “Dón’t do it”. The existence of a full vowel in the prohibitive marker is indicative of stress.. (that is the say the stressed vowel in: mpôr-ee-f, is an over-exaggerated stress while speaking the command).
  35. ... Mentions a negatival verbal form of imperatives in Beja (which is a Cushitic based language long associated to Ancient Egyptian): The negative imperative stem differs from the basic stem because the last syllable is lengthened. For the verb diy- 'to say' there is only one syllable, and it is lengthened to diiy-.
    -diiy- Stem of 'to say (Neg Impv)'
    Baadiiya! - Don't say (M)!
    Biidiiyi! - Don't say (F)!
    Baadiina! - Don't say (Pl)!
  36. ... pg 14
  37. A Linguistic Introduction pg 86.
  38. Antonio Loprieno, A Linguistic Introduction pg 86.... Discussion and references in W. Schenkel, Die altagyptische Suffixkonjugation. Agyptologische Abhandlungen XXXI (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1975) and in Osing, in Festschrift) Fecht, 35660.
  39. 135
  41. Only ḥam ‘brother-in-law’ seems to have lost the case inflection and has N/G/A ḥamū - , cf. CAr. ḥam.
  42. ... pg 1
  43. ... pg 4