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Biblical Hebrew: 07. Intensive Verbs (Piel, Pual, Hitpael)

In this lesson, you will learn three intensive stems: piel, pual, and hitpael.

What is characteristic for all intensive stems is doubling of a middle consonant discernible by the presence of dagesh. Next distinguishing mark is that imperfect has shewa under its prefix. These two rules apply to all stems we are going to discuss in this lesson.

Piel

Piel conveys active-intensive action. However, we need to note here, that the intensive force of verbs does not have to be employed in every instance. There are words in Hebrew that have predetermined meaning regardless of their stem. This is, for example, the case of a word ברך “to bless” which is usually used in piel. This applies to all verbs and stems in Hebrew. We need to be careful not to impose grammar onto the text.

Conjugation of perfect and imperfect forms goes as follows:

Perfect

pl sg
f m f m
קִטְּלוּ קִטְּלָה קִטֵּל
קִטַּלְתֶן קִטַּלְתֶם קִטַּלְתְ קִטַּלְתָ
קִטַּלְנוּ קִטַּלְתִי

Imperfect

תְקַטֵּלְנָה יְקַטְּלוּ תְקַטֵּל יְקַטֵּל
תְקַטֵּלְנָה תְקַטְּלוּ תְקַטֵּלִי תְקַטֵּל
נְקַטֵּל אֲקַטֵּל

 

This well works for all consonants except gutturals (throat letters). As we have noted in the introductory lesson, this set of consonants cannot be doubled with dagesh and cannot take simple shewa. We need to be aware of this since the resulting form of the word will be a bit different from the table above. The middle guttural letter of a word will cause its preceding letter to be prolonged as for example here: יְפָעֵל.

Participle

Verbal adjectives work as same as in Qal. However, in intensive and causative stems a prefix letter מ is present (see table below). In this way, you are sure to discern that a word is a participle of higher stems (be aware of similarity with suffixed preposition מִן “with”).

active
pl sg
מְקַטְּלִים מְקַטֵּל m
מְקַטְּלֵי
מְקַטָּלוֹת מְקַטְּלָה f
מְקַטֶּלֶת
intensively killing

All other verbal categories follow the same pattern as Qal. (for a general description of other verbal categories see lesson 06 of this course).

Pual

Pual is one of the easiest stems. It conveys passive-intensive action. What applies for Piel, applies also for Pual. The only difference is a change in vocalization which is quite regular. Instead of i-e/a vocalization, Pual goes with u-a here as demonstrated in conjugation table:

Perfect

pl sg
f m f m
קֻטְּלוּ קֻטְּלָה קֻטַּל
קֻטַּלְתֶן קֻטַּלְתֶם קֻטַּלְתְ קֻטַּלְתָ
קֻטַּלְנוּ קֻטַּלְתִי

Imperfect

תְקֻטַּלְנָה יְקֻטְּלוּ תְקֻטַּל יְקֻטַּל
תְקֻטַּלְנָה תְקֻטְּלוּ תְקֻטְּלִי תְקֻטַּל
נְקֻטַּל אֲקֻטַּל

 

Hitpael

The last stem of the intensive family is Hitpael. This stem conveys reflexive-intensive action. It is also very similar to Piel. What is special on this stem is its prefix הִת. It affects the outlook of all the other prefixes in the conjugation. This effect is most obvious in imperfect aspect:

Perfect

pl sg
f m f m
הִתְקַטְּלוּ הִתְקַטְּלָה הִתְקַטֵּל
הִתְקִטַּלְתֶן הִתְקַטַּלְתֶם הִתְקַטַּלְתְ הִתְקַטַּלְתָ
הִתְקַטַּלְנוּ הִתְקַטַּלְתִי

Imperfect

תִתְקַטַּלְנָה יִתְקַטְּלוּ תִתְקַטֵּל יִתְקַטֵּל
תִתְקַטַּלְנָה תִתְקַטְּלוּ תִתְקַטְּלִי תִתְקַטֵּל
נִתְקַטֵּל אֶתְקַטֵּל

 

Another specialty is that sibilant consonants ז צ ס ש tend to alter their connection with stem prefix. This effect is called metathesis of ת. For example in the case of word שׁמר this will happen:

הִת + שׁמר הִשְׁתמּר

 


Assignments

Hebrew Verbs: Hitpael

Hitpael has specific prefix Hit. It has doubled middle letter in its root (dagesh), in all its forms. In the imperfect shewa is present under the prefix (under taw). Imperfect prefix letter substitutes H in Hitpael prefix.

19
Hebrew
63

Hebrew Verbs: Piel

Piel has doubled middle letter in its root (dagesh), in all its forms. In the imperfect shewa is present under the prefix.

19
Hebrew
71

Hebrew Verbs: Pual

Pual has doubled middle letter in its root (dagesh), in all its forms. In the imperfect shewa is present under the prefix. Its same as Piel except for regularity of u-a vowels

19
Hebrew
48

Summary

Piel

  • Conveys active-intensive action
  • Doubling of a middle consonant (dagesh)
  • Sheva under imperfect prefix

Pual

  • Conveys passive-intensive action
  • Doubling of a middle consonant (dagesh)
  • Sheva under imperfect prefix

Hitpael

  • Conveys reflexive-intensive action
  • Doubling of a middle consonant (dagesh)
  • Sheva under imperfect prefix
  • Metathesis of ת

Charts

Piel

Hebrew

Pual

Hebrew

Hitpael

Hebrew