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10.2  The Qal Perfect Conjugation - Strong Verbs

Section Vocabulary

Section Vocabulary

The Qal Perfect Conjugation - Strong Verbs

The Qal Stem
The simplest form of the verbal root is known as Qal (), meaning "light" or "simple." Qal verbs represent the most basic of the verbal stems and are the easiest to learn. In most Hebrew dictionaries, verbs are listed in the 3rd person masculine singular of the Qal (when it exists).

Properties of the Qal stem include:

  1. Active Voice - the subject is agent of verb (e.g., "I guarded")
  2. Simple Aspect - the action of the verb is simple (i.e., not reflexive or causal)

The "Perfect" Conjugation: Suffixes
A conjugation is a set of inflected forms (of a given verb stem) based on person, gender, and number. The perfect conjugation is used to denote completed (i.e., "perfected") action. For now, think of the perfect conjugation as the past tense in the active voice.

The perfect conjugation for Qal verbs, then, is a set of inflected forms (of the Qal stem) that represents completed action performed by the subject of the verb.

The infections of the Qal stem are made by adding suffixes to the verb. These suffixes generally follow the sounds of the personal pronouns you have already studied.

Strong Verbs
As mentioned in the Introduction to this unit, Hebrew verb roots are divided according to whether the verb is regular or irregular with respect to one (or more) of its letters. Regular verbs are called (shleimim) and have no weak letters (i.e., gutturals) in the shoresh. They are therefore called Strong verbs. In this section we will study the Qal Perfect Conjugation for regular verbs.

Qal Perfect Conjugation - Strong Verbs

The root is strong since none of its letters is a guttural. In a Hebrew lexicon, would be listed as shamar, that is, with the vowels for the 3rd person masculine singular (3ms) of the Qal Perfect added. This is known as the "lexical form" of the verb:

lexical form

Note: Even though the "root" is referred to as (with dots separating the letters), I will simply refer to it as shamar, which is also its lexical form.

The following conjugation shows the suffixes added to shamar to form the Qal perfect:

qal perfect paradigm


  1. The 3ms form has no suffix at all and entirely resembles the root . This is the lexical form of the root. Note the vowel pattern: Qamets-Patach.
  2. The form of the verb itself contains pronominal information, and I included the personal pronouns for reference purposes only. In other words, shamarti means "I guarded" without the use of the word ani (in fact, ani shamarti could mean "I myself guarded"). Learning the endings along with the pronouns is somewhat easier since the sounds of the pronouns resembles the suffixes.
  3. You must memorize this as a paradigm for the Qal perfect. The endings (bolded) are the same for all perfect verbs.
  4. The first person forms for both genders (1cs) and plural (1cp) are the same. That is shamarti can be singular for either gender, as can shamanu.
  5. The third person plural form is also common (3cp) for both genders (shamru).
  6. Note the exact spelling and accent marks for each form.
  7. The endings (suffixes) for the Qal perfect are as follows:

    qal perfect suffixes

Creating Your Own Conjugations

To form the perfect conjugation from strong verbs, you can follow these rules:

  1. Write out the three radicals (XXX) for each place in the conjugation.
  2. Add the endings to each.
  3. Add the vowels / accents:
    • Consonantal endings cause a silent sheva under the preceding letter
    • Heavy consonantal endings (3mp, 2fp) cause propretonic reduction
    • Add the other vowels based on the 3ms theme pattern
    • Accent the 2nd consonant for 1cs, 2ms, and 1cp.

Section Exercises

  • Memorize the vocabulary at the top of the page. Note that the word precedes the verb to negate its meaning (e.g., lo shamar means "he did not guard").
  • Memorize the Qal perfect paradigm for shamar.
  • Conjugate and recite each of the verbs listed in the vocabulary at the top of the page (use the same format I used with shamar in the Qal perfect paradigm).
  • Create a flash card with the Qal Perfect paradigm. Note the rules for adding the endings, vowels, and accents on the card.
  • Lookup some additional strong verbs in your Hebrew dictionary and make flash cards for them. Write their standard definition and list their Qal perfect forms.
  • Translate (Psalm 78:10a):

    Psalm 78:10a

Additional Notes:

  • Be aware that the meaning of the perfect in Hebrew is more complex than the simple past tense in English. For instance, depending on context, shamar might mean "he guarded," "he did guard," "he has guarded," "he had guarded," etc. Moreover, a perfect with a prefixed Vav is normally translated in the future tense (more about this later).
  • Word order in Hebrew is normally: verb - subject - object.

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