Quartz Hill School of Theology

Lesson 16: The Imperfect


to forgiveסָלַח
to laughצָחַק
to shout, cry    צָעַק
to forgetשָׁכַח
to chooseבָּחַר
to askשָׁאַל
to writeכָּתַב
to shutסָגַר
to finishגָּמַר
to reignמָלַךְ
to breakשָׁבַר
to sellמָכַר
The Qal Imperfect

You have already learned the Qal Participle and the Qal Perfect. The Qal Imperfect is formed by adding certain prefixes to the root consonents. These prefixes are the same for the imperfect of all Hebrew verbs.

The prefixes give information about the person, gender, and number. Thus, it is not usually necessary to add personal pronouns to the imperfect.

Please notice that the second person masculine singular and the third person feminine singular look exactly the same. Additionally, the second and third person feminine plural are likewise identical. Context will help you know which is intended.

The imperfect will usually be translated into English as some sort of future or present tense. However, the imperfect is not actually a future or present tense. Instead, it refers to uncompleted action. There will be times when the imperfect is better translated as a past tense in English. REMEMBER: Biblical Hebrew (unlike Modern Hebrew) does not have past, present, and future tenses.

Please memorize the following paradigm, which uses קָטַל as an example. Remember, you can plug in any three consonents you like.

Qal Imperfect


Translation     Verb     Gender    Pronoun
he will kill יִקְטֹלm. הוּא
she will killתִּקְטֹלf. הִיא
you will killתִּקְטֹלm.אַתָּה
you will killתִּקְטְלִיf. אַתְּ
I will killאֶקְטֹלm. or f.אֲנִי


Translation     Verb    Gender    Pronoun
they will killיִקְטְלוּm.הֵם
they will killתִּקְטֹלְנָהf. הֵן
you will killתִּקְטְלוּm.אַתֶּם
you will killתִּקְטֹלְנָהf.אַתֵּן
we will killנִקְטֹלm. or f.אֲנַחְנוּ

Please be aware that if the second letter in the root of a verb is a bet, gimmel, dalet, kaph, pe, or tav then it must take a daggesh in the imperfect.

If the second or third root letter of a verb is a gutteral--that is either an ayin or a het--then the imperfect form of such verbs will take a patah rather than a holem.


Please read pages 129-131 in Biblical Hebrew Step-by-Step.


1. Memorize the vocabulary and paradigms.

2. Do the Exercises on pages 131-132.

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Email: info@theology.edu
Website: www.theology.edu

Quartz Hill School of Theology
43543 51st Street West
Quartz Hill, CA 93536

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