Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar/33. Pronominal Suffixes

§33. Pronominal Suffixes.

Brockelmann, Semit. Sprachwiss., p. 100 f.; Grundriss, i. 306 ff. J. Barth, ‘Beiträge zur Suffixlehre des Nerdsemit.,’ in the Amer. Journ. of Sem. Lang., 1901, p. 193 ff.

a 1. The independent principal forms of the personal pronoun (the separate pronoun), given in the preceding section, express only the nominative.[1] The accusative and genitive are expressed by forms, usually shorter, joined to the end of verbs, nouns, and particles (pronominal suffixes or simply suffixes); e.g. הוּ (toneless) and וֹ (from āhû) eum and eius, קְטַלְתִּ֫יהוּ I have killed him (also קְטַלְתִּיו), קְטַלְתָּ֫הוּ or (with āhû contracted into ô) קְטַלְתּ֫וֹ thou hast killed him; אוֹר֫וֹ (also אוֹרֵ֫הוּ) lux eius.

The same method is employed in all the other Semitic languages, as well as in the Egyptian, Persian, Finnish, Tartar, and others; in Greek, Latin, and German we find only slight traces of the kind, e.g. German, er gab’s for er gab es; Greek, πατήρ μου for πατὴρ ἐμοῦ; Latin, eccum, eccos, &c., in Plautus and Terence for ecce eum, ecce eos.

b 2. The case which these suffixes represent is—

(a) When joined to verbs, the accusative (cf., however, §117x), e.g. קְטַלְתִּ֫יהוּ I have killed him.

c (b) When affixed to substantives, the genitive (like πατήρ μου, pater eius). They then serve as possessive pronouns, e.g. אָבִי (ʾābh-î) my father, סוּסוֹ his horse, which may be either equus eius or equus suus.

d (c) When joined to particles, either the genitive or accusative, according as the particles originally expressed the idea of a noun or a verb, e.g. בֵּינִי, literally interstitium mei, between me (cf. mea causa); but הִנְנִי behold me, ecce me.

e (d) Where, according to the Indo-Germanic case-system, the dative or ablative of the pronoun is required, the suffixes in Hebrew are joined to prepositions expressing those cases (לְ sign of the dative, בְּ in, מִן from, § 102), e.g. לוֹ to him (ei) and to himself (sibi), בּוֹ in him, מִנִּי (usually מִמֶּ֫נִּי) from me. f 3. The suffixes of the 2nd person (־ְךָ, &c.) are all formed with a k-sound, not, like the separate pronouns of the 2nd person, with a t-sound.

So in all the Semitic languages, in Ethiopic even in the verbal form (qatalka, thou hast killed=Hebr. קָטַ֫לְתָּ).

g 4. The suffix of the verb (the accusative) and the suffix of the noun (the genitive) coincide in most forms, but some differ, e.g. ־נִי me, ־ִי my.

Paradigm A at the end of the Grammar gives a table of all the forms of the separate pronoun and the suffixes; a fuller treatment of the verbal suffix and the mode of attaching it to the verb will be found in §58ff., of the noun-suffix in §91, of the prepositions with suffixes in §103, of adverbs with suffixes §100o.

  1. On apparent exceptions see §135d.