Participles and Translation Practice

Now we have almost enough Aramaic under our belt to be able to do some translation. Using Reymond’s examples we’ll start with some simple English to Aramaic sentences.

Sometimes translating from English to Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic can seem a little pointless, since our primary goal is to be able to read those languages and translate into English. However, as we’ll see now, doing English to x really helps us grasp how the language works. So without further a do…


In order to be able to create some sentences, we need to learn some verbs. The first stop is participles.

Participles can function as either nouns (e.g. ‘the writing one’) or verbs (e.g. ‘the man is writing’). The good news is that they inflect just like nouns and adjectives (see noun/adjective endings here).

The basic/absolute form of the participle is כָּתֵב. From there the construct, determined and feminine forms are just as you’d expect (e.g. כָּתְבָה, כָּתְבָא).


Our first sentence to translate is:

The men of the land are writing to the king.

We’ll go through it step by step.

The first step is to break the sentence down into it’s constituent parts. In English and Greek the first phrase would divide into the subject is “the men” with a genitive modifier (“of the land”). However, in Aramaic the phrase would divide slightly differntly. Instead of “the men” + “of the land”, Aramaic would write “the men of” + “the land”. The first would be in construct form, the second in absolute form. The verb/predicate is “are writing” and the object is another prepositional phrase “to the king”.

So now, we need to think through how we construct these parts in Aramaic.

Firstly, for “the men of” we need the noun “man” in plural, construct form. גְּבַר is the singular, absolute form. So the plural construct form is גֻּבְרֵי.

Secondly, we need the phrase “the land”. It needs to be singular and determined. So “land” = אֲרַע and in determined = אָרְעָא.

Thirdly, for the verb we want a masculine plural absolute participle form of כתב. Masculine and plural because the subject is masculine and plural. Absolute because it’s acting as a verb, not a noun. So כַּתְבִין.

Finally, we need a prepositional phrase “to the king”. That’s the preposition (Reymond specifies the use of עַל) + singular determined form of מֶלֶךְ which = מַלְכָּא.

Putting everything together, we get the sentence:

גֻּבְרֵי אַרְעָא כַּתְבִין עַל מַלְכָּא

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