Verb Sequential Imperfect

Summary

A Sequential Imperfect verb functions generally like a verb with Perfect conjugation, but it also connects to an earlier verb to form either a sequence of time or a sequence of thought.

Article

The Sequential Imperfect conjugation of a verb looks similar to the normal Imperfect verb, but it is a separate verbal form and must be treated as such. A Sequential Imperfect verb does not function like a normal Imperfect verb, but it functions similar to a Perfect verb. The difference is an added sense of being connected to an earlier verb to form a sequence of time or a sequence of thought. In Hebrew narratives, the Sequential Imperfect conjugation also serves the function of controlling the flow of a story and often occurs at the beginning of a sentence.

The endings of the Sequential Imperfect conjugation are the same as the normal Imperfect conjugation but the sequential form also has an extra prefix, which is a specialized form of the conjunction. The difference between the Sequential Imperfect and the normal Imperfect conjugation with the conjunction is in the vowel pattern. The normal Imperfect conjugation with the conjunction looks exactly like what one would expect: a normal conjunction (וְ) is added to the beginning of a normal Imperfect verb (יִקְטֹל) to make a single word (וְיִקְטֹל). However, the Sequential Imperfect conjugation looks different (וַיִּקְטֹל). In contrast to the normal Imperfect conjugation with the conjunction, the Sequential Imperfect conjugation usually contains (1) a vowel (usually pathach) under the conjunction instead of the shewa, and (2) a daghesh in the prefix consonant of the verbal form (see table below).

Example: Imperfect conjugation + conjunction (וְ) vs. Sequential Imperfect conjugation
Verbal root Imperfect conjugation + conjunction (וְ) Sequential Imperfect conjugation
כתב וְיִכְתֹּב וַיִּכְתֹּב
פעל וְיִפְעַל וַיִּפְעַל
קרא וְיִקְרָא וַיִּקְרָא

Form

Qal Sequential Imperfect Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular third person וַיִּקְטֹל wayyiqtol (and) he killed
feminine singular third person וַתִּקְטֹל wattiqtol (and) she killed
masculine singular second person וַתִּקְטֹל wattiqtol (and) you killed
feminine singular second person וַתִּקְטְלִי wattiqteli (and) you killed
common singular first person וָאֶקְטֹל wa’eqtol (and) I killed
masculine plural third person וַיִקְטְלוּ wayiqtelu (and) they killed
feminine plural third person וַתִּקְטֹלְנָה wattiqtolenah (and) they killed
masculine plural second person וַתִּקְטְלוּ wattiqtelu (and) you killed
feminine plural second person וַתִּקְטֹלְנָה wattiqtolenah (and) you killed
common plural first person וַנִּקְטֹל wanniqtol (and) we killed
Niphal Sequential Imperfect Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular third person וַיִּקָּטֵל wayyiqqatel (and) he was killed
feminine singular third person וַתִּקָּטֵל wattiqqatel (and) she was killed
masculine singular second person וַתִּקָּטֵל wattiqqatel (and) you were killed
feminine singular second person וַתִּקָּטְלִי wattiqqatli (and) you were killed
common singular first person וָאֶקָּטֵל wa’eqqatel (and) I was killed
masculine plural third person וַיִּקָּטְלוּ wayyiqqatlu (and) they were killed
feminine plural third person וַתִּקָּטַלְנָה wattiqqatalnah (and) they were killed
masculine plural second person וַתִּקָּטְלוּ wattiqqatlu (and) you were killed
feminine plural second person וַתִּקָּטַלְנָה wattiqqatalnah (and) you were killed
common plural first person וַנִּקָּטֵל wanniqqatel (and) we were killed
Hiphil Sequential Imperfect Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular third person וַיַּקְטִיל wayyaqtil (and) he caused to kill
feminine singular third person וַתַּקְטִיל wattaqtil (and) she caused to kill
masculine singular second person וַתַּקְטִיל wattaqtil (and) you caused to kill
feminine singular second person וַתַּקְטִילִי wattaqtili (and) you caused to kill
common singular first person וָאַקְטִיל wa’aqtil (and) I caused to kill
masculine plural third person וַיַּקְטִילוּ wayyaqtilu (and) they caused to kill
feminine plural third person וַתַּקְטֵלְנָה wattaqtelenah (and) they caused to kill
masculine plural second person וַתַּקְטִילוּ wattaqtilu (and) you caused to kill
feminine plural second person וַתַּקְטֵלְנָה wattaqtelenah (and) you caused to kill
common plural first person וַנַּקְטִיל wannaqtil (and) we caused to kill
Hophal Sequential Imperfect Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular third person וַיָּקְטַל wayyoqtal (and) he was caused to kill
feminine singular third person וַתָּקְטַל wattoqtal (and) whe was caused to kill
masculine singular second person וַתָּקְטַל wattoqtal (and) you were caused to kill
feminine singular second person וַתָּקְטְלִי wattoqteli (and) you were caused to kill
common singular first person וָאָקְטַל wa’oqtal (and) I was caused to kill
masculine plural third person וַיָּקְטְלוּ wayyoqtelu (and) they were caused to kill
feminine plural third person וַתָּקְטַלְנָה wattoqtalnah (and) they were caused to kill
masculine plural second person וַתָּקְטְלוּ wattoqtelu (and) you were caused to kill
feminine plural second person וַתָּקְטַלְנָה wattoqtalnah (and) you were caused to kill
common plural first person וַנָּקְטַל wannoqtal (and) we were caused to kill
Piel Sequential Imperfect Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular third person וַיְּקַטֵּל wayyeqattel (and) he slaughtered
feminine singular third person וַתְּקַטֵּל watteqattel (and) she slaughtered
masculine singular second person וַתְּקַטֵּל watteqattel (and) you slaughtered
feminine singular second person וַתְּקַטְּלִי watteqatteli (and) you slaughtered
common singular first person וָאֲקַטֵּל wa’eqattel (and) I slaughtered
masculine plural third person וַיְּקַטְּלוּ wayyeqattelu (and) they slaughtered
feminine plural third person וַתְּקַטַּלְנָה watteqattelnah (and) they slaughtered
masculine plural second person וַתְּקַטְּלוּ watteqattelu (and) you slaughtered
feminine plural second person וַתְּקַטַּלְנָה watteqattelnah (and) you slaughtered
common plural first person וַנְּקַטֵּל wanneqattel (and) we slaughtered
Pual Sequential Imperfect Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular third person וַיְּקֻטַּל wayyequttal (and) he was slaughtered
feminine singular third person וַתְּקֻטַּל wattequttal (and) she was slaughtered
masculine singular second person וַתְּקֻטַּל wattequttal (and) you were slaughtered
feminine singular second person וַתְּקֻטְּלִי wattequtteli (and) you were slaughtered
common singular first person וָאֲקֻטַּל wa’aquttal (and) I was slaughtered
masculine plural third person וַיְּקֻטְּלוּ wayyequttelu (and) they were slaughtered
feminine plural third person וַתְּקֻטַּלְנָה wattequttalnah (and) they were slaughtered
masculine plural second person וַתְּקֻטְּלוּ wattequttelu (and) you were slaughtered
feminine plural second person וַתְּקֻטַּלְנָה wattequttalnah (and) you were slaughtered
common plural first person וַנְּקֻטַּל wannequttal (and) we were slaughtered
Hithpael Sequential Imperfect Paradigm
Parsing Hebrew Transliteration Gloss
masculine singular third person וַיְּתְקַטֵּל wayyithqattel (and) he killed himself
feminine singular third person וַתִּתְקַטֵּל wattithqattel (and) she killed herself
masculine singular second person וַתִּתְקַטֵּל wattithqattel (and) you killed yourself
feminine singular second person וַתִּתְקַטְּלִי wattithqatteli (and) you killed yourself
common singular first person וָאֶתְקַטֵּל wa’ethqattel (and) I killed myself
masculine plural third person וַיְּתְקַטְּלוּ wayyithqattelu (and) they killed themselves
feminine plural third person וַתִּתְקַטֵּלְנָה wattithqattelnah (and) they killed themselves
masculine plural second person וַתִּתְקַטְּלוּ wattithqattelu (and) you killed yourselves
feminine plural second person וַתִּתְקַטֵּלְנָה wattithqattelnah (and) you killed yourselves
common plural first person וַנְּתְקַטֵּל wannithqattel (and) we killed ourselves

Function

The Sequential Imperfect conjugation indicates any one of these kinds of verbal actions:

Completed actions, or actions in the past

Example: GEN 12:1
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם
wayyomer yehwah ‘el-‘avram
and-he-said Yahweh to_Abram
Now Yahweh said to Abram
Example: GEN 13:1
וַיַּעַל֩ אַבְרָ֨ם מִמִּצְרַ֜יִם
wayya’al ‘avram mimmitsrayim
and-he-went-up Abram from-Egypt
So Abram went up from Egypt

Stative actions

This kind of action describes a state or condition, often (but not always) with a passive stem formation.

Example: GEN 22:19
וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב אַבְרָהָ֖ם בִּבְאֵ֥ר שָֽׁבַע
wayyeshev ‘avraham biv’er shava’
and-he-remained Abraham in-Beer Sheba
and Abraham lived at Beersheba.
Example: GEN 21:8
וַיִּגְדַּ֥ל הַיֶּ֖לֶד וַיִּגָּמַ֑ל
wayyigdal hayyeled wayyiggamal
And-he-grew the-child and-he-was-weaned
The child grew and was weaned

Actions that are paired together in a sentence (often with the verb היה)

Example: JOB 1:6
וַיְהִ֣י הַיּ֔וֹם וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים
wayhi hayyom wayyavo’u bene ha’elohim
and-it-came the-day and-they-went sons-of the-God
And then came the day when the sons of God came
Example: JUD 19:27
וַיָּ֨קָם אֲדֹנֶ֜יהָ בַּבֹּ֗קֶר וַיִּפְתַּח֙ דַּלְת֣וֹת הַבַּ֔יִת
wayyaqom ‘adoneyha babboqer wayyiftah dalthoth habbayith
and-he-rose-up her-lord in-the-morning and-he-opened doors-of
the-house
Her master rose up in the morning and opened the doors of the
house
Example: GEN 1:28
וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָם֮ אֱלֹהִים֒ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לָהֶ֜ם אֱלֹהִ֗ים
wayvarekh ‘otham ‘elohim wayyomer lahem ‘elohim
And-he-blessed them God and-he-said to-them God
God blessed them and God said to them