Coptic Lesson 3: Possession

Lesson 3: Possession

Now that we have learned the definite article [ {pi ] ni `p(`v) `t(`;) (pi ti ni ep(ef) et(eth)/pi di ni ep et)], it will be much easier to learn the POSSESSIVE article. In case you missed the first 3 lessons, here they are:

Lesson 0.5 - Alphabet and Pronunciation:,10616.0.html
Lesson 1 - 'The':,10615.0.html
Lesson 2 - The 'Weak' Definite Article:,10625.0.html

The possessive article is basically exactly what it sounds like: it indicates possession. In English, possessive articles are words like 'my' and 'his' and 'yours'. They tell us who things belong to.

It may be helpful here to quickly go over the concept of 1st, 2nd and 3rd person, just in case it is rusty:
1st person = I, we (refers to the speaker/s)
2nd person = You (refers to the person/s being spoken to)
3rd person = He, She, They (refers to person/s not being spoken to at the moment)

Now, in Coptic, the possessive article works in a very similar way to the definite article, because depending on the gender of the THING, the first letter will be different. You remember that the definite article for male objects was pi (pi), for female was ] (ti/di) and for plural was ni (ni). So you should have a concept that in Coptic, the sound 'p' is associated with male things, 't' with female things and 'n' with plural things - this is worth remembering as it will come in very handy, as it does here. Possessive articles for male objects begin with p(p), female with t (t/d) and plural with n (n).

Using the possessive article for male objects as an example:
1st Person: pa (pa) = my, pen (pen) = our

2nd Person: pek (pek) = your (m), pe (pe) = your (f), peten (peten/peden) = your (pl.)

[If you know Arabic, the concept of having three different "you's" will be familiar to you, there is one if the person you are talking to is a male, another if they are a female, and another if they are a group (enta, enti and entu)]

3rd Person: pef (pef) = his, pec (pes) = her, pou (pou) = their

So let's use the MALE word ouro (ouro) = king, as an example:

1st Person:
My king: paouro (pa-ouro)
Our king: penouro (penouro)

2nd Person:
Your king (speaking to a male): pekouro (pek-ouro)
Your king (speaking a female): peouro (pe-ouro)
Your king (speaking to more than one person): petenouro (peten-ouro/peden-ouro)

3rd Person:
His king: pefouro (pef-ouro)
Her king: pecouro (pes-ouro)
Their king: pououro (pou-ouro)

If you were to talk about a FEMALE object, you would simply swap the initial p (p) in all the above, for a t (t/d) - so using the female word cwni (soni) = sister, as an example:

My sister: tacwni (ta-soni)
Our sister: tencwni (ten-soni)
Your sister (if YOU are male): tekcwni (tek-soni)

... and so on, exactly as above.

If you were talking about a PLURAL noun, then you simply use n (n) as the initial letter:

My kings: naouro (na-ouro)
Our kings: nenouro (nen-ouro)

... etc.

So to summarise, here are the male possessive articles:
pa pen | pek pe peten | pef pec pou
(i.e. mine our | your (m, f, pl.) | his her their)

A good way to memorise them is to break them into three groups and say them rhythmically in your head: pa-pen / pek-pe-peten / pef-pes-pou

If you remember these, and the fact that male = p, female = t and plural = n, you will have completely mastered the possessive article.

Again, I will post some examples for practice below.

God bless!


  • The lesson appears to have been marked as spam ... probably because it had more than one link in it. Sorry about that - hopefully the moderator will 'unspamify' it soon. If he doesn't, I'll post it without the links and see if it works.
  • hmm, does that mean we should call the priest's wife tensoni?!
  • [quote author=mabsoota link=topic=10643.msg129755#msg129755 date=1296931153]
    hmm, does that mean we should call the priest's wife tensoni?!

    Well yeah! I'm not really sure why we don't - I've heard that Fr. Bishoy Kamel started the trend of using 'tasoni' and it just stuck.
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