In this post I want to briefly define the derived stems and show their general relationship with one another.
- Qal – this is the “light” form. It is “light” because it is not made “heavy” by the additions of the Pi”el, Pu”al, etc. It is your basic form; simple action.
- Niph’al – with the passive form of the Qal falling out of use, the Niph’al began to function as the passive of the Qal. More often, however, the Niph’al is a reflexive form.
- Pi”el – this derived stem “intensifies” the action of the Qal. In the Qal the verb שׂבר means ‘to break.’ In the Pi”el, the action is intensified: ‘to smash to pieces.’ The Pi”el has other meanings (factitive, denominative, etc.) but ‘intensive’ is the primary meaning.
- Pu”al – the passive form of the Pi”el.
- Hithpa”el – the reflexive form of the Pi”el.
- NOTE: Semitic grammarians note that it is the dagesh forte in the second root letter of these forms that give the intensive nuance.
- NOTE: Not all verbs in the Pi”el are intensive. More will be said about this later.
- Hiph’il – this derived stem is the ‘causative’ stem. Using the verb שׂבר again: in the Qal it means ‘to break.’ When the verb is in the Hiph’il it means ‘to cause [someone] to break’ something.
- Hoph’al – the passive form of the Hiph’il.
- NOTE: Like the Pi”el, not all Hiph’il verbs are causative. Again, more will be said about this later.