The Hebrew Construct Chain. The Hebrew Construct Chain. In English, we use the preposition of to show a modifying relationship between two nouns. For example, when we say “the son of the man,” we modify the noun son with the noun man.
In English, we use the preposition of to show a modifying relationship between two nouns. For example, when we say “the son of the man,” we modify the noun son with the noun man.
In Hebrew, the same meaning is created by placing two nouns next to each other. When two nouns are placed together, they create a construct chain.
The pattern of a construct chain will always be “a (noun) of a (noun)” if the absolute noun is not definite.
A construct chain has two types of nouns. The final noun in the chain is the absolute noun. Nouns preceding the absolute or final noun are construct nouns. For example:
While there can be multiple construct nouns, there is only one absolute noun (always the final noun) in a construct chain.
Note the following:
Only the absolute or final noun in a construct chain can have the definite article. If the absolute noun has the definite article, all preceding nouns in the chain are also made definite even though they do not have the definite article.
The pattern of a construct chain will always be “the (noun) of the (noun)” if the absolute noun is definite.
Construct chains will never combine definite and indefinite nouns, such as “a (noun) of the (noun)” or “the (noun) of a (noun).” In these cases, the preposition ל is used sometimes with אֲשֶׁר, and all nouns have the absolute noun form. For example: הַקּוֹל(אֲשׁר) לְנָבִיא(the voice of a prophet).
Note the following:
Construct nouns may have a different form from absolute nouns. The change that occurs is primarily due to a reduction or loss of stress in a noun when placed in a construct chain.
Sometimes a maqqēp is used between a construct noun and an absolute noun. The appearance of a maqqēp indicates a complete loss of stress in the construct noun.
Note the following:
Adjectives that modify either the absolute noun or one of the construct nouns will always follow the construct chain. For example:
Because the adjective is not adjacent to the noun it modifies, some ambiguity can arise in translation.
An adjective will always match the noun it modifies in both number and gender. Sometimes this guideline helps resolve which noun should receive the adjective.
Sometimes you must rely on context when deciding which noun should receive the adjective.
Either noun in a construct chain can be plural.
Generally, two adjectives will not modify separate nouns; however, two adjectives can modify the same noun. For example:
Construct chains can have a series of nouns; however, construct chains exceeding four nouns are rare. For example:
The translation of a construct chain can vary from a simple of meaning, such as “the daughter of a king,” to “the king’s daughter.” Some instances are better translated as prepositional or adjectival phrases. Avoid strict adherence to one translation pattern. For example:
Adjectives (as adjectival nouns) and participles (as verbal nouns) can appear in a construct chain. For example:
Singular Nouns in a Construct Chain
The spelling of singular nouns in the construct chain will generally vary from the lexical form. Of the two states, absolute and construct, the absolute does not change and the construct does change. The changes that occur in construct nouns are due to the change in primary stress as the nouns are chained together.
A few rules apply to the changes of nouns as they take the construct form.
In construct nouns, a tsere or qamets in an unaccented or open syllable will change to a shewa. For example:
In construct nouns, a qamets in a final closed syllable will change to a patakh. For example:
In construct nouns, a tsere in a final closed syllable generally remains, but sometimes can be replaced by a patakh. For example:
Further examples of the above rules can be found on page 70 of your textbook.