The expression of habituality in Biblical Hebrew

Nora Boneh*, Hagit Sofer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the article is to expand the crosslinguistic scope of the study of the expression of habituality in language, and to provide further support for the claim that the expression of habituality is basically independent from that of tense and aspect, although it closely interacts with it. The argument for this independence is based on the following findings: First, habituality in Biblical Hebrew is not marked morphologically: any verbal form of the verb system can serve as a basis to express habituality irrespective of its aspectual and temporal qualities. In this respect, the periphrastic form h>y> qō-l receives special attention, since although it does not appear in episodic occurrences, it nevertheless patterns with non-recurring positional predicates (e.g., stand, live as in She used to live here), illustrating that it selects statives that can hold over prolonged periods of time, subsuming habituals, rather than being exclusively dedicated to the expression of habituality. Second, and most importantly, this pattern is diachronically stable. When observing Early and Late Biblical Hebrew, nothing alters in the way verbal forms pattern in clauses expressing habituality, even though the make-up of the verbal systems has changed over time. Additionally, the findings confirm the importance of paying attention to the availability of habitual interpretation with and without a modifying quantificational expression, by lending support to the correlation established between the bareness of habituals and their aspectual properties.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)785-816
Number of pages32
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2021.


  • Early Biblical Hebrew
  • Late Biblical Hebrew
  • bare habituals
  • grammatical aspect
  • habituality
  • imperfective
  • perfective
  • periphrastic forms


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