Ugaritic grammar

Note: vowels in this article are reconstructed via comparative Semitics.

Ugaritic is an extinct Northwest Semitic language. This article describes the grammar of the Ugaritic language. For more information regarding the Ugaritic language in general, see Ugaritic language.


Ugaritic is an inflected language, and as a Semitic language its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian. It possesses two genders (masculine and feminine), three cases for nouns and adjectives (nominative, accusative, and genitive [also, note the possibility of a locative case]) ; three numbers: (singular, dual, and plural); and verb aspects similar to those found in other Northwest Semitic languages. The word order for Ugaritic is verb–subject–object (VSO), possessed–possessor (NG), and nounadjective (NA). Ugaritic is considered a conservative Semitic language, since it retains most of the Proto-Semitic phonemes, the basic qualities of the vowel, the case system, the word order of the Proto-Semitic ancestor, and the lack of the definite article.


Word orderEdit

The word order for Ugaritic is Verb Subject Object (VSO), Subject Object Verb (SOV), possessed–possessor (NG), and nounadjective (NA).


Ugaritic, like all Semitic languages, exhibits a unique pattern of stems consisting typically of "triliteral", or 3-consonant consonantal roots (2- and 4-consonant roots also exist), from which nouns, adjectives, and verbs are formed in various ways: e.g. by inserting vowels, doubling consonants, and/or adding prefixes, suffixes, or infixes.



Verbs in Ugaritic have 2 aspects: perfect for completed action (with pronominal suffixes) and imperfect for uncompleted action (with pronominal prefixes and suffixes). Verb formation in Ugaritic is based on (like all Semitic languages) triconsonantal roots. Affixes inserted into the root form different meanings. Taking the root RGM (which means "to say") for example:

Morphology of Ugaritic verbs (in the simple active pattern (G stem))
Perfect Imperfect
1st STEM-tu or STEM-tī ʼa-STEM
RaGaMtu or RaGaM َʼaRGuMu
2nd masculine STEM-ta ta-STEM
RaGaMta taRGuMu
feminine STEM-ti ta-STEM-īna
RaGaMti taRGuMīna
3rd masculine STEM-a ya-STEM
RaGaMa yaRGuMu
feminine STEM-at ta-STEM
RaGaMat taRGuMu
1st STEM-nayā na-STEMā
RaGaMnayā naRGuMā
2nd masculine
& feminine
STEM-tumā ta-STEM-ā(ni)
RaGaMtumā taRGuMā(ni)
3rd masculine STEM ya-STEM-ā(ni)
RaGaMā yaRGuMā(ni)
feminine STEM-atā ta-STEM-ā(ni)
RaGaMatā taRGuMā(ni)
1st STEM-nū na-STEM
RaGaM naRGuMu
2nd masculine STEM-tum(u) ta-STEM-ū(na)
RaGaMtum(u) taRGuMū(na)
feminine STEM-tin(n)a ta-STEM-na
RaGaMtin(n)a taRGuMna
3rd masculine STEM ya-STEM-ū(na)
RaGaMū yaRGuMū(na)
feminine STEM ta-STEM-na
RaGaMā taRGuMna


Ugaritic verbs occur in 5 moods:

Mood Verb[1]
Indicative yargumu
Jussive yargum
Volitive[2] yarguma
Energic 1 yargum(a)n
Energic 2 yargumanna
  1. ^ These are reconstructed for the imperfect simple active pattern (G stem).
  2. ^ Also considered a subjunctive.


Ugaritic verbs occur in 10 reconstructed patterns or binyanim:

Verb Patterns
Active voice Passive voice
Perfect (3rd sg. masc.) Imperfect (3rd sg. masc.) Perfect (3rd sg. masc.) Imperfect (3rd sg. masc.)
G stem (simple) paʻala, paʻila, paʻula yapʻulu, yapʻalu, yapʻilu puʻila yupʻalu
Gt stem (simple reflexive) ʼiptaʻala yaptaʻalu (?) (?)
D stem (factitive) paʻʻala yapaʻʻilu puʻʻila yupaʻʻalu
tD stem (factitive reflexive) tapaʻʻala yatapaʻʻalu (?) (?)
N stem (reciprocal passive) nap(a)ʻala yappaʻilu <<(*yanpaʻilu) n/a
L stem (intensive or factitive) pāʻala yupāʻilu (?) (?)
Š stem (causative) šapʻala yapaʻilu šupʻila yupaʻilu
Št stem (causative reflexive) ʼištapʻala yaštapʻilu (?) (?)
C stem (causative internal pattern) (?) yapʻilu n/a
R stem (factitive) (biconsonantal roots) paʻlala (e.g. karkara) yapaʻlalu (e.g. yakarkaru) (?) (?)


Nouns in Ugaritic can be categorized according to their inflection into: cases (nominative, genitive, and accusative), state (absolute and construct), gender (masculine and feminine), and number (singular, dual, and plural).


Ugaritic has three grammatical cases corresponding to: nominative, genitive, and accusative. Normally, singular nouns take the ending –u in the nominative, -i in the genitive and –a in the accusative. Using the word Malk- (king) and Malkat- (queen) for example:

Nominative Genitive Accusative
Masculine Malku Malki Malka
Feminine Malkatu Malkati Malkata

As in Arabic, some exceptional nouns (known as diptotes) have the suffix -a in the genitive. There is no Ugaritic equivalent for Classical Arabic nunation or Akkadian mimation.


Nouns in Ugaritic occur in two states: absolute and construct. If a noun is followed by a genitival attribute (noun in the genitive or suffixed pronoun) it becomes a construct (denoting possession). Otherwise, it is in the absolute state. Ugaritic, unlike Arabic and Hebrew, has no definite article.


Nouns which have no gender marker are for the most part masculine, although some feminine nouns do not have a feminine marker. However, these denote feminine beings such as ʼumm- (mother). /-t/ is the feminine marker which is directly attached to the base of the noun.


Ugaritic distinguishes between nouns based on quantity. All nouns are either singular when there is one, dual when there are two, and plural if there are three or more.


The singular has no marker and is inflected according to its case.


The marker for the dual in the absolute state appears as /-m/. However, the vocalization may be reconstructed as /-āmi/ in the nominative (such as malkāmi "two kings") and /-ēmi/ for the genitive and accusative (e.g. malkēmi). For the construct state, it is /-ā/ and /-ē/ respectively.


Ugaritic has only regular plurals (i.e. no broken plurals). Masculine absolute state plurals take the forms /-ūma/ in the nominative and /-īma/ in the genitive and accusative. In the construct state they are /-ū/ and /-ī/ respectively. The female afformative plural is /-āt/ with a case marker probably following the /-t/, giving /-ātu/ for the nominative and /-āti/ for the genitive and accusative in both absolute and construct state.


Adjectives follow the noun and are declined exactly like the preceding noun.

Personal pronounsEdit

Independent personal pronounsEdit

Independent personal pronouns in Ugaritic are as follows (some forms are lacking because they are not in the corpus of the language):

Person singular dual Plural
1st ʼannu, ʼannāku "I"
2nd masculine ʼatta "you" ʼattumā "you two" ʼattum- "you all"
feminine ʼatta "you"
3rd masculine huwa[1] "he" humā "they" hum-[1] "they"
feminine hiya[1] "she"
  1. ^ a b c 3rd person independent pronouns can occur in the genitive or accusative but are suffixed with a /-t/.

Suffixed (or enclitic) pronounsEdit

Suffixed (or enclitic) pronouns (mainly denoting the genitive and accusative) are as follows:

Person Singular Dual Plural
1st -ya[1] "my" -nayā "our" -na, -nu "our"
2nd masculine -ka "your" -kumā "your" -kum- "your"
feminine -ki "your" -kin(n)a "your"
3rd masculine -hu "his" -humā "their" -hum- "their"
feminine -ha "hers" -hin(n)a "their"
  1. ^ -nī is used for the nominative, i.e. following a verb denoting the subject.


The following is a table of Ugaritic numerals:

Number Masculine Feminine
1 ʼaḥad-
2 ṯināmi[1] ṯitāmi[1]
3 ṯalāṯ- ṯalāṯat-
4 ʼarbaʻ- ʼarbaʻat-
5 ḫam(i)š- ḫam(i)šat-
6 ṯiṯṯ- ṯiṯṯat-
7 šabʻ- šabʻat-
8 ṯamān- ṯamānīt-
9 tišʻ- tišʻat-
10 ʻaš(a)r- ʻaš(a)r(a)t-
20 ʻišrūma [2]
30 ṯalāṯūma [2]
100 miʼat-
1000 ʼalp-
10000 ribat-[1]
  1. ^ a b ṯināmi and ṯitāmi are the nominative form. The genitive-accusative form would be ṯinēmi and ṯitēmi respectively.
  2. ^ a b ʻišrūma and ṯalāṯūma are in the nominative form. The genitive-accusative form would be ʻišrīma and ṯalāṯīma respectively.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Segert, Stanislav (1984). A Basic Grammar of Ugaritic Language. ISBN 9780520039995.


  • Huehnergard, John (2011). A Grammar of Akkadian, 3rd ed. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 978-1-5750-6941-8.
  • Moscati, Sabatino (1980). An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of Semitic Languages, Phonology and Morphology. Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 3-447-00689-7.
  • Segert, Stanislav (1997). A Basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03999-8.
  • Woodard, Roger D. (ed.) (2008). The Ancient Languages of Syria-Palestine and Arabia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-68498-9.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External linksEdit

  • Ugarit and the Bible (An excerpt from an online introductory course on Ugaritic grammar (the Quartz Hill School of Theology's course noted in the links below); includes a cursory discussion on the relationship between Ugaritic and Old Testament/Hebrew Bible literature.)
  • Introduction to Ugaritic Grammar (Quartz Hill School of Theology)
  • Unicode Chart