Syriac Grammar

Classical Syriac Grammar

*Terms of Use – Feel free to download and print as many copies as you would like.  However, please do not alter any of the material, post it to another website, or publish it in any other form.  Thanks!

For questions, comments, corrections, or feedback, feel free to send me an e-mail at classicalsyriac@hotmail.com.

*I didn’t quite make my goal of having the first 12 chapters done by October 31, 2022. They should be done within the next two weeks.

1. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 1

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Week 1 – Alphabet – Estrangela (Last Updated October 6, 2022)

b) Practice Sheet 1.1 – Alphabet Tracing Sheet – Estrangela

c) Practice Sheet 1.2 – Alphabet Practice Sheet – Estrangela

d) Practice Sheet 1.3 – Alphabet Sequence Practice – Estrangela

e) Practice Sheet 1.4 – Alphabet Practice with Following Letter Attached – Estrangela

f) Practice Sheet 1.5 – Alphabet Practice with Previous Letter Attached – Estrangela

g) Practice Sheet 1.6 – Syriac to English Transliteration – Estrangela

h) Practice Sheet 1.7 – Copy Work – Estrangela

i) Practice Sheet 1.8 – Alphabet Tracing Sheet – West Syriac (Serto)

j) Practice Sheet 1.9 – Alphabet Tracing Sheet – East Syriac

2. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 2

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Week 2 – Vowels – Estrangela (Last Updated October 24, 2022)

b) Practice Sheet 2.1 – Vowel Points and Pronunciation – Estrangela

c) Practice Sheet 2.2 – Dividing Words into Syllables

d) Practice Sheet 2.3. – Estrangela – Transliteration with Vowels

e) Practice Sheet 2.4. – Estrangela – Copy Work With Vowels

f) Memorize Vocabulary Using Quizlet

3. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 3

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Week 3 – Nouns, Genitival ܕ, Inseparable Prepositions, Waw – Estrangela (Last Updated October 25, 2022)

b) Practice Sheet 3.1 – Memorizing Noun Paradigms

c) Practice Sheet 3.2 – Adding Prepositions, the Conjunction ܘ, and the Particle ܕ to Other Words

d) Memorize Chapter 3 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

4. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 4

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Week 4 – Other Signs, Verbless Clauses, Adjectives – Estrangela (Last Updated October 27, 2022)

b) Memorize Chapter 4 Vocabulary Using Quizlet (Last Updated February 22, 2022)

5. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 5

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Week 5 – Peal Perfect, Negation, Steps for Translation – Estrangela (Last Updated October 27, 2022)

b) Memorize Chapter 5 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

6. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 6

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Chapter 6- Independent Personal Pronouns, Enclitic Personal Pronouns, Pronominal Suffixes, Possession With Particle of Existence, Use of Particle Existence With Suffixes – Estrangela (Last Updated November 16, 2022)

b) Memorize Chapter 6 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

7. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 7

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Chapter 7 – Pronominal Suffixes on Nouns, Relative Clauses – Estrangela (Last Updated November 16, 2022)

b) Memorize Chapter 7 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

8. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 8

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Chapter 8 – Pa‘‘el, ’Ap‘el, ’Etpe‘el, and ’Etpa‘‘al Perfect (Regular Verbs) (Last Updated October 30, 2022)

b) Practice Sheet 8.1 – Memorizing the Pa‘‘el, ’Ap‘el, ’Etpe‘el, and ’Etpa‘‘al Perfect (Regular Verbs)

c) Memorize Chapter 8 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

9. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 9

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Chapter 9 – Demonstratives, Apposition, and Postpositive Conjunctions (Last Updated: November 16, 2022)

b) Memorizing Chapter 9 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

10. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 10

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Chapter 10 – Original Third-Yod Verbs, Prepositive Conjunctions (Part 1) (Last Updated: November 19, 2022)

b) Memorize Chapter 10 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

11. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 11

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Chapter 11 – Middle Weak Verbs (Coming November 2022)

b) Memorize Chapter 11 Vocabulary Using Quizlet

12. Syriac Grammar – Chapter 12

a) Classical Syriac Grammar – Chapter 12 – The Verb ܗܘܵܐ (Coming November 2022)

Appendix #1 –  Syriac Grammar – Verb Charts

Syriac Verb Chart: Strong Verb (Estrangela)

Appendix #2 – Syriac Grammar – Vocabulary Guide

53 thoughts on “Syriac Grammar

  1. Thanks so much Dr. Francois. These are by far the best online Syriac teachings I’ve encountered. I especially appreciate your inclusion of vocabulary words in your video presentations, because it really helps people like me who have little to no Syriac knowledge to be able to hear how words of a new language should be properly pronounced.

    One more thing before I go. Do you or will you be posting videos on the Syriac vowel system?

    • Hi Harry. Thanks for leaving the comment. I’m glad the material is helpful. I am planning on doing two or three videos (I think!) on Syriac vowels: one doing a basic introduction to Syriac vowels, one that gives the vowels used in the eastern script, and possibly one that gives the vowels in the western script. Hopefully I’ll be able to get one or two of them up some time in January – but we’ll see what happens. Thanks again for the feedback.

  2. Very helpful and well done!

    By the way, allow me to mention the very impressive site syri.ac, which may be of interest to readers here.

    Thank you and God bless you.

  3. I’ve only recently become interested in Syriac, and your grammar has been amazing for keeping this newfound obsession alive! Thank you so much for the work you do on this! I’m in the throes of study even now 😀

    • Thanks for leaving the comment. I appreciate it. I’m in the middle of preparing lectures for a last minute course I’m teaching in a couple of weeks so I haven’t been able to put up any new Syriac material for the website for a bit. Once that’s done I’m hoping to be able to get some new material up. Glad you’re enjoying it.

  4. Thank you every much for your work ! Very helpful and clear.
    Where could I ind a oriental syriac dialect dictionary with full vocalisation, if such a dictionary does exist ?
    Thanks again, I will pray for you !
    Frère Hugues.
    Abbaye de Randol
    F.-63450 Cournols
    France

    • Are you looking for a Syriac to French dictionary, a Syriac to English dictionary, a Syriac to Latin dictionary, or a Syriac to Syriac dictionary? Or is there another kind of dictionary you are looking for? Let me know and I can give you a recommendation.

      • I am looking for an Eastern Syriac dictionary written in an European language, if this does exist !
        Many thanks for all your work !
        With my prayers
        F. Hugues Bohineust.

  5. Dear Dr. Mark François,

    My daughter is using your site to study Syriac. She’s going into ch. 4 and I can’t keep pace with her. She’s 15. I need a tutor to answer her questions and check her work. Please refer me to someone who is knowledgeable in Estrangela and I’ll pay them.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Jason. It’s great to hear that she’s using the material. I would have to do some thinking about how this would work, but I would be willing to check her work and answer her questions myself for free (depending on the time commitment). I’m just happy that she’s using the material. Send me an e-mail at classicalsyriac@hotmail.com and we can figure out how it might work.

  6. Thank you so much for your amazing work. Your videos are so professional and easy to follow. Do you plan to have more videos? That will he great! I have intermediate knowledge of Syriac grammar, I want to become advanced.

    • Hi Ester. Thanks for leaving a comment – I appreciate it. I’m hoping to do some more videos soon. I was pretty busy this year preparing courses that I taught in May and June. But now that those courses are done, I should have a bit more time – assuming the marking doesn’t take too long. But I’m definitely hoping to make some more this summer.

  7. Excellent effort, very professional, informative and educative.. Keep the good work Dr. Francois. May Hashem ybrakh otkha.

  8. These are great resources!

    Quick question: I’m interested in learning Syriac so that I can read Ephrem the Syrian’s poems and hymns and the Peshitta. Where would I find affordable versions of those texts?

    Thanks!

  9. Hi I am from India and east syriac is the liturgical language of our church.
    But I find that you pronounce the letter ܦ as `f´ while we pronounce it as `p´ why is that…

    • That’s a good question. The answer is that there are different traditions for how the letter ܦ is pronounced. One factor has to do with the pronunciation that was used in the dialect of Aramaic that readers of Syriac used in their everyday language. The other factor has to do with the church tradition that readers are a part of. As far as I know, everyone pronounces ܦ as a “p” when no vowel sound comes before it and when it is not doubled. West Syriac and an earlier version of East Syriac pronounce it as an “f” when it is preceded by a vowel sound. This was also the case in Imperial Aramaic. However, since at least the 10th century CE, the letter ܦ in East Syriac has been pronounced as a “p” even if it is preceded by a vowel sound. In some cases it can even be pronounced like a “w” (e.g. ܢܲܦܫܵܐ = nawšā). I don’t know if that’s the case for how East Syriac is pronounced in India but that’s how it would be pronounced in Iraq in some cases. Hope that makes sense. I would be interested to hear how you pronounce ܢܲܦܫܵܐ. Hope everything is going well with you in India. I know that India is being hit very hard with COVID right now. All the best.

    • That’s a good question. It is normally pronounced Ava. However, in the East Syriac version of Galatians 4:6 it seems to be pronounced as Abba. The reason why that’s the case is because it is transliterating the word Abba that is being quoted in the Greek text.

  10. Do you speak neo aramaic….
    Do you thing applying the neo aramaic setence formation gramatical rules, into classical aramaic can help us to start talking in the classcal aramaic?

    • Unfortunately, I don’t speak neo-Aramaic. My understanding, though, is that neo-Aramaic is quite different from Classical Syriac. Part of it has to do with historical development within the language, part of it has to do with influence from other languages, but one of the biggest issues is that neo-Aramaic dialects aren’t direct descendants of Classical Syriac. I’m familiar with some of the differences between Classical Syriac and neo-Aramaic dialects but, without being able to speak any of the dialects, I couldn’t say whether or not it would be helpful for actually speaking Classical Syriac.

      • But you do think that classical syriac was a spoken language right? What do you think is the best way to start talking in it again..? Can you try to make up some sentences…?

      • It was definitely a spoken language at one point. It was based on the Aramaic dialect that was spoken at Edessa. I’m not really an expert in that area but I imagine that Classical Syriac would have functioned somewhat like Standard German a couple of hundred years ago – Standard German was used in official settings but at home everyone spoke their own dialect. It would certainly be possible to start speaking Classical Syriac again today but it wouldn’t be straightforward. If I were the one doing it, I would start by trying to learn northeastern Neo-Aramaic (i.e. Assyrian) and work backwards.

      • The north eastern aramaic (assyrian) that you mentioned….
        Is it the same language they used to film The Passion of Christ..?

      • I don’t believe it is. The language used in the Passion of the Christ seems to mimic the Aramaic that is found in Ezra and Danie. For example, there were several places where I heard כל קבל די (kol qovel di). There were also several places where the pronunciation wouldn’t have matched up with later forms of Aramaic.

  11. Thank you for making your materials freely available and they are easy to follow for me as I have studied Syriac for only a short while.

    In respect to a question someone asked above about a source for Biblical Syriac texts, the best source for the Old Testament material is the Leiden Peshitta. The Brill website has the critical apparatus giving important textual variations but has a user fee. However, https://github.com/ETCBC/peshitta/tree/master/plain/0.2 is the latest version of the Leiden Peshitta main text which is freely available. The Leiden Peshitta folks provided an earlier version to the Hebrew Union College CAL (Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon) website some years ago, but that version does not (yet) reflect the updates available on Leiden’s ETCBC github website. I am currently analyzing the differences and letting the folks at CAL know where their site may need changes.

    One thing that would be nice to see is a list of links to the oldest Biblical manuscripts. I have found 7a1, 8a1, 5b1, 9a1, 9c1, 12a1, and 15a1. I am aware of other manuscripts online but not aware of their Leiden Peshitta numbers (some of those are from the 17th century so not useful for my purposes). Do you know of a free source for that information?

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Andrew. Not a problem. I’m glad that the material is being used. I didn’t realize that the text on the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon site doesn’t reflect the changes on the the ETCBC website. I noticed one or two typos in their version of Habakkuk—but after a quick email to Stephen Kaufman they were corrected. The advantage to the text on the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon is that each of the words are tagged to their lexicon. But that’s definitely good to know.

      I agree that it would be nice to have a list of the oldest biblical manuscripts that are available online. I was trying to make a list last summer for New Testament manuscripts but I have been pretty tied up with an article I am writing and a book review. I don’t know if you know this website, but this might be a good place to start: http://syri.ac/digimss/faceted/field_language_tag/syriac-5. Eventually I want to make my own list that is annotated, easy to use, and has links to the digitized manuscripts.

  12. Very Nice! I just finished one year hebrew and just started with biblical aramaic but I’ve been always curios about syriac, and the way you teach its so easy to follow and understand. Thank you for making it free!

  13. Dear Dr. Mark,
    I am deeply grateful for your free Syriac courses here; this is truly a gift!
    I have searched some other Syriac grammars.
    It seems they differ in the names of the vowels given between East Syriac and West Syriac than your video. As far as I can tell, it is complicated by the ancient pronunciations, development over time, and modern usage. In short, the most confusing thing is that they call the long e rvasa, while this is the name for the long u in East Syriac. Can you help me understand why this is? Along with the differences in names of the vowels between East and West Syriac ?

    My questions regarding the difference in vowel names leads me to a second question. I have a friend who is trying to take Syriac courses online at https://syriac.school/
    are you familiar with this school?
    They teach the West Syriac pronunciation. I have benefited greatly from your courses, and, as far as I can understand, your course presents the more ancient (classical) vocalization of vowels, which is for the most part retained in East Syriac.

    My main intention for studying Syriac is because of my love for St. Isaac the Syrian, who was an East Syriac writer. I have a desire to learn Syriac, and want to start with your course, but it seems to differ with almost all other Syriac grammars and courses presented today, which teach West Syriac pronunciation, etc. Correct me if I am wrong. I do not have much knowledge of Syriac, but from an initial reading of different grammars, certain differences strike me.

    I do not want to spend money where it will only confuse me. So, I am wondering if you could provide me with any insight in how to seriously pursue my Syriac studies beyond your courses, and what I should know regarding differences, etc. Please let me know if you need further clarification.

    Again, I am deeply and eternally grateful for your free courses!!!

  14. Thank you very much!
    This is extremely helpful!
    I am grateful for the extra time you have spent on creating it, hopefully others will find it useful.
    take care,

  15. Hi, thanks for your great teaching, so helpfull
    may God Bless you
    I have a question
    how we can guess Vowels in words without vowels signs like as: a in /zavnin/ and a in /harta/ ?

    • Hi Iman. The good thing about Syriac is that there are very few places where you have to guess which vowel to use in texts that don’t have vowel signs. Unfortunately, however, there aren’t any shortcuts in the cases where it isn’t clear. When you memorize vocabulary, you have to memorize the vowels that go with the word.

  16. Dear Doctor Marc Steven François,

    As an Aramaic Syriac descendant, I would like to thank you heartly and greatly for the Incredible Masterpiece you have done in honor of our Motherland, Civilization through our Language.

    May The Lord Bless You And Bless Your Work.

    El. Sa.

  17. Hi,
    I’ve been considering learning Classical Syriac to integrate with my study of other Semitic languages. Looking through the PDFs, I noticed that Lessons 6, 7, and 9 don’t have grammatical sheets attached. Will these be available at some point?
    Many thanks for your free resources,
    Simon

    • Hi Simon. They should be available at some point soon. I am currently updating these chapters. The nature of the revisions made it seem wise to remove them from the website for the time being until they are finished. Hopefully they will be done soon. Glad you’re enjoying the resources.

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