In Old and Middle Egyptian, this particle can stand at the beginning of adjective, adverbial, and verbal sentences; it is followed by a nominal subject, a demonstrative pronoun, or an attached suffix pronoun. There is significant debate over what exactly it indicates in these stages of the language:
According to Allen, it indicates that the statement in the sentence is presented as true at the time of the statement, in contrast to false statements and statements which are always or generally true. It occurs at the start of independent clauses, but never those verbal clauses beginning with an imperative, bare stative, perfective, prospective, subjunctive, biliteral suffixed (contingent), or emphatic form. It also occurs at the start of subordinate adverbial clauses if their subject is pronominal, but never if it is nominal.
According to Loprieno, it is a ‘particle of initiality’ indicating that its sentence opens a new segment of discourse, with the semantic scope of an overt assertion of truth, and pragmatically relating the sentence to the speaker’s situation without necessarily implying direct involvement. However, in simple adverbial clauses with a pronominal subject, it can also serve as a semantically and syntactically neutral morpheme that only serves to carry an attached subject pronoun. In extremely rare cases, it can introduce the subject of an existential sentence consisting of just one element, an apparently archaic usage.
According to Hoch, it indicates that the statement is one that the speaker wishes to present as a fact, and it only occurs in main clauses.
It has frequently been characterized as an assertion particle, sometimes noting its apparent modal role marking realis statements.
In the so-called Standard Theory, its role was often considered purely syntactic, marking independent clauses; this view is no longer common. Some scholars working in the frame of the Standard Theory have suggested that bare (proclitic-less) sentences following one introduced by jw are main clauses that become hypotactically linked to the initial sentence in a chain of discourse, with the particle conveying the syntactic or pragmatic ‘theme’ of the whole and functioning as a nominal element.