The Amharic verb expresses various aspects of action by a system of derived stems. The basic stem is modified either internally (by various infixes) or externally (by the addition of one of a number of prefixes). To these derived forms there are usually applied terms taken directly from, or modelled on. traditional European grammatical terminology. These terms, such as passive, reflexive, causative, factitive, etc., do not fully describe the function of the particular forms to which they are applied. They can also lead to an incorrect understanding of the exact function of a particular form. However, they have been and continue to be used if only through long custom and familiarity. In the Amharic verbal system there are two excellent examples of this, namely those two forms called by some scholars causative and factitive and by others first and second causative, respectively; they are, of course, those derived forms with prefix /a-/ and /as-/ respectively. Whilst in many examples these preformatives can be found to express what causative and factitive (or any other such name) may be defined as meaning, there are in these two instances just as many examples to the contrary. For example, ‘he fed’, does express a causative turn of the base form ‘he ate’, but ‘he acquired’ and the derived ‘he studied’ do not appear to have such a clear relationship.