In Megillat Esther, why is the word "maidens" spelled with a sh'va under the first letter (נְעָרוֹת) in verses 2:2, 2:8, 2:9, but with a patach (נַעֲרוֹת) in verse 4:4?
When נערות is in construct state it has a patach instead of a sh'va and would mean "maidens of" instead of just "maidens".
The instances in chapter 2 are the regular noun, meaning “maidens”.
In chapter 4, the word is in the construct state, meaning “maidens of”. This is denoted by the alternative vowelization.