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Letters 1 updated 2022-06-17 ^

NEW USERS AND PEOPLE NEW TO HEBREW: See here for quick instructions on typing and learning to read Hebrew.

Welcome to the Hebrew course!

Please read the Tips and Notes. They will help you understand how the Hebrew language works and will prevent misunderstandings. There is a lot to take in at the beginning, but don't be put off reading the notes. Stick with it, because they get shorter the further down the tree you go.

We are very excited that you have chosen to learn Hebrew. Remember that you can access the Tips and Notes from a lesson at any time by clicking the top-left corner, or by clicking the lightbulb if you are using Duolingo with skill levels enabled.

Before we get started, just be aware that the Hebrew language is written from right to left!

The Hebrew Alphabet

In Hebrew there are 22 letters, some of their sounds exist in English and some don't. A few letters have an ending form - that means that those letters look different when written at the end of a word (their pronunciation does not change).

Each letter is given with the pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and a close-matching example in English:

(Letters in blue are taught in this skill)

Name Letter Ending form IPA English example
Aleph א /ʔ/ uh (usually silent or similar to the letter "a" in English: a placeholder for vowels)**
Bet ב /b/*,/v/ bet, vet
Gimel ג /g/ go
Dalet ד /d/ dog
Hey ה /h/ hen (often silent in modern colloquial speech)
Vav ו /v/ vet
Zayin ז /z/ zoo
Chet ח /X/ loch
Tet ט /t/ ten
Yod י /j/ yes
Kaf כ ך /k/*, /X/ cat, loch
Lamed ל /l/ log
Mem מ ם /m/ man
Nun נ ן /n/ no
Samekh ס /s/ see
Ayin ע /ʔ/, /ʕ/ uh
Pei פ ף /p/*,/f/ pay, fool
Tsadi צ ץ /ts/ cats
Qof ק /k/ cat
Resh ר /ʁ/ run (similar to the French r)
Shin ש /ʃ/,/s/ she, see
Tav ת /t/ tap

*These sounds are pronounced only when the letter is at the beginning of the word or at the beginning of a syllable. Otherwise, the other sound is usually the one that is pronounced.

**A common example for the use of "א" as a silent letter is the word לא (/lo/), which means "no".

The letter "vav" (ו)

The basic sound of the letter "vav" is "v". However, it is also used in Hebrew as the vowel "u" and "o".

For example:


Hebrew has only a definite article (i.e. "the"). This means that there are no indefinite articles (i.e. "a/an"). In order to add the definite article to a noun we simply attach the letter ה to the beginning of the noun.

For example:

ילד - boy/a boy (yéled)

הילד = ה + ילד - the boy (the "ה" as a definite article is pronounced Ha - i.e. hayéled).

(Throughout the notes we add accents [like these: áéíóú] merely to show which syllable is stressed. In this case yeled and not yeled)

Connecting words

In order to connect words in Hebrew using the word "and", we attach the letter ו (vav) to the beginning of the second word. When using it to connect words, the letter ו will usually sound like "ve".

For example:

ילדה - a girl ( yalda)

ילדה וילד = ילדה ו + ילד - a girl and a boy (yalda veyeled)

We can also use both ה and ו together ("the" and "and"):

והילד = ו + ה + ילד - and the boy (ve-ha-yeled)

Yes/No questions

Yes/No questions in Hebrew do not change the sentence structure. You can simply add a question mark in writing, and in speech, you can use a questioning intonation.

For example:

אני אבא (aní ába) - I am a father.

?אני אבא (aní ába?) - Am I a father?

We can also add the word "האם" (ha-ím) in order to emphasize that a question is being asked, but it is considered formal, and is therefore not very common in spoken Hebrew.

For example:

אני אבא (aní ába) - I am a father.

?האם אני אבא (ha-ím aní ába?) - Am I a father?

The verbs "לבוא" and "לאהוב"

In this lesson we come across our first two verbs - לבוא (to come) and לאהוב (to love/like). We are not going to teach verb conjugation yet, but just to clarify what we're dealing with:

בא (ba) - "comes" for singular masculine nouns.

באה (ba'a) - "comes" for singular feminine nouns.

אוהב (ohév) - "loves/likes" for singular masculine nouns.

אוהבת (ohévet) - "loves/likes" for singular feminine nouns.

Letters 2 updated 2022-06-17 ^

NEW USERS AND PEOPLE NEW TO HEBREW: See here for quick instructions on typing and learning to read Hebrew.

Here is the table of Hebrew letters again for reference:

(Letters in blue are taught in this skill)

(Letters in green were taught in former skills)

Name Letter Ending form IPA English example
Aleph א /ʔ/ uh (usually silent or similar to the letter "a" in English: a placeholder for vowels)**
Bet ב /b/*,/v/ bet, vet
Gimel ג /g/ go
Dalet ד /d/ dog
Hey ה /h/ hen (often silent in modern colloquial speech)
Vav ו /v/ vet
Zayin ז /z/ zoo
Chet ח /X/ loch
Tet ט /t/ ten
Yod י /j/ yes
Kaf כ ך /k/*, /X/ cat, loch
Lamed ל /l/ log
Mem מ ם /m/ man
Nun נ ן /n/ no
Samekh ס /s/ see
Ayin ע /ʔ/, /ʕ/ uh
Pei פ ף /p/*,/f/ pay, fool
Tsadi צ ץ /ts/ cats
Qof ק /k/ cat
Resh ר /ʁ/ run (similar to the French r)
Shin ש /ʃ/,/s/ she, see
Tav ת /t/ tap

*These sounds are pronounced only when the letter is at the beginning of the word or at the beginning of a syllable. Otherwise, the other sound will be the one that is pronounced.

**A common example for the use of "א" as a silent letter is the word: לא (/lo/) - which means "no".

The Hebrew Vowels

In Hebrew the vowels aren't represented by letters, but by dots and dashes that appear around the letters. These dots and dashes are called nekudot (נקודות), and the system that they make up is known as nikud (ניקוד). (Note: a common mistake for beginners is to refer to them as nikudot. This word doesn't exist.) Nikud isn't used much in modern Hebrew so we will learn how to read without it (see Letters 3). Think of it a bit like "text speak" in English. You know what "hw abt nxt wdnsday?" means because your brain inserts the right vowels automatically.

Some words are written with the same letters but have different nikud and are pronounced differently - without the dots, the pronunciation can often be determined by context. In this case we will help you by adding nikud where necessary.

Please Note! when writing your Hebrew answers, don't use the vowels - just write words without vowels.

Here is a table of the most common ones (where we will use א as an example carrier letter):

Vowel IPA English example
אְ silent/e mm (long sound), yet
אָ אַ a bank
אֶ אֵ e bed
אִ i beep
אֹ o bog
אֻ u zoo

In addition, the letter "ו" can carry two kinds of vowels:

Vowel IPA English example
וֹ o bog
וּ u zoo


As well as denoting vowels, dots can be used to explicitly distinguish between letters that have two different pronunciations:

Letter Pronunciation with dot Pronunciation without dot
ּב b v
ּכ k kh
ּפ p f

In technical terms the letters with the dot are plosives, and are usually used at the start of a syllable, while the letters without the dot are fricatives and are usually used at the end of a syllable. In writing without nikud, a letter without a dot could have either pronunciation, but its position in the syllable will help you guess the right pronunciation. For example:

kélev כלב (start of syllable)
mélekh מלך (end of syllable)

The letter שׁ, with a dot at the top right represents "sh", while שׂ, with the dot at the top left, represents "s".

Letters 3 updated 2022-06-17 ^

NEW USERS AND PEOPLE NEW TO HEBREW: See here for quick instructions on typing and learning to read Hebrew.

Here is the table of Hebrew letters again for reference:

(Letters in blue are taught in this skill)

(Letters in green were taught in former skills)

Name Letter Ending form IPA English example
Aleph א /ʔ/ uh (usually silent or similar to the letter "a" in English: a placeholder for vowels)**
Bet ב /b/*,/v/ bet, vet
Gimel ג /g/ go
Dalet ד /d/ dog
Hey ה /h/ hen (often silent in modern colloquial speech)
Vav ו /v/ vet
Zayin ז /z/ zoo
Chet ח /X/ loch
Tet ט /t/ ten
Yod י /j/ yes
Kaf כ ך /k/*, /X/ cat, loch
Lamed ל /l/ log
Mem מ ם /m/ man
Nun נ ן /n/ no
Samekh ס /s/ see
Ayin ע /ʔ/, /ʕ/ uh
Pei פ ף /p/*,/f/ pay, fool
Tsadi צ ץ /ts/ cats
Qof ק /k/ cat
Resh ר /ʁ/ run (similar to the French r)
Shin ש /ʃ/,/s/ she, see
Tav ת /t/ tap

*These sounds are pronounced only when the letter is at the beginning of the word or at the beginning of a syllable. Otherwise, the other sound will be the one that is pronounced.

**A common example for the use of "א" as a silent letter is the word: לא (/lo/) - which means "no".

Ktiv malé: "Full Spelling"

In modern Hebrew we usually don't use vowel dots (nikud), which is why we will learn to read without them. Ktiv malé ("full spelling") is a way of writing which helps us to do so.

In ktiv male we use letters to replace some of the nikud, so in fact, it's not strictly true that Hebrew is written without vowels.

Letter IPA English example Hebrew example
ו o log אורז (órez - rice)
ו u zoo הוא (hu - he is)
י e bed הישג (héseg - accomplishment)
י i beep היא (hee - she is)
א,ה,ע a rag רע (ra - bad)
א,ה,ע e bed קורא (koré - reads)

There are also a few guidelines you can use to help you:

1.When a word ends with the letter "ח", the end is always pronounced as "akh" ("aX").

2.When a word ends with the letter "ע", the end is always pronounced as "a" ("ʔa", "ʕa")

3.In some words, we use the diphthong "יי" for "ai", "ey" and "ya":

4.When we want to pronounce the sound "v" we double the letter ו (vav) - since when we are not using nikud, the letter ו is used to indicate when there is a vowel, "o" or "u":

Note: when the letter ו appears in the beginning of the word there is no need to double it - it will nearly always be "v". Eg. ורוד varód (pink)

5.When a word ends with the combination "יו", it will mostly be pronounced as "av".

Common Phrases updated 2022-06-17 ^

NEW USERS AND PEOPLE NEW TO HEBREW: See here for quick instructions on typing and learning to read Hebrew.


The word "welcome" has 4 versions:


In this lesson we introduce two common Israeli names:

יוסי (Yossi) - Male name (shortened from the equivalent of "Joseph", Yosef - יוסף)

טל (Tal) - Unisex name (meaning "dew")

How are you?

As in English, there are various ways to ask someone how they are, or what's going on. Here we introduce the following:

?מה קורה
Literally: "What's happening?" Similar to "What's up?", "How are you doing?"

?מה נשמע
Literally: "What is heard?" Used in the same way as מה קורה.

?מה שלומך
(when addressing a male: מה שלומךָ (ma shlomkhá), when addressing a female: מה שלומךְ (ma shlomékh))
Literally this means "what is your peace/well-being/welfare?". This is the standard, formal way of asking "how are you?".

Congratulations and good luck!

The Hebrew phrase for "congratulations" is "מזל טוב" (mazal tov) - not "mazel tov" like in Yiddish! Literally it means "good luck" but it isn't used to wish someone good luck, it simply means that they have already had some good luck (mazal = luck; tov = good).

The Hebrew phrase for "good luck" is בהצלחה (be'hatzlakha), literally "in/with success".

Basics updated 2018-10-25 ^

To Be

In Hebrew the verb "to be" doesn't exist in the present tense - meaning that there is no "am" , "is" or "are" in Hebrew (Except for a few specific cases which will be taught later). So what do we do? We simply omit them. Instead of saying "I am", you just say "I".

In Hebrew all pronouns except "I" and "We" have a masculine and a feminine form. When using verbs or adjectives with "I" or "We", choosing the correct form is a matter of the speaker's gender. If the speaker is male, he will use the masculine form, while a female speaker will use the feminine form. (the first person pronoun(I/We) will remain the same, since it is neutral). For example :

אני אוהבת מים - I like (sg. fem.) water. - the speaker is a female

אני אוהב מים - I like (sg. masc.) water. - the speaker is a male

When it comes to the pronoun "we", one should use the plural feminine form only when the group is not mixed - in that case, we use the plural masculine form.

We have already learnt the singular pronouns in the Letters skills, so in this lesson we will learn the plural pronouns.

Let's have a look at the Hebrew pronouns:

English Hebrew Pronunciation
I am אני Ani
You are (singular masculine) אתה Ata
You are (singular feminine) את At
He is הוא Hu
She is היא Hee
We are אנחנו Anakhnu
You are (plural masculine) אתם Atem
You are (plural feminine) אתן Aten
They are (masculine) הם Hem
They are (feminine) הן Hen

When using "you" (plural) or "they" for a mixed group, the masculine plural is used.

Grammatical Genders

We have two grammatical genders (masculine and feminine), and each of them has both singular and plural forms.

There is no exact way to know what the gender of each noun is, but you can use this guideline to help you - most of the feminine nouns end with "ה"(a) or "ת"(t) (keep in mind that there are some masculine nouns with these endings, but not many).

Moreover, if the noun is related to a person, you can almost always determine its grammatical gender through the person's gender.

For example, the grammatical gender of the noun "mom" is feminine.

Unlike in English, Hebrew uses the third-person pronouns "he" and "she" when referring to both animate and inanimate nouns (while English refers to humans alone with those words). There is no "it".

When using a third-person pronoun to replace a noun, the pronoun used is the pronoun of the corresponding grammatical gender. Let's take a look at an example:

The grammatical gender of the noun "apple" is masculine.

We will take the sentence:

התפוח טעים - ha'tapúakh ta'ím (the apple is tasty)

If we want to refer to the same apple in another sentence, we will say:

הוא טעים - hu taim (lit: he is tasty)

In English, one says "it is tasty".
The same goes for all nouns.

Verb Conjugation

In Hebrew, present tense verbs conjugate according to gender and number.

For example, the pronoun "he", will a receive a singular masculine verb, and the pronoun "they (f)" will a receive a plural feminine verb.

Here is the basic verb conjugation:

- Masculine Feminine
Singular אוכל(ochel) אוכלת (ochelet )
Plural אוכלים (ochlim) אוכלות ( ochlot)

For the few verbs whose masculine singular form contains only 2 letters, the verb conjugation is as follows:

- Masculine Feminine
Singular בא (ba) באה ( ba'ah)
Plural באים (baim) באות (baot)

Magic ה!

When verbs end with ה, they conjugate a bit differently than normal verbs:

  1. The singular form (masculine/feminine) is determined by the vowels of the letter before "ה".

  2. In the plural form, the "ה" is omitted.

For example:

- Masculine Feminine
Singular רואֶה (ro'eh) רואָה (ro'ah)
Plural רואים (ro'im) רואות (ro'ot)

As you can see in the singular masculine form, the letter before "ה" has a "e" vowel (ro'eh), and in the singular feminine form it has an "a" vowel (ro'ah).

There is/To Have updated 2018-10-25 ^

To Have

In Hebrew, there is no verb "to have". Instead, in the present tense, we use the word "יש"(yesh) - "there is" and a conjugation of the preposition "ל" (le = "to").

For example, "לנו" (lanu) = to us. Using it together with "יש" (yesh = there is) will form:

יש לנו (yesh lanu) = we have (literally, "there is to us").

Here is a table of indirect pronouns with יש:

English Hebrew Pronunciation
I have יש לי yesh li
You have (s.m) ָיש לך yesh lechá
You have (s.f.) ְיש לך yesh lach
He has יש לו yesh lo
She has יש לה yesh la
We have יש לנו yesh lánu
You have (p.m.) יש לכם yesh lakhém
You have (p.f.) יש לכן yesh lakhén
They have (m.) יש להם yesh lahém
They have (f.) יש להן yesh lahén

When using "you (plural) have" or "they have" for a mixed group, use the masculine plural.

If we want to say that one does not have something, we use the word "אין" ("ein", but mostly pronounced colloquially as "en") instead of "יש".

For example:

Similarly, we add "ל" (le = "to") to any other noun that is the possessor of something:

For example:

ל + ילד = לילד = leyéled - to a boy יש לילד - a boy has

If we are adding ל to an object that has ה (the) already attached at the beginning, we remove ה and add ל. The pronunciation will be "la", not "le":

ל + הילד = לילד = layéled - to the boy

How do we know whether לילד means "to a boy" or "to the boy"? Context! (Or if there is nikud: לְילד versus לַילד).

Word Order

Usually the word order for sentences referring to possession is as follows (reading right to left):

thing possessed + possessor + יש + ל

For example:
יש לילד תפוח
אין לילד תפוח

An alternative order places the possessor at the start of the sentence, as follows:
לילד יש תפוח
This has the effect of placing more emphasis on the possessor than on the object possessed: "the boy (it's the boy, and not the girl, or the frog) has an apple".

This example may help you to understand the difference:
לילד יש תפוח, אבל לי אין
the boy has an apple, but I don't.

Introduction to adjectives updated 2018-10-25 ^

We use adjectives to describe objects.

Sentence Structure

In Hebrew, the adjective is placed after the noun. For example (the adjective is in bold):

little dog = כלב קטן (kelev katan)

Conjugation of Adjectives

Adjectives in Hebrew decline according to the grammatical gender and number of the noun they are referring to.

Adjective conjugation is almost identical to present tense conjugation. (In fact, you will come to see that the distinction between adjective, verb and noun is very blurred at times in Hebrew!)

- Masculine Feminine
Singular טוב (tov) טובה (tova)
Plural טובים (tovim) טובות (tovot)
- Masculine Feminine
Singular יפֶה (yafe) יפָה (yafa)
Plural יפים (yafim) יפות (yafot)

Summary of Simple Phrase Structures

The book is good - הספר טוב
The good book - הספר הטוב
A good book - ספר טוב

How do we say "a book is good"? We use the personal pronouns kind of like a "to be" verb:

A book is good - ספר הוא טוב literally "(a) book he/it (is) good"

For a feminine noun, you need to use היא:

A bird is beautiful - ציפור היא יפה

These a fairly unusual, uncommon sentences in both Hebrew and English, but they serve as an example, and a reminder that ספר טוב almost always means "(a) good book" and not "a book is good".

And of course, you need the plural for plural nouns:

Children/Boys are good - ילדים הם טובים
Girls are good - ילדות הן טובות

Food 1 updated 2018-10-25 ^

The accusative

When an action is being done to a noun, we call that noun "the direct object".

You will remember from Letters 1 that there is no indefinite article ("a"/"an") in Hebrew, and that in order to add a definite article ("the") to a noun we simply connect the letter ה to the noun.

However, when that noun is the direct object of the sentence, we also need to add another word before it. This word has no English equivalent or translation, and all it does is it tells you that the noun which is about to follow is the direct object. For now you only need to use it with the definite article, ה. If you find words like "definite", "article" and "direct" confusing, don't worry! Duolingo is designed to help you understand when to use words like את through practice.

Try not to confuse את et, with the identically-spelled את at. You can tell which pronunciation to use from the context. (See the example at the bottom of this page)

Examples using את et:

ילד אוכל תפוח - A boy eats an apple.

הילד אוכל תפוח - The boy eats an apple.

ילד אוכל את התפוח - A boy eats the apple.

הילד אוכל את התפוח - The boy eats the apple.

If the direct object is a name, then את is still required, but we don't add ה:
הילד אוכל את יוסי
The boy eats Yossi!

et vs at

You can usually tell from the context whether את is to be pronounced as "et" or "at":

את אוכלת את התפוח - You (f) eat the apple. at okhélet et hatapúakh

The first את is followed by a verb (a "doing word"), so it has to be at, "you". The second is followed by ה + a noun which is receiving the action (it is being eaten), so it is et.

Animals updated 2018-10-25 ^

In Hebrew some animals have both masculine and feminine forms. If we use the masculine form, we are referring to a male animal, and if we use the feminine form, we are referring to a female animal.

In order to turn the masculine form of an animal into its feminine form, we often simply add "ה" to the end of the noun.

For example:

A male cat - חתול (khatúl)

A female cat - חתולה (khatulá)

Some animals receive the letter "ת" instead of "ה".

For example:

A male rabbit - ארנב (arnáv)

A female rabbit - ארנבת (arnévet) (The vowels also change a bit here. You will get used to seeing this pattern as you learn new words.)

Note that ציפור (bird) is feminine, even though it ends in ים in the plural. It is irregular:

ציפורים שרות - Birds are singing. tsiporím sharót

Plurals updated 2018-10-25 ^

In Hebrew we have 2 endings for nouns in the plural form:

יִם(im) - for masculine nouns.

וֹת(ot) - for feminine nouns.

If the noun ends with the letter "ה" - we omit it before adding the plural ending.

For example:

פרה (pará) - cow

פרות (parót) - cows

If the word ends with a letter in its final form, we replace it with the original form, and then add the plural ending.

For example:

עיתון (itón) - newspaper.

עיתונים (itoním) - newspapers.

These are the basic rules. However, many masculine nouns have the feminine plural ending and vice versa. Unfortunately these irregular words are fairly unpredictable. For the most part you just have to learn them.

For example, יין (yain) - wine is a masculine noun, but the plural is יינות (yeinót). דבורה (dvorá) -bee- is a feminine noun, but the plural is דבורים (dvorím). Note that adjectives/verbs always agree with the gender of the noun regardless of its plural ending, so you would say יינות טעימים - tasty wines ; and not יינות טעימות.

We also have nouns that have both masculine and feminine forms. These nouns usually refer to humans and animals.

For example:

חתולים (khatulím) - a male or mixed-gender group of cats (plural masculine).

חתולות (khatulót) - female cats (plural feminine).

Possessives 1 updated 2018-10-25 ^

The word possessive word "של"

In Hebrew the basic possessive form is "של" ("shel" meaning "of"). של has additional forms for each person such as שלי (my), שלנו (our), like the other prepositions in Hebrew.

To say "Yossi's apple", we literally say "The apple of Yossi": התפוח של יוסי.

Now let's have a look at the inflections of the word "של":

English Hebrew
My שלי
Your (s.m.) שלךָ
Your (s.f.) שלךְ
His שלו
Her שלה
Our שלנו
Your (p.m.) שלכם
Your (p.f.) שלכן
Their (m) שלהם
Their (f) שלהן

When talking about a noun being possessed - we add the word "ה" (the) to the noun. When we are talking to the noun, no "ה" is needed.

For example:

Talking about the horse:

הסוס שלי אוכל - My horse is eating. Literally: "the horse of mine is eating" or "the horse that is to me is eating".

Talking to the horse:

בוקר טוב, סוס שלי! - Good morning, my horse! Literally: "Good morning, horse of mine!".

As you will have noticed, in Hebrew the possessive word always comes after the noun and not before it.

That means we say: הסוס שלי and not שלי הסוס

Do we always have to use the definite arcticle?

There is another case when we don’t need to use the word “ה” - certain nouns don’t require its use, even when we are talking about them. The most common example of such nouns is certain family members - for example, when talking about your:

אבא - father/dad

אמא - mother/mum/mom

אח - brother

אחות - sister

For example, אמא שלי חכמה - my mother is smart and not האמא שלי חכמה.

The phrase "להיות שייך"

In Hebrew, like in English, you can use the word "belong" to indicate ownership. In Hebrew we use the word "שייך":

- Masculine Feminine
Singular שייך (shayákh) שייכת (shayékhet)
Plural שייכים (shayakhím) שייכות (shayachót)

Like in English, this words requires the preposition "to" ("-ל" in Hebrew) which we learned in the "There is" skill.

For example:

זה שייך לי= It belongs to me

החתולה שייכת לילד= the (female) cat belongs to the boy

Technically, שייך is (or was originally) an adjective, so it does not have an infinitive, or past and future tenses. The solution for this is to use the verb "to be" with שייך. "To belong to" is -להיות שייך ל.

Adjectives 1 - Basics updated 2018-10-25 ^

Copula (אוגד)

When we want to define a general feature of an object (i.e. lemons are sour), we use the copula (אוגד). The main purpose of the copula is to link the subject of a sentence with a predicate.

In simple terms, the copula is like the English verb "to be".

The copula in Hebrew uses the third person pronouns to describe objects (i.e.
he/it הוא
she/it היא
they (m) הם
they (f) הן).

For example:

Fish are tasty = דגים הם טעימים (literally - fish they (are) tasty).

This allows you to differentiate between:
דגים טעימים - tasty fish
דגים הם טעימים - fish are tasty.

Definite articles with adjectives

When adding definite articles to nouns with adjectives, both the noun and the adjective receive a definite article.

For example:

The big dog = הכלב הגדול (hakélev hagadól).

This rule is also applicable when we use more than one adjective for the same noun.

The big beautiful dog = הכלב הגדול והיפה (hakélev hagadól ve'hayafé).
Note that we say "big and beautiful". הגדול היפה is not as natural as "big beautiful" as in English.

So now you can differentiate between:

Possessives with adjectives

When you have a noun, an (attributive) adjective and a possessive, the possessive comes after both the noun and the adjective:

הכלב החדש שלי
My new dog

not הכלב שלי החדש

Direct Object updated 2018-10-25 ^

We have already met the direct object connector: "אֵת"(et).

It is considered a preposition and we use it to mark a direct object (the receiver of an action). It appears when there is a definite article attached to the noun (i.e. "the" - "ה").

In some cases the word "ה" is not necessary to express a specific direct object, for example, nouns related to family members (mom, dad, sister, brother etc.), and people's names. That's because family members are usually specified (people usually have one mother and one father).

For example:

"אני אוהב את אמא שלי" - I love my mom. "אני אוהב את טל" - I love Tal.

The suffixes of the word "את"

The word "את" has suffixes to indicate person and number, like every other preposition. Note that the plural "you" bucks the trend and starts with "et", not "ot":

English Hebrew
Me אותי (oti)
You (singular masculine) אותךָ (otkha)
You (singular feminine) אותךְ (otakh)
Him אותו (oto)
Her אותה (ota)
Us אותנו (otanu)
You (plural masculine) אתכם (etkhem)
You (plural feminine) אתכן (etkhen)
Them (masculine) אותם (otam)
Them (feminine) אותן (otan)

You might hear some native Israeli speakers using אותכם/אותכן (otkhem/otkhen) for the 2nd person plural, "you". This follows the pattern of "ot" used by the other persons of the word, but it is technically incorrect.

Clothing updated 2018-10-25 ^

We have some special verbs related to clothing:

ללבוש = to wear clothes

לנעול = to wear shoes/boots/sandals

לחבוש = to wear a hat

לענוד = to wear jewellery

לגרוב = to wear socks

להרכיב = to wear glasses

Sounds of a non-Hebrew origin

Some words in Hebrew originate from other languages which use sounds that aren't present in the conventional Hebrew alphabet. We put an apostrophe " ' " after some letters to express these sounds:

Hebrew IPA English example
ʒ beige

Some less common sounds (which are generally only used for foreign names) are:

Hebrew IPA English example
ð then
וו w wag
θ thing

Note: this is just an apostrophe, try not to confuse it with the letter " י " (yod). The apostrophe sits above the top line of most letters, whereas the letter י is in line with them:

In the word ג'ינס "jeans", you can see this fairly clearly.

If the font supports the traditional shape of the geresh, it is in line with the top of the letters, but it is slanted, unlike the letter י:


Verbs: Present - Pa'al updated 2018-10-25 ^


Binyanim ("constructions") are a formulaic way of creating lots of different verbs in Hebrew in a predictable way. There are seven binyanim and each binyan is a set of patterns for each tense. Most verbs in Hebrew have a 3 letter root (some have 4) from which you can derive every kind of word and it is this root which is inserted into a binyan - a set of patterns that can be a mixture of prefix letters, suffix letters and vowels. This is not such an alien concept for speakers of English after all. For example, the sounds "s" and "ng" produce words with several different but related meanings when different vowels are inserted in between: "sing", "sang", "sung", "song".

Some roots are expressed in several of the binyanim, while others only exist in one binyan (don't be intimated by the system of binyanim - you don't have to learn several conjugations for each root word). To put it basically, three of the binyanim are for active verbs ("doers" of the action) and three are for passive verbs (receivers of the action), while the final one is usually for reflexive actions (an action done to oneself). Other differences between the binyanim can be to do with whether the verb is transitive or intransitive ("the boy grows" and "the boy grows plants" use different binyanim), or causative ("write" versus "dictate", "learn" versus "teach"), but we will come to all this in due course.

The construction פָעַל (pa'al)

This skill will focus on verbs in the binyan called פָעַל (pa'al) in the present tense, which is the most basic and most commonly used binyan, and includes most of the basic verbs. This binyan is active and transitive.

The most common pattern of the construction pa'al in the present tense is:
(XoXeX) XXוֹX
(the "X" is replaced by the root letters):

X X X final verb
א כ ל אוֹכֵל (ochel)
כ ת ב כוֹתֵב (kotev)
א מ ר אוֹמֵר (omer)

Using the root "א כ ל" which is for words connected to eating we have the following conjugation:

- Masculine Feminine
Singular אוֹכֶל (ochel) אוֹכֵלֶת (ochelet )
Plural אוֹכְלִים (ochlim) אוֹכְלוֹת (ochlot)

Two cases to watch out for:

- Masculine Feminine
Singular שותֵה (shote) שותָה(shota)
Plural שותים (shotim) שותות (shotot)
- Masculine Feminine
Singular בָא (ba) בָאָה (ba'a)
Plural בָאִים (baim) בָאוֹת (baot)

ישן, גדל

One more slightly strange one. A very small number of verbs which are considered related to this binyan are conjugated slightly differently:

These verbs are called פָּעֵל (pa'el) verbs, but they only differ from regular pa'al verbs in the present tense.

To know - להכיר/לדעת

In Hebrew, there are two verbs that correspond to "to know" in English:

To read/to call - לקרוא

Note that the verb לקרוא has two meanings - "to read" (as in "to read a book") and "to call" (as in "to call your name" - not calling with a phone or any other communication device (this has another verb which will be taught later in the course)).

In / in the - בּ

Finally, you may see the letter "ב" attached at the front of words. This preposition means "in" and is found in front of words just like "ה":

יַעַר (yá'ar) - a forest

הָיַעַר (ha-yá'ar) - the forest

בְּיַעַר (be-yá'ar) - in a forest

To say "in the", "בְּ + הָ" (be + ha) is contracted to "בָּ" (ba):

בָּיַעַר (ba-yá'ar) - in the forest

Without niqqud, this looks the same as בּ - "in a". Context determines whether or not to include the "the". Some verbs require this particular preposition where it is unusual in English:

הוא נוגע בי - "He touches me"

Continuous (progressive)

And now for some good news! Hebrew doesn't have a separate continuous aspect (eg. he is running), so both "he runs" and "he is running" translate to הוא רץ.

Colors updated 2018-10-25 ^

Many colors in Hebrew fit the following pattern, in which the masculine singular includes the vowel "o", while the other conjugations include the vowel "u".

o -> u pattern:

Using סגול (purple) as an example:

masculine singular feminine singular masculine/mixed plural feminine plural
סגול סגולה סגולים סגולות
sagól sgulá sgulím sgulót

The colors black (שחור shakhór) and gray (אפור afór) follow a slightly different pattern, in which the "o" sound doesn't change to an "u" sound in the plural and feminine singular conjugations:

o -> o pattern:

Using שחור as an example:

masculine singular feminine singular masculine/mixed plural feminine plural
שחור שחורה שחורים שחורות
shakhór shkhorá shkhorím shkhorót

Prepositions 1 updated 2018-10-25 ^

Prepositions in Hebrew fall into two main categories: those whose personal pronoun forms are based on a singular stem and those that are based on a plural stem. Here we will introduce some prepositions from the former group:

Person Pronunciation Suffix
me -i י-
you (sg. m) -kha ךָ-
you (sg. f) -ekh/-akh ךְ-
him -o ו-
her -a ה-
us -enu/-anu נו-
you (pl. m) -khem כם-
you (pl. f) -khen כן-
them (m) -am ם-
them (f) -an ן-

So taking the word בשביל, meaning "for" (in the sense of "intended for somebody/something"), we can make the following:

for me - בשבילי (bishvili)

for us - בשבילנו (bishvilenu)

for them (f) - בשבילן (bishvilan)


Notice that some prepositions have different stand-alone forms. A prime example is עם (with) which turns into -אית when suffixes are added:

with the dog - עם הכלב
with him - איתו

The reason for this is that originally we had עם (along with עימי, עימך, עימנו etc. which have since become rare) and את (et), functioning as "with", not as the direct object marker. Nowadays, את is only ever used as the direct object marker.

Here is a table of the prepositions we teach during this unit:

English meaning Stand-alone form Base of suffixed form
in, at (attached)
from מ-/מן -מ-/ממנ-/מאית
with עם -אית
for בשביל -בשביל
next to, beside ליד -ליד
inside, within בתוך -בתוכ
against נגד -נגד

Using בתוך properly

The preposition בתוך (inside) cannot be used alone (without an object) in any context. For example, you can't say אני בתוך (I am inside) - because you have to add an object following the preposition בתוך. (e.g. אני בתוך המסעדה - I am inside the restaurant).

In order to translate the adverb "inside", you need to use a different word, which will be introduced properly in Prepositions 2. This word, בפנים bifním does not require (and actually cannot have) a preposition attached to it.

I am inside - אני בפנים
I am inside the house - אני בתוך הבית

Numbers 1 updated 2018-10-25 ^

In Hebrew, numbers have both masculine and feminine forms:

שלוש (shalosh - three, feminine)
שלושה (shlosha - three, masculine)

Notice that contrary to what you might expect, the form ending in ה ("a") is the masculine form:

three girls - שלוש ילדות
three boys/children - שלושה ילדים

It is also important to note that the form used for neutral numbers which aren't describing any real objects (for example when one counts), is the feminine form:

...שלוש, ארבע, חמש, שש
three, four, five, six...

Number One

Most numbers in Hebrew come before the noun, as in English. The number "one" is an exception. "One" always comes after the noun:

One boy - ילד אחד
One girl - ילדה אחת

Number Two

The number "two" is also a little bit special in Hebrew. The forms of the word used when they are not followed by a noun are:

שתיים (feminine/neutral)
שניים (masculine)

For example:

?כמה פלפלים אתה רוצה
How many peppers do you want?

Different forms are used when the number is followed by a noun:

Two peppers - שני פלפלים (shnei pilpelim)
Two bananas - שתי בננות (shtei bananot)

Number Eight

The number eight is written the same for both feminine and masculine forms. The only difference is the vowel system:

שמונֶה (eight, feminine) - shmone

שמונָה (eight, masculine) - shmona

The numbers 11-19

Let's take the number "13" as an example:

In Hebrew the number "13" is:

As you can see in the masculine form, we take the maculine form of the number three (שלושה) and we add "asar" (עשר - which is a variation on the number ten - eser).

In the feminine form we do the same, but we add "esre" (עשרה) instead.

More examples:



Note: there might be slight changes in the pronunciation of some numbers.

For example:

The numbers 20 and 0

The numbers twenty (עשרים - esrim) and zero (אפס - efes) are neutral, i.e. when adding them to a feminine or a masculine noun, they don't conjugate.

More than/Less than

The word "than" is represented by adding the preposition -מ, which more commonly translates as "from":

ארבע זה יותר משלוש
Four is more than three.

Questions updated 2018-10-25 ^


As mentioned earlier, the word האם (ha'im) can be used optionally in questions when there are two possible answers (such as "yes"/"no", "him"/"her"):

Is it him or her? ?האם זה הוא או היא
Do you like the cake? ?האם את אוהבת את העוגה

These sentences are of course perfectly fine without האם, which is slightly formal, but it can be used to stress the fact that you are asking a question rather than making a statement.

The word האם can never be used in open questions, that is, ones which use a question word such as "how", "where", "when", "who".


The words for "which?" in Hebrew should agree with the noun being described:

Which dog? ?איזה כלב
Which cow? ?איזו פרה
Which boys? ?אילו ילדים

You will find that in Modern Hebrew people very often just use the singular masculine form, איזה, instead of the plural אילו, and to a lesser extent, איזה instead of the feminine איזו for feminine nouns. You should try to refrain from this habit, although we do often allow these technically incorrect answers due to the frequency of occurrence among native speakers.

The default gender and number in questions is third person masculine singular. If you know the gender or number you can change the verb accordingly:

Who is eating all the apples? ?מי אוכל את כל התפוחים
(Addressing the question to two girls) Who is eating all the apples? ?מי אוכלת את כל התפוחים

Determiners updated 2018-10-25 ^


There isn't a clear distinction in Hebrew between "this" and "that": both are covered by זה (masculine - ze) and זאת (feminine - zot). זו (zo) is also a common equivalent for זאת, and we accept it as an answer but we stick to זאת throughout the course.

We have seen that to say "this is a dog" we put זה first:

זה כלב

To say "this dog", we put זה after the noun, as if it were a normal adjective, and it requires ה, like other adjectives:

this dog = הכלב הזה
this cow = הפרה הזאת


The same applies to "these" and "those": both are covered by a single word. In the plural, masculine and feminine words both use "אלה" (ele). We also teach the word אלו, which in Modern Hebrew has exactly the same meaning, although it is less common and slightly higher register than the former, אלה.

these dogs = הכלבים האלה/האלו
those cows = הפרות האלה/האלו

כל/כל ה

When כל is followed by a noun in the singular without ה, it means "each" or "every":

each/every day = כל יום
each/every dog = כל כלב

When it is followed by a noun with ה, it means "all":

all day = כל היום
all night = כל הלילה
all the cows = כל הפרות

"The same"

To express the word "same" in Hebrew, we use the appropriate inflected form of את:

-אותו ה - for singular masculine nouns.

-אותה ה - for singular feminine nouns.

-אותם ה - for plural masculine nouns.

-אותן ה - for plural feminine nouns.

along with whichever other preposition is needed in the circumstances:

The use of ה before the noun is optional. We can equally say:

אני רואה אותו דבר (Notice that "את" is omitted because there is no definite article)

אני עונה לאותה ילדה
הוא שוחה מתחת לאותם דגים
אני עוזרת לאותן נשים

This structure is also equivalent to the English "that very", as in "On that very (same) day": באותו היום.

None, nobody etc.

Standard Hebrew, like many other languages, makes use of double negatives ("he didn't do nothing", rather than "he didn't do anything"). Therefore we say:

שום דבר is the same as כלום (nothing).

Both שום and אף literally mean "not a single".

אף can be used with any noun, as can שום, but שום is more common in everyday language:

He doesn't want a shirt הוא לא רוצה חולצה
He doesn't want any shirt (not a single one of them) הוא לא רוצה שום חולצה

Impersonal Plural

In this unit we also introduce what we call the "impersonal plural". At times you may come across plural forms of verbs in Hebrew that are not connected to a personal pronoun. For example, a "normal" sentence with a plural form of a verb would be:

But when you see a sentence like:

אוכלים תפוחים

Does it mean "We eat", "They eat", or "You (all) eat"?

The answer is that it can be all of these and more! In fact, it is sometimes hard to translate this type of sentence into English without context. There are several options that can be considered:

Polyglots should be able to find parallels with the ways in which many other languages create impersonal expressions:
French: On mange les pommes.
German: Man isst Äpfel.
Spanish: Se comen manzanas/Uno come manzanas. Dutch: Men eet appel.

At times it can also have a suggestive tone. For example, if someone says מדברים עברית, it can be equivalent to "one speaks Hebrew", but can also mean something like "you should be speaking Hebrew!".

Occupations updated 2018-10-25 ^

Occupations in Hebrew have both masculine and feminine forms.

In order to turn a masculine form into a feminine form we add "ה" or "ת" to the end of the word.

For example:

הוא תלמיד - He is a student (masculine)

היא תלמידה - She is a student (feminine)

הגבר במאי - The man is a director (masculine)

האישה במאית - The woman is a director (feminine)

Conjunctions updated 2018-10-25 ^

Conjunction words in Hebrew are very simple and similar to English.

The conjunction word "ש"

The conjunction "ש"(that) is attached to words exactly like "ה" , "ו" , "ל" and other prepositions that we've already learned.

For example:

אני חושב שהוא ישן - I think that he is sleeping.

This conjunction word is always pronounced as "she". In our example the transliteration is:

Ani khoshev shehu yashen.

Another thing we should remember when we use conjunctions is that some of them require the conjunction "ש".

For example:

אני אוכל בזמן שהוא ישן = I eat while (that) he is sleeping.

אני הולך מתי שאתה הולך = I go when(ever) (that) you go

When using question words as conjunctions, ש is essential:

I go where you go אני הולך לאן שאתה הולך

The conjunction word "בגלל"

The conjunction word "בגלל"(because of) requires the definite article "ה".

For example:

אני לא ישן בגלל הילד = I don't sleep because of the boy.

When this conjunction is related to a pronoun, we omit the "ה" and use the conjugation of this conjunction word. This conjunction word conjugates identically to the first prepositions we learned, following the singular pattern:

Hebrew Pronunciation English
בגללי Biglali Because of me
בגללךָ Biglalcha Because of you(singular masculine)
בגללךְ Biglalech Because of you(singular feminine)
בגללו Biglalo Because of him
בגללה Biglala Because of her
בגללנו Biglalenu Because of us
בגללכם Biglalchem Because of you(plural masculine)
בגללכן Biglalchen Because of you(plural feminine)
בגללם Biglalam Because of them(masculine)
בגללן Biglalan Because of them(feminine)

Prepositions 2 updated 2018-10-25 ^

In this lesson we introduce the second group of prepositions, whose personal pronoun forms are based on a plural stem:

Person Pronunciation Suffix
me -ay יי-
you (m) -ekha יךָ-
you (f) -ayikh ייךְ-
him -av יו-
her -eya יה-
us -enu ינו-
you (mp) -ekhem יכם-
you (fp) -ekhen יכן-
them (m) -ehem יהם-
them (f) -ehen יהן-

For example, with the word אל (el), meaning "toward(s)", "to", we have the following:

English Pronunciation Hebrew
toward me elay אליי
toward you (m) elekha אליך
toward you (f) elayikh אלייך
toward him elav אליו
toward her eleha אליה
toward us elenu אלינו
toward you (mp) elekhem אליכם
toward you (fp) elekhen אליכן
toward them (m) elehem אליהם
toward them (f) elehen אליהן


Although Hebrew doesn't always make use of a word equivalent to "is" in English (eg. החתול קטן the cat is small), when talking about locations of things, we often use the word נמצא (literally "is found").

So "the shoes are outside" can be translated as "הנעליים נמצאות בחוץ". ("the shoes are found/located outside")

Possessives 2 updated 2018-10-25 ^

Possessive nouns

Instead of using "של" (see Possessives 1), every noun in Hebrew can also express a possessive connection by declining using the Hebrew genitive case. This form is usually used in formal speech and less likely to be used in normal daily language where we usually use the word "של", although certain words (family, body parts) are commonly used in this form in daily usage.

For this example we will use the noun "סוס" (a horse):

English Singular Hebrew Singular English Plural Hebrew Plural
My horse סוסִי (susi) My horses סוסָיי(susai)
Your (s.m.) horse סוסְךָ (suscha) Your(s.m.) horses סוסֶיךָ (susecha)
Your (s.f.) horse סוסֶךְ (susech) Your(s.f.) horses סוסַיךְ (susaich)
His horse סוסוֹ (suso) His horses סוסָיו (susav)
Her horse סוסָהּ (susa) Her horses סוסֶיה (suse(h)a)
Our horse ּסוסֵנו (susenu) Our horses סוסֵינוּ (susenu)
Your (p.m.) horse סוסְכֶם (suschem) Your(p.m.) horses סוסֵיכֶם (susechem)
Your (p.f.) horse סוסְכֶן (suschen) Your(p.f.) horses סוסֵיכֶן (susechen)
Their (m) horse סוסָם (susam) Their(masucline horses סוסֵיהֶם (susehem)
Their (f) horse סוסָן (susan) Their(feminine) horses סוסֵיהֶן (susehen)

This table might seem a little confusing, but once you try it a few times you'll get used to it! Moreover, you can see that the ending of the singular nouns are the same as the conjugations of the word "של", and in order to make a singular possessive noun into a plural possessive noun, we simply add the letter "י" before the ending.

For example :

סוס + ךָ (Your (s.m.) horse).

סוס + י + ךָ (Your (s.m.) horses).

When words have possessive endings attached to them, they are always definite, so when in an object position, they must be preceded by את:

אני רואה את סוסך
I (can) see your horse.

Verbs: Present - Pi'el updated 2018-10-25 ^

The 2nd construction: פִיעֵל (pi'el)

In the previous verbs skill, Present 1, we learned the basics of using binyanim and their basic rules. We are not going to repeat them here, so it might be a good idea to re-read the "Present 1" notes.

In Present 1 we learned verbs in the binyan "pa'al" in the present tense. This time we are going to learn about verbs in the binyan פִּעֵל "piel", the second most common binyan in Hebrew. Like the pa'al binyan, the piel binyan serves mostly for active verbs (as opposed to passive verbs). Piel verbs are also very often (but not always) transitive verbs, meaning that they require an object. For example, in the sentence "He changes it", the verb "change" is a piel verb in Hebrew, whereas in the sentence "He changes" (without an object), the verb "change" is translated using a different binyan, which we will cover later on.

Piel verbs are conjugated using the following pattern, where X substitutes the root letters:

Note that all present tense verbs in binyan pi'el begin with "me".

Person & Gender Pronunciation
Singular, Male meXaXeX
Singular, Female meXaXeXet
Plural/Mixed, Male meXaXXim
Plural, Female meXaXXot

So for example, the verb "to pay" conjugates like so:

Pronunciation Hebrew
meshalém משלם
meshalémet משלמת
meshalmím משלמים
meshalmót משלמות

And when the verb ends in ה, we have the following conjugation:

Person & Gender Pronunciation
Singular, Male meXaXe
Singular, Female meXaXa
Plural/Mixed, Male meXaXim
Plural, Female meXaXot

As in the verb "to change" (transitive):

Pronunciation Hebrew
meshané משנֶה
meshaná משנָה
meshaním משנים
meshanót משנות


מבקר (mevakér) can mean both "visit" and "criticize". Aside from context, the two meanings can be differentiated by their respective prepositions. מבקר meaning "criticize" or "critique" is followed by את (et), while מבקר as "visit" is followed by -ב when visiting places and followed by את when visiting people.

Dates and Time updated 2018-10-25 ^

The names of the days

The Hebrew week ends on Shabbat (Saturday), so naturally the first day of the week is Sunday (not Monday!). On the one hand, the names of the days in Hebrew are slightly easier to remember than in English, since literally we just say "first day", "second day", "fifth day" (and so on...), but if you are used to considering Monday as the first day of the week, you may have to get used to shifting each day along by one. For example, Friday isn't "fifth day", but "sixth day": יום שישי.

Saturday is an exception: we don't say יום שביעי, but יום שבת or simply שבת. Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath (resting day) and this is in fact where the word Sabbath comes from. It's related to the word שב "shev" meaning "sit", since it is the day for sitting and refraining from work. In Judaism, the day begins at sundown of the previous evening, so you might also come across שבת in reference to Friday night.

The dual form

In Semitic languages, originally there were three separate number distinctions: singular, plural, and dual. In Hebrew, the dual became uncommon even very early on, but it is retained in a number of words, often in body parts of which there are two (feet, knees, eyes etc.), and measurements of time:

Singular Dual Plural
שעה (sha'ah - a hour) שעתיים (sha'atayim - two hours) שעות (shaot - hours)
יום (yom - a day) יומיים (yomayim - two days) ימים (yamim - days)
שבוע (shavu'ah - a week) שבועיים (shvu'ayim - two weeks) שבועות (shavu'ot - weeks)
חודש (khodesh - a month) חודשיים (khodshayim - two months) חודשים (khodashim - months)
שנה (shana - a year) שנתיים (shnatayim - two years) שנים (shanim-years)

As you can see, the dual ending is "-ayim" for both masculine and feminine nouns, but feminine nouns which end with ה have this letter replaced with ת before the dual ending is added.

Note that it is unnatural to say, for example, שתי שנים. You should always use the dual form, if one exists.

This + Time

When talking about time frames in Hebrew, you will come across an interesting phenomenon: the letter "ה" is attached to the time phrase, but doesn't function as a definite article. Let's look at an example:

הוא עוזב השבוע = he is leaving this week.

This can be used with many other time phrases:

However, it can also be used as a definite article. For example:

החודש עובר = the month passes

The meaning is determined by the context, but in some cases the sentence can mean either.

Hebrew months

In the day-to-day life of the average Israeli, the calendar used is the same as in much of the world, so the names of the months are very similar to in English (yanuar, februar, september etc.). However, there is also a Hebrew lunisolar calendar, which is used in religious contexts. For example, the dates of religious festivals are determined according to their dates in the Hebrew calendar, so their date on the civil calendar changes from year to year. Since this isn't a course in Judaism, we don't teach the months of the Hebrew calendar here, although we do have a lesson at the end of the tree in which you will be able to learn about the most important Jewish holidays, which are celebrated by many Jewish Israelis, even secular ones.

Adjectives 2 updated 2018-10-25 ^

זקן vs ישן

As you will notice in this lesson, the adjectives זקן (zakén) and ישן (yashán) have the same translation - old. Be careful not to confuse the two, because both are extremely common and it will sound quite strange if you confuse them.

ישן is used to describe old inanimate objects (e.g. old book, old TV, old lamp etc.) and זקן is used to describe old animate objects (e.g. old people, old man, old dog etc.).

Adverbs updated 2018-10-25 ^

Many adverbs that end in "-ly" in English are paraphrased in Hebrew by using the word אופן ("way", "method"):

independent - עצמאי
independently - באופן עצמאי (literally "in an independent way")

Family updated 2018-10-25 ^


In Hebrew the word for a male cousin is literally “son of uncle” (בן דוד), and the word for a female cousin is “daughter of aunt” (בת דודה). Technically, “son of aunt” and “daughter of uncle” are possible, but in effect we like to group the genders together.

Home Sweet Home updated 2018-10-25 ^


If you are out and about and need to relieve yourself, you ask for the שירותים (sherutím - literally "services").

The actual toilet bowl is called the אסלה (asla - not taught in the course but just FYI).

The bathtub is called the אמבטיה.

Construct State 1 updated 2018-10-25 ^

In Hebrew grammar, the construct state (or adjacency) is known as smichut (סמיכות). Smichut is a case in which two nouns (occasionally with different semantic meanings) are merged to create a new noun. A dash often separates the two nouns, indicating they are now in an adjacency relation.

The first noun in the construct is called the nismach (נסמך) and the following noun somech (סומך). The gender of the new composed noun is determined by the former. Meaning, if the nismach is a masculine noun, the new noun will also be masculine.

Most cases of smichut include the semantic addition of the word "of" between the two nouns. Let's take the following smichut, "a cup of coffee", as an example:

A cup - כוס (kos)
Coffee - קפה (cafe)

A cup (of) coffee - כוס קפה (kos cafe)

We can see that the word "of" (של) was omitted thanks to the efficiency of the construct state.

If the nismach is a feminine noun that ends with a "ה", the "ה" is replaced with a "ת":

A cake - עוגה (uga)
Chocolate - שוקולד (shokolad)

A chocolate cake - עוגת שוקולד (ugat shokolad - literally "cake of chocolate")

Also, plural constructs are created by pluralizing the nismach, but not the somech. If we use the same example as before:

Cups - כוסות (kosot)
Coffee - קפה (cafe)

Cups of coffee - כוסות קפה (kosot cafe)

A masculine plural nismach will change its form - a "י" will be added to it:

An editor - עוֹרֵך (orech)
Law - דִין (din)

A Lawyer - עוֹרֵך דִין (orech din)
Lawyers (m) - עורכֵי דִין (orchey din)

In order to create a definite smichut, the definite prefix "ה" will precede the somech:

The cups of coffee - כוסות הקפה (kosot HA'cafe)

The most used (irregular) nismach is the word בָּיִת ("house"). However, when בית is a part of a smikhut, its nikkud is changed and the nismach becomes בֵּית. Again, let's illustrate this through an example:

A house - בָּיִת (bayit)
A book - סֶפֶר (sefer)

A school - בֵּית סֶפֶר (beyt sefer)

A house - בָּיִת (bayit)
Sick (people) - חולים (cholim)

A hospital - בֵּית חולים (beyt cholim)

The construct state is not complicated, but requires some practice and memorizing. We chose to include the most common forms.

Good luck!

Infinitives 1 updated 2018-10-25 ^

Infinitives in Hebrew work in much the same way as in English. The infinitive form of the verb starts with -ל (to).

We have seen the binyanim pa'al and pi'el so far. This is how both conjugate in the infinitive:


eg. likhtóv - לכתוב


eg. leshalém - לשלם

Verbs which end in ה in the singular present, end in ות in the infinitive:

Certain verbs are irregular in the infinitive. For example, "to take" is לקחת (lakákhat), and "to give" is לתת (latét).

How + infinitive

You might come across a sentence where the question word "how" is used with an infinitive. It might be translated as "How to ..." (e.g. how to do it?), but in some cases the translation could be a bit unnatural.

This kind of sentence could also be translated as "How does one..." / "How shall/do I/we..."

For example (when using the infinitive "לכתוב" - to write):

איך לכתוב את זה? = How does one write this? / How do I write this etc.

Verbs: Present - Hiph'il updated 2018-10-25 ^

The construction: הִפְעִיל (hiph'il)

Our third binyan is hiph'il (הפעיל). This is the last of the active binyanim (after this we have the three passive binyanim and the reflexive binyan left). Like pi'el, verbs in this binyan are often transitive, meaning they act on an object (but not always). The hiph'il binyan is also often responsible for causative verbs. For example:

We have already seen the verb לחזור:

The dog returns (comes/goes back) - הכלב חוזר

The verb להחזיר in hiph'il, means "to cause to return". In English the word "return" describes this meaning as well:

The dog returns (brings back) the newspaper - הכלב מחזיר את העיתון

Another example:

I remember this - אני זוכר את זה

That reminds me - זה מזכיר לי

You can think of מזכיר as "causes to remember", and we have a word for this in English: "reminds".

So let's have a look at the present tense conjugation of hiph'il verbs:

Note that all present verbs in binyan hif'il begin with "ma".

Person & Gender Pronunciation
Singular, Male maXXiX
Singular, Female maXXiXa
Plural/Mixed, Male maXXiXim
Plural, Female maXXiXot

So for example, the verb "to agree" conjugates like so:

Pronunciation Hebrew
maskím מסכים
maskimá מסכימה
maskimím מסכימים
maskimót מסכימות

Notice that verbs in the construction hifl'il receive the ending "ה" (a) instead of "ת"(et) in the singular feminine form.

As usual, verbs ending with "ה" follow this pattern.

Pronunciation Hebrew
mar'é מראֶה
mar'á מראָה
mar'ím מראים
mar'ót מראות

And some verbs, which only have two root consonants, follow the pattern of "to understand":

Pronunciation Hebrew
mevín מֵבין
meviná מְבינה
meviním מְבינים
mevinót מְבינות

Notice the use of the "tzere" and "shva" vowels in this last pattern, which represent the "e" sound, in contrast to the other patterns which use "a" after the initial מ.

In this lesson there are two verbs which translate as "listen": מקשיב and מאזין. The two words are fairly synonymous, although מקשיב is more common, while מאזין is a little more formal. You would say אני מקשיב למוזיקה "I listen to music". However, you will often hear מאזין on the radio: שלום מאזינות ומאזינים "Hello listeners".

People updated 2018-10-25 ^

ידיד vs חבר

In Hebrew a חבר can be both a friend and a boyfriend, depending on the context. The same goes for חברה: friend and girlfriend. To avoid confusion, you may use the word ידיד/ה, which serves as "platonic friend". Usually, when one gender calls the other gender "חבר / חברה" this means they are in a relationship. For example, a boy will call his male friend "חבר" but his female friend - ידידה. If he calls a girl "חברה", it usually means she's his girlfriend - and vice versa. Try to use the word חבר/חברה carefully in order to prevent embarrassment


In this lesson you will learn the word מבוגר. This word can be both adult and old depending on the context. If it is functioning as a noun, it will necessarily be translated as "adult".

The "old" translation only applies to animate objects (like "זקן" does) - for example - old people, old man, old dog. We usually use this version when we want to say that a person is not too old (because calling someone זקן can sometimes sound insulting). So try not to call old people "זקן" directly - using "מבוגר" is much more proper.

Numbers 2 updated 2018-10-25 ^

Definite Numbers

When you want to say "the three cows" or "the seven boys", the phrase works like a construct. That is, the number goes into its construct form (shalosh -> shlosh, shlosha -> shloshet) and ה is added to the noun:

three cows shalósh parót שלוש פרות
the three cows (shlosh haparót) שלוש הפרות

seven boys (shiv'á yeladím) שבעה ילדים
the seven boys (shiv'át hayeladím) שבעת הילדים

Use of the singular with some larger numbers

Technically, all numbers from 11 upwards should take a singular noun in Hebrew, although in effect, with most words this sounds highly unnatural to native Hebrew speakers. Nevertheless, this rule does apply to some specific words, so it is possible to say both:

שישים שנים
שישים שנה

and in fact the second version, with שנה in singular is preferable.

This applies mostly to units of measurement, such as מטר (meter), currency (dollar, shekel), units of time (שנה, יום), "percent", and the word איש (person/people).

Genders of numbers above 19

All round numbers above 19 (20, 30, 60 etc.) are neutral. Therefore, the gender of non-round numbers above 19 is only determined by the units digit.

For example:

Modals updated 2018-10-25 ^

Several words in Hebrew that express modality (that is, likelihood, ability, permission, obligation, etc.) do not require a subject. For example:

מומלץ לא לעשות את זה

It is recommended not to do that.

(And not זה מומלץ לא לעשות את זה)

Education updated 2018-10-25 ^

A student at school or in general is תלמיד/ה (talmid/a).

A university/college student is סטודנט/ית (student/it).

Travel updated 2018-10-25 ^

Gender of Countries

If in doubt, remember that most countries are feminine in gender, since מדינה (country) and ארץ (land) are feminine words.


In this skill we come across חו"ל. Abbreviations are very popular in Hebrew, and this is an abbreviation of חוץ לארץ, literally meaning "outside of the land", but with the meaning "abroad". (הארץ is another name for Israel, since Israel is sometimes known as ארץ ישראל - the land of Israel. Note that in its normal form, it is pronounced árets, and in its construct form, it is érets.)

In Hebrew abbreviations, some representative letters are chosen, often depending on what will make the mostly easily pronounceable word, so the letters chosen are not necessarily just the first letter of each word. The gershayim (technically ״, but since on most keyboards it is much easier to type the double punctuation marks: ") are always placed just before the last letter.

Like in English, not all abbreviations are pronounced as words.

NASA, for example, is pronounced "na-sa": נאס"א.
But the USA, ארה"ב is pronounced the same way as ארצות הברית: artsót habrít.
Unlike in English, it is uncommon to spell out abbreviations (like USA: yu-ess-aye).

Verbs: Past Active 1 updated 2018-10-25 ^


So far we've learned 3 binyanim in the present tense (pa'al, pi'el and hif'il). The basic past form is always third-person singular masculine (i.e. "he - הוא") and to this form we add all suffixes. The names of the binyanim are derived from the third-person singular masculine form of the past tense, while using the root פ - ע - ל:

שאל - sha'al (he asked)

כתב - katav (he wrote)

דיבר - diber (he spoke)

שיחק - sichek (he played)

הרגיש - hirgish (he felt)

הסביר - hisbir (he explained)

In the present tense, there are four conjugations, male/female and singular/plural. In the past tense, there is a different form for each pronoun. In the first person singular (I) there is only one form for both male and female, as is the case for the third person plural (they) and the first person plural (we). All the rest have a masculine and feminine form.

Let's take the verb אמר (amár - (he) said) as an example of the pa'al past tense:

Pronoun Suffix Example
אני תי~ (ti) אמרתי (amárti)
אתה תָ~ (ta) אמרתָ (amárta)
את תְ~ (t) אמרתְ (amárt)
הוא - אמר (amar)
היא ה~ (a) אמרה (amra)
אנחנו נו~ (nu) אמרנו (amárnu)
אתם תם~ (tem) אמרתם (amártem)
אתן תן~ (ten) אמרתן (amárten)
הם ו~ (u) אמרו (amrú)
הן ו~ (u) אמרו (amrú)

It is most natural to leave out the pronoun when using a verb in the past tense. Saying אני אמרתי is superfluous, since the ending of the verb tells you who is the subject of the verb. You can of course use the pronoun to add emphasis:

I said that, not him - אני אמרתי את זה, לא הוא

However, the pronoun is not often left out for the third person, so you should always try to say:

הוא אמר/היא אמרה
הם/הן אמרו

Perfect aspect in Hebrew

You may be relieved to hear that in Hebrew there are no perfect aspects or tenses (in English, "have"/"had" done, for example). There is only one past conjugation, so עשה can mean "he did", "he has done" or "he had done". When translating from Hebrew into English, the context will inform you of the most natural way of writing the sentence.

To be

As you probably remember from earlier lessons, the verb "to be" doesn't exist in the present tense. However, it does exist in the past tense.

Let's have a look at the conjugations of the verb "to be" in the past tense (היה):

Pronoun To be English
אני (aní) הייתי (hayíti) I was
אתה (atá) הייתָ (hayíta) you (s.m.) were
את (at) הייתְ (hayít) you (s.f.) were
הוא (hu) היה (hayá) he was
היא (hee) הייתה (haytá) she was
אנחנו (anákhnu) היינו (hayínu) we were
אתם (atém) הייתם (hayítem) you (pl.m.) were
אתן (atén) הייתן (hayíten) you (pl.f.) were
הם (hem) היו (hayú) they (m.) were
הן (hen) היו (hayú) they (f.) were

To have

In the present tense, we use -יש ל and -אין ל to express "have" and "does not have". In the past tense (and future), we replace יש and אין with appropriate past forms of the verb "to be". The form of the verb must agree with the thing possessed or not possessed:

היה לי כלב
I had a dog. Literally "(he/it) was to me dog".

הייתה לי מכונית
I had a car. Literally "(she) was to me car", because מכונית is feminine.

לא היו לי שמלות
I did not have dresses. Literally "not (they) were to me dresses".

Pi'el Pattern

Example Verb Pattern Pronoun
דיברתי (dibárti) XiXaXti אני
דיברתָ (dibárta) XiXaXta אתה
דיברתְ (dibárt) XiXaXt את
דיבר (dibér) XiXeX הוא
דיברה (dibrá) XiXXa היא
דיברנו (dibárnu) XiXaXnu אנחנו
דיברתם (dibártem) XiXaXtem אתם
דיברתן (dibárten) XiXaXten אתן
דיברו (dibrú) XiXXu הם
דיברו (dibrú) XiXXu הן

Hiph'il Pattern

Note that all hiph'il verbs in the past tense start with "hi".

Example Verb Pattern Pronoun
הסברתי (hisbárti) hiXXaXti אני
הסברתָ (hisbárta) hiXXaXta אתה
הסברתְ (hisbárt) hiXXaXt את
הסביר (hisbír) hiXXiX הוא
הסבירה (hisbíra) hiXXiXa היא
הסברנו (hisbárnu) hiXXaXnu אנחנו
הסברתם (hisbártem) hiXXaXtem אתם
הסברתן (hisbárten) hiXXaXten אתן
הסבירו (hisbíru) hiXXiXu הם
הסבירו (hisbíru) hiXXiXu הן

Comparison updated 2018-10-25 ^

הכי vs ביותר

זה הכי טוב
זה הטוב ביותר

mean essentially the same thing: this is the best (one). ביותר is the higher register option but still common in everyday speech.

Verbs: Present Reflexive - Hitpa'el updated 2019-01-15 ^

The 4th construction: הִתְפַּעֵל (hitpa'el)

Now we move onto the 4th binyan: hitpa'el (התפעל). This binyan is often used for verbs which express a reflexive action (something you do to yourself), or describe a certain procedure, often translated into English using verbs such as "get" or "become" + the adjective. For example:

I shave (myself) - אני מתגלח
He gets stronger - הוא מתחזק

And as before, there are some words that do not seem to fit either description, but are still part of the binyan (in the past the connection may have been more obvious, and the meaning or usage may have changed since then). An example of this is the verb "to use". Note also that this verb requires the preposition ב:

I use the washing machine - אני משתמש במכונת הכביסה

So let's look at the present conjugation for hitpa'el:

Note that most present tense verbs in binyan hitpa'el begin with "mit".

Person & Gender Pronunciation
Singular, Male mitXaXeX
Singular, Female mitXaXeXet
Plural/Mixed, Male mitXaXXim
Plural, Female mitXaXXot

For instance, "get closer":

Pronunciation Hebrew
mitkarév מתקרב
mitkarévet מתקרבת
mitkarvím מתקרבים
mitkarvót מתקרבות

Regular Irregularities

The ת that is added before the root consonants is highly susceptible to being affected by the first root consonant, that is, the one it immediately precedes. The first root consonant swaps places with the ת, and in some cases the ת changes into ט or ד. Luckily, the effect this has on the resultant conjugation is highly regular:

First root letter Result Example
ס -מסת מסתפר
ש -משת משתמש
ז -מזד מזדקן
צ -מצט מצטרף


Hitpa'el verbs which have the dental consonants ת ד or ט as their first consonant are not very common, and this course does not include any, but for the sake of completeness:

First root letter Result Example
ט -מתט-/מיט-/מִטּ מתטשטש/מיטשטש/מִטּשטש (become blurred)
ת -מתת-/מית-/מִתּ מתתמם/מיתמם/מִתּמם (play dumb)
ד -מתד-/מיד-/מִדּ מתדרדר/מידרדר/מִדּרדר (roll down/deteriorate)

The dental consonant can be "absorbed" by the ת of hitpa'el, or can remain as is. In the case of absorption י can be added after the מ to make it clear that it is a hitpa'el verb. The pronunciation depends on the speaker. A double-length pronunciation of the dental consonant is in free variation with a single-length pronunciation.

Adjectives 3 updated 2019-01-15 ^

The adjective "גרוע"

The adjective "גרוע" (garu'a - meaning "bad") is only used in terms of quality.

For example:

הסלט הזה גרוע - this salad is bad.

(could be replaced with "poor", as in "poor quality")

Don't confuse it with the adjective "רע" which is used in this sort of situation (could be replaced by "evil"):

הוא לא אדם רע - he is not a bad person.

Imperative 1 updated 2019-01-15 ^

Hebrew has a distinct conjugation for positive imperatives (commands). Increasingly, in modern Hebrew, the future tense is used for commands instead of the imperative. This is considered by some as an error, although using the future tense as an imperative can also sound less bossy and formal. It helps that the imperative and future are structurally related, as you will see in the first Future skill, coming up soon. You will also see that negative imperatives ("don't ... ") require the future.

Nevertheless, it is important to know how to form the "true" imperative, and certain verbs, such בוא (come), לך (go) and תן (give), always use the "true" imperative in positive commands, not the future tense.

Imperatives: gender & number

Hebrew imperatives have three forms (singular masculine, singular feminine and plural). A singular masculine imperative will be used when talking to one man.

Pa'al pattern

Pronunciation Example Verb Pattern
ktov כתוב XXoX
kitví כתבי XiXXi
kitvú כתבו XiXXu

Some pa'al verbs have "a" as the vowel instead of "o" for the masculine singular imperative:

Pronunciation Example Verb Pattern
lmad* למד XXaX
limdí למדי XiXXi
limdú למדו XiXXu

*For consonant combinations that are hard to produce, a short "e" sound is introduced between the two consonants: l(e)mad.

For verbs with ה as the final root consonant:

Pronunciation Example Verb Pattern
kne קנה XXeH
kni קני XXi
knu קנו XXu

Verbs with two root consonants, and irregular imperatives, are fairly variable. You will learn them as you go. Luckily most verbs have three root consonants.

Pi'el Pattern

Pronunciation Example Verb Pattern
dabér דבר XaXeX
dabrí דברי XaXXi
dabrú דברו XaXXu

Hiph'il Pattern

Pronunciation Example Verb Pattern
hakshév הקשב haXXeX
hakshívi הקשיבי haXXiXi
hakshívu הקשיבו haXXiXu

Hitpa'el Pattern

Pronunciation Example Verb Pattern
hitkarév התקרב hitXaXeX
hitkarví התקרבי hitXaXXi
hitkarvú התקרבו hitXaXXu

For the remaining three binyanim we have yet to learn, the passive binyanim, there is no imperative conjugation, with one small exception that we will come to.

Languages updated 2019-01-15 ^

Most language names in Hebrew end with "ית-" (-it).

This is because the name of the language is short for השפה ה...ית (the .... language [literally "lip"], which is a feminine word):

The English language - השפה האנגלית English (the language)- אנגלית

Emergency! updated 2019-01-15 ^

Here are some important numbers to know when visiting Israel:

100 - The Israeli Police

101 - Magen David Adom (Israel's national ambulance services) - usually called "mada".

102 - The Fire Department

Stay Safe!

Verbs: Future Active 1 updated 2019-01-15 ^

Future Tense

Here come more tables! You need not try to memorize these conjugations (though it would help), just jump into the lesson and get some practise. However, please read the notes down below about the usage of the future!

In the future tense there is only one form for I, we, plural you and they (no gender distinction), and the form for "you will (masculine)" is the same as for "she will". Only the second and third person singular have forms for both masculine and feminine. Let's take the verb יכתוב(ichtov - will write) as an example of the pa'al future tense:

Pronoun Suffix Example
אני ~א (e~) אכתוב (echtov)
אתה ~ת (ti~) תכתוב (tichtov)
את ת~י (ti~i) תכתבי (tichtevi)
הוא ~י (i~) יכתוב (ichtov)
היא ~ת (ti~) תכתוב (tichtov)
אנחנו ~נ (ni) נכתוב (nichtov)
אתם ת~ו (ti~u) תכתבו (tichtevu)
אתן ת~ו (ti~u) / ת~נה (ti~na) תכתבו (tichtevu) / תכתובנה (tichtovna) *
הם/הן י~ו (i~u) יכתבו (ichtevu)

*This form is rarely used and can also be used with "הן".

You will notice light variations on this, depending on the verb, and as usual there are a number of irregular verbs which you will need to learn as you go.

Usage of Pronouns

Here is a full, "natural", conjugation for לכתוב:

To be

Like in the past tense, the verb "to be" exists in the future tense as well:

Pronoun To be English
אני (ani) אהיה (e'eye) I will be
אתה (ata) תהיה (ti'iye) you (sg. masc.) will be
את (at) תהיי (tihi) you (sg. fem.) will be
הוא (hu) יהיה (i'iye) he will be
היא (hee) תהיה (ti'iye) she will be
אנחנו (anakhnu) נהיה (ni'iye) we will be
אתם (atem) תהיו (ti'iyu) you (pl. masc.) will be
אתן (aten) תהיו (ti'iyu) / תהיינה (te'eyna)* you (pl. fem.) will be
הם/הן (hem/hen) יהיו (i'iyu) they (m + f) will be

*This form is rarely used and can also be used with "הן".

To have

The verb "to have" in the future works like it does in the past. It must agree with the possessed object(s) in gender and number. For example:

I will have a (male) dog - יהיה לי כלב
I will have a (female) dog - תהיה לי כלבה
I will have dogs - יהיו לי כלבים

There is also a rarer and formal version of the feminine form of "they will be": הן תהיינה. Here you will learn to recognise this form, but try to use הן יהיו in everyday speech. This goes for all verbs. That is, there is a conjugation of הן ת---נה, but almost always the masculine/mixed form is used even for entirely female groups of people or things.

Usage of the future tense

In Hebrew, the usage of the future is more closely related to its actual meaning than in English. For example, in English we say "when you get there, give them this", with "get" in the present tense. However, this is a future action, and in Hebrew the future tense is required:

כשתגיע לשם, תן להם את זה
Literally: "When you will arrive to there, give to them this".

(But make sure to remember that if "when" is followed by a habitual action, such as in "when I eat dinner, I watch TV", the future is not required:

כשאני אוכל ארוחת ערב, אני צופה בטלוויזיה)

I want you to

The future tense is also used in sentences such as "I want you to...":

אני רוצה שתיתן לי את זה
I want you to give me that. Literally "I want that you will give to me that".

(But do not use the future if the person wanting something is the same as the person doing the action, the infinitive is used here like in English:

אני רוצה לתת לך את זה
I want to give this to you. Literally "I want to give to you this".
Not אני רוצה שאני אתן לך את זה)

Past + Future

In sentences such as

חשבתי שתהיה שם (literally "I thought that you will be there".

The future tense in Hebrew translates into English as "would": "I thought you would be there".

Passive: Pa'ul, Pu'al and Huf'al updated 2019-01-15 ^

In this skill we teach two of the three passive constructions (binyanim). Each passive construction has an equivalent active construction:

(In addition to these 6 we have the reflexive binyan: hitpa'el.)


In lessons 1 &2 of this skill we also introduce pa'ul, which is the pattern for building past participles, such as "loved", "written", "wanted".
Pa'ul is the present passive form of binyan pa'al and therefore, all words of this form are originally from binyan pa'al.

For example:

As in English, these function as adjectives, and therefore take endings depending on the gender and number of the word:

For example, a written letter. Try not to confuse this with the passive "it is written", or "it is being written", since for this the binyan nif'al is used, which we will encounter very soon.

They are unwanted - (hem lo ratsuiím) הם לא רצויים

As you can see, the basic pattern is XaXuX.

אהוב על

The phrase אהוב על translates as "favourite":

This is my favorite book - זה הספר האהוב עליי

The construction: פועל (pu'al)

In lessons 3 & 4 we introduce the present tense of the passive binyan pu'al, our fifth binyan of seven. Pu'al is the passive equivalent of the active binyan pi'el:

cook (mevashél) מבשל
is cooked (mevushál) מבושל

You may have noticed by now that the distinction between noun, verb and adjective is not entirely clear-cut in Hebrew. Consider these sentences:

The food is cooked (verb) by chefs - האוכל מבושל על ידי טבחים
I want cooked (adjective) vegetables - אני רוצה ירקות מבושלים

The binyan pu'al has future and past conjugations, so you can consider it a verb in those cases, but pu'al verbs in the present can also function as adjectives as seen above. The future and past tenses of pu'al, along with the next binyan, huf'al, are not very common in modern Hebrew and are fairly formal, so we will not cover them in this course.

Here is the present conjugation for pu'al:

Note that all present tense verbs in this binyan begin with "me-".

Gender,number Pattern Example
masculine, singular meXuXaX מבושל (mevushál)
feminine, singular meXuXeXet מבושלת (mevushélet)
masculine/mixed, plural meXuXaXim מבושלים (mevushalím)
feminine, plural meXuXaXot מבושלות (mevushalót)

The construction: הופעל (huf'al)

In lessons 5 & 6 we look at huf'al, our sixth binyan, the passive equivalent of hiph'il:

explain (masbír) מסביר
is explained (musbár) מוסבר

Here is its pattern for the present tense:

Note that all present tense verbs in this binyan begin with "mu-".

Gender,number Pattern Example
masculine, singular muXXaX מוסבר (musbár)
feminine, singular muXXeXet מוסברת(musbéret)
masculine/mixed, plural muXXaXim מוסברים (musbarím)
feminine, plural muXXaXot מוסברות (musbarót)

Nif'al Construction updated 2019-01-15 ^

The construction: נפעל (Nif'al)

Nif'al, our final binyan, is the passive equivalent of pa'al:

I close the door - אני סוגר את הדלת
The door closes (or "is closed") - הדלת נסגרת

Not all nif'al verbs are passive. Some are active, such as נכנס:

I enter the house - אני נכנס לבית.

And as you can see from the example above of the door closing, the distinction between passive and active is not always clear-cut. Compare:

The door closes like this - הדלת נסגרת ככה
The door is closed by the cook - הדלת נסגרת על ידי הטבח

And נראה, meaning literally "is seen" often means "seems" or "looks", while נשמע, literally "is heard", often means "sounds":

This looks good - זה נראה טוב
This sounds good - זה נשמע טוב

Nif'al in the present tense usually describes a passive progress of pa'al verbs:

Here is the standard present conjugation:

Note that all present tense (and past tense...) verbs in binyan nif'al begin with "ni".

Gender,number Pattern Example
masculine, singular niXXaX נסגר (nisgár)
feminine, singular niXXeXet נסגרת (nisgéret)
masculine/mixed, plural niXXaXim נסגרים (nisgarím)
feminine, plural niXXaXot נסגרות (nisgarót)
Example Pattern Gender, Number
נסגר (nisgár) niXXaX male, singular
נסגרת (nisgéret) niXXeXet female, singular
נסגרים (nisgarím) niXXaXim male/mixed, plural
נסגרות (nisgarót) niXXaXot female, plural

Nature updated 2019-01-15 ^


כוכב means "star" or "planet". However, כוכב לכת is only "planet".

Discussions and decisions updated 2019-01-15 ^

Note that in Hebrew to say someone is wrong, there is a verb: לטעות.

He is wrong - הוא טועה I was wrong/I made a mistake - טעיתי

Imperative 2 updated 2019-01-15 ^

In this skill we introduce the nif'al imperative and a few more imperatives of previously-taught verbs. We also introduce the construction equivalent to "let's" or "let us" in English:

To say "let's [verb]" in Hebrew, we literally say "come we will [verb]". The "come" imperative must agree with whoever you are saying the "let's" to:

let's go (to a male) - בוא נלך
let's go (to a female) - בואי נלך
let's go (to a group) - בואו נלך

Nif'al Imperative

The imperative in nif'al is less common, since many nif'al verbs are passive. Nevertheless, the active nif'al verbs can be conjugated into the imperative:

Example Pattern Person
היכנס (hikanés) hiXaXeX אתה
היכנסי (hikansí) hiXaXXi את
היכנסו (hikansú) hiXaXXu אתם/אתן

Verbs: Past Active 2 updated 2019-01-15 ^

This skill deals mostly with the past tense of the hitpa'el binyan. Here is the standard conjugation pattern:

Example Pattern Pronoun
התנצלתי (hitnatsálti) hitXaXaXti אני
התנצלתָ (hitnatsálta) hitXaXaXta אתה
התנצלתְ (hitnatsált) hitXaXaXt את
התנצל (hitnatsél) hitXaXeX הוא
התנצלה (hitnatslá) hitXaXXa היא
התנצלנו (hitnatsálnu) hitXaXaXnu אנחנו
התנצלתם (hitnatsáltem) hitXaXaXtem אתם
התנצלתן (hitnatsálten) hitXaXaXten אתן
התנצלו (hitnatslú) hitXaXXu הם/הן

Past Nif'al updated 2019-01-15 ^

Here is the general pattern for the past tense of nif'al:

Example Verb Pattern Pronoun
נכנסתי (nikhnásti) niXXaXti אני
נכנסתָ (nikhnásta) niXXaXta אתה
נכנסתְ (nikhnást) niXXaXt את
נכנס (nikhnás) niXXaX הוא
נכנסה (nikhnesá) niXXeXa היא
נכנסנו (nikhnásnu) niXXaXnu אנחנו
נכנסתם (nikhnástem) niXXaXtem אתם
נכנסתן (nikhnásten) niXXaXten אתן
נכנסו (nikhnesú) niXXeXu הם

You may have noticed that the third person masculine singular is pronounced identically to the masculine singular present in nif'al. Using the verb from the example above, הוא נכנס (hu nikhnás) can mean both "he enters" and "he entered". This was not always the case. Originally the two had vowels pronounced slightly differently but in modern Hebrew these vowels have merged together. You may have to go by context to decipher the meaning, although some modern native Israeli speakers use the word היה along with the past tense as a solution:

It sounded good to me - זה היה נשמע לי טוב

Infinitives 2 updated 2019-01-15 ^

Hiph'il Pattern

eg. lehagdíl - להגדיל

Hitpa'el Pattern

eg. lehitgabér - להתגבר

Nif'al Pattern

eg. lehisha'ér - להישאר (or להשאר)

Construct State 2 updated 2019-02-22 ^

Construct Chains

If you want to create a construct within a construct, the last word is always the סומך (somékh), and any words preceding it are נסמך (nismákh). So the last word either takes a ה and the whole phrase is definite (the), or it does not, and the whole phrase is indefinite (a/an). The other words are in their construct form.

For example:

Birthday cake - עוגת יום הולדת
The birthday cake - עוגת יום ההולדת

The Conditional updated 2019-01-15 ^

We use conditionals to describe hypothetical situations and their consequences.

The conditional in Hebrew makes use of the conjugations of the word "היה" (was) like the word "would" in English.

How do we differentiate the past tense from the conditional?

In the conditional form a present tense verb is placed after a conjugation of the word "היה".

For example:

אם זה לא היה קשה, הייתי עושה את זה = If it were not difficult, I would do it.

How to differentiate between "If I knew/had known"?

In Hebrew, both are אם הייתי יודע/ת. English is more versatile than Hebrew here! If you want to know the exact meaning in Hebrew, you will have to look at the context.

Conditional/Past Habitual

Similar to the English "would", היה in Hebrew can express both a hypothetical situation and a real situation that occurred repeatedly in the past. Take the following sentence as an example:

אם הייתה לי הזדמנות לברוח, הייתי בורח. = If I had an opportunity to run away, I would run away.

According to the context, this can mean either:
a) Given an opportunity to escape, he would take it (although he hasn't ever received one thus far).
b) On the occasions that he was able to escape, he had the habit of doing so.


Medical updated 2019-01-15 ^

In this lesson you will come across a very common way of saying you're feeling pain in Hebrew. When someone feels pain, you'll probably hear them say:

כואב לי + where they feel hurt

For example:

כואב לי הראש = my head hurts

You can use all the other conjugations of the pronoun "ל":

כואב לו הגב = his back hurts

כואבת להם הבטן = their stomach hurts.

Negative Imperatives updated 2019-02-22 ^

Negative imperatives are created using the word אל (al) followed by the future tense of a verb, conjugated appropriately for tense and person. Note that for negative imperatives we do not use the standard imperative form.

אל תעשה את זה - Don't do that. (to a male, singular)
Not אל עשה את זה (incorrect!)

Verbal Nouns updated 2019-01-15 ^

In English, verbal nouns can be created by adding -ing to the verb. For example: reading and writing.

In Hebrew there are several such strategies, depending on the binyan of the verb.

Pa'al verbs often follow the structure XXiXa:

writing (ktivá) כתיבה
buying/purchase (kniyá) קנייה
thinking/thought (khashivá) חשיבה

Pi'el verbs often follow the structure XiXuX:

cooking (bishúl) בישול

Hiph'il is usually haXXaXa:

order (hazmaná) הזמנה

And hitpa'el, hitXaXXut:

apology (hitnatslút) התנצלות

Music updated 2019-01-15 ^

The notes of the scale

In Hebrew the names of the notes in an octave are often referred to using the solfège system, that is "do, re, mi, fa..." and so on:

(דו רה מי פה סול לה סי (דו

These are not words in the current lesson, but it may interest musicians to know this!

Diminutives updated 2019-01-15 ^

In Hebrew, many diminutives are formed by reduplicating the last two consonants of a 3-consonant root.
For example, כלב (dog) turns into כלבלב (puppy). קטן (small) turns into קטנטן (tiny).

Other options exist for creating smaller versions of already existing words, such as the ending ית-:
מלון - hotel (or בית מלון)
מלונית - motel
and the ending ון-:
דוב - bear
דובון - teddy bear

Future Nif'al updated 2019-01-15 ^

Here is the general pattern for future nif'al:

Example Verb Pattern Pronoun
אכנס (ekanés) eXaXeX אני
תיכנס (tikanés) tiXaXeX אתה
תיכסני (tikansí) tiXaXXi את
ייכנס (yikanés) yiXaXeX הוא
תיכנס (tikanés) tiXaXeX היא
ניכנס (nikanés) niXaXeX אנחנו
תיכנסו (tikansú) tiXaXXu אתם/אתן
ייכנסו (yikansú) yiXaXXu הם/הן

Formal updated 2019-01-15 ^

Formal Hebrew

The Hebrew language has a rich history, being spoken for over 1000 years before it fell out of everyday secular use. Over such a large timespan it is natural that the language changed significantly, and it is safe to say that dialectal differences are also relevant.

As the modern language has taken shape over the past century or so since its revival, various elements have been taken from one period of the language or another. Certain elements that have not been adopted in the everyday language are still frequently used in formal Hebrew.

Formal Hebrew in modern times is used to varying degrees in literature, science, and law, among other fields.

Here we give you a little taster of formal Hebrew. In the English to Hebrew questions, standard colloquial Hebrew is accepted, but feel free to try using more formal Hebrew as well in this skill. You may also use formal Hebrew in other skills throughout the course but there is certainly no guarantee that your answer will be accepted. In such a situation, you can make an error report if you wish.

Question Words

Several question words in standard colloquial Hebrew have more formal equivalents:

Formal Equivalent Question Word
מדוע למה
כיצד איך
היכן איפה
מאין מאיפה

It is also more common to include the pronouns הוא, היא, הם ,הן with the question word מה, in which case they can be condensed into single words: מהו, מהי, מהם, מהן. The same goes for זה הוא, which is written זהו.


The words נא and אנא are formal ways of saying "please" in Hebrew. You are likely to see them on signs. Take note that these words are not exactly identical in usage to the word "בבקשה", since they cannot stand alone - they must have an infinitive or imperative beside them, or they are meaningless. They basically serve to soften commands.

For example:

Please keep the ticket - נא לשמור את הכרטיס
Please listen - אנא הקשיבו

אין and its inflections

אין is more widespread in formal Hebrew and suffixes can be added to it, making it equivalent to the following:

Formal Hebrew Standard Hebrew
איני אני לא
אינךָ אתה לא
אינךְ את לא
אינו הוא לא
אינה היא לא
איננו אנחנו לא
אינכם אתם לא
אינכן אתן לא
אינם הם לא
אינן הן לא

In addition, some of these have forms with a double נ:

Formal Hebrew Standard Hebrew
אינני אני לא
איננו הוא לא
איננה היא לא

These are mostly synonymous with the forms with only one נ, but they also have one specific usage which is unique to them. They have the meaning of not being somewhere:

She's gone. She is not here/there. - היא איננה

Other things to look out for

Use of זאת instead of את זה (without את!):

I have already said that - כבר אמרתי זאת

Dropping of ה from both the noun and the demonstrative in "this ...", "that ...":

This apple is not red - תפוח זה אינו אדום
(=התפוח הזה לא אדום=)

The use of כי instead of ש when introducing quotes or declarative content clauses:

He said that he did not do it - הוא אמר כי הוא לא עשה זאת
She said "this is a good result" - היא אמרה כי "זאת תוצאה טובה"

The use of אשר instead of ש when introducing relative clauses:

The boy who stole a car - הילד אשר גנב מכונית

ה השאלה

ה can be placed at the beginning of the first word of a sentence to denote a question:

Did you know? - ?הידעתם

ה הזיקה

ה can also be used in a similar way to ש or אשר:

The boy that eats eggs - הילד האוכל ביצים
(like: הילד שאוכל ביצים/הילד אשר אוכל ביצים)

You may also see in formal writing the words ה(י)נו, ה(י)נה, ה(י)נם, ה(י)נן, for example:

The most important thing to investors is the team - הדבר החשוב ביותר למשקיעים הנו הצוות

These business deals are particularly attractive - עסקאות אלו הינן אטרקטיביות במיוחד

In fact, the Academy of the Hebrew Language does not consider this to be correct Hebrew, but rather a type of hypercorrection. Therefore, you should be aware of this type of formal Hebrew but try not to emulate it. In the examples above, the words הוא and הן would be perfectly acceptable in formal Hebrew.

Business updated 2019-01-15 ^

The currency of Israel is the Shekel (שקל), plural Shkalim (שקלים). It has its own special symbol: ₪, derived from the combination of the letters of the abbreviation ש"ח (New Shekel - שקל חדש). You can access it by holding alt gr (right alt) and typing 4 on the number bar. (Not necessary for the course, just something extra).

Shkalim are divided into 100 Agorot (אגורות).

Outer Space updated 2019-01-15 ^

כוכב חמה

You may see כוכב חמה and at first think "why does חמה (hot in its feminine form) not agree with כוכב, which is a masculine noun?". חמה is actually a fancy synonym for שמש (sun). So in fact כוכב חמה is "sun-planet": Mercury. Remember that כוכב can mean star or planet, unless specified as a כוכב לכת, which is a planet.

The planets

The planets, up to and including Saturn, each have their own Hebrew name in addition to the internationally recognised names. For example, Jupiter is צדק, but can also be referred to as יופיטר. Uranus and any other planets, dwarf planets and asteroids found in more modern times have a name based on the international names. Neptune, for example, is נפטון. However, on the 30th of December 2009, the Academy of the Hebrew Language announced Hebrew names for Uranus (אורון - Oron) and Neptune (רהב - Rahav). Only time will tell if these names catch on.

Jewish Festivals updated 2019-01-15 ^

The Jewish calendar has many holidays. In fact, every Jewish month has a special day, being a holiday or a fast, except for the month of Cheshvan.

Here is a brief review of the main Jewish holidays that are mentioned in this unit, in chronological order starting from the Jewish New Year:

  1. Rosh Ha'shana - Rosh Ha'shana is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the High Holy Days. Rosh Ha'shana is a two-day celebration, which begins on the first day of Tishrei. Tishrei is the first month of the Jewish civil year, but the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year.

  2. The High Holy Days - The High Holy Days or High Holidays, more properly known as the Yamim Noraim (lit.‎ "Days of Awe"), are the period of ten days between Rosh Ha'shana and Yom Kippur, including those holidays. It is also known as the Ten Days of Repentance.

  3. Yom Kippur - Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

  4. Sukkot - The holiday of Sukkot, literally Feast of Booths, is commonly translated to English as Feast of Tabernacles. It is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei. During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple it was one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple (along with Passover and Shavuot).

  5. Simchat Torah - Simchat Torah (literally "Rejoicing of Torah") is a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. The main celebration of Simchat Torah takes place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that can last for several hours.

  6. Hanukkah - Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah (also called a Chanukiah/Hanukiah), one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night.

  7. Tu Bi'Shvat - Tu Bi'Shvat is a Jewish holiday occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat. It is also called "New Year of the Trees." In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day, and trees are planted in celebration.

  8. Purim - Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. This took place in the ancient Persian Empire. The story is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Ester).

  9. Passover - Passover or Pesach is an important, biblically derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. The rituals unique to the Passover celebrations commence with the Passover Seder (a ritual feast) when the 15th of Nisan has begun.

  10. Shavuot - Shavuot, known as the Feast of Weeks in English, is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan. Shavuot has a double significance. It marks the all-important wheat harvest in the Land of Israel and it commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai.

  11. Tisha Be'Av - Tisha Be'Av (lit. "the Ninth of Av") is an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Tisha Be'Av is regarded as the saddest day in the Jewish calendar and it is thus believed to be a day which is destined for tragedy. Tisha Be'Av falls in July or August in the Western calendar.

Names of most holidays will appear in their common transliterated form.


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