Hebrew Nouns` Gender: How to Distinguish Feminine from Masculine

Posted on 31. Jan, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana


Unlike English, Hebrew belongs to the group of languages that have grammatical gender. The predicate in Hebrew conjugate according to the gender of the subject, which makes the gender of the nouns matters as much as the gender of the pronouns. The subject in Hebrew is divided into masculine and feminine. There is nothing male or female about objects, but when talking about them the verbs and adjectives should conjugate corresponding to their gender.

It`s easy to distinguish feminine nouns from masculine nouns, since most of the feminine nouns end with the letters ה or ת. For example:


Feminine nouns end with ה
Girl יַלְדָּה
Aunt דּוֹדָה
Family מִשְׁפָּחָה
Dress שִׂמְלָה
Experience חֲוָיָה
List רְשִׁימָה

Notice: not every noun that ends with ה is necessarily a feminine. For example: dustpan (=יָעֶה) is masculine, its ה is not the feminine ה but a part of its root.


Feminine nouns end with ת
Daughter בַּת
Notebook מַחְבֶּרֶת
Frying pan מַחֲבַת
Car מְכוֹנִית
Truth אֱמֶת
Friendship חֲבֵרוּת

Notice: not every noun that ends with ת is necessarily a feminine. For example: junction (=צֹמֶת) is a masculine, its ת is not the feminine ת, but a part of its root.


There’s a saying in Hebrew that says: לְכָל כְּלָל יֵשׁ יוֹצֵא מִן הַכְּלָל. This means that every rule has its exceptions. So one can’t always rely on that main principle of ה and ת endings of the feminine nouns. There are quite a few nouns in Hebrew that end with other letters that are feminine as well. Unfortunately there is no way to distinguish them without memorize them.

For example:

Mother  אִמָּא
Grandmother סָבְתָא
Goat עֵז
Country אֶרֶץ
Chasm תְּהוֹם
Road דֶּרֶךְ
Wind רוּחַ
Sun שֶׁמֶשׁ
Glass כּוֹס
City square כִּכָּר
Shoe נַעַל
Jenny אָתוֹן
Grapevine גֶּפֶן


Most of these words have some history beyond them. כּוֹס, for example, is referred to in the bible as feminine, but in the Talmud as masculine. Nowadays it has fixed firmly as feminine by the language speakers. The word face (=פָּנִים) has similar history, though vice versa. The bible refers to it as masculine, but the Talmud as feminine. Today Hebrew speakers use freely both feminine and masculine gender when speaking about faces.

רוּחַ and שֶׁמֶשׁ both appeared in the bible as words without specific gender. Sometimes the bible refers to them as masculine and sometimes as feminine. Nowadays the spoken language firmly refers to them as feminine. If you visit Israel and try to describe the sun with masculine adjectives, people will insistently correct your alleged mistake. But as long as the bible can, so can you. And a lot of writers utilize this fact. Hence we can find songs with a feminine sun. Like the song אוֹר with the line:

עוֹצֶמֶת אֶת עֵינַי
אֲבָל הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ הִיא בִּפְנִים

In the song לִי וְלָךְ, though, the sun is masculine:

בַּיָּם הָרוֹגֵעַ
הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ שׁוֹקֵעַ


It’s very liberating to think of an object as sexless, don’t you think? :-)

Winter Has Come in Israel!

Posted on 06. Jan, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana


When the days get shorter and the winds get stronger, winter (חֹורֶף) is just around the corner. Passers-by bundled in their coats (מְעִילׅים), clouds become dull, windows light up and everyone expects the first rain (יוֺרֶה). Only after the יוֺרֶה rinses the pavement and the puddles (שְׁלוּלִיּוֺת) mottle the streets, it feels like חֹורֶף has truly came.

And here are some ideas how to celebrate the חֹורֶף :

1) No matter how old you are it is still an inexplicable pleasure to put your boots on, wear your מְעִילׅים, and go out. Bounce in the rain (גֶּשֶׁם) and stomp in the שְׁלוּלִיּוֺת like a kid.

2) Visit Azriely Observatory – the highest observatory in the Middle East. From the 49th floor of Azriely Tower in the center of Tel-Aviv you can overlook the city that never sleeps washed by the גֶּשֶׁם.  It costs only 22 INS for a day ticket and beside the view it also includes information about Tel-Aviv history. After enjoying the view of Tel-Aviv, you can go shopping in Azriely mall.


3) If you are not able to visit Israel this חֹורֶף you can still relish this amazing video clip of חֹורֶף 2012. Approximately seven minutes of astonishing  photographs show different Israeli locations, from the north to the south. Can you recognize some of them?

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4) If you wish to enjoy the גֶּשֶׁם from the inside with a hot chocolate (שׁוֹקוֹ) you can do it while watching 23FM – an Israeli sitcom with the aspiration to teach teenagers proper Hebrew. Designed for the youngsters it’s a fun and simple sitcom, with full episodes on YouTube plus Hebrew subtitles.

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5) Another way to celebrate the חֹורֶף with hot שׁוֹקוֺ is by grabbing a book and reading it under the duvet. I recommend My Michael by Amos Oz and A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev.

To you, books readers and everyone else – HAPPY WINTER!


Text Vocabulary

Winter = חֹורֶף

Rain =  גֶּשֶׁם

First rain = יוֺרֶה

Puddles = שְׁלוּלִיּוֺת, puddle = שְׁלוּלִית

Coats = מְעִילׅים, coat = מְעִיל

Hot chocolate = שׁוֹקוֹ

It’s Not Ha`nukkah Without Sufganyiah

Posted on 10. Dec, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Ha`nukkah is here! Together with its festive delicacy – the Sufganyiah . This fattening fried dough appeals the eyes as well as the stomach.

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

The traditional ones are filled with jam and dusted with sugar powder, but nowadays the variety of fillings is enormous, ranging from dulce de leche to marzipan. Whether your Sufganiyah is glazed with chocolate or with coconut cream, no one disputes the sweetness of the traditional Ha`nukkah donuts. Earlier than a month before the Jewish festival begins, bakeries all over Israel start selling fried Sufganiyah dough. One doesn’t really observe the holiday if one doesn’t bite at least one greasy delicious Sufganyiah. And for those without Jewish bakery nearby here is a recipe of homemade Sufganyiah:

Ingredients for 30 Sufganiyot

7 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoon dry yeast

3 eggs

1 1/4 cup lukewarm milk

100 gr butter at room temperature

1 1/2 liter vegetable oil for frying

Smooth jam or jelly

Powdered sugar for dusting


1) Place 3 1/2 cups of flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk. Add the eggs, milk, sugar and butter and mix for a minute to combine to combine. Add the rest of the flour on a low speed. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, shiny and elastic, about 5 minutes.

2) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

3) Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and roll 30 egg-size balls. Place it on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size.

4) Place the vegetable or canola oil in a large pot and set over medium heat until the temperature reaches 160°C. Fry the dough rounds in the oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes for each side.

5) When the donuts are cool enough to handle dust with powdered sugar and pipe jam or jelly inside.

Bon appetit!

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring: The Four Seasons in Hebrew

Posted on 12. Nov, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana


Summer – קַיִץ

Watch the video below to learn how to draw summer, the origin of the Hebrew word אַרְטׅיק (popsicle), and what you may find in the beach of Israel:

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[The link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHfcUPDcWR8]


Autumn – סְתָיו

The Hebrew word for autumn appeared as early as the bible, though without the modern meaning. It appeared only once in the enjoyable Song of Songs:  

״כִּי הִנֵּה הַסְּתָיו עָבָר הַגֶּשֶׁם חָלַף הָלַךְ לוֹ, הַנִּצָּנִים נִרְאוּ בָאָרֶץ עֵת הַזָּמִיר הִגִּיעַ וְקוֹל הַתּוֹר נִשְׁמַע בְּאַרְצֵנוּ״

(שיר השירים ב׳, י״א־י״ב)

[For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land (Song of Songs 2, 11-12)].

Unlike the סְתָיו we know as a season that indicates the descent of the scalding summer and the ascent of the gloomy winter – the סְתָיו in the above verse is a synonymous with the rainy season. The biblical סְתָיו comes before the flourishing spring, hence, its original meaning is winter. And so it was for hundreds of years. Until the book “לימודי הטבע” (Nature studies) was published in 1836 and defined סְתָיו as:

“והעת אשר במשך שלו יכלה החום מעט מעט והקור ימלא מקומו יכנה בשם סתיו”

(and the time of a slowly declining heat and of increasing cold will be called autumn).


Winter – חֹורֶף

A famous Jewish narrative tells the story of Honi Ha-me`agel. Honi was a Jewish scholar from the 1st century BC. One winter without any precipitation, the people asked Honi to pray for rain. Honi drew a circle in the dust, stood inside it, and informed God that he would not move out of it until it rained. When it began to drizzle, Honi asked for stronger rain. When it began to pour, Honi asked for calmer rain. Calmer rain then began to fall, but didn’t stop until Honi asked God to stop it. This Mishnaic hero enters every Israeli kindergarten during the winter, and even has several streets in Israel named after him. Honi HaMe’agel Street in Tel-Aviv for example.


Spring – אָבִיב

There’s nothing better than a jovial children song from the 70’s to learn about the spring:

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[The link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNCQNiGojBc]

A video with the punctuated lyrics of the song:

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[The link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kawo1X6PiEg]



The Hebrew Letters: Learning the Alphabet with a Song

Posted on 15. Oct, 2015 by in Uncategorized

The song alphabet (אָלֶף בֵּית) was published in 1974, and immediately became a hit amongst parents and kids. For the last 40 years, every child in Israel has learned it as early as kindergarten. There isn’t a native who can’t sing it – or at least parts of it – by heart. And no wonder – it’s a catchy song. I believe you will hum it too after hearing it. The song displays all the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their order. It presents every letter with a word that starts with the same letter. It’s a fun song and a great way to learn and memorize the אָלֶף בֵּית. Enjoy!

אָלֵף – אוֹהֶל, בֵּית – זֶה בַּיִת

גִּימֶל זֶה גָּמָל גָּדוֹל

מַהִי דָּלֶת – זוֹהִי דֶּלֶת

שֶׁפּוֹתַחַת אֶת הַכּל

הֵא – הֲדַס וּוָו הוּא וֶרֶד

שֶׁפָּרְחוּ לִי בַּחוֹלוֹת

זַיִן חֵת שְׁתֵּיהֶן בְּיַחַד

זֶהוּ זֵר חֲבַצָּלוֹת

בְּנֵי הַשֵׁשׁ וּבְנֵי הַשֶּבַע

אָלֶף בֵּית אָלֶף בֵּית

מְצַיְּרִים בְּגִיר וָצֶבָע

אָלֶף בֵּית אָלֶף בֵּית

וְיוֹצְאוֹת בִּמְחוֹל מַחֲנַיִם

אָלֶף, אָלֶף בֵּית

אוֹתִיּוֹת עֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁתַּיִם

אָלֶף בֵּית

טֵית זֶה טוֹב וְיוּד זֶה יפִי

כָּף זֶה כֵּן וְלָמֶד לא

מֵם וְנוּן זֶה מָן וְנפֶת

קַח לְךָ וְתֵן גַּם לוֹ

סָמֶךְ – סֵפֶר, עַיִן – עַיִן

פֵּא – פַּרְפָּר וְגַם פָּשׁוֹשׁ

צָדִיק – צְחוֹק עַד לֵב שָׁמַיִם

– קוֹף זֶה קוֹף וְרֵישׁ זֶה

ראשׁ גָּדוֹל עַל הַכְּתֵפַיִם

יֶלֶד טוֹב יְרוּשָׁלַיִם


בְּנֵי הַשֵׁשׁ וּבְנֵי הַשֶּבַע

אָלֶף בֵּית אָלֶף בֵּית

מְצַיְּרִים בְּגִיר וָצֶבָע

אָלֶף בֵּית אָלֶף בֵּית

וְיוֹצְאוֹת בִּמְחוֹל מַחֲנַיִם

אָלֶף, אָלֶף בֵּית

אוֹתִיּוֹת עֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁתַּיִם

אָלֶף בֵּית

?מַה צָּרִיךְ לָבוֹא עַכְשָׁו

?אֵיפה שִׁין? וְאֵיפה תָּו

שִׁין – שָׁלוֹם וְתָו – תּוֹדָה

וְנִגְמְרָה הָעֲבוֹדָה

שִׁין – שָׁלוֹם וְתָו – תּוֹדָה

וְנִגְמְרָה הָעֲבוֹדָה

דַּ”ש לַמִּשְׁפָּחָה שֶׁלְּךָ

וְלֵךְ לְךָ לְדַרְכְּךָ

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