Archive for 'Learning Hebrew'

Verbs in Action: The Seven Binyanim

Posted on 27. Jan, 2014 by in Conversation, Grammar, Learning Hebrew

Hebrew vocabulary is quite flexible when you think about it. This is because Hebrew words are based on roots consisting of 3 consonants; you may find some with 2 or 4 consonants, but you won’t find them very often. From these roots you can modify them by changing the vowels, or adding certain prefixes, suffixes or infixes (changes made inside the word). These modifications can increase your vocabulary greatly. I wrote details about this in an article about roots and patterns earlier in this blog.


A request was made to me recently about Hebrew verbs and if I can help explain them a little bit more so they can be understood. I have a series of articles that I’ll be putting up to help explain the different forms of the Hebrew verb, or as they are called – בניינים “binyanim”. There are seven of them, so I’ll be going over them one at a time and keep it as simple to understand as possible.

Don’t let the dictionary fool you

When you look up a word in a language dictionary, the verb forms you see are usually in the infinitive form – the most basic form of the verb you need on which to build. In a Hebrew-English-Hebrew dictionary, you may find something a little different.

For example, I’m going to use the root שׁ-מ-ר. This root gives the concept of guarding, watching, supervising, etc. Looking this up in my dictionary, I see שָׁמַר, which says it translates as “to guard, to supervise”. In reality, שָׁמַר is not a true infinitive; it is the base form of the verb. It is what’s called in the linguistic world the 3rd person masculine singular of the perfect (past) tense. In other words, שָׁמַר actually means “he guarded” or “he has guarded”. This is the form you start with and is called פָּעַל “pa’al”.

In tomorrow’s article we’ll look more at the פָּעַל form and how it’s used. Get out your notebooks! :-D

A Look at Grammar: The Direct Object

Posted on 22. Jan, 2014 by in Conversation, Grammar, Learning Hebrew, Vocabulary


In this article, we’re going to look at a part of Hebrew grammar that beginning students often want to know. There’s a particle in Hebrew (אֵת) that isn’t translated into English. This particle indicates that a ‘direct object’ is ahead in that sentence. A direct object answers the ‘what’ or ‘whom’ in a sentence (for our readers who are familiar with linguistic terms, this is also known as the accusative case):

    What are you writing? I’m writing a letter.
    Whom do you see? I see a waiter.

In Hebrew direct objects can be either indefinite (a waiter, a letter) or definite (the waiter). In this article we are focusing on the definite direct object. A definite direct object is always preceded by the particle אֵת (pronounced like the ‘et’ part of bet).

    I see the waiter – אני רוֹאֶה אֵת המֶלְצַר
    I see the book – אני רוֹאֶה אֵת הסֵפֶר

Since proper nouns are by nature definite, they too are preceded by אֵת
    I see Moshe אני רוֹאֶה אֵת מֹשֶׁה

The Indefinite Direct Object

As I mentioned above, Hebrew also has an indefinite direct object. To talk about that, you simply omit אֵת.
    I see a waiter – אני רוֹאֶה מֶלְצַר
    I see a book – אני רוֹאֶה סֵפֶר

Think of the indefinite article “a” in English: this word has no meaning by itself, it’s simply an indefinite marker. As there is no indefinite articles in Hebrew, this word is simply ignored while translating from English to Hebrew.

Check Yourself

Which of these sentences are definite?

  1. אני רוֹאֶה אֵת הספר
  2. הייתי צריך את זה
  3. היו צריכים יותר
  4. התרצה לדעת אֵת האמת?

Using Facebook in Hebrew – The Sequel

Posted on 16. Jan, 2014 by in Learning Hebrew, Phrases, Real World, Trends, Vocabulary

00 - Home page

Have you been using your Facebook account in Hebrew? Has it been helping you with your Hebrew studies? Let me help you out with interacting in Hebrew as you read and write your posts. Here are some commonly used sentences and phrases that I’ve collected for you. Enjoy!

Did your hear about… – שָׁמַעְתָּ/שָׁמַעְתְּ עַל…
Remember this? – זוֹכְרִים אֶת זהֶ?
You got to check out this (web)site – amazing! – אַתֶּם חַייבִָים לִבְדּוֹק אֶת הָאֲתָר הַזּהֶ – מַדְהִים!
Something really important – read & forward! – מַשֶּׁהוּ מַמָּשׁ חָשׁוּב, לִקְרוֹא וּלְהַעֲבִיר הָלְאָה.
Please share this with all your friends – שַׁתְּפוּ אֶת זהֶ (בְּבַקָּשָׁה) עִם כֹּל הַחֲבֵרִים שֶׁלָּכֶם
Here is a photo / video of… – הִנּהֵ תְּמוּנהָ / ויִדֵיאו שֶׁל…
This is hilarious! – (זהֶ) מַצְחִיק בַּטֵּירוּף!
LOL – צַבָּ”ר (צוֹחֵק/צוֹחֶקֶת בְּקוֹל רָם)
Absolutely amazing, love it! – מַדְהִים לְגמְַרֵי, אָהַבְתִּי!
What a cute picture! – אֵיזוֹ תְּמוּנהָ חֲמוּדָה!
Sounds like you had a brilliant holiday – נשְִׁמַע שֶׁהָייתְָה לָכֶם חוּפְשָׁה נהֱֶדֶרֶת
So happy for you, congratulations! – אֲניִ כֹּל כָּךְ שָׂמֵחַ/שְׂמֵחָה בִּשְׁבִילְךָ/בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ, מַזּלָ טוֹב!
Happy Birthday Maya, have a wonderful day! – יוֹם הוּלֶדֶת שָׂמֵחַ מַאיהָ, שֶׁיּהְִיהֶ לָךְ יוֹם נפְִלָא!
Happy birthday, Ben, lots of health and happiness. – יוֹם הוּלֶדֶת שָׂמֵחַ, בֵּן, הַרְבֵּה בְּרִיאוּת ואְוֹשֶׁר.
Good luck, thinking of you… – בְּהַצְלָחָה, חוֹשְׁבִים עָלֶיךָ/עָלַיךְִ…
Hope to see you soon – מְקַווהֶ/מְקַווהָ לִרְאוֹת אוֹתְךָ/אוֹתָךְ בְּקָרוֹב
So sorry to hear… – נוֹרָא הִצְטַעַרְתִּי לִשְׁמוֹעַ…
Does anybody know if… ? – מִישֶׁהוּ יוֹדֵעַ אִם…?
Can anyone recommend a good… ? – מִישֶׁהוּ יכָוֹל לְהַמְלִיץ לִי עַל …. טוֹב?
Going to the movies tomorrow… – אֲניִ הוֹלֵךְ/הוֹלֶכֶת לַקּוֹלְנוֹעַ מָחָר…
…anyone want to join? – מִישֶׁהוּ רוֹצֶה לְהִצְטָרֵף?


In this listing, I’ve indicated the gender of the nouns using the Hebrew abbreviations ז’ for masculine and נ’ for feminine. The verbs are shown in their infinitive forms (beginning with לְ) and conjugated form to start you off.

to add – הוֹסִיף / לְהוֹסִיף
album – אַלְבּוֹם ז’
blog – בְּלוֹג ז’, יוֹמַן רֶשֶׁת
to browse – דִּפְדֵּף / לְדַפְדֵּף (בָּאִינטְֶרְנטֶ)
checkbox – תֵּיבַת סִימּוּן
to click (1) – לָחַץ / לִלְחוֹץ
to click (2) – הִקְלִיק / לְהַקְלִיק
clip – סִרְטוֹן ז’, קְלִיפּ ז’
to comment – הֵגיִב / לְהָגיִב
contact – אִישׁ קֶשֶׁר
to delete – מָחַק / לִמְחוֹק
discussion – דּ יוּן ז’
to edit – עָרַךְ / לַעֲרוֹךְ
feedback – פ ידְבֶּק ז’, מָשׁוֹב ז’
to find – מָצָא / לִמְצוֹא
to follow – עָקַב / לַעֲקוֹב אַחֲרֵי
follower – עוֹקֵב/עוֹקֶבֶת
form – טוֹפֶס ז’
group – קבוּצָה נ’
to hide – הִסְתִּיר / לְהַסְתִּיר
inbox – תֵּיבַת דּוֹאַר נכְִנסַ
to invite – הִזמְִין / לְהַזמְִין
to join – הִצְטָרֵף / לְהִצְטָרֵף
to like (1) – אָהַב / לֶאֱהוֹב
to like (2) – עָשָׂה / לַעֲשׂוֹת לַייקְ
link – קִישׁוּר ז’
list – רְשִׁימָה נ’
location – ;(place of residency) מקוֹם מְגוּרִים / מיקּוּם ז’
to log in – נכְִנסַ / לְהִכָּנסֵ
to log on – הִתְחַבֵּר / לְהִתְחַבֵּר
message, notification – הוֹדָעָה נ’
password – סִיסְמָה נ’, סִיסְמָא נ’
photo – תְּמוּנהָ נ’
post – פִּרְסוּם ז’
to post (upload a file, e.g. video) – הֶעֱלָה / לְהַעֲלוֹת
to post (usu. written); – פִּרְסֵם / לְפַרְסֵם
profile – פְּרוֹפִיל ז’
to remove – הֵסִיר / לְהָסִיר
to report – דִּיווחֵַ / לְדַווחֵַ
request – בַּקָּשָׁה
to search – חִיפֵּשׂ / לְחַפֵּשׂ
to see – רָאָה / לִרְאוֹת
to select – בָּחַר / לִבְחוֹר
settings – הַגדְָּרוֹת נ”ר
to share – שִׁיתֵּף / לְשַׁתֵּף
status – סְטָטוּס ז’
to subscribe – נרְִשַׁם / לְהֵירָשֵׁם
to type – הִקְלִיד / לְהַקְלִיד
update – עִדְכּוּן ז’
to update – עִידְכֵּן / לְעַדְכֵּן
username – שֵׁם מִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ
to view – צָפָה / לִצְפּוֹת
wallקִיר ז’

Building Your Vocabulary – Using the Phone

Posted on 08. Jan, 2014 by in Conversation, Exercises, Phrases, Real World, Trends, Vocabulary


It seems like we live in a phone-addicted society. You can find them in almost every home, every office and with the mobility factor going on today – in every pocket or purse. Phones are everywhere, so it seems like a good idea to learn some vocabulary about phones and using them.

To begin with, let’s first look at some simple phrases to help us out:

I want to call… – אני רוצה לְטִלְפֵּן לְ…
The number is … – המִסְפָּר…
I want to make a long distance call to… – אני רוצה לְעָשוֹת שִׂיחַת חוּץ לְ…
I want to make a collect call – אני רוצה לְעָשוֹת שִׂיחַת גּוּבַייְנָא.
What’s the area code for…? – מהו אִזוּר הקִדֹּמֶת שֶׁל …?

In the United States and Canada, if you want to find out someone’s מִסְפַּר טֶלֶפוֹן ‏ (phone number) you dial 411. In Israel you would dial 144.

Telephone Vocabulary

Here is a list of what you need when having a conversation about telephones.

answering machine (answerphone) – מַזְכִּירָה אוֹטוֹמָטִית/אֶלֶקְטְרוֹנִית   ‏, מְשִׁיבוֹן‏ (masc) ז’‏
area code (dialling code) – קִידּוֹמֶת ‏ (fem) נ’‏
battery – סוֹלְלָה‏ (fem) נ’‏
cell phone – טֶלֶפוֹן סֶלוּלָרי
charger – מַטְעֵן‏ (masc) ז’‏
collect call (reverse charge call) – (שִׂיחַת) גּוּבַייְנָא‏ (fem) נ’‏
keypad(s) – לְחִיץ (לְחִיצִים)‏ (masc) ז’‏, לַחְצָן (לַחְצָנִים)‏ (masc) ז’‏
message – הוֹדָעָה‏ (fem) נ’‏
mobile – פֶּלֶאפוֹן‏ (masc) ז’‏, (טֶלֶפוֹן) סֶלוּלָרִי‏ (masc) ז’‏, (טֶלֶפוֹן) נַייָד‏
off peak hours – שְׁעוֹת שֵׁפֶל ‏
payphone – טֶלֶפוֹן צִיבּוּרִי ‏
phone book (directory) – סֵפֶר טֶלֶפוֹנִים ‏, מַדְרִיךְ טֶלֶפוֹן‏
phone call – שִׂיחַת טֶלֶפוֹן ‏
phone number – מִסְפַּר טֶלֶפוֹן ‏
phonecard – טֶלֶכַּרְט ‏ (masc) ז’‏
pound key (hash key) – סוּלָּמִית‏ (fem) נ’‏
public telephone – טֶלֶפוֹן צִיבּוּרִי ‏
SIM card – כַּרְטִיס סִים ‏
SMS – מִסְרוֹן‏ (masc) ז’‏, הוֹדָעַת טֶקְסְט‏
telephone – טֶלֶפוֹן‏
phone booth (telephone box) – תָּא טֶלֶפוֹן  ‏
telephone line – קָו טֶלֶפוֹן
telephone receiver – שְׁפוֹפֶרֶת‏ (fem) נ’‏
telephone token – אֲסִימוֹן‏ (masc) ז’‏
text message – מִסְרוֹן‏ (masc) ז’‏, הוֹדָעַת טֶקְסְט‏
voice mailbox – תָּא קוֹלִי ‏
voicemail – דּוֹאַר קוֹלִי ‏
yellow pages – דַּפֵּי זָהָב ‏

Check Yourself

  1. If you don’t know someone’s phone number, you would look for it in the ____________________.
  2. My ________________ is (915) 555-1212.
  3. You want to speak to your friend Ruth. So you will ________________________.
  4. You don’t have your phone with you. You’ll have to use _____________________.

Resolutions For The New Year

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by in Celebrations and Holidays, Learning Hebrew, Phrases, Vocabulary

Here it is, the year 2014 (On the Jewish calendar, it's the year 5774).
And many millions of people make their New Year's Resolutions. How long they keep them is another story. Want to see the top Resolutions of all time? Here they are:

1 – לִקְרֹא יוֹתֵר (lik'ro yoter) – Read more.
2 – לְבַלוֹת יוֹתֵר זְמַן עִם הַמִּשְׁפָּחָה(le'valot yoter z'man im ha'mishpakha) – Spend more time with family.
3 – לַחֲסֹך כֶּסֶף(lakh'sokh kesef) – Save money.
4 – לְאַזֵּן בֵּין הָעֲבוֹדָה וְהַחַיִּים(le'azen ben ha'avoda ve'ha'khaim) – Balance work and life.
5 – לְהַפְסִיק לְעַשֵׁן(le'hafsik le'ashen)
- Quit smoking.
6 – לִלְמֹד מַשֶּׁהוּ חָדָשׁ(lilmod mashehu kha'dash) – Learn something new.
7 – לִשְׁתּוֹת פָּחוֹת(lish'tot pa'khot) – Drink less.
8 – לְהִתְעַמֵּל בִּקְבִיעוּת(le'hit'amel bik'vi'ut)
- Exercise regularly.
9 – לֶאֱכֹל בָּרִיא(le'ekhol ba'ri) – Eat healthy.
10 – לְהוֹרִיד בַּמִשְׁקָל(lehorid ba-mishkal) – Lose weight.

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