Archive for 'Learning Hebrew'

Going to the Dentist

Posted on 28. Feb, 2014 by in Conversation, Learning Hebrew, Phrases, Real World, Vocabulary

Initial Vocabulary

toothרוֹפֵא שִׁנַּיִם – dentist
הרדמה – anesthetic
חוֹר‏ – cavity
נִיב – canine tooth
צַד שְׂמוֹל – left side
לְמַעלָה – upper jaw
סְתִימָה‏ – filling
זְרִיקָה – injection
מַקדֵחָה – drill (noun)

The other day I had an appointment with the רוֹפֵא שִׁנַּיִם. As I’m sitting in the chair and my mouth is being examined and poked, I thought this would be a great opportunity to write about going to the dentist in Hebrew. Let me ask, do you like going to the dentist? Personally, I don’t mind it at all. As long as they give me plenty of הרדמה, I’m fine.

As the רוֹפֵא שִׁנַּיִם was poking around, he found a small חוֹר‏ on the נִיב of the צַד שְׂמוֹל of the לְמַעלָה. It’s going to need a סְתִימָה‏. So he gives me an זְרִיקָה of הַרדָמָה to make it as painless as possible. Once the area around the tooth is numb, here comes the מַקדֵחָה….

Well, the procedure is done and I have another appointment in six months for a checkup. Now, what other things can we find out about the dentist and what procedures are needed to keep the teeth healthy and strong? Let’s take a look:

Parts of the mouth

Gums – חֲנִיכַיִם
Jaw – לֶסֶת
Lips – שְׂפָתִים
Nerve – עֶצֶב
Tongue – לָשׁוֹן
upper jaw – לְמַעלָה
lower jaw – לְמַטָה
left side – צַד שְׂמוֹל
right side – צַד יֶמִין


canine (tooth) – נִיב
incisor – שֵׁן חוֹתֶכֶת
molar – שֵׁן טוֹחֶנֶת

What’s the problem?

abscess – פֶּצַע מוּגלָתִי
bacterial plaque – רוֹבֶד חַייְדַקִּי(ם)‏
bleeding – שֶׁטֶף דַם
blood – דָם
caries – עַשֶּׁשֶׁת‏
cavity – חוֹר‏
dental decay – עַשֶּׁשֶׁת‏
pain – כְּאֵב
pus – מוּגלָה
receding gums – נְסִיגַת חֲנִיכַיִים‏
sensitivity – רְגִישׁוּת
swelling – נְפִיחוּת
tartar – אֶבֶן‏‏
toothache – כְּאֵב שִׁינַּיִים

Procedures and things to fix any problems

anesthetic – הַרדָמָה
braces/bridge – גֶשֶׁר
crown – כֶּתֶר
extract a tooth – הוציא שן
extraction – עֲקִירָה
false tooth – שֵׁן תּוֹתֶבֶת‏
filling – סְתִימָה
implant – שֶׁתֶל ‏
injection – זְרִיקָה
root canal – טִיפּוּל שׁוֹרֶשׁ‏


brush one’s teeth – me’tzach’tze’ach shinayim – מצחצח שיניים
brush one’s teeth – tzitze’ach shinayim – ציחצח שיניים
Close gently – Lisgor be-adinut – לסגור בעדינות
Close your mouth – Lisgor et ha-peh – לסגור את הפה
Do you have a temperature? – Yesh lecha chom? – יש לך חום?
Open your mouth – Liftoach et ha-peh – לפתוח את הפה
The girl is brushing her teeth. – Ha-ishah metzach’tzachat et shineyah. – האישה מצחצחת את שיניה
Very bad pain – Ke’ev chazak me’od – כאב חזק מאד
Well Done – Kol HaKavod – כל הכבוד
When your tooth hurts, it is important to go to the dentist. – k’she-ha-shen shel’cha ko’evet, zeh chashuv lalechet la-rofe shinayim. – .כשהשן שלך כואבת, זה חשוב ללכת לרופא שיניים
Where does it hurt? – Eifo ko’ev lecha – איפה כואב לך?
Which side? – Be’eize tzad? – באיזה צד?

Verbs in Action: Back to the Future?

Posted on 11. Feb, 2014 by in binyanim, Learning Hebrew, Vocabulary

Conjugating a pa’al verb into the future tense is going to take a little bit of learning to do here. I’m going to focus on the root ס-ג-ר, which gives the idea of closing and show you how it’s done. Ready?

In the future tense, there are four prefix letters before the root. They are: אֶ, יִ, תִ or נִ. All seven binyan have these prefixes in the future tense. Here is a chart showing the form of the future tense to let you see how it looks. Don’t let it scare you yet, I’ll break it down after this.

I will close (m)   אֶסְגוֹר אֲנִי
I will close (f)   אֶסְגוֹר אֲנִי
You will close (m)   תִסְגוֹר אַתָּה
You will close (f)   תִסְגְרִי אַתְּ
He will close (m)   יִסְגוֹר הוּא
She will close (f)   תִסְגוֹר הִיא
We will close (m)   נִסְגוֹר אֲנַחְנוּ
We will close (f)   נִסְגוֹר אֲנַחְנוּ
You will close (m)   תִסְגְרוּ אַתֶּם
You will close (f)   תִסְגְרוּ אַתֶּן
They will close (m)   יִסְגְרוּ הֵם
They will close (f)   יִסְגְרוּ הֵן

Let’s break it down some more

If you were able to catch it, did you see how the prefixes are distributed among the different forms of ס-ג-ר? In this chart I’ll put the prefixes into a separate column so you can see and compare:

English Stem Vowels Prefix Hebrew
I (m) ְ / וֹ אֶ אֶסְגוֹר אֲנִי
I (f) ְ / וֹ אֶ אֶסְגוֹר אֲנִי
You (m) ְ / וֹ תִ תִסְגוֹר אַתָּה
You (f) ְ / ְ / ִי תִ תִסְגְרִי אַתְּ
He (m) ְ / וֹ יִ יִסְגוֹר הוּא
She (f) ְ / וֹ תִ תִסְגוֹר הִיא
We (m) ְ / וֹ נִ נִסְגוֹר אֲנַחְנוּ
We (f) ְ / וֹ נִ נִסְגוֹר אֲנַחְנוּ
You (m) ְ / ְ / וּ תִ תִסְגְרוּ אַתֶּם
You (f) ְ / ְ / וּ תִ תִסְגְרוּ אַתֶּן
They (m) ְ / ְ / וּ יִ יִסְגְרוּ הֵם
They (f) ְ / ְ / וּ יִ יִסְגְרוּ הֵן


For every verb in the future tense in Hebrew, we attach one of the following prefixes to the root: אֶ, תִ, יִ, נִ. They are always the first letter of the verb no matter how many other suffixes or vowel changes are made. These rules to all Hebrew verbs in all forms of binyanim.

The charts above are great for printing out as a reference. But how to remember them when you don’t have the chart to look at? Luckily, there’s a way to do so:

  • For אֲנִי we add אֶ to the root.
  • For הוּא and הֵם, we add יִ to the root.
  • For אֲנַחְנוּ, we add נִ to the root.
  • For the rest of them (אַתָּה, אַתְּ, הִיא, אַתֶּם, אַתֶּן, הֵן), we add תִ to the root.

Check Yourself

Just as in the previous article, I’m giving you a word, along with the Hebrew verb root. See if you can change them into the future form.

Guard – שׁ-מ-ר
Write – כ-ת-ב
Finish – ג-מ-ר
Close – ס-ג-ר
Trust – ב-ט-ח
Learn / Study – ל-מ-ד
Send – שׁ-ל-ח
Remember – ז-כ-ר

Verbs in Action: Binyan Pa’al

Posted on 30. Jan, 2014 by in binyanim, Exercises, Grammar, Learning Hebrew, Vocabulary

The binyan פָּעַל is the most basic and simplest to understand conjugation to learn. It does not contain any special identifying markers other than the root letters. In most פָּעַל conjugations, the stem consists of the sequence CoCeC – פּוֹעֵל. The vowels ‘o’ and ‘e’ are the stem vowels that help create most of the present tense forms.
Let's get started.

First, we need a word

The word לִרְקוֹד translates as "to dance". This is the infinitive form that you'll see most anywhere you see a listing of Hebrew vocabulary, or in a dictionary. Now, to begin conjugating this verb, we need to find the root. In this case we simply drop the infinitive prefix לִ and the vowel
cholam , to get the root: ר-ק-ד.

Present Tense

We found our root to begin our lesson: ר-ק-ד, now we need to know how to use it. In the present tense of a pa'al verb, four forms are needed – masculine singular, masculine plural, feminine singular and feminine plural. Here’s a table showing how to make these four forms. Look at the verb form and see where the stem vowels fit in.

English Stem vowels Verb form  
I dance     אני
you dance וֹ / ֵ רוֹקֵד אתה
he dances      הוא

we dance     אנחנו
you dance וֹ /
רוֹקְדִים אתם
they dance     הם

I tried to keep this table as easy to read as possible. Since the verb form is the same for the “אני”, “אתה” and “הוא”, then I showed just the one instance to keep things looking neat.

Now let's take a look at the feminine forms of the verb:

English Stem vowels Verb form  
I dance     אני
you dance וֹ / ֶ / ֶ רוֹקֶדֶת את
she dances      היא

we dance     אנחנו
you dance וֹ / ְ / וֹת רוֹקְדוֹת אתן
they dance     הן

Past Tense

To create the past tense (I danced, she danced, they all danced, etc), here is what you need.
One thing you will now notice, there are different stem vowels on each. So pay attention to them. Let's take a look at the masculine forms:

English Stem vowels Verb form  
I danced ָ / ַ / ְתִי רָקַדְתִי אני
you danced ָ /
ַ / ְתָ
רָקַדְתָ את
he danced  ָ / ַ רָקַד היא

we danced ָ / ַ / ְנוּ רָקַדְנוּ אנחנו
you danced ְ / ַ
/ ְתֶם
רְקַדְתֶם אתן
they danced ָ / ְ / וּ רָקְדוּ הן

And now the feminine forms

English Stem vowels Verb form  
I danced ָ / ַ / ְ / תִי רָקַדְתִי אני
you danced ָ / ַ / ְ / תְ רָקַדְתְ את
she danced  ָ / ְ / ָה רָקְדָה היא

we danced ָ / ַ / ְ / נוּ רָקַדְנוּ אנחנו
you danced ְ / ַ / ְ / תֶן רְקַדְתֶן אתן
they danced ָ / ְ / -וּ רָקְדוּ הן

Future Tense

You know what? This tense is going to take a little more thinking. So I’m going to end this article here and give you the future tense in the next one. Are you up for it? In the meantime, here’s a few exercises to help you in your learning.


With these exercises, I’m giving you a word, along with the Hebrew verb root. Take any of the forms above and see what you can do with them. The answers will be provided with the next article.

Guard – שׁ-מ-ר
Write – כ-ת-ב
Finish – ג-מ-ר
Close – ס-ג-ר
Trust – ב-ט-ח
Learn / Study – ל-מ-ד
Send – שׁ-ל-ח
Remember – ז-כ-ר

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?