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All About You, You and I Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 in Grammar, Learning Hebrew

Today’s date: 1st of Iyyar, 5772 – א׳ באייר תשע״ב
Rosh Chodesh Iyyar (ראש חודש אייר)
16th day of the Omer (ט״ז בעומר)

It’s all about me

Take a look at this sentence: אֲנִי מֹשֶׁה (a-nee mo-she) – I am Moses.

The literal translation of the Hebrew would be ‘I Moses’. In Hebrew, the verb ‘to be’ does not exist in a present tense sentence (i.e. an A=B type sentence). Rather, the ‘to be’ part is implied, and understood. Here’s a few more examples to check out:

אֲנִי (a-nee) – I am
אֲנִי תַּלְמִיד (a-nee tal-meed) – I am a (male) student
אֲנִי תַּלְמִידָה (a-nee tal-meed-a) – I am a (female) student

Look carefully at the examples again. Notice I put in words that indicate whether I’m speaking about a male or female student? This is because Hebrew uses gender. All Hebrew nouns are either masculine or feminine. (There is no neuter, so Hebrew never refers to anything as ‘it’.) The know the differences, most feminine nouns in the singular end with either ָה (ah), ֵת (et) or ִית (eet). Otherwise you’re safe to assume the noun is masculine. Whenever there are some contrasts in gender and vocabulary, I will be indicating this by using (m.) for masculine nouns and (f.) for feminine nouns.

תַּלְמִיד (tal-meed) – student (m.)
תַּלְמִידָה (tal-meed-ah) – student (f.)

It’s all about you

When it comes to the word for “you”, Hebrew also makes a gender distinction here. Here’s where the gender mix-up occurs as I mentioned above. The ‘ah’ sound (ָה) at the end of the pronoun for ‘you’ is actually used when speaking to a male, and the ‘t’ sound for the feminine. Let me show you:

אַתָּה (a-ta) – you (when speaking to a male)
אַתְּ (aht) – you (when speaking to a female)

Check Yourself

Let’s take some time now to practice reading Hebrew. You can go ahead and look at the text above if you need. But if you get really stuck, feel free to ask a question by leaving a comment below.

Here are some women’s names:
מַיָה (mah-nah) – Manah
אָנָה (ah-nah) – Ana
אַיָה (ah-yah) – Aya
אַנְיָה (ahn-yah) – Anya
And some men’s names:
מַתְיָא (maht-yah) – Matya
יַנַאי (yah-nay) – Janai
מַתַנְיָה (mah-tahn-yah) – Matanya

See if you can make sentences using the names and the pronouns אֲנִי (a-nee), אַתָּה (a-ta), and אַתְּ (aht):


I am Ana – אֲנִי אָנָה
You are Janai – אַתָּה יַנַאי

Extra Vocabulary

תַּלְמִיד (tahl-meed) – (male) student
תַּלְמִידָה (tahl-meed-ah) – (female) student
מִי (mee) – who?
אִמָּא (ee-ma) – mother
אִישׁ (eesh) – man
אִשָּׁה (ee-sha) – woman
יֶלֶד (yeh-led) – boy
יַלְדָּה (yahl-dah) – girl
וְ (v / ve) – and

Reading Practice (with nikud)

?מִי אַתְ
אֲנִי תַּלְמִידָה
אֲני יַנַאי. וְאַתָה?
אֲני מַתַנְיָה

Reading Practice (without nikud)

מי אני? אני מינה
מי אתה? אתה תלמיד

Answers to the exercises will be given in the next post.

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About the Author: Sean Young

Learning languages since 1978 and studying over 50 (achieving fluency in 10). Sean L. Young loves giving tips, advice and the secrets you need to learn a language successfully no matter what language you're learning. Currently studying Hindi and blogging his progress right here at Transparent Language - https://blogs.transparent.com/language-news.