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Here and There in Hebrew Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Vocabulary

Here and there: two little words that make a big difference. Well, four actually. Hebrew has two different words to refer to this place, and two similar words to refer to that place. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Fence.Farm by Bob M ~ from Flickr.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0


פֹּה (Po) is a biblical word meaning ‛here. For example:

וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל נְעָרָיו שְׁבוּ לָכֶם פֹּה עִם הַחֲמוֹר

‟Abraham now said to his servants: You stay here with the donkey”

(Genesis, chapter 22, verse 5)

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם לִינוּ פֹה הַלַּיְלָה

‟At that he said to them: Spend the night here”

(Numbers, chapter 22, verse 8)

Although biblical, פֹּה is a pretty common word till these days. You can hear it frequently in sentences like:

בּוֹא לְפֹּה

Come here (when addressing a boy)

אֲנׅי צָרׅיךְ אוֹתְךָ פֹּה

I need you here (when a male speaker addressing a boy)

מָה אַתְּ עוֹשָׂה פֹּה?

What are you doing here? (when asking a girl)

פֹּה stands by itself, but it is also a part of the question word ‛where’. The common word for ‛where’ (yes, Hebrew also has several words bearing the meaning where), composed of the archaic where question אֵי, plus the word here פֹּה. Together they create the word אֵיפֹה.

כָּאן (Kan) is a Talmudic word meaning ‛here’. Although later in period, it is a perfect synonym to פֹּה. The two words can be replaced by each other in every sentence and every occasion, without changing the syntax or the meaning.

‘No parking here’, photo by Ayana

You can start practice those two words with the song כָּאן. כָּאן is the song Israel preformed with at the Eurovision contest of 1991. We didn’t win but we did benefit a lovely song, known by every Israeli:


כאן ביתי פה אני נולדתי
במישור אשר על שפת הים
כאן החברים איתם גדלתי
ואין לי שום מקום אחר בעולם

כאן ביתי פה אני שיחקתי
בשפלה אשר על גב ההר
כאן מן הבאר שתיתי מים
ושתלתי דשא במדבר

כאן נולדתי כאן נולדו לי ילדי
כאן בניתי את ביתי בשתי ידי
כאן גם אתה איתי וכאן כל אלף ידידי
ואחרי שנים אלפיים סוף לנדודי

כאן את כל שירי אני ניגנתי
והלכתי במסע לילי
כאן בנעורי אני הגנתי
על חלקת האלוהים שלי

כאן נולדתי…

כאן את שולחני אני ערכתי
פת של לחם פרח רענן
דלת לשכנים אני פתחתי
ומי שבא נאמר לו “אהלן”

כאן נולדתי…



שָׁם (Sham) is a biblical word meaning ‛there’. For example:

וַיִּמְצְאוּ בִקְעָה בְּאֶרֶץ שִׁנְעָר וַיֵּשְׁבוּ שָׁם

‟They discovered a valley plain in the land of Shiʹnar, and they began dwelling there”

(Genesis, chapter 11, verse 2)

וְגַם יְלִדֵי הָעֲנָק רָאִינוּ שָׁם

‟We also saw the Anʹa·kim there”

(Numbers, chapter 13, verse 28)

שָׁמָּה (Sha-ma) is basically the word שָׁם, with the extension of the directional suffix ה. The suffix ה is called Hey Hamegama. It is added to word describing a place to indicate tendency, positioning or direction. Hey Hamegama has the same meaning of the particle ‛to’. שָׁמָּה appears frequently in the bible, meaning ‛verb + to + there’. For example:

רְדוּ שָׁמָּה וְשִׁבְרוּ לָנוּ מִשָּׁם

‟Go down there and buy some for us”

(Genesis, chapter 42, verse 2)

הִנֵּה נָא הָעִיר הַזֹּאת קְרֹבָה לָנוּס שָׁמָּה

‟This town is nearby and I can flee there”

(Genesis, chapter 19, verse 20)

רַק אֶת בְּנִי לֹא תָשֵׁב שָׁמָּה

‟But you must not take my son there”

(Genesis, chapter 24, verse 8)

But שָׁמָּה also appears in the bible as simply ‛there’, a synonym to שָׁם. For example:

בָּבֶלָה יוּבָאוּ וְשָׁמָּה יִהְיוּ

‟To Babylon they will be brought, and there they will remain”

(Jeremiah, chapter 27, verse 22)

שָׁמָּה קָבְרוּ אֶת אַבְרָהָם וְאֵת שָׂרָה אִשְׁתּוֹ, שָׁמָּה קָבְרוּ אֶת יִצְחָק וְאֵת רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹ; וְשָׁמָּה קָבַרְתִּי אֶת לֵאָה

‟There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekʹah; and there I buried Leʹah”

(Genesis, chapter 49, verse 31)

Those appearances of שָׁמָּה in the Bible assert:  שָׁמָּהhas two meanings. The first is ‘to there’, and the second is simply ‘there’. Nonetheless, the use of שָׁמָּה in modern Hebrew sounds to most of the Israelis as a low sociolinguistics register. But as I told you before – the bible is always right. So feel free to use these four new words we’ve learn today:

Here There
פֹּה שָׁם
כָּאן שָׁמָּה


Watch the Hebrew version of Sesame Street: Explaining Here and There:

Keep Calm and Learn Hebrew 

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