Hebrew Language Blog

Learning the Hebrew Alef-Bet – Part 3 Posted by on Mar 14, 2012 in Learning Hebrew, Uncategorized

Today’s date: 20th of Adar, 5772 – כ׳ באדר תשע״ב

Here we are on our third post for learning the Hebrew Alef-Bet. If you were able to follow along with the past two, and if you practiced your reading skills, let’s start with some more new words but this time I’ll see if you can read them without help from a transcription. The answers are at the end of this post.

אַלֶה (these)
אַתֶם (you – plural – talking to a group of men)
אַתֶן (you – plural – talking to a group of  women)
אַנְגְלִית (English language)
גָר (to live)
גֶרְמָנִית (German language)
הֵם (they – talking about men)
הֵן (they – talking about women)
שָׁר (to sing)
יִידִישׁ (Yiddish language)

Now, we’ll be looking at 4 more letters this time (ו, ז, ח, ט) and one vowel sound (but three ways to read it – אוֹ, אֹא, אֳ). First, lets start with the vowel sound – “o”.

– This vowel sign looks like the letter ‘vav’ (coming up next) with a dot on top. This is pronounced like the “oa” in boat, but as a pure vowel sound. That means you say the ‘o’ part, but not the secondary “oo” part that creates the diphthong. Just a pure ‘o’ sound. Practice with the following words:

אוֹ (‘o) – or
לְהִתְרָאוֹת (leh-heet-ra-‘ot) – see you later
לוֹמֵד (lo-med) – study, learn
לִימוֹן (lee-mon) – lemon
מוֹרֶה (mo-re) – teacher (male)
מוֹרָה (mo-ra) – teacher (female)
רַדיוֹ (ra-dee-o) – radio
רוֹמָנִית (ro-man-it) – Romanian language
תוֹדָה (to-da) – thank you

Since we saw the vowel sign has the letter ‘vav’ in it, let’s learn that next.

The letter ו (vav – וָו) has the sound of “v” as in “vine.” In Ancient Hebrew, ו (vav) may have been pronounced like a “w” and sometimes you may see it transliterated as “w”; however, in Modern Hebrew ו (vav) is always pronounced as a “v” sound. It can also function as a “consonantal vowel” in Hebrew texts as we’ve seen in the words just learned above.

וְ (ve) – and
וִידֵאוֹ (vi-de-‘o) – video

ז (zayin / za’in – זַיִן)
The seventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called zayin (za-yeen) and has the sound of “z” as in “zebra.”

זֶה (ze) – this
מָיוֹנֶז (ma-yo-nez) – mayonnaise

Another vowel sign. This time it looks like a dot placed on the upper right of the consonant. This also takes on an ‘o’ sound.

זֹאת (zot) – this
לֹא (lo) – no, not

ח (het / khet – חֵית)
The eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called khet. ח (khet) makes a light, scraping sound in the back of the throat while making an “h” sound (like the ‘-ch’ in the German composer’s name Bach, or the Scottish word loch). ח (khet) is known as a guttural letter since it is pronounced in the back of the throat. Other guttural letters we’ve learned so far are א (aleph) and ה (hey). Sometimes you’ll see ח (khet) transliterated as “h” which is why you sometimes see the word “Chanukah” spelled as “Hanukkah” in English.

חַלָה (kha-la) – chala bread
לֶחֶם (le-khem) – bread
מֶלַח (me-lakh) – salt

ט (tet – טֵית)
The ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called tet and has the sound of ‘t’ as in tall. Some academic Hebrew books use a different letter to transliterate ט (tet) in order to distinguish it from the letter ת (tav). On this blog I will transliterate ט (tet) using the letter “t.” since both ת (tav) and ט (tet) are pronounced the same.

מֶנְטָה (men-ta) – mint, peppermint
תֶלֶוִויזְיָה (te-le-vi-zi-a) – television

We’re doing fine. Just two more posts and we’ll be finished with the Hebrew Alef-Bet. Have you printed these posts for learning offline, or copied the letters and example words in your notebook? Next time we have four letters and one vowel sound (with two written forms). See you then!

Have you tried the Hebrew language byki Express (Before You Know It) software? It’s a free download and will help you learn Hebrew vocabulary fast! Download your copy today and see for yourself.

Answers to the reading exercise: ‘e-le, ‘a-tem, ‘a-ten, ‘an-gleet, gar, ger-man-eet, hem, hen, shar, yee-deesh

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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.