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Plural Nouns Posted by on Jul 20, 2012 in Grammar, numbers, Vocabulary


Last month we learned about numbers and counting in Hebrew. let’s now put them to good use.

Nouns are a very useful thing in any language. They help us identify the object we are speaking about. But talking about more than one thing is sometimes necessary (if you want three apples, imagine asking May I have one apple?…May I have one apple?…May I have one apple?). More than one noun is referred to as a plural noun. So we can save time and trouble by asking “May I have three apples?”.

In Hebrew, nouns mark their plural by the endings ִים (eem) and וֹת (ot).

Masculine Plural Nouns

Most masculine nouns in Hebrew take the ending ִים. But, with nouns that end in ֶה, or ִי, you drop these endings and then you add on the plural ending.

תִיק (bag) – תִיקִים (bags)

מוֹרֶה (teacher) – מוֹרִים (teachers) – the ִי is dropped

עִתּוֹנַאי (journalist) – עִתּוֹנַאים (journalists)
[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/hebrew/files/2012/07/masc_pl.mp3]

Feminine Plural Nouns

Feminine nouns take the ending וֹת. And like the masculine nouns, feminine nouns drop the endings ָה and ת.

מְגֵרָה (drawer) – מגירות (drawers)

טִירָה (castle) – טירות (castles)

יָדִית (handle) – יָדִיוֹת (handles)

מַפִּית (napkin) – מפיות (napkins)
[audio:https://blogs.transparent.com/hebrew/files/2012/07/fem_pl.mp3]

Exceptions to the Rule

Yes, with every set of rules there are exceptions. And languages have them too. In Hebrew, There are some exceptions, e.g. the masculine noun שׁוּלְחָן ‘table’ has the feminine plural form of שׁוּלְחָנוֹת. But that still means that the masculine noun שׁוּלְחָן keeps a masculine agreement when used with adjectives: שׁוּלְחָנוֹת מַקְסִימִים ‘gorgeous tables’

Also, some feminine nouns may take a masculine ending. The feminine noun שָׁנָה ‘year’ has the masculine plural ending שָׁנִים.

Check Yourself

Look at the following words. Some are already in the plural and some are in the singular. Can you change the plural words to singular and the singular words to plural? Answers will be given in the next post:

תַלְמִיד (tahl-meed) – student

לִימוֹנִים (lee-mon-eem) – lemons

תַלְמִידוֹת (tahl-meed-oht) – students

יַלְדָה (yahl-dah) – girl

In Future Posts

Because of this mixing of rules and exceptions with nouns and their different forms, I’ll be listing their plural forms in the vocabulary lists so you will see and recognize when they decide to show up.

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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.


Comments:

  1. Roy Alan Manchee:

    Dear Sean,
    I came across your language site today and found it very interesting.
    As a seeker after truth I have been interested in the plurality of the word God as used in the Genesis 6. I keep an open mind in the problem of trying to relate EL with Elohim in this context. Some researchers seem to try to discard all rules and simply make an arbitrary judgement as to the correct usage. This conflict over the plurality of the word God and its pleural form in English “Gods” cannot be used, so I have read, in the Bible.
    Your comments would be appreciated.
    Regards,
    Roy