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Verbs in Action: Binyan Pa’al Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 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

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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.


  1. Emily S:

    WOW! This was so awesome. Thanks a lot for all your work put into it! It was exactly what I was looking for. 🙂

  2. Rifka:

    Loved your explanation on the formation of the paal verbs – very clear, concise, to the point. Thank you!

  3. Adrien:

    you placed the feminine pronouns where it said past, masculine

  4. Honey:

    I think there’s an error in the past tense section: The female versions of pronouns are mixed with the male versions of the verb, under the heading of masculine.

  5. Matt:

    typo—-past tense for he danced the pronoun should be “hu” you have “hee”