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How to understand vowels in Hebrew?

  • 1665

I am just a newbie to Hebrew, without any other knowledge of it, and I am very confused from the very beginning.

Currently, I am just stuck with "The dove likes wine" somewhere in the first lesson. The task (listening comprehension) is to write something which is sounds like "oyuna ohevet teaim" (sorry guys, didn't mean to hurt someone) with Hebrew letters which is nearly impossible to finish with my 15 minutes of knowledge of this fascinating language. Not mentioning that the course does not have slow spelling mode which I thought is present in every other course on DL.

How to define where should be א or ה for a, o and other vowels? Tips and notes have no answer. Even the first tasks (mom, dad) - aleph is spelled as "a" and "i or ee"... I'm totally confused :-(

Any help appreciated.

June 21, 2016



Now, is this new and exotic "vowels don't have a fixed pronunciation" really that different to English? No, not really. Let's just be patient. It takes months, years. If shepherds 3000 years ago could do it, so can we. Enjoy.


It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.


Yes spelling is quite the nightmare for the beginner,

there are 4 letters which are used as Vowels(but careful because some can be Consonants too)

There are א,ה,ו,י

Alef - alef can be any vowel(except U, that's quite rare), in Alef's case you must memorize by word its use: acting as I in ראשון, A in מוצא, and O in צאן

Hey - Hey is most commonly used as A, or E. be careful however because it can be silent too, in that end of a word: A in צורה, O in איפה, H in הרס

Vav - vav can be used as the Consonant V, but when it's a Vowel You'll see it as a O or U(tip: a Vav after a letter is most likely a O/U, although there are exceptions! ): O in שור, U in מוזר, and V in ורד

Yod - You'll see Yod as either a Y in consonant form, or I in vowel form(tip: double Yod, or a Yod as the first letter of a word is probably a Y sound): I in שיר, Y in ים

so in your case of the dove likes wine, or in written form היונה אוהבת יין

You see Yod acting as Y and I, Vav as O, Hey as E, and Alef acting as a vassel for the O in Ohevet

Hope I helped and didn't confuse you even more...

Here is a Wiki article that explains better than me ;) English - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mater_lectionis#Hebrew

Hebrew - https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%90%D7%9D_%D7%A7%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%90%D7%94


Hebrew is impossible, I will never learn it...

  • 1665

Whoa. Thanks for detailed input.

But I am confused how to record spoken words - i hear similar sounds, but letters (or even worse letter combinations) are different.


For the first month of learning Hebrew, don't concentrate on the details, but just try and remember how to spell words by how they look, and how to recognise words by how they sound.

After about a month of just going with the flow, you'll be in a far better position to make sense of what's going on underneath the surface. But, it's very easy to get bogged down too quickly with details.


The a or i or ee does not represent the aleph, but the vowel that would be under it if vowels were shown. The aleph does not make a regular sound. It does sometimes represent a glottal stop (a stop and restart of air flow - the sound can be represented in English by saying oh-oh)


Hebrew speakers and natives not using nikkud on a very regular basis has always perplexed me. Is there one answer for this, other than the fact that the system doesn't work (it seems to function fairly well, from what I notice from my personal experience). For me, writing/(more so) typing without them is kind of like a short-hand, and, thus, could actually be the reason. This theory makes sense to me, since, in shorthand, short notes, etc., what is left out is implied, even more so with ample context.

My ear is becoming better and writing the nikkud because I listen for the vowels & their lengths; writing them out doesn't feel like it takes up too much time.

Does anyone have any helpful information & input?

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