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  5. Jeg behøver dem ikke, jeg har…

Jeg behøver dem ikke, jeg har deg!

Translation:I do not need them, I have you!

June 23, 2016



I get the fact that in English, "you" is the direct object, but in Hebrew, surely it's in the nominative, because you're saying something like "There is you to me"?


You noticed a grammar mistake most Hebrew speakers don't even know about. Well done!

In Hebrew, it is very common to say "יש את". For example:

"יש לי את הספר" = I have the book

Most linguists see this as a grammar mistake – "הספר" is in the nominative and therefore the word "את" shouldn't be in this sentence. The correct way to say it would be "יש לי הספר". However, if you asked any Hebrew speaker, he'd tell you that this sounds unnatural and wrong.

So, this sentence is actually "bad Hebrew"... but that's the common way to say it (and frankly, the only way I can come up with – "יש לי אַתְּ" sounds VERY unnatural).

If you want to read any further about this (in Hebrew): https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%99%D7%A9_%D7%90%D7%AA


I wonder if this ungrammatical structure came into use in Hebrew under the influence of Yiddish, as ashkenazim obviously perceive "YESH LI" as "ikh hob" (I have).


Or English, for that matter.


"...but that's the common way to say it (and frankly, the only way I can come up with – "יש לי אַתְּ" sounds VERY unnatural)." The biblical way of saying it was "לי אתה" and presumably "לי את" though I can only think of an example for the former (Isaiah 43:1). יש comes from Biblical Hebrew but it seems much more sparingly used.


That's actually a very interesting question. I'm a native and this question sort of froze the system in my brain and it required a reboot. :-) What is the subject of the sentence יש לי אותך? I admit to being confused.


Ok, I consulted a former Hebrew teacher (who is very nice and lovingly known to me as אמא), and we were both confused but we came up with something - mind, we are not sure! We think there is a hidden subject in this sentence (this is sometimes known to happen), אותך is the direct object and לי is the indirect object. The hidden subject is probably אני.


I am not a Hebrew speaker, and have only been studying classical Hebrew for a few months. The thing about יש is that is means "there is," it doesn't actually have an object. It should be (grammatically) יש לי את. Which would still have the awkward meaning of "you exist to me." I feel like the better wording might be "את שלי." Even at that, it looks like the speaker possesses or owns the poor person. I imagine that at an older age, one might add the relationship (ie "you are my friend") It seems however that both of these phrases were made obsolete in modern Hebrew, by the misunderstanding of the word יש to be like the European equivalent. Semitic languages don't have a word for "to have," and that's a strange thing to wrap your head around. So Israelis created one. Which I guess means it isn't incorrect anymore?


But יש לי את/ה was never grammatical, not in classical Hebrew and not in modern Hebrew. You can say יש לי תפוח. This is grammatical in every register. תפוח acts like a direct object, even though יש is not a verb. I guess in biblical Hebrew it would be just לי, but I'm not sure. תפוח לי. Is תפוח the subject? How about in the past/future tenses? היה לי תפוח. יהיה לי עץ. That's defenitely a verb. And תפוח is definitely the subject, becuase היתה לי עגבניה. So... rethinking the "יש is not a verb" statement. But if the thing had is the subject, why יש לי את התפוח / יש לי אותך? I'm even more confused!


I never said יש wasn't a verb. יש has to be a verb. I think? I hope! xD But... I don't think it's transitive? Unless maybe the indirect object counts for transitivity. The thing that causes the problem is that תפוח... isn't the object. It's the subject, and we render it as an object only after we translate it. Which means... that people would learn Hebrew with the thought that it is the object... which in turn would create a completely irregular verb that flips the function of transitivity. Then, if we say יש לי אותך, we have a herb that doesn't mean "to have," but rather "to be had."

And now that I think of it, I remember watching Pokemon and when Ash catches Caterpie, he says; אתה שלי! So I suppose that isn't... unnatural?

(Ps some learner is going to read this and be all like, "wuuuuuuut?" To that learner... I say don't think about it too much, this is nerd talk.)


Totally nerd talk. :-) But you can say יש לי את התפוח. I would totally say that. Only in modern Hebrew, and yes maybe it's a foreign influence now that I think about it, but it is natural to say: יש לי את המפתחות שלך. Maybe it's not the first way that would occur to me to express this thought, but it can be said and understood. That is why I am still confused.


Keep up the nerd talk! It's helpful and great food for thought! :D


You are positive. You exist to me. You is subject. Me is indirect object. By the way Tresmontant in his book Hebrew Jesus uses this as argument that New Testament is just translation from hebrew. As they use literal translation (so called calk) in gospels as "there was not a child to them" instead "they did not have a child".


This checks with how similar sentences are treated gramatically in Arabic, another semetic language. I think the hidden subject is "it" or "there is" ...with me (indirect object), you (direct object).


The word יש is not a verb, it is a particle that denotes existence, that something exists. The noun that follows is the thing that exists, generally an object. The preposition ל introduces to whom that thing exists. In the past or future יש is dropped in favor of one of the forms of the verb להיות (to be). That said, the structure in the phrase above looks like a different animal. In my opinion, in order to convey the meaning of to "have someone", I suppose Israelis simply created a new structure out of the old one by treating it as if it were a verb, adding the preposition את to introduce the person that is possessed. I will ask about this to an old Sephardic jew that I know that was born outside Israel.

[deactivated user]

    Sounds like the ending to a cheesey sitcom.


    Jeg behøver dem ikke, jeg har deg! why is the sentence here not hebrew?


    What is the Danish (or is it Norwegian?) sentence doing in this Hebrew course for English speakers?


    So אותם is plural for "him" as in more than one male?


    The word אותם refers to two or more persons with at least one male among them


    I wrote "I don't " and it says- mistake

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