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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).


Not improbable


Or English, for that matter.


Can be explained with the pragmatic sense 'I have' not the semantic one.


"...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.


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


Nasrin Qadrin has a song on it. יש לי אותך


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 argument has been discounted as Greek can use a similar construction.


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).


Actually the construction in Russian is very similar, specifically for this phrase. "I have you" translates to "У меня есть ты" (u menya est' ty). The word есть sounds like the Hebrew word ׳ש, so I bet they're etymologically related. But the phrase translates literally as "[belonging] to me there is you". What is also of interest is that in Russian the case corresponding to the word "you" is nominative in this phrase, although in a usual scenario involving a direct object, it would be accusative, e.g. "I love you" would be "я тебя люблю" (ya tebya lyublyu). So for the Russian version "you" would probably not be considered a direct object, but rather the subject of the sentence (so it is best translated as "you exist for me"). Interesting how the languages diverged here.


Well, I doubt that very much. Proto-indoeuropean *h₁ésti and proto-semitic [ʔiθ] do not look remotely similar. And function words like these are nearly never borrowed.


Given that Russian and Hebrew belong to two different language families, it is next to impossible that there is any etymological connection between the Russian word ‘есть’ meaning “there is” or “there are” and the Hebrew word יש. The fact that they sound similar is a mere coincidence.


There is evidence for an Afro-Asiatic presence in Europe some 12, 000 years ago. See the following video for similarities between Celtic and Semitic languages.



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.


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.


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?

[deactivated user]

    Sounds like the ending to a cheesey sitcom.


    'anî lo' tzarîx 'ôtam, yesh lî 'ôtxa.


    The audio is incomprehensible. It sounds like this -- " אני רוצה אותן. יש לי אותה ." Please please include the turtle button in this as well , Thank you


    So the sound has been bad for two years. Is that because it is Hebrew and Duolingo doesn't care?


    It's because they hired voice actors to record the lessons. They can't just call one in every time someone complains about one audio clip. Maybe once everything else about the course has been fixed, they'll redo the not-so-great audio clips, but for now, we have to work with what we've got.


    Awwwwwww :) How romantic...


    What a great thread. Thanks for all of the input! תודה!


    It's so fast and unclear, difficult to discern the words.


    I guess it's like saying "you are taller than ME", which is grammatically incorrect but many native English speakers say it that way (in the USA at least). It should be "you are taller than I" but if you say that, it either sounds awkward, or people will think you are a grammar snob! But then, on the flip side, people who strive to be grammatically correct often say "It's for you and I" by mistake (by confusing it with the example above.) In this case, it should be "it's for you and ME."


    Ви песен хотите? Их есть у меня)


    Не самый лучший Русский


    Правильно эта столетняя одесская шутка звучит так: «Ви хочете песен? Их есть у меня». Фраза представляет собой почти дословный перевод с французского: Vous voulez des chansons?J’en ai. Неправильные слова «Ви» и «хочете» изображают местечковый выговор. Я удивлён, что Вы этого не знаете - наверное, уехали из России ещё ребёнком.


    Это не перевод, а пародия на строчку из романса, «Вы просите песен? Их нет у меня».


    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


    Why can't i combine the English words ? I.e "I don't" for "I do not" it appears the administrator is not using the correct every day spoken English. The correct phrase is "I don't need them"


    So dont is wrong but do not is right?


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


    My answer was correct!!?

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