"אנחנו רוצים את שני הספרים."
Translation:We want both of the books.
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Native English speaker here.
When you're using "both" or "both of" generally, they are synonymous:
-"Both my students passed the exam." ✔ Correct -"Both of my students passed the exam." ✔ Correct
Both (no pun intended) of these sentences mean that you have only two students, and two of those two passed the exam. Sometimes one may feel more natural to use, and sometimes the other will.
The only exception where you have to use one or the other is when using pronouns, such as:
-"Both of us passed the exam." ✔ Correct -"Both us passed the exam." X Wrong
The exception is when the pronoun in question is an object, then you can put the pronoun before the word "both" and be alright:
"I saw them both." ✔ Correct "I saw both of them." ✔ Correct "I saw them of both." X Wrong
"We would like both books" is unfortunately not accepted. In most of the previous lessons want and would like can be used interchangeably. Please correct it here too - I sometimes feel as if my English were getting somewhat, er, impolite after practising too much Hebrew with Duo :)
I fear a real צַבָּר would not use such a level of polite language. I suppose אֲנַ֫חְנוּ רוֹצִים is already the improved version of תֵּן לָ֫נוּ! Some languages make very much ado about the right way to address someone (think of Korean), others are rather brusquely in our ears, amongst them Hebrew.
I do hear occasionally הייתי רוצה, and רציתי לבקש, even from Sabras... Depends on the speaker and the social context.
I wonder if using the past tense (in two forms!) for politeness is just influence from European languages, or is there something inherent / psychological in effect.
I think this psychological factor is in play. When I use the past tense, I’m implying “If it’s possible” or “In the hypothetical event that it’s not too much trouble for you...”, and of course for a hypothetical, the past tense is used. For example, If I could, אם הייתי יכולה Im hayiti yekhola. The fact that there’s hesitancy in my request shows a lack of my presumption on your time and trouble in helping me.
Imagine a student visits his professor’s office. He knocks, she flings open the door and asks rather abruptly “What do you want?” His request would most ordinarily be phrased as I’d like to ask a question or I wanted to ask a question, (past tense is used), rather than “I want to ask a question.” Past tense, with its “If it’s okay with you” vibe, smoothes out communication by the implicit ground rule: We’re in agreement. I “asked permission” to engage you in conversation, you “granted permission” by engaging in conversation with me, so we’re in agreement.
From what I’ve seen in this course, Israelis just say I want coffee please (no past tense) and that’s usually seen as sufficiently polite. “I want coffee please” seems to upset a lot of Westerners though because they want to default to what they would ordinarily say: “I would like a cup of coffee please”. It’s hard for many Westerners to accept that their baseline level of politeness is not the same the whole world over.
Well, in Archaic Hebrew the Dual seems to have been used freely as in Ugaritic or Classical Arabic (Jdg 5.30 יחלקו שלל רחם רחמתים לראש גבר have they not divided the spoil? A concubine, two concubines to every man is seen as an example for this), but already in Classical Hebrew this was restricted to nouns which come in pairs naturally. Books do not.
I think you're asking about the word "שני." It sounds like shnay to me. I was wondering if it can be used for male and female but I don't know. Technically it is masculine for "two" (or perhaps more technically "two of") and the feminine form would be "שתי" (pronounced shtay). If you haven't heard of "construct state" you might want to look it up. Basically when you have two nouns (or more) in a row they are often translated with "of" in between them. This is referred to as a construct chain. Many nouns have a special form when used in this way. The special form is called "construct state." All nouns in a construct chain will be in their "construct state" (provided they have such a form) except for the last noun in the chain. So in the case of:
שניים The construct state is:
Which roughly translates to "two of" instead of just "two."
If I didn't explain it well maybe there's a website somewhere that would do better.