"Someone has my jewelry!"

Translation:למישהו יש את התכשיטים שלי!

July 3, 2016

This discussion is locked.


It is my understanding that את is an object marker for a verb and in this sentence talks about the possession of something, you don't use את. Can someone please clarify this grammar nuisance?


I see that you learn German, maybe try to think of it as something similar to the accusative (usually the accusative case is preceded by "את" in Hebrew).


Oh, that's a great hint!


Not sure if it's actually a rule, but in possession sentences you should use the object marker when the object is definite and not use it when the object is indefinite (יש לי פרחים/יש לי את הפרחים).


It marks the object here as well. The verb in this sentence is "יש" which means "to have". So you can ask: What does someone have? - My jewelry


The verb יש doesn't mean "to have"; it means "exists"


It's used to indicate possession though. I'm not even sure if יש is actually considered a verb, and I would probably classify it more as an adverb (though describing it as verb that means "to exist" may help learners understand what it is and how to use it).


It is not correct to use את after יש ...even if many Israelis make this mistake. יש is not a normal verb and what follows it is not an object marker


That's just wrong, you use את in possession sentences when referring to a definite object. Are you a native speaker?


I'd like to add a couple of notes to this heated debate.

First, what's correct? It's kind of a philosophical and even ideological debate. We can define "correct" in different ways, so let's define it in a way useful for a given purpose. For a language editor in a book publishing company, "correct" would mean one thing (in this case, I think she should reject both יש לו את התכשיטים and יש לו התכשיטים, each for a different reason).

I think that for most people coming to DL to learn a foreign language, "correct" should be something that would not sound too alien to most native speakers. For this purpose I agree that יש לו התכשיטים should not be considered correct. Many native Hebrew speakers would just be baffled by it.

Second, what's the subject? Is the possessed thing a direct object? Is יש a verb?

Syntax theory is about making generalizations on sentences that people use. Now, the form יש לו את just doesn't generalize with any other sentences in Hebrew. So I think it's a futile exercise to try to assign syntactic categories/functions to its parts. You'll find various good reasons why this word has this function and that word has that category, but then there will be equally good reasons why it's not the case. I'm just not sure it's even a valid debate.


I broadly agree with your reasoning, but how about this: Perhaps Duolingo would be more productive if it recognized both יש לו את התכשיטים and יש לו התכשיטים as correct answers.

For example, a fluent speaker of English may translate איו לנו אוכל into "We got no food" or into "We do not have any food". People can argue all they want which one is more grammatically correct and/or which one sounds more natural to an average native speaker, but the fact remains: both are legitimate answers.


Those two examples aren't at all comparable, since the sentences in the English example ARE both in common use and therefore both correct. But the sentence יש לו התכשיטים is NOT in use AT ALL and will be considered weird, ungrammatical and unnatural by virtually any native speaker of Hebrew.

I really don't understand why you keep insisting on this when you clearly don't know enough on this subject and instead make claims based on incorrect assumptions. I really don't.


You're right, it's about grammar, not about people's personalities and motivations. Which is exactly why I'm curious to know why you're SO insistent on incorrectly describing Hebrew grammar, especially on a learning site like Duolingo where you can mislead others with your unbased, unproved statements.

והדוגמה שהבאת היא כל כך לא קשורה ומטופשת שבמקומך הייתי מתבייש להראות את שמי באתר הזה. כל השמיניות המנטליות האלה שאתה עושה כדי להמשיך להחזיק בדעה שהיא בבירור אינה נכונה ואינה תואמת את המציאות זה כבר נהיה עצוב.

אני אפילו כועס על עצמי שהגעתי לדיון הזה במטרה לעזור לך ולענות על שאלתך. להבא אני אדע שאתה לא פה בשביל ללמוד אלא בשביל לטפוח לעצמך על השכם ולכן אתעלם מהתגובות שלך.


For the purpose of this discussion there is no need for you to understand why another person "keeps insisting". The argument is about grammar, not about people's personalities and motivations. Also, a discussion doesn't need to be a shouting contest or a zero sum game.

כמו כן 1+1 לפעמים הוא 3. לדוגמה אם יש לך צהוב וכחול אתה יכול לצייר בשלושה צבעים: צהוב, ירןק וכחול


Yes, but this sentence doesn't have a direct object! The jewelry is the subject of the sentence, which is literally "my jewelry exists to somebody". Applying את to the subject of a sentence is logically absurd.

Of course, languages aren't always logical. As you know, the יש את construction is common is spoken Hebrew nowadays. It even appears in a few classical sources. As such, it's appropriate to count the sentence with את as being correct, despite the objections of linguistic purists. But insisting on including the את? Not so much.


My understanding of the sentence is that the particle יש contains the subject "there is," while the indirect object is למישהו, "to someone," with את התכשיטים שלי, "my jewelry" as the definite direct object. My jewelry is only the subject in the English sentence, but not the Hebrew. Having said that, I think that if the object is not definite, we don't need את. For instance, יש לי סכין, "there is to me a knife," i.e., "I have a knife." סכין is not the subject in Hebrew.


In English we don't use an inverted construction with "my jewelry" as the subject. We just say "Somebody has my jewelry", in which case somebody is the subject, has is the verb, and my jewelry is the object, being the thing that that subject has.

But in Hebrew, what is the subject, if not התכשיטים?

Of course, as Ilan_Gamburg pointed out, יש isn't really a verb in the usual sense. But in a sentence that doesn't quite have a subject and only sort of has a verb, how can you identify anything as a direct object, definite or otherwise? And if יש describes existence, then how can the thing that exists be called the object?

Again, I'm not arguing that יש לי את משהו is necessarily wrong. I'm just saying that it's an exception to, and not an example of, the general rule that את marks a definite direct object. (And also that the את should be considered optional, as my esteemed teacher, Professor Raizen, indicated.)


Unfortunately, the Reshef paper is in academic Hebrew that I can't really understand, beyond the fact that it displayed a page of a text from about 100 years ago that listed יש לי את on a list of common mistakes to be avoided, together with confusing יכול and יוכל and using לבד to mean בעצם. AniOhevYayin, can you summarize the key points made by the paper?


AniOhevYayin just told us what the subject is. You can view it as a case of the subject being hidden, contained in the word יש. Besides, There are languages in which there can be subjectless and verbless sentences, though I'm not knowledgeable enough to say if this applies here.

"How can you identify anything as a direct object?" It seems to me like you have a fairly narrow understanding of what a direct object (or a verb or any other grammatical concept) is, and you think that the way a direct object works in English can be the only way a direct object works in other languages too, like Hebrew, even though that's not the case.

"How can the thing that exists be called the object?". But again, it's not REALLY "to exist". English doesn't have a real equivalent to יש, remember. If you would view יש as a particle that kind-of means "to possess" rather than a particle that kind-of means "to exist" would then treating התכשיטים as the direct object make more sense to you?

In any case, it's not so clear cut. Russian, for example, has a very similar way to represent possession which can also be roughly translated as "of me (there is) jewelry" where the verb is optional. In more technical terms, they use the genitive pronoun of the possessor followed by the possessee, while the verb "be" (есть) can be completely omitted from the sentence and often is.

No one ever says "יש לי את משהו", it's considered ungrammatical and very unnatural. Since the direct object is indefinite it should be "יש לי משהו", so I'm not sure what your point here was...

And again, no disrespect but I wouldn't take your teacher's advice on the usage of את. Not using את for definite direct objects is just not a thing in today's Hebrew, no matter how much your teacher wants it to be.


I'm enjoying the Bavli dialectic here, by the way. There's an academic article related to this interesting topic by Yael Reshef, "The Construction יש לו את in Early Modern Spoken Hebrew", Leshonenu La'am LVI, 4 (2008), pp. 226-233.


You are 100% correct.


What do you mean "insisting on including the את"? How else would you translate to Hebrew the sentence "I have the flowers", for example, using the word יש?

And while I'm not too sure, I don't think it's correct to call the Jewelry in this sentence as the subject. It IS the direct object the way I see and understand it.


If you asked a Hebrew expert 100 years ago, he or she almost certainly would have said יש לי הפרחים, with no את. The word יש means "there is" or "there exists". יש לי literally means "there exists to me". Of course that's how one indicates possession in Hebrew and is functionally equivalent to "I have", but לי is a prepositional phrase -- to me -- and not a subject. If you add another noun, indicating what exists, then that noun is technically the subject of the sentence. The flowers exist to me. A direct object is something that is acted on by the subject in a way described by the verb. With no subject, and with a verb (existence) that doesn't act on anything, there is no direct object.

I'm not arguing about what people actually say on the street. I've been told over and over that most Israelis say יש לי את הפרחים. Even Google Translate agrees with you. But it's mostly a 20th-21st century thing. Hundreds of thousands (millions?) of European immigrants who were learning Hebrew thought of יש לי הפרחים as Ich habe die Blumen or I have the flowers or something similar, they thought of פרחים as a direct object, and they stuck an את in front.

I'm not saying that's still wrong. When most people say something, it becomes correct speech almost by definition. But the older and more logical usage, without the את, is not wrong either.

Finally, have you been downvoting everybody that you disagree with? If so, please stop. Downvote people who are abusive, violate community standards, or say things that are completely wrong, not people who merely disagree with what you said.


What's a Hebrew expert? How about a professor of modern and classical Hebrew language, linguistics and literature, who besides being a native Hebrew speaker who teaches the language, is also the author of influential textbooks on the subject. Here is what Prof. Esther Raizen had to say when I asked her about this a couple of years ago:

What you know is totally correct. יש לי את הספר is not grammatical, although some grammarians have noted rare occurrences already in the classical language.

What you are pointing out is a common use that has become increasingly acceptable in the language, including the written language, and certainly in what is called ישראלית (for those who believe in the existence of such a language). Linguists are still arguing about it, so it is totally up to the user.


Pardon the up-down-voting. I'm just trying to keep the comments in chronological order.

I feel plenty old at 58, but I'm not 100! (Nor is Dr. Raizen, thankfully.) But her credentials as a scholar of the Hebrew language are still impeccable. You don't have to agree with her, but her opinion does deserves respect. As for me, I'm loyal to my Hebrew language Rav. (Rabah?)


@JetpackBrian. יש את התכשיטים is wrong. For "There is the jewelry" probably הנה התכשיטים would be a better translation. יש on its own does not require any case, את included, only when it is matched with ל.


The history is really fascinating. One of the things I think is interesting about Hebrew is that it is a restored language, and I think it's neat what effects that has had on its evolution. Do you know if the accusative marker את is used in other sentences with יש like, for example, "There is the jewelry" "יש את התכשיטים" ?


Being a native speaker does give you an advantage, but doesn't indicate a non-native speaker is automatically incorrect just because you disagree with him/her. Edidelon is grammatically correct, to my eye: יש puts the "owner" into the dative case, and his/her "possession" into the nominative case, while את puts the "owner" into the nominative case, and his "possession" into the accusative case.

But you are 120% right that some Israelis do do that sometimes. Again, that doesn't make Edidelon wrong in the context of a language forum.


"That doesn't indicate a non-native speaker is automatically incorrect just because you disagree with him". Good thing that's not what I said, then. So don't attribute to me any sense of superiority or whatnot, thank you very much.

I asked him if he's a native speaker because he made a claim that clearly contradicts how native speakers of Hebrew speak it and I was curious why he made that claim so confidently.

Using את after יש (as in this translation) is perfectly fine, common, natural sounding, and used across all different registers. Saying that it's somehow "not correct" is either ignorant or prescriptivist. In either case, this view needs to be corrected.


Just like you said: you'd asked him if he was a native speaker because you didn't agree with his statement, so you questioned his credentials, while implying that yours are of a higher value.

Which takes us back to the fact that (a) You do not have to be a native speaker to understand grammar, and equally (b) Being a native speaker doesn't win you a linguistic argument; reasoning may.

More importantly:

The whole discussion started with a query as to why Duolingo didn't accept a perfectly correct translation without את and insisted on a grammatically less clear, but colloquially popular version with את.

Now, picture yourself working on an English test, the question being ?איך אומרים גבר באנגלית. You type "man", and you are told it's incorrect and the correct answer is "guy" (or "dude", or "bloke") . What would you think?

Let me guess: you would think is clearly a software bug - one of a few in Duolingo. There is no reason for rationalizing a software error.


What in god's name are you even talking about.

And no, not using את in this specific sentence is not "perfectly correct" by any means, and I have no idea on what basis you make that claim. It's not even a matter of colloquialism or formality, which again I don't understand based on what you say that.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've seen you actively refuse to listen and learn new things, and instead prefer to insist on blatantly incorrect assertions, and then getting all defensive when those unbased assertions and their corrections are pointed out to you. So please read the other new comments on this thread. The only reason I'm even in this thread at all right now is because I saw your post on the Hebrew forum and wanted to answer your question.


le-míshehu yesh et ha-tachshitím shelí.


This whole thread is just FREAKIN' fantastic! Imagine how dull it might have been without the owl guy!



I can't see why you need the את either. למישהו יש כלב = "Someone has a dog." למישהו יש הכלב שלי - "Someone has my dog", along the same line... Why would you use את in the second sentence and not in the first one?


Because in the second sentence it is a specific definite dog


To indicate that the dog is specific and not a dog in general there is already ה


Yes, but that ה means you also need to use את when indicating possession. See my other comment in this thread.


Why למישהוא and not מישהוא?


It is also יש לי (I have), יש לנו (we have) and so on, and also ...לילד יש (the boy has). Therefore, I think it's the same here - ...למישהו יש (somebody has). I hope I'm correct and it helped.


למה טכשיטים, למה תכשיט זה לא נחון? How can I know it is a plural?


I'm a learner myself but, I think the reason is that he plural (טכשיטים) is jewellery, the singular (תכשיט) is jewel. So 'jewellery' will always be טכשיטים and not תכשיט.


I wrote "יש למישהו התכשיטים שלי", can someone explain the error?


It's a good question. I can't see how putting יש second could be problematic. So I looked into it a little: In classical Hebrew the construction to which you refer is preferred. I could find no instance in mikra where the indirect object construction came before יש. I also went on the Maagarim online database but there were so many hits that I gave up trying to find out if there are exceptions in the history of Hebrew. Mishnaic Hebrew seems also to use the construction you refer to, as in the example יש לי בדין, "I obtain through deduction." An expert in modern Hebrew, Prof. Rivka Halevy, on faculty at Hebrew Univ., discusses these matters to some extent in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (Brill), volume 3, p. 710. In the few examples she gives, the dative marking the possessor is always second.


I made the same mistake: it is because you left out the "nota accusativi" ('et) before the word for "jewellery". As many threads in this discussion show, this is a bit strange: etimologically, the verb "yesh" means "to be there, to exist"; the logical object (the thing someone "has") should be the grammatical subject of the clause, but it is treated as a grammatical object (with the "direct object particle" 'et) instead. I do not know if this is correct, maybe some native speaker could clarify, but it is not so strange in a comparative perspective. This is the way in which a language becomes ergative.


Thanks for noting this point, giovannico. I was blabbing on about syntax, but of course at issue is the את with the definite object. תודה רבה


I structured mine the same way. I used את (et) but it was still marked wrong...


Could i say: יש למישהו את התכשיטים שלי?


It's a question, but a yes.


is there any shorter sentence for the same expression?


Hell why is there an exclamation mark after that sentence???


Why shouldn't there be one? It is indicative of shock or surprise. I would be very surprised if someone had my jewelry considering it's worthless junk! =D By the way, seeing you are posting about punctuation, there should be at least a comma after the first word in your post...


You got me there, Talya!


The Hebrew word for "someone" most often is spelled משהו. But in the phrase "... למישהו יש" there is a yod in between. Is there a rule for that?


It's usually spelled מישהו.


It's the owl guy!! Hey, friend, I absolutely love your comments! You really let people have it sometimes!



Thanks. I'm glad at least some people appreciate my comments. It's dirty business but someone has to do it.


Oh my god!! Fantastic! Out of all my years of trolling, I have never seen a thread so refined, so exquisite and, yet, so admirably barbaric. This one takes the cake.


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