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  5. "A mouse is an animal."

"A mouse is an animal."

Translation:עכבר זה חיה.

July 6, 2016



What role does זה play here? Because I would have assumed, based on what I know of the "to be" verb in Hebrew, that עכבר חיה would have been sufficient: A mouse [is] an animal.


Since both עכבר and חיה are nouns you must use one of the words "זה" or "הוא" as a "verb-like" word (It is called "Copula", in Hebrew אוגד).


Is אוגד used as a word in a sentence ?


Well, the verb אָגַד tie up is not used in Modern Hebrew except maybe in poetry, so אוֹגֵד is restricted to its use as a grammatical technical term.


A question in the same test had the correct solution, "הנשר יפה", meaning "The eagle is beautiful", without any copula present, although "beautiful" is an adjective rather than a noun in this case.


I think a useful way to make sense of the complicated rules about the copula is to be aware that it is mainly used to separate two words in order that they are not read as a unit. דּוֹלַר־כֶּ֫סֶף is a silver dollar, so you have to say דּוֹלָר זֶה כֶּ֫סֶף a dollar is money, or נֶ֫שֶׁר יָפֶה is a beautiful vulture, so you have to say נֶ֫שֶׁר הוּא יָפֶה a vulture is beautiful, but הַנֶּ֫שֶׁר יָפֶה can only mean the vulture is beautiful, because you can not combine these two words to one syntagma.


Is this a difference between Biblical and Modern Hebrew? I'm sure I've seen lots of definitional sentences somewhere where the copula is implicit.


Can we use both זה and הוא here? Do they have any difference in such sentences?


I would also like to know this.


I would think the use of זֶה makes it more of a definition, like "Can you define, what a mouse is? Yes, a mouse, that is an animal". On the other hand הוּא is a simple statement, like a mouse is brown or a mouse has whiskers, whiskers and brownness do not define a mouse.


what's wrong with: "עכבר הוא בעל חיים"


Well, בַּ֫עַל־חַיִים ("owner of life") is correct too, only less used for animal.


Would someone please transliterate this sentence for English speakers?


Well, עַכְבָּר זֶה חַיָּה is pronounced [akhbar ze khaya].


Wouldn't that be this mouse is an animal


No, that would be הָעַכְבָּר הַזֶּה הוּא חַיִּים.


Shouldn't it be זאת since חיה is feminine. זה /זאת takes the gender of the second noun in the copula, whereas הוא/ היא /הם/הן takes the gender of the first noun. (This is what I learned from other discussions here)

עכבר הוא חיה.
or עכבר זאת חיה.


Well, this is true of declarative sentences (i.e. simply statements that relay information) like הַבַּ֫יִת שֶׁלְּךָ זֹאת דֻּגְמָא טוֹבָה your house is a good example (where בַּ֫יִת is masculine, but זֹאת agrees with the feminine דֻּגְמָא). In definitional sentences like a X is (by definition) a Y, זֶה tends to be uninflected: הֵרָיוֹן יֶה לֹא מַחֲלָה pregnancy is not a disease or דִּבּוּרִים זֶה לֹא מַעֲשׂוֹת words are not deeds. The copula is a notoriously difficult topic in Hebrew, sorry.


Why does the program always say זה when i push the זה word?


Maybe Duolingo likes to do quirky things to get people to come to the comments section and learn things or have a laugh.

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