1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hebrew
  4. >
  5. "אפשר כוס קפה שחור?"

"אפשר כוס קפה שחור?"

Translation:Can I have a cup of black coffee?

July 23, 2016



How exactly does אפשר work?


It can come with a verb or with a noun. It is like "may I"

אפשר לשבת פה? אפשר להזמין אותך לדייט? אפשר את הטלפון שלך? אפשר קצת שקט כאן??

  • 537

When it comes with a noun the verb לקבל is implied

אפשר את הטלפון שלך == אפשר לקבל את הטלפון שלך


תודה רבה :)


The answer has a contraction... "May i've a cup of black coffee?" You can't use the contraction in this sense, use 'May I have...' Plus I've not "i've"


Shouldn't this be "אפשר לקבל כוס קפה שחור"?

  • 537

It should.

That said, it is common in the vernacular to omit the verb with the word אפשר:

אפשר (לקבל) קפה?

אפשר (לשאול) שאלה?

אפשר (לשלם) בכרטיס אשראי?

אפשר (???) עכשיו?


I was marked wrong for saying "black cup of coffee".

They said it should be "cup of black coffee".

If it were the case, shouldn't it have been "כוס כפה שחורה " ؟

  • 537

That's exactly the opposite. Your answer would translate as "כוס קפה שחורה"

In Hebrew, a cup is feminine and coffee is masculine. So if you use the adjective שחור, it refers to the coffee, while if you use שחורה it refers to the cup.

The original sentence uses שחור so it is the coffee that is black, not the cup.

Now over to English. A "black cup of coffee" is a black cup that is intended to be a vessel for coffee. The cup is black. OTOH a "cup of black coffee" is either a vessel intended only for black coffee, or a measure of black coffee, or even the whole thing: a cup filled with black coffee. Regardless, it is the coffee that is black, not the cup.

This is why the best translation is "a cup of black coffee".


To my ear, a cup of black coffee cannot mean a vessel intended only for black coffee, but rather a cup filled with black coffee. A black cup of coffee is not how I would say a cup for coffee which is black; this would be "a black coffee cup' (depending on how you say it; you can run together the 2nd and 3rd word to mean a cup for black coffee, or the 3rd and 4th word in which case it would mean a black cup for coffee; so either the cup or the coffee may be black depending on the rhythm of your reading.


Doesnt קפה שחור mean Turkish coffee?


It usually does mean turkish coffee


I've heard the phrase שחור משחור used to mean jet black/pitch black in reference to coffee, which I imagine suggests Turkish coffee??

  • 537

I've never heard it in reference to coffee. It's kind of poetic and might be used to describe the night (with a foreboding feeling - not just darkness)

But black coffee is just black, as in no milk. You want to say Turkish coffee? Say. קפה טורקי


I wrote "have" and it was rejected. The correction was :can I GET a cup of black coffee. Couldn't BOTH be accepted,as long as you write HAVE in this correction?


Can we use יכול instead of אפשר?

  • 537

No. יכול is about being able to do something, and coffee is not something you can or cannot do.

In אפשר there is an implicit לקבל


Duo would not accept "Is it possible to have a cup of black coffee" - for me they mean the same thing. If I say this to a waiter, it is assumed I want it for myself, although this does not have to be explicitly stated (just like in the Hebrew).


"Can I have a black coffee" should also be accepted. This is commonly used in AE and "cup" is not essential to the meaning (it is assumed in English).

Learn Hebrew in just 5 minutes a day. For free.