Hebrew numbers are kicking my backside...

1) Is anyone else finding them a ridiculous degree tougher than in other languages, or is it just me?

2) Does anyone have any good tips how to get my head around them?

I just read the notes again, and I've been practising them on Memrise also, but for some reason I'm finding them way more difficult than I've found them in any other language, and the teens in particular keep giving me issues (I feel like עשרה should be masculine and עשר should be feminine, and convincing my brain otherwise is giving me fits). I'm semi-getting-to-grips with the single digits, but only just, and I'm already dreading coming on numbers in future topics. At the moment I'm doing better at pretty much everything (later skills included!) than with the numbers.

In previous aborted efforts to learn Hebrew, it's always the numbers that have, for some reason, tripped me up and stopped me going further, and I really don't want to get held back again. I mean, I managed to get through the lesson and so it's not holding me back in that respect, but I'm just frustrated (again) by how difficult I'm finding it to get this figured out.

If anyone is able to either help or at least sympathise...!

August 2, 2016


I agree the number system is backwards to how they should be according to our logic. But given that you cant change the system, you can either sulk or begin memorizing them.

My solution: 1) memorize them all by heart. 2) in the first few years of learning Hebrew, don't stress over the grammar of getting the numbers to match the nouns. Just use whichever gender of numbers you can recall at the moment (usually female ones). Later on you'll correct yourself little by little.

August 2, 2016

With teens, try memorising them by the first number, for example: חמש-עשרה - the עשרה may look masculine but the חמש is feminine, and that's what counts.

And just to reassure you, in colloquial language the feminine teens are used much more often.

August 2, 2016

What he said ^ is a very good advice. Plus, let me re-reassure you that many Hebrew native speakers (namely Israelis) use it wrongly regularly when they speak.

August 3, 2016

This is very true. Many natives just can't seem to get it right, or actually most of them just don't care.

August 7, 2016

I'm not to numbers yet. But I sympathize. I took Hebrew through a virtual Ulpan a few years ago and numbers were difficult at first. Hang in there! It will get better! :)

August 2, 2016

Thank you :) I'm glad it's not just me...

August 8, 2016

What are you finding hard to memorize? In my opinion hebrew numbers are as hard as other languages, if not simpler (for instance, french numbers are a lot worse, and russian numbers are harder with the genitive cases)

English is also hard if you think about it: 11 is "eleven" instead of "ten-one", 12 is twelve etc...

August 2, 2016

It's having really different forms for the numbers that's throwing me the most. Russian numbers taking different cases was hard at first, but "at first" was twenty years ago, and besides a very few cases, the actual numbers don't change, it's just the case that comes after them which is semi-automatic for me now. (Adjectives still catch me out, but the single numbers I'm fine with.)

I think particularly having got used to the masculine numbers being the ones with the feminine sounding endings, to then get to the teens and find the feminine numbers suddenly ending in ה really threw me! I think I'm starting to get my head around it now... slowly...!

(I agree English numbers are not particularly helpful... and French, what is the deal with quatre-vingt-dix-neuf etc?!? But again, my first exposure to French numbers was over 25 years ago, so I'm used to them at this point.)

August 8, 2016

For the numbers 13-19, I sort of think of it like the ה can only go in one of the two parts of the compound word- either at the end of the first part (masculine) or the end of the second part (feminine). And good news- once you get past 19, the numbers 20, 30, etc don't change with gender at all! You only change the gender of the smaller digit (like the 3 in 23)

These two pages explain the numbers pretty well:

They mention it on the page, but people use the feminine numbers more often. Maybe try to learn just those and then do the masculine afterward if you can't keep both straight. The feminine forms will also come in handy for the hundreds and beyond (thousands are a bit weird but the easier form uses feminine...)

Also, this is a bit random, but there is a Passover song that uses the masculine numbers up to 13 (except 4 is feminine... sorry)- here's a link to a recording with the hebrew and english lyrics: Maybe something fun to listen to to get them in your head :)

Good luck

August 2, 2016

For the numbers 13-19, I sort of think of it like the ה can only go in one of the two parts of the compound word- either at the end of the first part (masculine) or the end of the second part (feminine).

This is decidedly helpful, thanks! It was really doing my head in 8-o

August 8, 2016

dont worry its okay to mistake with these stuff and some israeli people also get it wrong sometimes so dont be too nervous

August 2, 2016

As a native speaker I deliberately use only the feminine form of the numbers and I don't even pluralize the nouns, because in my opinion, using those different number forms for each noun sounds too pretentious in daily speech...

So for example instead of חמישה ילדים I usually say חמש ילד; other people do it frequently as well, with money for example, saying שתי שקל or שְנֶקֶל instead of שני שקלים...

August 4, 2016

I have never heard חמש ילד.

August 8, 2016

While I agree חמש ילד is quite rare, I got to hear it from some people, but for example חמישים איש is very common I'd say.

August 8, 2016

Yes, חמישים איש is common, I agree wih you there. חמש שקל is also to be heard. As a side note, for people interested in the formal rules, the pattern חמישים איש is correct for numbers over 10.

August 9, 2016

Well, שתי שקל sound fine, but חמש ילד is less common. Maybe חמש ילדים is much more common to hear, at least from my surroundings, and TV shows that I watch.

August 7, 2016

Life got on top of me the last couple of days, so for now this is just a quick thank you to everyone for the ideas and also the reassurance that it's not just me!

August 5, 2016

Hi, I can only say that it is okay, it is natural, and it also what causes many native hebrew speakers to get confused when counting and pluraling... your'e new into the language, take your time.

August 6, 2016

tip: think about it like you move the "ה" to the masculine with the numbers. for feminine you wou will say עשר בנות עשר שנים שבע נשים שלוש עשר כבשים

in masculine: עשרה בנים עשרה חודשים ארבעה שולחנות

maybe the song for passover will help you :)

songs are the best way to learn :)

August 8, 2016

if you want more songs ( i mean modern ones) for help i am here

August 8, 2016

Thanks, songs are usually good ways to learn stuff! :D

August 10, 2016

idan raichel project הפרוייקט של עידן רייכל mimmamakim ממעמקים (the best in my opinion)

boi בואי im telech אם תלך

הנך יפה (a song that its words were taken from a song in the bible that its believed that king solomon himself wrote);list=RDH2Df_eEprZw=9

מי נהר

also a great song

he has many songs in many languages. also in spanish. "cada dia"

in my opinion he is the best musician in israel enjoy :)

August 10, 2016

tell me what kind of music do you like and i will try to find more for you

August 10, 2016

also a great song by another artist : evyatar banai

August 10, 2016

Go back to preschool mentally, haha. But I'm serious, just count on your fingers, count out candies or coins. That has helped me a ton. I can go 1-10 so fast now and well ha it gets slower beyond that for obvious reasons. I know it's weird and the masculine screes me a bit but break it down. Start with just memorizing 1-10 in the feminine. Use your fingers, I swear it helps. Then go to twenty or do 1-10 in masculine. Don't focus on the rest until youve really got that first chunk down. Just count throughout the day.

I have been working with a Living Language workbooks (don't love it but super cheap for the entire course on amazon) as well as duo and hit the numbers there first. Maybe that helped because they broke it down more the way I explained? But the biggest thing I set out to do was just practice until I had it memorized.

August 9, 2016

For some reason I'm finding even the deliberate, brute force memorisation is harder with Hebrew than I've found with other languages - I don't really know why.

I wonder if it's because most of the languages I've learned to any extent have been Indo-European and there is usually some kind of familiar pattern to them. Even if some of them are much further apart than others, there are usually at least a few that seem to link up with something I already know, and it gives me a framework for the ones that are less obvious.

The Memrise course the Hebrew mods made has been really helpful, and they're starting to get stuck in my brain, but I'm just not used to having this much difficulty. I mean, I can still count to ten in Spanish, which I learned very very casually about 25 years ago... but with Hebrew, which I've spent way more time and effort on and more recently, I can only just count to ten (I just sat here and tried!), with considerable effort. And that's a considerable improvement LOL

I am glad that it's not just me/that other people have had similar problems. I wasn't sure if I was just being dense... ;) I'm getting there, I'm just frustrated by how much trouble I'm having with it, which is much worse than any other language in which I've had to or tried to learn my basic numbers. Maybe I'm just being impatient...

August 10, 2016

I totally get you on this. I was okay with numbers because at least there's a set pattern to easily go over. Prepositions are what is really getting me right now on the other hand. I just did a practice and I still kept forgetting the same ones again and again. Ugh!

But I also see what you mean with numbers. I too can easily count in Spanish still and its been a long time since I ever studied it, longer still for French (actually never really studied French bit grew up doing ballet and when we were very very little we had a teacher who used to drill the numbers) and definitely, the French and spanish are very similar snd similar to English as well.

Would a song help? I'm just thinking, my mom is a retired teacher and while I'm sure the song is no longer politically correct she used to teach Spanish numbers with the Spanish version of the song "one little, two little, three little Indians" and she still relies on the song if she can't remember the numbers. Music always helped me, for sure but obviously we all learn different.

Also I find while I got the numbers down easily enough, I'm still tripping over them in speech for down reason. Every time I hit a sentence with a number above ten like "I bought fifteen cakes" or something I feel like I'm tripping over my tongue. I mean gosh those numbers are a mouthful!

August 10, 2016

i live in Israel and a lot of people just say the numbers without even checking to see if it is correct

August 24, 2016

Don't worry. As a native speaker, We are being taught that in high school...

August 29, 2017

I'm pretty sure I still get it wrong at least half the time, but that's better than all the time, right?? LOL

August 29, 2017

Only do one a week or you'll be confused. Fluent Forever at book site talks about the science of language learning you learn the worst when words are grouped together like numbers or colors. You're better off random choices, but best off when words are related in a scene... Like couple at the park, girl on a bed listening to music.. make a illustration, or images forming a scene or in your mind. Then you learn the words in that scene. So, if it was English: Girl Headphones Bed Window Pillow Pajamas Moon (see it peeking through the window) 2, two dogs on the blanket (with a cherry pattern, a duvet דובדבן)

Also the words should be dissimilar if in the same category. i.e. Not like Peach Plum. pear. Or else you'll see one of them and think which is which, it deleted the rest of what I wrote. So go to & read the article on science of memorization..

April 20, 2018

Ulpanoya has a good video about numbers on YouTube (how Israelis slur the words together and don't talk like they teach it at ulpan). Not only is it interesting, it's a helpful way to think about Hebrew numbers:

That said. I hate the Hebrew numbers memorization too.

I am finding the best way to remember them is finding them in song lyrics... Like Nathan Goshen has the songs "26" (esrim ve'shesh) and "30" (shloshim).

May 19, 2019
Learn Hebrew in just 5 minutes a day. For free.