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  5. "שומעים את הציפורים."

"שומעים את הציפורים."

Translation:You can hear the birds.

August 5, 2016



Duolingo suggests "I hear the birds" as the official response. This is rather confusing to me, the verb is in plural, right?


Why can't you use We hear the birds?


It is accepted now - 13.12.2016.


What about "we listen to the birds"? This isn't accepted.


Shouldn't it be "you hear the birds"? "You can head the birds" would be יכולים לשמוע את הציפורים.


The English modal "can" gets thrown around a lot where in other languages the main verb alone gets the meaning across.

"You can hear the birds" in English conveys two meanings;

  1. You have the physical ability to hear birds

  2. The birds are audible

Number 2 is what the Hebrew sentence for this exercise says. The modal verb "to be able" isn't necessary here.


I agree with Yaron; there is no personal pronoun in this sentence. It's just "hearing the birds".


The שומעים is an impersonal plural. (Read the tips and notes for the "Determiners" unit - it's down at the bottom.)


Impersonal Plural

In this unit we also introduce what we call the "impersonal plural". At times you may come across plural forms of verbs in Hebrew that are not connected to a personal pronoun. For example, a "normal" sentence with a plural form of a verb would be:

<pre>They eat apples. - .הם אוכלים תפוחים </pre>

But when you see a sentence like:

אוכלים תפוחים

Does it mean "We eat", "They eat", or "You (all) eat"?

The answer is that it can be all of these and more! In fact, it is sometimes hard to translate this type of sentence into English without context. There are several options that can be considered:

<pre>One eats apples. (Can sound a bit old-fashioned nowadays.) You eat apples. (You as in "anybody" - can be confused for actual "you") We/They eat apples. (You have to know who is being spoken about, to know whether the speaker is including or excluding him/herself from the group) Apples are eaten. (At times using the passive can be the most elegant solution, but is not always an option) </pre>

Polyglots should be able to find parallels with the ways in which many other languages create impersonal expressions: French: On mange les pommes. German: Man isst Äpfel. Spanish: Se comen manzanas/Uno come manzanas. Dutch: Men eet appel.

At times it can also have a suggestive tone. For example, if someone says מדברים עברית, it can be equivalent to "one speaks Hebrew", but can also mean something like "you should be speaking Hebrew!".


Thanks for fostering discussion, but in the examples you give the French has a pronoun and the German has Man = "one" // Dutch "Men." The first Spanish example is closer, but that is actually a passive construction that just gets rendered as active in English.


I think in both Romance and Germanic languages one really needs a subject before the verb, whereas in Semitic languages אפשר לוותר עליו בקלות.


At least in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian the construction using the reflexive pronoun (se, se and si respectively) although it is not a reflexive construction, is called the impersonal. It does not need a subject before the verb even though The English translation is usually “you, they or one” does something.


Irish has a similar form described as 'autonomous'.


Instead of "שומעים" I hear "שום עם", even though it doesn't have any sense :)


That's what I heard. Every once in a while the speaker seems to over enunciate while the rest of the time he rattles things off so fast that one word blends into the next.


one of my biggest complaints--he has a great speaking voice, but sometimes he's off to the races


How many acceptable meanings does this sentence have then and how do we know the difference between them if "they hear".....".you can hear"....".we hear" etc is also correct ? .

  • 1783

Good question. Why aren't pronouns used if the meaning is so ambiguous?


i don't see where the meaning "can" comes from


The English "You can hear the birds" does not mean that you have a particular ability, or that anyone has a particular ability; it basically means that birds are heard here (and it's noteworthy; apparently in other places or times birds are not heard).


Even with taking into consideration the grammatical concept of impersonal plural, without the pronoun the sentence is ambiguous. In context, it can be an ellipsis, leaving out the obvious אנחנו or אתם or הם. It's not surprising that we might find such ellipses, after all Talmud Yerushalmi has all sorts of incomplete thoughts that apparently made sense once in context or if you become acquainted with talmudic modus operandi. The impersonal construction is in Mishnaic Hebrew (PerezFernandez, Introductory Grammar of Rabbinic Hebrew, p. 134). But even when the pronoun is not present, almost always the context allows you to figure out the implied subject. Sometimes that is the case because in an earlier clause there was "you" indicated somehow, or "one" fits well. I will add that impersonal speech is common in biblical Aramaic, for instance, but often the reader is given a clue based on a pronoun somewhere nearby (context). Aramaic characteristically uses the indefinite third person plural in place of the passive voice. The problem with the sentence in DL is that we have no context in which to know whether it is "one" or "you." Having written all that, it's helpful to know that modern Hebrew uses impersonal construction.


התשובה אינה נכונה... לא כתוב על אדם ששומע אלא באופן כללי ולכן אתה שומע you אינו נכון.


Does את means You?


It's a preposition that indicates the accusative - direct object. (If a direct object for a verb is definite (either having a definite article or being a proper name), then before the object the preposition את is added.)


את is an arow to the subject


את Is an arow to the subject


Depending on vowels את could also be you (feminine), that is second person singular feminine pronoun.


very helpful discussion


Why does the answer say "Can hear" ? Do you always have to use infinitive form to say "hear the birds" no matter the context? Thanks!


"We can hear the birds" was not accepted. Given the lesson notes, is it not correct?


Correct and should be accepted IMHO.


Sorry buddy, for I heard oranges in Hebrew in there. Guessing is a great way to learn too.


"You hear the birds. " Is it wrong?


where's the "you?" Could be "they hear the birds, could be "we hear the birds."


Can definitely be "we", "they" is harder to accept I think. The Hebrew sentence talks about the state of affairs - that the birds can be heard. Would you ever use "they" for that?


כל הפרק הזה מאד מבלבל. כי התרגום לא מדוייק. היה צריך לרשום בעברית אתה יכול לשמוע את הציפורים. סתם לוקח לבבות שלא בצדק


We are hearing the birds is not accepted. How can you suggest " You can hear the birds"? We are hearing is: שומעים


Please, check other comments in the thread before you post. This question has already been discussed at lengths and answered.


Can you also use the phrase: "Hear the birds"?


As in command? No.

If you are unsure about what this means, please check other comments here. It's really been discussed quite a lot.

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