1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hebrew
  4. >
  5. "ילדים יפים."

"ילדים יפים."

Translation:Beautiful children.

August 14, 2016



Why does this not translate into "children are pretty"? I mean, of course "pretty children" rather refers to a specific group, while "children are pretty" is very generalizing, but yet would this translation be grammatically incorrect?

  • 623

Because "children are pretty" is a complete sentence. "ילדים יפים" is not a complete sentence, it's just a noun and an adjective describing said noun. Therefore, the former is not a translation of the latter.


Hey synp. What makes you say it is not à complete sentence? In other words, how would you say "children are pretty"? Thank you


You would say ילדים הם יפים. Synp provided an excellent explanation that appears somewhere below.


why not "nice children"?


If on some exercises יפים means nice, why is it wrong now?

  • 623

I don't know about those other exercises, but יפים is all about looks, not about behavior.


Unless used as an adverb: הילדים מתנהגים יפה


It means pretty/beautiful/nice for fruit, but pretty/beautiful for people. It's about the appearance.


how would you translate "children are beautiful"

  • 623

As in, children in general, are beautiful?

ילדים הם יפים

You need the הם in this case. Otherwise, it is just "beautiful children"


If ילדים means children, what is the word for boys.

  • 623

The word ילדים is a male form, which means it can be used either for boys or for a mixed or unspecified-gender group of children.

You can be specific to an all-male group by using בנים (ba-nim), as opposed to בנות (ba-not), which are all-female.


I hear "Yeladim Yakhim" instead of Yafim. Am I the only one ?


what's "good boys?" I was marked wrong

  • 623

"Good boys" would be "ילדים טובים".

Being good is different from being good-looking.


Beautiful children


Why can't it be 'Children are beautiful'?

  • 623

Because that is now how you would say this in Hebrew.

When you say "ילדים יפים" this includes a noun and an adjective in the proper order. It's most natural to understand it as meaning "beautiful children". What you are proposing is to treat this as a sentence with the first word as the subject and the second word as the predicate.

In English you are usually taught that sentences have a subject-verb-object structure. More correctly, it is a subject-predicate-object, but it English the predicate is almost always a verb. In Hebrew the predicate (called nasoo - נשוא) is sometimes a verb, but not always. An adjective can also be the predicate. This can be demonstrated in the following slightly modified sentence:

הילדים יפים

This sentence works well as "the children are beautiful". Why? Because the adjective does not agree in definiteness with the noun. If they agree, it would read "הילדים היפים" and that would translate as "the beautiful children". Since they don't agree, the adjective is not a mere modifier to the noun, but it is, in fact, the predicate in a sentence.

So when reading these two words, we have to figure out whether the first word is just a noun or whether it is the subject of a sentence. As a subject of a sentence it would need to be well-contextualized, and the only context possible is referring to the group of all children in the world -- all two billion of them. They're all beautiful. That makes little sense compared to the alternative of considering this as a loose noun with an attached adjective.

If you still want the other meaning you need to clue us in. That's where the word הם comes in:

ילדים הם יפים

Here the word הם takes over the function of the predicate. The obvious presence of a predicate makes this a full sentence and forces the word ילדים into the role of subject. This is required for clarity. It pretty much replaces the "to be" verb from your English version. We could even use it in the version with the definite articles:

הילדים הם יפים

But here it is not required, so sometimes we omit it. Without the definite article, you cannot omit it.


How would I say "The beautiful children" as opposed the "The children are beautiful"?


Mark, if you had read synp’s comment directly above, you would have seen that The beautiful children is Ha-yeladim ha-yafim

and The children are beautiful is Ha-yeladim yafim

or Ha-yeladim hem yafim.

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