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  5. "Whom do you bless?"

"Whom do you bless?"

Translation:את מי אתה מברך?

August 22, 2016


  • 1533

Because it's accusative.


Et mi ata mevarech


What would be the problem with «מי אתה מברך» i.e. removing the את?


For reasons that I do not understand, the question word מי is considered definite in Hebrew. (To me, an unknown person seems about as indefinite as you can get.) With a definite direct object you need את.


I don't think it's that מי is indefinite -- rather, it's like asking in English "Who are you blessing," rather than "Whom are you blessing". The את (et) doesn't belong to the מי, if that makes sense -- instead, it follows the מברך.

(I realize you've long moved on and probably speak far more Hebrew than I do at this point; this is for anyone else who comes across it.)


I was taught that את is the marker for a definite direct object. The only thing that resembles a direct object in this sentence is מי. Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure that we don't say את מה אתה רוצה. We say מה אתה רוצה, with no את. The upshot is that, for some obscure reason, מי counts as a definite direct object, but מה doesn't. This doesn't make any logical sense, but there are things in every language that don't make sense. We just have to get used to them.


Yes, it lacks logic, but grammar is not alway logical. Lewis Glinert writes in his Grammar of Modern Hebrew: "Acting as direct object, מי mi 'who' requires the 'direct object particle' את et, ordinarily only found with 'definite' pronouns (eg. את זה et ze 'this'). By contrast, מה ma 'what' takes את et only in 'echo questions, as in רָצִ֫יתִי אֶת זֶה ־ אֶת מָה? 'I wanted this. - You wanted what?".


Thanks. As usual, you're clear, prompt, and authoritative. I ask a lot of questions, and I've learned a lot from a handful of fellow users who patiently answer things. You're high on that list. Have a New Year's lingot.


Not a very formal explanation - It is an action you do on someone so you have to use Et.


Would this verb ever use ב before an object?


You use ב to express what you are blessed with, f.e. אֱלֹהִים לֹא בֵּרַךְ אֹתָ֫נוּ בִּילָדִים "God did not bless us with children".


I'm a bit salty because I did the feminine version, "את מי את מברכה?" and it told me that I had "typos in [my] answer" and 'corrected' it to the male version (את מי אתה מברך). It wasn't wrong... just feminine.



Well, the present מְבָרֶ֫כֶת is far more common, try that.


What if we changed the order, would אתה מברך את מי still make sense? Or is it awkward/wrong?


Not wrong, but it asks for a specific situation and emphasis, which this sentence does not provide.

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