"He is walking against the wall."

Translation:הוא הולך נגד הקיר.

August 23, 2016

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This sentence makes no sense in English. You can't walk against a wall. You can lean against a wall. You can walk towards a wall. You can walk into a wall, if you're clumsy and absent-minded.


That's perfectly ok, it makes no sense in Hebrew either. :-) Except maybe in the sense that הולך נגד can mean "taking sides against", colloquially. So if the wall had an opinion or an agenda and he would be opposing it... he would be הולך נגד הקיר.


That's interesting. Hadn't thought of that. The "wall"--not talking about the western wall but the other wall, the one to separate--is a matter of controversy, so much so that some people will not admit that there is a "wall." (Historically European cultures erected walls against Jewish people, sometimes referred to as Ghettos.) At first I assumed that the person was walking alongside the wall, but then one might expect perhaps ליד. My hunch is that it refers to a person walking opposite the wall as in on the other side of the street adjacent to the wall, but without context the sentence is obscure.


Or maybe it could mean something like "swimming against the stream or current" or even trying to accomplish something but the wall is an obstruction. But what I do not understand is, why does this sentence not need את? Wall is the direct object, unless נגד is one of those words that does not require את?


No, wall is not the direct object here. That can be seen from two things here. First, the verb הולך is an intransitive verb and never takes a direct object. Second, there is a preposition. Direct object never goes together with a preposition. When there is a preposition, it implies that it is an indirect object or a preposition phrase.

From commenting elsewhere, I can see you really struggle with את. But let me give you some pointers. First, if there is a preposition, any preposition, no את. That also means that when you have a verb, if you can ask the question "what?" and answer without adding any preposition, it will probably be direct object. I say probably, because the same verb in both Hebrew and English doesn't always follow the same pattern. But for the most part, yes.


Ah yes, sadly את is only one of many struggles... Thank you so much for the explanations. I will attempt to remember and forge ahead - time for a couple of lessons. תודה רבה!


I bumped up against this again, but I learned more from your comment above (slow learner). I also realized that in English, the verb "walk" seems not just intransitive because we use the phrase, "I'm walking the dog" - I'm walking "what"? The dog. Hence my wanting the את there!


When I did this exercise 3 years ago, I made a note from something someone posted that this is an idiom meaning quote he is fighting a losing battle."

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