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Genders for Hebrew Nouns

As I get further into this Duolingo course, the genders of nouns are becoming more important. Spanish has genders, but they were generally pretty obvious. In German, the genders are not always obvious, but when you learn the vocabulary, you learn with the gender. In this Hebrew course, I've seen a commentary that gender depends on a lot of things and that nouns are masculine or feminine but no explanation of which nouns are always masculine and which are always feminine. What gives?

January 23, 2018

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Michael.Lubetsky
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What I remember from Hebrew school:

  1. Nouns that end with “ah” (as in, final ה preceded by the sound “a”) are pretty much always feminine (מנורה, תורה, כיפה, etc). The only exception is לילה (night).

  2. Nouns that end with ת are very often feminine, but there are many exceptions.

  3. Parts of the body that come in pairs (eyes, ears, hands, etc) are generally feminine.

  4. Most other nouns are masculine, although there are are many exceptions.

What i find tricker is masculine nouns that use the feminine plural endings (or vice versa). For example, the word for wine (יין), is masculine, but the plural is יינות. Any adjectives describing the wine, however, will be inflected as masculine. So “French wines” is יינות צרפתיים. I am not aware of any rules for these words.

January 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/nyharel
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Note that the question of grammatical gender is separate (and easier to remember) than the question of plural ending. יין is masculine because of the rules you gave (basically, it doesn't end with ah or t), but it doesn't say anything about its plural form, which you just need to remember. I like to give the example עוף (one of the words for bird, or chicken meat) vs קוף (monkey) - one plural is עופות, the other קופים. ‎There is no reason why it has to be this way, you just need to remember it. But both are masculine.

By the way, about the rule you gave for "nouns that end with ת" - if you know the plural form already, it can fix many of the exceptions if you remember that "nouns that end with ת are feminine but only if the plural ends with ות". So for example, צֹמֶת is masculine because its plural, צְמָתִים, does not end with a ות.

There are exceptions to all gender rules, and there are even a few words which are legitimately both genders, but those exceptions are very few, and even Israelis often make mistakes in them, so nobody will make fun of you for making a mistakes in those. Perhaps only a handful are common enough to be worth memorizing, e.g, צִפּוֹר (bird - feminine) and לילה (night - masculine).

February 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells
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So, I think the Irish course has a similar problem..with gendered nouns, the gender is really important but really hard to intuit (I went through the whole tree without even realizing Irish nouns had gender). I was thinking about this, and my guess is that in french and spanish duolingo teaches gender through example, by presenting the noun with the article. You learn through the gendered article that it is la pomme (feminine) or le chapeau (masculine) and spanish has la and los and those nice a and o endings on most words. But irish has “an” for the, a non gendered article that precedes nouns of either gender, so you can’t just figure out the gender of the verb from it’s article but you need to already understand the grammer rules of how the noun is effected. Hebrew also has a gender neutral article ה ha, for the... so it is also really hard to figure out the gender of the noun, unless you already understand the congugations and grammer. I agree it makes it rather frustrating though. Anyways, these are just my thoughts. I am also pretty unsure of gender nouns when it comes to hebrew, so maybe someone will correct me.

January 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Corinnebelle
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If a word ends with ה or ן it's usually female. The verb will always be the gender of the noun. For verbs I think endings of ה and ת are female.

January 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/nyharel
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You're right that French has a nice way of saying the noun and its gender, like "la pomme", but this only helps in the first few lessons where such simplistic questions appear. In the later French lessons, where you get long sentences, the question of the noun's gender is much more intricately embedded in the sentence (my un-favorite is how the passe imparfait verbs change depending on the noun's gender) and there is really no alternative to figuring out the gender of each noun on your own and memorizing its gender. If you make a mistake in the gender, Duolingo marks the whole sentence as wrong, so you cannot miss these mistakes...

I never understood why Duolingo is so adamant about "immersing" you in the gender question, forcing you to figure out by yourself the gender of each noun and not providing gender in the word hints (if you ask for them). Not only is this very difficult to master, the gender of nouns is something which learners often ask native speakers explicitly while learning ("oh, I forgot, is pomme masculine or feminine?") so why not allow Duolingo learners to ask about that too?

February 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Shaharkohan
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The two main indications that a noun is feminine are ה and ת at the end.

When a noun ends with ה it is almost always feminine. This is true only if the ending's sound is Ah and not Eh (תקרה, מראה, מיטה, צורה, רצפה, חובה). If a noun ends with ה but with the sound Eh it's almost always masculine (שדה, מרעה, חוזה, חזה, מחנה). An exception is the word לילה which is masculine but ends with Ah (probably because it's a version of the word ליל).

When a noun ends with ת it is usually feminine (this rule is less true than the previous one). This is especially true if before the ת comes י or ו. Some examples: ארונית, דלת, אישיות, שוקת, מחבת. Exceptions: צומת. With this rule you need to notice if a noun is pluralized or not because there are some masculine nouns that are pluralized in a feminine way but are still regarded as masculine (אבות, ארונות, שולחנות, כיסאות, חלונות).

January 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Corinnebelle
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Hovertips do list what words are.

January 23, 2018
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