היונה באה והכלב הולך

Do Hebrew nouns have gender similar to French? I notice “dove” יונה uses באה (feminine form of “come”) while “dog” כלב uses הולך (masculine form of “go”).

February 4, 2018


Yes, they do. All nouns and most pronouns have genders which the verbs correspond to. I understand adverbs and adjectives also are different depending on the gender of the word they refer to.

February 4, 2018

Adjectives indeed have masculine and feminine forms, as they do in French (which you asked about). But adverbs do not (and neither do they in French).

February 25, 2018

Just to expand on what kHXa3 had already mentioned: I think it is possible (for the most part) to figure out if the noun is feminine or masculine based on the syllable it ends with. Many nouns that end wit the syllable "ah," like "Yona" (dove) in this case, are feminine. In the case of "Kelev" (dog), its female analog would be "Kalba." Not sure if dove has a male analog in Hebrew, though. I think they're all referred to in the female form even if male.

Although I'm not sure about adverbs, adjectives definitely do get assigned a gender based on noun.

February 4, 2018

The male dove is "Yon".

February 5, 2018

Indeed, all Hebrew nouns, including inanimate objects, have grammatical gender, as in French. But the assignment of gender to inanimate objects is NOT the same as in French, which can be confusing when a persons tries to use both languages. Just one example, a window is masculine in Hebrew (חלון) but feminine in French (la fenêtre).

Although the assignment of gender to objects is fairly arbitrary (in what sense is a window "masculine"?), in Hebrew it is often possible to guess the gender of a noun by the following "algorithm":

  1. If the noun ends with "eh" sound, it is masculine - e.g., מוֹרֶה - male teacher.
  2. If the noun ends with "ah" sound, it is feminine. E.g., מוֹרָה (female teacher), בֵּיצָה (egg), etc.
  3. If the word ends with a ת, and you know its plural form ends in וֹת, the word is female. E.g., תָּכְנִית (plan) plural is תָּכְניוֹת, is feminine. (But צֹמֶת (intersection) plural is צְמָתִים, so masculine.)
  4. Otherwise, the word is masculine.

This algorithm is not perfect. It still has quite a few exceptions. For example, צִפּוֹר (bird) is feminine, אוֹת (in the sense of a "badge") is masculine, and there are a few nouns where both feminine and masculine are considered correct. But it is in most cases right.

February 25, 2018
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