Do the Letters 2 and Letters 3 sections accurately describe how vowels are pronounced?

Hello Duo-Hebrew community,

I've just started the Hebrew tree, but I did grow up being taught how to pronounce Hebrew, at least as far as biblical Hebrew goes. My problem is that my training is at odds with some of the vowel pronunciations given in the "Tips & Notes" sections of Letters 2 and Letters 3, but am curious if there is something I don't know. I did look up vowel charts on other websites and they also seem to disagree with Duo. Here are the following problem cases:

1) Letters 2 - the alephs with the horizontal bar and 'T' under them are listed as being pronounced like the 'a' in 'bank'. However, I believe it is pronounced closer to the 'a' in 'ball' or the 'o' in 'rock'.

2) Letters 2 and Letters 3 - The vowel with the tiny dot up high is listed as being pronounced like the 'o' like the 'o' in 'bog' or 'log'. However, I believe it is pronounced closer to the 'o' in 'go'.

3) Letters 2 - The vowel with the two dots under the letter is listed as being pronounced like the 'e' in 'bed'. I have heard that in modern Hebrew, but for biblical Hebrew, I was taught it is pronounced like the 'a' in 'bank'.

4) Letters 3 - In the ktiv male section there is an English example that says some letters can be pronounced like the 'a' in 'rag'. However, I am fairly certain that this sound does not exist in Hebrew and is in fact supposed to be like the 'a' in 'ball or the 'o' in 'rock', just like in case (1).

Lastly, maybe it is my browser, but the nekudot appear insanely tiny to me. I have to strain my eyes to see them. I know they are not shown in modern Hebrew, but I think the size is too small for teaching purposes.

June 13, 2018


Hey, I'm a native Hebrew speaker:

1) Yes, both vowels are pronounced as A. However there are rare case where אָ or other letters with this vowel (which is called kamatz (קמץ)):

I will give only examples with Alpeh although there are examples for both cases with other letters.

Examples with A:

Person - אָדָם-Adam

He Ate - הוא אָכַל - Hu Achal

Example with O:

Ears - אָזְנַיִם - Oznaim

2) This vowel is pronounced as O, for example:

Tent - אֹהֶל - Ohel. However in modern Hebrew people just write אוהל

Mail - דאר - Doar. Again, people usually write דואר in modern Hebrew.

3) You are correct, this sound of a does not exist in modern day Hebrew. However the A sound in Hebrew is not like in ball or rock but more like hut or gut.

I hope you continue learning and practicing Hebrew :)

June 13, 2018

Thanks a ton for your response! Some follow-up questions:

1) What do you mean when you say both vowels are pronounced as "A"? The letter "A" can be pronounced many different ways in English. I cannot tell if you are agreeing with me or Duolingo!

Did you mean to say that there are rare cases where the kamatz can be pronounced like "O", as in your example? Or are there other pronunciations?

I think you skipped commenting on my 3rd issue! I found this (Quora Q&A)[] that I think explains it pretty well. According to this article, I am right, but I am still confused because the Hebrew word for "yes" has a tsere, but is pronounced like it has a segol or the French "è", rather than the French "é" as mentioned on linked site.

Thanks for the help and encouragement!

June 14, 2018

For the first point, the A sound is pronounced like in hut or gut all the time in hebrew. I agree with duolingo on that topic. A good article on wikipedia which may help you is this:

There are only two options for kamatz: A or O, as i said, it sounds like O rarely. Most of the time it is pronounced as A.

Lastly, segol(3 points) and zere (2 points) sound exactly the same in modern Hebrew like e in bed. I don't know though about biblical Hebrew.

Hope I helped!

Continue asking questions, it is how you learn and I am happy to answer every question you would like to ask :)

June 14, 2018

One thing I wonder is how resh is pronounced? When I hear man in Hebrew, it doesn't sound like gever, it sounds like gevel. Bad ears?

June 14, 2018

It is gever. The r sound is from the back of the throat however it is soft and not hard like in French or rolled.

June 14, 2018

Thanks! Is there a word in English that might be use "r" in that way as an example?

June 17, 2018

No, this sound does not exist in English. However this video might help:

June 18, 2018

Ok, thanks! So like wreck but a bit different and soft instead of hard?

June 19, 2018
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