Is there a difference between the Hebrew words for sailing; לשוט and להפליג?

On Duolingo it uses להפליג. Such as, הם .מפליגים

However, I was recently reading a book called הרוח במגירה (by מיכל חזון) in which the concept of sailing is used several times throughout the book. הוא שיט, לשוט etc.

Any difference? Google wasn't being very helpful....

February 21, 2019


i'm afraid it's one of those very confusing things that you just need to learn and memorise. they are more or less interchangeable and you wouldn't be making a very obvious mistake if you used one instead of the other, but natives would generally use one rather than the other depending on context.

האוניה הפליגה = the ship has left port האוניה שטה = the ship is cruising הפלגת בכורה = maiden voyage שיט תענוגות = cruise הצוות משיט את האוניה = the crew is sailing the ship הנוסעים מפליגים לניו-יורק = the passengers are sailing to New-York שייטת = flotilla

if you want a very loose guideline then לשוט would be used for more technical and nautical terms whereas להפליג would normally be associated with transportation by ship. so if you want to describe how fast the a ship is cruising you'd normally use שטה although מפליגה wouldn't be entirely incorrect. however, if you want to describe an ocean liner on a scheduled trip you'd probably use מפליגה. another distinction is that לשוט is often used for boats (i.e. smaller vessels) whilst להפליג would be associated with ships. if you will the two rules are related as you wouldn't normally cross the ocean in a boat and if you did you'd probably be a skilled sailor anyway. note that these are not hard and fast and there are exceptions (e.g. שיט תענוגות).

February 22, 2019 has the following definitions for each:

לָשׁוּט Root: שׁ - ו - ט Part of speech:
verb – PA'AL to float, to row

לְהַפְלִיג Root: פ - ל - ג Part of speech: verb – HIF'IL to depart (by ship, boat), to sail; to exaggerate

Not sure if that helps. They do seem interchangeable sometimes, depending on what you’re reading. The same question was asked a year ago, in the duolingo forum, and the second response was from a native speaker from Tel Aviv.לשוט-and-להפליג

February 22, 2019

might be worth mentioning that the meaning of exaggerate in להפליג is not related to the other meanings (except maybe by far association), and is a different and separate word (and rather rarely used).

February 27, 2019

The verb לשוט has a broader meaning, including to sail, to float, to drift, to row, while the verb להפליג normally only relates to sailing by a ship (in most cases, not even using a smaller boat, which is more לשוט kind of activity)

February 24, 2019

i partly agree, but all those other meanings u listed have other words, more commonly used, for these meanings: to float = לצוף, to drift = להיסחף, to row = לחתור

February 27, 2019

Thanks for your insightful replies!

February 22, 2019

While you can use both words interchangeably, I would suggest looking at it this way: Use להפליג if you're talking either about a large vessel (cruise ship, river-boat, aircraft carrier etc...) or covering a long distance. But לשוט incompasses all types of vessels and all distances, so you can use לשוט for everything you would use להפליג but the other way around might lead to less common expressions such as: הפלגתי על הרפסודה לצד השני של הנהר = I sailed the raft to the other side of the river doesn't necessarily imply having wind-driven sails.

This sentance would sound kinda wierd to me.

March 9, 2019
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