Hebrew Time #6 - Basic Verbs
Welcome to Hebrew Time #6! This week we will be learning some basic verbs.
For those of us who are joining now – Hebrew Time is a series of weekly posts about the Hebrew language:)
You can see the previous post here. This would be a good time to quickly brush up on your personal pronouns:)
Ready? Let’s get started…
Part 1 – Present Tense
We’re going to do this Duolingo style: Rather than overload you with a grammar lesson, we’ll just dive straight in. There’s a link at the end of the post to a fairly comprehensive Wikipedia article about Hebrew verbs if you’re still interested.
I eat (singular masculine) - אני אוכל – ani ochel
I eat (singular feminine) - אני אוכלת – ani ochelet
We eat (plural masculine) - אנחנו אוכלים – anachnu ochlim
We eat (plural feminine) - אנחנו אוכלות – anachnu ochlot
In Hebrew, the present tense doesn’t change according to person (i.e 1st/2nd/3rd person). For example, to say “he eats” you use the word “he” (הוא – hu) and then the singular masculine (אוכל – ochel): he eats - הוא אוכל – hu ochel. The girls eat - הבנות אוכלות – ha’banot ochlot.
I like (s. masc.) - אני אוהב – ani ohev
I like (s. fem.) - אני אוהבת – ani ohevet
We like (pl. masc.) - אנחנו אוהבים – anachnu ohavim
We like (pl. fem.) - אנחנו אוהבות – anachnu ohavot
In Hebrew, when this verb is used about an object - it means “to like”; about a person, it means “to love”.
In Hebrew there is no general verb “to go”, you have to use the verb that describes how you are going. The following verb means “to go on foot” but also (unsurprisingly) means “to walk”. However, you can still often translate it as “go”:
I walk (s. masc.) - אני הולך – ani holech
I walk (s. fem.) - אני הולכת – ani holechet
We walk (pl. masc.) - אנחנו הולכים – anachnu holchim
We walk (pl. fem.) - אנחנו הולכות – anachnu holchot
If you are not going on foot, you use the following verb, which means “to go using some kind of motorised transport” (car, bus etc. - two-wheeled vehicles are not included):
I go (s. masc.) - אני נוסע – ani nose’ah
I go (s. fem.) - אני נוסעת – ani nosa’at
We go (pl. masc.) - אנחנו נוסעים – anachnu nosim
We go (pl. fem.) - אנחנו נוסעות – anachnu nosot
I help (s. masc.) - אני עוזר – ani ozer
I help (s. fem.) - אני עוזרת – ani ozeret
We help (pl. masc.) - אנחנו עוזרים – anachnu ozrim
We help (pl. fem.) - אנחנו עוזרות – anachnu ozrot
You might be noticing a pattern here…the next couple of verbs follow a slightly different one:
I want (s. masc.) - אני רוצה – ani rotseh
I want (s. fem.) - אני רוצה – ani rotsah
We want (pl. masc.) - אנחנו רוצים – anachnu rotsim
We want (pl. fem.) - אנחנו רוצות – anachnu rotsot
I buy (s. masc.) - אני קונה – ani koneh
I buy (s. fem.) - אני קונה – ani konah
We buy (pl. masc.) - אנחנו קונים – anachnu konim
We buy (pl. fem.) - אנחנו קונות – anachnu konot
And a couple more…
I can (s. masc.) - אני יכול – ani yachol
I can (s. fem.) - אני יכולה – ani yechola
We can (pl. masc.) - אנחנו יכולים – anachnu yecholim
We can (pl. fem.) - אנחנו יכולות – anachnu yecholot
I need (s. masc.) - אני צריך – ani tsarich
I need (s. fem.) - אני צריכה – ani tsricha
We need (pl. masc.) - אנחנו צריכים – anachnu tsrichim
We need (pl. fem.) - אנחנו צריכות – anachnu tsrichot
Hang on – what about the two most important verbs – “to be” and “to have”??
Well, we covered the present tense of “to be” last week. As for “to have”, there is no such verb in Hebrew. Instead we use the word “יש” – yesh, which means “there is”, and then add the thing that is having as an indirect object. So when you say “I have” you literally say “there is to me” or “the boys have” – “there is to the boys”.
We won’t run through the indirect personal pronouns right now, but here are a few useful bits:
I have – יש לי - yesh li
She has - יש לה - yesh la
We have – יש לנו – yesh lanu
The boys have – יש לבנים – yesh la banim
The fruits have - יש לפירות – yesh la perot
Part 2 – Introduction to Infinitives
We’re not going to cover this comprehensively right now, but we will quickly run through some of the infinitives of the verbs that we learned.
Like in many other languages, you can add the infinitive to certain verbs, for example, in English you can add “to eat” or many other infinitives to “I want” or “I need” – I want to eat, I need to eat etc.
In Hebrew, we can add infinitives to:
I like - אני אוהב – ani ohev
I want - אני רוצה – ani rotseh
I help - אני עוזר – ani ozer
I can - אני יכול – ani yachol
I need - אני צריך – ani tsarich
I walk - אני הולך – ani holech
“I walk plus an infinitive? Like, I walk to eat??? What does that mean!?” Well, remember that there is no general verb “to go”. Hebrew use this verb to construct the immediate future, just like in English (“I am going to eat”). So אני הולך לאכול– ani holech le'echol - means “I am going to eat”. And the infinitives of some of the verbs that we have learned today:
To eat – לאכול – le’echol
To like – לאהוב – le’ehov
To walk – ללכת - lalechet
To go (with a motor) – לנסוע – linso’ah
To help – לעזור – la’azor
To buy – לקנות – liknot
Now you can make some simple sentences with what we have learned in the last few weeks:)
E.g I want to buy an apple: אני רוצה לקנות תפוח – ani rotseh/rotsa liknot tapu’ach
Before we finish up this week, I’d like to leave you all with a tongue twister in Hebrew:
גנן גידל דגן בגן; דגן גדול גדל בגן. – ganan gidel dagan ba gan; dagan gadol gadal ba gan - A gardener grew a cereal crop in the garden; A large cereal crop grew in the garden.
We can't finish without telling you:
Le'itraot! = See you later!
That was the sixth Hebrew Time, thanks for joining us! Next week we will be learning about words in nature, so stay tuned in:)
If you are interested in how Hebrew verbs work, there is an interesting and helpful Wikipedia article here.
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And for those who missed it, some good news coming our way...Hebrew is coming soon!
Thanks DvirBartov for helping me write this post! Go Team Hebrew:)
That's it! Goodbye!
תודה רבה! אני אוהבת עברית.
Is it my imagination, or are the DL forums coping slightly better with right to left writing than they were?
I was going to write something about learning Hebrew IN Hebrew, but I don't remember the infinitive off the top of my head and I am too busy right now to look it up, but anyway, I guess I will just say I am going to enjoy Hebrew on DL when it comes out!
ETA: and my punctuation is all messed up on my left to right writing LOL never mind!
Question about to go: you give us 'to go by foot' and 'to go by motorised transport'. What do I use to describe going by animal, or animal-drawn vehicle? And when you specify that biking does not use the 'by motor' word, do you mean that there is a separate 'biking' verb, or that the 'by foot' verb is used?
For motorbikes, bicycles and animals you use "I ride" - אני רוכב/ת (ani rochev/et), like you would in English. Basically, you wouldn't use the verb "I go by motorised transport" for anything that you wouldn't use "I drive" for in English. So you'd drive a car, a bus, a train, a lorry, but you'd ride a bike or a horse.
OK. What about an animal-drawn vehicle? Say, for example, I'm talking about how large parts of the American West were settled by people who transported their family and worldly possessions by ox-drawn covered wagon. Or about how before the advent of motor cars, most taxis were horse-drawn buggies. These are driven, so I use נוסעים? And now that you've connected נוסע/ת with driving, I have to wonder if you still use it when you're a passenger and someone else is driving.
Re: your latter point - yes you do use it when someone else is driving, it doesn't mean "to drive", it means "to go" but I was just trying to explain when to use it - i.e. you would generally use it regarding forms of transport where you'd be happy to use "drive" in English (even though that is not what it means). Sorry for being unclear and/or confusing.
As for your first point, I'm not 100% sure but gut feeling is that you are correct in that you'd use נוסע in cases where you're saying "I'm going by wagon" (but might use רוכב when you'd be saying "I'm going for a ride in a wagon", just like in English:)