Learning Hebrew- Modern Israeli, Biblical Hebrew: Noun, Verb, or Adjective

While you’re learning Hebrew, and it doesn’t matter which particular style of Hebrew you’re focusing on, it will be very useful for you to be able to identify 3 parts of speech.  I’m the guy who decided long ago that I wouldn’t use traditional grammar terminology to teach Hebrew, and I have stood by my word.  However consistently I have felt that the following three words are manageable by all, and that no one suffers by my using them.  The three words are noun, verb, and adjective.

Hebrew Nouns

In my Hebrew classes I explain each of these terms in depth, and we actually practice identifying them.  Here I will give a light explanation of each of the three words.  So what’s a noun?  A noun is a the name of a person, place, or thing.  So for example “dog” is a noun.  “Example” is a noun.  “Boston” is a noun.  In Hebrew nouns are either singular (dog) or plural (dogs.)  If the noun happened to be in the plural, it’s critical that you be able to “reduce” it to its singular form.  This is because the only way one can look up a noun in the dictionary is in its singular form.

Hebrew Verbs

Verbs are action words.  Come, coming, go, going, baking, eating, and thinking are all verbs- they are words that describe an action.  For the most part in Hebrew verbs are either in the Present, Past, or Future tense.  One of the critical skills that we learn together in my courses is how to find the “he” or הוא form in the past tense.  This is a critical skill in learning Hebrew because almost all modern Hebrew dictionaries use that form as the listed word for which the definition is given.  Hence, it’s pretty important that you can always get to that form!

Hebrew Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes a noun, so for example the the phrase “a good dog,” the word “good” is an adjective.  All adjectives in the Hebrew language have 4 forms: masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, and feminine plural.  It’s important that you develop the skill to “reduce” the adjective down to its masculine singular form…that’s the one you’ll find in a dictionary- at least in the Hebrew to English side of it.

With sincere hopes that this helps you in your endeavor to learn Hebrew, Biblical and/or Modern Israeli.  Shalom!

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