Learning Hebrew – Part 2

While learning Hebrew, I thought to share more notes that I found interesting about the language.

Sentence Structure
  1. The subject of the verb always follows the verb. If the verb follows the subject, then this is the past perfect form.
  2. Anytime two nouns are next to each other in Hebrew, this forms a construct. So the noun “king” ( מלך ) next to the noun “Israel” ( ישראל ) could be read as “king of Israel” ( מלך ישראל ). This differs from Russian in that when two nouns are next to each other in Russian without a declension, the meaning is that one is the other.
  3. Hebrew, especially ancient Hebrew, does not have punctuation. So when two nouns are side-by-side, it could be a list, or the end and beginning of a sentence as well. This is discerned by understanding the meaning of what is being read.
  4. Hebrew does not use periods, but rather a colon ( ׃ ) to indicate when a sentence ends.

Hebrew nouns and verbs are derived out of a three letter root, sometimes called a stem. Take a look at this root KTB below.

This root, depending on the vowels, can become a noun or a verb. It’s the same letters, but pronounced differently. Here’s the verb of that root, ka-tav which means “to write.”

And here’s the noun of those same three letters, ke-tav which means “a document.”

Just to reinforce this concept, let’s look at the root MLK below.

The verb of this root is ma-lakh which means “to reign.”

And the noun of this root is me-lekh which means “king.”

Using roots to make other words

These simple three letter roots can have additional letters appended to them to make different words. So we could add a tav to the end of the root, KTB, which would give us the word, ke-to-vet, which means “inscription.” like below.

Or we could add the letter, mem, to the beginning of the word and get the noun, mikh-tav, which means “writing.”

Then let’s add a hey to the end to get mal-kah, or “queen.” Adding a hey to the end is often a frequent way to form a feminine noun.

And we can add a vav and tav to the end to get mal-kut, which means “kingdom.” It’s important to see that the roots have a strong influence on the group of words associated with it.

Noun prefixes

Noun Suffixes

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