Welcome to the first basic lesson of Hebrew! In this lesson we're going to learn some basic greetings and basic grammatical features of Hebrew. First read the following dialogue and do the exercise related to it.
Two strangers, Sarah (שָׂרָה) and David (דָּוִד), meet each other in one of the many cafés of Tel Aviv. The following conversation takes place:
דָּוִד: שָׁלוֹם! קוֹרְאִים לִי דָּוִד. אֵיך קוֹרְאִים לָךְ?
שָׂרָה: שָׁלוֹם, דָּוִד. לִי קוֹרְאִים שָׂרָה. מָה שְׁלוֹמְךָ?
דָּוִד: טוֹב, תּוֹדָה. מָה נִשְׁמַע?
שָׂרָה: בְּסֵדֶר. שָׁלוֹם, דָּוִד.
|See you later!||לְהִתְרָאוֹת!|
|Thank you||תּוֹדָה f|
Words marked with ° have their accent falling on their penultimate syllable, as in bóqer. In all other cases, the accent will fall on the last syllable.
Asking for Names
אֵיך קוֹרְאִים לְךָ? and אֵיך קוֹרְאִים לָךְ? both mean “what's your name?” (lit. “how [do] they-call to-you?”). One is directed to a male (לְךָ) and one to a female (לָךְ). Therefore, when asking a male for his name, say the former, and when asking female for her name, use the latter.
You may respond by saying your name, or, if you want to introduce yourself, saying קוֹרְאִים לִי... (lit. “they-call to-me...”) . It doesn't matter if you are a male or a female here.
- Someone (to Boy): אֵיך קוֹרְאִים לְךָ?
- Someone (to Girl): אֵיך קוֹרְאִים לָךְ?
- Someone: קוֹרְאִים לִי...
How are You?
Just like asking for names, מָה שְׁלוֹמְךָ? and מָה שְׁלוֹמֶךְ? (lit. “what [is] your-peace?”) alter whether asking a male or a female. As before, the former is used when asking males, and the latter females.
מָה נִשְׁמַע? (lit. “what [was] heard?”) means the same, but it is slightly less formal. It does not declend in gender.
- Someone (to Boy): מָה שְׁלוֹמְךָ?
- Someone (to Girl): מָה שְׁלוֹמֶךְ?
- Someone (to Someone): מָה נִשְׁמַע?
Hebrew has two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. Each noun has an inherit gender, and that affects the adjectives that describe it and the verbs it does.
Unfortunately, Hebrew's choice of genders may defy common sense, as ancient languages sometimes do, and the gender of a noun usually can't be learned by just looking at the word. However, a good rule of thumb is that words ending in ה or ת are mostly feminine, and words ending in other letters are mostly masculine.
The genders are marked by m and f for nouns.
Transliterate and translate the following Hebrew expressions to English.
Translate the dialogue from the beginning of this lesson.
In this lesson, you have learned:
- How to greet people (שָׁלוֹם).
- How to say and ask for names (קוֹרְאִים לִי...).
- How to ask and say how you are (טוֹב).
Practice what you've learned in the exercises.
- In the dialogue Sarah switched the קוֹרְאִים (qor'im) and לִי (li) (she said לִי קוֹרְאִים שָׂרָה. (Li qor'im Sarah). She said it in this fashion to contrast between David's question and her response. In other words, it was as if she was saying: “Your name is David? Well, my name is Sarah”. Note the emphasis on the “my”.