Welcome to the sixth basic lesson of Hebrew! In this lesson we're going to learn the demonstrative and possessive pronouns, as well as basic syntax.
Look at the following examples.
אֵלֶּה שרה ודוד.
אני בא מהעִיר הזֹאת.
The words highlighted are the demonstrative pronouns. In English the demonstrative pronouns are “this”, “that”, “these” and “those”.
Here are the demonstrative pronouns in Hebrew:
- The א in זֹאת is not pronounced.
Usually, Hebrew makes no distinction between “this” and “that”.
In English, when we want to demonstrate something, we add the demonstrative pronoun before it: “this house”, “that thing”, “I want these shoes”.
In Hebrew, when there are demonstrations such as these, the pronoun is after the demonstrated object and both are definite.
Too much information? Let's look at the examples.
- This street. The word for “street” is רְחוֹב, masculine, singular. We find the corresponding pronoun זֶה and add it after the רְחוֹב. Then, we add the definite article to both.
- הרְחוֹב הזֶה.
- Those houses. The word for “houses” is בָּתִים, masculine, plural (it is pluralized irregularly; the singular form is בַּיִת).
- הבָּתִים האֵלֶּה.
As for the other positions, we'll get to these in the third section of this lesson.
Here are some more examples.
The words highlighted are the possessive pronouns. In English the possessive pronouns are “my”, “your”, “his”, “her”, “its”, “our” and “their”.
Here are the possessive pronouns in Hebrew:
- The plural feminine pronouns (שֶׁלָכֵן and שֶׁלָהֵן) are quickly falling out of use, particularly by young people, replaced by the masculine pronouns. When talking to/about a mixed group of people from both genders use שֶׁלָכֵם and שֶׁלָהֵם.
In English, when we want to indicate that something belongs to someone, we add the correct possessive pronoun before it: “my house”, “his place”, “it's our world”.
In Hebrew, we put that possessive pronoun after the object, and add the definite article only to the object.
Let's look at the examples for clarification.
- Your (m s.) house. The correct equivalent possessive pronoun is שֶׁלְךָ. We put it after the word for “house” and add the definite article.
- הבַּיִת שֶׁלְךָ.
- Their (f) cities. The word for “cities” is עָרִים (despite its plural form, it is feminine. The singular is עִיר).
- העָרִים שֶׁלָהֵן.
Hebrew lacks the verb “to be” in the present tense. This includes its forms “am”, “are” and “is”.
- The boy
It does, however, have alternatives:
If what the object it is a noun, the verb “to be” is replaced by the personal pronoun in the 3rd person. This is not true for pronouns.
If what the object it is an adjective, the verb “to be” is omitted and the definite article is added to the object.
- Jerusalem is a city. No indefinite articles in Hebrew (
a) as well as the verb “to be” in the present tense. “City” is a noun. “Jerusalem” is feminine, singular — הִיא.
- ירושלים היא עִיר.
- The house is good. No verb “to be” in the present tense. “Good” is an adjective.
- הבַּיִת טוב.
- That is a street. No indefinite articles in Hebrew (
a) as well as the verb “to be” in the present tense. “Street” is a noun, however, “that” is a pronoun.
- זֶה רְחוֹב.
Transliterate and translate the following Hebrew expressions to English:
In this lesson, you have learned:
- How to demonstrate something (זֶה בַּיִת).
- How to say something belongs to someone (העִיר שֶׁלִי).
- How to substitute the verb “to be” (תל אביב היא עִיר).
Practice what you've learned in the exercises.