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Letters 1 Edit

NEW USERS AND PEOPLE NEW TO HEBREW: See here for quick instructions on typing and learning to read Hebrew. (https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/17767515)

Welcome to the Hebrew course! Edit

Please read the Tips and Notes. They will help you understand how the Hebrew language works and will prevent misunderstandings. There is a lot to take in at the beginning, but don't be put off reading the notes. Stick with it, because they get shorter the further down the tree you go.

We are very excited that you have chosen to learn Hebrew. Remember that you can access the Tips and Notes from a lesson at any time by clicking the top-left corner, or by clicking the lightbulb if you are using Duolingo with skill levels enabled.

Before we get started, just be aware that the Hebrew language is written from right to left!

The Hebrew Alphabet Edit

In Hebrew there are 22 letters, some of their sounds exist in English and some don't. A few letters have an ending form - that means that those letters look different when written at the end of a word (their pronunciation does not change).

Each letter is given with the pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and a close-matching example in English:

(Letters in blue are taught in this skill) - the ones that are meant to be blue are: Aleph, Bet, Hey, Vav, Chet, Yot, Lamed, Mem, Nun, Tav.

Name Letter Ending form IPA English example
Aleph א /ʔ/ uh (usually silent or similar to the letter "a" in

English: a placeholder for vowels)**

Bet ב /b/*,/v/ bet, vet
Gimel ג /g/ go
Dalet ד /d/ dog
Hey ה /h/ hen (often silent in modern colloquial speech)
Vav ו /v/ vet
Zayin ז /z/ zoo
Chet ח /X/ loch
Tet ט /t/ ten
Yod י /j/ yes
Kaf כ ך /k/*, /X/ cat, loch
Lamed ל /l/ log
Mem מ ם /m/ man
Nun נ ן /n/ no
Samekh ס /s/ see
Ayin ע /ʔ/, /ʕ/ uh
Pei פ ף /p/*,/f/ pay, fool
Tsadi צ ץ /ts/ cats
Qof ק /k/ cat
Resh ר /ʁ/ run (similar to the French r)
Shin ש /ʃ/,/s/ she, see
Tav ת /t/ tap

*These sounds are pronounced only when the letter is at the beginning of the word or at the beginning of a syllable. Otherwise, the other sound is usually the one that is pronounced.

**A common example for the use of "א" as a silent letter is the word לא (/lo/), which means "no".

The letter "vav" (ו) Edit

The basic sound of the letter "vav" is "v". However, it is also used in Hebrew as the vowel "u" and "o".

For example:

  • אוהב = (ohev).
  • הוא = (hu).

Articles Edit

Hebrew has only a definite article (i.e. "the"). This means that there are no indefinite articles (i.e. "a/an"). In order to add the definite article to a noun we simply attach the letter ה to the beginning of the noun.

For example:

ילד - boy/a boy (yéled)

הילד = ה + ילד - the boy (the "ה" as a definite article is pronounced Ha - i.e. hayéled).

(Throughout the notes we add accents [like these: áéíóú] merely to show which syllable is stressed. In this case yeled and not yeled)

Connecting words Edit

In order to connect words in Hebrew using the word "and", we attach the letter ו (vav) to the beginning of the second word. When using it to connect words, the letter ו will usually sound like "ve".

For example:

ילדה - a girl ( yalda)

ילדה וילד = ילדה ו + ילד - a girl and a boy (yalda veyeled)

We can also use both ה and ו together ("the" and "and"):

והילד = ו + ה + ילד - and the boy (ve-ha-yeled)

Yes/No questions Edit

Yes/No questions in Hebrew do not change the sentence structure. You can simply add a question mark in writing, and in speech, you can use a questioning intonation.

For example:

  • אני אבא (aní ába) - I am a father.
  •  ?אני אבא (aní ába?) - Am I a father?

We can also add the word "האם" (ha-ím) in order to emphasize that a question is being asked, but it is considered formal, and is therefore not very common in spoken Hebrew.

For example:

  • אני אבא (aní ába) - I am a father.
  •  ?האם אני אבא (ha-ím aní ába?) - Am I a father?

The verbs "לבוא" and "לאהוב" Edit

In this lesson we come across our first two verbs - לבוא (to come) and לאהוב (to love/like). We are not going to teach verb conjugation yet, but just to clarify what we're dealing with:

  • בא (ba) - "comes" for singular masculine nouns.
  • באה (ba'a) - "comes" for singular feminine nouns.
  • אוהב (ohév) - "loves/likes" for singular masculine nouns.
  • אוהבת (ohévet) - "loves/likes" for singular feminine nouns.
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