The Use of Hebrew Verbs While Acquiring a Second Language

Learn to read Hebrew from the basic letters to full sentences

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Mommy, milk! Daddy, doggie! These sentences are commonly used by toddlers who are just starting to speak English. When we start to acquire a spoken language in our mother tongue we don’t use verbs at all. The concept of verbs is something that is brought to our lives later in life. We are so happy when our toddler starts to speak that we don’t stress, at least at the beginning, the importance of using full sentences when communicating. After all – when a child says: Mommy, milk! She will immediately receive a bottle of milk. Why bother saying: Mommy could you please give me some milk?

Language is a means of communication. When we can get the message across – we are satisfied. However, as the toddler grows up her parents start insisting on creating longer, more complex sentences in her speech, therefore – the use of verbs is needed.

Learning a Second Language

When making a decision to learn a second language in our adult lives things are different. We have already acquired complex speech structures in our native tongue and we expect to fully acquire these same structures in the second language as well. We understand that we must use verbs in order to get our message across and to be able to fully communicate in the second language.

Hebrew vs. English

Learning Hebrew is very different from learning English. Firstly, it’s written backwards. Not only that, but on some occasions it is also ‘spoken backwards’. When describing a noun, for example, the adjective comes after the noun and does not precede it. Secondly, Hebrew has a distinct definition of each part of speech into feminine or masculine. Each noun is one or the other and it is important to define each noun as every part of speech connected to it will also be defined with a gender suffix and association.

In any IStudyHebrew course we teach, practice and review the use of this aspect of the Hebrew language. Each class, starting from conversational for beginners through learning how to read Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew and various levels of reading and discussing current events articles, we present Hebrew vocabulary, teach the different ways to define whether it is masculine or feminine and introduce and practice the different Hebrew verb forms of the language.

Hebrew as a Root Based Language

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Hebrew is a root based language. Once you are familiar with the meaning of a root of a word, you will have an easier time defining other words derived from the same root. Hebrew verbs differ from English. In Hebrew we also have 3 basic tenses of past-present-future. In addition we have gender suffixes (that we use in the present and past tenses) and prefixes (which are used only in the future tense). The verbs in Hebrew can be divided into 7 different forms (or binyanim - ‘buildings’ - as we call them in Hebrew). All forms have some similarities and some differences. The verb prefixes and suffixes are identical in all 7 forms. What differs is the way the root of the word is integrated in it.

Let us take the word Medaber medaber for example – speak. The root is Hebrew Mem (D.V.R.) and the prefix D.V.R (m) is added to show that this is the present tense.

I speak – ani medaber (m) / ani medaberet (f)
You speak – ata medaber (m,s) / at medaberet (f,s) / atem medabrim (m,p) / aten medabrot (f,p)

If you study the words clearly, you see that the pronouns I and You have the same form of the verb in the present tense. The pronoun ‘YOU’ has four different pronouns in Hebrew – masculine/feminine and singular/plural. By looking at the verbs you can see that the plural form have a different suffix which has to match the pronoun. You can never use a singular noun or pronoun with any other verb form but singular.

The way to study the different forms is to sign up with one of our language classes where you will be taught and asked to practice them during class and at home. The more you review and prepare for each class, the easier it will become and you will be more proficient.

We are looking forward to teaching you the various structures of the Hebrew language. You can register for an online Hebrew courses here or attend a free Hebrew lesson on one of our ongoing courses- demo recordings are also available.