Talk:Modern Hebrew verb conjugation

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Im and lu[edit]

I had changed the word im in the example about the Conditional in modern Hebrew to the word lu, because that it is not correct to use the word im in past tens although it is a common mistake. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.230.59.79 (talk) 14:35, 12 September 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps the k-t-n root is not such a good example.[edit]

Perhaps the k-t-n root is not such a good one for the verb conjugation chart as it ends with nun, which gets omitted in past, first person plural and in future, second and third person plural (female). Does anyone agree and want to change it? Yodaat 03:22, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Please be bold in making improvements. :-) —RuakhTALK 06:05, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Participles[edit]

I'm confused: While discussing past participles, this section abruptly changes to dealing with passive participles. What a volte-face! And what are passive participles anyway? BTW, the section on gerunds is written cogently, but curiously the Even-Shoshan Dictionary - which is considered the most authoritative in Hebrew - doesen't have a definition of שמות פעולה (but does define שם הפועל). It also seems there are two kinds of infinitive: שם הפועל a.k.a. as מקור נסמך, which is described in this article, and מקור מוחלט (literally: absolute source), which isn't mentioned. As an example of מקור מוחלט: the form הלוך (from הלך). This is the totally unmarked form of the verb, according to the dictionary. RCSB 23:30, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

"Past participle" mostly = "passive participle". (The ambiguity arises because in English we say both "have sunk", perfect aspect, and "be sunk", passive voice. This double use is common to many languages.) —RuakhTALK 01:15, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Imperatives[edit]

I have removed the following: "It is used because the true imperative mood can be considered rude." It is true that the true imperative is considered rude, but the use of the future tense is considered incorrect. For politeness, ones needs only add the exclamation בקשה ("please") as in: פתח את הדלת בקשה. RCSB 00:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Imperatives[edit]

I have removed the following: "It is used because the true imperative mood can be considered rude." It is true that the true imperative is considered rude, but the use of the future tense is considered incorrect. For politeness, ones needs only add the exclamation בקשה ("please") as in: פתח את הדלת בקשה. RCSB 00:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Your point is taken, but the information about why the imperative tends to be avoided is still worthwhile, in my opinion. I put it back, adding an analogy with English, which uses very similar circumlocutions of the imperative for just the same reason ("Would you open the door?" replacing "Open the door!"), as well as your point about the more accurate way to avoid the impression of rudeness by adding "please".JudahH (talk) 02:28, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
"In informal speech, the future tense is commonly used for affirmative commands when making requests, to avoid the potentially offensive implication of 'commanding' the other" – wrong. The difference between grammatical forms of imperative and future when used to express imperative has nothing to do with the moods of commanding or requesting. There's no difference between "shvu" and "teshvu" (sit down); "sit down please" can be "shvu bevakasha" or "teshvu bevakasha". Some verbs are used commonly with the grammatical imperative in everyday usage (e.g. come, go, get up, give, take, drive: bo, lech, kum, ten, kach, sa), some retained the option for grammatical imperative in everyday usage (open, close, buy, get out: ptach, sgor, kne, tse) and most are used in that form only in literary or official contexts (e.g. stop, start, come in, show, explain, sell: hafsek, hatchel, hikanes, har'e, hasber, mechor). The exact mood is expressed with various means:
  • atsor! / ta'atsor! – Stop!
  • atsor bevakasha! / ta'atsor bevakasha! – Stop please!
  • na la'atsor! – Please stop! (general request)
  • efshar bevakasha la'atsor? – Please stop (milder request, lit.: Is it possible to stop?)
  • ata yachol / muchan la'atsor bevakasha? – Could you stop please?
Dan 23:10, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
I removed the "reason" for avoiding the imperative, but I think further explanation is needed. Some imperatives (particularly those which only appear to contain two consonants) are used frequently - lex, shev, sa, kax, ten, kum. Atsor is also used, perhaps because it is seen in so many places (traffic signs, for example). All other forms of the imperative appear to have dropped out of common use, and perhaps as a result, the future form does not sound any "softer" than a true imperative. Note also that Israelis will often "back-translate" to create imperatives by removing the future prefix: formal sigri ("close" - fem.) becomes "sgeri" (from "tisgeri").
--Pashoshington (talk) 12:26, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
See:
Dan 13:15, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Gerunds[edit]

The article states, "Note that unlike in English (where gerunds and present participles share the same form), Hebrew gerunds cannot be used as adjectives." This statement should be checked, as it is not completely true. One can refer, for example, to the "tsevet shmira" (guard[ing] unit), "mei shtiya" (drinking water), "shaot biqqur" (visiting hours), "rashut hehitkansut" (convening authority), or "tannur hithammemut" (warming oven). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 204.97.228.116 (talkcontribs) 22:42, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't necessarily call those exceptions: some are in the smichut form that links two nouns. A pedantically literal translation might read, e.g. "waters of drinking". I would assume the third should more properly read "sh'ot biqqur", and I'm not sure about all the rest, though. JudahH (talk) 15:06, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
You're quite right. —RuakhTALK 02:57, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
"rashut hahitkansut", I think, is non-existant. (what is a convening authority?) Perhaps he meant zhut lehitkansut, right to convene. And the last one should be "tannur himmum" which is literally a "warming oven", but translates as heater. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.68.144.37 (talk) 19:53, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

What version of Hebrew is this article intended to address?[edit]

I'm confused about why this article is called "Hebrew Verb conjugation" without any further clarification or classification. Biblical, Middle (aka Mishnaic) and Modern Hebrew are so different from one another grammatically that it doesn't make sense to imply that there is a single set of conjugations or principles that apply to all three stages of the language. The forms of Biblical Hebrew, in particular, are so distinct from those of later versions of the language that scholars cannot even agree on whether Biblical Hebrew had "tense" in the way that it is understood as a grammatical concept for Indo-European languages.

But perhaps I'm misunderstanding entirely and this is just supposed to be a discussion of Modern Hebrew?

On a question raised below (that of the appropriateness of the verb q.t.n due to the final nun), I must say I got a chuckle. As the veteran of writing introductory Hebrew material for almost 30 years now, I can say with some confidence that there is no perfect verb for this purpose. But if I'm wrong, I'd love to know which verb it is. The closest I've seen is just one consonant away--q.t.l. Grammatically it suffers no ill effects from laryngals, labials, etc. The only problem is the meaning. Just try teaching a class with the entire class chanting "I killed", "You killed", etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.181.175.46 (talk) 19:22, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

jackflove (talk) 14:26, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

I speak Hebrew for 17 years now, and i'm doing a B.A. in Hebrew language and, well, no, they aren't so different. The forms are quite the same in all periods and the variations are minor. What may differ is frequency of usage and shadows of meaning.
It might be argued that "future", "past" and especially "present" are not proper terms, but rather European terms improperly stuck unto a Semitic language. My Morphology lecturer prefers to call them "the prefix tense", "the suffix tense" and "benoni". But anyway, that's a different issue. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 10:13, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Amir, I suggest you show what I wrote to your "morphology lecturer" and I suspect he will tell you that 1) I am correct and 2) your lecturer's usage of terms such as "prefix tense" is precisely an indication of that. Regardless of what he or she has to say, you will find if you put some time into the research that my position is that which is held by the overwhelming majority of the scholars in the field. You might also consider learning some English grammar if you want others to take you seriously in a discussion related to grammatical issues.

For those who are interested in this question, it is actually a quite different issue than whether (say) Chaucer's English should be considered the same or different language as modern English. While English has evolved over time and space as has every language, and there have been major disruptions such as those imposed by invasions of French speaking populations, etc, Hebrew suffered from substantial disruptions several times in its very long history such that there were centuries-long periods during which no one spoke the language as their first or native language. I think these questions can be considered in other Wiki articles if they have not already been addressed.

The problem is, as Amir states (and you allude to), that modern Hebrew is much more similar to biblical Hebrew than modern English is to Chaucer's English (as you mentioned).
First sentence of the "Knight's Tale":
"Whilom, as olde stories tellen us, Ther was a duc that highte theseus; Of atthenes he was lord and governour, And in his tyme swich a conquerour, That gretter was ther noon under the sonne."
An edition of Chaucer requires copious notes to be made comprehensible to the modern English speaker, since it's English is much more radically different from modern English compared with the difference between modern Hebrew and biblical Hebrew. A native speaker of modern Israeli Hebrew can easily read the original Hebrew bible with just a handful of notes in modern Hebrew at the bottom of the page (as attested by the edition of the Tanach given to Israeli soldiers in Tsahal). This is because modern Hebrew words are spelled exactly as biblical Hebrew words, and the sentence structure is completely comprehensible to a modern Israeli, even more so to one able to read modern literary Hebrew; not to mention (as someone mentioned above): "The [verb] forms are quite the same in all periods and the variations are minor. What may differ is frequency of usage and shadows of meaning."Jimhoward72 (talk) 00:48, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
I think I agree with all of you. The forms are sufficiently similar that an article on Modern Hebrew verb conjugation is quite useful to someone learning an older form of Hebrew; but nonetheless, there are very significant differences, and the article needs either (1) to cover these differences, or (2) to make clear that it is specific to Modern Hebrew. Currently, it does each of these to a certain extent, but the result is sometimes a bit confusing (e.g. when it assigns different IPA values to patakh as to kamatz gadol, then states that in Modern Hebrew they have merged into a single phoneme). Lest anyone understate the differences, allow me to point out a few:
  • In Biblical Hebrew, the prefix and suffix conjugations differed primarily in aspect rather than tense, and the present participles were not used very much as finite verbs.
  • In Biblical Hebrew, a verb prefixed with vav hahipukh "switched" its form from prefix to suffix or vice versa, except that the resulting stress would be in a different place from in the true opposite form, often resulting in minor vowel changes, and sometimes resulting in major ones.
  • In Biblical Hebrew, a verb had slightly different vowels at the end of a sentence. (That didn't only affect verbs, but still, if this article were about Biblical Hebrew verb conjugation, it would have to mention that.)
  • In Biblical and liturgical Hebrew, a direct object was generally suffixed to the verb. (I've heard it claimed that one can get away with this in formal Modern Hebrew, but I've never heard anyone pull it off; and the article currently doesn't discuss it AFAICS.)
  • Biblical Hebrew had a jussive and an infinitive absolute to some extent. (Actually, these have survived a bit even into Modern Hebrew, but they're sufficiently rare that this article has managed to exist for years without anyone adding mention of them. In the Bible, however, they're pretty common.)
  • In Mishnaic Hebrew, the modern hitpa'el had an initial nun (like nif'al) rather than an initial hei (like in Biblical and Modern Hebrews).
  • No discussion of one variant's pronunciations can do any sort of justice to any other. For most purposes, there's no problem using modern pronunciations for older forms of Hebrew — none of this article's readers are about to travel to the Kingdom of Judah wanting to sound like a native — but encyclopedia isn't just about "most purposes". (That said, even if this article were solely about Modern Hebrew, it could have some discussion of reconstructed ancient pronunciations, insofar as they help explain the current system; for example, why /kaˈʁa/ "read, happen, tear" has the various feminine singular present-tense forms /koˈʁet/ "reads", /koˈʁa/ "happens", /koˈʁaʔat/ "tears". We can, of course, pretend that it's due to the different letters, but obviously the truth is that both the conjugation differences and the letter differences are due to ancient pronunciation differences.)
  • Some of the forms in this article, while "technically correct", aren't how people actually talk. Who seriously says "shmartém" rather than "shamártem"?
  • And, there are various one-off differences — "leimor" vs. "lomar", for example.
RuakhTALK 00:54, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
I should like to point out that Chaucer's English is hardly radically different from modern English. In the passage that you quote, there are only two words that are not essentially the same as in modern English, except for spelling (whilom & highte). The sentence structure does not differ at all from that of modern English, taking into account the fact that this is poetry. Except for the spelling, the two words I mentioned, and the verb form 'tellen', the quotation could be in standard modern English. Many modern dialects of English differ more from standard modern English than this passage. It is quite easy to learn to read Chaucer in the original without notes, and if the Canterbury Tales were as important a text as the Bible, English speakers would read it in the original. The reason that modern Hebrew words are spelled the same as Biblical Hebrew words is that people made a conscious decision to spell them that way; whether they are pronounced alike is a different matter. KBry (talk) 11:28, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Can you clarify the "conscious decision" you are referring to? One would think that the obvious reason that modern Hebrew words are spelled the same as Biblical Hebrew words, would be that all Hebrew words are based on "three letter roots" (as is the rule with other Semitic languages as well). So the letters (i.e. "spelling") of three-letter roots are not going to change over the millenia. This is unlike non-Semitic phonetic languages, whose spelling can be drastically altered over the course of a short period of time, based on the whims/inclinations of the generation writing it - as their words are not based on roots dependent on letters.Jimhoward72 (talk) 18:33, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I think that you and KBry are both overstating your cases a little. I don't think most Hebrew writers make a conscious decision to use Biblical spellings, any more than English writers have made a conscious decision to preserve spellings like "rough" and "sword" after sound changes. And in both, some spellings have changed; in English we now write "show" rather than "shew", for example, and in Hebrew we now write "חושך" rather than "חשך". But conversely, it's an exaggeration to suggest that consistency in spelling is due entirely to the structure of the language; there's nothing about Israeli Hebrew itself that should cause its writers to distinguish tav from tet, or sin from samekh. And French and Spanish orthographies show us that the language itself doesn't even require the letter kaf; if French can have vaincre ~ vainquons, when the sound doesn't even change, why can't Hebrew have למקור ~ מוחר? (For that matter, there's nothing about the language itself that should cause us to continue using the Hebrew alphabet, rather than switching to a Latin-based orthography that indicates vowels.) The fact is, writers of both languages have updated spelling over time, but not nearly enough to keep up with sound changes. —RuakhTALK 02:31, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

You know, though Biblical and Modern Hebrew are so similar as to seem to warrant the same article for shared topics in many places, as Ruakh noticed, there are myriad subtle differences between the two. Since I don't specialize in Modern Hebrew (only Biblical Hebrew), my understanding on the differences between the two is based primarily on a collection of notes. The study disciplines seem (at times) divergent enough to warrant two different articles. I do admit that I put a verb form as shmartém without having any clue that it is today more commonly spoken shamartém. This is just one of many examples where my studies of Biblical Hebrew have failed to meet Modern Hebrew because of the limited nature of my notes. We may need separate Biblical Hebrew grammatical articles. Afterall, the motives for studying one form or the other can be incredibly divergent. For Biblical Hebrew, there are possible paleolinguistic, historical or religious reasons. For Modern Hebrew, the motivation primarily involves modern Israeli society in some way. If you are too separated from the latter in any meaningful way, then Biblical Hebrew studies don't do you much good, and one's Modern Hebrew studies will be next to nil (except for a few sporadic notes which, as it seems, chronically fail to bridge the gap). - Gilgamesh (talk) 01:40, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

The reason why "conscious" decision has some value here whereas it might not for most other languages is that Modern Hebrew was heavily influenced by a small number of language architects, especially Eliezer ben Yehuda. This group of enthusiasts made the deliberate decision to use a large selection of vocabulary from the Bible (although not always retaining the meaning of Biblical-era words especially as these were occasionally unknown or controversial).

They also made the deliberate decision to adopt many grammatical forms from the Biblical period. So, for example, they retained the Biblical final "mem" for masculine plurals rather than the "nun" more common in middle Hebrew. When it came to verb conjugations, however, they tended to use the systems that evolved during the middle period of Hebrew. These were much more simple and easier for Europeans to learn than the Biblical verb systems. The syntax of Modern Hebrew sentences follows that of the middle period rather than the Biblical. Modern Hebrew lacks the infinitive absolute form and the geminate conjugations entirely, although both are abundantly attested in Biblical Hebrew. The pronunciation of Biblical Hebrew today, more often than not, follows modern convention. But of course that does not mean the prophet Isaiah would have spoken with a Tel Avivi accent.

Israeli school children are taught Biblical texts just as children in other countries learn the foundation literatures of their respective countries. But none of this means that Israeli Hebrew should be confused with Biblical Hebrew. We have only about 7700 vocabulary words of Biblical Hebrew. Obviously, there were many other words that have not survived and there is no way to determine how a modern speaker might fare if she or he encountered a Biblical personage. The syntax and verbal systems of Biblical Hebrew differ significantly from Modern Hebrew. So my guess is that if a speaker of Modern Hebrew were to encounter a Biblical person, they would have little ability to communicate orally, but might be able to work towards understanding through written communication. jackflove (talk) 00:27, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Move to "Modern Hebrew verb conjugation"[edit]

This article was just moved, and there was no consensus at all on this. In fact, it wasn't even discussed here on the talk page (the move). Not only that, but the people discussing the topic here (on the talk page) with the most expertise - i.e. those completely familiar with biblical Hebrew and modern Israeli Hebrew, would have been clearly against such a move. Not only that, it does not clarify, but rather confuse Wikipedia - after all, there is no "Biblical Hebrew verb conjugation" article, because that material is included in this one.Jimhoward72 (talk) 17:40, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

No, actually: this article only discusses modern Hebrew (except for a couple of short references). Biblical Hebrew, e.g., employs a different tense system, very similar in its form to the modern one but often fundamentally different in its meaning. Dan 20:06, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, then where is the Biblical Hebrew verb conjugation article? This article and it's position in Wikipedia always contained both topics. The so-called "Biblical Hebrew verb conjugation" article should have been created, or split from this one, before this article was renamed. Otherwise, this article still remains the reference for Biblical Hebrew verb conjugation, so it should not be labeled "Modern Hebrew". And still, there was no consensus, either. There was a debate on this, not a consensus. These things were the topic of my original comment.Jimhoward72 (talk) 01:30, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Transition from Ancient Hebrew to Modern Hebrew[edit]

The main page of this article needs to explain a little bit more how the Modern Hebrew verb developed 'tense' when it didn't have 'tense' per se in the distant past. I perhaps have been misled because, so far, from other sources, I have read that the Ancient Hebrew verb distinguished between perfection and incompleteness, or abruptness versus continuousness. If at some time there was a conscious decision to adopt tense, somehow, who made this decision? Or at least put a footnote in, perhaps with a reference to an essay on some other website, so we can wander away from Wikipedia, and perhaps find our answer over there, instead of here. Dexter Nextnumber (talk) 09:11, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

The verb "guard" should be stated here in infinitive[edit]

The verb "guard" should be stated here in infinitive since it is used as a running example in all other forms. I would do it myself, but I am a Hebrew beginner so I think its better someone else does it.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 46.117.229.116 (talkcontribs) 09:43, 15 February 2011

Conditional mood?[edit]

The main article on Modern Hebrew grammar states that every verb has a conditional mood. This is compelte news to me, but my Hebrew knowledge isn't that advanced yet. Since there seem to be a number of well-versed Hebrew speakers interested in this article, I though I'd also ask around here if someonw could either correct that bit in the mentioned article or add a section on conditional mood in this one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 140.181.104.118 (talk) 12:50, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

—Discuss here!—Dan 20:21, 19 July 2011 (UTC)


Would it be possible to introduce the explanation of the notion used?[edit]

So, in particular, what these circles with dashes above them in the tables are supposed to mean?

Please describe the problem in more detail, my browser displays no circles with dashes. Dan 22:56, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
Mine does. Specifically, it displays them in mil'el verbs, exactly where I'd expect a meteg. It seems to be an ole, which, apparently, isn't supported very well by my browser (or my system, or the fonts I have, or something). —RuakhTALK 03:21, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Aha, mine just shows squares, no dashes Emblem-cool.svg How about changing the Hebrew template to a Unicode template? שׁוֹמֶ֫רֶת שׁוֹמֶ֫רֶת – or perhaps better, but costing a lot of work: שׁוֹמֶרֶת Dan 21:42, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
On my system the Unicode template is even worse: I still get the dotted circle below the ole, and on top of that, the segols look like tzeireis for some reason. (Though funnily enough, the ole actually displays perfectly in the edit window: I guess my browser's monospace font handles it better than whatever fonts the Hebrew and Unicode templates specify.) I think the best solution might be simply to leave out the accent, and just write שׁוֹמֶרֶת, since we provide IPA for every single form anyway. —RuakhTALK 20:56, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Transcribing gemination[edit]

Wouldn't it be better for piel, i.e. D(oubling)-stamm to use in Latin transliteration two dd for g-d-l root? Article on Arabic grammar does use two Latin letters in this case. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.139.88.253 (talk) 12:36, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Since this article handles Modern Hebrew, and since Modern Hebrew exhibits no gemination (except for very rare, extremely marked occurrences), using a double letter for transcription would be misleading. Dan 22:56, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Present tense[edit]

The illustration on the Present tense conjugation chart is a very poor example...it would had been better to use only one root form and place it into all the other forms of the pa'al, pi'el, huf'al, ni'fal, etc...instead of using sh-m-r...g-d-l...q-t-n.., etc. Just use g-d-l for all the forms of the binyanim. It makes the readers understand how the verbs are conjugated..instead of confusing them.

Plus...why is there the letter "mem" used as a prefix? That changes the verb into a noun...a 'thing' that does the verbal 'action' that is prescribed.

RekonDog (talk) 18:45, 26 February 2014 (UTC)