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Tips for learning the Hebrew Language

Review these tips and charts for learning the Hebrew alphabet (consonants and vowels), numbers, gender and more

The Hebrew Alphabet Basics, ABCs

If you are completely new to Hebrew here are a few important tips that will help get you started learning Hebrew.

TIP 1: Hebrew words read from right to left
View our handy reference chart of Hebrew characters
TIP 2: Hebrew words contain no vowels
Niqud are signs that appear above, below, or beside the letter to indicate a vowel sound. View our chart of vowel signs (niqud)
TIP 3: Some Hebrew words contain final letters that look a bit different
Some letters letters ( ב , כ , נ , מ) take on a different form called Sofit when they appear at the end of a word although they still sound the same. View our chart of final letters (sofit)
TIP 4: Some Hebrew characters have two sounds
Some letters ( ב , כ , פ ) have two pronunciations depending on whether a dot is present inside the letter. View our chart of hard and soft letters

Counting and Numbers in Hebrew

There are a few disimilarities with English when counting in Hebrew. The tips below should help you with some key differences.

Number Charts: 0-19, 20-29, Tens, Large Numbers, Ordinal Numbers, Frequency & Groups

TIP 1: numbers have feminine & masculine forms
The default form is feminine though mixed groups are treated as masculine. Zero (efes) has no gender.
TIP 2: Numbers before nouns
When listing a number of nouns, the number comes before the noun (ex. shlosha limonim), except for the number one which appears after the noun (ex. limon echad). The number two is irregular - shnayim (m.) and shtayim (f.) become shney (m.) and shtey (f.) when followed by the noun they count.
TIP 3: Plural nouns have gender forms too
In Hebrew nouns are usually made plural by adding either "im" (ים) or "ot" (ות) to the end of the noun. For feminine nouns "ot" is used and for masculine nouns "im". For example, the plural form of the feminine noun banana is bananot. The plural form of the masculine noun limon is limonim. Note that there are irregular forms.
TIP 4: What's the Apostrophe For?
When an apostrophe (geresh or "chupchik") appears after a letter in Hebrew it is meant to signify a modification of pronunciation. Often used in foreign loan words with sounds not native to Hebrew such as the "juh" sound in Jeep and Giraffe or the "ch" sound in chips.
TIP 4: First, Second, Third, and so forth
Ordinal Numbers, like cardinal numbers, have both masculine and feminine forms. The ordinal version of a cardinal number can be formed by replacing the vowel sound of the second to last syllable to an "i" sound and by adding an "i" sound to the end. For example Shmoneh (8) becomes shmini (8th). To get a feminine form simply add a "t" sound to the end. example: Shminit (8th). There are iregular forms. 1st becomes rishon (head). 2nd becomes sheni (m) and shniya (f). 4th becomes revi'i (m) and revi'it (f). For numbers over 11, the ordinal numner is created simply placing the article ha (the) in front of a cardinal number. For example 11 is ha achat essrey (f) ha achad assar (m).

Noun and Verb Gender in Hebrew

one of the most difficult aspects of learning hebrew is understanding gender forms and how nouns change to agree in gender with adjectives, articles, or verbs. The tips below should help introduce a few basic rules regarding gender forms.

TIP 1: Gender issues
Every noun in Hebrew has a gender, either masculine or feminine. there is no specific system for defining gender but generally nouns ending in ת (tav -t) or ה (hey - ah) are feminine and all others are masculine.
TIP 2: The Gender of Colors
Colors are used as both nouns (referring to the color itself) or adjectives (describing another object). When colors are used as a noun they take on the masculine form. when used as an adjective they take on the gender form of the noun they describe. For example when using yellow - tzahov(m) to describe the sun - Shemesh (f) the female form of yellow - tze’huba is used: Shemesh tze’huba. When describing a yellow ball - cadur(m) the masculine form is retained: cadur tzahov. see the chart in the back of this book for color gender forms.
TIP 3: Shape shifting gender transformation
When shapes are used as a noun they take on the masculine form. when used as an adjective they transform slightly and borrow the gender of the noun they describe. For example when using circle - iegul(m) to describe the sun - Shemesh (f) the result is shemesh agula. When describing a circular ball - cadur(m) the result is cadur agol.

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Learn The Hebrew Alphabet Book

ABC'S: Learn the Hebrew Alphabet

Learn Hebrew letters (Alef Bet)

You'll find that learning to read Hebrew letters can be easy and fun with illustrations that use smart visual associations to help you memorize the letters and engaging drawings that help put those letters in to context.