Heblish – Hebrew lessons: Day 51

Hebrew accents

Free Hebrew lessons – January 2011 – Training – Day 51


From the look of the winter storms in America, I think some of you had some extra time at home in the past week… so, now you should be lively and eager for our Heblish lesson.

But Today, my heart is with the people under the flood in Australia!


In our previous lesson I gave you a refresher for lessons 1 through 8. In that lesson, I also taught you some new words, like ish (man), isha (woman), sha^or (black (m)) and lavan (white (m)).

Today, we will have an important lesson.

Today’s menu: Hebrew accents

Attention: The underlined letters represent the accent.
(How many times have you seen this sentence in our lessons?  More than a few, I’m sure!)

As I promised you last lesson, today we will talk about the accent in Hebrew. Up to this point, I only asked you to pay attention that the underlined letters represent the accent, but today we will learn more about it.

Hebrew words are only accented on the last syllable or on the next to the last syllable. 

In other words, if we have a word with three syllables, the first syllable can never get the accent.

So, what are the names for these two accents?
Since there are only two places where the accent can be placed in a word, it is easy to give them names.

If the accent comes on the last syllable, we call it “mil-ra.”
If it comes on the next to the last syllable, we call it “mil-el.”

Most Hebrew accents are mil-ra, meaning, most Hebrew words have the accent on the LAST syllable.

Let’s see some examples for the mil-ra accent:
Ani (a-ni) – I / I am
Ata (a-ta) – You / you are (m)
Etmol (et-mol) – Yesterday
Hayom (ha-yom) – Today
Ma^ar (ma-^ar) – Tomorrow
Rotse (ro-tse) (m) / rotsa (ro-tsa) (f) – Want
Shel^a (shel-^a) (m) / shela^ (she-la^) (f) – Yours
Sheli (she-li) – My / mine
Simla (sim-la) – Dress
Tsamid (tsa-mid) – Bracelet
In the examples above, you can see that all of the words have the accent on the last syllable, meaning “mil-ra“.

Now let’s see some examples for the mil-el accent:
^oref (^o-ref) – Winter
Ana^nu (a-na^-nu) – We / we are
Laila (lai-la) – Night
Lama (la-ma) – Why
Maim (ma-im) – Water
Safarti (sa-far-ti) – I counted
Sefer (se-fer) – Book
Sheleg (she-leg) – Snow
Tabaat (ta-ba-at) – Ring
Yeled (ye-led) – Child

Here you can see that all of the accents come on the next to the last syllable.

But what about the word telephone which I taught you in lesson 3?
Telephone (te-le-phone) – Telephone

Even though the Hebrew name for telephone is “sa^ ra^ok,” the word “telephone” and some other English words have become popular in the Hebrew language, and we use them as is, without changing them.

You might think all this talk about accents is not that important, but, look at this:

In English “you were (m)” is “haita” (haeeta)” in Hebrew.

In English “she was” is “hi haita” (ha-ee-ta) in Hebrew.

There is no difference at all in the way “you were” and “she was” is spelled in Heblish: haita.
The only difference is where the accent is placed in “haita”.  As you can see above, for “you were” (m), the accent is mil-el, (haita) and for “she was” the accent is mil-ra, haita (on the last syllable).

In Hebrew (using the Hebrew alphabet), there is a difference in the way these two words are written (spelled), but when we use English letters (Heblish), the words are spelled identically. This requires memorization on your part; you must remember which syllable is accented.

Don’t let this throw you… I simply wanted to give you this information to help you understand how important it is to pay attention to the accents on the Heblish words I am teaching you.

Lehitraot in lesson 52…

BTW, I just placed a “Like,” if you want to use it… 😉

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