Heblish – Hebrew lessons: Day 42

Definite and Indefinite

Free Hebrew lessons – October 2010 – Training – Day 42

Hello everyone,

I really appreciate your comments on our Heblish Facebook group.  Here’s a recent question from Helen in France:

Shalom, Yaron.
In lesson 1 you translate “yeled” by ” boy”. In lesson 41 you translate “kshe’haiti yeled” by “when I was a child.” Does this mean that yeled is the same word for “child” and “boy?”
Also in lesson 41 you gave us “mezeg avir” and tell us the rule for “the” in case of two nouns in close proximity. In this case “mezeg” and “avir“, could you tell us what each noun mean in English? Lehitraot.

And here is my response:

Hi Helen,
First, I’m happy to know that you are really “digging deep” with our Heblish course.
1) You are right, for “boy” and “child” the word is “yeled“. (For “son” the word is “ben.“)

2) Weather (mezeg avir) – “mezeg” is “temper” and “avir” means “air,” so when you put that together we are talking about the temper of the air, as we might talk about someone who has a good or bad temper.


In our previous lesson we talked about weather (mezeg avir). I told you that it is autumn (stav) here – now I have to say it feels like summer (kaits) has come back… it’s very hot again. I believe you call this “Indian Summer,” which is the name for those few days of hot, summer weather, that always seem to slip in after stav has begun. It is a pleasant reminder that although leaves are falling and the weather is getting cooler; kaits WILL come again, in its season.


In one of our next lessons we’ll try to “exercise” some words we have already learned. I don’t want to just fatten you with new words and verbs, and then leave you guessing when and how to use them.   


Today’s menu: Definite and Indefinite 

Attention: The underlined letters represent the accent.


In English you use the indefinite article “a” to talk about someone or something previously unknown to you, as in:

“We spoke to a photographer yesterday.” 

First, let’s learn the words:
   – We spoke:  dibarnu
   – to a (also “with”):  im
   – photographer: tsalam
   – yesterday: etmol


Now that we have introduced the photographer, we can use the definite article “the“:

“The photographer said he can deliver the pictures tomorrow.”

   – The photographer: ha‘tsalam
   – said he can: amar she’hu ya^ol – “said” is amar. Here we actually say “that he can.” For “that” we use “she” in Hebrew; (if you don’t remember how to pronounce the “e” sound, please go back and read lesson 4, or watch this short video on YouTube: The sound of the vowel E (13 seconds).
“he” is hu (you should know that already), and “can” is ya^ol.
   – deliver: lishloa^
   – the pictures: et ha’tmunot
   – tomorrow: ma^ar.

It is important to understand that in Hebrew, there is no word for “a.” 
When we say “tsalam,” we assume “a photographer,” unless it is a specific photographer, in which case we use “ha (the)” before photographer.  So, in Hebrew if you don’t see the “ha” before a noun, you know it is “a”_____ (noun). 


Today we learned a few new words.
We also learned that, although in English we use the indefinite article “a” when we talk about someone or something previously unknown to us, for example “a photographer,” in Hebrew we only use the noun itself (tsalam). Again, in Hebrew there is no indefinite article “a.”    

For a refresher on the use of the definite article “ha,” please look at lesson 7.

“A”… ”the”… what’s the big deal anyway?!  I know, it seems silly to spend a whole lesson on these little words, but a proper understanding of their use is critical.  The holidays are coming up – what if your husband or boyfriend said “do you want A ring,” (any old ring) or “do you want THE ring” (the ring you have been dreaming of, looking at for months)…ahhh, those little words do matter!  😉 


Lehitraot in lesson 43…

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