Hebrew verb conjugation: Info and tips for Hebrew learners | Conjugator Reverso

FlagHebrew verbs conjugation

Info and tips for Hebrew learners

Verbs and Binyanim

Hebrew verbs are based on a ‘root’ consisting of consonants (usually three, occasionally four or more) that are placed in different patterns depending on the conjugation.

Groups of verbs with roughly similar conjugation patterns are known as בניינים binyanim in Hebrew.

Sometimes binyanim reflect a verb’s meaning.

  • For example binyan hitpa’el tends to be used for reflexive verbs (e.g. להתגלח 'to shave (oneself)’, להתלבש 'to dress (oneself)’) and binyan hif’il tends to be used for causative verbs (e.g. להוריד ‘to lower (something)’, להקטין ‘to shrink (something)’).

Within each binyan verbs may conjugate slightly differently.

  • For example if their root starts with a guttural letter (א ,ה ,ח ,ע) or contains י or ו.

In the Reverso Conjugator verbs within a binyan that conjugate similarly are grouped together in a verb model.

  • For example, in binyan kal the verbs לשוט, לעוף, לדון, לגור are in the same verb model because they conjugate according to the same pattern, all having a medial ו in their root.
Infinitives, Tenses, and Imperatives

Hebrew verbs have an infinitive form beginning with the letter ל-, e.g. לכתוב 'to write’, להדריך 'to guide’. These do not conjugate for person, gender, or number. Hebrew verbs can be inflected for three tenses: past, present, and future.

Hebrew verbs also have imperative forms for giving commands, e.g. כתוב 'write! (ms.)’ In spoken Hebrew commands may be instead given using the future tense (תכתוב) or the infinitive ([נא] לכתוב). However, negative commands instead use אל + future (תכתוב אל) or לא + infinitive (לכתוב לא).

Hebrew does not have separate verb forms for conditionals, subjunctive conjugation, or other verb forms that are found in many European languages.

Person, Gender, and Number

Hebrew verbs conjugate for gender (male or female) and number (singular or plural) in the present tense.

For example, לכתוב 'to write’ in present tense is

The same is true for imperatives and passive participles.

In past and future tenses, the verb also conjugates for person:

Verbs in the first person (I, we) are the same for both genders, as are past-tense verbs in the third person plural:

Normally in Modern Hebrew verbs in the future tense do not distinguish gender in the plural, though in very formal written Hebrew there is a special form for future tense feminine plurals. For example:

Normally if the referent is clear from the verb a pronoun is not necessary unless one wants to put special emphasis on the person

Passives

Some Hebrew verbs in binyan kal have a passive participle which is treated like an adjective, e.g. כתוב 'written’, ספור 'counted’, סתום 'clogged’.

There are also verbal passives in binyan nif’al, binyan pu’al, and binyan huf’al. These usually correspond to active verbs in other binyanim.

There have a slightly different meaning than passive participles.

  • For example כתוב refers to the state of being written while נכתב refers to the action of being written.
Full vs. Empty Spelling

Some Hebrew words can be written either with or without the letters ו and י when they are used to help indicate a vowel sound.

  • For example, יכתוב 'he will write’ can also be written יכתב when there are vowel points indicating the o vowel.

The spelling with the extra letter(s) is called ‘full spelling’ and the shorter spelling is called ‘empty spelling’. In the Reverso Conjugator you can toggle whether empty spellings are visible by clicking the ‘variants’ checkbox.