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

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Conjugate

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.

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.

Infinitives, Tenses, and Imperatives

Hebrew verbs have an infinitive form beginning with the letter ל-, e.g. לִכְתּוֹב 'to write’, לְהַדְרִיךְ '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. כְּתוֹב 'write! (ms.)’ In spoken Hebrew commands may be instead given using the future tense (תִּכְתּוֹב) or the infinitive ([נא] לכתוב). However, negative commands instead use אל + future (תִּכְתּוֹב אל) or לא + infinitive (לִכְתּוֹב 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, לִכְתּוֹב '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. כָּתוּב 'written’, סָפוּר 'counted’, סָתוּם '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.

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.

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.

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