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Hebrew grammar is mostly analytical, expressing such forms as dative, ablative, and accusative using prepositional particles rather than grammatical cases. However inflection does play an important role in the formation of the verbs, nouns and the genitive construct, which is called "smikhut". Words in smikhut are often combined with hyphens.
Hebrew has only the definite article, "ha-". It is a contraction of an earlier form, probably *hal, the assimilation of the /l/ being evident in the emphasis that normally follows the article. In smikhut, only the main noun (that is the noun to which the other nouns connect) can receive the article.
The two main parts of the Hebrew sentence ("mishpat") are the subject ("noseeh") and the predicate ("nassu"). They are adjusted to each other in gender and person. Thus, in a sentence "ani okhel", "I eat"/"I am eating", "ani", "I", is the subject, and "okhel", "eating" (singular masculine present of the root A-Kh-L in Pa`al) is the verb (Hebrew does not have a system of auxiliary verbs). The subject always receives the definite article, unless it is a pronoun or a name.
Other parts of the Hebrew sentence are the direct object ("musa"), and complements to any noun ("levai"). Unlike English, complements follow the noun, rather than precede it, and also like the verb they follow the subject's gender, person and article. Thus, "Ha-chatul ha-qatan akhal et ha-gvinah", "The small cat ate the cheese", the subject is "ha-chatul", "the cat", the complement is "ha-qatan", "the small", the predicate is "akhal", "ate" (3rd person masculine past of the root A-Kh-L in Pa`al), and "ha-gvinah", "the cheese" is the object. Note that both the words for "cat" and for "small" received the definite article.
The Hebrew grammar distinguishes between various kinds of indirect objects, according to what they specify. Thus, there is a division between objects for time ("te'ur zman"), objects for place ("te'ur makom"), objects for reason ("te'ur sibah") and many others. Additionally, Hebrew distinguishes between various kinds of verbless fragments, also according to their use, such as "tmurah" for elaboration, "qri'ah" for exclamation, "pniyah" for approach and "hesger" for disclosing the opinion of a certain party using direct speech (e.g. "le-da'at ha-rofe, ha-i'shun mazik la-briut", "[according to] the opinion of the doctor, smoking is harmful to health").
A sentence may lack a subject. In this case it is called "stami", or "causual". If several parts of the sentence have the same function and are attached to the same word, they are called "kolel", "collective". Two or more sentences who do not share common parts and are separated by comma are called "mishpat mehubar", or "added". In many cases, the second sentence uses a pronoun that stands for the other's subject; they are generally interconnected.
A sentence in which one or more of the parts are replaced by a clause ("psukit") is called a compound sentence, or "mishpat murkav". Compound sentences use the preposition "she-", "that". For example, in the sentence "Yosi omer she-hu okhel", "Yosi says that he is eating", "Yosi omer" ("Yosi says") is the main sentence, followed by a direct subject clause "hu okhel" ("He is eating").
The Hebrew word for "verb" is po'al.
Person, number, and gender
There are three persons in the Hebrew language: the 1st person, also called "speaking"; the 2nd person, also called "present" (as in presence); and the 3rd person, also called "hidden" (in the present tense, all persons have identical forms, differing only by number and gender). For each person, there are both singular and plural forms. The archaic dual number present in the noun system (e.g. yom (="day"), yomayim (="two days"), yamim (="days") is not used in the verb system.
Usually the person affects the suffix of the verb. Thus lamadti means "I learned", lamadta means "You (masculine singular) learned", lamdu means "they learned". The stem lamd- remains constant.
The inflection by gender is full; that is, Hebrew distinguishes between lamadet (="you learned", feminine) and lamadta (="you learned", masculine).
There are three tenses in the indicative mood: hoveh (="present"), avar (="past") and a'tid (="future"). There is no perfect tense, but the perfect aspect can be derived from the context. To emphasize the imperfect/progressive aspect of an action, the auxiliary verb "to be" may be used, as in the English progressive tenses. However, unlike English, this form is only used for emphasis and distinction, and is not required to express an imperfect sense.
Mood and voice
Additionally, there are several imperative forms called /tsivuj/, used with the 2nd. Generally the imperative is the same as the future tense (e.g. tiftax (masc.), tiftekhi (fem.), tiftekhu (plur.) "open!") There is a classical imperative form that is still used in more formal speech (e.g. ptakh!/pitkhi!/pitkhu!).
More colloquially, the future tense without the first syllable may be used, but this is technically not grammatical (e.g. ftax/ftekhi/ftekhu).
Another feature, is the polite-demand-mood postfix -/na/, which is optionally juxtaposed to any imperative or future, in 2nd or 3rd person, rendering the verb into a polite-imperative mood. eg. /javi-na/ (="let him bring"), or /ftax-na/ (="please open")
As in other Semitic languages, verbs (like nouns) are derived from a three-letter root (which signifies a certain general concept, such as K-T-V for writing) into numerous patterns through the use of intermediate vowels and prefixes. Hebrew grammarians usually classify the verb system into 7 basic groups (called the binyanim, plural of binyan), each of which conjugates in a certain way, which is usually apparent in the binyan 's name. Thus, the Nif'al binyan specifies the presence of the syllable "ni" in the beginning of the verb (either directly or as a residual emphasis on a different beginning). The Pa'al binyan is sometimes called Qal—perhaps because without diacritics (little dots that serve as vowels in written Hebrew) it could be confused with Pi'el.
In modern Hebrew, there are 3 active binyans (Pa'al, Pi'el, Hif'il), 3 passive ones (Nif'al, Pu'al, Huf'al) and 1 relexive binyan (Hitpa'el). Usually Pi'el verbs---e.g. tipel (="handled, took care of")—become passive in Pu'al—tupal, (="was handled, was taken care of"). Similarly, the active Hif'il corresponds to the passive Huf'al. Nif'al is often used as the passive of Pa'al—thus the Pa'al form sagar (="closed"), turns into the Nif'al form nisgar (="was closed"); however, ancient usage suggests that it was originally used as a reflexive structure, and modern Hebrew has many verbs in Nif'al that have an active sense, e.g. nixnas (="entered"). In modern Hebrew, hitpa'el carries the reflexive function. Passive forms (whether in 'Pu'al', 'Huf'al' or 'Nif'al) are rarely used in Modern Hebrew, sentences with no overt subject or with a third-person subject preferred instead.
In Modern Hebrew, 'Pi'el' is by far the most productive of the binyans, used almost exclusively for the introduction of new verbs. 'Pa'al' and 'Nif'al' are hardly ever used for coining new verbs. The selection of 'Hif'il' for new verbs is largely phonologically based (for verbs derived from monosyllabic nouns with word initial clusters).
The system of the binyan is relatively easy to understand and grasp; however it has numerous exceptions due to regular phonological effects like assimilation.
Participles and gerunds
English gerunds such as "my winning the prize was a surprise" are expressed by noun forms equivalent to the infinitive of the verb.
Participles may be formed from all verbs (using the indicative form) and used as nouns or adjectives. e.g. the Hebrew for "guard" (the profession) is the present participle "(he) guards" ("shomer"). Participles may also be used to describe state, and would then usually be accompanied by words such as "while" or "as", e.g. "as he is painting, time goes by". Prefixes may be used with participles to describe time, e.g. mishekamti (="once I stood up"); lixshetakum (="when you get up",future, masculine).
The Hebrew word for "noun" is shem etsem
Hebrew nouns are inflected by gender, number (and sometimes by possession) but not by case. Nouns are generally correlated to verbs (by shared roots), but their forming is not as systematic, often due to loanwords from foreign languages.
Hebrew distinguishes between masculine nouns—such as yeled (="boy, child")—and feminine nouns—such as yaldah (="girl"). There is no neuter gender. Generally, almost all nouns that end in "ah" are feminine. Sometimes, as in the example, a feminine form can be formed through adding a final "ah" to a masculine noun (written as the letter "he").
Generally, Hebrew distinguishes between singular and plural forms of a noun. Masculine plural forms usually end with the suffix "-im"; feminine singular "-ah" turns into "-ot". Thus we get the forms yeladim (="boys, children"), and "yeladot" (="girls"). Hebrew also has a dual number, but its modern use is restricted to particular nouns, such as shavua' (="week"), which becomes shvu'ayim (="two weeks"). Body parts and things that come in pairs have duals, for example mishqafayim (="eyeglasses") and raglayim (="feet"). However for most nouns the dual form is discarded in favor of the plural. Thus, dirah (="apartment"), becomes shtei dirot (="two apartments"), rather than *diratayim.
Possession may be indicated by a possessive pronoun—sheli (="my, mine")—but ancient Hebrew used inflection, and such inflection is still in use in literary Hebrew, as well as in particular idioms in modern spoken Hebrew. The noun receives a suffix signifying the person to whom an object belongs. Thus, dirah (="apartment"), may change into dirati (="my apartment"), diratxa (="your apartment"), diratam (="their apartment"), etc.
There are basically two ways of forming Hebrew nouns. The first way is similar to the system of the verb. A root is adopted into a pattern of vowels, prefixes and suffixes (called, in this case, the "meter", or "mishkal"). The root A-D-M, related to "red", "man" (Adam), and "earth", is adopted into the meter qatelet (which is a typical meter for words denoting diseases), to create ademet (="measles", derived from the meaning "red"). Qatelet is a form of pronouncing meters, with the 'q', 't', and 'l' standing for the actual three letters of the root.
The second way is the addition of two existing stems. For example, qol (="sound") and noa‘ (="motion") create together qolnoa‘, (="cinema").
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