Hebrew Lesson 4 - Verbs - Past Tense (part I)

Phrasebase Archive

Return to the HEBREW Archive
Forward to the Current HEBREW Discussion


roeeh
Thursday 15th of June 2006 06:39:34 PM
Lesson 4 - Verbs - Past Tense (part I): Shalom!

Every Hebrew verb has 4 components: root, structure, time (tense) and body (personal pronoune).

We already learned all the personal pronouns, so we'll move on to the other parts.
A root is a group of 3 letters (there are some 4-letter roots and one 5-letter root), which has a general meaning, for example the root ג.ד.ל has a basic meaning of size or groth. The root is put into moulds that give them a specific meaning.
REMEMBER: The root letters will ALWAYS appear in the same order in every word built from it.
For example:
גדל - gadal = (the child etc.) grew (bigger or older)
גדול - gadol = big
גדולה - gdula = greatness
גדילה - gdila = growing (the process)
גידל - gidel = he grew (vegtables etc.)
הגדיל - higdil = enlarged, made big
זכוכית מגדלת - zkhukhit magdelet = magnifying glass
מגדל - migdal = tower

There are many kinds of moulds, some of them make nouns, some adjectives, some colors etc.
For verbs there are 7 moulds, which in the case of verbs are called "structures" (בנין - binyan). The different meanings of every structure are very hard to define, I'll do my best but I'm sure that with the time you'll get the feeling about it.
The basic division is to active and passive structures.

Luckily for you, unlike English, there are only 3 tenses in Hebrew - past, future and present, and the choise between them is very easy and almost natural.

The base form of every verb is always 3rd person, single male (he), in the past tense. From this base form all the other forms and conjuctions are built.



Pa'al Structure


OK, enough theory, let's get working. We'll take the first structure, called פעל (pa'al) and work with the root ה.ל.כ which in this structure means "to walk":
הלכתי - halakhti = I went
הלכת - halakhta = you (male, single) went
הלכת - halakht = you (female, single) went
הלך - halakh = he went
הלכה - halkha = she went

הלכנו - halakhnu = we went
הלכתם - halakhtem = you (male, plural) went
הלכתן - halakhten = you (female, plural) went
הלכו - halkhu = they (male) went
הלכו - halkhu = they (female) went
NOTE: As I said earlier, the plural female forms are rarly used in spoken Hebrew, but are still used when writing. In the past tense the 3rd person plural male and female forms are anyway the same.

As you can see, the base form הלך (halakh) stays the same and gets a different suffixes to indicate the different bodies.

Now let's put it in sentainces:
הילד הלך לגן - hayeled halakh lagan = the kid went to the garden (or kindergarden)

דנה ורותי ישבו על הכיסאות - dana veruti yashvu al hakisa'ot = Dana and Ruti sat on the chairs

הלכתי הביתה - halakhti habayta = I went home

שכבתם במיטה - shakhavtem bamita = you (male, plural) layed down in [the] bed

כתבנו מכתב לדוד מאמריקה - katavnu mikhtav ladod me'amerika = we wrote a letter to the uncle from America
You can see that כתבנו (katavnu = we wrote) and מכתב (mikhtav = a letter) has the same root (כ.ת.ב ), which basicly mean to write, but the first one was put into a verb mould and the second into a noun mould. This way you can know what is the meaning of the word even if you never saw it before.



Nif'al Structure


The passive structure usually assosiated with פעל (pa'al) is נפעל (nif'al). In this case the connection between the two structures is not as constant as in other pairs of structures we'll see later.
This time we will use the root ש.ב.ר:
נשברתי - nishbarti = I got broken
נשברת - nishbarta = you (male, single) got broken
נשברת - nishbart = you (female, single) got broken
נשבר - nishbar = he got broken
נשברה - nishbera = she got broken

נשברנו - nishbarnu = we got broken
נשברתם - nishbartem you (male, plural) got broken
נשברתן - nishbarten = you (female, plural) got broken
נשברו - nishberu = they (male) got broken
נשברו - nishberu = they (female) got broken

As you probably noticed, the verbs in nif'al structure begin with "ni" and the first root letter has a shva (no vowel, it's a shva nakh, for those of you who are interested, so ב, פ, and כ after it will be hard)

Now let's put it in sentainces:
הבקבוקים נשברו - habakbukim nishberu = the bottle broke

המנורה החדשה נשברה - hamenora hakhadasha nishbera = the new lamp got broken

הספר הזה נכתב לפני חמש שנים - hasefer haze' nikhtav lifney khamesh shanim = this book was writen five years ago (lit.: before 5 years)

החולה נבדק על ידי הרופא - hakhole' nivdak al yedey harofe' = the patient (lit.: sick) was examined by the Doctor
NOTE: The word על ידי (al yedey) is very common and almost always will appear when passive verbs are used and the maker of the action is mentioned in the sentaince.

הנזק נגרם על ידי הסופה - hanezek nigram al yedey hasufa = the damage was coused by the storm

נפלתי והכסא נשבר - nafalti vehakise' nishbar = I fell and the chair broke.


When the first root letter is one of the guttural letters ( א, ה, ח, ע ), the "ni" at the begining of the verb changes it's punctuation to "ne" to make it easier to pronounce:
נאכלנו - ne'ekhalnu = we were eaten
נהרסת - neherast = you (female, single) were distroyed
נחבלתן - nekhbalten = you (female, plural) got bruised
נעזבתי - ne'ezavti = I was left alone

REMEMBER: Not every root in Hebrew exists in every structure, for example - the root we used in pa'al (ה.ל.כ ) does not exist in nif'al (when you think about it, there is no way to walk passivly... :)), but the root ש.ב.ר exists in both strucrures:

שבר - shavar = he broke (something)
נשבר - nishbar = (something) got broken

In this case you can see the cennection between the two structures. Other roots that exist in both structures:

כתב - katav = wrote
נכתב - nikhtav = got writen

שפך - shafakh = he spilled (something)
נשפך - nishpakh = (something) got spilled

למד - lamad = he learnd (something)
נלמד - nilmad = (something) was learnd

Next time we'll learn some more structures.
Don't be afraid to ask questions.

roee


ladysmyrna
Friday 16th of June 2006 03:13:33 PM
Below are the suffixes that you put at the end of verbs for each pronoun:

ani = ...ti
ata = ...ta
at = ...t
hi = ...ah
hu = gets nothing

anachnu = ...nu
atem = ...tem
aten = ...ten
hem/hen = ...u

Ledugma (for example):

LISGOR (to close) (S-G-R)
__________________________

(ani) sagarti
(ata) sagarta
(at) sagart
(hu) sagar
(hi) sagarah
(anachnu) sagarnu
(atem) sagartem
(aten) sagarten
(hem/hen) sagru

Hope it's helpful! :D


roeeh
Friday 16th of June 2006 04:03:11 PM
one correction:
in the 3rd person female form (היא, she) the second root letter is always in shva (has no vowel). for the experts among you - this is a shva na, so if the 3rd root letter is ב, פ or כ, they will be pronounced as soft sounds (v, f, kh).
therefore the it should be:
הלכה - halkha = she went
שברה - shavra = she broke
סגרה - sagra = she closed
נפלה - nafla = she fell

the form "sagara" is actually correct, but it's SO archaic that you will only see it in ancient texts or maybe in poetry when someone was too lazy to find a better rhyme...


ladysmyrna
Friday 16th of June 2006 07:31:17 PM
Thanks for the correction Roeeh! Someone told me that before, but i can't seem to learn :D


Eli
Monday 19th of June 2006 12:45:57 AM
Originally posted by ladysmyrna


Below are the suffixes that you put at the end of verbs for each pronoun:

ani = ...ti
ata = ...ta
at = ...t
hi = ...ah
hu = gets nothing

anachnu = ...nu
atem = ...tem
aten = ...ten
hem/hen = ...u

Ledugma (for example):

LISGOR (to close) (S-G-R)
__________________________

(ani) sagarti
(ata) sagarta
(at) sagart
(hu) sagar
(hi) sagarah
(anachnu) sagarnu
(atem) sagartem
(aten) sagarten
(hem/hen) sagru

Hope it's helpful! :D

Hmmm........I didn't teach you like that :p
(atem) sgartém
(aten) sgartén


ladysmyrna
Monday 19th of June 2006 07:10:00 PM
Ok ok!!! :p

Give me another regular one and i'll do it the right way this time!!! :D


Eli
Tuesday 20th of June 2006 12:50:02 AM
Let's see.........
ligdol - to grow.
In all three tenses + imperative :p



ladysmyrna
Monday 26th of June 2006 06:37:34 PM
Haha I'm not falling into your trap :p I know with this verb there's a difference in present tense conjugation.

The verbs of this sort also include LIDBOK (to cling, attach, stick) and LIKROV (to get close. :D


Ok here we go again!!!

present tense
-

gadel
gdela
gdelim
gdelot

past tense


gadalti
gadalta
gadalt
gadal
gadla
gadalnu
gdaltem
gdalten
gadlu


future tense


egdal
tigdal
tigdali
yigdal
tigdal
nigdal
tigdelu
tigdelu
yigdelu
yigdelu

Imperative


gdal
gdali
gdelu
gdelu


Return to the HEBREW Archive
Forward to the Current HEBREW Discussion

Archive