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The Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Hebrew Conversation Skills

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If there’s one thing Israelis like to do, it’s talk! We’re called the People of the Book, but it would be just as legitimate to call us the People of the Word, as Jews like language any way we can get it, whether written, spoken, or even sung. Of course, regardless of the culture in question, mastering the art of conversation is a key part of acquiring a new language. But how can one actually go about improving one’s Hebrew conversation skills? And what are the relevant skills that make for good conversation in the first place?

Well, these questions are just what today’s lesson is going to address. Together, we’ll look at both general ways to improve your ability to converse in Hebrew and specific language to focus on for your own personalized linguistic profile. We’ll examine common conversation starters, questions and answers, and even filler words. Finally, we’ll have a look at some basic tips you can use to boost your conversation game.

As we look at these various aspects of Hebrew conversation, along with brief sample conversations as a reference, remember that your Hebrew speaking skills are yours. This means that part of mastering any language is learning how to use it in order to express the person you already are. While it’s definitely necessary to make some linguistic and cultural adjustments to be able to use Hebrew effectively, we hope this lesson will also empower you to really find your own unique voice, even as you translate it into another tongue.

Without further ado, let’s delve into HebrewPod101’s Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Hebrew Conversation Skills.

Two Women Talking and Laughing

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Make Your Own Language Profile
  2. Learn Hebrew Reactions
  3. Learn Hebrew Filler Words
  4. Learn Common Questions and Answers in Hebrew
  5. Learn Conversation Starters
  6. General Tips to Help Improve Your Hebrew Conversation
  7. How HebrewPod101 Can Help You Improve Your Conversation Skills

1. Make Your Own Language Profile

Different Personalities

As we mentioned in the introduction, part of mastering the art of conversation in a foreign language is identifying the language chunks you need to talk about yourself and the things you’re interested in. This notion should be fairly self-explanatory. So many conversations entail talking and answering questions about ourselves that we want to be sure we show up ready to express who we are without hesitation.

While some people even go so far as to prepare a “cheat sheet” with some phrases to talk about themselves, we highly recommend that if you do so, you use it for memorization before you try the language out in a live conversation. Israel is a rather fast-paced society, so needing to pause and refer to a cheat sheet is unlikely to leave much of an impression. Rather, take your time and pick just a few phrases at a time to add to your repertoire, and you should have little to no trouble recalling them when the time comes.

Below are some helpful language elements we hope will get you on your way, along with some contextualized examples of how to use them. Be sure to look up the words you need to describe yourself, including your profession, place of origin, hobbies, etc.

1. שלום, אני…
Shalom, ani…
“Hi, I’m/my name is …”

2. אני מ…
Ani me….
“I’m from …”

3. אני בן / בת …
Ani ben / bat …
“I’m … years old.”

4. אני רווק/ה.
Ani ravak / revakah.
“I’m single.”

5. אני נשוי / נשואה.
Ani nasui / nesu’ah.
“I’m married.”

6. יש לי … ילדים.
Yesh li … yeladim.
“I have … kid(s).”

7. אני …
Ani …
“I’m a …”

8. אני עובד/ת ב…
Ani oved / ovedet be…
“I work in / at …”

9. אני לומד/לומדת … ב….
Ani lomed / lomedet … be/ba…
“I’m studying … at …”

10. אני אוהב / אוהבת …
Ani ohev / ohevet …
“I like/love …”

  • שלום, שמי רמון. אני מקולומביה. אני בן 26. אני רווק. אני מהנדס ואני לומד הנדסה בטכניון. אני אוהב לרקוד סלסה.
    Shalom, ani Ramon. Ani mi-Kolombia. Ani ben ‘esrim ve-shesh. Ani ravak. Ani lomed handasah ba-Tekhniyon. Ani ohev lirkod salsah.
    “Hi, my name is Ramon. I’m from Colombia. I’m 26 years old. I’m single. I’m studying engineering at the Technion. I like salsa dancing.”
  • שלום, שמי שירה. אני מקנדה. אני בת 37. אני נשואה. יש לי שני ילדים. אני אחות. אני עובדת בבי”ס תיכון. אני אוהבת לנגן בגיטרה וכינור.
    Shalom, ani Shirah. Ani bat shloshim ve-sheva’. Ani nesu’ah. Yesh li shnei yeladim. Ani akhot. Ani ‘ovedet be-veit sefer tikhon. Ani ohevet lenagen be-gitarah ve-kinor.
    “Hi, I’m Shira. I’m 37 years old. I’m married. I have two kids. I’m a nurse. I work at a high school. I like to play guitar and violin.”

2. Learn Hebrew Reactions

Emojis

Apart from being able to convey basic personal information about ourselves, it’s always good to be prepared to respond to anything our conversation partner may throw our way. While there are almost an infinite number of responses you could offer in any given situation, we’ve curated the most common and most useful ones for you here.

Again, this list is nowhere near exhaustive, but we do think these represent reactions that work in a broad variety of situations. We’ve also provided a few examples of how to use them in context.

1. נהדר
Nehedar
“Great.”

  • – שמעת שאנחנו נוסעים לקנדה בשבוע הבא לבקר את המשפחה שלי?
    Shama’ta she-anakhnu nos’im le-Kanadah ba-shavu’a ha-ba levaker et ha-mishpakhah sheli?
    “Did you hear that we’re going to Canada next week to visit my family?”

    – נהדר! נסיעה טובה!
    Nehedar! Nesi’ah tovah!
    “Great! Have a great trip!”
  • – אני חוגג יום-הולדת מחר ואתה מוזמן לבוא למסיבה.
    Ani khogeg yom-huledet makhar ve-atah muzman lavo la-mesibah.
    “It’s my birthday tomorrow, and you’re invited to come to the party.”

    – נהדר! תודה רבה.
    Nehedar! Todah rabah.
    “Great! Thanks a lot.”

2. נכון מאוד.
Nakhon me’od.
“Very true.”

  • – המסעדה הזאת ממש זולה!
    Ha-mis’adah ha-zot mamash zolah!
    “This restaurant is really affordable!”

    – נכון מאוד.
    Nakhon me’od.
    “Very true.”
  • – אני חושבת שמאז שהתחלפה הממשלה, המדינה משתפרת.
    Ani khoshevet she-me’az she-hitkhalfa ha-memshalah, ha-medinah mishtaperet.
    “I think that since the government has changed, the country has been improving.”

    – נכון מאוד.
    Nakhon me’od.
    “Very true.”

3. אתה צודק / את צודקת.
Atah tzodek / At tzodeket.
“You’re right.”

  • – סליחה, אבל חסר לי כאן עודף.
    S’likhah, aval khaser li kan ‘odef.
    “Sorry, but I’m missing some change here.”

    – את צודקת. הנה.
    At tzodeket. hine.
    “You’re right. Here you go.”
  • – אולי אני טועה, אבל נדמה לי שהחנייה כאן היא תת-קרקעית.
    Ulai ani to’eh, aval nidmeh li she-ha-khanayah kan hi tat-karka’it.
    “I may be wrong, but I think the parking here is underground.”

    – אתה צודק. בוא נרד למטה.
    Atah tzodek. Bo nered lemata.
    “You’re right. Let’s head down.”

4. מעניין.
Me’anyen.
“Interesting.”

  • – שמעת שיש כבר טיסות בין ישראל לאיחוד האמירויות?
    Shama’t she-yesh kvar tisot bein Yisrae’il le-Ikhud ha-Amiruyot?
    “Have you heard that there are already flights between Israel and the UAE?”

    – מעניין. בא לי לנסוע.
    Me’anyen. Ba li linso’a.
    “Interesting. I’d like to go.”
  • – למדתי סיף מאבא שלי, שבזמנו היה סייף אולימפי.
    Lamadeti sa’if me-Abba sheli, she-be-zmano hayah sayyaf Olimpi.
    “I learned fencing from my father, who used to be an Olympic fencer.”

    – מעניין. לא ידעתי.
    Me’anyen. Lo yada’ti.
    “Interesting. I didn’t know that.”

5. מה אתה אומר / את אומרת?
Mah atah omer / Mah at omeret?
“You don’t say.”

  • – אומרים שהמגפה התחילה עם עטלפים בסין.
    Omrim she-ha-magefah hitkhilah im ’ataleifim be-Sin.
    “They say the pandemic started with bats in China.”

    – מה את אומרת? לא להאמין.
    Mah at omeret? Loleha’amin.
    “You don’t say. It’s hard to believe.”
  • – אחות שלי מתכוננת למרתון בניו יורק כבר שנה וחצי.
    Akhot sheli mitkonenet la-Maraton be-Nyu York kvar shanah va-khetzi.
    “My sister has been training for the New York Marathon for a year and a half already.”

    – מה אתה אומר? שיהיה לה בהצלחה!
    Mah atah omer? She-yihiyeh la be-hatzlakhah!
    “You don’t say. Good luck to her!”

3. Learn Hebrew Filler Words

Woman Deep in Thought

Filler words, sometimes also known as crutch words, are a great way to show interest in a conversation without putting yourself on the spot to say more than you can handle. Alternatively, they can be a great way to buy a bit of time as you plan the next thing you’re going to say. Here are a few of the most common Hebrew filler words. You can find more here.

1. אממ…
Em
“Um”

  • – אז מה בא לך לאכול?
    Az mah bah lakh le’ekhol?
    “So what do you feel like eating?”

    – בא לי, אממ, שווארמה בלאפה.
    Ba li, emm, shawarmah be-lafah.
    “I feel like, um, shawarma in lafa bread.”
  • – איך קוראים לזמרת הזאת?
    Eikh korim la-zameret ha-zot?
    “What’s this singer’s name?”

    – אני חושב שזאת דואה, אממ, דואה ליפה. 
    Ani khoshev she-zot Du’ah, emm, Du’ah Lipah.
    “I think that’s Dua, um, Dua Lipa.”

2. כאילו
Ke’ilu
“Like”

  • – למה אתה לא אוהב לשתות קפה?
    Lamah atah lo ohev lishtot kafeh?
    “Why don’t you like drinking coffee?”

    – לא יודע. זה כאילו ממריץ אותי יותר מדי.
    Lo yode’a. Zeh ke’ilu mamritz oti yoteir midai.
    “I dunno. It, like, gets me too worked up.”
  • – מה אמרו לך בראיון?
    Mah amru lakh ba-re’ayon?
    “What did they tell you in the interview?”

    – לא תאמיני אבל ביטלו אותו, כאילו, בלי להודיע לי!
    Lo ta’amini aval bitlu oto, ke’ilu, beli lehodi’a li.
    “You won’t believe it, but they cancelled it, like, without letting me know.”

3. יעני
Ya’ani
“I mean”

  • – מה תרצה לאכול?
    Mah tirzeh le’ekhol?
    “What would you like to eat?”

    – ארוחת בוקר קלאסית, יעני, ביצים, טוסט, גבינה.
    Arukhat boker klasit, ya’ani, beitzim, tost, gvinah.
    “Bring me a classic breakfast, I mean, eggs, toast, cheese.”
  • – אני לא בטוחה שהבנתי את הכוונה שלך.
    Ani lo betukhah she-hevanti et ha-kavanah shelkha.
    “I’m not sure I understood what you meant.”

    – אני עייף מכל העבודה, יעני, מותש.
    Ani ‘ayeif mi-kol ha-’avodah, ya’ani, mutash.
    “I’m tired from all the work, I mean, exhausted.”

4. בצעם
Be-’etzem
“Essentially / Basically”

  • – מה זה הדבר הזה?
    Mah zeh ha-davar ha-zeh?
    “What is that thing?”

    – זה בעצם רובוט שמנקה לך את הרצפה.
    Zeh be-’etzem robot she-menakeh lekha et ha-ritzpah.
    “It’s essentially a robot that cleans the floor for you.”
  • – במה אתה עובד?
    Be-mah atah ‘oved?
    “What do you do for a living?”

    – אני בעצם מתאם בין קונים ומוכרים של ציוד משרדי.
    Ani be-etzem meta’em bein konim ve-mokhrim shel tziyud misradi.
    “I basically broker between buyers and sellers of office equipment.”

5. אז
Az
“So”

  • – אז… נוסעים לים?
    Az… nos’im la-yam?
    “So… should we go to the beach?”

    – יאללה, בוא.
    Yallah, bo.
    “Let’s go.”
  • – אני רואה שאתה מקבל את ההודעות שלי ולא עונה, אז…
    Ani ro’ah she-atah mekabell et ha-hoda’ot sheli ve-lo ‘oneh, az…
    “I see you’re getting my messages and not answering them, so…

    – אז כלום. סתם לא ראיתי אותם.
    Az klum. Stam lo ra’iti otam.
    “So nothing. I just didn’t see them.”

4. Learn Common Questions and Answers in Hebrew

Question Marks and Lightbulb

As you surely know, and as you can clearly see from our examples, so much of conversation revolves around questions and answers. While it would be impractical if not impossible to try to prepare oneself to answer any question, it’s fairly easy to identify the more common questions one is likely to find oneself fielding. This is especially true if one is a foreigner sojourning in a distant land!

With that in mind, here are the top questions, with some sample answers, that you’re likely to encounter as a foreigner in Israel. One you’ve got these down, try expanding on them by anticipating the sorts of follow-up questions you might get in a typical conversation, along with some good answers to offer. For example, if you tell someone that you’re working or studying in Israel, it’s reasonable to assume they may ask you how long you’ve been there. You can find more on questions and answers in Hebrew here.

1. מאיפה אתה / את?
Me-eifoh atah / at?
“Where are you from?”

(You can find a list of country names in Hebrew here.)

  • אני מצרפת.
    Ani mi-Tzarfat.
    “I’m from France.
  • אני מלונדון.
    Ani mi-London.
    “I’m from London.”
  • אני ממקסיקו.
    Ani mi-Meksiko.
    “I’m from Mexico.”
  • אני מרוסיה.
    Ani mi-Rusiyah.
    “I’m from Russia.”

2. מה שלומך?
Mah shlomkha / shlomekh?
“How are you?”

(You can find more possible responses here.)

  • אני בסדר.
    Ani beseder.
    “I’m okay.”
  • אני מעולה.
    Ani me’uleh / me’ulah.
    “I’m great.”
  • אני על הפנים.
    Ani ‘al ha-panim.
    “I’m awful.”

3. איך למדת עברית?
Eikh lamadeta / lamadet ‘Ivrit?
“How did you learn Hebrew?”

  • למדתי עברית בביה”ס.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit be-veit ha-seifer.
    “I learned Hebrew at school.”
  • למדתי עברית באוניברסיטה.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit ba-universitah.
    “I learned Hebrew at university / in college.”
  • למדתי עברית בבית.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit ba-bayit.
    “I learned Hebrew at home.”
  • למדתי עברית לבד.
    Lamadeti ‘Ivrit levad.
    “I learned Hebrew on my own.”

4. למה אתה לומד / את לומדת עברית?
Lamah atah lomed / at lomedet ‘Ivrit?
“Why are you studying Hebrew?”

  • אני לומד עברית מתוך ציונות.
    Ani lomed ‘Ivrit mitokh Tziyonut.
    “I’m studying Hebrew out of Zionism.”
  • אני לומד עברית בשביל הלימודים / לעשות עסקים.
    Ani lomeid ‘Ivrit bishvil ha-limudim / la’asot le-’asakim.
    “I’m studying Hebrew for school / business.”
  • אני לומדת עברית כי יש לי הרבה חברים ישראלים.
    Ani lomedet ‘Ivrit ki yesh li harbeh khaverim Yisra’elim.
    “I’m studying Hebrew because I have a lot of Israeli friends.”
  • אני לומדת עברית בגלל שבעלי ישראלי.
    Ani lomedet ‘Ivrit biglal she-ba’ali Yisra’eli.
    “I’m studying Hebrew because my husband is Israeli.”
  • אני לומד עברית כדי לקרוא את התנ”ך בשפת המקור.
    Ani lomed ‘Ivrit kedei likro et ha-TaNa”Kh bi-sfat ha-makor.
    “I’m studying Hebrew in order to read the Bible in the original language.”

5. מה אתה / את עושה בארץ?
Mah ata oseh / at osah ba-Aretz?
“What are you doing in Israel?”

  • אני לומד/ת.
    Ani lomed / lomedet.
    “I’m studying.”
  • אני עובד/ת.
    Ani ‘oved / ‘ovedet.
    “I’m working.”
  • אני מטייל/ת.
    Ani metayel / metayelet.
    “I’m traveling.”
  • אני מבקר/ת אצל משפחה / חברים.
    Ani mevaker / mevakeret etzel mishpakhah / khaverim.
    “I’m visiting family / friends.”
  • אני סופג/ת קצת תרבות.
    Ani sofeg / sofeget k’tzat tarbut.
    “I’m soaking up some culture.”

5. Learn Conversation Starters

Handshake

Sometimes the hardest part of a conversation is getting one started. The truth is that while this can be universally true, it’s doubly so when the language you wish to converse in isn’t your native one. With that in mind, here are some tried and true ways you can start up a conversation in different situations.

Keep in mind that not all of these will work all the time. For example, asking two passengers on a bus sitting next to one another how they met may not yield the best results. But if you meet the girl of your dreams at a party moments before her boyfriend sidles up, the same question might just help you save face! So use these judiciously.

1. איך הכרתם? / איך אתם מכירים?
Eikh hikartem? / Eikh atem makirim?
“How did you meet? / How do you know each other?”

2. מה אתה אוכל/שותה / את אוכלת/שותה?
Mah atah okhel/shoteh? / Mah at okhelet/shotah?
“What are you eating/drinking?”

3. כמה זמן לקח לך להגיע?
Kamah zman lakakh lekha/lakh lehagi’a?
“How long did it take you to get here?”

4. במה אתה עובד / את עובדת?
Be-mah atah oved / at ovedet?
“What do you do for a living?”

5. בא לך משהו לאכול/לשתות?
Ba lekha/lakh mashehu le’ekhol/lishtot?
“Would you like something to eat/drink?”

6. אתה בא / את באה לכאן הרבה?
Atah ba / At ba’ah le-khan harbeh?
“Do you come here a lot?”

7. את/ה יודע/ת מה השעה?
At/ah yoda’at/yode’a ma ha-sha’ah?
“Do you have the time?”

8. איזה מזג אוויר, אה?
Eizeh mezeg avir, ah?
“Some weather, huh?”

9. אני מכיר/ה אותך מאיפשהו?
Ani mekir / mekirah otkha / otakh mi-eifohshehu?
“Do I know you from somewhere?”

10. מישהו יושב כאן?
Mishehu yoshev kan?
“Is anyone sitting here?”

6. General Tips to Help Improve Your Hebrew Conversation

Lastly, here are a handful of choice tips to help you take your conversation game to the next level. Alongside studying the relevant language, these tips can set you up for success as you become the great Hebrew conversationalist you were surely meant to be. And we here at HebrewPod101 know you’ve got it in you! As a bonus, these tips can also help you improve your conversation in English and/or any other language you speak, assuming the linguistic culture isn’t drastically different (for instance, if eye contact is considered offensive).

That having been said, just as with any other art, the key to mastering the art of conversation lies in the hours you spend practicing. But the good news is that, as long as your conversation partner has something interesting to share – and who doesn’t? – conversation is not just an art but a very enjoyable pastime, as well! So go on and have some fun!

1. Active listening and mirroring

Mouth and Ear

Active listening means you are fully engaged in the conversation. You can show this by mirroring the other person’s language and non-verbal gestures, as well as by responding at regular intervals to keep the conversation flowing. Note that this is where filler words can really come in handy. Whatever you do, try to avoid those awkward silences, as they are just as awkward in Hebrew as they are in English!

2. Demonstrate understanding and empathy

Woman Hugging Child

No one enjoys speaking to someone who seems to just be waiting for every opportunity to turn the focus back to him- or herself. Not only is this rude, but it also turns a conversation into a monologue. Really listen to the other person, and show them that you are listening by reacting directly to things they’ve said, asking follow-up questions, and referring back to things mentioned previously in the conversation. In short, show that you actually care about what they’re telling you!

3. Focus on using the right gender

Gender Symbols

This one is obviously less relevant to non-gendered languages like English, but it’s key in Hebrew’s case. Gender may be a bit stressful to have to keep in mind, particularly if you are new to grammatically gendered languages. But think about how uncomfortable it is when people are referred to in a gender they don’t identify with, and you’ll quickly comprehend why it behooves you to pay attention to this. Remember that Hebrew genders are not just nouns and pronouns but also adjectives and verbs.

4. Invest in your pronunciation

Pronunciation Lesson

Practice the sounds of the Hebrew language, which you can find more on here. There are a number of sounds in Hebrew that will be foreign to English speakers in particular, and you may never really nail them perfectly. However, you can always approximate, and close is much better than making no effort at all! Trust us when we tell you that Israelis are both aware of the challenges Hebrew poses for non-native speakers and appreciative when non-native speakers make a conscious effort to improve their pronunciation.

5. Avoid over reliance on filler words

Bored Man

Remember when we said that filler words are also sometimes called crutches? This is true in cases of overreliance on them, and that’s something you want to avoid. We’ve all met that person who uses a particular word or phrase, often “like” or “you know,” and we all know just how tiring that can become. Overusing such words, which don’t typically convey any meaning, does not make a good impression, as it suggests a scattered focus or even a lack of something to say. So yes, use fillers, but, emm, in moderation!

6. Ask for words if you don’t know them

Man with Questioning Look

While in some cultures, people may be reluctant to admit when they don’t know something, it’s highly unlikely that any Israeli is going to look down on you if you admit to not knowing the right word for what you want to say. On the contrary, most will be happy to have the opportunity to help you! Remember that Israel is a country of immigrants, so all Israelis are experienced in speaking to foreigners, no matter how rough, or even non-existent their Hebrew may be. By asking an Israeli for the right Hebrew word for what you want to say, you will more likely than not impress them with your commitment to precision and your desire to learn.

7. Smile!

Okay, maybe not all the time. After all, sometimes the bus doesn’t even stop for you, or the babushka lady runs over your foot with her cart as you’re trying to get on board, so a frown is sometimes warranted. But a smile can go a long way in conveying what you may not yet be able to say in Hebrew. In any case, it’s a universal sign that means you’re happy to be talking to your conversation partner, so why not just flash one and see what happens?

7. How HebrewPod101 Can Help You Improve Your Conversation Skills

Last but not least, HebrewPod101 offers you a wide variety of tools and other resources to help you boost your powers of gab. Aside from our many blogs on all things Hebrew, you can also listen to many sample conversations where you can experience what Hebrew words, phrases, and grammar points in context and with native pronunciation. Additionally, you can take advantage of HebrewPod101’s vocabulary lists that can arm you with a more robust lexicon for a given topic or situation.

And if you really want to take your Hebrew conversation skills to the next level, you can also avail yourself of a personal teacher through our Premium PLUS offer. We at HebrewPod101 are here to help! Our expert and native teachers would love to hear from you with any questions or comments you may have, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 35 Hebrew Conversation Starters for Any Occasion

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Newton’s First Law of Motion states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by another force. This would seem to apply to conversations, especially with strangers or new acquaintances, and particularly when you are trying to strike up a conversation in a language other than your mother tongue. But fear not! We here at HebrewPod101 have curated the top 35 conversation starters in Hebrew to help you get things rolling.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. First Impressions Count – So Make Your Conversation Count!
  2. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing
  3. Conversation Starters for Your First Day at School or Work
  4. Conversation Starters for a First Date
  5. Bonus: Helpful Language for Starting Up a Text or Email Conversation
  6. HebrewPod101 Is Here to Help You Get Things Rolling…and Keep Them Rolling!

1. First Impressions Count – So Make Your Conversation Count!

Group Conversation with Friends

Whether you’ve just met someone at a party, are trying to make small talk with the passenger seated beside you on a long bus ride, or are trying to leave a good impression on your first day of school or work, you always want to leave as positive an impression as possible (unless, perhaps, you’re trying to blow someone off!). Therefore, it’s a great idea to be comfortable greasing the wheels, so to speak, with some easy Hebrew conversation starters that will be sure to get things flowing.

No matter what situation you may find yourself in, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a compilation of basic Hebrew conversation starters, including both for conversing the old-fashioned way as well as for texts and emails. We’ve included language that will help you deal with new social scenes, such as parties or other events involving mingling, helpful language for first days in a new school or work setting, romantic conversation starters for a first date, and even some starters for emails and texts.

It may go without saying, but we can’t emphasize enough that to really be sure your Hebrew flows, you’ll need to be well equipped for whatever direction these conversations may take. As essential as it is to know how to get the ball rolling, it isn’t of much use knowing how to start a conversation if you can’t sustain it. With this in mind, apart from practicing the language presented in this lesson, it’s also a great idea to spend time on the grammar points and vocabulary relevant to the setting you’ll be in.

Make use of HebrewPod101’s vast library of lessons to find exactly what you need so you’re ready to face any conversational challenges that come your way!

2. Conversation Starters for Mingling and Socializing

Party with Friends

One of the most outstanding features of Israeli culture is that Israelis are quite gregarious. Indeed, don’t be surprised if you find yourself invited to social events frequently, even if you’ve only just met someone for the first time. Every society obviously has some general rules for making a good first impression when you find yourself in a new social milieu, and Israel is no different.

Obviously, you want to converse, meaning you should try to talk in a way that invites the other party to engage. You can do this by asking questions to get to know the other people around you and follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. This helps to show you are interested and paying attention.

So why not show up to your next Israeli meet-and-greet with some well turned phrases and questions honed and ready to go, so that you can be the one to impress everyone and get the conversation flowing? Here are our top conversation starters for mingling and socializing. Note how the words change depending on whether you are addressing a male or female.

1. איך הכרתם? / איך אתם מכירים?
Eikh hikartem? / Eikh atem makirim?
“How did you meet? / How do you know each other?”

2. מה אתה אוכל/שותה / את אוכלת/שותה?
Mah atah okheil/shoteh? / Mah at okhelet/shotah?
“What are you eating/drinking?”

3. כמה זמן לקח לך להגיע?
Kamah zman lakakh lekha/lakh lehagi’a?
“How long did it take you to get here?”

4. במה אתה עובד / את עובדת?
Be-mah atah oved / at ovedet?
“What do you do for a living?”

5. בא לך משהו לאכול/לשתות?
Ba lekha/lakh mashehu le’ekhol/lishtot?
“Would you like something to eat/drink?”

Colleagues Having Lunch

6. אתה גר / את גרה קרוב?
Atah gar / at garah karov?
“Do you live nearby?”

7. יש לך חיות מחמד?
Yesh lekha / lakh khayot makhmad?
“Do you have any pets?”

8. מה למדת באוניברסיטה?
Mah lamadeta / lamadet ba-universitah?
“What did you study at university?”

9. יש לך תחביבים?
Yesh lekha / lakh takhbivim?
“Do you have any hobbies?”

10. איפה שירתת בצבא?
Eifoh shirateta / shiratet ba-tzava?
“Where did you serve in the army?”

*Note that this last one is common in Israel, as military service is obligatory for males and females.

3. Conversation Starters for Your First Day at School or Work

Paperwork

Just as important as your first impressions in social settings is getting things started on the right foot when you begin a new job or enroll in school. It is immensely important to put your best foot forward in these situations, so once again, you’ll want to be armed with some solid go-to phrases and questions you can draw on to strike up a conversation with your new work- or classmates, and to keep the conversation going.

Something to note is that even Israeli culture has somewhat less of a range in terms of register. This means that Israelis tend to be less formal than their counterparts from other countries in situations where formality may be expected. That having been said, gauge your surroundings and the people with you, and make every effort to adjust your register accordingly. Now, without further ado, here are the top conversation starters for school and work.

11. שלום, קוראים לי … איך קוראים לך?
Shalom, korim li … Eikh korim lekha / lakh?
“Hi, I’m … What’s your name?”

  • שלום, קוראים לי ריקי. איך קוראים לך?
    Shalom, korim li Riki. Eikh korim lakh?
    “Hi, I’m Ricky. What’s your name?”

12. סליחה, אני חדש / חדשה כאן ולא ממש מתמצא / מתמצאת. האם תוכל / תוכלי להגיד לי איפה ה…?
Slikhah, ani khadash / khadashah kan ve-lo mamash mitmatze / mitmatzet. Ha’im tukhal / tukhli lehagid li eifoh ha…?
“Sorry, I’m new here and don’t really know my way around. Could you tell me where the … is/are?”

  •  סליחה, אני חדשה כאן ולא ממש מתמצאת. האם תוכל להגיד לי איפה המדפסת?
    Slikhah, ani khadashah kan ve-lo mamash mitmatzet. Ha’im tukhal lehagid li eifoh ha-madpeset?
    “Sorry, I’m new here and don’t really know my way around. Could you tell me where the printer is?”

13. אפשר להצטרף אליך לארוחת צהריים?
Efshar lehitztaref elekha / elaikh le-arukhat tzohorayim?
“Can I join you for lunch?”

14. כמה זמן אתה לומד/עובד / את לומדת/עובדת כאן?
Kamah zman atah lomed/’oved / at lomedet/ovedet kan?
“How long have you been working/studying here?”

15. אהבתי את ה… שלך. איפה קנית אותו?
Ahavti et ha… shelkha / shelakh. Eifoh kanita / kanit oto?
“I like your … Where did you buy it?”

Group of Friends Studying
  •  אהבתי את הצעיף שלך. איפה קנית אותו?
    Ahavti et ha-tza’if shelakh. Eifoh kanit oto?
    “I like your scarf. Where did you buy it?”

16. בא לך להיפגש אחרי העבודה/השיעור?
Bah lekha / lakh lehipagesh akharei ha-‘avodah/ha-shi’ur?
“Would you like to get together after work/class?”

17. אתה יכול / את יכולה אולי לעזור לי עם …?
Atah yakhol / At yekholah ulai la’azor li ‘im…
“Might you be able to help me with…?”

  • אתה יכול אולי לעזור לי עם הפקס הזה?
    Atah yakhol ulai la’azor li ‘im ha-faks ha-zeh.
    “Might you be able to help me with this fax?”

18. אמרו לי שאתה יודע / שאת יודעת איך …
Amru li she-atah yode’a / she-at yoda’at eikh …
“I was told you know how to …”

  • אמרו לי שאת יודעת איך לחייג לחו”ל.
    Amru li she-atah yode’a eikh lekhai’eg le-khu”l.
    “I was told you know how to place an international call.”

19. אני הולך להכין לי … בא לך גם?
Ani holekh lehakin li … Ba lekha / lakh gam?
“I’m going to make myself … Would you like some, as well?”

  • אני הולך להכין לי כוס תה. בא לך גם?
    Ani holekh lehakin li kos teh. Ba lekha gam?
    “I’m going to make myself a cup of tea. Would you like some, as well?”

20. איפה אני מוצא / מוצאת את ה…?
Eifoh ani motze / motzet et ha…?
“Where might I find the …?”

  • איפה אני מוצאת את השירותים?
    Eifoh ani motzet et ha-sherutim?
    “Where might I find the bathroom?”

4. Conversation Starters for a First Date

Couple Having Dinner Date

While we at HebrewPod101 can’t claim to be world experts on romance, we do know that there’s nothing quite like burgeoning love to put butterflies in your heart and a lump in your throat. And one thing is for sure. As nervous as you may be on a first date, or even at the prospect of mustering up the courage to ask for one, practicing the right language for the moment can give you a bit of a confidence boost just where you need one.

Of course, each of us is different, and what may strike one person as a compliment can give offense to another. Therefore, use the language below with discretion, as matters of the heart are the trickiest of them all! And don’t be afraid to mention that you are still learning Hebrew, although we don’t recommend repeating it over and over, either. Just do your best, and that’s what will shine through. Don’t forget that many a couple has been forged around language learning, and much language learning seems to center around romance! Indeed, we think romance is one of the greatest motivators for learning language you’re likely to find!

21. אתה נראה / את נראית מדהימה!
Atah nir’eh / At nir’et madhimah!
“You look great!”

22. טוב לראות אותך.
Tov lir’ot otkha / otakh.
“It’s good to see you.”

23. איפה גדלת?
Eifoh gadalta / gadalt?
“Where did you grow up?”

24. יש לך אחים?
Yesh lekha / lakh akhim?
“Do you have any siblings?”

25. איזה סוג של מוסיקה אתה שומע / את שומעת?
Eizeh sug shel muzikah atah shome’a / at shoma’at?
“What kind of music do you listen to?”

26. מה הסרט האהוב עליך?
Mah ha-seret ha-ahuv ‘alekha ‘alayikh?
“What’s your favorite movie?”

27. מה האוכל שאתה הכי אוהב / שאת הכי אוהבת?
Mah ha-okhel she-atah ha-khi ohev / she-at ha-khi ohevet?
“What’s your favorite food?”

Man and Woman Having Coffee

28. מה אתה אוהב / את אוהבת לעשות בשעות הפנאי שלך?
Mah atah ohev / at ohevet la’asot be-she’ot ha-pnai shelkha / shelakh?
“What do you like to do in your free time?”

29. אתה אוהב / את אוהבת לטייל?
Atah ohev / At ohevet letayel?
“Do you like to travel?”

30. אפשר להזמין אותך ל …?
Efshar lehazmin otkha / otakh le…?
“Can I invite you (out) for a …?”

  • אפשר להזמין אותך לבירה?
    Efshar lehazmin otkha le-birah?
    “Can I invite you out for a beer?”

5. Bonus: Helpful Language for Starting Up a Text or Email Conversation

Email

Lastly, let’s take a look at some language you can use to send off a text or email. These are obviously a bit different, as you will have neither the benefit nor the potential challenge of immediate feedback from your co-conversationalist. In any case, many language learners do find it somewhat more comfortable to write a message, as they have time to draft, revise, and rethink it before it reaches the intended person.

We recommend practicing your Hebrew via both productive skills, spoken and written, as they are complementary skills. This means that when you strengthen one, you will also find you come out stronger in the other. So go ahead and text that colleague from work or that guy or girl you met at the party last weekend. Here are the top five conversation starters for emails and texts.

31. מה התוכניות לסופ”ש?
Mah ha-tokhniyot la-sofa”sh?
“What are your plans for the weekend?”

32. מזמן לא דיברנו. שלח / שלחי הודעה כשתוכל/כשתוכלי.
Mizman lo dibarnu. Shlakh / Shilkhi hoda’ah keshe-tukhal/tukhli.
“Long time no speak. Send me a message when you can.”

Text Messages

33. אני חייב / חייבת לספר לך על משהו הזוי שקרה לי. מתי נפגשים?
Ani khayav / khayevet lesaper lekha ‘al mashehu hazui she-karah li. Matai nifgashim?
“I have to tell you something crazy that happened to me. When can we get together?”

34. אני חייב / חייבת את העזרה שלך! איזה אחד נראה לך יותר טוב?
Ani khayav /khayevet et ha-‘ezrah shelkha / shelakh! Eizeh ekhad nireh lekha / lakh yoter tov?
“I need help! Which of these looks better to you?”

35. בא לך לשמוע בדיחה?
Ba lekha / lakh lishmo’a b’dikhah?
“Want to hear a joke?”

6. HebrewPod101 Is Here to Help You Get Things Rolling…and Keep Them Rolling!

Well, there you have it. We hope you’ve found today’s lesson stimulating and useful. As you surely know, there is, in fact, no perfect formula for starting up a great conversation, nor are there any guarantees that the person you’re talking to will follow your lead. However, when you come to a situation equipped with the relevant language and can apply it with fluency, you are far more likely to find a willing conversation partner on the other side of the table.

As always, our recommendation is not to try to soak up every single phrase here all at once but rather to focus on digestible chunks of language, a bit at a time. And it’s crucial you go over these not just once but rather periodically revisit them and practice them at intervals so you can be sure they get stored in your deep memory.

If you have any questions about the language presented in today’s lesson or want to know more about how to strike up a nice Hebrew conversation, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our professional staff of Hebrew teachers would be happy to hear from you and to help you however we can. Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 40 Advanced Hebrew Phrases

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In the pursuit of vocabulary, it’s easy to get caught up in individual words while looking past phrases. The reality, however, is that phrases are just as important in terms of fluency and flexibility of expression. This is true of any language you may wish to learn, but in the case of Hebrew, old as it is, even phrases used today may date back thousands of years! Indeed, Hebrew draws not only on the Bible but on the Rabbinic writings, as well, for some of the choicest and most common phrases you’ll encounter.

Notebook

Beyond the fact that many advanced Hebrew phrases are used ubiquitously, such that you’ll want to know them for comprehension’s sake, being able to use the right phrase at the right moment is one of the best ways to truly inhabit a language from within. The correct use of phrases, particularly idiomatic ones, is one of the clearest signs that you’re approaching mastery.

In today’s article, we aim to present you with a broad cross-section of the many phrases that tend to pepper modern Israelis’ speech, including academic, professional, and conversational phrases. As always, we suggest that you approach these by chunking them by category rather than by attempting to memorize them all at once. Pick a few, study and practice them, then move on to the next category and repeat. Just make sure to review them cumulatively as you move through each successive category so that you won’t forget the previous phrases you learned.

Woman with Empty Speech Bubble
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Useful Phrases for Academic Writing
  2. Power Phrases for Your Proposal, Resume, Etc.
  3. Smart Phrases for Business Meetings
  4. Phrases for Everyday Use
  5. Level Up with HebrewPod101

1. Useful Phrases for Academic Writing

Woman with Head Buried in Book

Are you considering studying in Israel? If so, you’d be in good company! Israel is home to 61 higher education institutions (50 of which are government-funded) and hosts somewhere around 12,000 foreign students each year. Some of these universities, such as Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Technion in Haifa, are counted among the world’s best. If you do plan on any academic pursuits in Israel, you’ll surely want to arm yourself with these advanced Hebrew phrases for academic writing. Let’s check them out.

1. נוסף על כך
nosaf ‘al kakh
“moreover”

  • תושבי השכונה התלוננו על הזנחה, נוסף על כך בחודשים האחרונים הולכת וגוברת תופעה של נטישת מכוניות ברחבי השכונה.
    Toshavei ha-sh’khunah hitlonenu ‘al haznakhah, nosaf ‘al kakh ba-khodashim ha-akharonim holekhet ve-goveret tofa’ah shel netishat mekhoniyot be-rakhavei ha-shekhunah.
    “Residents of the neighborhood have complained of neglect. Moreover, in recent months, a growing number of vehicles have been abandoned throughout the neighborhood.”

2. ואילו
ve-ilu
“while” / “whereas”

  • הדולר נחלש, ואילו השקל שומר על יציבות.
    Ha-dolar nekhlash, ve-ilu ha-shekel shomir ‘al yetzivut.
    “The dollar has weakened, while the shekel has remained stable.”

3. חרף
kheref
“despite”

  • חרף העלייה במחירי הפירות צריכתם לא פחתה.
    Kheref ha-’aliyah be-mekhirei ha-peirot tzrikhatam lo pakhata.
    Despite the increase in the price of fruit, its consumption has not decreased.”

4. לעומת זאת
le’umat zot
“on the other hand”

  • המנהל החדש צנוע. לעומת זאת, קודמיו היו די יהירים.
    Ha-menahil he-khadash tzanu’a. Le’umat zot, kodmav hayu dei yehirim.
    “The new manager is modest. His predecessors, on the other hand, were fairly cocky.”

5. אף על פי ש…
af ‘al pi she…
“even though”

  • אנשים לא מפסיקים לעשן, אף על פי שהם ערים לנזקי העישון.
    Anashim lo mafsikim le’ashen, af ‘al pi she-hem ‘eirim le-nizkei ha-’ishun.
    “People keep smoking even though they are aware of the dangers of smoking.”

6. בניגוד לכך
be-nigud le-khakh
“in contrast”

  • ברור שכל אדם יכול להתנהג בניגוד לחוקי המדינה. בניגוד לכך, שום אדם אינו יכול להתנהג בניגוד לחוקי המשיכה.
    Barur she-kol adam yakhol lehitnaheig be-nigud le-khukei ha-medinah. Be-nigud le-khakh, shum adam eino yakhol lehitnaheig be-nigud le-khukei ha-meshikhah.
    “Obviously, anyone can defy the laws of the state. In contrast, no one can defy the laws of gravity.”

7. מפאת
mip’at
“due to”

  •  פסק הדין נדחה מפאת מחלתו של השופט.
    Psak ha-din nidkhah mip’at makhalato shel ha-shofet.
    “The ruling was postponed due to the judge’s illness.”

8. שמא
shema
“lest”

  • למדתי לא לתייג אחרים שמא יתייגו אותי.
    Lamadeti lo letayeg akheirim shema yetaygu oti.
    “I’ve learned not to label others lest they label me.”

9. בתנאי ש…
bi-tnai she…
“as long as” / “on the condition that”

  • נקנה מכונית חדשה בתנאי שהמחירים לא יעלו.
    Nikneh mekhonit khadashah bi-tnai she-ha-mekhirim lo ya’alu.
    “We’ll buy a new car as long as prices don’t go up.”

10. דהיינו
dehaynu
“i.e.”

  • אלה חומרי הריאקציה המהירים ביותר, דהיינו חומרי נפץ.
    Eleh khomrei ha-re’aktziyah ha-mehirim beyoter, dehaynu khomrei nefetz.
    “These are the fastest reactive materials, i.e., explosives.”

2. Power Phrases for Your Proposal, Resume, Etc.

Resume and Pencil

Moving from the classroom to the boardroom, let’s now have a look at some key phrases to use in the world of business. Well known as the Start-Up Nation, Israel is a prime player in the world of international business, and you may well have business dealings with Israelis. You’ll find below several advanced phrases in Hebrew that will help you leave a strong impression, whether in a business email or on your resume

11. כושר מנהיגות
kosher manhigut
“leadership ability”

  • בלי כושר מנהיגות, אף אחד לא יכול להוביל צוות בטווח הרחוק.
    Bli kosher manhigut, af ekhad lo yakhol lehovil tzevet ba-tvakh ha-rakhok.
    “Without leadership ability, no one can lead a team for the long term.”

12. תושיה
tushiyah
“wisdom”

  • תושיה היא תוצאה של שנים בעסק.
    Tushiyah hi totza’ah shel shanim ba-’esek.
    Wisdom is the result of years in the business.”

13. משמעת עצמית
mishma’at ‘atzmit
“self-discipline”

  • מצופה מכל עובד יעיל להפגין משמעת עצמית.
    Metzupeh mi-kol ‘oved ya’il lehafgin mishma’at ‘atzmit.
    “An efficient worker is expected to demonstrate self-discipline.”

14. חריצות
kharitzut
“diligence”

  • עבודה קשה וחריצות זה מתכון מושלם להצלחה.
    ‘Avodah kashah ve-kharitzut zeh matkon mushlam le-hatzlakha.
    “Hard work and diligence is the perfect recipe for success.”

15. דייקנות
daykanut
“precision” / “punctuality”

  • במשרד הזה, דייקנות, ניקיון, וסדר הם הכלל.
    Ba-misrad ha-zeh, daykanut, niykayon ve-seder hem ha-klal.
    “In this office, punctuality, cleanliness, and order are the rules.”

16. מסירות
mesirut
“commitment”

  • אנחנו מחפשים מישהו שמבין מהי מסירות למשימה אפילו למול מכשולים רבים.
    Anakhnu mekhapsim mishehu she-mevin mahi mesirut la-mesimah afilu le-mul mikhsholim rabim.
    “We’re looking for someone who understands what commitment means, even when facing many challenges.”

17. מהימנות
meheimanut
“credibility” / “reliability”

  • אל תשכח ששקר אחד קטן יכול להרוס את המהימנות שלך.
    Al tishkakh she-sheker ekhad katan yakhol laharos et ha-meheimanut shelkha.
    “Don’t forget that one little lie can ruin your credibility.”

18. אסרטיביות
aseritviyut
“assertiveness”

  • היא הצטיינה בלימודים ויודעת לעבוד, אבל חסרה לה אסרטיביות.
    Hi hitztainah ba-limudim ve-yoda’at la’avod, aval khaserah la asertivityut.
    “She graduated with honors and is a good worker, but she lacks assertiveness.”

19. סבלנות
savlanut
“patience”

  • אי אפשר לפתור בעיות קשות בלי קצת סבלנות.
    Iy efshar liftor ba’ayot kashot beli ktzat savlanut.
    “It’s impossible to solve difficult problems without a bit of patience.”

20. סובלנות
sovlanut
tolerance

  • לבעלים אין סובלנות לאלו שמאכזבים אותה.
    La-be’alim ein sovlanut le-elu she-me’akhzevim otah.
    “The owner has no tolerance for those who disappoint her.”

3. Smart Phrases for Business Meetings

Business Meeting

Assuming your business correspondence or proposal went well with your Israeli employer, clients, or partners, you’re likely to find yourself in a meeting with businesspeople chattering away in Hebrew. But fear not! The following phrases are just what you’ll need to impress those around you with your elegant handling of business Hebrew. Let’s have a look.

21. איך העסקים?
Eikh ha-‘asakim?
“How’s business?”

  • היי, גיורא. מה שלומך? איך העסקים?
    Hai, Giorah. Mah shlomkha? Eikh ha-’asakim?
    “Hi, Giora. How are you? How’s business?

 22. משא ומתן
masa u-matan
negotiations

  • בשבוע הבא אני טסה לפריז למשא ומתן מול הלקוח השוויצרי שלנו.
    Ba-shavu’a ha-ba ani tasah le-Pariz le-masa u-matan mul ha-lako’akh ha-Shveytzari shelanu.
    “Next week, I’m flying to Paris for negotiations with our Swiss client.”

 23. קומבינה
kombinah
“workaround”

  • אני יודע שהתוכנה עדיין נתקלת בשגיאות מסויימות, אבל יש לי קומבינה.
    Ani yode’a she-ha-tokhnah nitkelet be-shgi’ot mesuyamot, aval yesh li kombinah.
    “I know the program is still producing some errors, but I have a workaround.”

24. חוצפה
khutzpah
“nerve” / “gall”

  • איזה חוצפה! איך אתה מעיז להטיף לי על נימוסים?
    Eizeh khutzpah! Eikh atah mei’iz lehatif li ‘al nimusim?
    “What nerve! How dare you preach to me about manners?”

25. שפיץ
shpitz
“expert” / “whiz”

  • המהנדס שלהם פשוט שפיץ בכל מה שקשור לחשמל.
    Ha-mehandeis shelahem pashut shpitz be-khol mah she-kashur le-khashmal.
    “Their engineer is simply a whiz in all things electrical.”

26. פרוטקציה
protektziyah
“help from the inside”

  • בחיים לא נוכל להיכנס לשוק בסין בלי איזושהי פרוטקציה.
    Ba-khayim lo nukhal lehikanes la-shuk be-Sin beli eizoshehi protektziyah.
    “We’ll never be able to penetrate the Chinese market without some sort of help from the inside.”

27. מה נסגר?
Mah nisgar?
“What’s the deal?”

  • מה נסגר? אנחנו מחכים לך במשרד כבר שעתיים.
    Mah nisgar? Anakhnu mekhakim lakh ba-misrad kvar sha’atayim.
    What’s the deal? We’ve been waiting for you at the office for two hours already.”

28. סדר יום
seder yom
“agenda”

  • זהירות עם הלקוח, יש לו סדר יום משלו.
    Zehirut ‘im ha-lako’ak. Yeish lo seder yom mishelo.
    “Watch out with the client. He’s got his own agenda.”

29. כל הכבוד
kol ha-kavod
“kudos”

  • הרבעון הזה היה הטוב ביותר שלנו מאז ומתמיד. כל הכבוד לכם!
    Ha-riv’on ha-zeh hayah ha-tov beyoter shelanu mei-az u-mi-tamid. Kol ha-kavod lakhem!”
    “This quarter was our best yet. Kudos to all of you!”

30. נראה לי
nir’ah li
“it seems to me…”

  • נראה לי שכבר ראינו את הדו”ח הזה בשנה שעברה.
    Nir’ah li she-kvar ra’inu et ha-do”kh ha-zeh ba-shanah she-’avrah.
    It seems to me that we already saw this report last year.”

4. Phrases for Everyday Use

Word Magnets

Last but not least, let’s look at some advanced-level Hebrew phrases you can draw on during your everyday interactions. While there is no specific category for these, they are all common idioms that are guaranteed to lend your Hebrew that extra edge of authenticity for some street cred. A word to the wise, though: Use these expressions with caution. While a well-chosen idiom can garner admiration from even the toughest edge of Israelis, a poorly timed one—or, worse yet, one that isn’t appropriate for the situation—can easily backfire.

31. חבל על הזמן
khaval ‘al ha-zman
“it would be a waste of time talking about it (it’s so good/bad)”

  • ניסית פעם את הפלאפל שם בפינה? חבל על הזמן!
    Nisita pa’am et ha-falafel sham ba-pinah? Khaval ‘al ha-zman!
    “Have you ever tried the falafel on the corner there? (It’s so good) it would be a waste of time talking about it.

32. כואב לי הלב
ko’ev li ha-lev
“it breaks my heart”

  • כואב לי הלב אבל אני חייב לזוז.
    Ko’ev li ha-lev aval ani khayav lazuz.
    It breaks my heart, but I’ve got to get going.”

33. לך על זה
lekh ‘al zeh
“go for it”

  • מישהו רצה את המשולש האחרון?
    Mishehu ratzah et ha-meshulash ha-akharon?
    “Did anyone want the last slice?”
  • לך עז זה!
    Lekh ‘al zeh!
    Go for it!

34. אין לי מושג
ein li musag
“I have no clue”

  • אין לי מושג איך להפעיל את המכשיר הזה.
    Ein li musag eikh lehaf’il et ha-makhshir ha-zeh.
    I have no clue how to use this device.”

35. בשיא לשון הבקשה
be-si leshon ha-bakashah
“I’m begging you”

  • בשיא לשון הבקשה, הנמך את המוסיקה ותן לישון.
    Be-si leshon ha-bakashah, hanmekh et ha-musikah ve-ten lishon.
    I’m begging you, turn down the music and let me sleep.”

36. לא דובים ולא יער
lo dubim ve-lo ya’ar
“nothing of the sort”

  • אמרו לי בבנק שאקבל זיכוי תוך שבוע ימים. לא דובים ולא יער!
    Amru li ba-bank she-akabeil zikui tokh shavu’a yamim. Lo dubim ve-lo ya’ar!
    “They told me at the bank that I’d receive the credit within a week. Nothing of the sort!”

37. מה, אתה עובד עלי?
Mah, atah ‘oved ‘alai?
“What, are you kidding me?”

  • אתה אומר שאנחנו עוד פעם הולכים לקלפי? מה, אתה עובד עליי?
    Atah omer she-anakhnu ’od pa’am holkhim la-kalfi? Mah, atah oved ‘alai?
    “You’re saying we’re headed to elections yet again? What, are you kidding me?

38. נראה לך הגיוני?
Nireh lekha hegyoni?
“What were you thinking?”

  • נראה לך הגיוני לחנות מאחורי הכניסה לחנייה שלי?
    Nir’ah lekha hegyoni lakhanot me’akhorei ha-knisah la-khanayah sheli?
    What were you thinking, parking in front of the entrance to my driveway?”

39. מי אמר אני ולא קיבל?
Mi amar ani ve-lo kibel?
“Who did I miss?”

  • יש לי עוד כמה שוברים לחלק. מי אמר אני ולא קיבל?
    Yesh li ‘od kamah shovarim lekhalek. Mi amar ani ve-lo kibel?
    “I have a few more coupons to give out. Who did I miss?

40. כפרה עליך
kaparah ‘aleikha
“my darling/dear”

  • כפרה עליך, איך התגעגעתי אליך!
    Kaparah ‘aleikha, eikh hitga’aga’ti elekha!
    My dear, how I missed you!”

    *Note that this can be used for either a male or a female, and it does not typically bear any romantic connotation.

5. Level Up with HebrewPod101

That’s it for today’s lesson. We hope you’ve enjoyed these advanced Hebrew phrases for taking your Hebrew into the next phase. Remember that learning a language is a lifelong endeavor, and there is always room for improvement and growth. While these phrases are just the tip of the iceberg as far as Hebrew idioms go, they are definitely a solid start.

Have you come across any phrases that you didn’t see here but would like help understanding? Or are you still scratching your head over how to use one of the phrases included in today’s article? Don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know! We at HebrewPod101 are always happy to help. Our team of experts will get back to you with feedback. And who knows? You might just inspire our next lesson.

Until then, shalom!

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The Top 40 Intermediate Hebrew Phrases

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As you progress from a beginner to an intermediate level of Hebrew, you’ll no doubt want to expand your vocabulary so you can both understand and express more language. While anything that adds words to your repertoire is welcome, studying contextualized language based on its function or the circumstances in which it’s generally used can be greatly helpful to language students.

Rather than randomly choosing words out of the dictionary or from the pages of a newspaper or book, we here at HebrewPod101.com have put together a handy list of the top forty intermediate Hebrew phrases, grouped together by category: phrases for speaking about the past, phrases for making recommendations and complaints, phrases for reacting during a conversation, and more. We’ve also included examples of how to use these phrases in realistic contexts.

While forty may not sound like a huge number, we do recommend studying these phrases in chunks. The simplest way to do so is by category, but you could organize them differently if you feel so inclined. The key is not to overwhelm yourself and to commit to periodic reviews of the new words and phrases you acquire; this will ensure long-term retention and rapid recall.

Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at the top forty Hebrew phrases at the intermediate level.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Talking About Past Events
  2. Making and Changing Plans
  3. Giving Reasons
  4. Making Recommendations and Complaints
  5. Everyday Reactions
  6. General Etiquette
  7. Up Your Game with HebrewPod101

1. Talking About Past Events

Cave Paintings

Did you know that human language contains a unique feature not found in animal communication systems? This feature is called “displacement,” and it refers to the ability to talk about things that aren’t concrete objects in front of our eyes. This includes not only abstract concepts like love and honor, but also points in time outside of the present. 

Hebrew is a bit simpler than many European languages in that it only really has one past tense (the simple past). That said, one could argue that Hebrew makes up for its lack of variety in tenses with its great flexibility in how the past can be discussed. For example, as you’ll see below, Hebrew has a special word that means “last night”—אמש (emesh). Let’s have a look at some other words and phrases for discussing the past.

1. היה … אתמול/אמש.
Hayah… etmol/emesh.
“It was … yesterday/last night.” / “Yesterday/last night was…” / “I had … yesterday/last night.”

  • היה כיף אמש במסיבה.
    Hayah keif emesh ba-mesibah.
    It was fun last night at the party.”
  • היה לי יום נפלא אתמול בעיר העתיקה.
    Hayah li yom nifla etmol ba-’ir ha-’atikah.
    I had a great day yesterday in the old city.”

2. לפני … ימים/שבועות/חודשים/שנים
Lifnei … yamim/shavu’ot/khodashim/shanim
“… days/weeks/months/years ago”

  • הגעתי לארץ לפני שלושה שבועות.
    Higa’ti la-Aretz lifnei shloshah shavu’ot.
    “I got to Israel three weeks ago.”
  • לפני עשרה ימים, התחלתי תוכנית אימונים חדשה בחדר הכושר.
    Lifnei ‘asarah yamim, hitkhalti tokhnit imunim khadashah be-khadar ha-kosher.
    Ten days ago, I started a new workout plan at the gym.”

3. מעולם/בחיים לא
Me’olam/Ba-khayim sheli lo
“Never” [*note the double negative in Hebrew]

  • מעולם לא עשיתי צניחה חופשית.
    Le’olam lo ‘asiti tzenikhah khofshit.
    “I have never skydived.”
  • בחיים לא הכרתי מישהו כל כך מעניין כמו המורה שלנו לעברית.
    Ba-khayim lo hikarti mishehu kol kakh me’anyein kemo ha-moreh shelanu le-’Ivrit.
    “I’ve never met anyone as interesting as our Hebrew teacher.”

4. פעם
Pa’am
“Once”

  • פעם האמנתי לך, אבל היום כבר לא.
    Pa’am he’emanti lakh, aval hayom kvar lo.
    Once I would have believed you, but no longer.”
  • פעם חלמתי להיות עורכת דין, אבל אז גיליתי את הבלשנות.
    Pa’am khalamti lihiyot ‘orekhet din, aval az giliti et ha-balshanut.
    “I once dreamt of being a lawyer, but then I discovered linguistics.”

5. בעבר
Be’avar
“In the past” / “… used to”

  • קראתי המון ספרים בעבר, אבל עכשיו כבר אין לי זמן.
    Karati hamon sefarim be’avar, aval ‘akhshav kvar ein li zman.
    “I used to read a lot of books, but I don’t have the time anymore.”
  • היינו שם בעבר אבל אני לא זוכר מתי.
    Hayinu sham ba’avar aval ani lo zokheir matai.
    “We’ve been there in the past, but I don’t remember when.”

2. Making and Changing Plans

Man Looking at Schedule

Now that we’ve looked at the past a bit, let’s turn our attention to the future. Below, you’ll find some highly useful phrases for discussing plans, including changing them. Remember that Hebrew, unlike English, does not use tense to indicate intended or expected actions. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to which phrases you can use to express future plans with different connotations and in different contexts. The following intermediate phrases in Hebrew should be a great place to start. 

6. בא לך ל…
Ba lekha/lakh/lakhem/lakhen l…
“Do you feel like…” / “Are you up for…”

  • בא לך לצאת למסעדה?
    Ba lekha latzet le-mis’adah?
    Do you feel like going out to a restaurant?”
  • בא לך לראות סרט אצלי בבית?
    Ba lakh lirot seret eitzli ba-bayit?
    Are you up for watching a movie at my house?”

7. אתה מצטרף/את מצטרפת אליי ל…?
Atah mitztareif/At mitztarefet elai l…?
“Will you join me for/at…?”

  • את מצטרפת אליי למסעדה איטלקית לארוחת ערב?
    At metztarefet elai le-mis’adah Italkit le-arukhat ‘erev?
    Will you join me at an Italian restaurant for dinner?”
  • אתה מצטרף אליי להרצאה על הגשמה עצמית?
    Atah mitztareif elai lehartza’ah ‘al hagshamah ‘atzmit?
    Will you join me for a lecture on self-realization?”

8. … אתה יכול/את יכולה לבוא…?
Atah yakhol/at yekholah lavo…?
“Can … come (along)?”

  • את יכולה לבוא איתי למרכז העיר?
    At yekholah lavo iti le-merkaz ha’ir?
    Can you come downtown with me?”
  • אתה יכול לבוא לקפה עכשיו?
    Atah yakhol lavo la-kafeh ‘akhshav?
    Can you come to the café now?”

9. האם נוכל לדחות…?
Ha’im nukhal lidkhot…?
“Can we postpone…?

  • האם נוכל לדחות את הפגישה לשבוע הבא?
    Ha’im nukhal lidkhot et ha-pgishah le-shavu’a haba?
    Can we postpone the meeting till next week?”

10. בוא/י נקבע ל…
Bo/Bo’i nikba’ le…
“Let’s schedule/set a time for…”

  • בואי נקבע ליום שלישי ב-16:00.
    Bo’i nikba’ le-Yom Shlishi be-’arba ba-tzohorayim.
    Let’s schedule for Wednesday at four p.m.”

3. Giving Reasons

Woman Making Questioning Gesture

Another useful category of phrases for intermediate Hebrew learners consists of those used for giving reasons. Once you’ve gotten comfortable explaining yourself in a more basic way, you’ll want to be able to give people your reason(s) for doing or saying something—especially with such inquisitive conversation mates as Israelis! You can expect us to ask “why” about pretty much everything, in fact! Here are some of the top phrases you can use to explain your reasons or reasoning.

11. …בגלל ש…
…biglal she…
“…because…”

  • פניתי אליך בגלל שאת נראית לי סימפטית וקשובה.
    Paniti elaiyikh biglal she-at nir’et li simpatit ve-kashuvah.
    “I came to you because you seem agreeable and attentive.”
  • הגענו באיחור בגלל שהנהג הלך לאיבוד ולא רצה לבקש הכוונה.
    Higa’nu be-ikhur biglal she-ha-nahag halakh le-ibud ve-lo ratzah levakesh hakhvanah.
    “We arrived late because the driver got lost and didn’t want to ask for directions.”

12. התכוונתי…
Hitkavanti…
“I meant/intended to…”

  • התכוונתי להגיע לתערוכה אבל האוטו שלי התקלקל.
    Hitkavanti lehagi’a la-ta’arukhah aval ha-oto sheli hitkalkeil.
    I meant to go to the exhibition, but my car broke down.”

13. חשבתי ש…
Khashavti she…
“I thought that…”

  • חשבתי שתהיה עייף אז קניתי לך קפה בדרך.
    Khashavti she-tihiyeh ‘ayef az kaniti lekha kafeh ba-derekh.
    I thought that you would be tired, so I bought you a coffee on the way.”

14. אתה חייב/את חייבת להבין ש…
Atah khayav/At khayevet lehavin she…
“You must understand that…”

  • את חייבת להבין שניסיתי להתקשר, אבל הקו היה כל הזמן תפוס.
    At khayevet lehavin she-nisiti lehitkasher, aval ha-kav hayah kol ha-zman tafus.
    You must understand that I tried calling, but the line was constantly busy.”
  • אני מבין שאתה כועס אבל אתה חייב להבין שזה לא היה בכוונה.
    Ani mevin she-atah co’es, aval atah khayav lehavin she-zeh lo hayah be-khavanah.
    “I understand that you’re upset, but you must understand that it was unintentional.”

15. לא סתם…
Lo stam…
“… for nothing” / “It’s no coincidence that…”

  • לא סתם קוראים לו דוקטור. הוא יודע על מה הוא מדבר.
    Lo stam kor’im lo doktor. Hu yode’a ‘al mah hu medaber.
    “They don’t call him ‘doctor’ for nothing. He knows what he’s talking about.”

4. Making Recommendations and Complaints

Man Talking to Waiter at Restaurant

Another key category of intermediate Hebrew phrases consists of those related to making recommendations or complaints. There is no end to the situations in Israeli life where you’ll find yourself wishing to complain. And it goes without saying that part of the Israeli way is offering advice—including recommendations—whether invited to do so or not!

16. ניסית פעם…?
Nisita’/nisit pa’am…?
“Have you ever tried…?”

  • ניסית פעם אוכל קוריאני? זה טעים ממש!
    Nisita pa’am okhel Kore’ani? Ze ta’im mamash!
    Have you ever tried Korean food? It’s really tasty!”

17. אני מציע/ה…
Ani metzi’a/metzi’ah…
“I recommend/suggest…”

  • בהתחשב במזג האוויר, אני מציעה שנשאר בבית ונבשל משהו.
    Behitkhasheiv be-mezeg ha-avir, ani metzi’ah she-nisha’er ba-bayit ve-nevashel mashehu.
    “In light of the weather, I suggest that we stay at home and cook something.”

18. כדאי לך לנסות…
Kedai lekha/lakh lenasot…
“You ought to try…”

  • אם את אוהבת אתגרים, כדאי לך לנסות טיפוס הרים.
    Im at ohevet etgarim, kedai lakh lenasot tipus harim.
    “If you like challenges, you ought to try mountain climbing.”

19.לצערי / צר לי לומר ש…
Le’tsa’ari…. / tsar li lomar she-…
“I’m sorry to say that…” / “Unfortunately…”

  • לצערי הטיול שלנו לא היה מי יודע מה.
    Le’tsa’ari ha-tiyul shelanu lo hayah mi yodei’a mah.
    I’m sorry to say that our trip wasn’t that great.”
  • צר לי לומר שאתה לא הטיפוס שלי.
    Tzar li lomar she-atah lo ha-tipus sheli.
    Unfortunately, you’re not my type.”

20. אני לא ממליץ/ממליצה על …
Ani lo mamlitz/mamlitzah ‘al…
“I don’t recommend…”

  • אני לא ממליץ על כביש החוף. הוא תמיד עמוס בשעות האלה.
    Ani lo mamlitz ‘al kvish ha-khof. Hu tamid ‘amus ba-sha’ot ha-eleh.
    I don’t recommend the coastal road. It’s always backed up at this hour.”

5. Everyday Reactions

Dancer in Bewildering Pose

This category differs somewhat to the previous ones in that it’s a grab bag of reactions that you could use in everyday conversations. They are quite versatile and can take on different connotations depending on how and when you use them. But that’s all the more reason to experiment with them and see how your conversation partners respond.

21. נהדר
Nehedar
“Great”

  • -קיבלתי 10 במבחן הסופי!
    נהדר! כל הכבוד!
    Kibalti ‘eser ba-mivkhan ha-sofi!
    Nehedar! Kol ha-kavod!
    -“I got an A on the final exam.”
    -“Great! Way to go!”

22. מעולה
Me’uleh
“Wonderful”

  • -איך תה הצמחים שלך?
    -מעולה! טעים מאוד.
    -“How’s your herbal tea?”
    -“Wonderful! Really tasty.”

23. חבל
Khaval
“What a shame”

  • -יובל אמר שבסוף הוא לא בא לאסוף אותנו.
    חבל. אז נצטרך להזמין מונית.
    -Yuval amar she-ba’sof hu lo ba le’esof otanu.
    Khaval! Az nitztareikh lehazmin monit.
    -“Yuval said that in the end, he isn’t coming to pick us up.”
    -“What a shame. Now we’ll need to order a taxi.”

24. איזה כיף
Eizeh kef
“Cool” / “What fun”

  • -אתה מוזמן לבלות את הסופ”ש אצלנו בקיבוץ.
    איזה כיף. להביא בגדי ים?
    -Atah muzman levalot et ha-sofash etzleinu ba-kibbutz.
    Eizeih kef. Lehavi beged yam?
    -“You’re invited to spend the weekend with us on the kibbutz.”
    -“What fun. Should I bring a bathing suit?”

25. איזה באסה
Eizeh ba’asah
“What a bummer”

  • -שמעת שביטלו את ההופעה בגלל המגיפה?
    -כן, איזה באסה. דווקא רציתי ללכת.
    -Shama’t she-bitlu et ha-hofa’ah biglal ha-magefah?
    -Kein, eizeh ba’asah. Davkah ratziti lalekhet.
    -“Did you hear that they canceled the show due to the pandemic?”
    -“Yes, what a bummer. I really wanted to go.”

26. מה אתה אומר/את אומרת?
Mah atah omer/at omeret?
“You don’t say.”

  • -ידעת שיש לי אח תאום?
    מה אתה אומר? אתם זהים?
    -Yada’t she-yesh li akh te’om?
    Mah atah omer? Atem zehim?
    -“Did you know that I have a twin brother?”
    -“You don’t say. Are you identical?”

27. וואלה?
Wallah?
“Really?” / “Is that so?”

  • -השבוע קיבלתי הצעת עבודה מחברה בלונדון.
    וואלה? מגניב.
    -Hashavu’a kibalti hatza’at ‘avodah mi-khevrah be-London.
    Wallah? Magniv.
    -“This week, I got a job offer from a company in London.”
    -“Is that so? That’s great.”

28. נו?
Nu?
“So?” / “What of it?”

  • -שמעת את החדשות הבוקר?
    -כן, נו?
    -שוב הולכים לבחירות!
    -Shama’ta et ha-khadashot ha-boker?
    -Ken, nu?
    -Shuv holkhim le-b’khirot!
    -“Did you hear the news this morning?”
    -“Yeah, so?
    -“We’re having yet another round of elections.”

29. מה זה קשור?
Mah zeh kashur?
“What has that got to do with it/anything?”

  • -אתה צמחוני, נכון? אז הבאתי לך ספר על צמחים.
    מה זה קשור? אני צמחוני, לא גנן.
    -Atah tzimkhoni, nakhon? Az heveiti lekha sefer ‘al tzmakhim.
    Mah zeh kashur. Ani tzimkhoni, lo ganan.
    -“You’re a vegetarian, right? So I brought you a book on plants.”
    -“What has that got to do with anything? I’m a vegetarian, not a gardener.”

30. ומה אתה רוצה/את שאני אעשה?
Ve-mah atah rotzeh/at rotzah she-ani e’eseh?
“What do you want me to do?”

  • -שוטר, הבחור שם מפצח גרעינים ברחוב.
    -נו? מה את רוצה שאני אעשה?
    -Shoter, ha-bakhur sham mefatze’akh gar’inim ba-rekhov.
    -Nu? Mah at rotzah she-ani e’eseh?
    -“Officer, that guy there is spitting seeds onto the street.”
    -“So? What do you want me to do?

6. General Etiquette

Last but not least, let’s look at some intermediate Hebrew phrases that can help you with your etiquette. Granted, as anyone who knows anything about Israel is sure to be aware of, Israelis are not world-famous for being polite. But that doesn’t mean you can’t earn some brownie (or halva) points for displaying a basic degree of etiquette and manners. In fact, maybe you’ll get lucky and rub it off on some Sabras! Here are some phrases you can use to add a bit of politeness to any conversation.

35. בתיאבון!
Be-te’avon!
“Bon appetit!”

36. ברוך הבא/ברוכה הבאה/ברוכים הבאים!
Barukh ha-ba/Brukhah ha-ba’ah/Brukhim ha-ba’im!
“Welcome!”

37. הרגש/י בבית.
Targish/Targishi ba-bayit.
“Make yourself at home.”

38. בשמחה.
Be-simkhah.
“Gladly.”

39. נהיה בקשר.
Nihiyeh be-kesher.
“We’ll be in touch.”

40. נסיעה טובה.
Nesi’ah tova.
“Have a good trip.”

7. Up Your Game with HebrewPod101

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on intermediate Hebrew phrases. Remember to practice and review them to ensure they “stick.” By the same token, don’t overwhelm yourself. Just focus on a few phrases at a time, and soon enough, you’ll have them all under your belt.

Are you finding yourself perplexed over one of the phrases or examples we’ve provided? Are there any phrases you know that aren’t here but which you think should be? We love to hear from our learners, so please don’t hesitate to contact us; someone on our team of Hebrew pros will do his or her best to help address your concern.

Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 10 Hebrew Podcasts to Improve Your Language Skills

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Most people know that the best recipe for mastering a foreign language is immersion. This means exposing yourself to the language as much as possible, and it’s typically associated with living in a country where that language is spoken so you can really live it: listening to it on the radio, reading it in the news, speaking and hearing it in cafés, etc.

But even if you don’t have the resources to move abroad, Hebrew podcasts can be particularly helpful for you. Israel is the only country where Hebrew is an official language, even though you can find Hebrew-speaking Israelis all over the world. The reality is that it’s not always feasible for Hebrew learners to travel to Israel due to its geographic distance and/or travel costs. But don’t worry! Listening to a Hebrew podcast or two can simulate language immersion by enveloping you in the Hebrew language—without you ever needing to leave home.

In Hebrew, a podcast is sometimes just called a פודקאסט (podcast), but the proper Hebrew word for it is הסכת (hesket). Not only are podcasts real, live examples of Hebrew being used in its natural habitat, but they can also be a refreshing change of pace from grammar lessons and vocabulary lists. Indeed, listening to podcasts can be a surprisingly effective method for improving your Hebrew—not in spite of their low-pressure, non-academic nature but rather because of it. As you lend your ear to the grammar, vocabulary, and speech patterns of native Hebrew speakers, you’ll find that elements of language usage just seem to seep in.

Woman with Headphones On

All that being said, there are some important considerations to bear in mind when approaching Hebrew podcasts as learning aids. Let’s have a look at some general information on how podcasts can help language learners and some tips on how best to use them to your advantage. Then, we’ll check out the top 10 Hebrew podcasts, complete with an overview of the level and focus of each one.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. How can podcasts help you learn Hebrew?
  2. What can you do to get the most out of podcasts?
  3. The Top 10 Hebrew Podcasts for Language Learners
  4. It’s called HebrewPod101 for a reason!

1. How can podcasts help you learn Hebrew?

Audio Waves

As mentioned, the most effective way to acquire a foreign language is through immersion. We can define immersion in both a positive sense and a negative sense: positive in terms of exposing yourself to as much Hebrew as possible, and negative in terms of limiting how much you use your native language or any other language but Hebrew.

The best way to achieve this is simply by spending time in Israel, where Hebrew is the language of everyday life. In fact, other than particular expat enclaves, Arab neighborhoods, and other specific contexts, you would be hard-pressed not to get a vast amount of exposure to Hebrew by just placing yourself within the borders of Israel.

There’s no arguing that this is the most effective and authentic way to study Hebrew in earnest, but for many, it is simply not a possibility. Whether you cannot afford to travel or to take time off, or you simply wish to work on your Hebrew before taking a trip to Israel, you’re lucky to live in an age where, thanks to the proliferation of Hebrew media, Israel can come to you.

Elsewhere on HebrewPod101.com, we’ve talked about using music, movies, and TV shows to garner more exposure to genuine Hebrew. But now, let’s see how podcasts specifically can contribute to achieving your language learning goals.

Woman in radio studio with microphone
  1. Tuning in to Hebrew podcasts is a great way to passively boost your listening skills. While it may not feel like you’re really learning in the traditional sense, as you will not be given homework or exams, trust us when we say that just listening to authentic Hebrew will go a long way toward honing your listening comprehension. And the more you listen, the more you’ll learn—much of the time without even noticing that any learning is going on! You’ll just suddenly realize that you comprehend that much more of what a speaker is saying, or that you can understand a word you thought you’d never seen before.
  1. Your vocabulary will grow by leaps and bounds. Because you’ll be listening to native speakers in a more natural context (rather than teachers in a classroom), you’ll benefit from exposure to the full range of vocabulary a native Israeli would use to express themself: slang, jargon, and other linguistic elements that you may not find in academic resources for language learners.
  1. You will get contextualized grammar to model real-life usage. While textbooks typically have examples to model the grammar points being taught, listening to podcasts means you’ll hear how Hebrew grammar works as a matter of course, but without being bashed over the head with grammar rules and repetitive drills. In other words, you’ll naturally reinforce grammar points you’ve already learned and may very well extrapolate new grammar features just by hearing them used multiple times.
  1. Your pronunciation will flourish. This one is a bit more personal, as some people struggle more than others in this regard. Depending on your native language and your own ability to mimic foreign phoneme production, you may find it more or less difficult to produce the proper pronunciation of Hebrew words. Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly strong in terms of reproducing natural-sounding pronunciation, you’ll at the very least come to comprehend it far better simply by exposing yourself to natural Hebrew speech.

2. What can you do to get the most out of podcasts?

Woman Playing Record in Studio

Now that we’ve seen how Hebrew podcasts can aid you in your language learning endeavors, let’s see some of the ways you can ensure you reap all the benefits they have to offer. Obviously, any Hebrew exposure is better than none. But there are certainly some tips that can help you pick the right podcasts for you, as well as some guidelines on how to use them effectively in the context of studying Hebrew as a foreign language.

  1. Pick the right level. This is, admittedly, somewhat trickier than choosing a study course or textbook, as most podcasts tend not to be graded by level. That said, simple common sense is your friend. For example, a podcast on general-knowledge topics or on subject matter you’re already familiar with will be easier to follow than podcasts on highly specialized topics full of jargon and esoteric information.

    Additionally, the host can have a huge impact on how easy or difficult the podcast is to follow. How fast do they speak? How clearly do they enunciate? What register are they using (e.g., formal vs. informal, academic vs. street talk, etc.)? The same is true for podcasts with guests. While multiple guests will mean more exposure to more speakers, it’s also likely to represent an additional challenge.

    You want to pick a level that feels challenging, but not overly so. Even if you can only get the gist of what’s being talked about, you’re doing fine as long as you feel you’re more or less keeping up. Don’t listen to anything that’s too easy, but also steer away from podcasts that leave you dumbfounded.

  1. Choose podcasts on topics that interest you. Podcasts should be an enjoyable learning aid rather than a frustrating one. For that reason, it’s best to seek out podcasts on themes you enjoy and maybe even know a bit about. This will help connect to top-down knowledge you already have, empowering you to focus chiefly on language acquisition without having to scratch your head over the subject matter itself. Whatever you do, don’t listen to anything that bores you!

  1. Mix it up. Whether you listen to a mix of podcasts or simply find one that’s a variety show, the important thing is to ensure you’re getting varied exposure. The reasons are obvious. The more you listen to Hebrew speakers talking about a range of topics, the more your vocabulary specifically and language knowledge in general will grow.

    Radio Tower
    1. Have a notepad handy. Just because you’re not in a classroom where you’ll be getting a grade doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the most of every chance to learn. Jotting down a few new words from each podcast to review and quiz yourself on later is a great way to ensure you’ll ultimately retain them. If you’re unsure of a word’s spelling, don’t fret. Just write it down the way you think it sounds, and ask a teacher or an Israeli friend for help later.

    1. Set a schedule, more or less. While it isn’t essential to tune in to every episode of a podcast, it’s a good idea to have some sort of regimen to go with your Hebrew podcast listening. If you can fit in a daily podcast during your commute or over breakfast, that’s great. But even three or four times a week can go a long way toward boosting your language abilities.

    3. The Top 10 Hebrew Podcasts for Language Learners

    Boy with Headphones and Radio

    Now that we’ve seen how podcasts can help you learn Hebrew and discussed some of the best ways to use them, let’s check out this carefully curated list of the top 10 Hebrew podcasts for learners. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive; quite the contrary. There is a wealth of podcasts in the Hebrew language on just about every topic under the sun, so consider this a springboard to discovery.

    1. HebrewPod101
      HebrewPod101 Logo with Woman Wearing Headphones

      While we don’t mean to toot our own horn, we at HebrewPod101 diligently work to produce a broad range of podcasts on many different topics. And in our case specifically, we record every podcast episode with Hebrew learners in mind! For this reason, HebrewPod101 can be a great place to start. Our podcasts cover all levels, and they touch on everything from grammar points and vocabulary to general tips for effective learning, Israeli and Jewish culture, and much more.

    1. KAN Hesketim
    Stack of Textbooks

    This is actually not one podcast but a whole range of podcasts put out by KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. Topics span the gamut from popular culture and current events to the Bible and Jewish history, while individual episodes can be as short as 10 minutes and as long as an hour and a half. This is a great plus, as you can choose a podcast to fit whatever time you have available.

    KAN Hesketim podcasts tend to be somewhat “newsy”: hosts speak in the flowery, clearly enunciated, and rather old-fashioned style typical of mainstream Israeli newscasters. This can be helpful in terms of your comprehension, but, on the other hand, it’s not always representative of how most Israelis actually speak. For this reason, it’s hard to recommend it for a specific level. Rather, try listening to a bunch of different podcasts until you find one that feels comfortable for you.

  1. Mayeshbeze

    Mayeshbeze, or ?מה יש בזה (Mah yesh be-zeh?) in Hebrew, literally means “What’s in it?” but is something more akin to, “What’s this all about?” Described as an “historic-comic podcast series,” it’s hosted by Kobi Melamed and Elad Itzhakian. Each week, they discuss a random true event from history that is in some way comical, strange, and/or hard to believe. For example, one episode deals with the infamous case of Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants, in which Stella Liebeck sued McDonald’s after burning her pelvic region with a cup of its coffee.

    While they use the informal register, the hosts do tend to speak at a fast clip, so this can be challenging for beginner-level Hebrew learners. On the other hand, an extra plus to the podcast is that the hosts typically schmooze about random things for a few minutes before plunging into the historical case on tap for the day—something of a lightweight pregame before the show starts in earnest.

  1. Israel Story
    Israeli Flag

    Israel Story, or סיפור ישראלי (Sipur Yisra’eli) in Hebrew, has been self-described as an Israeli counterweight to This American Life. It focuses on “extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis” while shying away from divisive issues like politics, making this podcast all about the human angle. Indeed, it strives to portray Israeli life and Israelis with all of the diversity and color that goes with them.

    Stories are told in a fairly casual manner, so as long as you’re comfortable with the host, you don’t have to worry about sesquipedalians or arcana. Just like This American Life, the episodes in this podcast comprise multiple stories linked by a common theme. While the podcast has also been available in English since 2014, in collaboration with Tablet magazine, we recommend you challenge yourself to try it out in Hebrew before you check it out in English!

  1. Reshet Osim Historia
    Open Book

    Reshet Osim Historia, or רשת עושים היסטוריה in Hebrew, means “Making History Network” but it comprises much more than just historically minded podcasts. Like KAN Hesketim, Reshet Osim Historia is a large—according to its own website, the largest—podcast network. You can find an immense range of podcasts in Hebrew on various topics, at different difficulty levels, and of varying durations.

    The offerings are so broad that the website even includes a מדריך הפודקאסטים (Madrikh ha-Podkastim) or “Podcast Guide.” This can help you find just the right podcast for you by providing the name, link, RSS, and category for each podcast it hosts, as well as a brief description. With such a wide selection, you’re sure to find a podcast (or five) that suits you.

  1. Hebrew Podcasts

    This is one of the few Hebrew podcast websites directly aimed at language learners. As such, it offers themed lessons based on things like vocabulary categories or specific grammar points. The site labels each podcast by level, and each podcast comes with additional resources such as flashcards and quizzes. However, unlike the other sites we’ve listed so far, this one is not free but subscription-based.

  1. Hebrew Survival Phrases

    Just as its name suggests, this one is similar to those thin-spined phrasebooks printed for travelers. It offers podcast-style lessons that cover essential words and phrases for use in specific situations and contexts, such as greeting strangers or ordering at a restaurant. Though the Hebrew Survival Phrases podcast does not rank its content by level, the episodes are ordered, meaning you’ll probably get the most out of them if you follow them sequentially. You can either listen to the podcasts right on the website or download them for later.

  1. LearnHebrewPod

    Another educational site, LearnHebrewPod focuses on helping Hebrew language learners with their listening and speaking skills. All the lessons are in podcast format and cover everyday topics like family, travel, hobbies, food, and more. There’s also a separate section focused on teaching Jewish prayers, as well as guides on the Hebrew alphabet.

    The main part of the website centers on podcast episodes that follow an Israeli, Jonathan, around in his daily life, which it uses as an entrée to various learning opportunities in real-life contexts. Note that this is another subscription-based option.

  1. Streetwise Hebrew
    Israeli Shekel

    This Hebrew learning podcast, hosted by Guy Sharett, is a great option if you’re pressed for time and just want to squeeze in a quick Hebrew fix. Episodes are about five to 15 minutes long and focus on one topic, such as a specific word or expression. The podcast centers on idiomatic Hebrew, often illustrated via an interesting or funny anecdote.

  1. Criminal Record Podcast
    Man in Handcuffs

    Last but not least, let’s face it: We all love crime stories. The Criminal Record Podcast, or עבר פלילי (‘Avar Plili) “Criminal Record” in Hebrew, is a series of episodes presented by Israeli criminologist Dana Hilman. Lasting half an hour to an hour, each episode delves into the lurid details of some dark crime past or present, some in Israel and others elsewhere in the world.

    A nice advantage is that the speech used tends to be slow and clearly enunciated for dramatic effect, making it easier to follow along. An additional bonus is that episodes include interviews with people involved in investigating the crimes under discussion.


4. It’s called HebrewPod101 for a reason!

As you can see, podcasts are a fantastic learning aid that can simulate immersion from anywhere. Podcasts cover diverse topics, offer access to real native speakers, and span a broad array of difficulty levels, lengths, and registers. But what all podcasts have in common is that they are on-demand, meaning you can use them whenever and as often as you wish, at your own pace.

HebrewPod101 is called that precisely because we aim to maintain a similar attitude with the materials we offer our learners, most of which are audio-based. We know that learning a language can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it has to be stressful. Because we offer a range of materials on demand, you can study at your leisure and in the order you see fit. Additionally, you can take the reins as you progress with your own Hebrew learning trajectory, focusing on what you want and skipping whatever is irrelevant or not of interest to you.

And even as you study independently, know that our team of experts is always happy to field your questions and hear your comments. If you have any questions about podcasts or any other aspect of Hebrew learning, please reach out to us. We would love to hear from you.

Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 40 Simple Hebrew Phrases for Beginners

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Learning a new language is no small task. Between grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and even different social norms and body language, it’s easy to feel at a loss as to where to start. Today, we’ll arm you with the top 40 Hebrew phrases for beginners—simple but highly practical expressions and structures for a variety of situations.

We’ll be covering: 

  • Basic greetings and salutations
  • Courtesy phrases for making polite conversation
  • Language to use when shopping or dining out
  • Some phrases you can use to ask for help when you really need it
Woman Ordering in Shop

If you’re entirely new to Hebrew, it’s worth noting a few key features of the language that will help you along as you study the phrases below. First off, Hebrew is an abjad, meaning that, like Arabic and Farsi, vowels are not actual letters but rather diacritics; think of them as dots and dashes that adorn a consonant and tell you which vowel sound goes with it.

To make matters more complicated, these diacritics are typically omitted from written and printed Hebrew, meaning you’re often looking at only consonants. This may sound daunting, but you’ll get used to it! Plus, we’ve added a pronunciation guide for each phrase and example sentence to ease things a bit.

Another key fact you should know about Hebrew is that it’s big on gender. Not only does Hebrew apply gender to living creatures based on biological gender, but all nouns and pronouns are gendered as either male or female (often without any apparent logic). In addition, all adjectives and verbs have to take into account the gender and number of the nouns they modify. Again, don’t sweat it for now! Just be aware of this as you study these Hebrew beginner phrases and their example sentences.

Last but not least, if you speak English or another European language, it’s more than likely that some of Hebrew’s sounds will be hard for you to pronounce. Don’t stress over this! It gets easier over time, especially if you practice on a regular basis. We recommend using the many resources HebrewPod101 offers, such as video lessons with pronunciation modeling from native speakers.

With all that in mind, let’s have a look at the top 40 basic Hebrew phrases for beginners!

Woman Reading Book

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Greetings & Self-introductions
  2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions
  3. Dining & Shopping Phrases
  4. Asking for Help
  5. Let HebrewPod101 get you set with all the basics.

1. Greetings & Self-introductions

Woman Waving

Obviously, it always makes sense to start at the beginning. While some Israelis can be somewhat abrupt at times, skipping the niceties of introductions and cutting right to the chase, you’ll still want to mind your manners, right? The following phrases should give you a solid place to start as you work on meeting and greeting native Hebrew speakers.

1. מה שלומך?
Mah shlomkha/shlomekh?
“How are you?”

  • מה שלומך, דן?
    Mah shlomkha, Dan?
    How are you, Dan?”
  • מה שלומך, דנה?
    Mah shlomekh, Danah?
    How are you, Dana?”

2. איך הולך?
Eikh holekh?
“How’s it going?”

  • איך הולך? מה שלום המשפחה?
    Eikh holekh? Mah shlom ha-mishpakhah?
    How’s it going? How’s the family?”

3. מה חדש?
Mah khadash?
“What’s new?”

  • מה חדש, אחי? מזמן לא דיברנו.
    Mah khadash, akhi? Mi-zman lo dibarnu.
    What’s new, brother? We haven’t spoken for a long time.”

4. בוקר טוב.
Boker tov.
“Good morning.”

  • בוקר טוב. כבר אכלתם ארוחת בוקר?
    Boker tov. Kvar akhaltem arukhat boker?
    Good morning. Have you already had breakfast?”

5. צהריים טובים.
Tzohorayim tovim.
“Good afternoon.”

  • צהריים טובים. בא לך ללכת לים?
    Tzohorayim tovim. Ba lakh lalekhet la-yam?
    Good afternoon. Do you want to go to the beach?”
Cartoon of Man with Sun

6. ערב טוב.
‘Erev tov.
“Good evening.”

  • ערב טוב. כרטיס אחד, בבקשה.
    ‘Erev tov. Kartis ekhad bevakashah.
    Good evening. One ticket, please.”

7. לילה טוב.
Laylah tov.
“Goodnight.”

  • לילה טוב. חלומות פז!
    Laylah tov. Khalomot paz!
    Goodnight. Sweet dreams!”

8. נעים להכיר.
Na’im lehakir.
“Nice to meet you.”

  • היי, טל. אני רוברט. נעים להכיר.
    Hai, Tal. Ani Robert. Na’im lehakir.
    “Hi, Tal. I’m Robert. Nice to meet you.”

9. שמי…
Shmi…
“My name is…” / “I’m…”

  • שמי רונן. איך קוראים לך?
    Shmi Ronen. Eikh korim lekha?
    I’m Ronen. What’s your name?”

10. אני מ…
Ani mi/mei…
“I’m from..”

  • שלום. שמי רונדה. אני משיקגו.
    Shalom. Shmi Rondah. Ani mi-Shikago.
    “Hi. My name is Ronda. I’m from Chicago.”

2. Courtesy Phrases & Social Expressions

Handshake

Now let’s take a look at some useful Hebrew phrases for courteous and polite conversation. Think of this as an emergency kit for most social interactions you’ll have in Israel. It is worth noting that Israelis are typically rather informal compared to people of some other cultures, but don’t mistake that for lack of courtesy—we just show it in our own special way, of course!

To make things easier, we’ve chosen only phrases that do not require any modification based on the gender of the speaker or the addressee. Basically, these are stock phrases, so feel free to use them liberally, wherever appropriate.

11. תודה.
Todah.
“Thank you.” / “Thanks.”

  • תודה על הפרחים!
    Todah ‘al ha-prakhim.
    Thank you for the flowers.”

12. בבקשה.
Bevakashah.
“You’re welcome.” / “Please.”
*Note that this one can mean either “you’re welcome” or “please,” depending on the context, as illustrated by the example below.

  • אפשר כוס תה בבקשה?
    -Efshar kos teh bevakashah?
    -“Could I have a cup of tea, please?”
  • -בטח. הנה, קחי.
    -Betakh. Hineh, k’khi.
    -“Of course. Here you go.”
  • -תודה.
    -Todah.
    -“Thank you.”
  • בבקשה.
    Bevakashah.
    -“You’re welcome.”

13. סליחה.
Slikhah.
“Sorry.” / “Pardon.”

  • סליחה, איפה השירותים?
    Slikhah, eifoh ha-sherutim?
    “Pardon, where is the bathroom?”

14. אין בעיה.
Ein ba’ayah.
“No problem.”

  • -תודה שאספת אותי מהתחנה המרכזית.
    -Todah she-asafta oti me-ha-takhanah ha-merkazit.
    -“Thanks for picking me up from the bus station.”
  • אין בעיה.
    Ein be’ayah.
    -“No problem.”

15. ברשותך
Bi-rshutkha / Bi-rshuteikh
“If you wouldn’t mind”

  • ברשותך, הייתי רוצה לחנות כאן.
    Bi-rshutkha, hayiti rotzeh lakhanot kan.
    If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to park here.”

Silhouette of People Waving

16. להתראות.
Lehitra’ot.
“Goodbye.” / “See you later.”

  • תודה שבאתם. להתראות!
    Todah she-batem. Lehitra’ot!
    “Thanks for coming. Goodbye!”

17. עד מחר.
‘Ad makhar.
“See you tomorrow.”

  • עד מחר. שיהיה לך ערב נעים.
    ‘Ad makhar. She-yehiyeh lakh ‘erev na’im.
    “See you tomorrow. Have a pleasant evening.”

18. עד הפעם הבאה
‘Ad ha-pa’am ha-ba’ah
“Till next time”

  • היה אחלה אימון! עד הפעם הבאה, גבר.
    Hayah akhlah imun! ‘Ad ha-pa’am ha-ba’ah, gever.
    “That was a great training session. Till next time, buddy.”

19. כל טוב.
Kol tuv.
“Be well.”

  • נסיעה טובה! כל טוב.
    Nesi’ah tovah! Kol tuv.
    “Have a good trip! Be well.”

20. ד”ש ל…
Dash le…
“Regards to…”
*ד”ש is an acronym for דרישת שלום (drishat shalom), literally “demanding/seeking peace.” It is equivalent to “regards” in English.

  • ד”ש לכל המשפחה.
    Dash le-khol ha-mishpakhah.
    Regards to the whole family.”

3. Dining & Shopping Phrases

Chef Seasoning Dish

Our next set of beginner phrases in Hebrew consists of expressions and sentence patterns you’ll need when you’re at the store, the market, or a restaurant. Obviously, this is just a crash course in shopping and dining out in Israel. After all, the art of negotiation is so powerful and omnipresent in Israeli culture that many restaurants don’t even display prices for the dishes on the menu. This leaves room for them to work you up on the price, or—if you know how—for you to work them down.

21. אדוני? / גברתי?
Adoni? / Gvirti?
“Sir?” / “Miss?”

  • אדוני, אני רוצה להזמין שולחן לשלוש.
    Adoni, ani rotzah lehazmin shulkhan le-shalosh.
    Sir, I’d like to reserve a table for three.”

22. האם אפשר…?
Ha’im efshar…?
“Could I have…?”

  • גברתי, האם אפשר לקבל תפריט באנגלית?
    Gvirti, ha’im efshar lekabel tafrit be-Anglit?
    “Miss, could I have an English menu?”

23. יש לכם…?
Yeish lakhem…?
“Do you have…?”

  • יש לכם תפריט יינות?
    Yesh lakhem tafrit yeinot?
    Do you have a wine list?”

24. אשמח…
Esmakh…
“I’d love…”

  • אשמח לקבל אספרסו כפול.
    Esmakh lekabel espreso kaful.
    I’d love a double espresso.”

25. כמה זה עולה?
Kamah zeh oleh?
“How much is it?”

  • הכובע הזה ממש יפה. כמה זה עולה?
    Ha-kova’ ha-zeh mamash yafeh. Kamah zeh oleh?
    “This hat is really nice. How much is it?”

Woman Checking Out at Bookstore

26. אפשר עודף, בבקשה?
Efshar ‘odef, bevakashah?
“Could I get some change, please?”

יש לי רק שטר של מאה. אפשר עודף, בבקשה?
Yesh li rak shtar shel me’ah. Efshar ‘odef, bevakashah?“I only have a one-hundred shekel bill. Could I get some change, please?”

27. אתם מקבלים כרטיסי אשראי?
Atem mekablim kartisei ashrai?
“Do you accept credit cards?”

אין עליי מזומן. אתם מקבלים כרטיסי אשראי?
Ein alai mezuman. Atem mekablim kartisei ashrai?
“I don’t have any cash on me. Do you accept credit cards?”

28. אפשר למדוד?
Efshar limdod?
“Can I try this/it on?”

אהבתי את השמלה הזאת. אפשר למדוד?
Ahavti et ha-simlah ha-zot. Efshar limdod?
“I like this dress. Can I try it on?”

29. יש לכם את זה בצבע אחר?
Yeish lakhem et zeh be-tzeva’ akher?
“Do you have this/it in another color?”

הארנק הזה הוא בדיוק מה שחיפשתי אבל יש לכם את זה בצבע אחר?
Ha-arnak ha-zeh hu bidiyuk mah she-khipasti aval yesh lakhem et zeh be-tzeva’ akher?
“This wallet is just what I was looking for, but do you have it in another color?”

30. אני אקח את זה.
Ani ekhakh et zeh.
“I’ll take it.”

אני אקח את זה. כמה זה ביחד?
Ani ekhakh et zeh. Kamah zeh be-yakhad?
I’ll take it. How much is that altogether?”

4. Asking for Help

People Holding Out Puzzle Pieces

Finally, here are some absolutely essential basic Hebrew phrases for beginners, namely phrases you can use when you’re in need of assistance. While Israelis can sometimes come across as a bit hard-edged, most of us are quite happy to help someone in need. Especially if you make the effort to learn how to ask for help in Hebrew, you should expect someone to come to your aid.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask police officers, border patrol, soldiers, and the like for help, especially if your situation is urgent. Just be sensitive to the reality of Israel, where real and present danger does often exist. Therefore, be sure not to exaggerate!

31. איפה…?
Eiyfoh…?
“Where is/are…?”

  • איפה תחנת הרכבת?
    Eifoh takhanat ha-rakevet?
    Where is the train station?”

32. איך מגיעים ל…?
Eiykh megi’im le/la…?
“How do I get to…?”

  • איך מגיעים לקניון?
    Eiykh megi’im la-kanyon?
    How do I get to the mall?”

33. אתה מדבר/את מדברת אנגלית?
Atah medabeir/At medaberet Anglit?
“Do you speak English?”

  • סליחה, את מדברת אנגלית?
    Slikhah, at medaberet Anglit?
    “Pardon, do you speak English?”

34. איך אומרים … בעברית?
Eiykh omrim … be-Ivrit?
“How do you say … in Hebrew?”

  • איך אומרים cell phone בעברית?
    Eiykh omrim cell phone be-Ivrit?
    How do you say cell phone in Hebrew?”

35. תוכל/תוכלי לחזור על זה?
Tukhal/Tukhli lakhazor ‘al zeh?
“Could you repeat that?”

  • איך? תוכל לחזור על זה?
    Eikh? Tukhal lakhazor ‘al zeh?
    “Come again. Could you repeat that?”

Man Helping Other Man Rock Climb

36. סליחה. שוב?
Slikhah. Shuv?
“Sorry. Once more?”

  • סליחה. פלאפון? שוב?
    Slikhah. Pelefon? Shuv?
    Sorry. Pelefon? Once more?”

37. לא הבנתי.
Lo hevanti.
“I don’t understand.”
*Literally: “I haven’t understood.”

  • ישר ישר ואז ימינה? לא הבנתי.
    Yashar yashar ve-az yeminah? Lo hevanti.
    “Just go straight and then left? I don’t understand.”

38. אני צריך/צריכה לראות רופא.
Ani tsarikh/tsrikha lir’ot rofeih.
“I need a doctor.”

  • אני צריכה לראות רופא. כואב לי הבטן ממש.
    Ani tsrikha lir’ot rofeh. Ko’evet li ha-beten mamash.
    I need a doctor. My stomach really hurts.”

39. האם תוכל/תוכלי לעזור לי?
Ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li?
“Could you help me?”

  • האם תוכל לעזור לי? אני אבוד.
    Ha’im tukhal/tukhli la’azor li? Ani avud.
    Could you help me? I’m lost.”

40. הצילו!
Hatzilu!
“Help!”
*This one is pretty much a standalone expression. Don’t use it unless you really need it, as Israelis will come rushing to your aid. No crying wolf!

5. Let HebrewPod101 get you set with all the basics.

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. While these are the top 40 simple Hebrew phrases for beginners, there is much, much more to learn. And that’s exactly why we’re here! HebrewPod101 is proud to offer content covering a variety of topics and designed for every difficulty level. 

If you’ve been reading this lesson, chances are you’re at a beginner level. Be sure to check out all the beginner materials we offer, such as practice conversations, grammar and pronunciation guides, and plenty more words and phrases to bolster your beginner Hebrew vocabulary.

While taking on a new language is definitely a challenge, we believe that there is no reason to suffer while you do so. That’s why we strive for lessons that are not only useful and informative, but also fun. Is there any topic you’d like us to cover? Feel free to get in touch and let us know. We’re always happy to hear from you.

Until next time, shalom!

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Level Up with the Top 150 Advanced Hebrew Words

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American writer and lexicographer Wilfred Funk, of the publishing house Funk & Wagnalls, once said: “The more words you know, the more clearly and powerfully you will think…and the more ideas you will invite into your mind.” This is just as true when acquiring a second (or third or fourth) language as it is in your mother tongue.

As you progress in your language studies, learning more advanced Hebrew words is a logical—albeit unavoidable—next step. The more words you can acquire and use in Hebrew, the better you will be able to express yourself with precision and eloquence. A wider vocabulary will also allow you to understand written and spoken language with greater ease. 

Of course, advanced words are not the most monosyllabic in the dictionary. Rather, think of them as secondary and tertiary colors that expand your palette, allowing you greater expressivity and imagination. These can be literary or poetic words, idioms, colloquialisms, or specialized terminology.

In today’s lesson, we’ll look at the top 150 advanced Hebrew vocabulary words to help you expand your linguistic repertoire. We will draw from the academic and business worlds, the field of medicine, and legal language, concluding with some essential words to help you with academic and other formal writing.

Table of Contents
  1. מילים אקדמיות (Milim Akademiyot, “Academic Words”)
  2. מילים מעולם העסקים (Milim me-‘Olam ha-‘Asakim, “Business Words”)
  3. מילים מתחום הרפואה (Milim mi-Tekhum ha-Refu’ah, “Medical Words”)
  4. מילים מעולם המשפטים (Milim me-‘Olam ha-Mishpatim, “Legal Terminology”)
  5. מילים מתקדמות לכתיבה אקדמית (Milim Mitkadmot le-Ktivah Akadeimit, “Advanced Words for Academic Writing””)
  6. Level up with HebrewPod101!

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מילים אקדמיות (“Milim Akademiyot, “Academic Words)


Student in Library

Let’s begin our list of advanced Hebrew words with some academic vocabulary. These are words you’re likely to encounter and use in the context of academic studies or in written and spoken material from the world of research, philosophy, the arts, etc. This language can be particularly useful if you plan on studying at an Israeli academic institution or if you’re interested in reading the wealth of Hebrew-language research that exists in just about every field of study.

1.     אלטרנטיבה
alternativa
“alternative”

2.     הערכה
ha’arakhah
“estimate”

3.     תועלת
to’elet
“benefit”

4.     מורכב
murkav
“complex”

5.     קונספט
konsept
“concept”

6.     מסקנה
maskanah
“conclusion”

7.     התנהלות
hitnahalut
“conduct”

8.     עקבי
‘ikvi
“consistent”

9.     הקשר
heksher
“context”

10.  תיאום
te’um
“coordination”

11.  סביבה
svivah
“environment” / “surroundings”

12.  לשער
lesha’er
“to estimate”

13.  גורם
gorem
“factor”

14.  תפקוד
tifkud
“function”

15.  זיהוי
zihuy
“identification”

16.  רושם
roshem
“impression”

17.  להצביע
lehatzbi’a
“to indicate”

18.  השקעה
hashka’ah
“investment”

19.  חוג
khug
“academic department/major”

20.  שיטה
shitah
“method”

21.  להתרחש
lehitrakhesh
“to occur”

22.  פוטנציאל
potentzi’al
“potential”

23.  חיוני
khi’yuni
“essential”

24.  טווח
tvakh
“range”

25.  משמעותי
mashma’uti
“significant”

מילים מעולם העסקים (“Milim me-‘Olam ha-‘Asakim, “Business Words)

Coworkers Looking at Laptop

Now let’s have a look at some business vocabulary. These words can be very helpful if you have to deal with any finances in Hebrew. This includes things like banking, investments, and even the stock market. As an economic powerhouse, Israel is home to plenty of business dealings—especially startups—so these words will definitely be an essential part of your advanced Hebrew toolkit!

26.     לארגן
le’argen
“to organize”

27.     הנהגה
hanhagah
“administration”

28.     להרחיב
leharkhiv
“to expand”

29.     סעיף
sei’if
“clause”

30.     בטל ומבוטל
batel u-mevutal
“null and void”

31.     מתחרה
mitkhareh
“competitor”

32.     חשבונית
kheshbonit
“invoice”

33.     הצעת נגד
hatza’at neged
“counteroffer”

34.     סימן מסחרי
siman miskhari
“trademark”

35.  קונצנזוס
kontzenzus
“consensus”

36.  יחסי ציבור (יח”צ)
yakhasei tzibur (yakhats)
“public relations”
*Note that the abbreviation יח”ץ is pronounced “yakhatz.”

37.  סדר יום
seder yom
“agenda” (literally “order of the day”)

38.  עזר חזותי
‘ezer khazuti
“visual aid”

39.  שירות לקוחות
sherut lekokhot
“customer service”

40.  אסטרטגיה
astrategiyah
“strategy”

41.  ציוד
tziyud
“equipment”

42.  חומר גלם
khomer gelem
“raw material”

43.  סניף
snif
“branch” (as in the branch of a business, bank, etc.)

44.  קוד לבוש
kod levush
“dress code”

45.  אחריות
akhrayut
“warranty”

46.  חקר שוק
kheiker shuk
“market research”

47.  אישור
ishur
“authorization”

48.  קנס
knas
“penalty”

49.  מטה
mateh
“headquarters”

50.  מסחרי
miskhari
“commercial” (adj.)

מילים מתחום הרפואה (“Milim mi-Tekhum ha-Refu’ah, “Medical Words)

Surgeon Performing Operation

In this section, we’ll cover some advanced vocabulary in Hebrew from the medical realm. These words can be useful whether you plan to study medicine or simply want to be prepared for any medical emergencies that may come up. You’ll notice that our list features a mix of unique Hebrew words and cognates, or words that share a common root with their English equivalents. These cognates should be more familiar to you, even if the pronunciation throws you for a loop.

51.     רופא מנתח/רופאה מנתחת
rofe menate’akh/rof’ah menatakhat
“surgeon”

52.     אשפוז
ishpuz
“inpatient treatment”

53.     חדר מיון
khadar miyun
“ER” / “triage”

54.     טיפול נמרץ
tipul nimratz
“intensive care”

55.     כירורגיה
khirurgiyah
“surgery”

56.     בית מרקחת
beit mirkakhat
“pharmacy”

57.     מרשם
mirsham
“prescription”

58.     זריקה
zrikah
“injection”

59.     בדיקה רפואית
b’dikah refu’it
“medical test”

60.  גבס
geves
“cast”

61.  אבחנה
avkhanah
“diagnosis”

62.  שפעת
shapa’at
“flu”

63.  פצע
petza
“wound”

64.  שבר
shever
“break” / “fracture”

65.  תסמונת
tismonet
“syndrome”

66.  שבץ
shavatz
“stroke”

67.  התקף לב
hetkef lev
“heart attack”

68.  להתעלף
lehit’alef
“to faint”

69.  פרכוס
pirkus
“seizure”

70.  שיתוק
shituk
“paralysis”

71.  נמק
nemek
“necrosis”

72.  זיהום
zihum
“infection”

73.  עורק
‘orek
“artery”

74.  וריד
vrid
“vein”

75.  מטופל/ת
metupal/metupelet
“patient”

מילים מעולם המשפטים (“Milim me-‘Olam ha-Mishpatim, “Legal Terminology)

Scales of Justice and Law Books

Next up, let’s review some legalese. As in any language, there is a lot of legal terminology in Hebrew designed only for lawyers to understand. That said, you definitely want to arm yourself with some basic knowledge so that you can understand things like rental and other contracts. Knowing these words will also help you follow any legal stories you may see on the news, such as the perennial trials of Israeli politicians—even the prime minister himself!

76.     להאשים
leha’ashim
“to accuse”

77.     לתבוע
litbo’a
“to sue”

78.     לטעון
lit’on
“to charge” / “to claim”

79.     ערעור
‘ir’ur
“appeal”

80.     לעצור
la’atzor
“to arrest”

81.     תיק
tik
“case”

82.     בית משפט
beit mishpat
“court”

83.     להרשיע
leharshi’a
“to convict”

84.     עונש מוות
‘onesh mavet
“death penalty”

85.  פשע
pesha’
“crime”

86.  זיוף
ziyuf
“forgery”

87.  בית כלא
beit kele
“prison”

88.  עבריין צעיר/עבריינית צעירה
‘avaryan tza’ir/’avaryanit tze’irah
“juvenile delinquent”

89.  עוון
‘avon
“misdemeanor”

90.  שבועת שקר
shvu’at sheker
“perjury”

91.  פסק דין
pesek din
“ruling”

92.  הברחה
havrakhah
“smuggling”

93.  עד
‘ed
“witness”

94.  הסגת גבול
hasagat gvul
“trespassing”

95.  תקופת מבחן
tkufat mivkhan
“probation”

96.  מאסר בית
ma’asar bayit
“house arrest”

97.  רצח
retzakh
“murder”

98.  רשלנות
rashlanut
“negligence”

99.  עורך/עורכת דין
‘orekh/’orekhet din
“lawyer”

100.  הונאה
hona’ah
“fraud”

מילים מתקדמות לכתיבה אקדמית (Milim Mitkadmot le-Ktivah Akadeimit, Advanced Words for Academic Writing””)

Students Writing in Classroom

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the most useful words for academic writing. Most of these words are considered linkers (in Hebrew מילות חיבור, milot khibur), which you can think of as the mortar that holds the bricks—the main words of your writing—together in a solid structure. We have included here a broad array of linkers, including linkers of time, comparison, addition, causality, and more. You’ll definitely want to learn these advanced-level Hebrew words if you plan on studying at any Hebrew institution of higher learning, but they are just as useful for writing emails and even longer texts.

101.     במרוצת
bi-merutzat
“during” / “throughout”

102.     בשלהי
be-shilhei
“at the end of”

103.     טרם
terem
“prior to” / “before”

104.     על מנת
‘al menat
“in order to”

105.     מפני ש…
mipnei she…
“due to the fact that”

106.     לאור
le-or
“in light of”

107.     היות ש…
heyot she…
“considering that”

108.     בעקבות
be-‘ikvot
“due to”

109.     עקב
‘ekev
“following”

110.  במילים אחרות
be-milim akherot
“in other words”

111.  בניסוח אחר
be-nisu’akh akher
“to put it another way”

112.  כלומר
klomar
“which is to say”

113.  יתרה מזאת
yeterah mi-zot
“in addition”

114. בנוסף לכך
be-nosaf le-khakh
“moreover”

115.  כמו כן
kmo khen
“likewise”

116.  בדומה לכך
be-domeh le-khakh
“similarly”

117.  מעבר לכך
mei-‘ever le-khakh
“what is more”

118.  כפי ש…
k’fi she…
“just as”

119.  אולם
ulam
“however”

120.  בניגוד לכך
be-nigud le-khakh
“in contrast”

121.  במקרה ש…
be-mikreh she…
“in the case of”

122.  אלמלא
ilmale
“were it not for”

123.  אילו
ilu
“if (only)”

124.  בתנאי ש…
bi-tnai she…
“as long as”

125.  אלא אם כן
ela im ken
“unless”

126.  כידוע
ka-yadu’a
“as is known”

127.  כאמור
ka-amur
“as stated”

128.  כנזכר לעיל
ka-nizkar le-‘eil
“as mentioned previously”

129.  כלומר
klomar
“which is to say”

130.  משמע
mashma’
“that is” / “meaning”

131.  דהיינו
dehainu
“i.e.”

132.  למשל
le-mashal
“for example”

133.  כגון
kegon
“such as”

134.  פירושו של דבר
perusho shel davar
“which means that”

135.  אכן
akhen
“indeed”

136.  אומנם
omnam
“while” / “although”

137.  בייחוד
be-yikhud
“especially”

138.  יש להדגיש
yesh lehadgish
“it should be emphasized”

139.  ללא ספק
lelo safek
“undoubtedly”

140.  ראשית
reshit
“firstly”

141.  שנית
shenit
“secondly”

142.  תחילה
tekhilah
“first of all”

143.  לבסוף
levasof
“finally”

144.  לאור כל זאת
le-or kol zot
“in light of all the above”

145.  לסיכום
le-sikum
“in conclusion”

146.  נראה אפוא ש…
nir’eh eifo she…
“it would seem that indeed”

147.  משתמע מכך
mishtame’a mi-kakh
“as such”

148.  על אחת כמה וכמה
‘al akhat kamah ve-khamah
“all the more so”

149.  כל שכן
kol she-ken
“much less”

150.  קל וחומר
kal va-khomer
“let alone”

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We hope you’ve found our list of advanced Hebrew vocabulary words helpful and interesting. While 150 words is a lot to digest, as long as you take it a morsel at a time and make sure to practice and review, you’ll find yourself retaining quite a lot. As we always suggest, it is best to focus on a single set of words rather than attempting to tackle the whole list at once. You can do this by category, by starting letter, by part of speech, or by any other method that feels comfortable. As long as it works for you, go for it!

Just don’t forget to practice the vocabulary frequently, whether you do this using flashcards, lists, or other means. Practice makes perfect, and nowhere is that truer than when expanding your vocabulary in a foreign language. For some expert tips on building and retaining vocabulary, check out this article. You can also continue learning by heading over to our curated collection of advanced Hebrew lessons

Are there any other advanced Hebrew word categories you’d like for us to add? Any words you’ve come across that you’re unsure how to use? Feel free to get in touch with us, and our friendly team of Hebrew experts will be happy to help you out. 

Until next time, shalom!

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The Top 300 Intermediate Hebrew Vocabulary Words

Girl Studying Vocab Words

There are so many elements involved in learning a language, and all of them are important. Grammar, pronunciation, listening and reading comprehension, and even slang are all essential if you want to bring your Hebrew level up to speed. But there is no question that the number-one element in learning Hebrew is vocabulary. After all, without the words to describe what you want to say, no amount of grammar will save your skin. At this point in your learning journey, it makes sense to pick up some of the most useful intermediate Hebrew vocabulary words.

As you transition from a beginner level to an intermediate one, you’ll find yourself opening up new doors. Suddenly, for instance, you won’t sweat it when ordering a coffee at a café or a meal at a restaurant. And you may find yourself starting to understand bits and pieces of the conversations you hear while waiting for the bus or standing in line at the supermarket.

These are all signs that you’re truly progressing. But don’t get complacent about it! Now is the time to expand your vocabulary so you can continue to grow. A more extensive knowledge of intermediate Hebrew words and phrases will give that extra boost so you can start having longer and deeper conversations. It will also allow you to understand more of the Hebrew you hear and see around you.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the top 300 intermediate Hebrew words. We’ll cover numbers all the way up to a billion (don’t worry—one at a time!), verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and more. Definitely don’t overwhelm yourself by attempting to tackle all of these in one go. It’s best to pick a category, letter, or some other aspect of the words listed below and study them in installments. This will keep you motivated as you dominate manageable chunks of language, rather than frustrated by taking on too much at once. 

Here we go!

Dictionary and Magnifying Glass

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Larger Cardinal Numbers
  2. Ordinal Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Adverbs
  7. Prepositions
  8. Conjunctions
  9. Auxiliary Words and Particles
  10. HebrewPod101 is your one-stop destination for all your Hebrew needs.

1. Larger Cardinal Numbers


Stock Ticker

You should be comfortable with Hebrew numbers 1-10 by now, in both masculine and feminine forms. If you’re still a bit shaky or maybe in need of a refresher, check out this lesson for review. 

We’ll be looking at the numbers in their masculine form today, which is the form you would use for regular counting. Just remember that when describing a countable noun, Hebrew requires that numbers agree in gender with whatever they are counting.

Also note that a mix of masculine and feminine items will always be counted using the masculine form of numbers, as follows.

1.        עשר
‘eser
“10”

2.        אחת-עשרה
akhat-‘esreh
“11”

3.        שתים-עשרה
shteim-‘esreh
“12”

4.        שלוש-עשרה
shlosh-‘esreh
“13”

5.        ארבע-עשרה
arba’-‘esreh
“14”

6.        חמש-עשרה
khameish-‘esreh
“15”

7.        שש-עשרה
shesh-‘esreh
“16”

8.        שבע-עשרה
shva’-‘esreh
“17”

9.        שמונה-עשרה
shmonah-‘esreh
“18”

10.        תשע-עשרה
tsha’-‘esreh
“19”

11.        עשרים
‘esrim
“20”

12.        שלושים
shloshim
“30”

13.        ארבעים
arba’im
“40”

14.        חמישים
khamishim
“50”

15.        שישים
shishim
“60”

16.        שבעים
shiv’im
“70”

17.        שמונים
shmonim
“80”

18.        תשעים
tish’im
“90”

19.        מאה
me’ah
“100”

20.        אלף
elef
“1,000”

21.        אלפיים
alpayim
“2,000”

22.        שלושת-אלפים
shloshet-alafim
“3,000”

23.        ארבעת-אלפים
arba’at-alafim
“4,000”

24.        חמשת-אלפים
khameshet-alafim
“5,000”

25.        ששת-אלפים
sheshet-alafim
“6,000”

26. שבעת-אלפים
shiv’at-alafim
“7,000”

27.        שמונת-אלפים
shmonat-alafim
“8,000”

28.        תשעת-אלפים
tsha’at-alafim
“9,000”

29.        עשרת-אלפים
‘aseret-alafim
“10,000”

30.        עשרים אלף
‘esrim elef
“20,000”

31.        שלושים אלף
shloshim elef
“30,000”

32.        ארבעים אלף
arba’im elef
“40,000”

33.        חמישים אלף
khamishim elef
“50,000”

34.        שישים אלף
shishim elef
“60,000”

35.        שבעים אלף
shiv’im elef
“70,000”

36.        שמונים אלף
shmonim elef
“80,000”

37.        תשעים אלף
tish’im elef
“90,000”

38.        מאה אלף
me’ah elef
“100,000”

39.        מיליון
milyon
“1,000,000”

2. Ordinal Numbers

Colored Numbers

Apart from knowing your cardinal numbers down pat, you’ll also want to know your ordinal numbers. Don’t be scared off by the name. These are simply the numbers we use to describe the order of things, like “first,” “second,” and “third” in English. Here they are in Hebrew. Keep in mind that, as with cardinal numbers, you need to make sure ordinal numbers match what they’re counting in terms of gender.

40.        ראשון
rishon
“1st”

41.        שני
sheni
“2nd”

42.        שלישי
shlishi
“3rd”

43.        רביעי
revi’i
“4th”

44.        חמישי
khamishi
“5th”

45.        שישי
shishi
“6th”

46.        שביעי
shvi’i
“7th”

47. שמיני
shmini
“8th”

48.        תשיעי
tshi’i
“9th”

49.        עשירי
‘asiri
“10th”

3. Nouns


Full Car Trunk

Now that we’ve got our numbers straight, let’s have a look at some of the things you may wish to attach them to, namely nouns. These are a rather mixed bag, without any common theme. They are simply some of the most common Hebrew nouns suited for the intermediate level. Note that when nouns describe a person or animal (for instance, names of occupations), these nouns will often have both masculine and feminine forms.

50.        אזעקה
az’akah
“alarm”

51.        מעשה
ma’aseh
“action” / “tale”

52.        אלף-בית
alef-beit
“alphabet”

53.        מזג אוויר
mezeg avir
“weather”

54.        קבלה
kabalah
“receipt”

55.        פרסומת
pirsomet
“advertisement”

56.        יכולת
yekholet
“ability”

57.        מטרה
matarah
“goal” / “objective”

58.        חשבון
kheshbon
“check” / “bill” / “account”

59.        יתרון
yitaron
“advantage”

60.        מבטא
mivta
“accent”

61.        דחף
dakhaf
“drive” / “impulse”

62.        כמות
kamut
“amount”

63.        גיל
gil
“age”

64.        כאב
ke’ev
“pain” / “ache”

65.        עידן
‘idan
“age” / “epoch”

66.        מבצע
mivtza’
“operation” / “sale”

67.        הישג
heseg
“accomplishment” / “achievement”

68.        שדה תעופה
sdeh te’ufah
“airport”

69.        רואה חשבון
ro’eh kheshbon
“accountant”

70.        סוכנות
sokhnut
“agency”

71.        התנצלות
hitnatzlut
“apology”

72.        צבא
tzava
“army” / “military”

73.        ויכוח
viku’akh
“argument” / “dispute”

74.        אזור
ezor
“area” / “zone”

75.        הגעה
haga’ah
“arrival”

76.        כתבה
katavah
“article”

77.        ספורט
sport
“sport”

78.        הרשמה
harshamah
“registration” / “application”

79.        גישה
gishah
“access”

80.        תגובה
tguvah
“response”

81.        נמלה
nemalah
“ant”

82.        סידור
sidur
“arrangement”

83.        הודעה
hoda’ah
“announcement”

84.        מלאך
mal’akh
“angel”

85.        מראה
mar’eh
“appearance”

86.        טיול
tiyul
“trip” / “outing”

87.        רקע
reka’
“background”

88.        מרפסת
mirpeset
“porch” / “balcony”

89.        פאב
pab
“bar”

90.        אופה
ofeh
“baker”

91.        אמבטיה
ambatyah
“bath”

92.        עמדה
‘emdah
“stance” / “attitude”

93.        קהל
kahal
“audience”

94.        ספר
sapar
“barber”

95.        תחבושת
takhboshet
“bandage”

96.        מזוודה
mizvadah
“luggage” / “suitcase”

97.        ממוצע
memutza’
“average”

98.        תשומת לב
tsumet lev
“attention”

99.        תקיפה
tkifah
“attack” / “strike”

100.        סביבה
svivah
“surroundings”

4. Verbs


Figure Skaters

Now let’s have a look at some of the most common verbs in Modern Hebrew for intermediate students. Remember that verbs are words that describe an action or state of being, such as “to do” or “to be.” Also remember that verb conjugation in Hebrew necessitates subject-verb agreement in terms of gender and number. For more information on this, check out our lesson on Hebrew verbs here. Note that all of the verbs listed below are provided in their infinitive form (in other words, without conjugation).

101.        לבטל
levatel
“to cancel”

102.        להתנגש
lehitnagesh
“to collide” / “to crash”

103.        לאסור
la’asor
“to prohibit”

104.        לקפוץ
likfotz
“to jump”

105.        להתאפק
lehit’apek
“to bear” / “to hold on”

106.        להתחנן
lehitkhanen
“to beg”

107.        להצטרף
lehitztaref
“to join”

108.        להנות
lehenot
“to enjoy”

109.        להאשים
leha’ashim
“to accuse” / “to blame”

110.        להכות
lehakot
“to hit” / “to strike”

111.        להפריע
lehafri’a
“to bother”

112.        לנדנד
lenadned
“to swing” / “to pester”

113.        לשכנע
leshakhne’a
“to convince”

114.        לתפוס
litpos
“to catch”

115.        לחגוג
lakhgog
“to celebrate”

116.        לרדוף
lirdof
“to chase”

117.        לנהוג
linhog
“to drive”

118.        להתבלבל
lehitbalbel
“to get confused”

119.        לכבוש
likhbosh
“to conquer”

120.        לשקול
lishkol
“to weigh” / “to consider”

121.        להשקיע
lehashki’a
“to invest”

122.        להביע
lehabi’a
“to express”

123.        להתכתב
lehitkatev
“to correspond”

124.        להשחית
lehashkhit
“to corrupt”

125.        להשתעל
lehishta’el
“to cough”

126.        להבדיל
lehavdil
“to distinguish”

127.        להיעלם
lehe’alem
“to disappear”

128.        לשחרר
leshakhrer
“to free” / “to dismiss”

129.        לחלק
lekhalek
“to divide”

130.        להתחתן
lehitkhanen
“to beg”

131.        להתעטש
lehit’atesh
“to sneeze”

132.        לגרור
ligror
“to drag” / “to tow”

133.        להסיע
lehasi’a
“to transport” / “to give a ride to”

134.        לטבוע
litbo’a
“to drown”

135.        למחוק
limkhok
“to erase”

136.        לשער
lesha’er
“to estimate”

137.        להגזים
lehagzim
“to exaggerate”

138.        להתפוצץ
lehitpotzetz
“to explode”

139.        לנצל
lenatzel
“to exploit”

140.        להיכשל
lehikashel
“to fail”

141.        לסלוח
lislo’akh
“to forgive”

142.        לפעול
lif’ol
“to act” / “to work”

143.        להזיע
lehazi’a
“to sweat”

144.        לרעוד
lir’od
“to tremble” / “to shake”

145.        להתבונן
lehitbonen
“to ponder” / “to meditate”

146.        להזדרז
lehizdarez
“to hurry up”

147.        לזלזל
lezalzel
“to belittle”

148.        להשוויץ
lehashvitz
“to brag” / “to show off”

149.        לשגע
leshage’a
“to drive crazy”

150.        להתחבר
lehitkhaber
“to connect”

5. Adjectives

Big Man and Small Man

Now let’s see some essential adjectives for intermediate-level Hebrew. Adjectives, you’ll recall, are used to describe nouns. Think of words like “big” or “red.” As we’ve seen, Hebrew is big on gendering words, and adjectives are no exception. Make sure your adjectives agree with the noun they describe in terms of gender and number. If you need help with this, we invite you to refresh your memory with this lesson on how to properly use adjectives in Modern Hebrew. The adjectives listed below are in masculine form.

151.        נטוש
natush
“abandoned”

152.        אקדמי
akademi
“academic”

153.        מוצלח
mutzlakh
“successful”

154.        חומצי
khumtzi
“acidic”

155.        נוכחי
nokhekhi
“present”

156.        מהולל
mehulal
“praiseworthy” / “admired”

157.        חביב
khaviv
“lovable”

158.        מעצבן
me’atzben
“annoying”

159.        צבעוני
tziv’oni
“colorful”

160.        מיושן
meyushan
“aged”

161.        אומנותי
omanuti
“artistic”

162.        מרשים
marshim
“impressive”

163.        מרתק
meratek
“fascinating”

164.        אותנטי
otenti
“authentic”

165.        חמדן
khamdan
“greedy”

166.        נהדר
nehedar
“fantastic”

167.        מסוגל
mesugal
“capable”

168.        מקובל
mekubal
“acceptable” / “accepted”

169.        מדויק
meduyak
“precise” / “accurate”

170.        גמיש
gamish
“flexible”

171.        מתקדם
mitkadem
“advanced”

172.        פחדן
pakhdan
“fearful”

173.        אגרסיבי
agresivi
“aggressive”

174.        מייסר
meyaser
“agonizing”

175.        מופתע
mufta’
“taken aback” / “surprised”

176.        מנותק
menutak
“detached” / “disconnected”

177.        הוגן
hogen
“fair” / “just”

178.        חרד
khared
“anxious”

179.        הולם
holem
“befitting”

180.        מבויש
mevuyash
“embarrassed”

181.        אתלטי
atleti
“athletic”

182.        מושך
moshekh
“attractive”

183.        מורשה
mursheh
“authorized”

184.        ממוצע
memutzah
“average”

185.        נורא
nora
“awful”

186.        מוחלט
mukhlat
“absolute”

187.        משובח
meshubakh
“deluxe”

188.        כואב
ko’ev
“painful”

189.        פעיל
pa’il
“active”

190.        הרפתקן
harpatkan
“adventurous”

191.        ידני
yadani
“handheld” / “manual”

192.        מבושם
mevusam
“perfumed”

193.        אוטומטי
otomati
“automatic”

194.        מודע
muda’
“aware”

195.        ממורמר
memurmar
“bitter”

196.        תפל
tafel
“insipid”

197.        אקזוטי
ekzoti
“exotic”

198.        נועז
no’az
“bold”

199.        מבריק
mavrik
“brilliant”

200.        שתלטני
shtaltani
“overbearing”

6. Adverbs

Car Shifter

While adjectives describe nouns, adverbs describe verbs. Think of words like “fast,” “well,” or “honestly” in English. Essentially, these words give us additional information about how, why, when, etc. an action is performed or a state occurs. The good news about adverbs in Hebrew is that they do not need to be modified for agreement with the nouns or verbs they accompany. Rather, adverbs have only one form—that means less for you to memorize! For more on adverbs in Hebrew and how to use them, check out this lesson.

201.        היטב
heitev
“well”

202.        נפלא
nifla
“amazingly”

203.        נורא
nora
“terribly”

204.        בשקט
be-sheket
“quietly”

205.        בקול רם
be-kol ram
“out loud”

206.        באהבה
be-ahavah
“lovingly”

207.        בעדינות
be-‘adinut
“gently”

208.        בשמחה
be-simkhah
“happily” / “gladly”

211.        באדיבות
be-adivut
“generously”

212.        בכנות
be-kenut
“honestly” / “sincerely”

213.        בטבעיות
be-tiv’i’yut
“naturally”

214.        נקי
naki
“cleanly”

215.        באופן מוזר
be-ofen muzar
“strangely”

216.        מהר
maher
“quick”

217.        לאט
le’at
“slow”

218.        חזק
khazak
“strongly”

219.        חלש
khalash
“weakly”

220.        ברעב
be-ra’av
“hungrily”

221.        ביחד
be-yakhad
“together”

222.        לבד
levad
“alone”

223.        בפנים
bi-fnim
“indoors” / “inside”

224.        בחוץ
ba-khutz
“outdoors” / “outside”

225.        בבית
ba-bayit
“at home”

226.        ברחוב
ba-rekhov
“in/on the street”

227.        בפומבי
be-fumbi
“in public”

228.        בפרטיות
bi-fratiyut
“privately” / “in private”

229.        לפנים
le’fanim
“forward”

230.        לאחור
le’akhor
“backward”

231.        למעלה
lema’alah
“up”

232.        למטה
lematah
“down”

233.        הצידה
hatzidah
“laterally” / “sideways”

234.        תמיד
tamid
“always”

235.        אף פעם
af pa’am
“never”

236.        לעיתים קרובות
le-‘itim krovot
“frequently”

237.        לעיתים רחוקות
le-‘itim rekhokot
“seldom”

238.        מיד
miyad
“immediately”

239.        מדי פעם
midey pa’am
“once in a while”

240.        כמעט
kim’at
“almost”

241.        די
dey
“quite”

242.        בהחלט
be-hekhlet
“absolutely”

243.        לגמרי
le-gamrei
“totally”

244.        לכל עבר
le-khol ‘ever
“everywhere”

245.        נקודתית
nekudatit
“point by point” / “surgically”

246.        באופן פרטני
be-ofen partani
“one-on-one” / “one-by-one”

247.        באופן ספונטני
be-ofen spontani
“spontaneously”

248.        מרוכז
merukaz
“concentratedly”

249.        מפוזר
mefuzar
“in a scattered way”

250.        בקלות
be-kalut
“easily”

251.        בקושי
be-koshi
“with difficulty”

252.        בחופשיות
be-khofshi’yut
“freely”

7. Prepositions

Boy Giving Book to Girl

The next set of intermediate Hebrew vocabulary words we’ll look at are prepositions, which you won’t get far without in any language. These are the small words we use to describe the relationships between other words, connecting them and giving them nuance, especially in terms of verbs and adjectives. Think of words like “through,” “for,” or “after.” 

English happens to be one of the languages that relies most heavily on prepositions, while Hebrew’s use of them is relatively more limited. Nevertheless, they are still crucial to greasing the wheels of language, so don’t skip them over! You should have learned the basic prepositions by now, but if not or in case you forgot, see more about Hebrew prepositions here.

253.        אחרי
akharey
“after”

254.        מאחורי
me-akhorei
“behind”

255.        אצל
etzel
“at” / “by”

256.        באמצעות
be-emtza’ut
“via”

257.        בגלל
biglal
“because of”

258.        בזכות
bi-zkhut
“thanks to”

259.        בין
bein
“between” / “among”

260.        בלי
bli
“without”

261.        במקום
bi-mkom
“instead of”

262.        בעד
be-‘ad
“for” / “in favor of”

263.        בקרב
be-kerev
“among”

264.        בשביל
bishvil
“for”

265.        בתוך
be-tokh
“inside”

266.        כלפי
klapei
“toward”

267.        כמו
k’mo
“like”

268.        לאורך
le-orekh
“along”

269.        לגבי
legabei
“regarding”

270.        ליד
leyad
“next to”

271.        למען
lema’an
“for the sake of”

272.        לפי
lefi
“according to”

273.        לפני
lifnei
“before” / “in front of”

274.        לקראת
likrat
“toward”

275.        מול
mul
“opposite”

276.        מעל
me-‘al
“atop”

277.        מפני
mipnei
“because of”

278.        מתחת
mitakhat
“beneath”

279.        עבור
‘avur
“for”

280.        לעומת
le‘umat
“in comparison with” / “versus”

8. Conjunctions

Two Girls Reading Book

Now let’s see some of the most common conjunctions that you should start learning as an intermediate student of Hebrew. Conjunctions are similar to prepositions, but we use them to connect clauses or sentences as well as to coordinate words within the same clause. Think of words like “and,” “or,” or “but” in English.

281.        אבל
aval
“however”

282.        עדיין
‘adayin
“still”

283.        בזמן ש…
bi-zman she…
“while”

284.        …כש
ke’she…
“when”

285.        …אף על פי ש
af ‘al pi she…
“even though”

286.        בגלל
biglal
“due to”

287.        למרות
lamrot
“despite”

288.        אך
akh
“however”

289.        אפילו
afilu
“even”

290.        אלא אם כן
ela im ken
“unless”

9. Auxiliary Words and Particles

Woman with Question Marks above Head

Last but not least, let’s look at some of the essential auxiliary words and particles for intermediate-level Hebrew. Particles are essentially words with a distinct grammatical function that, despite this, do not comfortably fit into the main parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc.). Note that Hebrew has some words that have no parallel in English, such as the ubiquitous את (et – see more here). It’s best not to try to translate these—or language in general—and rather to pay attention to their function and how natives seem to use them.

291.        יש+
yesh
“there is” / “there are”

292.        אין
ein
“there is not” / “there are not”

*Note that Hebrew has no verb for “to have.” Instead, it uses יש and אין followed by a preposition-personal pronoun word such as לי (li, “to/for me”) or לך (lekha, “to/for you”) to express ownership or possession.

293.        הלוואי
halevai
“if only”

294.        הן
hen
“both”

*This word almost always appears twice in a sentence and is somewhat akin to “both… and” in English.

295.        יא
ya
“you”

*This word means “you” when you’re calling or referring to someone with an additional descriptor or moniker. Here’s an example:

  • למה אתה לא עוזר לי, יא עצלן?
    Lamah atah lo ‘ozer li, ya ‘atzlan?
    “Why don’t you help me, you lazybones?”

296.        זהו
zehu
“that’s it” / “this is”

297.        מיהו
mihu
“who is”

298.        כלום
klum
“nothing”

299.        כזה
kazeh
“such as this”

300.        הינה
hine
“here is” / “here are”

*Note the difference between יש (yeish, “there is” / “there are”) and הינה (hinei, “here is” / “here are”).

10. HebrewPod101 is your one-stop destination for all your Hebrew needs.

We hope you found today’s lesson helpful. Did you know any of these intermediate Hebrew words already, or were they all new to you? 

Obviously, with some estimates placing Hebrew’s total lexis at 60,000 words, studying vocabulary should be an ongoing pursuit for any Hebrew student. That said, you can get pretty far if you focus on the most common and useful words first, as you can often figure out more esoteric words from context.

We hand-picked the words in this lesson based on their frequency and utility in Modern Hebrew, so you can be sure that they’ll help you with everyday conversations and even things like understanding Hebrew movies or music. As always, our mission at HebrewPod101 is to encourage and support you throughout your language learning journey. We want you not only to succeed in your Hebrew goals, but also to enjoy your studies every step of the way.

To that end, we’re always delighted to hear from our students. Were there any words you’re still unsure of? Any words that you’ve encountered before, but couldn’t decipher on your own? Or maybe there’s a topic you’d like us to cover in a future vocabulary lesson. Whatever it may be, please don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch with us. Our team of Hebrew experts is happy to help. In the meantime, shalom!

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Learn the Names of Animals in Hebrew

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Does a whole lesson on animals in Hebrew seem like a bunch of monkey business to you? Well, we’re not horsing around today! As any schoolchild knows, animal names are a basic component of any language. And in Hebrew, there are some particular reasons this is true. First, as a country that engages heavily in agriculture, Israel is full of domesticated animals (particularly in the country, as well as in kibbutzim and moshavim). Secondly, Israel’s natural fauna abounds, including some animals that are indigenous to Israel. And finally, the Bible itself mentions over 120 species of animals, so many of the Hebrew animal names go back thousands of years.

An additional reason to learn Hebrew words for animals is that Israelis are big pet lovers. Around a third of Israelis have some sort of pet, with dogs and cats taking the lead. Still, there is no shortage of other animals, like birds, reptiles, and rodents, to be found in Israeli homes. 

Whatever the case may be, it’s always good to rest the brain from grammar and other serious linguistic endeavors once in a while and to just have fun!

Today’s lesson will cover the top 80 Hebrew animal names and words related to animals, including some key animal body parts and a few common expressions related to animals. Don’t chicken out now! You don’t have to learn all 80 at once. Just pick a handful at a time, and stay focused on those. The lion’s share of these words are easy enough to pronounce and remember, so let’s jump in and grab this bull by the horns!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Pets (חיות מחמד, khayot makhmad)
  2. Farm Animals (חיות משק, khayot meshek)
  3. Wild Animals (חיות בר, khayot bar)
  4. Marine Life (החיים הימיים, Ha-Khayim ha-yamiyim)
  5. Insects (חרקים, kharakim)
  6. Birds (ציפורים, tziporim), Reptiles (זוחלים, zokhalim) & Amphibians (דו-חיים, du-khayim)
  7. Animal Body Parts (חלקי גוף של בעלי חיים, khelkey guf shel ba’aley khayim)
  8. Animal-Related Idioms & Slang
  9. No need to go lone wolf with your Hebrew! Let HebrewPod101 get you to the head of the pack.

1. Pets (חיות מחמד, khayot makhmad)

Pets

The most obvious place to start is with pets. After all, these are the animals most of us are likely to encounter on a daily basis. Israel is very much a pet-friendly society, with Tel Aviv even hosting a festival just for dogs! Israelis’ top choices for pets won’t strike you as much of a surprise, as they’re pretty much in line with Western pets. 

Now, let’s have a look at the most common pets in Hebrew. Note that in many cases, these words are gendered, so you want to try to use the correct form—either masculine or feminine—depending on the gender of the animal.

1. כלב/ה
kelev/kalbah
“dog”

2. חתול/חתולה
khatul/khatulah
“cat”

3. דג
dag
“fish”

4. אוגר
oger
“hamster”

5. עכבר
‘akhbar
“mouse”

6. ציפור
tzipor
“bird”
* Note that this word is always feminine.

7. תוכי
tuki
“parrot”

8. יונה
yonah
“dove”

9. צב
tzav
“turtle”

10. נחש
nakhash
“snake”

2. Farm Animals (חיות משק, khayot meshek)

Man Plowing with Oxen

Are you interested in singing Israel’s equivalent of Old MacDonald (לדוד משה היתה חווה – Le-Dod Mosheh haytah khavah – “Uncle Moshe Had a Farm”)? Or are you considering spending some time in a kibbutz? In either case, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the more common domesticated animals you’re likely to find in a farm setting. 

Israel is a heavily agricultural country, so you can expect to see little farms anywhere outside of the big cities. Here are the top farm animals in Hebrew. Note that in some cases, the masculine and feminine words are completely different (like “cow” and “bull” in English).

11. פרה
parah
“cow”

12. שור
shor
“bull”/”ox”
* Note that the word for livestock in Hebrew is בקר (bakar).

13. חזיר/חזירה
khazir/khazirah
“pig”

14. חמור/אתון
khamor/aton
“donkey”

15. תרנגול/תרנגולת
tarnegol/tarnegolet
“rooster”/”hen”

16. ברווז
barvaz
“duck”

17. סוס/סוסה
sus/susah
“horse”

18. תיש/עז
tayish/ ‘ez
“goat”

19. כבש/כבשה
keves/kivsah
“sheep”
* Note that the word for “flock(s)” of sheep or goats in Hebrew is צאן (tzon).

20. תרנגול הודו
tarnegol Hodu
“turkey” (literally: “Indian chicken” – There would seem to be some disagreement over the geographical origins of this bird!)

3. Wild Animals (חיות בר, khayot bar)

Lion hunting zebras

Now let’s have a look at some of the most popular wild animals. You can see some of these at Israel’s various nature reserves (such as Ein Gedi) or at the singular Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Unfortunately, due to the density of its population, many species indigenous to Israel—such as mountain gazelles and ibexes—are less common a sight than in times past. Hopefully, conservation efforts will manage to preserve these species not only in zoos and safaris but also in the wild. 

Here are the names of common wild animals in Hebrew:

21. נמר/ה
namer/nemerah
“tiger”

22. פיל/ה
pil/pilah
“elephant”

23. דוב/ה
dov/dubah
“bear”

24. שועל
Shu’al
“fox”

25. תן
tan
“jackal”

26. היפופוטם
hipopotam
“hippopotamus”

27. ג’ירפה
jirafah
“giraffe”

28. אריה/לביאה
aryeh/levi’ah
“lion”/”lioness”

29. צבי/איילה
tzvi/ayala
“gazelle”

30. יעל
ya’el
“ibex”

4. Marine Life (החיים הימיים, Ha-Khayim ha-yamiyim)

Sea Shells

As you probably know, Israel enjoys access to two different coastlines—the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Eilat (a.k.a. the Gulf of Aqaba)—as well as the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, both of which are actually large lakes. Going to the beach is a huge part of Israeli culture, so it’s a good idea to brush up on some of the top words for marine animals. Let’s have a look!

31. כריש
karish
“shark”

32. לוויתן
livyatan
“whale”
* Note that this Hebrew word is the root of English’s leviathan.

33. דולפין
dolfin
“dolphin”

34. תמנון
tamnun
“octopus”

35. חסילון
khasilon
“shrimp”

36. סוסון ים
suson yam
“seahorse”

37. סרטן
sartan
“crab”
* Note that this word also means cancer.

38. אלמוג
almog
“coral”

39. מדוזה
meduzah
“jellyfish”

40. אצות
atzot
“algae”

5. Insects (חרקים, kharakim)

Insects

No examination of Hebrew animal words would be complete without a discussion of insects and other creepy-crawlies. Israel is no stranger to bugs, whether in terms of the locusts and lice mentioned in the Bible, the malarial mosquitoes that plagued modern settlers in the pre-state years, or the ticks that our dogs and cats bring home from the woods. Here are the top words you need to know for naming insects in Hebrew.

41. מקק
makak
“cockroach”
* Note that the word ג’וק (juk) can also be used to refer to cockroaches.

42. עכביש
‘akavish
“spider”

43. זבוב
zevuv
“fly”

44. יתוש
yatush
“mosquito”

45. קרציה
kartzi’yah
“tick”

46. שפירית
shapirit
“dragonfly”

47. גחלילית
gakh’lilit
“firefly”

48. עקרב
‘akrav
“scorpion”

49. דבורה
d’vorah
“bee”

50. צרעה
tzir’ah
“wasp”

6. Birds (ציפורים, tziporim), Reptiles (זוחלים, zokhalim) & Amphibians (דו-חיים, du-khayim)

For our last category of animal names in Hebrew, let’s take a glance at the most common birds, reptiles, and amphibians you’re likely to encounter in the Holy Land. 

Because of Israel’s location smack-dab in the middle of where Europe, Asia, and Africa meet, countless birds fly through the country each year on their migration paths—apart from the many native bird species living in Israel. In fact, Israeli aircraft are even forbidden from interfering with the flight paths of migratory birds!

Israel is also no stranger to reptiles, with 97 distinct species represented in the country. Though extinction rates have been relatively low for reptiles, crocodiles, which are mentioned in the Bible as being indigenous to Israel, are today no longer among Israel’s wild species—for better or worse!

A- Birds

Birds Silhouetted in Sky

51. שחף
shakhaf
“seagull”

52. ינשוף
yanshuf
“owl”

53. נשר
nesher
“eagle”

54. נקר
nakar
“woodpecker”

55. עיט
‘ayit
“vulture”

B- Reptiles & Amphibians

Lizard

56. צפרדע
tzfarde’a
“frog”

57. לטאה
leta’ah
“lizard”

58. שממית
smamit
“gecko”

59. צב יבשה
tzav yabashah
“tortoise”

60. סלמנדרה
salamandrah
“salamander”

7. Animal Body Parts (חלקי גוף של בעלי חיים, khelkey guf shel ba’aley khayim)

Vet Examining Dog

Now that we’ve covered the more common animal species to be found in Israel, let’s have a look at some words for describing animal anatomy. As in English and most other languages, Hebrew has unique words to refer to the body parts of fauna, distinct from those used to describe the human body. Here are the ones you are most likely to use:

61. כנף
kanaf
“wing”
* Note that the plural for this word uses the dual form suffix -יים, and is כנפיים (kenafayim).

62. זנב
zanav
“tail”

63. טופר
tofer
“claw”

64. קרן
keren
“horn”
* Note that the plural for this word uses the dual form suffix -יים, and is קרניים (karnayim).

65. נוצה
notzah
“feather”

66. פרסה
parsah
“hoof”

67. חוטם
khotem
“snout”

68. מקור
makor
“beak”

69. קשקש
kaskas
“scale”

70. צדף
tzedef
“shell”

Want more? See our word list Sounds That Animals Make

8. Animal-Related Idioms & Slang

Black and White Sheep

Last but not least, let’s see some idioms, slang words, and other expressions that use animal names in Hebrew. Like English, the Hebrew language has a slew of such words and phrases. This should come as no surprise, considering the Jewish people’s ancient roots in farming and husbandry. In fact, animal-related language is probably one of the most colorful categories of Hebrew. Let’s see some choice examples.

71. כבשה שחורה
kivsah sh’khorah
“black sheep”

  • כולנו במשפחה למדנו באוניברסיטה חוץ מאחותי, הכבשה השחורה, אשר עובדת בבסטות בחו”ל כבר חמש שנים.
    Kulanu ba-mishpakhah lamadnu ba-universitah khutz me-akhoti, ha-kivsah ha-sh’khorah, asher ‘ovedet be-bastot be-khul kvar khamesh shanim.
    “All of us in the family studied at university except for my sister, the black sheep, who has been working in market stalls abroad for five years now.”

72. כמו דג במים
k’mo dag ba-mayim
“like a fish in water”

  • כל פעם שאני חוזר לקיבוץ, אני מרגיש כמו דג במים.
    Kol pa’am she-ani khozer la-kibbutz, ani margish k’mo dag ba-mayim.
    “Every time I go back to the kibbutz, I feel just like a fish in water.”

73. להשתפן
lehishtafen
“to chicken out” (literally: “to act like a rabbit”)

  • אל תשתפן! קפוץ כבר! המים עמוקים.
    Al tishtafen! Kfotz kvar! Ha-mayim ‘amukim.
    “Don’t chicken out! Jump already! The water is deep.”

74. דיר חזירים
dir khazirim
“pigsty”

  • אמרתי לכם לנקות כבר את דיר החזירים הזה!
    Amarti lakhem lenakot kvar et dir ha-khazirim ha-zeh!
    “I told you to clean up this pigsty already!”

75. מבט ממעוף ציפור
mabat mi-me’of tzipor
“bird’s eye view”

  • איזה נוף! יש לנו מבט ממעוף הציפור על כל העיר.
    Eyzeh nof! Yeish lanu mabat mi-ma’of ha-tzipor al kol ha-’ir.
    “What a view! We’ve got a bird’s eye view of the entire city.”

76. כמעוף הדבורה
ke-ma’of ha-devorah
“beeline”

  • מתחיל כבר להחשיך. רוצי הביתה כמעוף הדבורה!
    Matkhil kvar le-hakhshikh. Rutzi ha-baytah ke-ma’of ha-devorah!
    “It’s getting dark already. Run and make a beeline for home!”

77. חזק כשור
khazak kmo shor
“strong as an ox”

  • ראית את העובד החדש במחסן? הוא חזר כשור!
    Ra’it et ha-’oved ha-khadash ba-makhsan? Hu khazak kmo shor!
    “Have you seen the new employee in the warehouse? He’s strong as an ox!”

78. שעיר לעזאזל
sa’ir la-’Azazel
“scapegoat”

  • אל תנסו לעשות ממני שעיר לעזאזל. מה שקרה זה לא באשמתי.
    Al tenasu la’asot mimeni sa’ir la-’Azazel. Mah she-karah zeh lo be-ashmati.
    “Don’t try to make a scapegoat out of me. What happened isn’t my fault.”

79. נחש בעשב
nakhash ba-‘esev
“snake in the grass”

  • אני לא סומך עליו בכלל. הוא סתם עוד נחש בעשב.
    Ani lo somekh ‘alav bikhlal. Hu stam ‘od nakhash ba-’esev.
    “I don’t trust him at all. He’s just another snake in the grass.”

80. החלק הארי
ha-khelek ha-ari
“the lion’s share”

  • בואו נודה בכך שדפנה עשתה את החלק הארי של העבודה.
    Bo’u nodeh be-khakh she-Dafnah ‘astah et ha-khelek ha-ari shel ha-’avodah.
    “Let’s just admit that Dafna did the lion’s share of the work.”

9. No need to go lone wolf with your Hebrew! Let HebrewPod101 get you to the head of the pack.

We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson on animals in the Hebrew language. We here at HebrewPod101 know that sometimes studying a new language can make you feel like you’re a fish out of water, but that’s why we’re here: to make sure you’ve got a school to swim with. Our lessons are carefully crafted to cover all the topics you’ll need to master on your language learning journey while having a whale of a time.

So don’t sweat it! Just remember that mastering a language, like any large and long-term project, is best done a bit at a time. Whether it’s vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation, we always encourage our students not to bite off more than they can chew in one sitting. Just pick a reasonable amount of language and, once you’ve gone through it, make sure to review everything! 

Have fun checking out our thousands of other written and audiovisual lessons, where we cover a broad range of topics and situations, from ordering at a restaurant to the top Hebrew-language music artists and TV shows.

Before you go: What’s your favorite animal? Do you remember its name in Hebrew?

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A Guide to Hebrew Phone Words and Phrases

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Does the thought of having a phone conversation in a foreign language put you on edge?

Making and receiving phone calls in one’s mother tongue can be stressful enough, but doing so in a foreign language represents a particular brand of challenge. In fact, it’s rather common to feel comfortable having an in-person conversation in a foreign language but to become shaky when it comes to handling phone calls in that language. If you give it a bit of thought, it’s easy to see why a Hebrew phone conversation may be a taller order for language learners than a face-to-face conversation.

For starters, experts claim that much of our communication is non-verbal. In the context of a traditional phone call, you can see just how tricky things can get when we’re confined to abstract spoken language, without the ability to reference non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or hand gestures. This is particularly true in the Middle East, where locals tend to use their hands as moving punctuation marks. While the increasing availability of video call technology means you might be lucky enough to see your interlocutor, there’s no indication that the old-fashioned phone call is going anywhere soon. It’s a good idea to learn phone call phrases and to practice phone conversations in Hebrew so you’re well-prepared when the moment comes.

Phone calls also tend to be more difficult as they introduce added potential for external communication obstacles. Depending on the devices being used for the call, any existing background or ambient noise, the speakers’ voices and volume level, and the quality of the connection itself, you may well be straining to hear or understand your interlocutor. Of course, you’ll want to ensure you can have a clear connection when you do conduct Hebrew phone calls, but practicing phone call-related language can help you “fill in the blanks,” even when the connection isn’t great or the speaker is a low talker.

In today’s lesson, we’ll take a look at the top 30 phrases for having a telephone conversation in Hebrew, including how to introduce yourself, how to ask to speak with someone, how to ask for clarification or repetition, and, of course, how to wrap things up at the end of a call. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have all the tools you need to effectively communicate over the phone in Hebrew!

Woman at Computer on Phone
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating/Asking the Reason for the Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending the Phone Call
  9. Sample Phone Conversations
  10. Phone a friend: You can call on HebrewPod101 to help you learn all the Hebrew you’ll ever need.

1. Picking up the Phone

Close Up of Woman Answering Phone

The first set of Hebrew phone call phrases you ought to study are the greetings. 

When the phone rings, you want to feel totally comfortable picking it up, regardless of who may be at the other end of the line or what time of day it is. 

While there are numerous ways to answer the phone or begin a conversation when someone else picks up, the following is a solid list of common words and phrases for picking up the phone in Hebrew. You can use the first two at any time, while the following three are time-specific. 

Note the particular way Israelis pronounce the first word, with a short “a” sound like that in “car.”

1. הלו?
Halo? (*can often sound more like “alo”)
“Hello?”

2. שלום
Shalom
“Hello” (literally: “Peace”)

3. בוקר טוב
Boker tov
“Good morning”

4. צהריים טובים
Tzohorayim tovim
“Good afternoon”

5. ערב טוב
Erev tov
“Good evening”

2. Saying Who You Are

Man Activating Headset

Now that you know how to answer the phone in Hebrew, the next step is learning to introduce yourself properly. As in English-speaking and other cultures, it is customary for the caller to identify themselves after using one of the greetings above. 

Once again, there are multiple ways to do this. For the purposes of today’s lesson, we’ll just look at the more common and basic forms used for self-introductions over the phone. Obviously, you would fill in the blank in any of these options with your own name. 

It’s worth noting that there is nothing wrong with identifying yourself first and then using one of the above greetings as an alternative way of answering the phone. Note that Hebrew syntax can be quite different from what we’re used to in English, as you’ll see in some of the examples below where the subject comes after the verb or adverb.

6. כאן ____.
Kan ____.
“____ here.”

  • כאן רות.
    Kan Rut.
    “Ruth here.”

7. מדבר/ת _____.
Medaber/et _____.
“This is _____ speaking.”

  • מדבר שי.
    Medaber Shai.
    “This is Shai speaking.”
  • מדברת ליאת.
    Medaberet Li’at.
    “This is Liat speaking.”

8. זה/זו _____.
Zeh/zo ___.
“This is ____.”

  • זה חנן.
    Zeh Khanan.
    “This is Chanan.”
  • זו שלומית.
    Zo Shlomit.
    “This is Shlomit.”

9. שמי ____.
Shemi _____.
“My name is _____.”

  • שמי דנה.
    Shemi Danah.
    “My name is Dana.”

3. Stating/Asking the Reason for the Call

Man on Phone Writing on Notepad

Next, we’ll typically indicate the reason for our call if we’re the one who initiated contact, or else we may ask the caller what they need or how we can help. This is true whether we’re calling a government agency for public information or if we’re dialing a friend to see if they feel like going to the park to play soccer. 

There are a multitude of possibilities here, but let’s have a look at the top ways to state or ask the reason for a phone call in Hebrew.

10. הגעתי ל_____?
Higa’ti l_____?
“Is this _____?”

  • הגעתי לשרות לקוחות?
    Higa’ti le-sherut lekokhot?
    “Is this customer service?”

11. רציתי לדעת אם _____.
Ratziti lada’at im ____.
“I’d like to know if ____.”

  • רציתי לדעת אם יש לכם תוכנית תשלומים.
    Ratziti lada’at im yeish lakhem tokhnit tashlumim.
    “I’d like to know if you offer a payment plan.”

12. אני מתקשר/ת אל ____ בחזרה.
Ani mitkasher/et el _____ be-khazarah.
“I’m returning ______’s call.”

  • אני מתקשר אל רון בחזרה.
    Ani mitkasher el Ron be-khazarah.
    “I’m returning Ron’s call.”

13. במה אוכל לעזור לך?
Be-mah ukhal la’azor lekha/lakh?
“How can I help you?”

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

Man Pointing to Cell Phone

Oftentimes, we place a call intending to reach someone in particular. However, we may or may not reach that person directly. If someone else picks up the phone, we want to be equipped with the proper language to ask for the person we’re calling. Here are some of the more common ways of doing so in Hebrew. Note that the final option is a good one when we’re looking for a specific department or office rather than a specific person.

14. אפשר לדבר עם _____?
Efshar ledaber ‘im ____?
“Could I speak to ____?”

  • אפשר לדבר עם חגית?
    Efshar ledaber ‘im Khagit?
    “Could I speak to Chagit?”

15. אני מחפש/ת את ____.
Ani mekhapes/et et ____.
“I’m looking for ____.”

  • אני מחפשת את שירלי.
    Ani mekhapeset et Shirli.
    “I’m looking for Shirli.”

16. האם ____ נמצא/ת?
Ha’im ______ nimtza/nimtzeit?
“Is _____ there?”

  • האם יגאל נמצא?
    Ha’im Yig’al nimtza?
    “Is Yigal there?”

17. תוכל/י להעביר אותי ל____?
Tukhal/Tukhli leha’avir oti le-_____?
“Could you transfer me to _____?”

  • תוכלי להעביר אותי למחלקת התלונות שלכם?
    Tukhli leha’avir oti le-makhleket ha-telunot shelakhem?
    “Could you transfer me to your complaints department?

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Woman with Phone Checking Watch

If we pick up the phone and the caller is seeking a specific department or person, we may need to ask them to wait while we transfer them to the right place. Alternatively, we may be asked to wait for the person, department, or office we’re trying to reach. In either case, we’d be wise to have a strong grasp of the relevant language for such a situation. Here are some common ways to handle it.

18. רק רגע, בבקשה.
Rak rega’, bevakashah.
“Just a moment, please.”

19. המתן/המתיני על הקו בבקשה.
Hamten/Hamtini ‘al ha-kav bevakashah.
“Please hold the line.”

20. אל תנתק/תנתקי בבקשה.
Al tenatek/tenatki bevakashah.
“Don’t hang up, please.”

6. Leaving a Message

Finger Pressing Keypad on Phone

Another key skill for good Hebrew phone conversations is asking to leave a message, which more often than not entails asking the person we were looking for to call us back. Here are some of the top ways to do this in Hebrew.

21. אפשר להשאיר לו/לה הודעה?
Efshar lehashir lo/lah hoda’ah?
“Can I leave him/her a message?”

22. תוכל/י לומר לו/לה שיחזור/שתחזור אליי?
Tukhal/Tukhli lomar lo/lah she-yakhzor/she-takhzor elay?
“Could you have him/her call me back?”

23. אנא התקשר/י אליי מאוחר יותר.
Ana hitkasher/hitkashri elay me’ukhar yoter.
“Please call me back later.”

7. Asking for Clarification

Woman on Phone with Palm against Forehead

Now that we’ve seen some essential language for Hebrew phone calls, let’s look at a crucial element of any conversation: asking for clarification. 

Whether due to a lack of experience making phone calls in Hebrew, the technical nature of our phone call, or even a bad connection, we may find ourselves unable to understand what was just said on the phone. In any event, it’s always good to know how to ask the other person to repeat or clarify what they’ve said. 

Here are the more common ways of asking for clarification during Hebrew phone conversations.

24. תוכל/תוכלי לחזור על זה שוב?
Tukhal/Tukhli lakhzor ‘al zeh shuv?
“Could you repeat that?”

25. לא שומעים טוב. עוד פעם?
Lo shom’im tov. ‘Od pa’am?
“I can’t hear you well. What was that?”

26. סליחה. שוב?
Slikhah. Shuv?
“Sorry. Come again?”

8. Ending the Phone Call

Phone being Hung Up

Last but certainly not least, you’ll want to know how to wrap up a phone call in Hebrew. The best way to do so will vary depending on the circumstances of the call in question, so here are four phrases you can draw on when you’re winding down a phone call.

27. תודה. עזרת לי מאוד.
Todah. Azarta/Azart li me’od.
“Thanks. You’ve been a great help.”

28. אז נדבר ____.
Az nedaber ____.
“So let’s speak ____.”

29. שיהיה לך יום נעים/ערב טוב.
She-yehiyeh lekha/lakh yom na’im/’erev tov.
“Have a nice day/good night.”

30. להתראות.
Lehitra’ot.
“Goodbye.” / “See you later.”

9. Sample Phone Conversations

Cell Phone with Different Icons Hovering above It

Now let’s piece it all together and have a look at a couple of brief sample Hebrew phone conversations, one informal and the other formal. Even though Hebrew does not use different grammar to distinguish between higher and lower registers (like Spanish and French do, for instance), it’s possible to adopt a more or less formal tone based on word choice, much the way English works.

The first conversation is between two friends, so the tone is familiar and friendly. The second call simulates making a reservation at a restaurant, so you’ll note that the tone is slightly more formal. That said, most spoken Modern Hebrew is relatively informal compared to other languages, even in exchanges between strangers.

1. Shai makes plans to get together with a friend

Man Holding Schedule

-הלו?
Halo?
“Hello?”

-שלום, רון. זה שי.
Shalom, Ron. Zeh Shai.
“Hi, Ron. This is Shai.”

-היי, שי. מה נשמע?
Hay, Shai. Mah nishmah?
“Hi, Shai. What’s up?”

-הכל טוב. מה איתך?
Ha-kol tov. Mah itkha?
“Everything’s good. What’s up with you?”

-אצלי הכל בסדר. תודה. מה קורה?
Etzli ha-kol beseder. Todah. Mah koreh?
“Everything’s good with me. Thanks. What’s going on?”

-רציתי לדעת אם בא לך לצאת לאכול בסופ”ש.
Ratziti lada’at im ba lekha latzeit le’ekhol ba-sofash.
“I wanted to know if you feel like going out for brunch this weekend.”

-וואלה. אשמח. אל תנתק, אני רק בודק את היומן שלי.
Wallah. Esmakh. Al tenatek. Ani rak bodek et ha-yoman sheli.
“Yeah. I’d be happy to. Don’t hang up. I’m just checking my schedule.”

-אוקיי.
Okay.
“Okay.”

-אז אני פנוי בשבת בבוקר מ-11:00 והלאה.
Az ani panuy be-Shabbat ba-boker me-akhat-esreh ve-hal’ah.
“So, I’m free Saturday morning from 11:00 onwards.”

-אחלה, בא נקבע ל-11:30 במקום הקבוע שלנו.
Akhlah, bo nikba’ le-akhat-esreh-va-khetzi ba-makom ha-kavu’a shelanu.
“Great, let’s set it for 11:30 in our usual place.”

-בסדר גמור. רשמתי.
Be-seder gamur. Rashamti.
“Absolutely. I wrote it down.”

-יופי. אז נדבר בסופ”ש.
Yofi. Az nedaber ba-sofash.
“Nice. So let’s talk this weekend.”

-נשמע טוב, חבר. שיהיה לך ערב טוב.
Nishma’ tov, khaver. She-yihiyeh lekha ‘erev tov.
“Sounds good, buddy. Have a good evening.”

-גם לך. להתראות.
Gam lekha. Lehitra’ot.
“You too. See you.”

2. Shai reserves a table at Lavan Restaurant

Waiter Holding Plates

-שלום. הגעתי למסעדת לבן?
Shalom. Higa’ti le-mis’edet Lavan?
“Hello. Is this the Lavan Restaurant?”

-צהריים טובים. כן, כאן לירון במסעדת לבן. במה אוכל לעזור לך?
Tzohorayim tovim. Ken, kan Liron mi-mis’edet Lavan- Be-mah ukhal la’azor lekha?
“Good afternoon. Yes, this is Liron at Lavan. How can I help you?”

-אני רוצה להזמין שולחן לשניים בבקשה.
Ani rotzeh lehazmin shulkhan le-shnayim bevakashah.
“I’d like to reserve a table for two, please.”

-אין בעיה. יום ושעה, בבקשה?
Ein ba’ayah. Yom ve-sha’ah bevakashah?
“No problem. Day and time, please?”

-יום שבת ב-11:30. על שם שי בבקשה.
Yom Shabbat be-akhat-esreh va-khetzi. ‘Al shem Shai bevakashah.
“Saturday at 11:30. Under Shai, please.”

-אוקיי, אני רושמת. זהו, רשום. עוד משהו?
Okay, ani roshemet. Zehu, rashum. ‘Od mashehu?
“Okay, I’m entering it in. That’s it, you’re registered. Anything else?”

-כן, רק הייתי רוצה לבקש את השולחן בפינה, עם נוף לעמק.
Ken, rak hayiti rotzeh levakesh et ha-shulkhan ba-pinah, ‘im nof la-’emek.
“Yes, I’d just like to ask for the table in the corner, with a view of the valley.”

-אוקיי, הוספתי הערה.
Okay, hosafti he’arah.
“Okay, I’ve added a note.”

-אחלה. תודה, עזרת לי מאוד.
Akhlah. Todah, azart li me’od.
“Great. Thanks, you’ve been very helpful.”

-אין על מה. תודה ונכחה לכם בשבת ב-11:30.
Ein ‘al mah. Todah ve-nekhakeh lakhem be-Shabbat be-akhat-esreh-va-khetzi.
“No problem. Thanks, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing you on Saturday at 11:30.”

-להתראות.
Lehitra’ot.
“Goodbye.”

-ביי.
Bay.
“Bye.”

10. Phone a friend: You can call on HebrewPod101 to help you learn all the Hebrew you’ll ever need.

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson on how to have a Hebrew phone conversation. Obviously, the more you improve your Hebrew, the more comfortable you’ll be both speaking by phone and understanding the person on the other end of the line. That said, it’s always great to practice specific situations with the right vocabulary, particularly ones you tend to get stressed over.

HebrewPod101 is here to offer you a wealth of resources to prepare you for speaking and understanding Hebrew in any situation you may face, whether it’s related to work, school, travel, family, friends, or even romance. Check out our site, and you’ll find an endless variety of lessons hand-crafted to equip you with all the language you’ll need to speak with fluency and confidence. 

As always, we’re happy to hear from you if you feel we’ve missed anything or if you’d like us to clarify something we covered.

Until next time, shalom!

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