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First Impressions: “My Name is” in Hebrew & More!

Woman Introducing Boyfriend to Parents.

A first impression casts ripples into the future of any relationship; they’re the most important meeting you may ever have with a person. Whether meeting a potential business partner, making a new friend, or asking someone out on a date, we only get one chance to make a good first impression.

With that in mind, the way you introduce yourself to others counts perhaps as much as anything else you might say afterward. But there’s no need to stress when trying to learn how to say “My name is” in Hebrew, or any other self-introduction. HebrewPod101.com has you covered! With the following lesson on “how to introduce yourself in Hebrew” phrases, and a bit of practice, it’ll become second nature.

Like most languages, Hebrew offers numerous ways to introduce ourselves, but the most basic ways, luckily, are fairly easy to learn. In fact, there are a lot of common language building blocks in many of the expressions we’ll be looking at. This way, learning the right forms for one phrase will help to reinforce your mastery with some of the others as well. So let’s jump right in and take a look at some of the best ways to tell others who we are, where we’re from, and what we do (and like to do) in Hebrew.

Table of Contents

  1. Elements of a Hebrew Introduction
  2. Hebrew Greetings
  3. Exchanging Names
  4. Stating Your Age and Nationality
  5. Talking about Your Profession or Studies
  6. Likes/Dislikes and Hobbies
  7. Conclusion: Make That First Impression Last!

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1. Elements of a Hebrew Introduction

Let’s start with the good news! The structure of Hebrew introductions will be entirely familiar to English speakers, as it’s almost identical. A basic introduction starts with a greeting. After we exchange greetings with the other person, we want to state our name and ask the other person his or her name.

Some other elements that are common to include when introducing yourself in Hebrew are your age, nationality, information about your profession, current job or studies, and extra information such as your likes/dislikes. Now, let’s break down how to introduce yourself in Hebrew language, and take a piece-by-piece look at it.

2. Hebrew Greetings

There’s no better place to start in terms of self-introductions than greetings, and when you learn Hebrew, introducing yourself is one of the first things you should learn. Let’s take a look at some common greetings in Hebrew. We’ll see some formal greetings, as well as some informal greetings, and look at their use in context. When learning how to introduce yourself in Hebrew, words like this are indispensable.

Business Colleagues Being Introduced

  • שלום
    • shalom
    • Hello.

שלום (shalom), which literally means “peace,” is the most classic greeting in Hebrew, and it has the advantages of being appropriate in any situation, whether formal or informal, as well as not requiring any verb conjugations or gender-specific words. This makes it an easy and perfectly acceptable go-to greeting.

  • היי
    • hi
    • Hi.
  • אהלן
    • ahalan
    • Hi.

However, depending on the situation, you may wish to choose a more informal, or even slang, greeting, like היי (hi) or אהלן (ahalan). Another option here is to use a greeting based on the time of day, all of which, like שלום (shalom), have the advantage of not needing to be conjugated or gender-specific.

  • מה שְּׁלוֹמְךָ?
    • Ma shlomkha?
    • How are you? [addressing a male]
  • ?מה שְּׁלוֹמֵךְ
    • Ma shlomekh?
    • How are you? [addressing a female]

It’s typical to follow up our greeting by politely asking the person how he or she is: מה שְּׁלוֹמְךָ? (Ma shlomkha?) to ask a male and מה שְּׁלוֹמֵךְ? (Ma shlomekh?) to ask a female. When looking at how to introduce yourself in Hebrew, grammar is always an important aspect, especially in terms of conjugation, so be sure to look for conjugation patterns throughout the article.

  • טוב
    • Tov
    • Good. / Well.
  • בסדר
    • beseder
    • Fine.
  • תודה
    • Toda
    • Thank you.
  • טוב, תודה
    • tov, toda
    • Good, thank you.

If they ask us the same, we can answer in one word: טוב (tov), for “good,” or בסדר (beseder) to say “fine.” We may also follow this up with the word for thank you, תודה (toda), as in טוב, תודה (tov, toda), meaning “Good, thank you.”

3. Exchanging Names

Man Giving His Name to Someone

Talking about your name in Hebrew is essential in forming a relationship with someone, and no self-introduction would be complete without actually introducing ourselves by name. There are several ways to do this in Hebrew. Some are formal and others less so, but all are commonly used depending on the situation. For this reason, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the different forms and get comfortable with their use. Let’s jump in and have a look!

1- Stating Your Own Name

  • אני
    • Ani
    • I
  • שמי
    • Shmi
    • My name is…
  • השם שלי
    • Hashem sheli
    • My name is…
  • קוראים לי
    • Kor’im li
    • I am called/named…

After we greet in Hebrew, we’ll generally state our name. There are three main ways Hebrews do this:

  • “I am,” followed by your name. One of the unusual features of Hebrew is that there’s no verb for “to be” in the present tense, so we don’t need to worry about “am.” In fact, we only need one word here, the first person pronoun “I,” which, luckily, has one form for both males and females: אני (Ani).

    So, if my name is John, I can say, אני ג’ון (Ani John), meaning, “I am John,” and we’re done! And if my name is Jane, I would say אני ג׳יין (Ani Jane), meaning, “I am Jane.” Yes, just one word plus your name!

  • “My name is,” followed by your name. There are actually two variations of this. Sticking with the example of John, we could either say, השם שלי ג’ון (Hashem sheli John), or, שמי ג’ון (Shmi John). Both have the same meaning: “My name is John.” For Jane, it would be שמי ג׳יין (Shmi Jane) or השם שלי ג׳יין (Hashem sheli Jane), or, “My name is Jane.”
  • “I am called/named,” followed by your name. Finally, the most formal way would be to say, קוראים לי ג’ון (Kor’im li John), which is equivalent to, “I am called/named John.” For Jane, קוראים לי ג׳יין (Kor’im li Jane), meaning “I am called/named Jane.”

Remember, none of these require any conjugation, so just practice until you memorize them, and you’re good to go!

2- Asking the Other Person’s Name

The easiest way to ask the other person’s name, if they don’t share it with us on their own (though many Israelis will give their name without needing to be asked), is to use the word קוראים (korim). This is from the last form we just looked at for stating our own name, but this time we use it as part of a question. And the good news is that we only need to conjugate one word; in this case, it’s the second person pronoun “you.”

  • איך קוראים לְךָ?
    • Eich korim lekha?
    • What is your name? [addressing a male]
  • איך קוראים לָךְ?
    • Eich kor’im lakh?
    • What is your name? [addressing a female]
  • נעים מאוד
    • Naim meod
    • Nice to meet you.
  • נעים להכיר
    • Naim meod
    • Nice to meet you.

If we’re talking to a male, we ask, איך קוראים לְךָ? (Eich korim lekha?), while if speaking to a female, we ask, איך קוראים לָךְ? (Eich kor’im lakh?). Both mean, “What are you called/named?” Once we hear the other person’s name, we’ll generally reply with a nicety, such as נעים מאוד (Naim meod), or נעים להכיר (Naim lehakir), both of which mean, “Nice to meet you.”

4. Stating Your Age and Nationality

Generally speaking, if we’re having a lengthier conversation, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves offering more details about ourselves. It’s fairly typical for these details to include our age and nationality, though, of course, you may wish to omit this information. But in case you want to be prepared to offer this info, here are some basic ways to do so.

1- Stating Your Age

As we looked at earlier, there’s no Hebrew verb “to be” in present tense. So, when talking about your age in Hebrew, you can do this by saying, literally, “I am the son/daughter of ___ years.” This may sound odd now, but it’s very easy to do, as long as you remember to use בן (ben), or “son,” for males and בת (bat), or “daughter,” for females. Also be sure to take the time to learn your numbers.

  • אני בן
    • Ani ben
    • I am X years old. [male speaker]
  • אני בת
    • Ani bat
    • I am X years old. [female speaker]

If I’m a twenty-five-year-old man, for instance, I can say: אני בן 25 (Ani ben esrim-ve’chamesh). If, on the other hand, I am a twenty-five-year-old woman, I would say instead: אני בת 25 (Ani bat esrim-ve’chamesh). Notice that the numbers aren’t gender-specific here. All we need to remember is ben—like Benjamin—for boys, and bat for girls.

  • בן כמה אתה?
    • Ben kama ata?
    • How old are you? [addressing a male speaker]
  • בת כמה את?
    • Bat kama at?
    • How old are you? [addressing a female speaker]

If we want to ask the other person their age, the language is very similar. Addressing a man, we would ask, בן כמה אתה? (Ben kama ata?), or for a woman, בת כמה את? (Bat kama at?). Both mean, “How old are you?” Notice that aside from the son/daughter distinction, we also need to make sure to use either a male or female pronoun (ata/at respectively), depending on who we’re speaking to.

Cake with Question Mark Candle on Top

2- Stating Your Nationality

Telling someone where you’re from in Hebrew is really easy, too! We already know to use אני (Ani) for “I,” and we also know that Hebrew doesn’t have the verb “to be” in present tense, so we don’t need to worry about “am.”

All we need is the preposition “from” to create this sentence, as well as the Hebrew form of our city or country. “From” is actually just one letter, מ (mi), which gets attached to the name of the country (or the city, if we want to get specific).

  • אני מ…
    • Ani mi…
    • I am from…
  • מאיפה אתה?
    • Me’eifo ata?
    • Where are you from? ]addressing a male speaker]
  • or מאיפה את?
    • Me’eifo at?
    • Where are you from? [addressing a female speaker]

So if a male person is from Japan, he would say, אני מיפן (Ani mi’Yapan), or if he wants to say that he’s from New York, he could say, אני מניו יורק (Ani miNyu York). Talking about where you are from in Hebrew is really that simple!

To ask the other person where he or she is from, it’s equally simple: מאיפה אתה? (Me’eifo ata?) to ask a man, or מאיפה את? (Me’eifo at?) to ask a woman.

5. Talking about Your Profession or Studies

Another topic we’re likely to discuss in a self introduction is our professional life or, if we’re in school, information about our studies. It’s also considered polite, as in many cultures, to ask the other person about the same information, as a type of small talk to show that we’re interested in getting to know them.

More good news! We already have some building blocks to say this from what we have learned previously. Let’s take a closer look at how to do this in the next section.

1- Talking about Your Profession or Job

  • אני
    • Ani
    • I am a/an…

If you want to simply state the name of your professional title when talking about your job in Hebrew, it’s as simple as knowing that vocabulary word and adding it after the first person pronoun אני (Ani). If John is a doctor, for example, he would say, אני רופא (Ani rofeh). Notice that in Hebrew, unlike in English, we don’t use an article (“a/an” ) in this case.

  • אני עובד ב…
    • Ani oved be…
    • I work in/at… [male speaker]
  • אני עובדת ב…
    • Ani ovedet be…
    • “I work in/at… [female speaker]

If, instead, John wishes to mention where he works, he could say אני עובד ב… (Ani oved be…), or, “I work in/at,” plus the name of the place where he works. So, if John works at a plastics factory, he could say, אני עובד במפעל פלסטיק (Ani oved be’mif’al plastic). If Jane works in the same place, she would use the female form of the verb “work,” as follows: אני עובדת במפעל פלסטיק (Ani ovedet be’mif’al plastic).

Woman Working in Factory

  • אני לומד ב…
    • Ani lomed ba
    • I go to school at… [male speaker]
  • אני לומדת ב…
    • Ani lomedet ba…
    • I go to school at… [female speaker]

If you’re mainly or exclusively studying rather than working, you can either say: אני סטודנט (Ani student) for males, or אני סטודנטית (Ani studentit) for the female form. Another option, for all you students out there, is to say where you’re currently studying.

For instance, if you’re enrolled at Hebrew University, you could say אני לומד באוניברסיטה העברית (Ani lomed ba’Universita ha’Ivrit) for males, or אני לומדת באוניברסיטה העברית (Ani lomedet ba’Universita ha’Ivrit) for females.

2- Asking the Other Person about His/Her Profession or Job

  • ?במה אתה עובד
    • Be’ma ata oved?
    • Literally, “What do you work in?” Equivalent to, “What do you do for a living?” [addressing a male speaker]
  • ?במה את עובדת
    • Be’ma at ovedet?
    • Literally, “What do you work in?” Equivalent to, “What do you do for a living?” [addressing a female speaker]

It’s generally considered polite to ask for the same information that we’ve just offered in return when talking to Hebrew speakers. Addressing a male, we could ask, במה אתה עובד (Be’ma ata oved), to ask in general what the person does for a living. (Literally, it means: “What do you work in?” ) Addressing a woman, as we saw above, we need to change the verb to the female form, and use the female second person pronoun: במה את עובדת? (Be’ma at ovedet?).

  • איפה אתה עובד?
    • Eifo ata oved?
    • Where do you work? [addressing a male speaker]
  • איפה את עובדת?
    • Eifo at ovedet?
    • Where do you work? [addressing a female speaker]
  • איפה אתה לומד?
    • Eifo ata lomed?
    • Where do you go to school? [addressing a male speaker]
  • איפה את לומדת?
    • Eifo at lomedet?
    • Where do you go to school? [addressing a female speaker]

We can also ask where a person works: איפה אתה עובד? (Eifo ata oved?) to ask a male, and איפה את עובדת? (Eifo at ovedet?) for a woman. If the other person is a student, we can ask them where they’re studying: איפה אתה לומד? (Eifo ata lomed?) to ask a male, and איפה את לומדת? (Eifo at lomedet?) to ask a female. Are you starting to notice a pattern? Great job!

6. Likes/Dislikes and Hobbies

To round out our self-introduction in Hebrew, we may want to offer some information about our personal life, such as something we particularly like (or perhaps even dislike). This could be a hobby, or maybe a food or animal we really enjoy. Luckily, the grammar we need to say any of these is truly simple. If we want to talk about a thing (a noun), we would just use “I like/dislike,” followed by the noun we want to mention.

  • אני אוהב…
    • Ani ohev…
    • I like/love [to]… [male speaker]
  • אני אוהבת…
    • Ani lo ohevet…
    • I like/love [to]… [female speaker]

So, for example, if John likes basketball, he could say: אני אוהב כדורסל (Ani ohev kadursal). If Jane is a big dog-lover, she could say: אני אוהבת כלבים (Ani ohevet klavim). Note that, just as in our previous examples, we only need to change the verb to match our gender, while the first person pronoun stays the same.

Woman Lying Beside Dog

  • אני לא אוהב…
    • Ani ohev…
    • I like/love [to]… [male speaker]
  • אני לא אוהבת…
    • Ani lo ohevet…
    • I like/love [to]… [female speaker]

To state a dislike, we just need to add the negative לא (lo) before the verb. For example, if John dislikes soccer, he could say, אני לא אוהב כדורגל (Ani lo ohev kaduregel). Just be careful who you say that to, as many Israelis are passionate about soccer!

Finally, we can use the same building blocks to talk about any activity we particularly like or dislike by using the same initial form followed by an infinitive verb instead of a noun. So, if Jane really likes cooking, but doesn’t like baking, for example, she could say: אני אוהבת לבשל. אני לא אוהבת לאפות. (Ani ohevet livashel. Ani lo ohevet le’efot.). Notice that infinitive verbs in Hebrew always start with the letter ל.

7. Conclusion: Make That First Impression Last!

So, now you’ve learned my name is in Hebrew, and the conversation that may follow.

When we introduce ourselves, it’s good to have thought first about what we want to say, depending on who we’re going to be talking to. The basics, like our name and age, may be no-brainers, but it’s good to reflect on what else you’ll most likely be telling people about yourself. This is a personal matter and depends on many factors, such as your current work or academic situation, the person you’re talking to, and the circumstances of your conversation.

Your waiter at a restaurant in Jerusalem, for example, might not need to know that you work at the San Diego Zoo, but perhaps you do wish to create a rapport by sharing your name, especially if he tells you his first. A business partner might already know your nationality, but he might enjoy finding out about your love of playing chess, particularly if he plays too.

Fallen King on Chessboard

You definitely don’t need to tell someone everything about you the first time they meet you, especially since that would be a lot of new language to learn in one go. But hopefully this lesson will serve as a guide in presenting some options to choose from, and will help you practice so that you can feel confident on your next business trip or vacation to Israel—or when you finally ask that Israeli guy or girl out for a coffee! So spend some time practicing, and make that first impression last!

For more information on Hebrew culture and the language, visit us at HebrewPod101.com and experience all the unique learning tools we have to offer. From insightful blog posts like this one to free vocabulary lists to strengthen your word knowledge, there’s something here for every learner!

Before you go, practice talking about yourself in Hebrew! Why not introduce yourself in Hebrew in the comments? Let us know your name, profession, and favorite hobby in Hebrew; we look forward to hearing from you!

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