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The Top 10 Most Common Hebrew Questions & How to Answer Them

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Voltaire once famously said: “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” 

In Jewish tradition, in particular, questions are of immense importance. 

For instance, the Passover Seder invites the children to participate by asking Four Questions in Hebrew about the traditions particular to that meal. There’s another point in the Seder where we talk about the four types of children. The first three are the Good, the Wicked, and the Simpleton; each is characterized by the nature and content of the questions he asks about Passover. The final child is called He Who Does Not Know to Ask Questions, and we’re encouraged to ask the questions for him. 

So, you can see that questions are powerful and important in Judaism.

On a more basic level, questions are a frequent part of interpersonal communication, so they should certainly be considered an essential element in any language-learning endeavor. Whether introducing yourself or asking for the price of an item you’re interested in purchasing, it’s crucial to know not only how to ask a variety of questions, but also to be familiar with the most common answers to them. 

Luckily, unlike in English, the form of Hebrew questions generally follows the same form as statements, without any tricky grammar points.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to examine the top ten most common questions you might hear or want to ask of others. We’ll look at the form of each question, possible variations, and, as mentioned, the most common answers. As always, we need to keep in mind the necessary grammatical adjustments depending on who we’re addressing in terms of gender, as well as our own gender. 

Let’s have a look now at our list of common Hebrew questions and answers.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. What’s your name?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. Do you speak ___?
  4. How are you?
  5. What do you do?
  6. Do you have ___?
  7. Do you like ___?
  8. What are you doing?
  9. Is everything okay?
  10. How much does _____ cost?
  11. HebrewPod101 is Here to Clear Up All Your Questions About Hebrew

1: What’s your name?

First Encounter

Perhaps the most common questions are those we use to ask for someone’s name. In Hebrew, there are actually a number of ways we can ask this. Note the difference between asking this question to a male versus a female.

  • מה שִׁמְךָ/שְׁמֵךְ?
    Mah shimkha/sh’mekh?
    “What’s your name?”
  • שמי דניאל.
    Shmi Daniel.
    “My name is Daniel.”
  • שמי דניאלה.
    Shmi Daniela.
    “My name is Daniela.”

We can also ask the same question using the longer possessive form, as follows. Both forms of this Hebrew question are common and completely acceptable, with no difference in formality between them.

  • מה השם שֶׁלְּךָ/שֶׁלָּךְ?
    Mah ha-shem shelkha/shelakh?
    “What’s your name?”
  • השם שלי (הוא) מיכאל.
    Ha-shem sheli (hu) Mikha’el.
    “My name’s Michael.”
  • השם שלי (הוא) מיכל.
    Ha-shem sheli (hu) Michal.
    “My name’s Michal.”

*Note that the word הוא (hu) is optional here.

Here’s another common way to formulate this question, along with example answers:

  • איך קוראים לְךָ/לָךְ?
    Eykh kor’im lekha/lakh?
    “What’s your name?” [Literally: “What are you called?”]
  • קוראים לי שלומי.
    Kor’im li Shlomi.
    “My name’s Shlomi.”
  • קוראים לי יפעת.
    Kor’im li Yif’at.
    “My name’s Yifat.”

2: Where are you from?

World Map with Pins

Another common question, often used as a follow-up to asking someone’s name, is asking where they’re from. This is a pretty straightforward question in Hebrew, though we do have to choose the right pronoun depending on the gender of the person we’re asking.

  • מאיפה אתה/את?
    Me-eyfoh atah/at?
    “Where are you from?”
  • אני מקנדה.
    Ani mi-Kanadah.
    “I’m from Canada.”
  • אני מפריז.
    Ani mi-Pariz.
    “I’m from Paris.”
  • אני מווירג’יניה שבארה”ב.
    Ani mi-Virjinyah she-be-Artzot ha-Brit.
    “I’m from Virginia, USA.”

3: Do you speak ___?

Introducing Yourself

This can be a very important question in Hebrew, particularly if you don’t know a word or phrase. Knowing if your Hebrew interlocutor speaks your language can be a lifesaver. Alternatively, native Hebrew-speakers may wish to ask a foreigner if he or she speaks Hebrew. Again, this is a very simple structure, as follows:

  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת אנגלית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Anglit?
    “Do you speak English?”
  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת צרפתית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Tzarfatit?
    “Do you speak French?”
  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת ספרדית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Sfaradit?
    “Do you speak Spanish?”
  • האם) אתה/את מדבר/מדברת עברית)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at medaber/medaberet Ivrit?
    “Do you speak Hebrew?”

*Note that the Hebrew question word האם (ha’im) is entirely optional.

Following are a few examples of how we might answer these questions.

  • כן, אני מדבר אנגלית שוטפת.
    Ken, ani medaber Anglit shotefet.
    “Yes, I speak fluent English.”
  • בטח, הצרפתית שלי מצויינת.
    Betakh, ha-Tzarfatit sheli metzuyenet.
    “Sure, my French is great.”
  • אני יודעת קצת ספרדית.
    Ani yoda’at ktzat Sfaradit.
    “I know a bit of Spanish.”
  • לא, אני לא יודעת עברית.
    Lo, ani lo yoda’at Ivrit.
    “No, I don’t know Hebrew.”

4: How are you?

Two People Talking

As anyone with the slightest of manners knows, it’s customary to ask someone how he or she is as a matter of courtesy. In fact, this type of language has a word—phatic communication—which is basically a fancy way of saying “small talk.” Just as in English, in Hebrew, it’s customary to ask about someone’s well-being when first greeting them. Following are the most common Hebrew questions to do so, and the kinds of answers you can expect.

  • מה שְׁלוֹמְךָ/שְׁלוֹמֵךְ?
    Mah shlomkha/shlomekh?
    “How are you?”

Obviously, we can answer in any number of ways, depending on our mood. Here are some of the more typical forms to answer this question.

  • שלומי טוב.
    Shlomi tov.
    “I’m good.”
  • אני בסדר.
    Ani be-seder.
    “I’m alright.”
  • לא רע.
    Lo ra’.
    “Not bad.”
  • הכל דבש.
    Ha-kol dvash.
    “Everything is great.” [Literally: “Everything is honey.”]

Here are some other common ways to ask someone how he or she is.

  • איך אתה/את?
    Eykh ata/at?
    “How are you?”
  • איך אתה/את מרגיש/מרגישה?
    Eykh ata/at margish/margishah?
    “How do you feel?”

5: What do you do?

Kids Dressed Up as Professionals

Another frequent question one may wish to ask is what someone does for a living. Note that there are a number of ways to ask this in Hebrew. Let’s have a look at the most common ones.

  • מה אתה/את עוֹשֶׂה/עוֹשָׂה בחיים?
    Mah atah/at oseh/osah ba-khayim?
    “What do you do in life?”
  • במה אתה/את עוסק/עוסקת?
    Be-mah atah/at osek/oseket?
    “What do you do for a living?”
  • במה אתה/את עובד/עובדת?
    Be-mah atah/at oved/ovedet?
    “What do you work in?”

There are a variety of possible answers, as well:

  • אני עובד במפעל.
    Ani oved be-mif’al.
    “I work in a factory.”
  • אני שוטרת.
    Ani shoteret.
    “I am a police officer.”
  • אני לומד באוניברסיטה.
    Ani lomed ba-universitah.
    “I study at university.”

6: Do you have ___?

Lady with Dog

Over the course of many different conversations, you may wish to ask if someone has someone or something. For instance, we may wish to ask if someone has a car, a pet, a hobby, children, and so on. As in English, the pattern for this is constant. 

  • יש לְךָ/לָךְ 10 שקלים?
    Yesh lekha/lakh ‘asarah shekalim?
    “Do you have ten shekels?”
  • יש לְךָ/לָךְ ילדים?
    Yesh lekha/lakh yeladim?
    “Do you have children?”
  • יש לְךָ/לָךְ אוטו?
    Yesh lekha/lakh oto?
    “Do you have a car?”

To answer these questions, we can just affirm or negate with “yes” or “no” (כן [ken] or לא [lo], respectively), or we can elaborate. Here are a couple of examples.

  • לא, אין עליי שקל.
    Lo, eyn alay shekel.
    “No, I don’t even have one shekel.”
  • כן, יש לי שני בנים ובת אחת.
    Ken, yesh li shney banim u-bat akhat.
    “Yes, I have two boys and a girl.”

7: Do you like ___?

Hands Making Heart Sign

It’s certainly quite common to ask someone whether he or she likes something or someone. Note that in Hebrew, there’s no separate word for “like” versus “love.” Rather, the context and intonation generally determine the intensity. Here are some examples of how to ask if someone likes something or someone.

  • אתה/את אוהב/אוהבת אוכל סיני?
    Atah/At ohev/ohevet okhel sini?
    “Do you like Chinese food?”
  • אתה/את אוהב/אוהבת לרכוב על אופניים?
    Atah/At ohev/ohevet lirkov ‘al ofanayim?
    “Do you like riding a bicycle?”
  • אתה/את אוהב/אוהבת את האנשים שאתה/שאת עובד/עובדת איתם?
    Atah/At ohev/ohevet et ha-anashim she-atah/she-at oved/ovedet itam?
    “Do you like the people you work with?”

Here are some possible answers, more elaborate than just a simple “yes” or “no.”

  • אני ממש אוהב אוכל סיני.
    Ani mamash ohev okhel sini.
    “I really like Chinese food.”
  • אני בכלל לא אוהבת לרכוב על אופניים.
    Ani bikhlal lo ohevet lirkov ‘al ofanayim.
    “I don’t like riding a bicycle at all.”
  • אני מאוד אוהבת את האנשים שאני עובדת איתם.
    Ani me’od ohevet et ha-anashim she-ani ovedet itam.
    “I like the people I work with very much.”

8: What are you doing?

Lady Texting

This is another simple question, but one that can come in handy in all manner of situations. This can be a casual question to find out what someone is up to in a given moment, or even a question of annoyance or anger if we don’t like what another person is doing. Obviously, the way one asks this question will make one’s intention clear, just as in English.

  • מה אתה/את עוֹשֶׂה/עוֹשָׂה?
    Mah atah/at oseh/osah?
    “What are you doing?”

We can also tag on a time indicator. For instance:

  • מה אתה/את עוֹשֶׂה/עוֹשָׂה כרגע?
    Mah atah/at ‘oseh/’osah karega’?
    “What are you doing right now?”

Answers to this question can vary greatly, depending on what the other person is doing. 

  • אני נוסע לתל אביב עם חברים.
    Ani nose’a le-Tel Aviv ‘im khaverim.
    “I’m headed to Tel Aviv with friends.”
  • אני מכינה לעצמי ארוחת ערב.
    Ani mekhinah le-’atzmi arukhat ‘erev.
    “I’m making myself some dinner.”
  • אני לומדת למבחן מחר.
    Ani lomedet la-mivkhan makhar.
    “I’m studying for tomorrow’s exam.”
  • אני לא עושה כלום.
    Ani lo ‘oseh klum.
    “I’m not doing anything.”

9: Is everything okay?

Lady Giving Ttwo Thumbs Up

Sometimes, you may wish to see if everything is alright with someone. For example, to check that something we’ve done or said is alright with them, or to check on someone who seems upset, in distress, or in need of help. Let’s look at some of the most common ways to ask this sort of question.

  • הכל בסדר?
    Ha-kol be-seder?
    “Is everything okay?”
  • האם) אתה/את בסדר)?
    (Ha’im) atah/at be-seder?
    “Are you okay?”
  • קרה משהו?
    Karah mashehu?
    “Did something happen?”
  • אתה/את צריך/צריכה עזרה?
    Atah/at tzarikh/tzrikhah ‘ezrah?
    “Are you in need of assistance?”

Here, too, answers can run the gamut. But to answer that everything’s fine, one would answer as follows:

  • הכל בסדר.
    Ha-kol be-seder.
    “Everything is fine.”

10: How much does _____ cost?

Price Tag in Supermarket

This is the type of question and answer in Hebrew you’ll want to become familiar with right away. In Israel, in particular, prices aren’t always printed, even in restaurants. Therefore, you’re more than likely to find yourself wanting to ask the price of something that interests you. By doing so in English, you run the risk of invoking the “foreigner tax,” by way of which prices are inflated with the assumption that foreigners won’t know how much a fair price for a given item or service might be.

Therefore, it’s wise to practice these questions so you can ask in Hebrew without breaking a sweat. Note that you’ll need to change the verb לעלות (la’alot), meaning “to cost,” depending on the grammatical gender of the item or service in question.

  • כמה עוֹלֶה המעיל הזה?
    Kamah ‘oleh ha-me’il ha-zeh?
    “How much does this jacket cost?”
  • כמה עוֹלָה השמלה הזאת?
    Kamah ‘olah ha-simlah ha-zot?
    “How much does this skirt cost?”
  • כמה עולה כרטיס הלוך ושוב לעפולה?
    Kamah oleh kartis halokh va-shov le-’Afulah?
    “How much is a roundtrip ticket to Afulah?”
  • כמה זה יעלה לי עם ביטוח?
    Kamah ze ya’aleh li ‘im bitu’akh?
    “How much will that cost me with insurance?”

Obviously, the answer to any question will be given using numbers and often the currency being used, which is almost always New Israeli Shekels, but sometimes also dollars or euros. Here are some examples of the different possible forms for expressing price in Hebrew:

  • השמלה עוֹלָה 20 שקל.
    Ha-simlah ‘olah ‘esrim Shekalim.
    “The dress costs twenty shekels.”
  • מחיר כרטיס הלוך ושוב הוא 13.50.
    Mekhir kartis halokh va-shov hu shlosh-’esreh khamishim.
    “The price of a roundtrip ticket is 13.50.”
  • עם ביטוח זה ייצא לך 327 דולר.
    ‘Im bitu’akh ze yeytzeh lekha shlosh-me’ot ‘esrim-ve-sheva’ dolar.
    “With insurance, it will come to $327.”

11: HebrewPod101 is Here to Clear Up All Your Questions About Hebrew

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. We can surely all appreciate the huge importance of being able to ask and answer basic questions in any language. Luckily, as mentioned, there’s no complex grammar to learn related to formulating questions. So go ahead and practice these top ten questions and answers in Hebrew so you’re fully equipped to deal with any basic situation that may arise.

Any questions you would like to ask in Hebrew that we left out? What about answers? We’re always happy to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and let us know how we can help you! Shalom!

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