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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.

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  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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