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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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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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How to Say “I Love You,” in Hebrew

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It’s a well-known fact that when studying a foreign language, there’s no better tutor or motivator than a romantic partner who happens to speak the language you’re interested in acquiring. Hebrew, of course, is no exception. Whether you’ve already fallen in love with a Hebrew speaker or are hoping to find romance in the Holy Land, today’s lesson is designed to equip you with all the language you’ll need to pursue your love interest and express your love in Hebrew. Once you find that partner, he or she should be motivation enough to keep up your Hebrew studies!

Today, we’ll be looking at phrases you can use to…

  • …start up a conversation with someone who sparks your interest.
  • …deepen your connection with him or her. 
  • …take things a step further, whether in terms of moving in together, getting married, or starting a family.

In addition, we’ll go over some general terms of endearment that you can use at any stage of a relationship. We’ll also see some beautiful quotes about love in Hebrew culled from the best of Israeli poetry and song.

One caveat before we plunge right in: Romance is a peculiarly sensitive thing, and one that changes from one culture and individual to another. If you’re unfamiliar with Israeli culture, expect for it to take you a while to understand how romance works in Hebrew, what is appropriate or welcome to say in a given situation, and how to properly pick up on cues from the object of your interest. While eagerness to use your new language skills will certainly be commended, you definitely want to proceed with caution when foraying in the world of romance. So choose your words wisely!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Budding Love: Conversation Starters and Pick-up Lines
  2. Deepening Love: Expressing More Profound Emotions
  3. Taking Things to the Next Level: Meeting the Folks, Moving in, and Starting a Family Together
  4. Terms of Endearment for Any Occasion
  5. Love Quotes to Impress, to Move, and to Inspire
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Fall in Love with Hebrew

1. Budding Love: Conversation Starters and Pick-up Lines

Man Whispering in Woman's Ear

While some romantic relationships develop organically from friendships or other already-established relationships, sometimes your heart just stops when you see someone from the other end of the bar. Whatever the case may be, this section is designed to give you the linguistic tools you need to (at least try to) endear yourself to someone who catches your interest, whether you’ve been introduced or not.

It bears mentioning that, particularly if you’re approaching someone you’ve never met, it’s always wise to measure your words and to be fully prepared for rejection (or worse) if you choose to go all out with a pick-up line. It’s probably a safe bet that most people—at least Israelis—will respond more warmly to an attempt at genuine conversation than a cheesy pick-up line. That being said, each of us has our own style, and the world is full of all types. Just keep in mind that Israelis tend to be a little harder-edged than, say, their American counterparts. So if you’re going to drop a bomb, you’d better brace for impact!

1. אני X. איך קוראים לך?
Ani X. Eykh korim lekha/lakh?
“I’m X. What’s your name?”

2. אפשר להזמין אותך ל…?
Efshar lehazmin otkha/otakh le…?
“Can I buy you a…?”

*Note that you can use this for any object, though typically it would be a drink, such as a beer (בירה, birah) or a cup of wine (כוס יין, kos yayin).

3. בא לך…?
Ba lekha/lakh…?
“Do you feel like…?”

*This one can be used either to invite someone to partake in drinking or eating something, or to engage in any other activity. Here are a couple of examples:

  • בא לך פיצה?
    Ba lekha/lakh pitzah?
    “Do you feel like pizza?”
  • בא לך לרקוד?
    Ba lekha/lakh lirkod?
    “Do you feel like dancing?”
  • בא לך לצאת החוצה?
    Ba lekha/lakh latzeit hakhutzah?
    “Do you feel like going outside?”

4. אתה בא/את באה לפה הרבה?
Atah ba/At ba’ah lepoh harbeh?
“Do you come here often?”

5. היי מותק.
Hay, motek.
“Hi, sweetheart/honey.”

*Be careful with this one, as being called מותק may not always be welcome. It’s similar to calling someone you don’t know sweetheart, honey, or sugar, which may go well or poorly depending on who says it to whom, as well as how smoothly it was delivered!

6. את/ה מאמינה/מאמין באהבה ממבט ראשון?
At/ah ma’amin/ah be-ahavah mi-mabat rishon?
“Do you believe in love at first sight?”

*A warning should be unnecessary here, as the cheesiness of this line requires that you both choose the right addressee and deliver it with suavity.

2. Deepening Love: Expressing More Profound Emotions

Man and Woman Touching Heads

Assuming you’ve gotten over the first hurdle of striking up a conversation with someone, and have now been seeing someone romantically for a while, you’ll probably be looking for ways to express all those butterflies in your stomach with eloquence and style. Below, you’ll find a few ways of talking about your deepening feelings and expressing your love in Hebrew. It bears noting that the Hebrew word for love—לאהוב (le’ehov)—is used to express both “love” and “like,” with the degree of intensity being inferred from the speaker, context, intonation, etc. With that in mind, be careful about jumping the gun and using this word too soon! You don’t want to spook the man or woman of your dreams before they’ve had a chance to get to know you.

7. אני אוהב/ת אותך.
Ani ohev/et otakh/otkha.
“I love you.”

8. אתה/את יקר/ה לי.
Atah/At yakar/yekarah li.
“You’re dear to me.”

9. אני מאוהב/ת בך.
Ani me’ohav/me’ohevet bakh/bekha.
“I’m in love with you.”

10. אני חולה עליך.
Ani kholeh/kholah alayikh/alekha.
“I’m crazy about you.”

11. אני לא יכול להפסיק לחשוב עליך.
Ani lo yakhol/yekholah lehafsik lakhsov alayikh/alekha.
“I can’t stop thinking about you.”

12. אני מתגעגע/ת אליך.
Ani mitga’age’a/mitga’aga’at elayikh/elekha.
“I miss you.”

3. Taking Things to the Next Level: Meeting the Folks, Moving in, and Starting a Family Together

Family's Feet at Foot of Bed

Hopefully, your relationship has continued to grow and strengthen, and you’re now ready to take things to the next level. Whether you just want to introduce your partner to your folks or you’re ready to get down on one knee and propose, these are the top love phrases in Hebrew you’ll need to take things a step further. As in any culture, you should make sure you—and your significant other—are ready for these milestones before you try any of these phrases out!

13. הייתי רוצה להכיר אותך למשפחה שלי.
Hayiti rotzeh/rotzah lehakir otakh/otkha la-mishpakhah sheli.
“I’d like to introduce you to my family.”

14. אני רוצה לעבור לגור יחד.
Ani rotzeh/rotzah la’avor lagur yakhad.
“I want to move in together.”

15. התחתן/התחתני איתי!
Hitkhaten/Hitkhatni iti!
“Marry me!”

16. התינשא/י לי?
Ha-tinase/tinas’ii li?
“Will you marry me?”

17. אני רוצה לעשות איתך ילדים.
Ani rotzeh la’asot itkha/itakh yeladim.
“I want to have children with you.”

18. בוא/י נקנה בית יחד.
Bo/Bo’i nikneh bayit yakhad.
“Let’s buy a house together.”

4. Terms of Endearment for Any Occasion

Heart on Envelope

Now that we’ve seen a lot of scenario-specific language, let’s have a look at terms of endearment that you can use at any time. After all, when is it a bad time to make the apple of your eye feel as special as he or she is to you? Obviously, you do want to keep in mind that not everyone likes being called by something other than their name, and there are some nicknames that simply won’t work for certain people. However, using terms of endearment is very common in Hebrew, and it may well earn you some extra brownie points—particularly if your partner is feeling down or if, say, you forgot to bring them flowers on their birthday. A final note: Pay attention to which of these terms change based on the gender of the person you’re talking to and which don’t!

19. מותק
Motek
“Sweetheart”

  • התספורת ההיא ממש הולמת אותך, מותק.
    Ha-tisporet ha-hi mamash holemet otakh, motek.
    “That haircut really suits you, sweetheart.”

20. יפה שלי
Yafeh/Yafah sheli
“(My) pretty/handsome”

  • מה בא לך לאכול הערב, יפה שלי?
    Mah ba lekha le’ekhol ha-erev, yafeh sheli?
    “What do you feel like eating tonight, handsome?”

21. נשמה שלי
Neshamah sheli
“My soul”

  • נשמה שלי, איך התגעגעתי אליך!
    Neshamah sheli, eykh hitga’aga’ti elayikh!
    My soul, how I missed you!”

22. עיניים שלי
Eynayim sheli
“My eyes”

  • איך אני מאוהב בך, עיניים שלי!
    Eykh ani me’ohav bakh, eynayim sheli!
    “I’m so in love with you, my eyes!”

23. אהובי
Ahuvi
“My love”

  • אהובי, אתה לא רוצה לצאת לשתות משהו?
    Ahuvi, atah lo rotzeh latzet lishtot mashehu?
    My love, you don’t want to go out for a drink?”

24. חיים שלי
Khayim sheli
“My life”

  • אל תהיי עצובה, חיים שלי. אני איתך.
    Al tihiyi atzuvah, khayim sheli. Ani itakh.
    “Don’t be sad, my life. I’m with you.”

5. Love Quotes to Impress, to Move, and to Inspire

Book pages in shape of heart

Last but not least, sometimes you just want to leave a good impression or change the mood by using a properly turned phrase coined by someone else. Fear not! We’ve got you covered. Now that we’ve looked at Hebrew phrases for the various stages of romance, let’s have a look at some carefully culled love quotes in the Hebrew language that will be sure to move even a heart of stone. Keep in mind that this is just a short selection, but Hebrew has absolutely no shortage of beautiful poetry and song lyrics that are ripe with amorous quotations for any occasion.

1. אביא לך אבנים מהירח, אתן לך אוצרות מלב הים, מה שתבקשי, מה שרק תרצי, אם את עודך שלי.
-בועז שרעבי
Avi lakh avanim me-ha-yare’akh, eten lakh otzarot mi-lev ha-yam, mah she-tevakshi, mah she-rak tirtzi, im at odekh sheli.
-Bo’az Shar’abi
“I’ll bring you rocks from the moon; I’ll give you treasures from the heart of the sea; whatever you ask, whatever you ask, as long as you’ll still be mine.”
-Boaz Sharabi

2. בין האפל לנסתר, בעולמנו המר, אומרים שיש עוד תקווה, קוראים לזה אהבה.
-ארקדי דוכין
Beyn ha-afel la-nistar, be-olameinu ha-mar, omrim she-yeish ‘od tikvah, korim le-zeh ahavah.
-Arkadi Dukhin
“Between the obscure and the hidden, in our bitter world, it’s said there’s still hope. It’s called love.”
-Arkadi Duchin

3. כל אהבה שתלויה בדבר – בטל דבר, בטלה אהבה. ושאינה תלויה בדבר – אינה בטלה לעולם.
-פרקי אבות
Kol ahavah she-t’luyah be-davar – batel davar, betelah ahavah. Ve-she-eynah t’luyah be-davar – eynah betelah le-’olam.
-Pirkei Avot
“Any love which is dependent on something, when the ‘something’ ceases, the love ceases. Any love which is not dependent on anything will never cease.”
-Pirkei Avot

4. יש האומרים שאהבה טובה ומתוקה, ויש אומרים קשה היא, ויש אומרים רכה. יש האומרים שהיא איננה, שמזמן אבדה, ויש האומרים שהיא הכל ואין עוד מלבדה.
-אהוד מנור
Yesh ha-omrim she-ha-ahavah tovah u-metukah, ve-yesh omrim kashah hi, ve-yesh omrim rakah. Yesh ha-omrim she-hi eynenah, she-mi-zman avdah, ve-yesh ha-omrim she-hi ha-kol ve-eyn ‘od milvadah.
-Ehud Manor
“There are those who say that love is good and sweet; there are those who say it’s tough and those who say it’s soft. There are those who say it doesn’t exist, that it was lost a long time ago, and those who say it’s all there is, and there’s nothing else.”
-Ehud Manor

5. שדות ביקשו אל הגשם, הגלים ביקשו אל החוף ואני ביקשתי את לבך לקטוף.
-אביב גפן
Sadot bikshu el ha-geshem, ha-galim bikshu el ha-khof, va-ani bikashti et libekh liktof.
-Aviv Geffen
“Fields asked for the rain, the waves asked for the shore, and I asked your heart to pluck.”
-Aviv Geffen

6. כמו כלים שלובים, אני ואת ביחד מתמלאים עד קו הלב.
-יוני רכטר
Kemo kelim shluvim, ani ve-at beyakhad mit’mal’iim ‘ad kav ha-lev.
-Yoni Rekhter
“Like communicating vessels, you and I together fill ourselves to the heartline.”
-Yoni Rechter

6. Let HebrewPod101 Help You Fall in Love with Hebrew

HebrewPod101 Logo with Girl Wearing Headphones

We hope that you found today’s lesson helpful, though on this one in particular, we can’t guarantee the results. After all, the heart is fickle, and courtship and love are an art, not a science. Just keep in mind that expressing love in another language is not as simple as translating your “game” word for word. Rather, you need to immerse yourself in the culture—linguistic and otherwise—of Hebrew to really get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

We invite you to explore our vast resources covering all aspects of the Hebrew language and Israeli culture, including romance but also general conversation vocabulary and tips. You’ll find a wealth of written and audiovisual lessons to help you grow your Hebrew lexicon, practice your pronunciation, and hear how real Israelis converse. In closing, we wish you luck in romance, and hope you fall in love with Hebrew…and maybe even with a Hebrew speaker, too!

If you enjoyed our lesson, make sure to continue exploring all that HebrewPod101.com has to offer!

Are there any love phrases we didn’t mention in this article that you want the Hebrew translation for? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get back to you!

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Negation in Hebrew: How to Say No Like a Pro

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Expressing negation is a crucial skill in any language. Not only do we need to know the right word(s) to say in order to make logical negative sentences, but we also need to understand which forms are appropriate in which cases. Unlike some cultures, which seemingly struggle with saying no, Israelis are (as in all other spheres of communication) quite direct when expressing things like disinterest, the lack of something, or the inability to do something. While Hebrew negation may sound abrasive to the untrained ear, the fact is that there’s an art to it all, and a nuanced one at that. Today’s lesson will prime you to say no like a pro as we look at all facets of Hebrew negation.

The first thing to understand is that Israelis tend to be more frank than what Westerners may be accustomed to, with fewer niceties of conversation, less small talk, and less beating around the bush. When a situation arises in which someone wishes to express a negative, they’ll typically do so in the most direct and efficient way possible. The other person will generally not take any offense at such directness, as this is simply the nature of Hebrew.

That being said, you also don’t want to find yourself inadvertently exaggerating your directness. That’s why we’re going to look at different ways to express negation in Hebrew—including more formal ones—along with contextual examples to demonstrate their correct usage. Finally, we’ll look at some of the top words and phrases that you can use to say no in Hebrew.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Negative Statements
  2. Negative Imperatives
  3. Answering Questions with Negation
  4. Other Words and Phrases for Negation
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Learn Hebrew – HebrewPod101 Has Always Got Your Back!

1. Negative Statements

The most basic thing we need to know is how to formulate simple negative statements. The great thing is that, by and large, you’ll only need to know one word: לא (lo). This word, meaning “no,” is your go-to for all things negative, though it can also take the function of other negative English words and phrases, such as “don’t” or “won’t.” 

Let’s begin by having a look at how לא works in context by comparing positive and negative statements, with לא being the only distinction between them. Note that the word לא comes after the subject and before the word or phrase it negates.

A- Use of the word לא (lo) – “no” /Japan road sign 302.svg

No Sign with Guy Holding Up Hand
  1. אני סטודנטית.
    Ani studentit.
    “I’m a student.”
  1. אני לא סטודנטית.
    Ani lo studentit.
    “I’m not a student.”
  1. אני רעב.
    Ani ra’ev.
    “I’m hungry.”
  1. אני לא רעב.
    Ani lo ra’ev.
    “I’m not hungry.”
  1. אני רוצה לראות סרט.
    Ani rotzeh lir’ot seret.
    “I want to see a movie.”
  1. אני לא רוצה לראות סרט.
    Ani lo rotzeh lir’ot seret.
    “I don’t want to see a movie.”
  1. ההורים שלי גרים בישראל.
    Ha-horim sheli garim be-Yisrael.
    “My parents live in Israel.”
  1. ההורים שלי לא גרים בישראל.
    Ha-horim sheli lo garim be-Yisrael.
    “My parents don’t live in Israel.”

B- Use of the word אין (eyn) – “no” / “there is no” / “there are no”

Woman Holding Hands Palms Up

The word אין (eyn) can also be used for simple negation. It means the opposite of יש (yesh), meaning “there is” or “there are,” which can also take the place of the English verb “have,” for which there’s no Hebrew equivalent. אין (eyn) is chiefly used to describe the lack of something. Here are some examples:

  1. יש מבחן מחר.
    Yesh mivkhan makhar.
    “There’s a test tomorrow.”

    אין מבחן מחר.
    Eyn mivkhan makhar.
    There’s no test tomorrow.”

  1. יש לי אחים.
    Yesh li akhim.
    “I have siblings.”

    אין לי אחים.
    Eyn li akhim.
    “I don’t have siblings.”

  1. יש לי זמן לדבר מחר.
    Yesh li zman ledaber makhar.
    “I have time to speak tomorrow.”
  1. אין לי זמן לדבר מחר.
    Eyn li zman ledaber makhar.
    “I do not have time to speak tomorrow.”

אין can also be used as an alternative to לא in negating nouns/nominal phrases or verbs/verbal phrases. However, unlike לא, which is used without any morphological changes (i.e. changes to the form of the word itself), אין must be conjugated to fit the subject’s gender and number, as demonstrated in the examples below.

Additionally, אין is generally considered a bit more formal. For example, you may encounter this word on signs warning of things not to be done in a given place, or in instruction manuals advising users on improper use of a product. 

  1. אבא שלי דתי.
    Abba sheli dati.
    “My father is religious.”
  1. אבא שלי אינו דתי.
    Abba sheli eyno dati.
    “My father is not religious.”
  1. אמא שלי אוהבת אוכל חריף.
    Imma sheli ohevet okhel kharif.
    “My mother likes spicy food.”
  1. אמא שלי אינה אוהבת אוכל חריף.
    Imma sheli eynah ohevet okhel kharif.
    “My mother does not like spicy food.”
  1. אני רעב.
    Ani ra’ev.
    “I am hungry.”
  1. אינני רעב.
    Eyneni ra’ev.
    “I am not hungry.”
  1. אתה מורשה להשתמש בציוד משרדי לשימוש עצמי.
    Atah mursheh lehishtamesh be-tziyud misradi le-shimush atzmi.
    “You are authorized to use office supplies for personal use.”
  1. אינך מורשה להשתמש בציוד משרדי לשימוש עצמי.
    Eynkha mursheh lehishtamesh be-tziyud misradi le-shimush atzmi.
    “You are not authorized to use office supplies for personal use.”
  1. את מוסמכת להפעיל את כלי הרכב הזה.
    At musmekhet lehaf’il et kli ha-rekhev ha-zeh.
    “You are authorized to operate this vehicle.”
  1. אינך מוסמכת להפעיל את כלי הרכב הזה.
    Eynekh musmekhet lehaf’il et kli ha-rekhev ha-zeh.
    “You are not authorized to operate this vehicle.”
  1. הרופא נמצא כעת.
    Ha-rofe nimtza ka-’et.
    “The doctor is currently in.”
  1. הרופא אינו/איננו נמצא כעת.
    Ha-rofe eyno/eynenu nimtza ka-’et.
    “The doctor is not currently in.”
  1. אחותי מעוניינת בפוליטיקה.
    Akhoti me’unyenet ba-politikah.
    “My sister is interested in politics.”
  1. אחותי אינה/איננה מעוניינת בפוליטיקה.
    Akhoti eynah/eynenah me’unyenet ba-politikah.
    “My sister is not interested in politics.”
  1. אתם רצויים כאן.
    Atem retzuyim kan.
    “You are wanted here.”
  1. אינכם רצויים כאן.
    Eynkhem retzuyim kan.
    “You are not wanted here.”
  1. אתן נמצאות ברשימת המוזמנים.
    Aten nimtza’ot bi-r’shimat ha-muzmanim.
    “You are on the guest list.”
  1. אינכן נמצאות ברשימת המוזמנים.
    Eynkhen nimtza’ot bi-r’shimat ha-muzmanim.
    “You are not on the guest list.”
  1. קרובי המשפחה רשאים להיכנס לחדר בלי ציוד מגן אישי.
    Krovey ha-mishpakhah rasha’im lehikanes la-kheder bli tziyud magel ishi.
    “Relatives are allowed to enter the room without PPE.”
  1. קרובי המשפחה אינם רשאים להיכנס לחדר בלי ציוד מגן אישי.
    Krovey ha-mishpakhah eynam rasha’im lehikanes la-kheder bli tziyud magel ishi.
    “Relatives are not allowed to enter the room without PPE.”
  1. העובדות יודעות איך התחילה השריפה.
    Ha-ovdot yod’ot eykh hitkhilah ha-s’reyfah.
    “The employees know how the fire started.”
  1. העובדות אינן יודעות איך התחילה השריפה.
    Ha-ovdot eynan yod’ot eykh hitkhilah ha-s’reyfah.
    “The employees do not know how the fire started.”

2. Negative Imperatives

No Written on Hand

Sometimes we want to tell people what they should or must do, and sometimes we want to tell them what not to do. This is when negative imperatives come in handy. In Hebrew, negative imperatives are formed with just one word: אל (al) – “do not.” Just be aware that, as in English, speaking to someone in the imperative voice should be reserved for situations of urgency, as it’s a highly direct form of speech, particularly when you’re essentially ordering someone not to do something. 

Here are some examples of negative imperatives in Hebrew:

  1. אל תרוץ בתוך הבית.
    Al tarutz betokh ha-bayit.
    Don’t run inside the house.”
  1. אל תאכלו באוטובוס.
    Al tokhlu ba-otobus.
    Don’t eat on the bus.”
  1. אל תסעי לשם לבד.
    Al tis’i le-sham levad.
    Don’t go there alone.”
  1. אל תפחדו, זה לא נחש ארסי.
    Al tifkhadu, zeh lo nakhash arsi.
    Don’t worry, that’s not a poisonous snake.”
  1. אל תסתכל בקנקן אלא במה שיש בו.
    Al tistakel ba-kankan ela mah she-yesh bo.
    Don’t look at the jug, but at its contents.” (This is a saying equivalent to English’s, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”)

3. Answering Questions with Negation

Woman Making Iffy Face

Now let’s have a look at how we can answer questions with negative answers. As in most languages, there are a number of ways to do this in Hebrew, including with לא and אין. For the purposes of this lesson, we’ll look at the most common forms to answer questions with negation, though there are obviously others. We’ll illustrate these through a few short exchanges demonstrating negative answers to various questions.

  1. -יש לך 20 שקל במקרה?
    -Yesh lekha esrim shekel be-mikreh?
    -“Do you have 20 shekels by any chance?”

    אין עליי כלום.
    -Eyn alay klum.
    -“I don’t have a thing on me.”

*Note that Hebrew uses double negatives, so the above sentence literally translates to: “I don’t have nothing on me.”

  1. -את רוצה לנסוע לצפון בחגים?
    -At rotzah linso’a la-Tzafon ba-khagim?
    -“Do you want to travel to the North over the holidays?”

    לא, אני לא רוצה.
    Lo, ani lo rotzah.
    -“No, I don’t.”

  1. -אתה מעוניין להצטרף אלינו למסיבה?
    -Atah me’unyan lehitztaref eleynu la-mesibah?
    -“Are you interested in joining us at the party?”

    -אני מעדיף שלא.
    -Ani ma’adif she-lo.
    -“I’d prefer not to.”

  1. -את חושבת שתסיימי את הפרוייקט השבוע?
    -At khoshevet she-tisaymi et ha-proyect ha-shavu’a?
    -“Do you think you’ll finish the project this week?”

    לא נראה לי.
    Lo nir’ah li.
    -“I don’t think so.”

  1. -לדעתך ירד גשם היום?
    -Le-da’atekh yered geshem ha-yom?
    -“Do you think it will rain today?”

    לא חושבת.
    Lo khoshevet.
    -“I don’t think so.”


4. Other Words and Phrases for Negation

Man with Tape Over Mouth

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the more common words and phrases used in the context of negation. There are obviously many more ways of making a sentence or statement negative in Hebrew than what’s provided here, but this list covers the top 10 most commonly used negative expressions.

*Note the use of double negatives in many of the examples below. Though we saw this previously, it bears clarifying that Hebrew uses double negatives, with negative verbs or verbal phrases taking negative objects. This can be confusing for English speakers, as double negatives are not used in correct English, so make sure to pay attention!

  1. כמעט ולא
    Kim’at ve-lo
    “Hardly”

    אני כמעט ולא רואה טלוויזיה.
    Ani kim’at ve-lo ro’eh televiziyah.
    “I hardly watch TV.”

  1. בכלל לא
    Bikhlal lo
    “Not at all”

    הוא בכלל לא רואה משחקי כדורגל.
    Hu bikhlal lo ro’eh miskhakey kaduregel.
    “He doesn’t watch soccer games at all.”

  1. לעולם לא
    Le-’olam lo
    “Never”

    היא לעולם לא יצאה מישראל.
    Hi le-’olam lo yatzah me-Yisrael.
    “She has never been outside of Israel.”

  1. בחיים לא
    Ba-khayim lo
    “Never ever”

    -היית אוכל כריש?
    -Hayita okhel karish?
    -“Would you eat shark?”

    בחיים לא!
    Ba-khayim lo!
    -“Never ever!”

  1. גם לא
    Gam lo
    “Neither” / “Either” / “Nor” / “Or”

    מה שעשיתם זה לא הוגן וגם לא יפה.
    Mah she-’asitem zeh lo hogen ve-gam lo yafeh.
    “What you did was not fair, nor was it nice.”

  1. אין מצב
    Eyn matzav
    “No way”

    אין מצב שאתם עושים מסיבה בלי להזמין אותי.
    Eyn matzav she-atem ‘osim mesibah b’li lehazmin oti.
    “There’s no way you guys are having a party without inviting me.”

  1. אף אחד
    Af ekhad
    “No one”

    אף אחד לא שאל אותך!
    Af ekhad lo sha’al otkha!
    No one asked you!”

  1. אף פעם
    Af pa’am
    “Never” / “Not once”

    אף פעם לא מאוחר להתפייס.
    Af pa’am lo me’ukhar lehitpayes.
    “It’s never too late to make up.”

  1. כלום
    Klum
    “Nothing” / “Anything”

    מחר אנחנו לא עושים כלום.
    Makhar anakhnu lo ‘osim klum.
    “We’re not doing anything tomorrow.”

  1. שום דבר
    Shum davar
    “Nothing at all” / “Not a thing”

    שום דבר לא יכול לעצור בן אדם בעל רצון.
    Shum davar lo yakhol la’atzor ben adam ba’al ratzon.
    “There’s not a thing that can stop a motivated person.”


5. Don’t Be Afraid to Learn Hebrew – HebrewPod101 Has Always Got Your Back!

We hope you found today’s lesson useful. Even though our focus was on negation, we truly hope you had a positive learning experience. Our goal at HebrewPod101 is always to make sure you receive quality lessons that are informative, interesting, and clear. If there’s anything else you’d like to know about Hebrew negation, please get in touch with us, and one of our expert Hebrew teachers will be happy to respond!

Remember that with broad topics like negation, it’s best not to bite off more than you can chew and digest at any one time. For that reason, we recommend learning and practicing a few small language chunks at a time, rather than attempting to assimilate an entire lesson in one sitting. Practice these words and phrases a little bit at a time, and you’ll see that they’ll start to sink in before you know it!

Until next time, shalom!

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Why learn Hebrew? 10 reasons to start learning today.

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With all the languages you could possibly study, you may be wondering, “Why learn Hebrew?” 

And that’s a fair question. 

As you probably already know, Hebrew doesn’t even come close to being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, nor is it spoken as an official language in anyplace other than Israel. Nevertheless, Hebrew is unique among the languages, and there’s no shortage of solid reasons to study it.

Whether you’re interested in one of the world’s oldest languages (and cultures), want to become involved in one of the world’s most vibrant economies, wish to visit a country where numerous events crucial to Western culture took place, or simply want to partake in what is likely the most miraculous linguistic experiment the world has ever seen, Hebrew is the language for you! 

In today’s lesson, we’ll have a look at the top 10 reasons to study Hebrew.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Hebrew and the Land of Israel
  2. Personal Benefits of Learning Hebrew
  3. Additional Benefits of Learning Hebrew
  4. Now that you have so many reasons to learn Hebrew, let HebrewPod101 help you achieve your goals.

1. Hebrew and the Land of Israel

Map of Israel with Flag

Hebrew is directly linked to the Jewish People—often referred to, in fact, as Hebrews—and likewise to the land of Israel. In fact, the word originates as a descriptor for Abram’s (later Abraham) lineage, as his family is described as coming from the East, over the Jordan River. The word לעבור (la’avor) means “to cross (over),” and Abram is described as עברי (‘Ivri), derived from this same root apparently by way of describing him as being from “across” the river. This same word gives us our English word “Hebrew.” 

Now, let’s have a look at some of the unique cultural and historical elements of Hebrew that make it a compelling choice when picking a language to study.

1- Hebrew is over 3,000 years old.

Western Wall

Hebrew is no spring chicken. The earliest records of Paleo-Hebrew—the earliest known form of the language—date back to the tenth century BCE, making Hebrew over 3,000 years old! 

Belonging to the Canaanite language group, a branch of the Northwest Semitic language family, Hebrew is the traditional language of the Hebrew people who share its name, most notably the Jews, who are descendants of the Hebrew Kingdom of Judah (as opposed to the so-called Lost Tribes of the Kingdom of Israel, though both kingdoms spoke Hebrew). In ancient times, the peak of Hebrew use lasted from around 1200 to the Babylonian Exile of 586 BCE, though the language continued in use for some time later, alongside Aramaic.

By Late antiquity, Hebrew was extinct as a spoken language, but continued to be used by Jews mostly for liturgical, exegetical, and holy literary purposes. It was not widely spoken again until the late nineteenth century, when Zionist efforts to revive the language miraculously succeeded even after almost two millenia of disuse as a spoken tongue. It’s now Israel’s official language, and spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. By learning Hebrew, then, you’re taking part in an ongoing three-millennia linguistic journey!

2- Hebrew is the language of the Bible.

Torah Scroll

Hebrew is the language of the entire Hebrew Bible (known by Christians as the Old Testament), with the sole exceptions of the Books of Daniel and Ezra, which are in Aramaic. Unarguably considered cornerstones of Western culture, the Hebrew Bible offers endless riches of poetry, philosophy, and history. Of course, the Hebrew found in the Bible differs vastly from Modern Hebrew, the dialect of the language spoken today. Nevertheless, just as anyone with knowledge of Modern English can at least get the gist of much of Shakespeare, anyone with basic Modern Hebrew knowledge will be able to understand a surprising amount of Hebrew Scripture.

What’s more, the Hebrew Bible has lent quite a lot of material to English, as well as to many other languages. This includes names like Jonathan (יונתן, Yonatan) and Rebecca (רבקה, Rivkah) and words like “jubilee” (from יובל, yovel, “fallow year”) and “behemoth” (from בהמה, behemah, “beast”). You can find more about these words here. 

By learning Hebrew, you can deepen your connection to the Bible and everything that has come out of it.

3- Hebrew is the language of Judaism.

Menorah

Just as Hebrew itself is a link to the ancient world, the Jewish people whose language it is are one of the world’s oldest and most interesting ethnoreligious groups. Originally from Israel and the Levant in general, Jews traced one of human history’s most extensive migrations over the course of some two millennia. Reaching all corners of the earth, from Shanghai to Sydney, Los Angeles to Lima, and Odessa to Capetown, Jews have contributed to and participated in world culture to an extent highly disproportionate to their numbers.

Thanks to a culture that stresses family ties, education, hard work, social justice, and other positive values, Judaism has managed not only to survive endless instances of persecution, oppression, and genocide, but to thrive in any society where they’ve lived. 

By learning Hebrew, then, you’re tapping into one of the world’s great cultural success stories, right down to the miracle of the modern State of Israel, founded in 1948 by Jews returned to their historical homeland after almost 2,000 years of wandering in the Diaspora. By learning Hebrew, you can strengthen your understanding of Judaism, one of the world’s great cultures.

4- Hebrew is the only language to have been successfully revived after almost two millennia of disuse as a spoken language.

Israeli Flag in Speech Bubble

As mentioned, Hebrew fell into disuse as a spoken language beginning after the Babylonian Exile of 586 BCE. As Aramaic rose to prominence in the Middle East and Jews elsewhere adopted local languages for their daily communication, Hebrew was eventually relegated to use only as a written language. Specifically, it was used for writing either prayers or liturgical poetry, or for exegesis of Biblical and other religious works. This situation prevailed until the nineteenth century, when Zionists revived Hebrew as a spoken language.

This revival of Hebrew was spearheaded by Eliezer ben Yehuda, who went so far as to move his family to Israel and force his children to speak only Hebrew—even though no other children at the time did. Ben Yehuda would go on to compile the first Hebrew dictionary and coin a profusion of words, many of which are still in use today.

In order to comprehend the significance of the efforts by Ben Yehuda and his fellow Zionists, it’s important to realize that due to its disue over such an extended period of time, Hebrew lacked a vast amount of vocabulary for describing the various aspects of modern life. Through a concerted scholarly and linguistic effort, the Zionists would devise new words, generally based on Hebrew or other Semitic languages (such as Aramaic and Arabic), though they also drew on Latin, English, Russian, French, German, and other sources, as well.

Within a relatively short span of time, Hebrew schools were established, as well as the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Hebrew jargon was established for every field imaginable. Today, less than 200 years after the first attempts to revive it, Hebrew is spoken by over 9 million people! So, by learning Hebrew, you’re also taking part in perhaps the world’s greatest and most successful literary experiment!

2. Personal Benefits of Learning Hebrew

Apart from the cultural and historical elements that make Hebrew so unique, there are also great personal benefits to studying Hebrew. As the modern State of Israel represents one of the world’s most vibrant economies and one of its cultural powerhouses, Hebrew gives you a direct “in” to one of the most interesting and productive societies in the modern world. Within this context, here are a few more specific reasons why you should learn Hebrew. 

5- Hebrew gives you access to some of the best music, movies, and TV in the world.

Girl with Headphones On

Jews the world over are associated with the media, whether in terms of big-name producers and directors, or the many talented actors, musicians, and other entertainers who pertain to the Hebrew race. While Jews are quite prominent in English-language film, TV, stage, and music productions, Israel has its own highly productive media scene.

In fact, especially in the Netflix age, many Israeli productions have infiltrated the international scene, with Fauda and Unorthodox being just a couple of the more recent examples. In terms of music, Israel has produced prominent figures in just about every genre, from popstars David Broza and Dana International to classical legends like Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham—there’s even a vibrant electronic music scene represented by the likes of Infected Mushroom and Astral Projection.

By learning Hebrew, you can enjoy great Hebrew-language movies, TV shows, and music, not to mention the vast expanse of Hebrew literature stretching from antiquity to modern times. In fact, Israel has the world’s second highest per capita of new books published.

6- Hebrew is rare enough to be used as a secret code.

Passing Note Under Desk

As noted, Hebrew is spoken by around 9 million people, 7 million of whom speak it as their native tongue. Compared with English’s 1.5 billion speakers worldwide (350 million of whom are native speakers) or even, say, German’s roughly 200 million speakers worldwide (90-95 million of whom are native speakers), Hebrew’s numbers are miniscule. 

That being the case, learning it is something akin to joining an exclusive club. Since you can be fairly certain that just about anyone who isn’t Israeli or Jewish is unlikely to understand Hebrew, it makes for a good language when attempting to keep conversations secret. Just make sure there aren’t any inconspicuous Israelis around—Israelis can be found all across the globe!

7- Learning Hebrew means you get to acquire an entirely new alphabet, and one that’s written from right to left.

Man Writing on Chalkboard

As an extension of the previous point, Hebrew even uses its very own alphabet. Because it’s so old that it developed before paper, Hebrew (like Arabic and Farsi) is written from right to left. This is because it was originally chiselled into stone, and, most people being right-handed, it was easier to hold the hammer with the right hand and the chisel with the left. Thus, it was easier to maneuver the writing from right to left. 

Moreover, Hebrew uses a stylized Aramaic script, sometimes known as Assyrian script, entirely different from the Latinate alphabet. Originally, Hebrew was a pictographic language, later becoming abstract while still roughly maintaining the representative shapes of earlier alphabets. At the time of the Babylonian exile, however, Jews adopted the block script they encountered in use throughout the Babylonian empire, with its fancy block letters.

By learning Hebrew, you’re learning not only a new language but also an entirely new writing system. To make things even more interesting, Hebrew employs one script for print and another for handwriting, so you’re really in for a challenge. But that’s all part of the fun!

3. Additional Benefits of Learning Hebrew

Israel is unique in many ways, which means that Hebrew has no small number of unique advantages compared to other languages. For example, as an international mover and shaker in terms of both economics and academics, Israel is a great place for doing business or furthering your studies. Israel is also the only nation in the world that drafts its entire population, men and women, into the military for service, so you can expect to meet interesting people with rich life experiences.

Though plenty of dealings get done in Israel in English and other international languages, there’s no doubt that diving in and learning Hebrew will afford you a huge advantage if you have any educational, business, or other dealings with Israel or Israelis. 

Let’s take a look at three additional benefits of learning Hebrew.

8- Hebrew allows you to tap into one of the most vibrant economies and business climates in the world.

Shekels

By learning Hebrew, you’re opening yourself up to a world of opportunities. In fact, Israel was ranked third for innovation out of 137 countries in the 2017-2018 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, and it consistently ranks high in the annual Bloomberg Global Innovation Index. 

Israel also has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any country other than the United States and China, and it’s ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds. As if that fails to impress you, there are over 300 multinational companies with research and development centers in Israel, including Coca-Cola, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Intel—a clear sign of the unparalleled research and development prowess of Israeli society. 

With all this in mind, learning Hebrew surely has the potential to open up countless doors for business opportunities.

9- Israel is a country of immigrants, so Hebrew education for non-native speakers is highly developed.

Immigrants disembarking ship

Relative to its size, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on Earth. In fact, it has absorbed some 350% of its overall population in the span of 60 years! Because Israel has so much experience with immigrants needing to integrate into Israeli society, it also has a highly developed system for teaching Hebrew to non-native speakers. Throughout Israel, there are אולפנים (ulpanim), or special learning centers where functional Hebrew is taught to immigrants wishing to study, work, and live in the country.

Apart from a wealth of educational materials to this end, including a Hebrew-language newspaper that uses simplified language to encourage immigrants to read the news in Hebrew, Israelis are also great at helping non-native speakers improve their Hebrew. They’re generally both aware of the common difficulties non-native speakers face and eager to help them overcome these challenges. And in general, you’ll find that Israelis are likely to meet you halfway even if you can’t find exactly the Hebrew word you’re looking for. 

10- Israelis make wonderful friends.

Friends Giving High Five

On the same note, Israelis represent a unique cultural community, and one that you won’t be disappointed with should you choose to foray into it. With mandatory military service, a country that’s only 77 years old but a nation that’s over 3,000 years old, and a culture that’s unique while also comprising elements from all across the globe, Israelis are quite unlike any other people. By learning Hebrew, you’ll be able to get to know and befriend some of the most interesting folks around. Moreover, Israelis are highly gregarious, so befriending one often leads to meeting more. Don’t be surprised if Israelis readily invite you to a party or even to their home, as this happens often.

In short, by learning Hebrew, you’ll open yourself up to a new and special social circle!

4. Now that you have so many reasons to learn Hebrew, let HebrewPod101 help you achieve your goals.

In this article, we discussed why to learn Hebrew when there are so many other options. We hope you’ve found today’s lesson interesting, and that at least some of the reasons we provided were compelling enough for you to follow through with your plans to study Hebrew. 

HebrewPod101 is committed to offering high-quality lessons in both audiovisual and print format, covering both the mechanics of the Hebrew language and the culture surrounding it.

We invite you to take a look at our broad pool of learning resources that will help you with every step along the way as you study the Hebrew language. You’ll find general lessons on grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, as well as lessons categorized by topic or situation (such as Hebrew for expressing anger and Hebrew for talking about food).

As always, if there’s any topic you don’t find covered on our website, or if you find yourself with questions that a particular lesson didn’t address, we’re always looking for feedback from our users. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re always improving to ensure that you have a fun, rewarding, and enriching experience studying Hebrew.

Until next time, Shalom!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Hebrew?

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How long does it take to learn Hebrew? This is an altogether common question for people interested in picking up this ancient, vibrant, and wholly unique language. 

No two students are alike, so the answer to this question will vary based on who you are and how you go about studying. For example, if you already know how to read the Hebrew alphabet, you’ll surely progress much faster than someone starting from scratch. Or if you’re able to do immersion learning in Israel, you’ll likely progress more quickly than someone learning in a place where they can’t engage with Hebrew day and night.

Of course, motivation is one of the most central factors in determining how fast you progress with a language. For instance, if you’re learning Hebrew in order to land a new business contract—or better yet, to impress a girl or guy you met at a party—you’ll likely find yourself progressing at a faster clip than someone who, say, has to learn Hebrew because their parents think it’s important for them to be able to read prayers or the Torah.

In any case, today we’ll be looking at:

  • Factors that can influence your learning speed
  • The essential skills you’ll need to reach the beginner, intermediate, and advanced Hebrew proficiency levels
  • Some helpful tips on how to learn Hebrew fast

We’ll also talk about how long you can expect it to take you to reach each of these levels, though the numbers can vary quite a bit from one language learner to the next. Without further ado, let’s have a look at how long it takes to learn Hebrew.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hebrew Table of Contents
  1. Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed
  2. Beginner Level
  3. Intermediate Level
  4. Advanced Level
  5. Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster
  6. Let HebrewPod101 Get You on the Fast Track to Hebrew Learning

Factors That Can Influence Your Learning Speed

Car Going Over Speed Bump

Before we look at each level and what it entails, let’s look at some more general factors that are likely to influence your learning speed.

Motivation

As mentioned previously, your motivation level is going to be reflected in the speed at which you progress with your Hebrew studies. Generally speaking, an intrinsically motivated student, meaning someone who is learning Hebrew out of his or her own personal choice, is going to find it much easier to advance. This is because there’s a lot of satisfaction to be found in achieving something you set your mind to. Plus, you’re typically going to be able to use Hebrew for a specific goal, which can be very gratifying, indeed.

Chances are, if you’re reading this lesson, you already have some reason for wanting to improve your Hebrew. But even if that isn’t the case, try to set your eyes on smaller goals that you can keep at the front of your mind as you study. This will help keep you motivated as you progress through your stated goals and feel that sense of accomplishment. For example, you may want to be able to sing along with a Hebrew song you like or to read Hebrew without nikkud. Keep your goals realistic for your current level, rather than overshooting it!

Your language(s) going in

Language Books

One thing that’s going to make a huge difference in terms of how fast you progress with Hebrew is the language(s) you speak going in. Because Hebrew is a member of the Semitic language family, you’ll be more comfortable with the way Hebrew works if you speak any Arabic or Farsi, for example. This is because these languages share common traits (such as being read and written right to left) and comparable grammar logic. 

English speakers are unlikely to find any foothold here, as they would with Germanic or Romance languages. Hebrew is altogether distinct from these language families and really bears no resemblance to English (other than all the loanwords it has from English, Latin, and other international languages). You may well recognize individual words, but don’t expect this to get you too far. At the end of the day, you just have to accept that the Hebrew language has its own separate character, rules, and approach to expressing the world.

Your linguistic abilities and experience in general

Another key factor is any prior experience you have with languages. For example, if you grew up bilingual or polyglot, you’ll likely have a leg up on someone who is monolingual—even if none of the languages you know are Semitic! This is partly due to something known as “tolerance for ambiguity,” a term that refers to a language learner’s willingness to accept and assimilate language features that differ from what s/he knows from her/his native tongue(s).

Moreover, if you’ve ever studied a language before, whether Hebrew or any other language foreign to you, your prior experience is likely to have some bearing on how you approach your Hebrew learning. For example, if you had good language teachers in school who inculcated healthy learning habits and gave you an overall positive language learning experience, you’re likely to have an easier time taking up a new language. On the other hand, if you had lousy teachers, you may be somewhat traumatized from these experiences and need to develop new habits and a new attitude toward language learning.

How and where you’re studying

Woman Studying from Books

As we said in the introduction, immersion studying is always going to be ideal, but it may not be a possibility for everyone who wants to learn Hebrew. If you can find a way to spend time in Israel, you’ll be able to benefit from constant exposure to the Hebrew language through interactions with other people, listening to the news, watching TV, etc., all in Hebrew. However, if you can’t physically go to Israel, try your best to boost your exposure to Hebrew by taking advantage of the wealth of media available online. For example, you can check out Hebrew-language Netflix series, Hebrew songs on YouTube, and even Hebrew-language forums.

Apart from location, it will be beneficial to have some sort of structure to your learning. This will help to ensure that you progress in a linear fashion, building your knowledge successively and acquiring all the skills you need in one level before running ahead to a more advanced one. It will also prevent you from feeling like you’re drowning in an overwhelming sea of information, without knowing how to progress.

It’s always a good idea to vary your learning, as well. We recommend using a mix of serious and fun learning materials (for example, grammar lessons vs. lessons on slang), as well as giving all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) equal attention. Of course, there are some situations where you may need to hone only one or two skills. For example, in an academic setting, you may only need to be able to read Hebrew (and not produce it). Or maybe you simply want to learn conversational Hebrew and have little interest in learning to read it. In such cases, you may want to focus only on the necessities.

Beginner Level

The beginner level is just what it sounds like. This level describes someone who is in the initial phases of acquiring the Hebrew language. 

The US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) groups world languages into four different categories, with Category I languages being the most similar to English and Category IV languages being the least similar. They have ranked Hebrew as a Category III language, meaning it has significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English. Languages in this category are estimated to require 44 weeks (or 1100 hours) in order to reach “General Professional Proficiency” in speaking and reading. This would be equivalent to Intermediate Level on HebrewPod101.com.

Extrapolating based on this projection, the average time it takes to reach the beginner level might be something like 22 weeks (or 550 hours), if we assume that the beginner level is halfway to the intermediate level. 

At the beginner level, the assumption is that you’re building up a lot of passive knowledge, but obviously with the goal of being able to apply it and produce language (i.e. speak or write) more and more as you progress.

Wondering how to learn Hebrew from scratch? Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to master as a beginner:

The alphabet – אלפבית (alefbeyt)

Hebrew Book

As Hebrew does not use the Latin alphabet, you’ll need to learn to read the 22 characters of the Hebrew alphabet. To make things more complicated, Hebrew is an abjad, meaning that vowels are not letters but diacritical marks placed above, below, or within the letters, which are all consonants or vowel-bearing placeholders. To make it just a bit more complicated, these diacritical marks, called ניקוד (nikkud), are almost universally omitted from written and printed Hebrew and therefore need to be deduced from context. However, many learning materials include them for the benefit of the student reader. One last complication is that Hebrew uses one script for print and another for handwriting, so you’ll probably want to learn both of these.

Basic verbs

Verbs are action words, so you won’t see much action without them! The good news about Hebrew verbs is that there are only three main tenses—simple past, simple present, and simple future—and there’s no verb “to be” in present tense. The bad news is that there are a whopping seven conjugation patterns to learn.

Male and female forms

One of the aspects of Hebrew that tends to be particularly tricky for speakers of non-gendered languages, such as English, is the fact that Hebrew uses male and female forms for nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb conjugations.

Talking about yourself

Two women talking

At the beginner level, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself and how to say basic things about yourself, such as where you’re from and what you do.

Saying hello and goodbye

You won’t get very far without these essential skills.

Countries, nationalities, and languages of the world

The beginner level is a great place to learn these, starting with your own country of origin, nationality, and language(s). Once you have those down, you can progress to other countries, nationalities, and languages so that you can also talk about other people in this regard.

Likes and dislikes

Woman Making Face of Displeasure

As a beginner, you should learn to express basic likes and dislikes, as well as things like your hobbies and pastimes.

Food and drink

In Israel, we love food! So, no basic Hebrew-language education would be complete without learning how to discuss food. This includes verbs, nouns, and adjectives for eating, drinking, ordering at a restaurant, etc.

Work and school

You’ll also want to know how to talk about work and school, including the vocabulary for different professions and careers.

Numbers and time

Numbers on Check

Finally, numbers and the related topic of telling time are also essential for the beginner level. Note that Hebrew also has male and female forms for numbers, so you’ll want to master this, as well.

Intermediate Level

As you progress, you’ll move on to the intermediate level, which is where many students feel comfortable staying. At this level, which, as mentioned, might take around 44 weeks (1100 hours), you’ll already be getting much more comfortable holding a basic conversation and generally defending yourself in Hebrew.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities you’ll want to acquire at the intermediate level of Hebrew:

Dealing with travel situations

Because this is an essential skill set that draws on various abilities, you should get to a certain level of comfort when handling travel situations. This includes things like taking a taxi and buying bus tickets, as well as asking for and even giving directions.

Writing simple texts

Icon of Envelope

At this level, you should be able to produce simple texts, such as short text messages and emails or brief descriptions.

Describing things with some detail

Man Talking

At this point, you should also be acquiring sufficient vocabulary. This includes not only nouns and verbs, but also adjectives and adverbs which will permit you to describe experiences, plans, and opinions with some level of detail and precision.

Reading and understanding more complex texts

Books

You should be able to read and comprehend more complex texts such as news items or technical articles in fields you’re familiar with, such as those related to your profession. Much of this, of course, will have to do with vocabulary acquisition.

Have lengthier, more complex conversations

Again, as you progress in your ability to understand speech spoken at native speeds, and as you build up your own ability to speak with fluency, you should be able to engage in more interesting and drawn-out conversations.

Advanced Level

First of all, it should be noted that there really isn’t a limit to the advanced level. While there is a distinction in terms of skills and abilities when compared to the intermediate and beginner levels, you can take the advanced level just about as far as you wish—even to the point of achieving what’s known as near fluency. 

So, how long does it take to learn Hebrew fluently? A conservative estimate might be something like 2 years, though a really motivated and talented student might get there as soon as, say, 18 months.

Here’s a list of skills and abilities that pertain to the advanced level of Hebrew-language study:

Understanding longer and more demanding texts or conversations

As you grow your vocabulary and improve your grasp of things like grammar and syntax, you should be able to fend for yourself even when reading complex texts such as full-length books, opinion pieces, and even poems and song lyrics. You should also be able to engage in lengthy and complex conversations, such as discussing your opinions on politics or talking about technical matters.

Expressing ideas comfortably and in a fluid manner

Woman with Lots of Thought Bubbles

By now, you should feel comfortable expressing most of your thoughts and ideas with fluency, which in the literal sense means that your speech flows, without much stuttering, hesitation, or searching for words.

Effectively using language in social, academic, and professional situations

Your broad vocabulary, improved grammar, and stronger rhetorical abilities should enable you to feel comfortable using language in functional settings, such as at work or school, or in making and getting to know friends…or even that special someone.

Writing well-structured, detailed texts on complex topics

Woman Working on a Written Project

Assuming you’re focusing on writing and not just speaking, you should now be able to write more complex texts, such as essays and full-length letters or emails. You should have a solid grasp of different registers (e.g. formal vs. informal) and when to employ them.

Top 10 Tips to Help You Learn Hebrew Faster

Regardless of your current level or your language learning goals, there are several things you can do to make the most of your study time. Here are our top ten tips for how to learn Hebrew faster!

1. Read both with and without vowels to practice word recognition.

This is obviously going to be more important at the beginner level (and perhaps the intermediate level, to some extent), as the expectation is that by the time you reach the intermediate level, you’ll have become comfortable reading without vowels. That’s why it’s important to start practicing this ability as early as possible.

2. Keep track of vocabulary.

Record new words as you go, using a notebook or even your phone. Also, quiz yourself regularly to make sure you’re retaining this vocabulary.

3. Make sure to talk to native speakers, and ask them to correct you.

Two men in conversation

This is obviously much easier to do if you’re physically in Israel, but even if you’re not, you should do whatever it takes to find some native speakers in your town or online. This way, you can practice speaking Hebrew with someone who can offer you helpful feedback on your use of the language.

4. Watch and listen to plenty of media in Hebrew.

One of the best and most enjoyable ways to improve your Hebrew is to take advantage of the wealth of media available, particularly online, in the Hebrew language. Watch Hebrew TV shows and movies, and listen to Hebrew music as much as you can, especially with subtitles in Hebrew (see below).

5. Study with a partner.

Dancers

This may not be for everyone, but many people find that a study partner can be a great way to get mutual encouragement. It can also help with any anxiety when it comes to speaking. Obviously, it’s always best to try to find someone who is more or less at the same level of proficiency as you are.

6. Be willing to make mistakes.

Numerous studies have shown that the most successful language learners are those who go easy on themselves. Making mistakes is part and parcel of learning languages, so don’t just allow for this—expect it. Learn to laugh at yourself when you make a silly mistake, rather than getting caught up on it.

7. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions.

Question Marks and Light Bulb

According to a Hebrew proverb, a bashful person makes for a poor student, and a strict person makes for a bad teacher. Part of any successful learning endeavor is a sense of comfort about asking questions whenever you’re in doubt. So when in doubt, ask someone for help!

8. Practice pronunciation in front of the mirror.

Woman in front of mirror

This will probably feel funny at first, but by actually watching what your mouth is doing when you speak, you have a better chance of honing in on the mechanics of producing the right sounds to approximate native-sounding Hebrew. In the same vein, pay attention to what you see Israelis’ mouths doing when they make any sounds you’re having difficulty with, and do your best to mimic them when you practice.

9. Do karaoke in Hebrew.

This one’s a no-brainer. Not only is it fun to let loose in front of the karaoke screen, but actually singing a song to beat is a great way of drumming language into your head—literally.

10. Use subtitles to help connect words to sound.

Popcorn and Remote

Subtitles are your friend. They’re a fantastic tool for working on anything, from expanding your vocabulary to recognizing words without vowels to picking up on grammar and syntax structures. 

As a beginner, you’ll likely need subtitles in your native language, but as you progress, you can use subtitles in a more challenging way. An intermediate student, for example, can pick up a lot of new words by watching TV or movies in his/her native tongue, with Hebrew subtitles to accompany it. As you advance, however, challenge yourself to watch Hebrew-language TV shows and movies with Hebrew subtitles. This can go a long way toward helping you connect the physical appearance of words with the sounds they make.

Let HebrewPod101 Get You on the Fast Track to Hebrew Learning

As you can see, there are many components to tackle in mastering the Hebrew language. We at HebrewPod101 are proud to offer you a broad array of learning materials to ensure that you learn comfortably and at as fast a pace as you desire.

Whether you prefer audio lessons or written ones like this one, our library of materials is diverse and designed with the optimal student experience in mind. In addition to our learning materials, we also offer numerous lessons addressing tips and techniques to make your learning more efficient and more enjoyable. 

Is there anything else you’d like to know about the process of learning Hebrew? Feel free to get in touch and let us know.

Until next lesson, shalom!

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