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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Idit here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Hebrew questions.
The question for this lesson is…
How can I tell what the plural forms of Hebrew nouns are?
In order to understand plural nouns, you’ll need to learn how nouns work in Hebrew first. All nouns are either masculine or feminine, and their gender depends on the last letter of the Hebrew word. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, we’ll break it down in this lesson.
Most feminine nouns end in the letters ת (t) or ה (h), while most masculine nouns can end in any other letter.
The plural form of the nouns is just as easy to remember:
The basic rule is that feminine nouns change their last letter to the letters vav tav - וֹת (ot), while masculine nouns get an extra yod mem at the end - ים (im).
Let’s do some examples so you can learn how to make plural nouns correctly in Hebrew.
First, let’s take the word “lamp” which in Hebrew is מנורה (menorah). “Lamp” ends in ה (h), so it’s feminine. To make a feminine noun plural, we simply remove the ה (h) and add ות (ot) and get the word מנורות (menorot) meaning, “lamps.”
Let’s do another example with a masculine noun. The word for “bag” in Hebrew is תיק (tik). תיק (tik) is a masculine noun, so we just add ים (im) at the end and we get תיקים (tikim) meaning, “bags.”
So far, so good, but of course, there are some exceptions.
Some nouns get the opposite gender’s ending in the plural form.
For example, the word “ant” in Hebrew is נמלה (nemalah). It ends in ה (h), and like most of the nouns that end in this letter, it’s a feminine noun. However, in the plural form, it takes on the masculine ending, so it sounds like this – נמלים (nemalim) “ants.”
Another example is the word “table”, which in Hebrew is שולחן (shul’ħan). Here, it’s the opposite. “Table” is a masculine noun, but in the plural form, it takes the feminine ending, making the word שולחנות (shulħanot), “tables.”
Unfortunately, there’s no rule to help you figure out which are the exceptions to the rule. Hebrew learners just have to memorize them.
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
להתראות!
(lehitra’ot!)

18 Comments

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😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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What Hebrew learning question do you have?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 10:44 PM
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Dear aidil,


Thank you for commenting and sharing your question! 👍❤️️


The word מַחֲּמַדִּ֑ים‪‬‪‬ is a rather old one, and it is the plural form for something precious or dear. It is derived from the root "ח.מ.ד." which is related to the words "nice", and "cute".


I hope that helps 😄


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

aidil
Tuesday at 07:41 PM
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מַחֲּמַדִּ֑ים‪‬‪‬ can i know how to pronounce this word and its meaning in english. is it a nounce or verb? thank you

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 10:27 AM
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Shalom Joan Pollack,


Thank you so much for your positive message! 😇❤️️

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.


Kind regards,

Levente (לבנטה)

Team HebrewPod101.com

Joan Pollack
Sunday at 05:26 AM
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Guys I just ditto praise for all your lessons

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 08:23 PM
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Hi Logan,


Thanks for posting your question!


Unfortunately, there is no easy thumb-rule one could simply apply to all situations... There are, however, patterns that one could apply to specific cases, and "כלב" is actually a great example.

The word "כלב" belongs to a group of nouns that have the form "xe-xe-x" (replace the x's with the root letters), with 2 consequent segols - כֶּלֶ. There are many nouns in this group (such as "twig" - זֶרֶד) that go through a similar transformation when pluralized: (זְרָדִים) but there are also many that don't (such as "sock" - גֶּרֶב - plural גַּרְבַּיִם).


So, to conclude, getting to know more forms can help developing a certain sense for how a word would be pronounced even when reading without vowels, but eventually there's no escape from simply learning many many words...


I hope that helps 😄


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Logan
Wednesday at 12:49 PM
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Hi,

How do you tell when the pronunciation changes? For example כלב is pronounced kelev, but the plural כלבים is pronounced klavim (unless I’m mistaken). Is there a general rule of thumb to follow on this or is it just memorizing the words?


Very respectfully,


Logan Anderson

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 09:38 PM
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Hi taha,


Thanks for posting!


Yes, the word "ביצה" is an example of a word that is feminine but has the "masculine" plural ending.


Here are 2 lists for such exceptions, unfortunately without an English translation:


Feminine words with masculine plural ending - https://www.safa-ivrit.org/irregulars/pluralml.php

Masculine words with plural feminine ending - https://www.safa-ivrit.org/irregulars/pluralfm.php


Glad to help! enjoy learning Hebrew :)

Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

taha
Wednesday at 02:56 AM
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hello . where can i find the exceptions list ?

is the word egg an exception ?(ביצה)

HebrewPod101.com
Tuesday at 02:31 AM
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Hi Ana,


Great! good luck 👍👍❤️️❤️️😄😄


Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Ana
Monday at 03:19 AM
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Thank you, Roi! Will do! 👍