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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!