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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…
What does the particle -אי (i-) mean in Hebrew?
-אי (i-) is a prefix symbolizing negation. It comes from the word אין (en), literally meaning "there is no." When this prefix is joined with certain words, the compound means the opposite of the original word.
As you may know, nouns in Hebrew have gender. So, if you add a prefix to it, how do you know what gender it is? Trick question! Actually the prefix doesn't affect the gender of the word it precedes. Let's look at some examples.
The word הבנה (havana) means "understanding," so אי-הבנה (i-havana) is "misunderstanding," like in this sentence--
אני מתנצלת, זו הייתה אי-הבנה (ani mit’natzelet, zo haita i-havana) - “I apologize, it was a misunderstanding.”
The noun “understanding,” הבנה (havana) is a feminine noun. When adding אי (i-) to it, its gender doesn’t change; This is why we used the feminine form of “it was” זו הייתה (zo haita).
Next, we have the word "justice" which in Hebrew is צדק (tzedek). So, when we combine it with the prefix אי (i-) it becomes אי-צדק (i-tzedek), "injustice." Like in this sentence--
מדיניות הממשלה יוצרת אי-צדק חברתי (mediniyut ha’memshala yotzeret i-tzedek ħevrati) - “The government's policy is creating social injustice.”
The noun “justice," צדק (tzedek), is masculine, and wasn’t changed by the prefix אי (i-). This is why the adjective, “social” - חברתי (ħevrati) takes the masculine form.
Our last tip is about the plural form. Once again, the prefix has no influence on the gender of the word. The word will take its plural form (if it has one) and the prefix will stay where it is. For example, let’s look at the compound from the beginning of this lesson, “misunderstanding." “Understanding” is הבנה (havana), so “misunderstanding” will be אי-הבנה (i-havana). The plural form of “understanding” is הבנות (havanot), so the plural form of “misunderstanding” is אי-הבנות (i-havanot).
How was it? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!


Please to leave a comment.
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HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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What Hebrew learning question do you have?

Monday at 06:11 PM
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Hi Shelley,

Let's try to clarify everything.

Understanding is "הבנה" (havana). Misunderstanding is "אי-הבנה". The understanding is "ההבנה" (ha'havana), and The misunderstanding - following regular smikhut rules, is "אי-ההבנה".

'A government' is ממשלה (memshala) and is a singular noun. The plural is "ממשלות" (memshalot).

'Governmental' as an adverb, can be inflated for all genders and numbers:

singular feminine - ממשלתית (memshaltit)

singular masculin - ממשלתי (memshalti)

plural feminine - ממשלתיות (memshaltiot)

plural masculin - ממשלתיים (memshaltiyim)

I hope that helps. Please let me know if any additional clarification is needed 👍



Team HebrewPod101.com

Sunday at 07:33 PM
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Hi Julia,

Thank you for studying with us!

In case of any questions, please feel free to contact us.



Team HebrewPod101.com

Friday at 04:00 AM
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Shalom Roi,

I understand this part-

for" an" understanding the hay is not needed for "the" but for "the understanding" you place the hay after the not (e) and on the word understanding.

Some of my difficulty was with possessive on Government-Government's-It seems that the word government comes only in the plural form? so how do you show the possessive, or can you use a smichut. please see my first comment below. Still not understanding. Thanks.

Thursday at 10:55 PM
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todah rabah

Hebrewpod101.com Verified
Friday at 08:23 AM
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Hi Shelley,

I appreciate it, happy to help.

Sorry, I didn't understand which part of the notes you are referring too, please kindly advice.



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Shelley Goldenberg
Friday at 05:00 AM
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Shalom, Roi, What is the difference between your "goverment's policy and the way it is done under language tips in the notes-second sentence , but it says sentence number one. Also the first sentence has the word not understanding and is different from yours-only "one Hay". Is something in error that needs to be fixed?

Thank you for your corrections, " harbeh" must be an adverb and that usually preceeds the verb? Ah I see the dash now. Thank you.

Hebrewpod101.com Verified
Sunday at 03:35 AM
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Hi Shelley Goldenberg,

Thanks for your comments.

First - Gov. Policy = מדיניות ממשלתית.

Dash is where the minus is.

Regarding your translations - I fixed a few small mistakes - :

1. יש הרבה אי צדק חברתי בעולם

2. סליחה על אי ההבנה


Team Hebrewpod101.com

Shelley Goldenberg
Sunday at 01:52 AM
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Is there a dash on the hebrew keyboard? Whee can I locate it?

There is alot of social injustice in the world. יש אי צדק חברתי הרבה בעולם

Sorry for the misunderstanding. סליחה על אי הבנה

Shelley Goldenberg
Sunday at 01:39 AM
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Shalom Roi, I am having difficulty with the government's policy in the first sentence. Can you substitute a smichut for it? or do מדיניות של הממשלה מדינת הממשלה