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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…
Can you use adjectives as nouns in Hebrew?
In Hebrew, it’s possible to omit the noun and use its adjective instead.
To explain how it’s done, let’s look at some examples.
Let’s say you’re at a clothing store, looking for a new shirt. You’ve tried on a few, and now you need to decide which shirt to buy. Eventually, you decide on a red one. You can tell the salesperson, “I’ll take the red shirt”--
אני אקח את החולצה האדומה
(ani ekaħ et ha-ħultza ha-aduma)
But since it’s obvious the subject here is the shirt, you can simply say, “I’ll take the red one”,
אני אקח את האדומה.
(ani ekaħ et ha-aduma.)
Unlike English, when the word “shirt” is omitted, it's not replaced by another noun or “one;” the adjective itself functions as a noun.
It’s important to note that the adjective you use has to match the gender of the original noun. The word for “shirt” in Hebrew, חולצה (ħultza), is feminine; so the adjective “red," אדום (adom), took its feminine form - אדומה (aduma). If you were to buy a hat instead of a shirt, you would have to match the adjective to the gender of the masculine word “hat” - כובע (kova) - and say אדום (adom).
Likewise, if you want refer to an item that has the plural form - like “flowers,” “socks” or “glasses” - you’ll use the plural form of the adjective-- אדומים (adumim) or אדומות (adumot).
Let’s put it all in one example.
Let’s say you run into a friend you haven’t seen for a long time, and ask how are her four children doing. She gives you a quick update on them--
“The older son is an actor, the middle daughter goes to university, and the young ones are still in school.”
If she were to say that in Hebrew, her sentence would have been much shorter - since the subject is her children, and the adjectives explain the gender and quantity of the nouns. She will not have to say “son," “daughter” or “ones” because all the information is included in the adjectives.
Here is the Hebrew sentence,
הגדול שחקן, האמצעית לומדת באוניברסיטה והקטנים עדיין בבית הספר.
(ha-gadol saħkan, ha-emtza’it lomedet ba-universita ve-ha-ktanim adain be-bet ha-sefer.)
Hebrew adjectives help you keep your sentences short and sweet!
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! Bye everyone!