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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 Hebrew word אֶת (et) mean, and when do you use it?
The Hebrew language has unique syntax, and it can be quite confusing. One of the words that’s used very frequently in Hebrew sentences is אֶת (et), a word that has no equivalent in English. It’s a preposition used to introduce a direct object.
Let’s go through some examples so you can learn how to use אֶת correctly.
The word את is used between a verb and the direct object it refers to, for example, “to find the keys” would be
לִמְצֹא אֶת הַמַּפְתְּחוֹת (lim’tzo et ha’mafteħot). Another example, “to take the medicine,” would be לָקַחַת אֶת הַתְּרוּפָה (lakaħat et ha’trufa)
אֶת is also used when the direct object is a proper noun; so, if it’s people, places or organizations, or a personal pronoun such as “I” or “you.”
When using personal pronouns, it’s incorporated into the form of אֶת (et). For example,
לְחַבֵּק אוֹתוֹ (leħabek oto) meaning “to hug him,” אֶת (et) + הוּא (hu)
לְבַקֵּר אוֹתָה (levaker ota) meaning “to visit her” אֶת (et) + הִיא (hee)
לְהַחְבִּיא אוֹתָם (le’haħbi otam) meaning “to hide them” אֶת (et) + הֵם (hem)
and
לְהַזִיז אוֹתְךָ (le’haziz ot’kha) meaning “to move you” אֶת (et) + אַתָה (ata)
The situation is different if the direct object is indefinite; that means the object isn’t specified or doesn’t have an owner. In English, we usually use the article "a" when we talk about indefinite objects. For example, we say "a banana," instead of "the banana" when we're not talking about a particular banana. When this happens, אֶת (et) is simply dropped and no other preposition is used instead. For example, to find a random set of keys is-
לִמְצֹא מַפְתְּחוֹת (lim’tzo mafteħot) “to find keys.”
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!)

28 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 06:16 PM
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Dear Corey Gonzalez,


The verse that you've mentioned goes in Hebrew like this:


וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הַתַּנִּינִם הַגְּדֹלִים; וְאֵת כָּל-נֶפֶשׁ הַחַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת אֲשֶׁר שָׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם לְמִינֵהֶם, וְאֵת כָּל-עוֹף כָּנָף לְמִינֵהוּ, וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, כִּי-טוֹב;


You can see that the word "את" appears several times in this sentence, before every being that god has created.

focusing on the first part "וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הַתַּנִּינִם הַגְּדֹלִים", we can translate "and god has created the big crocodiles", and the "et" particles comes right before "the big crocodiles".


I hope that makes it clearer 😇


Please let us know if you have any further questions!


Yours,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Corey Gonzalez
Sunday at 06:55 AM
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Genesis 1:21. How would you use "et" in this verse? It seems it isn't used at all in some bibles, in this verse. And others have used "the" in its place. Is this correct or is there a better usage of "et" in this verse? I'm reading this verse and trying to get a better grasp on the idea of the creature it is speaking about, so I figure it's good to know whether this "et" should be used and how if so. It could maybe expand the understanding of this verse. Or at least I think so, considering it was put in there in the first place. It obviously has a purpose. So yeah, that's my question. Thanks!

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 09:56 PM
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Hi Ari,


Thanks for posting your question!


I'm not 100% sure that I follow your question... what do you mean by "construct"? is it the combination of personal pronouns with "את"? If so, it works as follows:

For example, to say "I see him, we would need to combine the words "I" (אני), "see" (רואה) , "et" (את) and "you" "הוא".

However, we would not say "אני רואה את הוא", but rather "אני רואה אותו" - the pronoune+'et' ("את הוא" ) is turning into "אותו".

This is the case with all the pronouns, each with its own "transformed form" as described in the lesson.


I hope this is clearer now. Please let us know if you have any further questions!


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Ari
Sunday at 01:15 AM
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Thank you for this lesson. How does the preposition "את" fit in to this construct?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 08:32 AM
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Dear Peyman,


Thanks for posting your question!


First, please note that "et" is spelled "אֶת" in Hebrew (you accidentally used the letter ח instead of ת) 😄

Second, when it comes to the grammar structure of a language, the question "why" is often hard to answer. The purpose of the preposition "את" is different than the article's. Saying "אני אוכל הלחם" (I eat the bread) without adding "את" before "bread" is simply incorrect in Hebrew. Such language is used in very specific cases (for example on news headlines, where space is limited) but never in spoken language.


I hope that somewhat answers your question... "את" is a unique proposition to Hebrew and getting used to it can be tricky, but I'm sure it'll start making sense very soon with a little more practice 😄


Keep up the good work! 👍


Best,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Peyman
Thursday at 03:02 AM
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I do not understand why אח exist anyway. Why do we use it when you can just use ה in the beggining of a word?

HebrewPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Hi Jane and Sylvia,


Thanks for the feedback and for posting your questions! ❤️️❤️️😄


@Jane - the meaning here was to show how we can combine pronouns with the preposition "את". In the given examples, "הוא" and "היא", the letters of the word "את" part "merge" into the new created word "אותו" and "אותה". (the first and the 3rd letters of these words).

The word "את" itself doesn't appear but implied.


I hope that helps you to understand it better 😄


Please let us know in case you have further questions! 👍


Cheers,

Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com

Sylvia
Wednesday at 05:30 PM
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Thank you for this lesson. I have been told that et means "the," but that didn't seem right. Et feels very much like a preposition to me, just not one that we have in English. After all, although et and ha- are both markers of definiteness, they can be used together without being redundant.

Jane
Wednesday at 05:48 AM
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Do not understand what does it means by incorporated into the form of (et), for example

לְחַבֵּק אוֹתוֹ (leħabek oto) meaning “to hug him,” אֶת (et) + הוּא (hu)

לְבַקֵּר אוֹתָה (levaker ota) meaning “to visit her” אֶת (et) + הִיא (hee)

Cannot see the word (et). 😳

HebrewPod101.com
Monday at 07:48 PM
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Hi rich and Joshua,


Thanks for the clarification.


It is true that "et" can't be translated into English, but I'm still not sure about the intention with "Selah" - could you please write (or copy-paste) the Hebrew word that you're referring to?


Thanks!


Roi

Team HebrewPod101.com