Dialogue - Hebrew



גמור [גָּמוּר] gamur finished/completely
מאין [מֵאַיִן ] me-ayin from where
ארצות הברית [אַרְצוֹת הַבְּרִית] ar’tzot ha-brit The United States
קנדה [קַנַדָה] kanada Canada
אתה [אַתָּה] atah you, masculine singular
את [אַתְּ] at you, feminine singular
קוראים (לקרוא) [קוֹרְאִים (לִקְרוֹא)] kor’im (likro) to call (call)
איך [אֵיךְ] eikh how
לך [לֵךָ] lekha to you (masculine)

Lesson Notes


Lesson Focus

The Focus of This Lesson Is Asking People Where They Are From.
מאין את/אתה?
מֵאַיִן אַתְּ/אַתָּה?
Me-ayin at/atah?
"Where are you from?"

In the dialogue, both Anna and Yonatan asked where the other was from. The phrase consisted of two words: מאין (me-ayin) and את (at) or אתה (atah), depending on who was speaking. The first word in this phrase is מאין (me-ayin), and this phrase means "from where" or in older English "from whence." This phrase is actually very formal in Hebrew and would be used in more of a formal setting or an educational setting. It's a phrase that you learn as correct when you are learning Hebrew, but not one that you would use in day-to-day Hebrew. The second part of the phrase is את (at) or אתה (atah), which is the masculine and feminine forms of "you." In the dialogue, Yonatan used the feminine form את (at) because he was talking to Anna and Anna use the masculine form אתה (atah) because she was talking to Yonatan. The order of the words is different from in English, and you should remember that the verb "to be" is implied here because there is no other verb present. The literal word for word translation would be "from where (are) you?"

What to Use in Day-to-Day Hebrew

You would most often hear the above phrase in an education setting, like when you are learning Hebrew in an Ulpan or when you are speaking with someone who values speaking correct Hebrew. When you want to say the same thing in day-to-day Hebrew, you would use the word מאיפה (me-eifo), which means the same thing, but is not considered "correct" Hebrew. The phrase would then be מאיפה אתה? (me-eifo atah) or מאיפה את? (me-eifo at?). Me-eifo means exactly the same thing as מאין (me-ein), meaning "from where."

You can also use this to ask about other people, using pronouns other than "you" or even items that you want to know the origin of.

For Example:

  1. מאיפה הם?
    מֵאֵיפֹה הֵם?
    Me-eifo hem?
    "Where are they from?"
  2. מאיפה החולצה שלך?
    מֵאֵיפֹה הַחוּלְצָה שֶׁלָּךְ?
    Me-eifo ha-ħul'tzah shelakh?
    "Where is your shirt from?"


Examples From This Lesson Using מאיפה

If Anna and Yonatan had used informal Hebrew in their conversation, they would have said the following:

  1. מאיפה את?
    מֵאֵיפֹה אַתְּ?
    Me-eifo at?

    "Where are you (feminine) from? (informal)"
  2. מאיפה אתה?
    מֵאֵיפֹה אַתָּה
    Me-eifo atah?

    "Where are you (masculine) from?"


Examples From This Dialogue

  1. מאין את?
    <מֵאַיִן אַתְּ?
    Me-ayin at/atah?
    "Where are you (feminine) from?"
  2. מאין אתה?
    מֵאַיִן אַתָּה?
    Me-ayin atah?
    "Where are you (masculine) from?"


The Reply to מאין אתה?:

Whether you use the formal version of "where are you from" or the informal version, the answer is the same. To answer this question, you would say אני מ (ani mi-) and then the place where you are from. Ani means "I" and mi means "from." Here again we have an implied "to be" verb.


Examples From the Dialogue

  1. אני מארצות הברית.
    אֲנִי מֵאַרְצוֹת הַבְּרִית.
    Ani me-ar'tzot ha-brit.
    "I am from the United States."
  2. אני מקנדה.
    אֲנִי מִקַּנַדָה.
    Ani mi-kanada.

    "I am from Canada."

You can also answer using other pronouns or nouns like in our earlier examples.

For Example:

  1. הם מגרמניה.
    הֵם מִגֶּרְמַנְיָה.
    Hem mi-germaniya.

    "They are from Germany."
  2. החולצה מפוקס.
    הַחוּלְצָה מִפוֹקְס.
    Ha-ħul'tzah mi-fox.
    "The shirt is from Fox."

Key Vocabulary & Phrases

בסדר גמור (beseder gamur)

This phrase is similar to the English phrase "it's totally okay." Beseder gamur means "completely okay." It's a common answer to the question מה שלומך? (mah shlomekh/mah shlom'kha) or "How are you?" Beseder means "okay," and as we learned in other podcast lessons, the literal translation of this word is "in order." Gamur means "finished" or "complete" and here becomes "completely." You may notice that the order of these two words is the reverse of the order you would use in English, as is the case with most adjectives in Hebrew. Other uses for gamur are similar to the English usage of the words "complete" and "finished," like the "food is finished," which is האוכל גמור (ha-okhel gamur). This would mean that the food is finished or gone, not that the food is finished cooking; in that case, you would use the word for "ready" מוכן (mukhan). You can also use the word gamur when you want to say that you are tired at the end of the day אני גמור (ani gamur).


ארצות הברית (ar'tzot ha-brit)

Ar'tzot ha-brit is the phrase that we use in Hebrew for the "United States." The first word is the plural form of e'retz. This word has several different meanings, such as "land," "country," "earth," or "world." In this case, it means "lands." The second part of this phrase, ha-brit, means "the covenant" or "the alliance." These two words have been placed together in what is called a s'michut in Hebrew. A s'michut is the construction of two closely related nouns into one noun phrase. There are special forms for s'michuts in Hebrew, and one of these forms is that the second word of the s'michut carried the definite article ha, as you see in this s'michut. So, we would literally translate this phrase as "the covenant lands" or "the lands of the covenant."

Cultural Insights

The Staggering Growth of Israel's Population

Israel has been built on immigration. At the time of the founding of the modern country, the population of Israel was around 800,000. Today, Israel has a population of just under 8 million people. Since Israel was founded as a homeland for Jewish people, immigration has been very important to its existence. In 1950, Israel created the Law of Return; this law granted all Jewish people the right to settle in Israel and have Israeli citizenship. In 1970, they expanded that law to include people of Jewish ancestry, meaning that people with one Jewish grandparent or parent were also entitled to Israeli citizenship. In the years since the creation of the State of Israel, Jewish people have returned to Israel from all over the world. These new citizens are given rights to certain things that will make the transition a little easier for them, like housing, tax breaks, and free language courses. In general, Israelis are very accepting of the many new immigrants who come to live in Israel. This creates great diversity in Israel, and Israeli society changes along with the new cultures within its borders. The new immigrants usually blend well into Israeli society, learning Hebrew and Israeli customs and joining in to Israeli society.


Lesson Transcript

Sherah: Hello and welcome to hebrewpod101.com. This is Lower Beginner Series Season 1, Lesson 1 - Asking People Where They’re From in Hebrew. I’m your host, Sherah!
Amir: And I’m Amir.
Sherah: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to ask where someone is from.
Amir: The conversation takes place on an airplane to Israel
Sherah: It’s between Anna and Yonatan, who is sitting next to her on the plane.
Amir: The speakers are strangers, so they’ll be using formal Hebrew.
Sherah: Let’s listen to the conversation.
יונתן: שלום, זה הכיסא שלי.
Yonatan: Shalom, zeh ha-kis'e sheli.
אנה: בסדר גמור. שמי אנה. איך קוראים לך?
Anna: Beseder gamur. Sh'mi Anna. Eikh kor'im lekha?
יונתן: שמי יונתן. מאין את?
Yonatan: Shmi Yonatan. me'eyin at?
אנה: אני מארצות הברית. מאין אתה?
Anna: Ani me-artzot ha-brit. Me'ayin atah?
יונתן: אני מקנדה.
Yonatan: Ani mi-kanada.
אנה: נעים מאוד.
Anna: Na'im me'od.
יונתן: גם לי.
Yonatan: Gam li.
Sherah: Let’s listen to the conversation one more time, slowly.
יונתן: שלום, זה הכיסא שלי.
Yonatan: Shalom, zeh ha-kis'e sheli.
אנה: בסדר גמור. שמי אנה. איך קוראים לך?
Anna: Beseder gamur. Sh'mi Anna. Eikh kor'im lekha?
יונתן: שמי יונתן. מאין את?
Yonatan: Shmi Yonatan. me'eyin at?
אנה: אני מארצות הברית. מאין אתה?
Anna: Ani me-artzot ha-brit. Me'ayin atah?
יונתן: אני מקנדה.
Yonatan: Ani mi-kanada.
אנה: נעים מאוד.
Anna: Na'im me'od.
יונתן: גם לי.
Yonatan: Gam li.
Sherah: Now, let’s hear it with the English translation.
יונתן: שלום, זה הכיסא שלי.
Yonatan: Shalom, zeh ha-kis'e sheli.
Yonatan: Hello. That's my seat.
אנה: בסדר גמור. שמי אנה. איך קוראים לך?
Anna: Beseder gamur. Sh'mi Anna. Eikh kor'im lekha?
Anna: Oh, Okay! (Yonatan taking a seat) My name is Anna. What's your name?
יונתן: שמי יונתן. מאין את?
Yonatan: Shmi Yonatan. me'eyin at?
Yonatan: My name is Yonatan. Where are you from?
אנה: אני מארצות הברית. מאין אתה?
Anna: Ani me-artzot ha-brit. Me'ayin atah?
Anna: I'm from the USA. Where are you from?
יונתן: אני מקנדה.
Yonatan: Ani mi-kanada.
Yonatan: I'm from Canada.
אנה: נעים מאוד.
Anna: Na'im me'od.
Anna: Nice to meet you.
יונתן: גם לי.
Yonatan: Gam li.
Yonatan: Me too.
Sherah: So, Anna is on her way to Israel to make Aliyah. Aliyah is Hebrew for “immigrating to Israel”.
Amir: Immigration in Israel is always a hot topic.
Sherah: Israel is built on immigration, because it was founded to be a homeland for the Jewish people.
Amir: Jewish people had been making their way to the area for many years before its founding, to escape anti semitism in Russia and in Europe.
Sherah: Right, when Modern Israel was founded, there were around 800,000 people living in Israel.
Amir: And now there are close to 8 million people living in Israel, so we have grown quite a lot.
Sherah: Yah, but that didn’t just happen accidentally. In 1950, Israel made a law that said anyone who was Jewish had the right to come and live in Israel, and be an Israeli citizen.
Amir: In the 70s they expanded this to include people who had one Jewish parent or grandparent, so this opened the door to many other people to come live in Israel.
Sherah: And this made Israeli society quite a melting pot.
Amir: It definitely did! We have citizens from all over the world.
Sherah: Right, and the most recent large-scale immigrations have been from Russia, Ethiopia and even Latin America.
Amir: I think that in general, Israelis are very accepting of new immigrants.
Sherah: That’s true for the most part, especially if the new immigrants take the time to learn and speak Hebrew, and are open to becoming part of Israeli society.
Amir: I think most do learn Hebrew.
Sherah: Yes, and that’s what makes Israeli culture so rich! Okay, let’s move on to the vocabulary.
Sherah: Let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
Sherah: The first word we shall see is...
Amir: את [natural native speed]
you, feminine singular"
Amir: את [slowly - broken down by syllable] את [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: אתה [natural native speed]
Sherah: you, masculine singular
Amir: אתה [slowly - broken down by syllable] אתה [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: איך [natural native speed]
Sherah: how
Amir: איך [slowly - broken down by syllable] איך [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: קוראים (לקרוא) [natural native speed]
Sherah: to call (call)
Amir: קוראים (לקרוא) [slowly - broken down by syllable] קוראים (לקרוא) [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: לך [natural native speed]
Sherah: to you (masculine)
Amir: לך [slowly - broken down by syllable] לך [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: גמור [natural native speed]
Sherah: finished/completely
Amir: גמור [slowly - broken down by syllable] גמור [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: מאין [natural native speed]
Sherah: from where
Amir: מאין [slowly - broken down by syllable] מאין [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: ארצות הברית [natural native speed]
Sherah: The United States
Amir: ארצות הברית [slowly - broken down by syllable] ארצות הברית [natural native speed]
Sherah: Next
Amir: קנדה [natural native speed]
Sherah: Canada
Amir: קנדה [slowly - broken down by syllable] קנדה [natural native speed]
Sherah: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson. The first phrase is בסדר גמור.
Amir: בסדר גמור means “completely okay”.
Sherah: In English, we would more likely say, “it’s totally okay”.
Amir: Sure, that works too, but here we want to be true to the meaning of the words. בסדר is a word we learned in our earlier Absolute Beginner Series and it means, “okay”.
Sherah: Or “in order” if you want to get technical.
Amir: Right, now גמור means “finished”, but it can also mean “complete”. So “completely okay” is the translation that we came up with that is close to the Hebrew.
Sherah: If you want to use the adjective גמור in other ways, you use it the way that you would use the English “finished”. Like האוכל גמור.
Amir: Although, in English this could sound like you are saying that the food is finished cooking. In Hebrew, this means that the food is all gone.
Sherah: Very true. האוכל גמור - the food is finished. Let’s move on to our next phrase ארצות הברית.
Amir: The good ole’ United States. The first word of this phrase is ארצות and this can mean “land
Sherah: In this case it’s closest to “lands”.
Amir: The second part is הברית and this means “covenant” or “alliance”.
Sherah: When you put them together, it means “lands of the covenant”.
Amir: That’s kind of close to “United States”.
Sherah: It is, just in slightly different words. You may have noticed that the prefix -ה, which means “the”, is attached the the second word.
Amir: That’s because this is a special compound noun, and they have special rules.
Sherah: Yes, compound nouns have different pronunciations and if you have a -ה or “the” with a compound noun, it appears before the second noun in the phrase.
Amir: You only need to be familiar with it for now.
Sherah: Right, it’s a little more complicated than we want to get at the moment, so for now just remember that the -ה goes on the second noun. Okay, let’s move on to the Grammar.
Sherah: In this lesson you’ll learn how to ask someone where they’re from.
Amir: We are going to start off by telling you what the formal way to do this is. This is what your Ulpan, or intensive Hebrew school, teacher will tell you to say.
Sherah: That’s right. In Hebrew, there are no real rules that will tell you when to use formal Hebrew and when to use informal Hebrew, so there are times when we will teach you both and you can use whichever one you are comfortable with.
Amir: When you learn Hebrew in Ulpan, you learn these formal Hebrew phrases, but you will probably only use them in Ulpan, or with people who speak high Hebrew. And there are some of those people around.
Sherah: This is one phrase that you will hear people use sometimes. When you want to ask someone where they are from, you say מאין אתה or מאין את.
Amir: מאין means “from where”. This is the correct word to use in this phrase.
Sherah: מאין is followed by אתה or את depending on if you are talking to a man or a woman.
Amir: את is “you” for a woman and אתה is “you” for a man.
Sherah: So, מאין אתה? is literally “from where you”.
Amir: Right. Here, there is no word for the verb “to be” since it is in the present tense.
Sherah: Let’s have the listeners repeat. Listeners, repeat after me. מאין אתה [pause]
Amir: This is what you use when you are asking a man. How about if you’re asking a woman?
Sherah: Repeat after me. מאין את [pause]
Sherah: So this is great if you want to speak formal Hebrew, but can you tell us what you’d say in normal everyday Hebrew, Amir?
Amir: Well, you would say מאיפה אתה or מאיפה את.
Sherah: איפה is “where” and -מ is “from”, so it means exactly the same thing.
Amir: Your Ulpan teacher may not let you ask it that way, but that’s what you’ll hear from most Israelis.
Sherah: So, now that we’ve gone this far, how do you answer the question מאין אתה?
Amir: If you are asking me, אני מישראל “I am from Israel.”
Sherah: So, in the answer we start with the Hebrew word for “I”, אני. You don’t need a verb in this sentence, so you go on to the word for “from” which is -מ and then the place where you are from.
Amir: So, Shira מאין את? “where are you from?”
Sherah: אני מארצות הברית. “I am from the United States.” You can also use this expression to talk about other things or specific people. For example, I could say מאיפה החולצה?
Amir: Shira asked where my shirt is from and I would answer החולצה מפוקס. “The shirt is from Fox.”
Sherah: Fox is a clothes store in Israel. Let’s give another example. Let’s say you see a group of tourists, and you want to ask where they are from. You would say מאין הם or מאיפה הם “where are they from?”
Amir: הם מגרמניה. They are from Germany.


Sherah: Good to know. Well that’s it for this lesson.
Amir: Now that you’ve listened to this lesson, please visit HebrewPod101.com and tell us where you’re from.
Sherah: And be sure to check the lesson notes. Bye everyone!
Amir: להתראות