Dialogue - Hebrew



מתוק [מָתוֹק] matok honey, sweetie
בטח [בֶּטַח] betaħ of course
אחר-כך [אַחַר-כָּךְ] aħar-kakh afterward
שיעורי בית [שִׁעוּרֵי בַּיִת] shi'ure'i bayit homework
לראות [לִרְאוֹת] lir’ot to see
טלוויזיה [טֵלֵוִיזְיָה] televiziyah television
להתחיל [לְהַתְחִיל] le-hat’ħil to begin
מותר [מוֹתַר] mutar allowed, permitted
להצטער [לְהִצְטַעֵר] le-hitz’tayer to be sorry
אסור [אָסוּר] asur forbidden

Lesson Notes


Lesson Focus

The Focus of this Lesson is Using the Words "forbidden" and "permitted"
מותר לי לראות טלוויזיה?

Mutar li lir'ot televisi'a.

"Is it permitted for me to watch TV?" (Can I watch TV?)



The words מותר (mutar) for permitted and אסור (asur) for forbidden are used in Hebrew to make a general statement about what is allowed or forbidden for someone specific or even for the population in general. These two words are always followed by a verb in the infinitive form and are not conjugated because there is no subject present.

In the example sentence, the statement was directed at Li'el because she added לי (li) for "for me." A more general sentence would be made by removing the "li":

מותר לראות טלוויזיה?
Mutar lir'ot televisi'a?

"Is it permitted to watch TV?"

The structure of the sentence is מותר (mutar) or אסור (asur) followed by a verb in the infinitive form and then the rest of the information, is needed to complete the statement. If you want to personalize the statement, you can add -ל plus a pronoun or the name of the person or thing that the statement applies to.

Let's take this concept and put it into practice. Let's say you are in a hospital, someone starts smoking a cigarette and you want to tell them that it's forbidden to smoke here. You would say:

1.   אסור לעשן פה בבית החולים.

Asur le-ashen po be-beit ha-ħolim.

"Smoking is forbidden here in the hospital."

When you want to direct that statement at the person instead of making a general statement, you would say:

1. אסור לך לעשן פה בבית החולים.

Asur le-ashen po be-beit ha-ħolim

"It's forbidden for you to smoke here in the hospital."

Let's take this one step further and let's tell the man where is it permitted to smoke.

2.   מותר לעשן בפינת האישון שם.

Mutar le-ashen be-pinat ha-ishun sham.

"Smoking is permitted in the smoking corner there."


And if we wanted to personalize it, we would say:

4.   מותר לך לעשן בפינת העישון שם.

Mutar lekha le-ashen be-pinat ha-ishun sham.

"It's permitted for you to smoke in the smoking corner there."


Note: In English, we would most likely use the word "allowed" in place of permitted, especially when talking to a family member. Since the sentence structure is different when using the word allowed, we translated all the sentences as "permitted" instead of "allowed."

Examples from this dialogue:

All the sentences from the dialogue have -ל and a pronoun, after מותר and אסור, but those can easily be omitted to make the sentence more general.


1.   מותר לי לראות טלוויזיה לפני שאני עושה שיעורי בית היום?

Mutar li lir'ot televisi'a lif'ne'i she ani osah shi'ure'i bayit ha-yom?

"Am I permitted to watch TV before I do (my) homework today?"

2.   אסור לך לראות טלוויזיה לפני שיעורי הבית.

"It's forbidden for you to watch TV before homework."

3.   מותר לך רק אחרי השיעורים.

Mutar lakh rak aħare'i ha-shi'urim.

"It's permitted for you only after homework."

4.  מותר לי לאכול משהו לפני שאני מתחילה?

Mutar li le'ekhol mashehu lifne'i she-ani mat'ħilah?

"Is it permitted for me to eat something before I begin? (Can I eat something before I begin?)"


Sample Sentences



1.   אסור לקנות אלכוהול לפני גיל שמונה-עשרה.

Asur lik'not al'kohol lif'ne'i gil shmonah-es'reh.

"It's forbidden to buy alcohol before the age of eighteen."

2.   מותר לנהוג באור ירוק.

Mutar lin'hog be-or yarok.

"Driving is permitted when there is a green light."

Key Vocabulary & Phrases

שיעורי בית

Shi'urei bayit is a construct (סמיכות) noun phrase made up of two words, שיעורים (shi'urim) and בית (bayit). Shi'urim means "lessons" and bayit means "home." Together they mean "homework." Since these two words form a construct state, שיעורים (shi'urim) drops the ם- (mem) at the end and becomes שיעורי (shi'urei). שיערי בית (shi'urei bayit) is mostly used to talk about homework you receive when at school but can sometimes be used in cases, such as homework from language school or homework received in university.


Aħar-kakh means "afterward." It is also made up of two words. אחר (Aħar) means "after" and כך (kakh) means "thus."  You can use this word in two ways, you can use it when answering someone's question about when you want to do something. You can also use it in telling somewhat what happened when in a certain story, like אחר-כך הלכנו לבריכה (Aħar-kakh halakh'nu la-brikhah) "afterward we went to the pool." 


Le-hat'ħil means "to begin." להתחיל (le-hat'ħil) is a part of the hif'il verb group and is conjugated like the other verbs in that verb group. It is used in a few different expressions like להתחיל על רגל שמאל (le-hat'ħil al regel smol) which is "to begin on the wrong foot" or רגל ימין (regel yamin) which is "to begin on the right foot." When you flirt with someone it's called להתחיל עם שמהי (le-hat'ħil im mishehu) or "to start with someone" if you are flirting with a girl. If you are flirting with a guy, it would be להתחיל עם משהו (le-hat'ħil im mishehu).


Matok is an adjective meaning "sweet," but it is also used as a term of endearment by many Israelis. You will often hear Israelis calling their children or significant other מתוק (matok) or מתוקה (matukah). Some Israelis will even use this term of endearment with their friends. There are four forms, as with all adjectives: מתוק (matok), מתוקה (matukah), מתוקים (matukim) and מתוקות (matukot)

Cultural Insights

TV in Israel


For many years television in Israel was highly restricted. Color televisions were not actively imported into the country up to the 1980s. Even then, many programs were still broadcast in black and white. Until 1986, there was only one television station in Israel. In the beginning, this station only aired educational programming. In the 1980s and further in the 1990s, television in Israel became more diversified with more channels available. In 1989, the first dedicated children's channel began to air and this was called ערוץ הילדים (arutz ha-yeladim). The channel at first was limited to only two hours a day. The channel is still broadcast today and features original Israeli programming for children as well as imported program from other countries. The foreign programs are either dubbed for younger children or shown in the original language with subtitles. Today there are several other children's channels available for different age groups from different cable companies.

Lesson Transcript

Sherah:Hello and welcome to hebrewpod101.com. This is Lower Intermediate, Season 1, Lesson 1 - No TV until you finish your Hebrew homework. I’m your host, Sherah!
Amir:And I’m Amir.
Sherah:In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use the words “forbidden” and “permitted” in Hebrew.
Amir:The conversation takes place at the Levy family house in the afternoon.
Sherah:It’s between Gadi and his daughter Liel.
Amir:The speakers are father and daughter, so they’ll be using informal Hebrew.
Sherah:Let’s talk a little about children’s television in Israel.
Amir:When I was a kid, there wasn’t much TV to see.
Sherah:I bet, up until 1986 there was only one television station in Israel. For a long time, that station was strictly educational.
Amir:It wasn’t until the 90s that we received cable tv and a dedicated children’s station.
Sherah:Right, arutz ha-yeladim only started in 1989.
Amir:In the beginning it was only for two hours a day.
Sherah:Well, today it is broadcast much more than 2 hours a day.
Amir:Yes, and it’s a mix of Israeli productions and foreign programs.
Sherah:And today there are other channels for children of different ages, even for babies and toddlers.
Amir:But Arutz ha-yeladim is really for school-aged children.
Sherah:I guess that’s how it is in the States now too. When I was a kid, there was the Disney channel and Nickelodeon, but now there are many, many more.
Sherah:Let’s take a closer look at the usage of some of the words and phrases from this lesson. The first phrase is שיעורי בית.
Amir:שיערי בית is a construct noun or שמיכות meaning “homework”.
Sherah:It’s made up of two parts, שיערים or “lessons” and בית which is “home”.
Amir:The שיעורים drops the ‘ם in the construct state and becomes שיעורי.
Sherah:שיעורי בית is mostly used for homework you get in school, but it can also be used for homework from your language class.
Amir:Or extra work you need to do at university.
Sherah:The next word we want to discuss is אחר-כך.
Amir:אחר-כך is also made up of two words, אחרי meaning “after” and כך meaning “thus”.
Sherah:אחרי becomes אחר and you put together, it means “afterward”.
Amir:You can use this word in two ways. You can use it when you want to answer someone’s question about when you want to do something, and your answer is that you want to do it after whatever you are doing at that moment.
Sherah:Right, and you can also use it when you are telling someone a story. For instance, maybe you want to tell someone that you did something and went to the pool afterwards.
Amir:Then you would say אחר-כך הלכנו לבריכה.
Sherah:The last word we want to talk about is the verb להתחיל or “to begin”
Amir:This word is used in some common expressions like להתחיל ברגל ימין.
Sherah:That’s “to start off on the right foot” or you could say the opposite of that, “to start off on the wrong foot”.
Amir:In Hebrew that would be להתחיל ברגל שמאל or “to start off on the left foot.”
Sherah:Another interesting expression using this word is להתחיל עם מישהו in the masculine or להתחיל עם מישהי in the feminine.
Amir:And that means “to flirt with someone” in Hebrew. The direct translation is to “start with someone”.
Sherah:The last word we want to talk about is מתוק. This means “sweet”, and it’s used as a term of endearment in Israel.
Amir:Yes, many parents will call their little boys מתוק or their little girls מתוקה.
Sherah:Sometimes Israelis use this with their significant others or even friends. Okay, now onto the grammar.
Sherah:In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use the words “permitted” and “forbidden” in a sentence in Hebrew.
Amir:Our sample sentence from the dialogue is מותר לי לראות טלוויזיה?
Sherah:The direct translation of this sentence is “Is it permitted for me to watch television?”
Amir:In English, you would probably say, “Am I allowed to watch television?”
Sherah:Right, but the sentence structure is different for these two phrases, so we will stick with “is it permitted” because it’s closer to the sentence structure we use in Hebrew.
Amir:The word that we want to focus on from this sentence is מותר or “permitted”.
Sherah:As you see in the sample sentence, מותר is followed by לי and then the verb לראות in the infinitive. “Is it permitted for me to watch?”
Amir:This is the general pattern of sentences using מותר. You start with מותר and then you have the person that you are referring to with the preposition -ל and then a verb in the infinitive, followed by any other information you need in the sentence.
Sherah:If you want a more general statement, you would just use מותר with a verb in the infinitive.
Amir:Right, by taking לי out of Li’el’s sentence, we can make it more of a general sentence. She would say ?מותר לראות טלוויזיה.
Sherah:And then it would be “Is it permitted to watch television?”
Amir:The same structure is used with the word אסור which means “forbidden”.
Sherah:Gadi used this when he said, “It’s forbidden for you to watch television before homework.”
Amir:In Hebrew, that was אסור לך לראות טלוויזיה לפני שיעורי בית.
Sherah:Here we have אסור or “it’s forbidden” and then לך “for you” in the feminine and לראות “to watch” and it’s followed by the rest of the information.
Amir:So, now that you know the general structure of the sentences using these two words, let’s look at some other examples.
Sherah:Yes, let’s tell someone using a general sentence that it’s forbidden to smoke in the hospital.
Amir:That would be: אסור לעשן בבית החולים.
Sherah:So, if you want to say that to someone specific, you would insert the word לך meaning “for you”.
Amir:So, then it would be: אסור לך לעשן בבית החולים.
Sherah:So, now let’s tell someone using a general sentence where it is permitted to smoke, in the smoking corner, of course.
Amir:מותר לעשן בפינת האישון שם.
Sherah:And we will add לך to make it more personal.
Amir:מותר לך לעשן בפינת האישון שם
Sherah:In English, we would use the words “permitted” and “forbidden” in a more formal setting and “allowed” and “not allowed” with people you’re familiar with.
Amir:In Hebrew, you can use these words for any setting.


Sherah:Ok, that’s all for this lesson. Make sure to check the lesson notes to reinforce what you’ve learned in this lesson. And you can also leave us a comment.
Amir:Thanks for being with us, everyone, להתראות
Sherah:We’ll see you next time! Bye!
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