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1st and 2nd Person Pronouns

Did you notice that there are several ways of asking questions like How are you? or What’s your name? That’s because Hebrew has different forms of the pronoun you. So far, you’ve seen two, one used when you’re talking to one man—אַתָה  'ata (you, masculine singular)—and one used when you’re talking to one woman—אַת  'at (you, feminine singular.) We’ll come back to other forms later.

מֵאֵיפֺה אַתָה?‏  
me-'eyfo 'ata?
Where are you from? (to a man)
מֵאֵיפֺה אַת? 
me-'eyfo 'at?
Where are you from? (to a woman)

But notice that there’s only one form of the pronoun I, אֲנִי  'ani, used regardless of the speaker’s gender.

אֲנִי מִתֵל אָבִיב.‏  
'ani mi-tel'aviv
I am from Tel Aviv
אֲנִי מִנְיוּ-יוֹרְק.  
'ani mi-nyu-york
I am from New York.

Just as there are different ways of saying you in Hebrew, there are also different ways of saying your, depending on the gender of the person referred to. In Hebrew, possessives like your and my are suffixes, or endings added to nouns. You’ve seen this with the noun שֵם  shem (name). Let’s take another look.

שֵם  
shem
name
שְמִי  
shmi
my name
שְמֵךְ 
shmeH
your (f.) name
שִמְך  
shimHa
your (m.) name

The ending י–  –i means my, ךָ–  –Ha means your (m.), and ךְ–  -eH means your (f.). As you can see from the examples above, adding those endings to the noun שֵם  shem results in an internal vowel change. For example, when the feminine suffix ךְ–  – eH is appended to שֵם  shem (name), the vowel ֵ  e, under the ש  sh, becomes a  schwa and the מ  m is assigned the vowel ֵ  e. You’ll see this sort of thing happen a lot in Hebrew. We’ll get to the details later. For now, just be on the lookout for it!

Let’s look again at some useful questions that include the suffixes for your. The expressions for How are you? can be translated literally as What’s/How’s your wellness?, so they use the possessive suffixes. Also notice that the vowel  a under the letter ש in the noun שָלוֹם  shalom changes into a schwa—שְלוֹם  shlom—when the word has a possessive suffix, and the letter מ  m appears in a different form. Again, we’ll come back to the details later.

מַה שִמְךָ?  
ma shimHa?
What is your (m.) name?
מַה שְמֵךְ? ‏  
ma shmeH?
What is your (f.) name?
מַה שְלוֹמְךָ?  
ma shlomHa?
How are you (m.)?
מַה שְלוֹמֵךְ?  
ma shlomeH?
How are you (f.)?