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Expressions with prepositions and questions

You already knew a lot of the vocabulary used in the conversation you just heard, but let’s focus on some of the new words and expressions.

אַתָה מֵאָמֶרִיקָה?‏  
'ata me'amerika?
Are you from America?
אֲנִי מִנְיוּ-יוֹרְק.‏  
'ani minyu-york.
I am from New York
אַתָה תַיָר?‏  
'ata tayar?
Are you a tourist?
אֲנִי סְטוּדֶנְטִית.‏  
'ani studentit.
I am a student

Now you know a preposition in Hebrew from. Some prepositions in Hebrew are independent words in the sentence, like in English, but others are prefixes that attach to the word that follows them. מ…  m … (from) attaches to the noun it follows, in this case אָמֶרִיקָה  'amerika (America) and נְיוּ-יוֹרְק  nyu-york (New York). When it attaches to these nouns, the vowel  e or  i is added under the  m: ֵ e is used when the following word begins with a guttural consonant (א  ',  h ה, ח  H, ר  r) and ִ  i is used elsewhere.

from + America
from America
מֵ + אָמֶרִיקָה  
me
+  'amerika
מֵאָמֶרִיקָה  
me-'amerika
from + New York
from New York
מִ + נְיוּ-יוֹרְק  
mi
+  nyu-york
מִנְיוּ-יוֹרְק  
mi-nyu-york

Also notice that there are a few words missing in the Hebrew sentences that you might expect to see. First, you may have noticed that there is no present tense form of to be (am, is, are) in Hebrew. And second, there is no indefinite article (a or an), although there is a definite article, which is ה  ha– (the). Similar to the preposition from in Hebrew, the definite article ה  ha– is a prefix that attaches to the noun that follows it.

אַתָה תַיָר.  
'ata tayar.
You (m.) [are] [a] tourist
אֲנִי סְטוּדֶנְטִית.‏  
'ani studentit.
I [am] [a] student.
אֲנִי הַ סְטוּדֶנְטִית.‏
 'ani ha-studentit.
I [am] the student.

Finally, you learned another way of asking questions in Hebrew. You’ve already seen questions that use question words like מַה  ma (what) and מֵאֵיפֺה  me-'eyfo (from where). We call these wh-questions because in English they involve words that begin with w, such what, where, etc. or h such as how. In the conversation above, you also came across yes/no questions, which are of course questions that can be answered with כֵּן  ken (yes) or לֹא  lo (no). These questions are formed in Hebrew simply by adding a question mark at the end of the affirmative sentence, and using question intonation instead of statement intonation. Compare these two examples.

אַתָה תַיָר.  
'ata tayar.
You are a tourist.
אַתָה תַיָר?‏  
'ata tayar?
Are you a tourist?