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Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 6

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You should know these letters now

    א ב ג ד ה ? ז ? ט י ? ל ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת ם ן ף ץ

If you do not recognize any one of those letters, go back for review: Hebrew alphabet for Dummies 1Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 2 and  Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 3, Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 4  and Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 5  

This lesson is about Vav, perhaps the most useful and in some ways the most difficult letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  


In a serif font it might look like this


In cursive script:

Writing Vav - Vav, unlike the final ן , should never descend below the line. The name of the letter ןן means "hook" and that explains its shape in decorative and serif fonts. .

Special uses of Vav - The letter vav is used to mean "and" ("vav Hachibur" - the vav of connection). This Vav of connection is most often pronounced "Veh," but in certain cases (before a Shwa) it becomes "oo." This is often more honored in the breach than in the observance.

Vav has several types of sounds in Hebrew:

ן Vav as a consonant is pronounced "V." This is most often at the beginning of a word where it may mean "and" as in   גד ושרה (Gad and Sarah). As "V" it can also be sounded according to the vowel associated with it, Vah or Veh or Vee. But a Vav with an oo sound is not Voo. 
  Shuruk - When a dot is put in the Vav it becomes an "oo" sound. A Voo sound would require two vavs. This sound occurs frequently when Vav is used to mean "and" and is placed at the start of a word that has a shwa (semi silent or silent vowel) under the first letter. For example: חנה ובנותיה   - Pronounced - "Hahnah oo'vnohtayeh, meaning Hanna and her sons.
  " 'Hohlam" - The Vav is sounded as "oh" most frequently in the middle of the word. It is never an "oh" at the start of a word. The present simple tense of all verbs has a Hohlam:

הולך - goes  ('Ho lech')

רואה - sees ('Ro eh')

עובד - works (Oh ved' )

עושה - does (Oh Seh' )

יורד - descends (Yoh rehd' )

עולה - ascends (Oh leh') 


How to pronounce 'holam (oo) and Shuruk - uu

Listen to these two audio files. The first one repeats the word טוב "Tohv" (good) to show you how to sound the 'holam - (oh) sound. The second repeats the question "Ay foh Ha Shehrootim" (איפה השרותים) meaning "Where is the toilet?" to demonstrate the oo and oh sounds. The "oo" of the 'shuruk" is sounded about the way a native of New Hampshire would say the "oo" in "roof" or the way you would say the "oo" in Tootsie, rather than the oo in "Toot Toot."   If you know how to say "Shalom" like an Israeli, than you can say the 'holam  correctly.

Please Note

Sounding out 'holam and Shuruk: Neither of these sounds are exactly like any English equivalent. They are shorter than oh or oo sounds that we use to represent them. Try rhyming the 'holam sounds with words you may know in foreign languages that have a similar sound: Bayamon, Rincon. Yigal Alon's last name ( אלון ) should not sound like "alone" in English!; "Sharon" doesn't rhyme with "alone" either, and it is not like the name "Sharon" in English.

Some new words and review with the new letters and letters you know:

Meaning   Pronunciation Hebrew
He Hoo הוא
Peace Shah Lohm' שלום
Or oh או
Maybe oo lahy' אולי
Light (as in light and dark) ohr אור
Blind ee vehr' עיוור
Newspaper ee tohn' עיתון
Briar kohtz קוץ
To him Loh לו
And to him ve loh' ולו
Sits (masc. singular) yoh shehv' יושב
Hope Teek vah תקווה
World oh lahm' עולם
Before you go on, be sure to write out all the above words and say them out loud.
Advanced practice - There is more you need to know about "vav" and OO and OH sounds in Hebrew - Click for advanced practice in Vav, OO OH
Ready to move on?
 Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 7 (the last letters)  

Copyright Notice

Hebrew for Dummies lessons are Copyright © 2008 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel.com, You may use them for personal use or print them out to teach a class,  with this notice. You may not copy them to a Web site or include them in a commercial text.

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