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Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 6 - Advanced

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This page provides additional practice and advanced discussion for the letters you should have learned in Hebrew for Dummies - Lesson 6. If you need practice saying or reading the letters - go back to lesson 6 first.

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, " as discussed in lesson 6. In biblical Hebrew it is also used to change the tense of a verb from past to future and from future to past:

Hahyah - Was; VeHayah - "It will"  והיה

Yelech - Will go; Vayelech "He went" וילך

In English, this is often mistakenly translated as "And."

Double vav

Vav is never doubled at the beginning of a word, but it is supposedly doubled when another letter is added at the beginning of the word, to avoid confusion. For example:

ורד means "rose."

"The rose" is supposed to be written הוורד to avoid confusion with הורד which means "was lowered."

Yet Another use of Vav

Vav can be used to write "W" - a letter that does not exist in Hebrew. One can almost never tell when the Vav is being used to transliterate a German version of a borrow word where the "W" is "V" or whether it is meant to be pronounced as W. !ואו is read as WOW!, not Va'av.

Vav as and is sounded different ways:

Vav meaning "and" is usually "veh." But if the letter following it has a silent sound (shva) then the Vav becomes "oo." If the letter following has a "chataf" vowel sound (a shva and vowel) then the vav can assume the vowel sound of the next letter.

Vav as W!

ן  Vav can be used to write "W" - a letter that does not exist in Hebrew. One can almost never tell when the Vav is being used to transliterate a German version of a borrow word where the "W" is "V" or whether it is meant to be pronounced as W. !ואו is read as WOW!, not Va'av.

A common and unexpected spelling: - King David's name is usually written דוד . The Bible was originally written without vowel sounds. We will never really know if his name was sounded as Dood or Daood or David or Dohd.

Some different (and unexpected) uses of יו:

יו at the end of a word is often pronounced "ahv" because it is the masculine plural possessive - בנותיו (bnohtahv) means "his daughters." But it can also be sounded as 'holam or Shuruk:

דיו (Dyoh) ink

רדיו radio (Rahdyoh)

ניו Nyoo (for New York, New Zealand etc.)

A Vav that is not there! There are some cases when the oh sound is heard but the vav is no place to be seen. This is called a "missing 'holam." For example לא means "no" and is sounded "Loh." When לא is written with dots (nikkud) there is usually a little dot near the lamed to signify the missing oo sound.

Different OO and Oh sounds - Hebrew has different ways of making the OH and OO sounds. In theory they are different from the 'holam and shuruk (usually) and are not supposed to be replaced by a vav unless, at the dawn of time, it can be shown that there really was a 'holam 'hasehr there.  For the "oh" sound there are two such vowels given in nikud (use of dots to signify vowels: Kamatz Kahtahn (little Kamatz): and  'hataf kamatz (much enlarged!) a shortened or "kidnapped" kamatz. Kamatz is usually a long "ah" sound, but these two are pronounced "oh" for  reasons we won't get into. An example of a word that is spelled that way:

(Tso hoh rah yim) which means "noon." Grammarians to the contrary notwithstanding, there are thousands of listings in Google for צוהריים and צוהוריים.

Note that the double י is also optional.

Another example is אניה (Ohniyah) - Ship. Also often spelled אוניה though it may be incorrect.

The word "כל" which means "all" is sometimes supposed to be spelled with a 'holam 'haser and sometimes with a hatahf kamatz. Since we do not see either in normal writing, it is a moot point how it would be spelled if we did write with vowels.

The Kubutz is a second OO sound. When dots (nikkud, vowels) are used, this sign is placed beneath the consonant letter to signify a kubutz. When writing without dots, it is usually replaced by a shuruk vav. 

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

Meaning   Pronunciation Hebrew
Kibbutz (Collective farm) Qey boots' קיבוץ
Morning Boh' qehr בוקר, בקר
Cowboy Boh qehr' בוקר
Peace Shah Lohm' שלום
Ship or large boat oh ni yah אניה
Noon tso hoh rah yim צהרים
Disorder meh hoo mah מהומה
No loh לא
Maybe oo lahy' אולי
Light (as in light and dark) ohr אור
Skin ohr עור
Blind ee vehr' עיוור
Newspaper ee tohn' עיתון
Atom Ah tohm' אטום
Sealed, closed, obtuse (person, colloquial) Ah toom' אטום
Caulking, Sealing ee toom' אטום
Briar kohtz קוץ
To him Loh לו
If (conditional "had") Loo לו
This (fem.) zoh זו
This (fem.) zoo זו
Sits (masc. singular) yoh shehv' יושב
Learns (masc. singular) loh mehd' לומד
Passes (masc. singular) , one who passes oh vehr' עובר
Worker, Works (masc singular) oh vehd' עובד
Hope Teek vah תקווה
World oh lahm' עולם
Auditorium oo lahm' אולם
Never happened meh oh lam' מעולם (לא)
Forever leh oh lam' לעולם
Guard (noun) Guards (Masc. Singular verb) shoh mehr' שומר
Reserved shah moor' שמור
 
Confuse-o-grams
Similar words with different meaning and sometimes different spelling
 
Meaning   Pronunciation Hebrew
To him Loh לו
If (conditional "had") Loo לו
     
This (fem.) zoh זו
This (fem.) zoo זו
     
World oh lahm' עולם
Auditorium oo lahm' אולם
     
Worker, Works (masc singular) oh vehd' עובד
Loses (an object) oh vehd' אובד
     
Atom Ah tohm' אטום
Sealed, closed, obtuse (person, colloquial) Ah toom' אטום
     
Morning Boh' qehr בוקר, בקר
Cowboy Boh qehr' בוקר
     
Morning Boh' qehr בקר
Cattle Bah qahr' בקר
He visited Bi qehr' בקר
     
 
Sentences and phrases:
 

אני ואתה, נשנה את העולם You and I will change the world

ani ve ahtah neshaneh et ha olahm

ואולי. לא היו הדברים מעולם And perhaps, these things never happened

 Vey oolai, lo hayoo hah dvarim meh oh lam

 
The above are first lines of songs.
 
 
Before you go on, be sure to write out all the above words and say them out loud.
 
Here is some cursive script practice with these letters and words:
 
Ready to move on?
 
 Hebrew Alphabet for Dummies 7 (the last letters)  
OR
If you are doing an advanced review only - You can go to Advanced Review 7


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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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