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Commonly Used Hebrew Words and How to Say Them

Updated on February 17, 2013

This article will teach you some commonly used phrases in Hebrew. I may not make a "Native" Hebrew speaker out of you right away but it will give a "taste" of this beautiful language!

My personal favorite Hebrew-English, English Hebrew dictionary.
My personal favorite Hebrew-English, English Hebrew dictionary. | Source

While Hebrew is not a common language to be heard around the world, you would be surprised how many Hebrew words you may already know.The language is over 4000 years old but has had many changes throughout the years. In this article, I will be talking about modern Hebrew. Hebrew ican be a difficult language to learn. It uses a different alphabet system and different sounds. It takes many years of intense lessons to master Hebrew (Ivrit). I learned in an intensive absorption program in Israel caled Ulpan but my real knowledge came from my day-to-day encounters.

Common Hebrew Words

  • Boy- Yeled (yell ed)
  • Girl- Yelda (yell dah)
  • Children-Yeladim (Yell ah deem)
  • Friend (masculine)- Chaver (khah vare)
  • Friend (feminine)- Chavera (khah vare ah)
  • Come with me- Bo iti (boe ee tee)
  • Come to me- Bo alay (boe ah lie)
  • Yes- ken
  • No- lo
  • Please-Bevakasha (Bah-vah-kah-shah)
  • Thank you- todah (toe-dah)



  • the bathroom- Hasherutim (Hah sher-oo-teem)
  • the restaurant- Hamisadah (Hah miss a dah)
  • the bank- Habank (Hah bahnk)

Common Hebrew Phrases

  • Hello, good-bye and peace- Shalom (Shah-lome)
  • My name is______- Kareem li____________(Kah reem lee)
  • or more simply:
  • I am_________- Ani_________ (Ah-knee)
  • Thank you very much- Todah raba! (toe-dah rah bah)
  • Good Morning- Boker Tov (Boe kehr tohv)
  • Good Evening- Erev Tov (Eh rehv tohv)
  • How are you (Masculine)-Ma Shlomka (Mah shlome khah)
  • How are you (Feminine)- Ma shlomech (Mah shlome mech)
  • I am fine- Ani Beseder (Ah-knee beh seh der)
  • Where is...?- Eiffo (Ay-foe)
  • I am from America- Ani mi America (Ah-knee me America) or insert where you are from.
  • Do you speak English (Masculine)-Ata medeber Anglit? (Ah tah meh deh behr Ahn gleet)
  • Do you speak English (Feminine)- At medeberit Anglit? (At meh deh behr it Ahn gleet)

Examples of Written Hebrew

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Peace-ShalomShalom written in cursive HebrewDifferent ways to write peace.
Peace-Shalom
Peace-Shalom | Source
Shalom written in cursive Hebrew
Shalom written in cursive Hebrew | Source
Different ways to write peace.
Different ways to write peace. | Source

Familiar Hebrew and Yiddish words

chutzpah // shlemiel // shlamazal

mazal tov // bar/bat mitzvah

goy // oy vay // boychick // mensch

kvetch // shpulkies // yenta

tushy //ferklempt //


The Use of Cognates to Expand your Vocabulary

As in most languages, there are several "Hebrew" words that have been borrowed. I have compiled a list for you along with pronounciations:

  • Pizza
  • Telephone
  • Sweater- svedder
  • Banana
  • Auto
  • Jeans-jean seem
  • Bank
  • Jeep
  • Hamburger
  • University- ooh nah verse ee tah
  • Jacket- Juh ket
  • Television- televisia
  • Radio- rah dee oh
  • Battery- bat uh ree uh

Electronic Language Translators

Ectaco XL-1500 Partner Multilingual Talking Dictionary
Ectaco XL-1500 Partner Multilingual Talking Dictionary

Although I had a slightly diffeerent one, I really appreciated being able to hear the word.

 

If you are traveling in Israel

In Israel, all students must learn English from the early grades on. All university students must pass an English proficiency test. Street signs, as well as most other signs, are also in English. You would not have much trouble finding someone to speak in English with. There are so many dictionaries and electronic translators available, as well. You can also download translators but, beware, many of them are not accurate. A popular, accurate one is Babylon. You can download the free version to your computer here.

Where in the world is Israel?

A markerIsrael -
Israel
get directions

Hebrew is the Official Language of the State of Israel

Examples using a root word

Root Word/letters
Noun(s)
Verb(s)
Adjective
Gdl
Godol
Godel
gadol
Gadol
Migdal
Godelet
 
 
 
 
 

An Interesting Fact about Hebrew

Most Hebrew words have a three letter root. All grammatical forms of the word come from that root. For example:

  • Gadal- He grew (verb)
  • Lgdol- To grow (V)
  • Godol- Large (adjective)
  • Godel- Size (N)
  • Mgdal-Tower (N)

Hebrew is also a much more logical language in terms of grammar. Unlike English, there are 7 definitive ways to conjugate a verb and very few exceptions to the rule.

If you are at a loss for the conjugation or the word itself, knowing the shoresh (root) of word will help you or the person you are speaking to.

A little Hebrew Alphabet to Wake you up!

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    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 6 weeks ago from Mesa, AZ

      So very welcome, Janet! My pleasure!

    • profile image

      Janet 6 weeks ago

      I see a few comments about being to old to learn all this! Ha Ha Ha I'm sure I am. But Ahava it! And will go slow and see what seeps in!

      Thanks Randi. I'm in Virginia. But love learning some of the words! Learn a couple today, Guess that's a good start! Some of it I don't understand yet, but I'm sure in time and with some patients I'll get a few.I have Love and Kind today. So that's a good start. Ahava and Chesed!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Colin. I did enjoy writing it! I am not the biggest fan of Klezmer or liturgical music but my family is so I grew up hearing it but never understanding it. Now, finally, I know what it means! Sending hugs right back at you!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      You know Randi , I've always been a big fan of cantorial music and klezmer music and Yiddish humor so for me this is an endlessly fascinating overview of words and their meaning. Thank you for your research and I would imagine this hub presentation was a labor of love for you.

      I am up after a nap on a night off (well actually the weekend) playing James Brown instrumental music loud and keeping the cats entertained and well fed too - 3 big Canadian hugs from Colin and his furried buddies at lake erie time 1:52am

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Hahaha! So glad you enjoyed the music! And I see you are getting ready for Passover, Chris! -Thank you for the visit and the vote!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Randi, Rockin' With the Aleph Bet was good, but I"m Goin' to a Seder is even better. Excellent hub and introduction to modern Hebrew. voted up.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Sid! I appreciate the votes and share!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Erica! I'm glad you enjoyed it! What a generous person you are to convert to your husband's religion! You are probably right, you won't be needing too much Hebrew.

    • SaffronBlossom profile image

      SaffronBlossom 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Awesome hub! I learned a lot from it. My husband is Jewish and I plan on converting before we have children...I probably won't be learning too much Hebrew but this hub made me more interested in it. :)

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Eddy, thank you, thank you and thank you! Have a great Monday! Love your new page, btw!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Stephanie! :)

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Ah, KJ! Music to my ears! I live in Arizona now and many of the people here still think I have horns! You have a great day, too! L'Chaim!

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 4 years ago from Florida

      btrbell.. Thank you for writing this hub...so many times when other hubbers ask me about my writes..I have to explain when I say I have " chutzpah "..and it is my middle name...have a great day and L'Chaim....

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Mary! I am surprised they didn't let you stay. In essence, most of us have similar belief systems and faith. When I was a kid, the Baptist Bible School would come in a bus and pick kids up to go to Sunday School. They always invited me and I wanted to go but my parents wouldn't let me. Not because it was Baptist but because they didn't want me going off in a bus with strangers! I appreciate the votes!

    • btrbell profile image
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      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Carol! Your niece will love it! Thamk you so much for your compliments, votes , shares and pin! Your opinion means a lot to me! :)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Wow Randi,unique and brilliant and I am sharing onto my new FB page 'A Brand New Heart.'

      Take care and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 4 years ago from New Jersey

      I like your list of words and pronounciations. Thanks for sharing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      This was so interesting. When I was a little girl I used to go to Hebrew classes with a friend but when they found out I wasn't Jewish I had to wait outside! We share so much in our faith having all started in the same place and so much carries over. This was an interesting topic to choose and your background did it justice for sure.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I am so glad you wrote this..Now when I talk with my niece in Isreal I will surprise her with what I have learned. I know you learned the language after living there for so many years. As always you did a super job ..you are getting to be a better writer everyday. Voting across the board, sharing and pinning..

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Truly Martin, I don't think I could do it now if I had to. That was almost 20 years ago!

      Thank you for always being here when I post a hub. I appreciate your input and value your opinion!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this.Love you and this concept, but it might be a little late for me.

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you Nellieanna for sharing your experience. Yes, I always thought American, Jewish weddings were pretty amazing, then I moved to Israel....wow! It's nice to see you here!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 4 years ago from TEXAS

      This one bears saving to savor and peruse! I love the sound of Hebrew, though my knowledge of and exposure to it is slight. I was a Bridal Consultant at Sakowitz in Houston in 1953 following my graduation from college; and in the course of my work, I 'serviced' wedding of all varieties, but my favorites were the Jewish ones! They were the real celebrations and I was always invited to participate in the receptions - wow! What parties!

      Thank you for this lovely presentation!!

    • btrbell profile image
      Author

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Faith Reaper! Your anecdote about church just reminded me, I forgot an all important word....Amen! I so appreciate all your comments, votes, and shares! They mean the world to me!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Randi, this is a very interesting hub here. I always love it when in church, just like this morning, the pastor will quote scripture, and then go back and tell us the meaning of the everyday word in Hebrew. I am always amazed at the deeper more profound meaning that just makes the scripture so much more meaningful to me.

      Voted up ++++ and sharing (well dear, the sharing buttons are not coming up at the moment, but I will come back to share for sure!)

      God bless, Faith Reaper