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Begin Learning Hebrew Here

Updated on May 1, 2017

"Hebrew must be a hard language to learn"

Oftentimes, when I tell people I speak pretty fluent Hebrew, they say to me, "Hebrew must be a hard language to learn". I tell them that Hebrew is a lot easier to learn than English.

Hebrew has 22 letters and a large percentage of the words are made up of root words (usually 3 letters long) that can be used in verb, noun or adjective constructs.

Aleph

The first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet (called the "Aleph-Bet") is Aleph.







Bet

The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Bet. It sounds like the letter "B". It has a dot in the middle called a dagesh which can appear in most letters, but only changes the sound of only 3 (in Sephardi -- Spanish Jewish -- pronunciation and 4 in Ashkenazi -- Northern/Eastern European Jews) letters -- Bet, Koph, Peh (and Tav)

Vet

Just Bet without a dagesh -- sounds like the letter V.






Brief Interlude... Hebrew Vowels

Vowels in Hebrew aren't always written out. But these are a few of the vowels that are written under letters.

The names of the vowels (from left to right, top to bottom) are segol, patah, kamatz, tzereh, kubutz and hirik.



And now, for a real, honest to goodness Hebrew word......

This is a real live, honest to goodness Hebrew word that you will hear all over Israel (and often in Jewish communities in other areas of the world) -- Abba -- which means Daddy.

Take an Aleph (no sound) and put an "ah" under it and then take a Bet ("b" sound) and put an "ah" under it for a Ba and end if off with another Aleph (again, no sound) and you have Abba.

Back to the Letters.....

Gimel

Gimel has a sound like a hard "G" as in Good or Go.





Daled

Daled has a sound like the letter "D".








Hay

Hay sounds like an aspirated H -- as in hello, howdy, etc. It also is a common letter to end words with, particularly feminine nouns and names.







Vav

Vav sounds like the letter "V" (or, in some cases, people transliterate it as a "W") when used as a consonant.






Brief Interlude... Vav as a Vowel

These two vowels (Holum and Shuruk) are created using a Vav.






Zayin

Zayin sounds like the letter "Z".







Het

Het sounds like the ch in Achtung and is the first letter in the word Hanukka.







Tet

Tet sounds like the letter "T".







Yod

Yod (which is a small letter that is only about 1/2 the size of most other letters -- the top half) when used as a consonant, (it sometimes takes the place of a vowel) sounds like a "Y".



Koph

Koph sounds like the letter K (it is often transliterated as a Q)







Khoph

Khoph (Koph without a dagesh) has a sound similar to the Het (see above).






Lamed

Lamed sounds like the letter "L".






And, now, for something totally different....

Ok, not so different -- Another Real Live, oft used, Hebrew Word

This word is "Gadol" -- it means "Big" (for males).





Mem

Mem sounds like the letter "M".








Nun

Nun sounds like an "N".








Samekh

Samekh sounds like the letter "S" (never like the letter "Z" as in rise).






Ayin

Ayin originally (and for most Hebrew speakers from the middle east) had a guttural sound similar to a "G" -- this is why words like Amora (the "sister" city of Sodom) and Azah (as in the strip) -- became "Gomorrah" and "Gaza". From the perspective of most American speakers, Ayin has no sound.


Peh

Peh sounds like a "P".







Phe

Phe has a sound like an "F".







Tzade

Tzake sounds like the "ZZ" in Pizza.







Kuf

Kuf sounds like a "K".








Resh

Resh sounds like an "R" but it's more rolling -- from the throat.









Shin

Shin sounds like "Sh"








Sin

Sin sounds like "S" (but never "Z", just like Samekh) -- the Sin (with the "dot" on the left, as opposed to the Shin with the "dot" on the right) is much less common, so if you see the letter without dots, the Shin is the default pronunciation.




Tav

Tav Sounds like a "T"*

* To Ashkenazim, this would be a Sav -- with a dagesh Ashkenazim would call it "Tav". The "Sav" would sound like an "S".






Schva (the No Sound Vowel)

A Schva is put under a when only the letter sound should be pronounced.









Final Letters (Koph-Khoph)

There are 5 letters that look different at the end of words -- I separated Koph-Khoph because it's the only letter than doesn't just have the one sort. The Khoph Sofit (that means the "end" letter) can have a dagesh with a Kamatz, without a dagesh with a Kamatz, or without a dagesh without a Kamatz.

Mem, Nun, Phe and Tzade Sofits

These letters sound just like the regular letters they replace at the end of the word -- Mem like an M, Nun like an N, Phe like an F and Tzade like the ZZ in Pizza.

Brass "Hai" with magnetic closure
Brass "Hai" with magnetic closure | Source

Compugraph Designs' Jewelry and "Stuff" Site

Compugraph Designs has a Jewelry page on Facebook.

Passover Scene Cutting Board
Passover Scene Cutting Board

Compugraph Designs' Printfection Store (Jewish Holidays)

In addition to our Cafe Press and Zazzle sites (see modules above), we also have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.

This cutting board is only one of several Jewish holiday themed items at our store:

Compugraphd Printfection site

(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)

Compugraph Designs Page on Printpop

I just discovered Printpop -- check out my entire portfolio or click on the graphic to see just this product (called "Dodi Li"). Check back periodically as new designs are uploaded.

Compugraph Designs Art Now Site

"Art Now" is another "Print on Demand" site. They have a nice collection of clocks and watches, including the one pictured here. Click on the picture to see the entire site.

Did this lens help you with Hebrew?

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    • compugraphd profile image
      Author

      compugraphd 21 months ago

      Ad@NorDac LM: I shoud have added that the difference is largely grammatical, influencing accents and other grammatical markings.

    • compugraphd profile image
      Author

      compugraphd 5 years ago

      @NorDac LM: B"H

      There is a slight difference in the pronunciation (and, for Ashkenazic pronunciation there is a big difference), but for beginners, it's easier to make them the same. I don't make up the vowels; they are part of the words (as established thousands of years ago). In Israel, they rarely use vowels (there is a newspaper called "Sha'ar L'Mathil" -- the gate for the beginner -- which is a newspaper for people learning Hebrew -- which prints with vowels), but for beginners they are a necessity.

    • NorDac LM profile image

      NorDac LM 5 years ago

      I'm going to have to try again when I have a little more time. Pretty interesting though. In your vowel section you had two letters that sound like ah. Was that intentional (different reasons to use one or the other) or a typo?

    • PastorCher profile image

      Pastor Cher 5 years ago from United States

      Found your name on another person's lens and had to come by. I admit, my Hebrew isn't very good, but I'm working at it. I will come visit again. Thanks.

    • GetFactsnotHype profile image

      GetFactsnotHype 6 years ago

      Ooh I made a mistake, The title is Hellfire and Damnation, but the page URL is https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/christian

      That's the 5th one in the series, and that's where I discuss the Hebrew word Sheol and Geh Hinnom, WHICH is also where I added this lens of yours to the related lenses (on the side) under the discovery tool. My previous remark about where the page was located was in error.

      Thanks for visiting my christian myth number 2 though ! !

    • GetFactsnotHype profile image

      GetFactsnotHype 6 years ago

      I added this lens of yours to related lenses in the discovery toolbar in my christian myths and misnomers (5th installment in the series).

      There I discuss the Hebrew word "sheol" or She'ohl. Sorry I do not have a Hebrew keyboard, but did the best I could.

      I also discuss Geh Hinnom or the Valley of Hinnom.

      It's located at http://www.squidoo.com/hellfire-and-damnation