Biblical Hebrew: 04. Pronouns and suffixes
In this lesson, you will learn about another important part of speech: pronouns. Next, you will get acquainted with Hebrew suffixes. This lesson will be especially about learning vocabulary and a few notes about a particular phenomenon.
Learning pronouns in Hebrew is quite easy. All you need to learn are the words themselves. Therefore, in this section, we will list all of the Hebrew pronouns beginning with the most important and make just a few observations.
You do not have to memorize all the words right now. Rather learn them gradually using particular exercises. This list here is especially meant as an overview in order for you to know what kind of pronoun forms are present in the Hebrew language.
If the personal pronoun is in relation with a verb we need to realize that the information about a person is already conveyed by the verb itself. Therefore, such explicit usage of the personal pronoun might suggest emphasis or other designation (boasting, contrast, etc.).
Note that plural forms of the second and third persons end with ם (“m”) for masculine and ן (“n”) for feminine. This is characteristic for all Hebrew.
Demonstrative pronouns are always positioned after nouns and function like adjectives (e.g. they will both share the article).
Demonstrative pronouns of far (that) are the same as the personals. Because of the adjectival function, we are able to tell that their meaning is demonstrative rather than personal.
Interrogative pronouns are these:
Here we need to make some notes on the usage:
- מִי: can be combined with a preposition together forming one word where interrogative pronoun always being the latter part (e.g. normal usage מִ֤י יְהוָה “who is the Lord?”; with preposition לְמִי “to whom?”)
- מָה: e.g. מַה־שְּׁמֹ֔ו “what is his name?”
- הֲ: is always prefixed to the first word of a question (e.g. הֲלֹ֥א אָנֹכִ֖י יְהוָֽה “whether not I, the Lord?”)
Sometimes it might not be easy to recognize interrogative pronoun if not standing alone but when you become more experienced with Hebrew you will discern it.
Pronominal suffixes are magical forms that will make easier your learning and recognition of various Hebrew forms. At first they may look scary, however, when you get used to them, you will appreciate their function.
Suffixes can be used in connection with nouns, verbs, and prepositions. We connect them at the end of a word. This will, of course, affect vocalization of the word. Now we will discuss only nouns (the other cases later in the course).
|הּ ָָ||וֹ||ן ָ||ם ָ||תָהּ ַ||תוֹ ַ||תָן ַ||תָם ַ|
|ךְ ֵ||ךָ ְ||כֶן ֵ||כֶם ֵ||תֵךְ ַ||תֵךָ ַ||תְכֶן ַ||תְכֶם ַ|
|י ִ||נוּ ֵ||תִי ַ||תֵנוּ ַ|
|יהָ ֵ||יוָ||יהֶן ֵ||יהֶם ֵ||וֹתֵיהָ||וֹתֵיו||וֹתֵיהֶן||וֹתֵיהֶם|
|יִךְ ַ||יךָ ֶ||יכֶן ֵ||יכֶם ֵ||וֹתַיִךְ||וֹתֵיךָ||וֹתֵיכֶן||וֹתֵיכֶם|
|י ַ||ינוּ ֵ||וֹתַי||וֹתֵינוּ|
As you might have noticed when we looked at personal pronouns we only had the nominative case but how should we designate other cases like dative (e.g. to me)? Here come suffixes.
The primary usage of pronominal suffixes together with nouns is to denote possession. If we want to say something like “my word” we use the suffix for the first person singular:
This is similar to the way of the composition of nouns taking different endings and change in vocalization.
As you might have noticed there are two sets suffixes one being singular the other plural. The singular set is used for the nouns in singular form, the second to the plural form. The form of the noun used will always be the construct state since it is yet to be “constructed”.
Personal Pronouns in Accusative
To express accusative in Hebrew we normally use the word אֵת before a particular word. However, in the case of pronouns, we use this general word as the base to which we connect pronominal suffixes. It goes like this (notice holem above א):
Here is the table of final forms for the accusative of personal pronouns:
The pronominal suffixes are also used to express the reflexive meaning, e.g. לוֹ “to himself” using preposition לְ and suffix וֹ.