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A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew

A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew provides a clearly structured


and accessible guide to all aspects of contemporary Hebrew grammar.
Systematically organized, it presents the basic structures of the
language, looking at grammatical categories, phrases, expressions, and
the construction of clauses and sentences. Drawing on their extensive
experience of teaching Hebrew to English-speaking students, the
authors also provide a wide range of examples to illustrate each point,
and introduce in a clear and accessible way the writing and
pronunciation of the language, its punctuation rules, and its use in
context. Wherever possible, equivalent Hebrew terminology is given to
facilitate students use of Hebrew language textbooks. Specialized
linguistic terminology is kept to a minimum, and verb and noun tables
are provided as well as a comprehensive index of terms, making this
both a useful teaching resource and an easy-to-use reference tool for
those wishing to look up specific details of the language.
rbN: :xir corriN is Professor Emerita of Hebrew Language and
Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, specializing in the
areas of Hebrew language and literature and in the methodology of
teaching. Her previous books include Lessons in Modern Hebrew
(Level I 1977; Level II 1978), and Encounters in Modern Hebrew,
volumes 1--3 (1992--6). She has published articles on a variety of topics
in Hebrew language and literature.
snxiri is a Professor of Hebrew at the University of
Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in Hebrew linguistics. He coordi-
nates the Hebrew program there and teaches Hebrew at all levels. He
is the author of Measuring Productivity in Word-Formation: The
Case of Israeli Hebrew (1999) and 501 Hebrew Verbs (1996). He
has published a number of chapters in books, mostly on Hebrew and
Semitic languages, as well as articles in a broad range of journals.
n oiozi.
Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org
Cambridge University Press
0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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A Reference Grammar
of Modern Hebrew
EDNA AMIR COFFIN
Professor Emerita of Hebrew Language and Literature
Department of Near Eastern Studies
University of Michigan
SHMUEL BOLOZKY
Professor of Hebrew
Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies
University of Massachusetts
Cambridge University Press www.cambridge.org
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0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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iiniisnrb n. 1nr irrss s.Nbic:1r or 1nr iNivrrsi1. or c:xnribcr
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom
c:xnribcr iNivrrsi1. irrss
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia
Ruiz de Alarcn, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Dock House, The waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa
http://www.cambridge.org
Edna Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky 2005
This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproductionof any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2005
Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge
Typeset by authors
A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 0 521 820332 hardback
ISBN 0 521 527333 paperback
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0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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For Leah, Jonah, Rachel, Aaron and Harlan
For Michal and Noa
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Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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CONTENTS
Preface xiii

Chapter 1 Preliminary discussion nu~n 1
1.1 Parts of speech a+ p:n 1
1.2 Grammatical functions sp:5 p+p+ 3
1.3 Words and patterns u:c u:ac 4
1.4 Gender and number 5uc ,c 7
1.5 Open and closed word
classes
n5 u:c sap
xu
7
1.6 Phrase constituents u5s a5 12
1.7 Rules of agreement ncn ::5 13

Chapter 2 Writing and pronunciation nxn: ana 16
2.1 Introduction ac 16
2.2 Consonants and
corresponding sounds
unu uxnn usv
uxsc
17
2.3 The Hebrew vowel system ava v:n 5vc 21
2.4 Texts with and without
vowels
:cu :a uv uoupo
v:
23
2.5 Diacritic marks other than
vowels
u:u ,nan :cu
v:
25
2.6 Syllables an 27
2.7 Stress patterns ncvon :a 28
2.8 Dialectal variation in
consonant articulation
xna op:+ :u
usv
31

Chapter 3 The verb system >v:on navu 33
3.1 Introduction: verb
components
ac : :v5n a5 33
3.2 Citation forms ::c s 34
3.3 Verb tenses :v5n :c\ 35
3.4 Historical notes: Biblical
tenses and aspects
oun vn : u:c\
:v5a uop5u
40
3.5 Moods and verbal nouns n:v5 cu uu+c 44
3.6 Verb pattern groups u::a 47
3.7 Verb categorization u:v5 xu 51
3.8 With and without linking verbs :v5 :a uv
\v
52
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Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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3.9 Verbs with obligatory prepositions :c u:v5
5sc un
53
3.10 Active, stative and
inchoative verbs
uaop u:v5 , :v5
asc :u asc
54

Chapter 4 Verb pattern groups n:tx: o::a 56
4.1 Verb pattern: pa`al :a :_ v 5 , ) :p ( 56
4.2 Verb pattern: nif`al :_ v 5 : ,:a 71
4.3 Verb pattern: pi`el : v 5 ,:a ) :v5 ( 81
4.4 Verb pattern: pu`al :_ v 5 ,:a ) :v5 ( 90
4.5 Verb pattern: hitpa`el : v_ 5 n ,:a 97
4.6 Verb pattern: hif`il : v 5 n ,:a 108
4.7 Verb pattern: huf`al :_ v 5 n ,:a ) :v5n ( 119

Chapter 5 The noun system oon navu 125
5.1 Introduction to the noun system ac 5vc:
uun
125
5.2 Indefinite and definite
noun forms
u:u uv+c cu
uv+c
131
5.3 Gender features ,cn :5 132
5.4 Number features 5ucn :5 137
5.5 Noun patterns :cu :a 139
5.6 Nouns derived from verbs u:v5c u\x cu 143
5.7 Noun patterns associated
with semantic features
:va uu :a
o:cu :5
147
5.8 Significant patterns with
no semantic association
upn :: uu :a
o:cu
153
5.9 Acronyms u:po: 155

Chapter 6 Pronouns o::a 158
6.1 Forms of personal pronouns u:5n xu 158
6.2 Independent subject
pronouns
u+5 jx :5 160
6.3 Pronoun suffixes and
prefixes in verbs and in
existential expressions
uan u:5 ) :n
5u ( :v5a
up oaa
164
6.4 Pronouns suffixed to nouns
and prepositions
5u5 uan u:5
un :c: uu:
168
viii Contents
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Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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Contents ix
6.5 Demonstrative pronouns \c :5 170
6.6 Interrogative and relative
pronouns
np\ :5 n:u :5 173
6.7 Impersonal pronouns ucu u:5 164

Chapter 7 Numerals oovu 177
7.1 Free counting n5u 177
7.2 Cardinal numbers u:c u5uc ) u+u ( 182
7.3 Noun phrases with
cardinal numbers
u u5s uv u:c
u:c u5uc
183
7.4 Ordinal numbers u+u u5uc
) u+u (
187
7.5 Fractions uau 188
7.6 Multiplication values u:55 189
7.7 Numeric value of letters :u 5ucn vn

190
7.8 Phrases: days of the week,
dates, telling time, age
5s u : c
vaun , u5 ,
vu , :x
191

Chapter 8 Adjectives :n n:uo ) oon :n ( 194
8.1 Introduction: forming
adjectives
ac : cu s

194
8.2 Comparative and
superlative adjectives
nun :u u
,
195
8.3 Forming adjectives by
adding suffix i
:v cu s -
5u +
197
8.4 Nouns and adjectives of
affiliation
u:scn u cu
5u
sap / cpc
198
8.5 Participles that function as
adjectives
+p5cn ::a s
u5
202
8.6 Special patterns +nc :a 204

Chapter 9 Adverbs and adverbial
expressions
o:x: >v:on :n
:n
209
9.1 Introduction ac 209
9.2 Adverbs grouped according
to form
5 :v u xu
us
209

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0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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Contents x
9.3 Adverbs grouped according
to function
5 :v u xu
un+p5
213
9.4 Adverbs and degree words :c u
n+c
214
9.5 Sentential adverbs o5uc 218

Chapter 10 Particles n:>u 225
10.1 Introduction ac 225
10.2 The particle et before
definite direct objects
:cn " " :5:
uv+c u:cu u5s
:u un ucn
225
10.3 Prepositions: prefixes,
independent prepositions
un :c : :n ,
+5 un :c
228
10.4 Prepositions or adverbs? :v5 un :c ? 244
10.5 Coordinating and
correlative conjunctions
up :c 246
10.6 Subordinators +avu :c 248
10.7 Exclamation particles and
expressions
oa np :c
np
250

Chapter 11 Noun phrases o:uo oo:x 252
11.1 Introduction to noun phrases ac u5s:
u:cu
252
11.2 Noun phrase: noun +
adjective
:cu js : usv uu +
uu
253
11.3 Comparative and
superlative adjectives
nx:5n , 257
11.4 Apposition noun phrases nc 5s 260
11.5 Construct phrases 5cu 5s 261
11.6 Phrases of possession ,:p 5s 275
11.7 Phrases with
demonstrative pronouns
\c :5 uv u5s 277
11.8 Prepositional phrases un 5s 281
11.9 Numerical and quantifier
phrases
c5 5uc 5s 281
11.10 Noun phrases with
determiners
:c uv u:cu u5s
+xc
283
11.11 Gerunds and infinitives in
noun phrases
:v5 cu n:v5 cu
u:cu u5sa
287

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0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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Contents xi
Chapter 12 Verb phrases o>v:o oo:x 288
12.1 Introduction to verb
phrases
ac u:v5 u5s: 288
12.2 Verb phrases: verbs and
objects
u:v5 u5s : u:v5
uuc
288
12.3 Compound verb phrases 5s ua5c u:v5 u 291
12.4 Grouping verbs by
semantic considerations
u5s :u o:cu xu
u:v5
297
12.5 Modal verbs u:+c u:v5 298
12.6 Habitual aspect phrases op5u 5s ) ? :xn ( 298
12.7 Subjunctive and
possibility phrases
: 5s , uc n:
u5
299

Chapter 13 Modal verbs and
expressions
o>~:u o:oa: o>vo 300
13.1 Introduction to modality :+c: ac 300
13.2 Modal verb phrases u:+c u:v5 u5s 301
13.3 Impersonal modal
expressions
ucu u:+c uoa 305
13.4 Temporal aspects in
modality
:+ca ,c\n op5u 306
13.5 Modality expressed by
phrases with nn
uv uoaa :+c
' nn '
311

Chapter 14 Clauses and sentences oooou: n::vo 314
14.1 Introduction ac 314
14.2 Verbal sentences 5 uo5uc u:v 316
14.3 Nominal sentences u:cu uo5uc 318
14.4 Equational sentences n\ o5uc 318
14.5 Existential sentences up o5uc 323
14.6 Sentences of possession ,:p o5uc 324
14.7 Elliptical sentences uun uo5uc 330
14.8 Classification of
sentences by function
5 :v uo5uc xu
u+p5
332
14.9 Sentence classification by
structure
u:ac 5 :v uo5uc xu 334
14.10 Simple sentences uou5 uo5uc 335
14.11 Coordinate/compound
sentences
unc uo5uc
) uanc (
337

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Contents xii
14.12 Complex sentences o5uc ua5c u 338
14.13 Complement clauses c:uc pu5 340
14.14 Attributive clauses : pu5 344
14.15 Relative clauses np\ pu5 345
14.16 Adverbial clauses :a+ pu5 349
14.17 Conditional sentences : o5uc 357
14.18 Integrated sentences ua:uc uo5uc 337

Chapter 15 Language in context ona ;:o> 364
15.1 Introduction ac 364
15.2 Sentence or utterance? vac o5uc ? 365
15.3 Topic and comment v+c u: 366
15.4 Focus and topic +pc u: 369
15.5 Deixis reference to
person, time and place
jx: unn n\c ,
upc: ,c\:
369
15.6 Reported speech direct
and indirect
uc: a+ : jpv u 373
15.7 Language registers ,u: a:uc 377
15.8 Genres of text oupo :u xu 381
15.9 Cohesion and coherence
of text
+5: up 382
15.10 Language in context:
sample texts
upna ,u: : cx+ 384

Appendices onov: 390
Appendix 1 Verb tables u:v5 o: n: 390
Appendix 2 Noun tables cu o: n: 416
Appendix 3 Particle tables :c n: 425
Appendix 4 Punctuation rules pu5n ::5 428
Appendix 5 Plene writing :c a5 436

Index of grammatical topics up+: up+p+ uu: 438


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0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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Preface

The main purpose of this book is to serve as a reference grammar for
Modern Hebrew. It is designed to teach about the language and to give
readers a reference tool for looking up specific details of the language.
The intended audience is a varied one; it includes non-native speakers
who are students of Hebrew, native speakers of Hebrew who seek a
comprehensive coverage of Hebrew grammar, instructors and teachers
of Hebrew, students and scholars of Biblical Hebrew who would like to
have a better understanding of contemporary Hebrew, students of
linguistics, and the general public interested in Hebrew language and
culture. Particular care was taken to make the presentation as simple as
possible, and to avoid use of excessive linguistic terminology or
complex linguistic analyses, in order to make this volume as accessible
as possible to everyone, and to give pedagogical considerations equal
weight to those of linguistic explanations and analysis.

The book is based on the study of formal Hebrew and of Hebrew as a
spoken language, and it includes some historical notes on pre-modern
Hebrew (Biblical and Post-Biblical). We consider the Hebrew language
both as a system and as a communicative tool. Whenever possible,
equivalent Hebrew terminology is given in order to facilitate use of
Hebrew grammar and language textbooks.

A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew combines modern and
traditional approaches in the description of language structures and
uses. The term normative is used to convey the adherence to the
formal rules of grammar, while common use alludes to the rules
applied by educated speakers in their daily use. While most speakers
perceive correct Hebrew to be the language usage as prescribed by the
formal rules of Hebrew, in fact their own actual language usage,
particularly in informal contexts, often departs somewhat from the
normative rules. The language is thus described both in its written and
more formal contexts, and in the spoken conversational mode, where
there is a relaxation of some of the normative rules, as is common to all
languages in use.

The formal presentation of rules and tables associated with language
structures uses Hebrew texts with vowels, un a5 ktiv aser, while

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0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
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Preface xiv
the examples, on the whole, use :c a5 ktiv mal, without vowels, as
in daily use in contemporary Hebrew adult texts.

A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew is organized according to
universal structural categories. The book describes the basic structures
of Modern Hebrew, and provides a generous number of examples,
based on the authors experience of teaching Hebrew to English-
speaking students, and research work in the field of Hebrew linguistics.

We wish to acknowledge our colleague Robert Hoberman, Professor of
Linguistics at the State University of New York Stony Brook, whose
feedback comments were very insightful and helpful from both
linguistic and pedagogical aspects. We also wish to acknowledge Liz
Brater, who as a student of Hebrew gave us much needed insight into
learners needs, and as a professional editor, helped us with organizing
the text. We are particularly thankful to her, since she found time
during her busy schedule as a Michigan State Senator, to do careful
reading of large parts of the text. In addition, we thank Neta Bolozky
and Tris Coffin for their steady support during the writing of the book.
We also wish to express our gratitude to Cambridge University Press
for the opportunity to write and publish this work.


June 2004


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0521820332 - A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew
Edna Amir Coffin and Shmuel Bolozky
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