Hebrew Basics #4: Verbs, pt. 2 - הִפְעִיל & הֻפְעַל
In lesson 3 you learned basic verb morphology, as well as the two common verb stems פָּעַל and נִפְעַל.
This time we’re going to look at another pair of verb stems - הִפְעִיל and הֻפְעַל.
As you remember from last lesson, each verb stem has a unique meaning it contributes to each verb. These two stems are no exception.
הִפְעִיל carries a causative meaning - a הִפְעִיל verb usually carries the connotation of a subject causing an object to be or act a certain way. For example:
אָכַלakhal ‘to eat’ - הֶאֱכִילhe’ekhil ‘to feed (to cause to eat)’ גָּדַלgadal‘to grow, to be big’ - הִגְדִּילhigdil ‘to enlarge (to cause to be big)’ כָּתַב katav ‘to write’ - הִכְתִּיב hikhtiv ‘to dictate (to cause to write)’
Note that not all verbs can be converted into a causative form with this stem. While you can make someone eat using one word הֶאֱכִיל, you cant make someone save something by using the verb *הִשְׁמִיר - it just doesn’t exist in the language. For this there is a different auxiliary verb you’ll learn more about in upcoming lessons.
As well as constructing causative verbs, הפעיל also conveys the meaning of change , often expressed in English with the verb ‘to become.’ This is most commonly used with colors:
אָדֹם ‘adom ‘red’ - הֶאֱדִיםhe’edim ‘to become red, to redden’ צָהֹבtsahov ‘yellow’ - הִצְהִיב hitshiv to become yellow’ כָחֹל kachol ‘blue’ - הִכְחִיל hikhchil1 / hikchil ‘to become blue’ שָׁחֹרshachor‘black’- הִשְׁחִיר2 hishchir ‘to become black, to blacken’ אָפֹר ‘afor ‘gray’ - הֶאֱפִירhe’efir ‘to become gray’ לָבָןlavan ‘white’ - הִלְבִּין2 hilbin ‘to become white, to whiten’
Please note that this cannot be done with all colors: כָּתֹם katom ‘orange’, סָגֹל sagol ‘purple’ and וָרֹד varod ‘pink’ do not have a corresponding הפעיל form, while the form for יָרֹק yarok ‘green,’ הוֹרִיק horik, is especially rare.
But can also be used with other adjectives and words:
חָשׁוּךְchashukh ‘dark’ - הִחְשִׁיךְ2hichshikh ‘to become dark, to darken’ בָּהִירbahir ‘light, bright’ - הִבְהִיר2hivhir ‘to become light/bright, to lighten/brighten’ זָקֵןzaqen ‘old’ - הִזְקִיןhizqin ‘to grow old’ סֹמֶק someq ‘blush (n.)’ - הִסְמִיקhismiq ‘to blush’
1. The pronunciation hikhchil uses a double kh consonant, which is pretty hard to pronounce. Therefore it is more commonly pronounced hikchil. This is common with most words whose roots contain a כ-ח cluster.
2. Verbs marked with a 2 also carry the causative meaning ‘to cause to be black/white/dark/bright.’
הֻפְעַל is the passive counterpart to הִפְעִיל, and unlike נִפְעַל which you learned about last lesson, this is its only role. Yay! some simplicity, finally.
הֶאֱכִילhe’ekhil ‘to feed’ - הָאֳכַל ho’okhal / hu’akhal* ‘to be fed’ הִגְדִּילhigdil ‘to enlarge’ - הֻגְדַלhudgal ‘to be enlarged’ הִכְתִּיב hikhtiv ‘to dictate’ - הֻכְתַּב hukhtav ‘to be dictated’ הִשְׁחִיר hishchir ‘o blacken’ - הֻשְׁחַר hushchar ‘to be blackened’ הִלְבִּין hilbin ‘to whiten’ - הֻלְבַּן hulban ‘to be whitened’
* ho’okhalis the prescribed pronunciation, but is pretty uncommon - hu’akhal i far more common in everyday, as well as in formal speech.
Keep in mind that the passive mood is fairly uncommon in speech, as with most languages these days. It is more natural to express a given situation using an active verb than a passive verb.
You might have noticed הֶאֱכִיל ‘to feed’ and הָאֳכַל‘to be fed’ have a weird pronunciation. The reason for this is that א is a guttural letter. Originally the verbs should be pronounced *הִאְכִיל hi’khil and *הֻאְכַל *hu’khal, but this is difficult to pronounce. You should be familiar with this phenomenon from last lesson. It happens with other verb stems too, but is especially prevalent in הִפְעִיל and הֻפְעַל because of their prefixes. In general it goes as follows:
The last row is usually pronounced
/ םֻהֲ־-u’a- /-u’a- / -uha- in speech.
The first row corresponds to the הִפְעִיל past prefix and the נִפְעַל past and present prefixes (נִ־; הִ־), the second to הִפְעִיל present and future prefixes (נַ־, תַּ־, יַ־ ,אַ־; מַ־) and the last to all הֻפְעַל prefixes (הֻ־, נֻ־ ,תֻּ־, יֻ־, אֻ־, מֻ־).
As far as I know, this only happens to א, ה, ע. The other gutturals, ר, ח, take a shva like any other letter and verb prefixes preceding them stay the same.
Furthermore, situations where it would be very plausible to use passive verbs in English might not be the same in Hebrew. For instance, if you work at a petting zoo and your supervisor asks whether or not the goats were fed, in English you could say “The goats were fed an hour ago.” However, this isn’t quite the case for Hebrew. Instead of saying:
הָעִזִּים הָאֳכְלוּ לִפְנֵי שָׁעָה. - The goats were fed an hour ago.
It would more commonly be said as:
הֶאֱכִילוּ אֵת הָעִזִּים לִפְנֵי שָׁעָה. - (They) Fed the goats an hour ago.
Although the subject of the sentence (they) can be deduced solely through the conjugation of the verb, it is effectively omitted. Thus it is made irrelevant to the sentence. This is the same effect using a passive verb would convey, since it does not require stating the subject either. Using the 3rd person plural conjugation of the verb doesn’t necessarily mean some group of men did the action: it could be women, a single person, or even a non-human subject. In effect, they acts as a dummy subject, only there to fill in the blank because the language doesn’t allow a sentence without a subject.
The vague they is a very common construction in Hebrew, used when the subject is irrelevant to the sentence and the speaker wishes to emphasize the action itself, rather than the subject.
Now it’s time for your favorite part - conjugating!
The principles of verb conjugation are the same regardless of verb stem. However, each stem as some weird phenomena that require me to teach each one separately.
The first four rows are irregular to the conjugation, but you will see similar phenomena in the future. The stressed /i/ changes into an /a/ in some conjugations: הֶאֱכִיל > הֶאֱכַלְתֶּי he’ekhil > he’ekhalti, הֶאֱדִים > הֶאֱדַמֱתֶּם he’edim > he’edamtem. I did some research and apparently this change has no clear explanation, so take it as it is.
The forms marked with an asterisk are irregular and you should no why from last lesson. Here’s a reminder: Stress moves to suffix, 2nd radical letter gets reduced to a shva and since
פ־ע־ל has a guttural ע it can’t take the shva, so it morphs to a /a/, marked as םֲ. Again, the right hand pronunciation is the general case, the left hand is the specific pronunciation for roots who have a guttural 2nd radical letter.
Yay! That’s it for this time.
I don’t think practice is really necessary here, so I won’t include any this time. Probably will next lesson.
“Tylko nikczemne i złośliwe indywidua lub absolutni głupcy mogą porównywać nacjonalizm polski z charakterystycznym nacjonalizmem niemieckim lub czarnosecinnym rosyjskim. Nacjonalizm polski nie tuczył się nigdy cudza krwią i łzami, nie smagal dzieci w szkołach, nie stawiał pomników katom. Zrodził się z bólu, największej tragedii dziejowej. Przelewał krew na rodzinnych i na wszystkich innych polach bitew, gdzie tylko chodziło o wolność.”
- Henryk Sienkiewicz
“Only despicable and malicious individuals or absolute fools can compare Polish nationalism to the characteristic German nationalism or the black-hundredist* Russian nationalism. Polish nationalism never fed itself with another’s blood and tears, did not whip children in schools, did not build statues for murderers. It was born out of pain, historical tragedy. It shed blood on its own and on all foreign battlefields, where the cause was freedom alone.”
- Henryk Sienkiewicz
The Black Hundreds, anultra-nationalist, extremist Russocentric movement in the early 20th century.
A doodle of one of my characters, Katome. He is the best sassy fire demon dude there ever was. He’ll be showing up whenever I get my collaboration project with Laur off the ground, but that probably won’t be for another couple of years.