Can you write a post explaining German cases please?
If they could be explained in one post, i’m sure we’d all have less problems lmao but i’ll try!
1. What cases are there?
German has four cases: Nominativ, Genitiv, Dativ und Akkusativ. (for any Latin nerds: Same as in Latin minus Ablative and Vocative.)
2. Why are they necessary?
Well, for once, you’ll need them if you want native speakers to understand what you’re saying. But let’s go a little deeper and compare German to English:
In English, the meaning depends on the sentence structure. “The man bit the dog” and “The dog bit the man” have very different meanings even though both sentences use the same words - that’s because of the typical SVO-order. In English, the subject generally comes first, then some kind of verb, then the object (there are more difficult cases of course, but let’s not go into that rn). English has very little morphology, meaning that nouns/pronouns/determiners don’t inflect (a lot) depending on the case they’re in.
In German, you can switch stuff around until you’re dizzy. “Der Hund biss den Mann” and “Den Mann biss der Hund” both mean the same, because “den” indicates that “Mann” is in the Akkusativ, thus he’s the one being bitten, no matter where you put him in the sentence. The case morphology allows a freer sentence order without leading to possible misunderstandings.
3. So how do I know which case I need?
This is the moment where it gets more complicated. You can associate the following questions with each case:
Nominativ = Wer oder was? (Who?. The subject of a sentence is always in the nominative case.)
Genitiv = Wessen? (Whose?. Typically describes possession or comes as a rule after certain prepositions like “wegen” or verbs like “gedenken”.)
Okay, we can deal with that. Now on to the more difficult stuff:
Dativ = Wem?
Akkusativ = Wen oder was?
To understand this, some knowledge of grammar is definitely an advantage. Consider the following sentences:
I have a book. = Ich habe ein Buch.
This is all well and nice. Subject (NOM), Verb, Object (AKK).
In English, you would call “a book” a direct object because the verb “to have” is transitive, meaning it carries one object. “I have.” isn’t generally a full sentence and is expected to be followed by an object.
So apparently all our problems are solved with the Akkusativ/direct object. What now?
I give you a book. = Ich gebe dir ein Buch.
This is the critical moment. Subject (NOM), Verb, Object (DAT), Object (AKK).
Suddenly we have two objects because the verb “to give” makes us expect information about what we’re giving (direct object, AKK) and to whom we’re giving it (indirect object, DAT).
Such verbs are called ditransitive, meaning they can carry two objects. Just saying “I give.” leaves us wondering what you’re talking about because we’re missing key information.
English, as explained above, solves this with sentence order by making the indirect object come first or by indicating it with “to” (“I give a book to you”). German solves it with inflection, putting the indirect object in a different case.
That’s why things like “Ein Buch gebe ich dir” and “Dir gebe ich ein Buch” are both possible in German.
There are also intransitive verbs which carry either no object at all or just a dative object (“Ich antworte ihm”).
4. How do I know which verbs carry which object(s)?
This list will save you. At some point (once you’ve gotten to a certain level in German), you’ll have a gut feeling about which object(s) to use just from experience. Give it some time!
5. What about determiners and pronouns?
I actually think this is less work because it’s one table of endings each, and once you’ve got that down you should be fine.
side note: As a native speaker and language nerd who loves grammar, it’s hard for me to judge if this was helpful or just confusing as hell. I hope I still answered your question to some extent! If you need more help or have problems with a specific sentence, let me know and i’ll try my best! :)
Hyphens (-) in French can be a pain, especially when it comes to
nouns and pronouns. So here’s how to know if you need a hyphen:
1. For the word non
Non means no in
French, but it can also have the same meaning as non in English (e.g.:
nonhuman, nontoxic, etc.). Unlike in English, though, non is separate from the word it describes. However, it only takes
a hyphen if the word following it is a noun:
e.g.: Une non-intervention (a non-intervention)
If the word following it is an adjective, there is no
e.g.: Non solvable (non solvable)
2. For the words même,
ci, and là
Always takes a hyphen:
e.g.: Moi-même (myself), ces jours-ci (these days), ces
gens-là (those people)
3. For pronouns placed after the verb
Always takes a hyphen; if there is a t between the verb (as is the case when the verb preceeding il or elle does not end with a t),
there is a hyphen before and after the t.
e.g.: Le faut-il
(is it needed), le verrons-nous (will
we see him), l’oublie-t-elle (did she
4. For the word saint
The word saint is
a bit special, as it only takes a hyphen when not referring to the saint himself. So for example, if a street,
building, or monument is named after a saint (an extremely common occurrence in
Quebec), then the words are hyphenated.
e.g: Saint Jean
Sainte-Catherine (Saint Catherine Street)
I hope this was helpful! Don’t hesitate to let me know if
you didn’t understand something :)
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Episode 21 Word Bank
We finally have our Work Bank.
The word bank is not an index, or a glossary. Instead, it’s a selection of words that we consider worth learning, or at least putting somewhere in one’s mind.
As you’re aware, every single word in the episode is defined. So this is something more for the hardcore studiers.
You’ll find the word in Japanese script, the Romaji in parentheses (), the definition, and then the Part of the runthrough where this word can be found in brackets . It may not be the first time it appears, but it will be there.
は (wa) — topical particle
って (tte) — casual topical particle
が (ga) — nominative particle
に (ni) — dative particle
へ (he) — locative particle
の (no) — genitive particle
で (de) — instrumental particle
を (wo) — accusative particle
と (to) — quotative particle
って (tte) — casual quotative particle
と (to) — comitative particle
も (mo) — secondary particle, meaning “too” or “even”
さ (sa) — emphatic secondary particle
の/ん (no/n) — substantivizing suffix
し (shi) — conjunctival suffix, marking an item in a non-exhaustive list
The Russian Accusative Case for Pronouns and Singular Nouns
Note: for any listed examples, the first sentence uses the nominative case and the second sentence displays the accusative case.
The accusative case in Russian answers the questions “Что?” and “Кого?” It is used to denote the object of a verb. In English, we see this in the sentence “He likes him.” We don’t use ‘he,’ but rather ‘him.’ However, in the sentence, “He is in love with the boy,” we do not modify the object ‘the boy.’ In Russian, however, it is not just pronouns that change. It should be noted that the accusative case is also used with ‘в’ and ‘на’ when they indicate direction.
Inanimate Masculine Accusative Singular Nouns:
Luckily for Russian learners, inanimate masculine nouns do NOT change in the Russian accusative case.
Example: Бизнес трудный прeдмет. Я изучаю бизнес.
Animate Masculine Accusative Singular Nouns:
If an animate masculine noun ends in a consonant, just add an “a.”
If an animate masculine noun ends in “й” or “ь,” simply replace it with “я.”
Example: Он мой брат. Я люблю моего братА.
Example: Его зовут Николай. Я люблю НиколаЯ.
Feminine Accusative Singular Nouns:
If an animate feminine noun ends in “а,” replace it with “у.”
If an animate feminine noun ends in “я,” replace it with “ю.”
If an animate feminine noun ends in “ь,” it stays the same.
Example: Это моя мама. Я люблю мою мамУ.
Example: Моя специальность - история. Я изучаю историЮ.
Example: Это моя мать. Я люблю мою мать.
Neuter Accusative Singular Nouns:
As with inanimate masculine nouns, neuter nouns do NOT change in the Russian accusative case.
I’ve been meaning to make this post for months, but here it is. When I started learning Russian four years ago there weren’t many apps out there, but now the app market is bigger and there are some great apps. Here is what I recommend and like.
Thoughts: If you are at an intermediate level or above and want to know more about Russian idioms, this is for you. There are cute drawings that illustrate the idioms with the translation and definition.
This is my favorite app on this list. It has over 1000 verbs and
conjugates them for you, shows you imperfective/perfective forms,
participle forms, you can look up verbs in English or Russian, and has a
Thoughts: If you are struggling with case endings or need some practice, this app is perfect for that. It presents nouns, adjectives and pronouns like a quiz and you have to either choose the correct declension based on what it asks you or you can type it out if you want a harder challenge.
Distinguishing between ‘das’ and 'dass’ is one of the hardest challenges when learning German, and it’s hard even for us native speakers! It’s especially difficult for learners whose native language is English in my opinion, because both usually simply mean 'that’. However, not exactly the same kind of 'that’. In this post I’ll try to show you how to distinguish these two by showing you what I usually do when having to choose between 'das’ and 'dass’.
“Das Haus ist gross” “Er geht, das Mädchen folgt ihm”
In these cases, 'das’ is used as an article, however, it can seem a bit tricky after a comma. But when you can match the 'das’ as an article to a noun, always write it with one s.
“Das ist gar nicht gut” “Sie sagte, das sei normal”
In these cases, 'das’ is a pronoun and the subject of a sentence, so 'das’ can replace a noun and acts on its own. You can always check whether it is a demonstrative pronoun by asking (let’s take the first sentence as an example) “wer/was ist gar nicht gut?” “DAS ist gar nicht gut”. This one is the hardest to spot for me actually but after a while (and after refreshing German pronouns) it gets a lot easier.
“Das Haus, das einen grossen Garten hat” “Das Kind, das den Nachbaren gebissen hat”
Here 'das’ refers to an object/the subject in the previous sentence part, in the examples above to “Das Haus” and “Das Kind”. You can check that by substituting 'das’ by 'welches’ i.e. instead of “Das Kind, das den Nachbarn gebissen hat” “Das Kind, welches den Nachbarn gebissen hat”, if that works then you’re dealing with a relative pronoun which is very similar to the English version: “The child who/that has bitten the neighbour”
“Es geht nicht, dass er sie so behandelt” “Dass du mir nicht vertraust, verletzt mich”
'Dass’ is only used in one instance; to link different parts of sentences, so it’s similar to words like 'und’ and 'oder’ but unlike those to which link two main clauses, 'dass’ always links a main clause with an subordinate clause, so unlike 'das’ it does never depend on a noun. Unlike i.e. a relative pronoun, 'dass’ can be shifted within the sentence as a whole, although it always stands at the beginning of the subordinate clause.
Whenever I need to choose between 'das’ and 'dass’ in an essay or such, I try to first go through all the possibilities including a noun (article, relative pronoun, demonstrative pronoun) and if none of these can be applied, I am only left with 'dass’.
And tada: that’s how I try to not get confused with 'das’ and 'dass’, however, I am sure that there are other methods as well which are super helpful :^)
Attention! I made some mistakes on the original post due to how similar the vowel points look on the HTML editor, hopefully enough people will see this on my blog and see that I’ve fixed them. Sorry :(
As a part of thispost about beginning to learn a language, I’d decided to translate 300 basic words and phrases into Hebrew.
Note: all words will be written in defective spelling (ktiv haser) and with vowel points for ease of pronunciation
A hyphen (מָקָף) indicates the preposition / conjunction is immediately attached to the next word, and a dot underneath the hyphen is a dagesh, a bowel point indicating change in pronunciation of ב, כ, פ from the expected mid-word soft pronunciations (v, kh, f) to the hard ones (b, k ,p, respectively).
Verbs are given in their simplest form: 3rd person, male, past tense. modal verbs are exceptional in Hebrew, so they are given in their most common form.
be - no equivalent. The subject and the complement are simply put one after the other in the case of an adj. (which is conjugated according to number and gender), and connected with a 3rd person pronoun conjugated accordingly in case of a noun complement (הוּא/הִיא; הֵם/הֵן)
there is - יֵשׁ, past הָיה
have - יֵשׁ לְ־
(there is to subj.) past הָיָה לְ־
do - עָשָׂה
go - הָלַךְ
want - רָצָה
can - m יָכוֹל / f יְכוֹלָה
need - m צָרִיךְ / f צְרִיכָה
think - חָשַׁב
know - יָדַע
say - אָמַר, הֵגִיד
like - אָהַב (same as love)
speak - דִּבֶּר
learn - לָמַד
understand - הֵבִין
that (as in “I think that…” or “the woman that…”) - ּשֶׁ־
(i think that…, the woman that… all tenses), הַ־ּ (the woman that… alternative to present tense)
and - וְ־
or - אוֹ
but - אֲבָל
because - in decreasing order of frequency - כִּי, בִּגְלַל שֶׁ־ּ, מִשֹּוּם שֶׁ־ּ, (מִ)כֵּיוָן שֶׁ־ּ, etc.
in decreasing order of frequency - לַמְרוׁת שֶׁ־ּ, עַל אַף שֶׁ־ּ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁ־ּ, etc.
so (meaning “therefore”; e.g. “I wanted it, so I bought it”) - אַז, לָכֵן
if - אִם
When used with pronouns, Hebrew prepositions are always conjugated with a specific ending for each pronoun.
of - של
to - אֵל (direction), לְ־ (all other uses tbh)
from - מִ־ּ
in - ְבְּתוֹך (inside),
at (a place) -
at (a time) -
with - עִם (with a noun), אֵת (with a pronoun, conjugated as ָאִתִּי, אִתְּך, etc.)
about - עַל
like (meaning “similar to”) - כְּמוֹ, כְּ־
for (warning, this one has several meanings that you need to take care of) - בִּשְׁבִיל (intended to)
before (also as a conjunction) - לִפְנֵי/לִפְנֵי
after (also as a conjunction) - אַחֲרֵי/אַחֲרֵי
during - תּוֹךְ כְּדֵי
bonus: direct obj. marker - אֵת (used with a defininte noun, conjugated ָאוֹתִי, אוֹתְך but אֶתְכֶם, אֵֶתְכֶן
who - מִי
what - מָה
where - אֵיפֹה
when - מָתַי
why - לָמָּה
how - אֵיךְ
how much - כַּמָּה
which - אֵיזֶה
a lot - הַרְבֵּה
a little - קְצַת, מְעַט
well - טוֹב
badly - רַע
only - רָק
also - גַּם
very - מְאֹד
too (as in “too tall”) - מִדַּי (lit. (more) than enough)
too much - יוֹתֵר מִדַּי
so (as in “so tall”) - m כָּזֶה, f כָּזֹאת; or כָּל כַּךְ
so much - כָּל כַּךְ
more (know how to say “more … than …”) - יוֹתֵר
less (know how to say “less … than …”) - פַּחוֹת
as … as … (e.g. “as tall as”) - … כְּמוֹ …
comparative (more, -er) -
superlative (most, -est) - הֲכִי
now - עַכְשָׁו, כָּעֵת
then - אַז
here - פֹּה, כָּאן
there - שָׁם
maybe - אוּלַי
always - תָּמִיד
usually - בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלַל
הַרְבֵּה, לְעִתִּים קְרוֹבוֹת
sometimes - לִפְעָמִים, מְדֵּי פַּעַם
never - אַף פַּעַם (used with neg. verb / copula)
today - הַיּוֹם
yesterday - אֱתְמוֹל
tomorrow - מַחַר
soon - תֵּכֶף
almostֹ - כִּמְעַט
already - כְּבָר
still - עָדַיִן
even - אַפִלּוּ, אַף, גַּם
enough - מַסְפִּיק
the, a (technically articles) - הַ־ּ, no indef. article
this - m הַזֶּה, f הַזֹּאת
that - m הַזֶּה, f הַזֹּאת or
m הָהוּא, f הָהִיא
good - טוֹב
bad - רַע
all - כָּל
some - כַּמָּה
no - שׁוּם
any - שׁוּם
many - הַרְבֵּה
few - קְצַת, מְעַט
most - רֹב
other - אַחֵר
same - m אוֹתוֹ
, f אוֹתָה
different - שׁוֹנֶה
enough - מַסְפִּיק
one - m אֶחָד, f אַחַת
two - m שְׁנַיִם, f שְׁתַּיִם
a few - כַּמָּה
first - רִאשׁוֹן
next - הַבַּא (in time), לְיַד, עַל יַד (both in place)
last (meaning “past”, e.g. “last Friday”) - שֶׁעָבַר, הַקּוֹדֵם
last (meaning “final”) - הָאַחֲרוֹן
easy - קָל
hard - קָשֶׁה
early - מֻקְדַם
late - מְאֻחָר
important - חָשׁוּב
interesting - מְעַנְיֵן
fun - כֵּיף, כֵּיפִי
boring - מְשַׁעֲמֵם
beautiful - יָפֵה
big - גָּדֹל
small - קָטַן
happy - שָׂמֵחַ
sad - עָצוּב
busy - עָסוּק
excited - מִתְרַגֵּשׁ, נִרְגָּשׁ
tired - עָיֵף
ready - מוּכָן
favorite - הָאָהוּב עַל …
new - חָדָשׁ
right (meaning “correct”) - (e.g. a right answer) נָכוֹן; (e.g. to have the right answer) צוֹדֵק
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to REMEMBER anything.”
“REMEMBER, we’re madly in love, so it’s all right to kiss me anytime you feel like it.”
“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to REMEMBER sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
“When I despair, I REMEMBER that all through history the way of truth and love have always won.”
“REMEMBER, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.”
“Promise me you’ll always REMEMBER: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, REMEMBER that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”
“Do you REMEMBER back at the hotel when you promised that if we lived, you’d get dressed up in a nurse’s outfit and give me a sponge bath?“
"Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can REMEMBER.”
“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — REMEMBERING all the times you’ve felt that way.”
“In the end, we will REMEMBER not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. REMEMBER that.”
“It is hard enough to REMEMBER my opinions, without also REMEMBERING my reasons for them!”
“REMEMBER: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.”
“REMEMBER when you tried to convince me to feed a poultry pie to the mallards in the park to see if you could breed a race of cannibal ducks?”
“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you REMEMBER and how you REMEMBER it.”
“If you REMEMBER me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.”
“I love you. REMEMBER. They cannot take it”
“If cats looked like frogs we’d realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That’s what people REMEMBER.”
REMEMBER, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. ”
“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them REMEMBER it.”
“You don’t REMEMBER what happened. What you REMEMBER becomes what happened.”
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to REMEMBER from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
“REMEMBER that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
“Live in the present, REMEMBER the past, and fear not the future, for it doesn’t exist and never shall. There is only now.”
“REMEMBER to always be yourself. Unless you suck.”
“I cannot REMEMBER the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
“REMEMBER, darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does not always bring good.”
“I wanted to REMEMBER us like we were that summer. I didn’t ever want to lose that.”
“REMEMBER if people talk behind your back, it only means you are two steps ahead.”
“REMEMBERING that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may REMEMBER, involve me and I learn.”
“Forbidden to REMEMBER, terrified to forget; it was a hard line to walk.”
“REMEMBER me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to REMEMBER me and cry.”
“Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don’t even REMEMBER leaving open.”
“Books are easily destroyed. But words will live as long as people can REMEMBER them.”
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just REMEMBER that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
“REMEMBER this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, nor any others. No one controls your destiny.”
“You will hear thunder and REMEMBER me, and think: she wanted storms…”
“I want you always to REMEMBER me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?”
“I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but REMEMBER it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
“Dress shabbily and they REMEMBER the dress; dress impeccably and they REMEMBER the woman.”
“You forget what you want to REMEMBER, and you REMEMBER what you want to forget.”
“The things we love destroy us every time, <lad>. REMEMBER that.”
“You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to REMEMBER that the planet is carrying you.”
“REMEMBER the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.”
“And next time you’re planning to injure yourself to get me attention, just REMEMBER that a little sweet talk works wonders.”
“People have an annoying habit of REMEMBERING things they shouldn’t.”
“When you find a man you wish to marry, <name>, REMEMBER this: You will know what kind of man he is not by the things he says, but by the things he does.”
“Kids don’t REMEMBER what you try to teach them. They REMEMBER what you are.”
“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always REMEMBER that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”
“I REMEMBER awakening one morning and finding everything smeared with the color of forgotten love.”
“It’s true that adventures are good for people even when they are very young. Adventures can get in a person’s blood even if he doesn’t REMEMBER having them. ”
“Ladies who play with fire must REMEMBER that smoke gets in their eyes.”
“I probably would have sat there all day, trying to REMEMBER my name, but then the sea demons came.”
“What we REMEMBER from childhood we REMEMBER forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.”
“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be REMEMBERED.”
“I don’t know. I don’t actually REMEMBER anything from before the surgery.“
“We’ll be REMEMBERED more for what we destroy than what we create.”
“Always REMEMBER people who have helped you along the way, and don’t forget to lift someone up.”
Continuing to talk about grammar (and still using wikipedia as a reference, for convenience’s sake)…
tldr: Declension, Inflection, Cases.
Declension: in linguistics,
declension is the inflection
(changing the form of a word) of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles
to indicate number (at least singular and plural), case
subjective, genitive or possessive, etc.), and/or gender. A declension is also a group of nouns
that follow a particular pattern of inflection.
Inflected language: Fusional languages or inflected languages are a type of synthetic languages, distinguished from agglutinative languages by their tendency
to use a single inflectional morpheme to denote multiple grammatical, syntactic, or
semantic features. For example, the Spanish
verb comer (“to eat”) has the first-person singular preterite
tense form comí (‘I ate’); the single suffix -í represents both
the features of first-person singular agreement and preterite tense, instead of
having a separate affix for each feature.
An illustration of fusionality is the Latin
(“good”). The ending -us
denotes masculine gender, nominative
case, and singular number. Changing any one of these features
requires replacing the suffix -us
with a different one. In the form bonum, the ending -um denotes masculine accusative
singular, neuter accusative singular, or neuter nominative singular.
Cases: Case is a special grammatical category of a noun, pronoun,
or numeral whose value reflects the grammatical function performed by that
word in a phrase,
or sentence. In some languages, nouns,
pronouns, adjectives, determiners, participles, prepositions,
numerals, articles and their modifiers take different inflected
forms depending on what case they are in.
English has largely lost its case system,
although personal pronouns still have three cases that are simplified forms of
the nominative, accusative
cases: subjective case (I, you, he, she, it, we, they,
who, whoever), objective case (me, you, him, her, it, us,
them, whom, whomever) and possessive
case (my, mine; your, yours; his; her, hers; its; our, ours; their,
theirs; whose; whosever).
Forms such as I, he and we are used for the subject
(“I kicked the ball”),
whereas forms such as me, him and us are used for the object
(“John kicked me”).
Languages such as Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Latin,
Armenian, Hungarian, Hindi, Tibetan,
Icelandic, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Basque,
and the majority of Caucasian languages have extensive case
systems, with nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and determiners
all inflecting (usually by means of different suffixes)
to indicate their case. The number of cases differs between languages: German
and Icelandic have four; Turkish, Latin and Russian each have at least six;
Armenian, Czech, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian have
seven; Sanskrit has eight; Estonian and Finnish have fifteen, Hungarian has
eighteen and Tsez has sixty-four.
More formally, case has been defined as “a system of marking dependent
nouns for the type of relationship they bear to their heads”.
Cases should be distinguished from thematic
roles such as agent
and patient. They are often closely related,
and in languages such as Latin several thematic roles have an associated case,
but cases are a morphological notion, whereas thematic
roles are a semantic
one. Languages having cases often exhibit free word
order, because thematic roles are not required to be marked by
position in the sentence.
Now that you’ve hopefully started to get Hebrew writing, it’s time to start with the language itself, beginning with the very base of the language - basic language structure.
First and foremost, here is a table of personal pronouns, since they’re pretty necessary for this lesson, and don’t require too much explaining behind them:
An easy way to remember them is:
1st person pronouns always start with אֲנ an-.
2nd person pronouns also always start with א alef, but always have a ת tav in them.
3rd person pronouns always start with ה he, and are monosyllabic.
Male plural pronouns always end in a מ mem, while female plural pronouns always end in a
אֲנוּ ánu is pretty much only used in formal settings, speeches, documents etc., not even in Biblical texts (it rose later in history).
אָנֹכִי anokhí is archaic these days, used primarily in Biblical texts and in some set phrases (e.g. אֲנִי וָאָנֹכִי aní va’anokhí ‘me, myself and I’), as well as serving as an adjective meaning ‘selfish.’
Moreover, some speakers merge the 2nd and 3rd person masculine and feminine plural pronouns, using only the masculine form. I don’t like prescribing you a correct and an incorrect way to say something - but I’ll let myself do so here. This is a language changing as we speak, and as of now this in-distinction is still pretty much universally viewed as incorrect. You can, and probably will, see it online or in speech, but most speakers (at least those I speak to) still make the distinction, especially with verb conjugations (as explained further in the lesson), and some will correct you if you don’t make it yourself.
What you might have noticed as well is the lack of a neutral pronoun. Hebrew nouns are all either male or female, and to refer to an inanimate noun you would simply refer to it by its appropriate pronoun. שֻׁלְחַן shulchán (table) is of masculine gender, so one will refer to it as הוּא hu (he); קַעֲרָה ka’ará (bowl) is of feminine gender, so one will refer to it as הִיא hi (she).
Side note: as there are no gender neutral 2nd and 3rd person pronouns, this creates some problems in feminist and LGBT circles. It’s simply impossible to refer to a group of people by a gender-inclusive pronoun, neither is it possible to refer to someone without explicitly saying what binary gender your referring to them with.
Before I explain sentence types I need to set out word order. Since verbs are conjugated to encode tense, number, gender and person (1st, 2nd and 3rd persons) of the subject, Hebrew generally has pretty free word order. This is because it is usually clear who the subject is through conjugation and context. Another consequence of this is frequent dropping of subject pronouns, since it is already specified through the verb.
However, most sentences still fall under SVO word order - where the subject comes first in a sentence, then the verb, then any objects the subject acts upon. For example:
1. אָכַלְתִּי תַּפּוּחַ.akhálti tapúach. - I ate an apple. (literally: I-ate[S+V] apple[O].) 2. יוֹנָתָן לִטֵּף אֵת הַכֶּלֶב.Yonatán litéf et hakélev. - Yonatan pet the dog. (literally: Yonatan[S] pet[V]direct object preposition the dog[O].) 3. הַסַּפְרָן יִתֵּן לִי אֵת הַסֵּפֶר. hasafrán yitén li et haséfer. - The librarian (m) will give me the book. (literally: the-librarian[S] will-give[V] to-me[O]direct object preposition the-book[O].)
(Note: even if it doesn’t look like it, the period / full stop comes after the text - to the left. So do exclamation and question marks. Typing right-to-left text embedded in a left-to-right language is very annoying, so you should get used to punctuation, vowel points and generally everything to not fall where you actually put your cursor. It’s terrible. Also, vowel points don’t get bolded with the rest of the text?? w h y)
Occasionally, in more higher speech as well as in Biblical texts, Hebrew also shows VSO word order. Hence, all of these sentences could alternatively be said like so:
תַּפּוּחַ.akhálti tapúach. - I ate an apple. (literally: I-ate[S+V] apple[O].)
2. לִטֵּף יוֹנָתָן אֵת הַכֶּלֶב.litéf Yonatán et hakélev. - Yonatan pet the dog. (literally: pet[V] Yonatan[S]direct object preposition the-dog[O].)
יִתֵּןהַסַּפְרָן לִי אֵת הַסֵּפֶר.
yiténhasafrán li et haséfer. - The librarian (m) will give me the book. (literally:
the-librarian[S] to-me[O]direct object preposition the-book[O].)
In 1, the verb and the subject are conjoined, therefore flipping their order doesn’t make any sense and the sentence stays the same.
That being said, these days SVO word order is a lot more common that VSO, especially in speech, so don’t worry too much about it, just know it’s used. Personally, I tend to used VSO in some cases for school essays, but that’s about it - and even this is mostly my personal tendency. Again, don’t think about it too much.
Sentence Structure - Syntax!
Hebrew sentences are generally separated into two categories: verbal sentences and nominal sentences. A verbal sentence, מִשְׁפָּט פָּעֳלִי mishpát po’olí (more commonly pronounced po’alí), is a sentence that contains a subject (some type of noun or verb phrase) and an action verb, also called the predicate. This, you might recognize, is the basic sentence structure of English as well. In fact, the vast majority of languages only possess this type of sentence. Nominal sentences are where stuff gets interesting.
A nominal sentence, מִשְׁפָּט שְׁמָנִי mishpát shemaní, as you might have guessed, is a sentence where instead of a nominal subject and an action verb - there’s just another noun (or adjective) acting as the predicate. These are characteristic to Semitic languages and Russian (I’m not sure about other Slavic languages), among others. For example:
1. הַדֹּב הַזֶּה מְאֹד יָפֶה. hadóv haze me’ód yafé. - This bear is very pretty. (literally: bear this very pretty.) 2. אֲנִי רְעֵבָה. aní re’evá. - I am hungry. (literally: I hungry (female)) 3. הוּא כֶּלֶב. hu kélev. - He is a dog. (literally: he dog).
To negate the sentence, simply put לֹא
As you might have noticed, the key characteristic is where English would put the verb to be, Hebrew just doesn’t put anything, because there is no equivalent in Hebrew. The languages simply lacks a copula (the linguistic term for verbs like to be, whose purpose is linking the subject to a non-verb predicate).
Well… not quite.
You see, without a copula, there would be no way of indicating different tenses. When the sentence is word-for-word ‘I hungry’ or ‘he dog,’ where do you mark the tense? For this there’s a nice and clever solution - copulae! Yep, Hebrew didn’t wanna feel left out of the copula club so it made itself copulae of its own.
There are many types of copulae, to mark different types of relations, but for now I’ll introduce you to most common and most simple one. To mark present tense sentences use the 3rd person pronouns הוּא, הִיא, הֵם, הֵן, and for past and future tenses it uses conjugations of the verb הָיָה hayá*, ‘to be,’ as following:
*I refer to all verbs in this series with their 3rd person, masculine past tense form. This is because verb infinitives in Hebrew, as you will learn, are not a great way to represent the verb, and the 3rd person masc. form of a verb is considered the most basic form of the verb in all different conjugations.
If this seems like a lot to take in - it’s because it is. Hebrew verb conjugation is pretty complicated, and it doesn’t help that הָיָה hayá is quite an irregular verb. I don’t recommend you try and understand it fully, as I’ll be teaching everything you need to know about Hebrew verb conjugation pretty soon. For now, just take it at face value.
If you have keen eyes, you might notice the /i/ after the /h/ in the transliteration of all future tense conjugations, that shouldn’t be there according to the vowel points. If not, notice it now. This is because it’s difficult to pronounce a /h/ without any consonant afterwards, so a dummy vowel was inserted after it. This is a common phenomenon in Hebrew with some consonants, but I won’t explain it now, as it’s quite complicated. (the different vowel points in the 1st person is just that I found two different vowel markings that seem to have no real difference between them)
For the present tense 1st and 2nd persons no copula is used. My guess is that this is because the subject can only ever be ‘I’ or ‘you’ when talking about 1st and 2nd person subjects, so repeating the same pronoun twice is useless. This is the case for 3rd person subjects as well: if the subject itself is ‘he,’ ‘she’ or ‘they,’ you don’t repeat the same pronoun as a copula.
This is getting a bit into verb conjugations, but the 2nd person plural past tense forms (now try saying that three times in a row) have two pronunciations: the top is the ‘correct’ one used formally, and the bottom is the one you’d actually hear pretty much everywhere, as it fits the conjugation pattern more regularly.
The 2nd and 3rd person feminine plural future tense conjugation, as marked on the table, is very rare nowadays, and shifting towards merging with the equivalent masculine conjugation. In fact, even the 2nd person plural past tense conjugations (marked with the 3), are starting to lose their distinction between masculine and feminine, just like the pronounced mentioned in the beginning of this lesson, but this is still widely considered a grammatical mistake and I do advise that you keep the distinction - people will just correct you otherwise.
The examples above in different tenses would be:
Past: 1. הַדֹּב הַזֶּה הָיָה מְאֹד יָפֶה. hadóv haze hayá me’ód yafé. - This bear was very pretty. (literally: bear this was very pretty.) 2. אֲנִי הָיִיתִי רְעֵבָה. aní hayíti re’evá. - I was hungry. (literally: I was hungry [female]) 3. הוּא הָיָה כֶּלֶב. hú hayá kélev. - He was a dog. (literally: he was dog).
Future: 1. הַדֹּב הַזֶּה יִהְיֶה מְאֹד יָפֶה. hadóv haze yihiyé me’ód yafé. - This bear will be very pretty. (literally: bear this will-be very pretty.) 2. אֲנִי אֶהֱיֶה רְעֵבָה. aní eheyé re’evá. - I will be hungry. (literally: I will-be hungry (female)) 3. הוּא יִהְיֶה כֶּלֶב. hú yihiyé kélev. - He will be a dog. (literally: he will-be dog).
For the next 10 sentences, I’ll leave out the copula, and you should fill it in according to the tense and gender given in the brackets… if you even need the copula!!! muahahahaha
1. הָיְתָהhaytá (The cup was green.) 2. יִהְיֶהyihiyé (My son will be smart.) 3. הָיָה hayá (My TV screen was white.) 4. [הוּא] / - ; hu / - (The heart is the most important organ in the body.) 5. [הִיא] / - ;hi / - (Cauliflower is a vegetable.) 6. יִהְיֶה
(The weather tomorrow will be cold.) 7. - (They are wonderful girls.) 8. יִהְיוּyihiyú (Their (f) tables will be brown.) 9. הָיָהhayá
(The treadmill was too fast.) 10. הֵם / [-] ;hem / -(My glasses are strong.)
In the present tense examples I marked the option more likely to be heard with square brackets. I’m not sure why it is for each example, but the other option just sounds less natural.
As it turns out, grammar does matter, and Hugo knew it damn well. Something has always bothered me about this sentence, and now I know why. The difference doesn’t exist in English translations, because both “à” and “en” translates to “in”, hence Grantaire’s “I believe in you”. But it isn’t the case in French :
“Je crois à toi” isn’t grammatically correct. In French, you don’t believe “à” someone, you believe “en” someone. “Je crois à” is restricted to things and fictional beings, as in :
Je crois à la Petite Souris (I believe in the Tooth Fairy)
Je ne crois pas à la Révolution (I don’t believe in the Revolution)
There are a few exceptions (because otherwise grammar wouldn’t be grammar) but one thing is certain : “à”can not be used to introduce a noun or pronoun referring to a real person :
Je crois en lui (I believe in him)
“Je crois à lui” sounds wrong, as wrong as “I believe to him” sounds
Then, why does Hugo use both? Because Grantaire knows the difference as well. Grantaire is good with words and proves it more than once. Remember this quote : “Who has been unhooking the stars without my permission, and putting them on the table in the guise of candles?” ? Grantaire says it drunk. DRUNK. If this man can be that lyrical while smashed to high hell, why would he forget fundamental grammatical principles, all of a sudden? Answer : he wouldn’t. He does it on purpose.
He’s mirroring Enjolras’s speech :
“Tu ne crois à rien.” “Je crois à toi.”
This may sound insignificant and, yes, considering the length of the brick, it may be but bear with me. Grantaire is having a laugh, in this passage. Yes, he is serious, he does want to prove his value to Enjolras, but at the same time, he’s Grantaire. He can’t help himself but to play with words. And my best guess is that he’s teasing Enjolras, hence the “Be serious” “I am wild” that comes soon after.
Then what about “Je crois en toi”? Well, it’s a question of context. Look at the description preceeding Grantaire’s declaration :
“Grantaire,” [Enjolras] called, “go and sleep your wine off somewhere else.
This is a place for intoxication but not for drunkenness. Don’t dishonor
The sharp rebuke had a remarkable effect on Grantaire, as though he
had received a splash of cold water. Suddenly he was sober. He sat down
with his elbows on a table by the window, and looking with great
sweetness at Enjolras called back:
“Tu sais que je crois en toi”
Grantaire is serious this time. This isn’t a joke anymore. This is a real declaration he’s making here. Enjolras is yelling at him, and yet, Grantaire’s attitude is all but belligerent. I would even argue that “great sweetness” is far from the reverent and loving “inexprimable douceur” from the French text.
Unfortunately, Enjolras is so used to his lack of faith and seriousness that he dismisses it. Grantaire has disappointed him more than once by that point in the brick, so his attitude is understandable. But if Grantaire lacks faith in the cause, he doesn’t lack any in Enjolras. The tragic thing is that Enjolras doesn’t realise it and Grantaire’s serious profession of faith is dismissed. One last nail in your coffin? Look at what comes after :
“Grantaire, you are incapable of believing or thinking or willing or living or dying.” “You’ll see,” said Grantaire gravely. “You’ll see.”
So i've seen a lot people saying God doesnt have a gender, but then why does everyone always say God is male? I hope this doesnt sound offensive, i really like this concept, but do you have like a few sources?
Hi there! I don’t know many people who would outright assert that God is “male;” rather, the language they use for God implies it – using only masculine terms like “Father” and “Lord,” using only he/him pronouns, and so on. To keep it simple, the reason for this is patriarchy.
The Bible was written by people (either mostly or all men) in patriarchal cultures; it is also read mostly by people (us!) in patriarchal cultures. Whether they realized it or not, the writers couldn’t help weaving the mindsets and assumptions of their own world into their writing. Whether we realize it or not, we can’t seem to help weaving our mindsets and the structure of the world around us into our talk about God!
Here is one quote and here is another from theologian Shirley Guthrie on how the Bible was written by human beings within a patriarchal context. And here is a quote on avoiding anthropomorphizing God: part of how we end up viewing God as “male” is that we tend to anthropomorphize Them, to try to picture them as simply a person like us; and in our culture, a (white, cis, straight, able-bodied, etc.) man is the “default” human, we might even say the “ideal” human – and so surely God must be “male” too.
Edit: someone replied noting that Hebrew only has male and female verb endings – there is no neutral option. This is true, can’t believe I forgot to mention that! Hebrew’s verbs, nouns, adjectives, and pronouns are assigned genders. And again, because male was/is considered the “default,” and because men held more power in their society and they viewed God as powerful, it makes sense that, of the two options, the writers went with the male endings. (And for the Greek parts of the Bible, Greek is also a gendered language in this way.)
But God does not bless patriarchy; God does not fit into our boxes that aim to categorize humans into “superior” and “inferior.” God is genderless and God is every gender – God is God, and no human terms can hope to encompass the Divine.
Here is a post that talks about how we can view God as a woman, if we like; it includes passages from the Bible in which God is referred to with (or refers to Godself with) feminine imagery. These Bible passages show that even in these patriarchal times, the biblical writers did not confine God utterly to masculinity! The truth of God’s vastness shines through.
I’ll leave you all with a question and an invitation: how do you refer to God? do you see God as male? I invite you to experiment with language for God – expand the nouns, pronouns, and images you use for Them, for Him, for Her, for Xem. God is so vast, They defy pinning down with human words – but the wider we expand our language for Her, the bigger a “piece” of God we’ll see.