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Grammatical Terms

Grammatical Terms -

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For beginners of Biblical Hebrew

This page lists some of the common grammatical terms you will encounter while studying Biblical Hebrew grammar.
 

Note: This section is currently being developed...

A

A-Type Vowel
A class of vowel that has a characteristic "ah" sound. In Hebrew, these vowels are represented by the following nikkudot: Qamets (changeable long), Qamets Hey (unchangeably long), Patach (short), Chateph Patach (short/reduced).


Absolute State

The normal status of a noun when uninflected by means of a construct relationship. The normal lexical form (in the singular) for a noun. Cp. Contruct State. The typical form of a noun found in a Hebrew lexicon is the absolute form. When used, the absolute form is independent of any other word (e.g., as in the construct state when a noun is tied to another noun in the absolute state).


Accent
An articulative effort giving prominence to one syllable over adjacent syllables. Most Hebrew words are generally accented on the last syllable of the word. The "tonic" syllable is the syllable that receives the stress or accent; the "pretonic" syllable is the syllable before the tonic syllable, and the "propretonic" syllable is the syllable before the pretonic.


Accent Mark
The many forms of accents characters added by the Masoretic scribes. Disjunctive accents mark a pause or break in the reading of the text and function something like commas, semicolons, and colons in English. There are 18 disjunctive accent marks you might see in the Masoretic text, the most important of which are Atnach and Silluq. Conjunctive accents connect two words in the text. There are 9 conjunctive accent marks you might see in the Masoretic text, the most important of which is the Munach.


Accusative Case
Case refers to the grammatical function of a nounal. A nounal used as the direct object of a transitive verb is said to be in the accusative case. For example, John hit the ball. Cp. Nominative, Objective, Possessive, Genitive.


Active Voice
Voice is a property of verbs that shows whether a subject acts or is acted upon by the verb. In the Active Voice, the subject is the doer of the action that is expressed by the verb.


Adjective
A word used to modify a noun or pronoun. In Hebrew, adjectives agree with the word modified (concord). For more information, go here.


Adverb
A word serving as a modifier of a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a preposition, a phrase, a clause, or a sentence, and expressing some relation of manner or quality, place, time, degree, number, cause, opposition, affirmation, or denial.


Aleph-Bet
Alphabet. The list of consonantal sounds depicted by conventional Hebrew glyphs or characters.


Anarthrous
Without the article. In reference to a noun.  Anarthrous nouns are generally translated in English with the indefinite article ("a, an"). However, some anarthrous nouns are qualitative and are often translated without an article.


Article
An article further modifies a noun making it either indefinite ("a" or "an") or definite ("the"). Unlike English, Hebrew has no indefinite article but does have a definite article (as a prefixive Hey).


Atnach
An accent placed under the last word of the first half of a verse.


Attributive Adjective
An attributive adjective follows a noun in Hebrew with which it agrees in gender, number, and definiteness.


Ayin Guttural
An `Ayin Guttural verb has a guttural as its second basic consonant.





 

B

Biblia Hebrica Stuttgartensia
The Biblia Hebrica Stuttgartensia (BHS) is the scholar's first choice for studying the Hebrew Masoretic text. Consider this text mandatory if you are serious about getting into the Hebrew Tanakh and want the scholarly apparatus (i.e., masoretic notes and textual criticism additions) required for doing research.


Begedkephat
Six Hebrew letters (Bet, Gimmel, Dalet, Kaf, Pey, and Tav) may appear with or without a dot placed within them. This dot is called a "Dagesh Kal" (or Dagesh Lene).


Binyan / Binyanim
There are several forms which a verb can take, these are given names taken from their sound in a paradigm verb: qal, niphal, hiphil, piel, pual, hithpael, etc. Collectively this is called the binyanim of the verb form.


BMP Letter
When a conjunctive Vav precedes a Bet, Lamed, or Pey, it is formed as a Shureq rather than a Vav with sheva.



 

C

Causative
In causative verbs the subject of the verb causes another entity to perform the action (e.g., the Lord caused the prophet to speak).


Changeable Vowels


Chateph
Chateph Patach, Chateph Segol, Chateph Qamets


Chireq


Chireq Yod


Cholem


Cholem Vav


Clause


Comparison (adjectival)


Compound Half-Vowels
The pronunciation of half-vowels is a quick vowel sound similar to an "eh" or "uh." The compound half-vowel (or compound sheva) is made by combining the short vowel of the "a" class, "e" class, and "o" class with the simple sheva.

Conjunction


Conjunctive Vav


Consonants


Construct Relation
A construct relation is formed by stringing two, three, or four nouns together. The final noun in the construct relation is in the absolute state unless it has a pronominal suffix. The other nouns are in the construct state. A construct relation cannot have more than four nouns. Sometimes a maqqef connects the nouns.


Construct State
A noun in the construct state depends upon a noun following it to complete the idea. Often vowels change in nouns in the construct state because the noun in the construct state is considered to be part of the noun in the absolute state and the farther away a vowel is from the accented syllable the stranger it can behave.




 

D

Dagesh


Dagesh Chazak
Dagesh forte.  A dagesh forte is a dot placed in a Hebrew consonant that serves to double the consonant. Any Hebrew consonant except the gutturals can take a dagesh forte.


Dagesh Kal
Dagesh lene. A dagesh lene is a dot placed in a Hebrew consonant that serves to give the consonant a harder sound. Only six consonants can take a dagesh lene. These are bet, gimmel, dalet, kaf, pey, and tav.


Defective Writing


Definite Article
A definite article is translated as "the" and is used to specify a particular individual or representative of the class defined by the noun.


Demonstrative Adjective


Demonstrative Pronoun


Diphthong
A diphthong is a cluster or combination of vowels acting as a unit and producing a unique sound. From the point of view of word division, a diphthong represents a distinct syllable in Hebrew.


Divine Name


Doubly Weak Verbs



 

E

E-Type Vowel


Energic Nun



 

F

Final Forms of Letters


Full Vowels
The designation full vowel refers to vowels that receive complete phonetic value in pronunciation as opposed to the half-vowel. There are two types of full vowels - long and short.


Furtive Patach



 

G

Geminate Verbs


Gender


Genitive Case


Guttural Letters
Due to the fact that the gutturals do not have strong pronunciations they often cause vowels to change.


 

H

Hiphil


Hitpael


Hollow Verb


Hophal


 

I

I-Type Vowel


Imperative


Imperfect


Infinitive Absolute


Infinitive Construct


Infix


Inseparable Prepositions


Interrogative Particle


Interrogative Pronouns


Irregular Verb


 

J

Jot


Jussive


 

K

Ketav Ashuri


Ketiv


Khemniphats


 

L

Labials


Lexical Form


 

M

Macron


Mappiq


Maqqef


Masorah


Masoretic Text


Matres Lectionis


Meteg


Mile'h
The accent on the next to the last syllable of a word.


Milra'
The accent on the last syllable of a word.


Mode


Mood


Morpheme


Morphology


Munach

 

N


Niphal


Nikkudot


Nominal


Nominal Sentence


Nouns


Number


 

O

O-Type Vowel


Object Marker


Objective Case


Open Syllable


Optative Mood



 

P

Paleo-Hebrew


Paradigm


Parallelism


Parsing


Particle


Participle


Paseq

Pasuk


Passive Voice


Pause
The last word in a sentence (marked by an accent called a silluq), or the last word in the first major division of a sentence (marked by an accent called an athnach), is said to be "in pause."


Patach


Perfect Tense


Personal Pronouns


Pictogram


Piel


Person


Plural Nouns


Pointing


Predicate


Predicate Adjective


Predicate Participles


Prefix


Preposition


Pretonic Reduction


Pronoun


Propretonic Reduction


Pual


 

Q

Qal


Qamets


Qamets Chatuph


Qere


Qibbuts


Quiescent



 

R

Radical


Rashi Script


Reflexive


Relative Clause


Relative Pronoun


Root


Rule of Sheva



 

S

Script


Segol


Segolate


Sentence


Septuagint


Sheva


Shureq


Sibilant


Silluq


Sofit Letter


Sof Pasuk


Stative Verb


Stem (Root)
The noun or verb base formed by the addition of derivational affixes to the root. In
Hebrew, the term is used to designate verb forms that express certain kinds of action and
voice; the major Hebrew verbal stems are qal, niphal, piel, pual, hithpael, hiphil, and
hophal.


Substantive


Suffix (sufformative)


Syllabification


 

T

Targum


Temporal Clause


Tetragrammaton


Theme Vowel


Tittle


Transliteration


Tri-radical Root


Tsere



 

U

U_Type Vowel


Ugaritic


Unchangeable Vowel


 

V

Vav Conjunctive


Verb


Virtual Doubling


Vocal Sheva


Voice


Vowel
A speech sound made by not blocking the oral part of the breath passage. In Hebrew syllables a vowel always follows a consonant, never precedes it (except for a furtive patach or in the case when a Vav conjunction precedes a "BMP" letter (as a Shureq)).


 

W

Weak Verbs


Word Order




 

Y

Yiqtol
An imperfect verb with no conjunction attached (usually future in meaning).




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