Many Hebrew prepositions stand alone as a separate word in a prepositional phrase. These prepositions are simply separate words that stand in front of their objects, and you will translate them by "reading them off the page" as a separate word.
For example, compare these two sentences:
Notice that the Hebrew preposition el (to, toward) functions like the English preposition to does: it takes an object (ha'ir), and the prepositional phrase modifies the verb (halakh), indicating the direction of the verbal action. In other words, the Hebrew preposition simply stands in front of its object as a separate word, and the preposition and its object constitute a prepositional phrase.
In each of these examples the preposition stands alone as a separate word in the sentence, and translation is simply a matter of replacement of the English equivalent.
In this example phrase (from Genesis 1:4), note that the second instance of the preposition ben (between) loses the dagesh because the conjunctive Vav is added before a "BMP" letter.
In this phrase (from Genesis 2:9), note that the prepositional phrase modifies the construct chain adjectivally.
Maqqef prepositions are simply independent prepositions that are directly joined to their objects by means of a maqqef (or hyphen). This is a common occurrence in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Notice that in the examples above, the preposition is attached to the object by means of the maqqef. On account of the maqqef, the preposition is now no longer "independent," since it is morphologically connected to the object that follows.
Although there may be vowel and/or stress changes that occur in the object, we will translate the maqqef preposition just as we would an independent preposition.
- Memorize the section vocabulary (top of the page)
- Using vocabulary you already know, create simple prepositional phrases by combining prepositions with nouns.