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Chapter 4

Interrogatives

In Hebrew there are two ways to ask questions:

  1. by adding a question word (interrogative) at the beginning of a sentence;
  2. by raising your voice at the end of a sentence.
Dan is writing. דָּן כּוֹתֵב
Is Dan writing? דָּן כּוֹתֵב?

A question word or interrogative is added at the beginning of the sentence.

Who?

מִי?
Who is this (m.)? מִי זֶה?
Who is in the house? מִי בַּבַּיִת?
Who sits here? מִי יוֹשֵׁב פֹּה?
Who sees a chair? מִי רוֹאֶה כִּסֵּא?

Where?

אֵיפֹה?
Where is Miriam? אֵיפֹה מִרְיָם?
Where is the dog? אֵיפֹה הַכֶּלֶב?

What?

מַה?
What is this (f.)? מַה זֹאת?
What are you saying? מַה אַתָּה אוֹמֵר?
What are you learning? מַה אַתָּה לוֹמֵד?
What is on the table? מַה עַל הַשֻׁלְחָן?

When?

מָתַי?
When is father home? מָתַי אַבָּא בַּבַּיִת?
When do you study? מָתַי אַתְּ לוֹמֶדֶת?
When do they go home? מָתַי הֵם הוֹלְכִים הַבַּיְתָה?
When are the students here? מָתַי הַתַּלְמִידִים פֹּה?

הַאִם

We can also ask a question in Hebrew by placing the interrogative word הַאִם at the beginning of the sentence. הַאִם cannot be translated into English (at least not by itself); it takes the place of verbs does, is and are in English questions.

Does Dan write? הַאִם דָּן כּוֹתֵב?
Is Ruth a student? הַאִם רוּת תַּלְמִדָה
Are they smart? הַאִם הֵם חֲכָמִים

An interrogative word can introduce both a noun sentence and a verb sentence.

The Direct Object of the Verb; Use of אֶת

David writes a letter. מִכְתָּב. כּוֹתֵב דָּוִד
subject verb object object verb subject
Father reads a book. סֵפֶר. קוֹרֵא אַבָּא
subject verb object object verb subject

Some sentences contain only a subject and a verb. However, most sentences also contain an object. The direct object receives the action of the verb.

The direct object may be indefinite or indefinite.

Dan reads a book. דָּן קוֹרֵא סֵפֶר.
Dan reads the book. דָּן קוֹרֵא אַת הַסֵפֶר.

When the direct object of the verb is definite, Hebrew uses the cue word אֶת. The word אֶת has no meaning.

When the word אֶת is placed between a verb and its direct object, the direct object has the prefix ה added to it.

Proper names (people, places) are always considered definite, and require the cue word אֶת. However, they do not require the definite article ה.

I see Dan. אֲנִי רוֹאֶה אֲת דָּן.

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