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Hebrew grammar

Hebrew grammar is mostly analytical, lacking inflectional mechanisms for dative constructs, and having no systematic ablative, accusative or dative constructs. However inflection does play an important role in the formation of the verbs, nouns and the genitive construct, which is called "smikhut". Words in smikhut are often combined with hyphens.

Hebrew has only a definite article, "ha-". It is a contraction of an earlier form, probably *hal, the assymilation of the /l/ being evident in the emphasis that normally follows the article. In smikhut, only the main noun (that is the noun to which the other nouns connect) can receive the article.

The two main parts of the Hebrew sentence ("mishpat") are the subject ("nose") and the predicate ("nasu"). They are adjusted to each other in gender and person. Thus, in a sentence "ani okhel", "I eat"/"I am eating", "ani", "I", is the subject, and "okhel", "eating" (singular masculine present of the root A-K-L in Pa`al) is the verb (Hebrew does not have a system of auxiliary verbs). The subject always receives the definite article, unless it is a pronoun or a name.

Other parts of the Hebrew sentence are the direct object ("musa"), and complements to any noun ("levai"). Unlike English, complements follow the noun, rather than precede it, and also like the verb they follow the subject's gender, person and article. Thus, "Ha-chatul ha-qatan akhal et ha-gvinah", "The small cat ate the cheese", the subject is "ha-chatul", "the cat", the complement is "ha-qatan", "the small", the predicate is "akhal", "ate" (3rd person masculine past of the root A-K-L in Pa`al), and "ha-gvinah", "the cheese" is the object. Note that both the words for "cat" and for "small" received the definite article.

The Hebrew grammar distinguishes between various kinds of indirect objects, according to what they specify. Thus, there is a division between objects for time ("tiur zman"), objects for place ("tiur makom"), objects for reason ("tiur sibah") and many others. Additionally, Hebrew distinguishes between various kinds of verbless fragments, also according to their use, such as "tmurah" for elaboration, "qriah" for exclamation, "pniyah" for approach and "hesger" for disclosing the opinion of a certain party using direct speech (e.g. "le-da'at ha-rofe, ha-i'shun mazik la-briut", "[according to] the opinion of the doctor, smoking is harmful to health").

A sentence may lack a subject. In this case it is called "stami", or "causual". If several parts of the sentence have the same function and are attached to the same word, they are called "kolel", "collective". Two or more sentences who do not share common parts and are separated by comma are called "mishpat mehubar", or "added". In many cases, the second sentence uses a pronoun that stands for the other's subject; they are generally interconnected.

A sentence in which one or more of the parts are replaced by a clause ("psukit") is called a compound sentence, or "mishpat murkav". Compound sentences use the preposition "she-", "that". For example, in the sentence "Yosi omer she-hu okhel", "Yosi says that he is eating", "Yosi omer" ("Yosi says") is the main sentence, followed by a direct subject clause "hu okhel" ("He is eating").

See also : Hebrew language



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