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JTF Hebrew: Lesson 1

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Dan Ben Noah:
In the first lesson, we will take just a few letters of the alphabet, put them together with some vowels, and learn a few simple words from these letters.

The first letters we will be learning are:

א     ALEF     (no sound)

ה     HE     "h"

נ     NUN     "n"

י     YOD     "y" or "i"

מ     MEM     "m"

ת     TAV     "t"

Let's put these letters together with a vowel.  Vowels are indicated by dots and lines placed under the letters, and knowing the vowels will help you understand how to pronounce a word when you look it up in the dictionary.  However, a native Hebrew speaker does not need to look at vowels to read a word.

The first vowel we will learn will be the "a" sound, always pronounced like the "a" in the word "father".  You will pronounce the "a" sound when you see one of the following 3 symbols underneath a letter:    ָ    ַ     ֲ

Practice pronouncing these with the six Hebrew letters:

אָ   "ah"   הָ   "ha"   נָ   "na"         יַ   "ya"   מַ   "ma"  תַ   "ta"

You can now read the following words (remember to read right to left):
מַתָנָה     "matana"     (gift/present)
אַתָה     "ata"     (you [male])
?מָה     "ma"     (what?)

Note: The ה at the end of a word is silent, and just takes the sound of the vowel before it.

The second vowel we will learn does not really make a sound.  It is the shwa sound, which you don't pronounce.  It's kind of like the "e" in the word "silent".  You don't really hear it.  It will become more important as you learn grammar.  This is what it looks like:     ְ

You can now read the following word:
אַתְ     "at"    (you [female])

Now we will learn a few Hebrew names.  This is so you can get practice reading and also start to form small sentences.

Female Names:
מַיָה     "maya"
אָנָה     "ana"
אַיָה     "aya"
אַנְיָה     "anya"

Male Names:
יַנַאי     "yanai"
מַתְיָא     "matya"
מַתַנְיָה     "matanya"

Now you can put these names together with the male and female version of the word "you" to make short sentences (practice without the vowels):
.את מיה      "at maya"     (You are Maya.)
.אתה מתניה     "ata matanya"     (You are Matanya.)
You can practice this with all of the names.
Note:  You don't conjugate the verb "to be" in the present tense.  That means there are no Hebrew words for "am", "are", or "is".  You just say the subject of the sentence and then say what it is.

The third and final vowel we will learn for this lesson is the "i" sound, always pronounced like the "i" in the word "machine".  You will pronounce the "i" sound when you see the following symbol below a letter:     ִ
Note:  When you see the י after the ִ symbol, it is also pronounced as "i".

Now try pronouncing this vowel with the letters:
אִ   "i"   הִ   "hi"  נִ   "ni"         יִי   "yi"   מִי   "mi"   תִי   "ti"

You can now read the following words:
אֲני     "ani"     (I)
אִימָא     "ima"     (mother)
הִיא     "hi"     (she)
?מִי     "mi"     (who?)

You now know enough to read this simple dialogue:
           ?איה:  מי את     "aya:  mi at?"     (Aya:  Who are you?)
          .תמי:  אני תמי     "tami:  ani tami."     (Tami:  I am Tami.)
         ?איה:  מי אתה     "aya:  mi ata?"     (Aya:  Who are you?)
?מתי:  אני מתי.  מי את     "mati:  ani mati.  mi at?"     (Mati:  I am Mati.  Who are you?)
          ?איה:  מי, אני     "aya:  mi, ani?"     (Aya:  Who, me?)

Before we finish this lesson, you should know that the letters מ (MEM) and נ (NUN) have a different form when they come at the end of a word, which you will need to recognize.  They are called the MEM SOFIT (final MEM) and NUN SOFIT (final NUN).  They are still pronounced the same though:
ם = מ     "m"   
ן = נ     "n"

You can now read the following words:
יָם     "yam"     (sea)
יַיִן     "yayin"     (wine)
מַיִם     "mayim"     (water)

That is the end of this lesson.  I recommend making a list of the vocabulary words and studying them.  If you have questions, please post them in the thread and they will be answered by either myself or a native speaker.

Dan, I really appreciate.  :)

Let's learn!

Very very good thread, thank you very much! If I move to Israel, I have to speak Hebrew.  8)


Todah raba!!!!!!!!!!  :)


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