Hebrew verb conjugation: Wikis


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In Modern Hebrew, verbs are conjugated to reflect their tense and mood, as well as to agree with their subjects in gender, number, and person. Each verb has an inherent voice, though a verb in one voice typically has counterparts in other voices. In transliterations below, vowels are in Latin and consonants are in English.


Classification of roots

A root is classified according to the letters that appear in it. Roots that contain certain letters are conjugated differently.

Roots that contain a ו vav or a י yod as the 2nd letters are called hollow roots. The ו vav or the י yod rarely appear in any conjugation though are usually written as part of the root. Examples of hollow roots: שר shar (sang), גר gar (lived), דן dan (discussed), דג dag (fished).

Roots that contain at least one of the weak letters, י yod, נ nun, ח ħet, ע ʻáyin, א álef, and ה hey, are called weak roots. Each weak letter/position pairing results in a slightly different conjugation pattern. The largest group of these are those that end with י yod. Examples of weak roots: שתה shatá (drank), עלה ʻalá (went up), ירד yarád (went down), נפל nafál (fell).

Roots that do not fit into the other two categories are called strong or complete roots.

The Binyaním

Hebrew verbs are conjugated according to specific patterns called בניינים (binyaním - "constructions") where vowels and affixes are slotted into the (mostly) three-letter שורשים (shorashím - roots) from which the majority of Hebrew words are built.

There are seven basic binyaním. The traditional demonstration root is פ.ע.ל which has the basic meaning of "action" or "doing":

active reflexive passive

Present tense

A verb in the present tense (הוֹוֶה, hove) agrees with its subject in gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural), such that each verb has four present-tense forms:

Form Root Singular Plural Translation
Paʻál שׁמר שׁוֹמֵר שׁוֹמֶ֫רֶת שׁוֹמְרִים שׁוֹמְרוֹת Guards
sh-m-r shomér shoméret shomrím shomrót
Piʻél גדל מְגַדֵּל מְגַדֶּ֫לֶת מְגַדְּלִים מְגַדְּלוֹת Raises, grows (something)
g-d-l megaddél megaddélet megaddlím megaddlót
Hifʻíl קטנ מַקְטִין מַקְטִינָה מַקְטִינִים מַקְטִינוֹת Shrinks (something)
q-t-n maqtín maqtiná maqtiním maqtinót
Hitpaʻél בטל מִתְבַּטֵּל מִתְבַּטֶּ֫לֶת מִתְבַּטְּלִים מִתְבַּטְּלוֹת Belittles oneself, loafs
b-t-l mitbattél mitbattélet mitbattlím mitbattlót
Hufʻál קטנ מוּקְטָן מוּקְטֶ֫נֶת מוּקְטָנִים מוּקְטָנוֹת Is shrunken by
q-t-n muqtán muqténet muqtaním muqtanót
Puʻál גדל מְגוּדָּל מְגוּדֶּ֫לֶת מְגוּדָּלִים מְגוּדָּלוֹת Is raised
g-d-l meguddál meguddélet meguddalím meguddalót
Nifʻál שׁמר נִשְׁמָר נִשְׁמֶ֫רֶת נִשְׁמָרִים נִשְמָרוֹת Is guarded
sh-m-r nishmár nishméret nishmarím nishmarót
Example conjugations in the present tense.

The present tense doesn't inflect by first, second or third person because its use as a present tense is a relatively recent trend, as this form was originally used as the participle. The ancient language didn't have strictly-defined past, present or future tenses, but merely perfect and imperfect tenses, with past, present or future connotation depending on context. Later the perfect and imperfect tenses were explicitly refashioned as the past and future tenses respectively, with the participle standing in as the present tense. (This also happened to the Aramaic language around the same time.) The modern present tense verb is still used as the present participle; see further down.

Past tense

A verb in the past tense (עָבַר ʻavár) agrees with its subject in person (first, second, or third) and number, and in the second-person singular and plural and third-person singular, gender.

Note that the past/perfect and the present/participle tenses of the third-person singular nifʻál were historically pronounced with different vowels in the final syllable—the past/perfect with a patáħ gadól ( ַ  = /ɐː/), and the present/participle with a qamáts gadól ( ָ  = /ɔː/). In Modern Hebrew, both of these vowels have merged to /a/, and the two verb forms now are pronounced the same. For example, the past tense נִשְׁמַר nishmár means "he was guarded" (or in old-fashioned perfect tense "he is/was guarded"), whereas the present tense נִשְׁמָר nishmár means "he is being guarded".

Form Root Singular Plural
He She You I They Ye We
Paʻál שׁמר שָׁמַר שָֽׁמְרָה שָׁמַ֫רְתָּ שָׁמַרְתְּ שָׁמַ֫רְתִּי שָֽׁמְרוּ שְׁמַרְתֶּם שְׁמַרְתֶּן שָׁמַ֫רְנוּ
sh-m-r shamár shamrá shamárta shamárt shamárti shamrú shmartém shmartén shamárnu
Piʻél גדל גִּידֵּל גִּידְּלָה גִּידַּ֫לְתָּ גִּידַּלְתְּ גִּידַּ֫לְתִּי גִּידְּלוּ גִּידַּלְתֶּם גִּידַּלְתֶּן גִּידַּ֫לְנוּ
g-d-l giddél giddlá giddálta giddált giddálti giddlú giddaltém giddaltén giddálnu
Hifʻíl קטנ הִקְטִין הִקְטִי֫נָה הִקְטַ֫נְתָּ הִקְטַנְתְּ הִקְטַ֫נְתִּי הִקְטִ֫ינוּ הִקְטַנְתֶּם הִקְטַנְתֶּן הִקְטַ֫נּוּ
q-t-n hiqtín hiqtína hiqtánta hiqtánt hiqtánti hiqtínu hiqtantém hiqtantén hiqtánnu
Hitpaʻél בטל הִתְבַּטֵּל הִתְבַּטְּלָה הִתְבַּטַּ֫לְתָּ הִתְבַּטַּלְתְּ הִתְבַּטַּ֫לְתִּי הִתְבַּטְּלוּ הִתְבַּטַּלְתֶּם הִתְבַּטַּלְתֶּן הִתְבַּטַּ֫לְנוּ
b-t-l hitbattél hitbattlá hitbattálta hitbattált hitbattálti hitbattlú hitbattaltém hitbattaltén hitbattálnu
Hufʻál קטנ הוּקְטַן הוּקְטְנָה הוּקְטַ֫נְתָּ הוּקְטַנְתְּ הוּקְטַ֫נְתִּי הוּקְטְנוּ הוּקְטַנְתֶּם הוּקְטַנְתֶּן הוּקְטַ֫נּוּ
q-t-n huqtán huqtná huqtánta huqtánt huqtánti huqtnú huqtantém huqtantén huqtánnu
Puʻál גדל גּוּדַּל גּוּדְּלָה גּוּדַּ֫לְתָּ גּוּדַּלְתְּ גּוּדַּ֫לְתִּי גּוּדְּלוּ גּוּדַּלְתֶּם גּוּדַּלְתֶּן גּוּדַּ֫לְנוּ
g-d-l guddál guddlá guddálta guddált guddálti guddlú guddaltém guddaltén guddálnu
Nifʻál שׁמר נִשְׁמַר נִשְׁמְרָה נִשְׁמַ֫רְתָּ נִשְׁמַרְתְּ נִשְׁמַ֫רְתִּי נִשְׁמְרוּ נִשְׁמַרְתֶּם נִשְׁמַרְתֶּן נִשְׁמַ֫רְנוּ
sh-m-r nishmár nishmrá nishmárta nishmárt nishmárti nishmrú nishmartém nishmartén nishmárnu
Example conjugations in the past tense.

Future tense

A verb in the future tense (עָתִיד ʻatíd) agrees with its subject in person and number, and in the second- and third-person singular, gender. The second-person singular masculine and third-person singular feminine forms are identical for all verbs in the future tense. Historically, there have been separate feminine forms for the second- and third-person plural (shown in parentheses on the table). These are still occasionally used today (most often in formal settings), and could be seen as the 'correct' forms; however in everyday speech, most Israelis use the historically male form for both genders.

Form Root Singular Plural
He She You I They You We
M F M (F) M (F)
Paʻál שׁמר יִשְׁמוֹר תִּשְׁמוֹר תִּשְׁמוֹר תִּשְׁמְרִי אֶשְׁמוֹר יִשְׁמְרוּ תִּשְׁמ֫וֹרנָה תִּשְׁמְרוּ תִּשְׁמ֫וֹרנָה נִשְׁמוֹר
sh-m-r yishmór tishmór tishmór tishmrí eshmór yishmrú tishmórna tishmrú tishmórna nishmór
Piʻél גדל יְגַדֵּל תְּגַדֵּל תְּגַדֵּל תְּגַדְּלִי אֲגַדֵּל יְגַדְּלוּ תִּגְדַּ֫לְנָה תְּגַדְּלוּ תִּגְדַּ֫לְנָה נְגַדֵּל
g-d-l yegaddél tegaddél tegaddél tegaddlí agaddél yegaddlú tigdálna tegaddlú tigdálna negaddél
Hifʻíl קטנ יַקְטִין תַּקְטִין תַּקְטִין תַּקְטִ֫ינִי אַקְטִין יַקְטִ֫ינוּ תַּקְטֶ֫ינָה תַּקְטִ֫ינוּ תַּקְטֶ֫ינָה נַקְטִין
q-t-n yaqtín taqtín taqtín taqtíni aqtín yaqtínu taqtéyna taqtínu taqtéyna naqtín
Hitpaʻél בטל יִתְבַּטֵּל תִּתְבַּטֵּל תִּתְבַּטֵּל תִּתְבַּטְּלִי אֶתְבַּטֵּל יִתְבַּטְּלוּ תִּתְבַּטֵּ֫לְנָה תִּתְבַּטְּלוּ תִּתְבַּטֵּ֫לְנָה נִתְבַּטֵּל
b-t-l yitbattél titbattél titbattél titbattlí etbattél yitbattlú titbattélna titbattlú titbattélna nitbattél
Hufʻál קטנ יוּקְטַן תּוּקְטַן תּוּקְטַן תּוּקְטְנִי אוּקְטַן יוּקְטְנוּ תּוּקְטַ֫נָּה תּוּקְטְנוּ תּוּקְטַ֫נָּה נוּקְטַן
q-t-n yuqtán tuqtán tuqtán tuqtní uqtán yuqtnú tuqtánna tuqtnú tuqtánna nuqtán
Puʻál גדל יְגוּדַּל תְּגוּדַּל תְּגוּדַּל תְּגוּדְּלִי אֲגוּדַּל יְגוּדְּלוּ תְּגוּדַּ֫לְנָה תְּגוּדְּלוּ תְּגוּדַּ֫לְנָה נְגוּדַּל
g-d-l yeguddál teguddál teguddál teguddlí aguddál yeguddlú teguddálna teguddlú teguddálna neguddál
Nifʻál שׁמר יִישָּׁמֵר תִּישָּׁמֵר תִּישָּׁמֵר תִּישָּׁמְרִי אֶשָּׁמֵר יִישָּׁמְרוּ תִּישַּׁמֵּ֫רְנָה תִּישָּׁמְרוּ תִּישַּׁמֵּ֫רְנָה נִישָּׁמֵר
sh-m-r yishshamér tishshamér tishshamér tishshamrí eshshamér yishshamrú teshammérna tishshamrú tishammérna nishshamér
Example conjugations in the future tense.

As in the past tense, personal pronouns are not strictly necessary in the future tense, as the verb forms are sufficient to identify the subject, but they are frequently used.


Except for the strictly passive binyaním (puʻál and hufʻál), each binyán has distinct imperative forms in the second person. This imperative form is only used for affirmative commands. Paʻál, nifʻál, piʻél, and hifʻíl form their imperatives by dropping the initial ת of the future-tense form (e.g., תפתח tiftáħ (singular, masc.) → פתח ptaħ! "open!", תשמרי tishmrí (singular, fem.) → שמרי shimrí! "guard!"); the fifth, hitpaʻél, forms its imperative by replacing this initial ת with ה (titbattélhitbattél "do nothing!"). (Note that the dropping of the initial ת often results in a change in vocalization, as can be seen in the instance of tishmrí/shimrí).

Negative commands use the particle אל al followed by the future-tense form. For example, אל תדאג al tidʼág means "don't worry" (masculine, singular).

In colloquial speech, the future tense is commonly used for affirmative commands when making requests, so that for example, תפתח tiftáħ can mean either "you will open" or "open" (masculine, singular), but this is considered incorrect usage.

The infinitive can be used as a "general imperative" when addressing nobody in particular (e.g. on signs, or when giving general instructions to children or large groups), so that for example, נא לא לפתוח na lo liftóaħ means "please do not open".


Present participles are identical to present tense forms (the modern present tense actually having been derived from the ancient present participle): נרות בוערים nerót boʻarím (burning candles), הילדה מקסימה ha-yaldá maqsimá (the girl is charming).

Only the paʻál binyán has a true past participle: from כתב k-t-b we have כתוב katúv, (writ, written). This gives Hebrew a limited ability to distinguish between a completed action, e.g.:

  • הספרים כתובים ha-sfarím ktuvím (the books have been written)

And, using the present tense of nifʻál, which is often the passive of paʻál, a continuing action:

  • הספרים נכתבים ha-sfarím nikhtavím (the books are being written)

The passive participle is commonly used as an adjective, as in הפקודה הכתובה ha-pqudá ha-ktuvá (the written order).

The present tense of the puʻál and hufʻál are used as passive participles for the piʻél and hifʻíl respectively, e.g. from hifʻíl האיר heʼír (lit) we get חדר מואר ħéder muʼár (lit room).

Prospectives (Infinitives)

Prospectives (shmot ha-poʻál) in Hebrew are primarily formed by adding the letter lamed (ל) to the front of the base form (tsurát ha-maqór). The vowels change systematically according to the binyán.

  • כתב katáv (wrote, paʻál) → לכתוב likhtóv (to write)
  • מדבר medabbér (speak, piʻél) → לדבר ledabbér (to speak)
  • התחיל hitħíl (started, hifʻíl) → להתחיל lehatħíl (to start)
  • התפלל hitpallél (prayed, hitpaʻél) → להתפלל lehitpallél (to pray)
  • נפגש nifgásh (met with, nifʻál) → להיפגש lehippagésh (to meet with)

Puʻál and hufʻál verbs do not have prospectives.


Gerunds (shmot peʻulá) are nouns expressing an action. Gerunds are created in Hebrew by putting the root of a verb in a "mishqál" (see Hebrew grammar#Nouns). Five of the binyaním have gerunds: paʻál, piʻél, hifʻíl, hitpaʻél and nifʻál. For example:

  • שמר shamár (guarded — paʻál) → שמירה shmirá (guarding)
    • שב shav (returned — hollow paʻál) → שיבה shivá (returning, a return)
    • שתה shatá (drank — weak paʻál) → שתייה shtiyá (drinking, a drink)
  • נכנס nikhnás (enter — nifʻál) → היכנסות hikkansút (entering)
  • ביקר biqqér (visited — piʻél) → ביקור biqqúr (visiting, a visit)
  • הפתיע hiftíaʻ (surprised — hifʻíl) → הפתעה hafteʻá (surprising, a surprise)
  • התחמם hitħammém (warmed — hitpaʻél) → התחממות hitħammemút (warming)

Note that unlike in English (where gerunds and present participles share the same form), Hebrew gerunds cannot be used as adjectives.

See also

External links



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