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Hebrew Helps: 13-14

© 2010, T. Michael W. Halcomb

Help 13: In “Help” 13, we want to consider the singularity or “singular-ness” of singular
nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc. In Hebrew, we refer to “singular” as the “number” of
the term. To put it more simply, if a term has a “number,” then it is either singular, plural
or dual. (Note: I distinguish these from the “majestic” or “honorific,” identification,
which we will talk about later.)
It is easiest, in my opinion, to talk about “number” alongside “gender.” In
Hebrew, nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc. all have one of two genders: masculine (masc)
or feminine (fem). We will deal more with “gender” later but, as we begin think about
parsing (that is, identifying the details of a word), “number” and “gender” are two
important things we need to keep in mind. So, let’s just give a table below, which ONLY
focuses on “masculine / feminine singular” terms to make this clear:

‫סוּס‬ ‫מֶ לְֶך‬ Note:
Masc Sg (Masculine
terms will be
UNMARKED. This means that,
unlike the feminine sg terms, they
Feminine have no immediate marking to tell
‫מַ ְלכָה‬ ‫סוּסָה‬ you that they are Masc Sg.

Note: The h" is a often suffix MARKING that will tell you the term is “fem sg” (feminine singular).

Help 14: In the previous “Help” we looked at some samples of Masculine and Feminine
Singular terms in Hebrew. We learned that Masc Sg terms are UNMARKED as far as
gender / number identifiers go and that Fem Sg terms often have h " as a marking. Here,
we want to consider Masculine and Feminine Plurals.

‫מְ ָלכִים‬ ‫סוּסִים‬ Note: Masc Pl (Masculine Plural)
terms are marked by ~y . the
‫מְ לָכוֹת‬ ‫סוּסוֹת‬

Note: The ‫ וֹת‬is a suffix MARKING that will tell you the term is Fem Pl (feminine plural).