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Rules for Inseparable Prepositions & Vowel Pointing
In part one, you learned the three inseparable prepositions in Hebrew and their various basic meanings. In this article we will deal with the rules that govern how the inseparable prepositions are attached to nouns.

Rule #1
Inseparable prepositions are attached with a sheva before consonants with a full vowel.

Rule #2
If the first consonant of the noun has a simple sheva, the preposition is pointed with a hireq.

Rule #3
If the first consonant of the noun has a compound sheva, the preposition will take the same short vowel as the compound.

Rule #4

When the inseparable preposition is attached to a noun with the definite article, the definite article (he) drops and is replaced with the full vowel according to the rules of vowel pointing for the definite article.

Rule #5
When the inseparable preposition is attached to the accented syllable of a noun, it is usually pointed with a qames.

Mnemonics to Remember the Rules for the Inseparable Prepositions

Rule#1: Shevas Slip Under Inseparables!

Simply memorize that the basic pointing of an inseparable preposition is a sheva

Rule #2: Sheva Minus One Dot
You know that the basic rule for inseparable prepositions is to point them with a sheva. When you come across a noun that already has a sheva under its first consonant, simply imagine that the bottom "dot" of the sheva falls away when connected to another sheva.

Rule #3: Compound? Come On Over!

This is another easy to remember rule. Simply visualize that when you encounter a compound sheva, the sheva morphs into the corresponding vowel of the compound.

Rule #4: Definitely Use the Rule for the Definite Article!
If you know your rules for the definite article, this is easy too. Just remember the rules for the definite article vowel pointing.

Rule #5: Munahs Must Flip!
When you encounter the munah in the text (which looks like half of an inverted qames), simply flip the munah (in your imagination) and put it under the preposition - it will remind you of the qames.

More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!
I hope this article on learning the rules for the inseparable preposition in Hebrew has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Biblical Hebrew grammar and Hebrew paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory!

 
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What are Prepositions?
Let's go back to basic grammar and "parts of speech." If your grammar is rusty, don't sweat it. Prepositions are simple. The preposition is used to show direction, location, time, or to introduce an object. For example, "I put my wallet ON the table." Another example, "I went TO the store." So, now that we've refreshed our memories as to what prepositions are, let's talk about the Hebrew preposition.

Hebrew Prepositions
The good new first: there are only three Hebrew inseparable prepositions! The bad news? As you would expect, the vowel pointing of the inseparable preposition does funky things when it meets shevas and definite articles. We'll tackle the rules of attachment next week. First, let's learn the inseparable prepositions and their meanings. 

The Inseparable Prepositions
The three inseparable preposition in Hebrew are:
  • בּ   in, by, with (and others)
  • כּ   as, like, according to (and others)
  • ל   to, for, at (and others)

How to Remember the Three Inseparable Hebrew Prepositions
I use this simple acrostic mnemonic to recall the three prepositions: "Be Kool Lee!"  As you can see, each English letter corresponds to the phonetic value of the Hebrew. Make up your own acrostic / acronym to remember the three.

To recall the basic meanings of each of the prepositions, I work with my acronym:
  • "Be" is transformed to its "sound-alike," "Bee." I visualize an "Inn" for "bees." Then I "link," by association, "in" to "by." I picture an "Inn" waving "bye." Finally I link "Bye" (by) to "with." I picture a hand waving "bye" that is a mile in width (with).
  • "Kool" is linked with "ass" (as in "donkey" folks). I picture an "ass" licking the condensation of the Kool Aid character ("like" sound-alike); then I associate "like" (lick) to "according to," for which I use "accordion." I visualize myself "licking" (like) an accordion (according to) to make it play.
  • "Lee" is linked with "to." I picture Bruce Lee wearing a tutu (to). Next link "to" to "for." For myself, I link "tutu" (to) with a golf club (fore! i.e. for); so I see a golf club wearing a tutu. Finally I associate "for" (golf club) to "at." I visualize a Star Wars "At-At"(at) that has golf clubs (for) for legs.

And there you have it! As usual, the description of how to memorize takes much longer than the actual practice. Try it, you'll be amazed at how quickly you will learn these prepositions!

Next week, we will examine the rules for attaching the inseparable prepositions to nouns.

More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!
I hope this article on learning the inseparable preposition in Hebrew has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Biblical Hebrew grammar and Hebrew paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory!


 
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Basic Hebrew Stuff on The Definite Article

Let's get the basics out of the way first. There are only three basic rules you need to remember about the Hebrew definite article:
  • Hebrew has no indefinite article - so if you don’t see the definite article, it's indefinite (e.g. a boy ran...).
  • The definite article is prefixed, and does not stand alone, to the noun it modifies. In other words, the definite article is not like English where it stands separate (e.g. the boy; הַיּלד in Hebrew).
  • Before non-gutturals (א,ה,ח,ע) simply remember it is written ּהַ (he-patah, daghesh forte in first consonant).

So, there you have the basic rules. This will cover many, many encounters you have with the definite article in Hebrew. Just remember if you see the he-patahdaghesh forte combination, you're dealing with the definite article — attach "the" in your English translation.

The Definite Article in front of Gutturals

In a previous post I talked about why it is important to know by heart the Hebrew gutturals. Here is a shinning example. The definite article changes its vowel pointing before a guttural.

You will have to know four basic variations to accommodate the gutturals. I will give you memory helps (mnemonics) on how to remember these variations.

These mnemonics are based on visualization, not rote. If you want to learn them via rote, well, you know the drill. If you want to learn mnemonics that will help you learn them faster and encode them deeper in your memory, read on!
  1. Before he and het (ה, ח) the article is written he-patah (הַ); How to remember this rule? I visualize the dagesh being eaten by the he and het when the definite article is placed next to these gutturals.
  2. Before alef, ayin and res (א,ע,ר) the article is usually written he-qames (הָ). How to remember this rule? In my imagination I can visualize inserting a qames in these gutturals. I can see fitting a qames diagonally in the alef; I fit a patah, inverted in bottom of the ayin; I see a qames in the top of the res
  3. Before het-qames (חָ) and unaccented he-qames (הָ) or unaccented ayin qames (עָ), the definite article is written he-segol (ה) [my computer will not allow me to produce the segol in Hebrew]. How to remember this rule? I visualize the qames under the het, he and ayin shattering when placed before the definite article into a segol.
  4. Before yod-sheva, the article will normally be written he-patah (הַ). How to remember this rule? When I see the yod-sheva combination, I imagine the normal definite article (he-patah-dagesh) losing the dagesh by floating under the yod and splitting into two forming a sheva.

More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!
I hope this brief article on learning the definite article in Hebrew has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Biblical Hebrew grammar and Hebrew paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory!

 
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What are the Gutturals?
Gutturals are so called because of where they are articulated, in the back of the throat.

English speakers don't use "gutturals," so the concept of these letters is unusual, particularly to Hebrew students who are learning and working with a language that relies heavily upon the gutturals.

The gutturals are the aleph, he, het, ayin and res (א, ה, ח,ע,ר).

Why are the Gutturals Important to Know?
At first it may seem that learning the gutturals is a piece of trivia for linguists. But in Hebrew, you must know the gutturals.

So, why exactly do you need to learn the gutturals in Hebrew?
  • To understand the distinction between "Strong" and "Weak" verbs. Weak verbs contain gutturals.
  • To understand the "morphology" (how words change) of Hebrew verbs that contain gutturals.
  • To have the ability to predict changes in Hebrew morphology for verbs containing gutturals in order to find their lexical (dictionary) location.

Characteristics of Gutturals
Gutturals take on distinct characteristics that will help you "parse" weak verbs (remember that weak verbs are those verbs which contain a guttural).

Here are the main features of the Hebrew guttural:
  • Gutturals tend to take "a" class vowels
  • Gutturals cannot be doubled
  • Gutturals prefer compound shevas rather than simple shevas 

It's not important to explain what all that means right now, you will learn its importance as you progress in your Hebrew grammar. For now, just realize that you need to memorize the gutturals to help you down the road in your studies.

How to Easily Remember the Gutturals
As we stated in the beginning, the gutturals are the aleph, he, het, ayin and res (א, ה, ח,ע,ר)

A simple method of learning the gutturals is to "link" them. Use a "header" as a sort of "file folder" in your memory to keep this information stored and easily retrievable.


While there are only five letters to memorize, which can be done with rote, using the "link" forces your attention and will help you retain the information for longer.

Here's how to link them (the explanation takes much longer than actually doing it):
  1. Create a "header" or subject file for this piece of memory information. You will use this "header" as the first "link" to the first guttural.
  2. Find a "sound-alike" word for each of these Hebrew letters. For example, alef sounds to me like "a leaf" in English.
  3. In your imagination, "link" the "header" to the first guttural, alef. For myself, I link a "gutter" (guttural) to "a leaf." In my imagination I picture a narrow gutter overflowing with millions of leafs.
  4. Next "link," in  your imagination, the alef to the next guttural, the he. He sounds like "hay" in English to me. So, I link "a leaf" to "hay."  In my imagination I see a huge stack of "hay" made out of "leafs."
  5. Continue your "link" with the next guttural. Work in pairs - do not form a running story for all the letters. One letter will lead to the next. Het sound like "hate" in English to me, so I link "hay" to "hate." I see a stack of "hay" raging against me with "hate."
  6. Continue to work in pairs. Associate (link) the ayin (sound like "eye" to me) to het. I picture "hating" my eye and poking it out!
  7. Associate your final guttural, res, to your previous guttural, ayin. I link "eye" (ayin) to "rake" (res). I see a huge eyeball using a rake to rake up a yard.
  8. Your done! If you've taken the time to do this exercise you will now know the gutturals forwards and backwards -- literally! Try it! 

More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!
I hope this brief article on the gutturals has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Hebrew grammar and paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory!