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Seven Stems to Rule them All
There are seven basic verb stems (conjugations) or "Binyan" (Hebrew for "building") in Biblical Hebrew. While the Qal occurs most frequently, the six other stems must be known to facilitate reading Biblical Hebrew.

In the first part of this article we will explore the meaning or each stem and how to remember their function. In part 2, we will learn their identifying  marks and how to remember their distinct markings.

First, let's list all seven stems and then look at them individually (Kelly, 108):
  • Qal (Simple Active)
  • Nif'al (Simple Passive or Reflexive)
  • Pi'el (Intensive Active or Causative)
  • Pu'al (Intensive Passive)
  • Hitpa'el (Reflexive)
  • Hif'il (Causative Active)
  • Hof'al (Causative Pasive)


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Remember the Basic Meaning of the Seven Hebrew Verbal Stems — Aural Mnemonics

A challenge for nearly every Hebrew student is keeping the meaning of the verbal stems separate and distinct.  In order to assist your memory in recalling the meaning of the stems use aural mnemonics and your imagination.


I will lead you through a few examples:
  • Qal - sounds like "call." The basic active stem, generally translated in the past tense. If you need a memory device, picture yourself checking your answering machine (or voice mail these days) and hearing that you missed thousands of calls (sound-alike; past tense).
  • Nif'al - sounds like "sniffle." Picture a sniffling nose hitting you with a baseball bat (you are passively being hit). Use any action association that reminds you of a sniffling nose where you are passive.
  • Pi'el - sounds (and spelled) like "pie" and "L." Picture a giant "L" falling into a pie and making grow (intensification / causative).
  • Keep going, making up aural mnemonics for the remaining verbal stems. A complete listing of mnemonics for each stem may be found in Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! The Triad System and also in Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! The Complete System. In addition, helpful hints are given to create your own stem mnemonics!
More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!

I hope this article on Hebrew Verb Stems (Binyan) has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Biblical Hebrew grammar, vocabulary and Hebrew paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory! While you're there, be sure to sign up for our newsletter that has exclusive discounters for our members!

 
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Hebrew Action — The Qal Perfect
This is the form verbs are listed in a lexicon, in the Qal perfect third masculine singular.  The Qal "designates the simple active stem of the verb." (Kelly, 80)

Some Verbs Workout, Others Not So Much — Strong and Weak Verbs
Hebrew verbs are either "strong" or "weak."  To keep the identification simple, remember that strong verbs have three consonants. A sure signal that a Hebrew verb is weak is to remember is that weak verbs contain a guttural as one of its three consonants. 

Qal Perfect Suffixes

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Basic Memorization Tips for Memorizing the Qal Perfect Suffixes

In my book, The Triad System (also contained in the Complete System), I give you the tools you need to visualize these suffixes to memorize them quickly.


Let's look at some basic helps to get you started in memorizing this paradigm:
  • Note that the tav  dominates this paradigm. It is present in all 2 singular and plural forms.
  • Note that in the plural forms, the segol  is present in both the masculine and feminine forms.
  • Note that the final mem follows the tav in the 2mp (think, "mem equals man") and the final nun in the 2fp (thin, "nuns are female").
  • Look at the visual chart below to help memorize the vowel pointing for the singular form:

More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!

I hope this article on Hebrew Qal suffixes has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Biblical Hebrew grammar, vocabulary and Hebrew paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory! While you're there, be sure to sign up for our newsletter that has exclusive discounters for our members!
 
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Hebrew Pronominal Suffixes
"Pronominal suffixes are shortened forms of the personal pronouns." You can brush up on your personal pronouns here on Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! 


Continuing on Kelley states, "They may be attached directly to the end of prepositions, particles, nouns, and verbs." 
(Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar, 68)

If you don't know your Hebrew prepositions, you'll want to brush up with our blog on the inseparable preposition.

There are three important things to keep in mind about Hebrew pronominal suffixes:
  1. When attached to prepositions they act as objects of the preposition
  2. When attached to nouns, they act as possessive pronouns
  3. When attached to verbs they generally act as direct objects of the verb

(Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar, 68)

The Good News About Hebrew Pronominal Suffixes
Considering that pronominal suffixes are attached to prepositions, nouns and verbs you'd think you'd have to memorize three sets of paradigms or more. Wrong! You only need to learn one paradigm in Hebrew. There are only very minor changes in the paradigms for the different parts of speech.

Compare these charts to see the minor variations (and rejoice you don't need to learn more than one paradigm!):


Notes on the Paradigms:
  • The plural form on nouns takes a yod before each of the suffixes. This is easy to remember, the yod reminds you of "y'all," the plural of "you" in English.
  • There are other minor variations in the pronominal suffixes when attached to verbs -- such as verbs ending in a verb (displayed above) and verbs ending with a consonant. The differences are so minor that additional paradigms are not necessary. See any standard Hebrew grammar to see the differences.
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Memorization Strategies and Mnemonics for Pronominal Suffixes

In my publication, The Triad System, also contained in The Complete System, I give specific mnemonic techniques for you to visually learn the pronominal suffixes.


Here are some other helpful tips when learning the Hebrew pronominal suffixes:
  • Note that in the 2nd Person, singular and plural, the consonant is always a kaf (final kaf in singular, kaf-final mem in plural). If you turn the kaf on its side, it is a reminder of "you" (looks like the English letter "u").
  • The he in the 3 mp and 3 fp forms are in themselves a phonetic cue of "them" ("hem"  sounds like  "them").
  • Study the given paradigms. Look for and find the common patterns across all paradigms. What is repeatable or predicable is easier to remember!

More Biblical Hebrew Memory Helps!
I hope this article on Hebrew pronominal suffixes has helped you! For more powerful memory helps in learning Biblical Hebrew grammar, vocabulary and Hebrew paradigms be sure to visit Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! Or visit my author homepage, Boost Your Memory! While you're there, be sure to sign up for our newsletter that has exclusive discounters for our members!