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.
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!