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Hebrew Lesson Number 59:

A Day at the Gym

They say there’s no better way to stick with a new exercise program than to share it with a friend. Let’s find out what Dan and Liat have been up to lately to stay fit and healthy!

Some Grammar from This Lesson:

The Infinitive Form in Hebrew - 
When Do We Use It?


Jonathan: Our grammar section for this Hebrew lesson will be mostly dedicated to giving examples and understanding where will we actually use the infinitive construct in the Hebrew sentence.

As we know, the Hebrew word for infinitive construct is makor natuy. There is another name though, which is often used for this form: shem hapoal. 

This term is comprised of 2 words: we are familiar with the first one, shem which means ‘name’. But another translation for this word is ‘noun’. Hapo-al means ‘the verb.’ By this we understand that the second name used for the infinitive construct, shem hapoal, is actually translated as ‘the noun of the verb’.

The infinitive construct is a verbal noun in that it functions both as a Hebrew verb and as a Hebrew noun.

Liat: The form of the regular Hebrew verbs is usually that of a 'finite verb'. It 'carries' within it a lot of information as to the person, number, gender and tense of the verb. 

For example, from just one word -- the verb “shamarten”--we know that it is in the second person, it is addressed to more than one female, and that it happened in the past!

The infinitive construct, on the other hand, does not give us this information. It doesn’t indicate a person, a number, a gender or a tense. So it doesn’t behave exactly as we would expect a verb to.

Dan: On the other hand, the infinitive is not considered strictly a noun since it cannot be particular, meaning, it cannot be preceded by the definite article ‘ha’. You can never say ha-lilmod for example.

Liat: Not being strictly a verb, not being strictly a noun, the infinitive construct’s role within the syntax of the sentence may be as the subject of the sentence, but it could also be as the predicate of the sentence.

Learn Hebrew Pod - Lesson No. 59

When acting as a noun, it will usually be the subject. When acting as a verb, it will usually be the predicate.

Jonathan: Starting from lesson 61, we will learn and review the way Hebrew uses the gerund form. 

The usage and general function of both the gerund and the infinitive construct are for the most part very easy to understand for English speakers, as they are quite similar in English and in Hebrew. 

There are, though, some instances, expressions and terms which use the makor natuy that are unique to the Hebrew language.

Dan: Let’s review some of the different uses of the infinitive construct - hamakor hanatuy, in Hebrew:

טוב לשמור את השבת

Dan: tov lishmor et haShabat – lishmor is the infinitive form for shamar. It is translated as “to keep” or “to observe.”

So, “tov lishmor et haShabat” is translated as: it is good to observe the Sabbath, or observing the Sabbath is good.

The word ‘tov’ functions here as a predicate adjectivelishmor is a verbal noun which functions as the subject of the sentence. The “is” conjugation of the “to be” verb serves as a linking verb. It is, as we know from our previous lessons, invisible in the Hebrew present tense.

tov lishmor et haShabat  -  it is good to observe the Sabbath.

אסור לעשן

Liat: Another example:

asur leashen  – leashen is the infinitive construct form of ishen – smoked.

asur leashen – it is not allowed to smoke, or smoking is not allowed.

*Read and listen to the Full Hebrew Grammar Discussion - Join the Learn Hebrew Pod Advanced Speaking Hebrew Program.