negation in Hebrew.

why not (1)
Shlomi

Shlomi

Hebrew teacher by trade. An Unemployed philosopher & a frustrated artist. Come learn Hebrew with me.

negation in Hebrew.

In this Hebrew lesson, we will learn about negation in the Hebrew language.
In Hebrew, there are 4 dominate ways to negate a word or a sentence.

which are: לא,אל,אי,בלתי
The first and the most popular is the word “לא” which simply means “NO“.

This is the word you will use to say “NO”, and the word you will use to deny questions and requests. we can negate nouns, verbs, and complete sentences with it.
Here are some examples of how to use “no” in Hebrew.

No, I can’t come today – לא, אני לא יכול לבוא היום
I don’t care – לא אכפת לי
I don’t know – אני לא יודע
It’s not it – זה לא זה
why not – למה לא
It’s not mine – זה לא שלי
No more – לא עוד
Not yet – עוד לא
It’s not possible – זה לא אפשרי

The second most popular word we use to negate in Hebrew is “אל“.
which will normally use as an equivalent to the function of the word “Don’t” in English.
the way we use in Hebrew the word “אל” is to negate verbs that suggest imperative or request. There are rare occasions that the word “אל” will appears before a noun but 99% of the time it will appear before a verb at the beginning of the sentence. And since it appears in a form of Imperative or request it will appear before a verb in the future tense in the second person.

Pro-Tip; Since all second person future tenses in Hebrew start with the letter “ת”. The structure will be- “…אל ת”.

Here are some examples of how to use “Don’t” in Hebrew.
(because in Hebrew there are differences in conjugating the second person masculine feminine and plural there is more than one option to translate “you” )

Don’t speak – אל תדבר, אל תדברי, אל תדברו
Don’t be scared – אל תפחד, אל תפחדי, אל תפחדו
Don’t come – אל תבוא, אל תבואי, אל תבואו
Don’t forget – אל תשכח, אל תשכחי, אל תשכחו
Don’t cry – אל תבכה, אל תבכי,אל תבכו

pay attention: in the Bible, the word can be used more loosely and can appear before nouns like in this famous phrase
which is:” Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you -:הָרֵי בַגִּלְבֹּעַ, אַל-טַל וְאַל-מָטָר עֲלֵיכֶם”
(This passage was taken from David’s Lamentation. He is cursing the mountain that upon them Saul and Jonathan has fallen)

The third word we use to negate is “אי
The usage of this word is rarer than the first two words on this list and fit only a small specific list of words in the Hebrew language.
Here is a short list of the most popular ones.

Not possible – אי אפשר
Discomfort – אי-נוחות
Lack of Self-consciousness – אי מודעות עצמית
Injustice – אי -צדק
Uncertainty – אי-ודאות
Uneven – אי זוגי
Lack of knowledge – אי ידיעה
Unpleasantness אי נעימות
Inequality- אי שוויון
Irrational – אי רציונלי

Here are some examples of how to use this words in a sentence.
It’s not possible to do it now – אי אפשר לעשות את זה עכשיו.
It’s an uneven number – זה מספר לא זוגי
The lack of Self-consciousness about the injustice in our world is part of the reason that inequality and injustice still exist –
חוסר מודעות עצמית על אי הצדק בעולמנו הוא חלק מהסיבה שאי שיוויון ואי צדק עדיין קיימים

Pay Attention: The word “אי” by itself means “an island” in Hebrew

The fourth and the most strongest word we use to negate is “בלתי“. This word like the previous one also comes only with specific words and is rarely.
and when we use it normally we mean that something “cannot be” in any circumstances

Here is a short list of the most popular ones.
Invisible – בלתי נראה
Unreasonable – בלתי סביר
Impossible – בלתי אפשרי
Ilegal – בלתי חוקי
Unforgettable – בלתי נשכח
irreversible – בלתי הפיך

Here are some examples of how to use this words in a sentence.
Yesterday we saw the movie Misson Impossible – אתמול ראינו את הסרט משימה בלתי אפשרית
It’s Unreasonable to learn Hebrew in one month – זה בלתי סביר ללמוד עברית בחודש
It’s not impossible to learn Hebrew – זה לא בלתי אפשרי ללמוד עברית

Here is a nice song in Hebrew that starts and repeats the lines.

אל תלכי מכאן. לא, לא, אל תלכי מכאן”
“יש לי רק אותך, יש לי רק אותך
“Don’t go from here. no, no, don’t go away from here
I have only you, all I have is you”