Hebrew - Nouns - General
Classes of noun
There are three main classes of Hebrew nouns:
- Primitive ones for which there is no known derivation, such as ’av (father), ’êm (mother), etc
- The great majority are derived from verbs, eg.
dâbâr (word) from dibêr (he spoke)
melekh (king) from mâlakh (he ruled), etc.
- A few nouns are derived from other nouns, eg.
bôqêr (a herdsman) from bâqâr (a herd)
mitsrîy (an Egyptian) from mitsrayim (Egypt)
Nouns are either masculine or feminine (no neuter). Masculine nouns do not follow a definite pattern: feminine nouns are easier to categorise. Except for male/female people and animals, there is no obvious connection between grammatical gender and the object in question. As well as this, the main categories of grammatically-feminine nouns are:
- Nouns ending in âh, especially when added to a masculine noun
- Nouns ending in th
- parts of the body that exist in pairs
Note that there are exceptions to each of these.
Adjectival endings always agree with the grammatical gender and number of the noun in question, irrespective of the noun ending. So feminine singular adjectives always end -âh, feminine plural adjectives always end -ôth, and masculine plural adjectives always end -îym. For more details see Adjectives
For more details see Suffixes - plural forms
- Most masculine plural nouns end with -îym, though a few have -ôth.
- Most feminine plural nouns end with -ôth, though a few have -îym.
- A few nouns can end in either form, eg.
dôr (masculine, generation) can be found in both dôrîym and dôrôth forms
shânâh (feminine, year) can be found in both shânîym and shânôth forms
Dual forms are always -a
yim, regardless of grammatical gender, though pairs of body parts are in fact frequently feminine (see above). A few nouns have a dual ending but no obvious dual meaning, for example ma
yim (water), shâma
yim (sky, heavens), ye
yim (Jerusalem), mitsra