Notes on Hebrew grammar and morphology

The Ethnologue code for Biblical Hebrew is HBO (presumably standing for HeBrew, Old).

I'd like to be able to read the Old Testament without needing a translation.

I found some notes at, that are much clearer than the book I'm using; and a Hebrew-speaking English friend sent me the links and

Keyboard layout

Here's the Hebrew keyboard as given in leim/quail/hebrew.el in the Emacs distribution. I've split it into two coloured sections to match my "Comfort Keyboard", which has separate half-keyboards for each hand; I think this is the normal split for touch-typing on ordinary keyboards, too..

1 ! 2 @ 3 # 4 $ 5 % 6 ^ 7 & 8 * 9 ( 0 ) - _ = + ; ~
/ Q ' W ק E ר R א T ט Y ו U ן I ם O פ P [ { ] }
ש A ד S ג D כ F ע G י H ח J ל K ך L ף : , " \ |
ז Z ס X ב C ה V נ B מ N צ M ת < ; ץ > ; . ?

My own notes

  • ends in a consonant that is not the initial consonant of the next syllable
  • must have either
    • a short vowel
    • the accent (stress)
  • ends in a vowel; if there is a following consonant, it is the initial consonant of the next syllable
normally on the last syllable

Note: I am an amateur enthusiast about languages, and not a linguist. I don't know this language in depth, and these notes have come entirely or almost entirely from learning from books. I made these notes for my convenience, because I don't like ploughing through the verbiage around the actual information in typical language books; I've put them here in case others with the same preference find them useful.

I'd very much welcome corrections and clarifications, especially from native speakers.

If you want a definitive answer on something, you should find someone who knows the language properly!

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John C. G. Sturdy
[John's home] Last modified: Wed Apr 16 17:02:06 IST 2008