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Hebrew - Accenting, letters and syllables


Marks an accent if this is not on the last syllable.
Marks the end of the first half of the verse, and is placed below the accented (tone) syllable of the last word in the first half.
Marks the end of the second half of the verse, and is placed below the tone syllable of the last word in the second half. It therefore comes just before the verse-end marker sûph pâssûq :
This appears exactly as sîllûq but appears on different syllables:
  1. to ensure correct pronunciation of a long vowel two or more syllables before the tone syllable
  2. with short vowels immediately before a compound sheva
  3. with long or short vowels immediately before a simple vocal sheva
  4. with unchangeable long vowels before maqqêph

Weak letters

’aleph and hê are always regular consonants when at the start of a syllable. At the end of a syllable they can become quiescent and remain only as vowel letters (matres lectionis), in which case they leave the syllable open rather than closed. ’aleph is always quiescent at the end of any syllable, but hê only when it ends a word. hê with a mappiq has its consonantal value restored.


Gutturals cannot be doubled with daghesh forte. If other circumstances would require this, then typically a preceding short vowel is lengthened in compensation. The lengthening is normally a -> â, î -> ê, and u -> ô. However, h and ch typically do not exhibit this change.

Gutturals tend to take a-class vowels in preference to others before and sometimes after. frequently, if another unchangeable long vowel is found before a final guttural, a patach furtive is inserted between the vowel and the guttural - eg rûach. This patach furtive is lost if linguistic changes (eg plurals) add other letters to the end of the word.

Gutturals tend to take compound rather than simple sheva.


  1. Every consonant must be followed by a vowel (full or half, simple or compound) or a silent sheva, except for final consonants or a quiescent ’aleph.
  2. All syllables must begin with a consonant.
  3. A syllable must include exactly one full vowel. It may also contain a half vowel, in which case will be below the consonant beginning the syllable (so before the full vowel).
  4. An open syllable ends in a vowel or quiescent ’aleph and hê, and normally has a long full vowel. The vowel may be short if the syllable is accented, or if it is followed by a consonant with vocal sheva.
  5. A closed syllable ends with a consonant and normally has a short full vowel. The vowel may be long if the syllable is accented.
  6. A doubled consonant (daghesh forte) causes the preceding syllable to be closed - the following syllable may be either closed or open. The only exception is yôdh DF - the first combines with the preceding vowel to make a diphthong, thus giving an open syllable with long vowel (diphthongs are always long). So hayyôm -> h(ay)|yôm, ie OL|CL.
Language formalities