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Hebrew - Adjectives

Vocalisation and stem structure

The stem part of adjectives changes in certain predictable ways when feminine or plural endings are attached. The rules are as follows.

Masculine singular adjectives that are monosyllabic
  1. Monosyllabic adjectives with unchangeably long vowels (îy, êy, ô, û) keep these:
    goodtôvtôvîym tôvâhtôvôth
    emptyrêyqrêyqîym rêyqâhrêyqôth
  2. Monosyllabic adjectives with short vowels and not ending in gutturals keep the short vowel and lengthen the consonant with daghesh forte:
    livingchaychayyîym chayyâhchayyôth
    strong‘az‘azzîym ‘azzâh‘azzôth
    manyravrabbîym rabbâhrabbôth
  3. Monosyllabic adjectives with short vowels which do end in gutturals change to a long vowel as the consonant cannot be lengthened:
    bittermarmârîym mârâhmârôth
    evilra‘râ‘îym râ‘âhrâ‘ôth

Masculine singular adjectives that are bisyllabic
All such adjectives have â as the first vowel. When feminine or plural endings are attached this must be changed to sheva, just as for nouns.
  1. The normal pattern is as follows:
    1. If the initial consonant is not a guttural, it changes to simple sheva.
      greatgâdôl gedôlîym gedôlâh gedôlôth
      oldzâqên zeqênîym zeqênâh zeqênôth
      rightyâshâr yeshârîym yeshârâh yeshârôth
    2. However, if the initial consonant is a guttural, it changes to compound sheva a.
      newchâdâsh chadâshîym chadâshâh chadâshôth
      strongchâzâq chazâqîym chazâqâh chazâqôth
      wisechâkâm chakâmîym chakâmâh chakâmôth

  2. The bisyllable qâtôn (small) is irregular:
    smalltôn qettanîym qettanâh qettanôth

  3. Bisyllable adjectives ending in -eh drop this ending when endings are added:
    beautifulyâpheh yâphîym yâphâh yâphôth
    difficultqâsheh qâshîym qâshâh qâshôth

Attributive adjectives

An attributive adjective directly describes a noun. It usually stands after the noun in question, but may come before for the purpose of emphasis. It must agree in gender, number and definiteness with the noun.

Predicate adjectives

A predicate adjective is used in a simple sentence with noun as subject and adjective as predicate. The verb 'to be' is implied (and should be used when translating) but not explicit. The adjective usually stands before the noun, but occasionally is after it. It will agree in number and gender, but never takes the definite article. Adjectives can be paired to describe the same noun.
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