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Hebrew - Prefixes - From, The, And


The prefix mîn- (from, out of, than, that, since, above) has two main variations, one attached to the following word with maqqeph, and the other explicitly joined to it:
  1. Before nouns with the definite article it appears in its full form with the maqqeph hyphen, eg.
    mîn-ha’adhâmâh (from the ground)

  2. Before nouns without the definite article the n is dropped, and it is directly attached to the word. There are two sub-cases:
    1. Before nouns with a non-guttural first consonant, use mi and add daghesh forte to the first letter, eg.
      miqqedhem (out of the east)
      Note that before yodh the same rules apply as for inseparable prepositions.
    2. Before nouns with a guttural first consonant, use mê - the vowel is lengthened as the consonant cannot be, eg.
      mêhar (from the mountain)

Note that min can be used in a comparative way, eg.

tôv hâ’ôr min-hachôshekh (the light is better than the darkness)

Hence, mi- at the start of a word can signify:

The definite article

The prefix ha- denotes the definite article. The normal pattern is to join a word as a prefix, doubling the first consonant with daghesh forte except for gutturals (including resh), eg.
melekh (a king) ... hammelekh (the king)
bayith (a house) ... habbayith (the house)

This means that the first syllable is closed.

Exceptions to this pattern are as follows:

  1. Before gutturals h and ch (except as noted below), use ha- without the daghesh forte. However, the syllable is still counted as closed and the guttural is said to be doubled by implication.
  2. Before gutturals ’, ‘, and r (except as noted below), use hâ- so that the vowel lengthens instead of the still counted as closed and the guttural is said to be doubled by implication.
  3. Before châ, unaccented hâ or unaccented ‘â, use he-.
  4. Before ye, usually have ha- without daghesh forte. The dipthong results in an open syllable. This behaviour may also occur before me

The interrogative

The same prefix ha or ha is used as an interrogative: however in this case the first consonant is not doubled, eg.
hashomêr ’achîy ’anôkhîy (am I my brother's keeper?) ... note hashomêr not hashshomêr

Except ha before gutturals or any consonant with sheva’
and he before gutturals with â or ô.

For more details see the page dealing more thoroughly with questions.


The prefix for and is normally we-. It resembles other inseparable prepositions, but does not merge with the definite article ha - both are kept. Rules for usage are:
  1. Before non-labial consonants (b, m, p) with a full vowel, use we.

  2. Before labial consonants (beth, mem, pe), use û

  3. Where the first consonant has simple shewa’, use û, and if the first consonant also has daghesh lene, drop this, eg
    debhârîym (words) ... ûdhebhârîym

  4. Where the first consonant is y with simple sheva’, the yodh quiesces, so use wîy, eg
    yîs'râ’êl wîyhûdhâh (Israel and Judah)

  5. Where the first consonant is guttural with composite shewa’, drop the shewa’ and convert to augment, eg
    wa-chalôwm (and a dream)
    Except that ’elôhîym takes ê not e, viz. wê-’elôhîym ('aleph quiesces)

  6. Where the word is a monosyllable or before the tone syllable, it is often converted to wâ, typically when joining two nouns of the same class reflecting a close relationship in the phrase, eg
    wâ-tôwbh wârâ‘ (and good and evil)

Language formalities