אולי vs אפשר

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by Drink, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Is there a difference in usage in Modern Hebrew between אולי and אפשר? If so, what is the difference?
     
  2. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    אולי: maybe, perhaps (it's possible that something is the case)
    אפשר: one can (it's possible to do something)
     
  3. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    A very big difference, depending on context.


    אולי = maybe
    אפשר = possible

    They can be used to convey a suggestion/question in certain cases with slight modifications.
    Some examples:
    אולי נלך לשתות משהו? = maybe we (can) go to drink something?
    אפשר ללכת לשתות משהו (?) = Is it/it is possible to go to drink something (?) (in other words: we can/can we go to drink something)




    There are of course other ways these words are used.


    Do you have any specific sentences?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  4. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    But couldn't you also say "אפשר נלך לשתות משהו?"?
     
  5. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    No. That doesn't make sense. If you're making a suggestion or asking a question with אפשר, the verb should be in the infinitive.
     
  6. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Ok, thanks! I think I understand it now.
     
  7. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian

    No problem.

    You can also use אפשר with ש:
    אפשר שזה יהיה גדול יותר? = could this (possibly) be bigger?


    A lot of the time, אפשר with a noun can be used to mean "can I have?":
    אפשר מים בבקשה? = can I have water, please?
    אפשר חשבון? = can I have the bill/checque? (At a restaurant)
     
  8. arielipi Senior Member

    Israel
    Hebrew
    I am not sure on this one, but i will just say that not everything we say commonly is actually correct.
     
  9. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    Yup, that's true. This is all colloquial
     
  10. anipo

    anipo Senior Member

    Israel
    Spanish (Arg)- German
    This "? אפשר חשבון" is very common nowadays, but I also think it is not correct.

    It is a shortcut and implies the verb לקבל as in ?אפשר לקבל את החשבון or the verb להעביר (to pass/ hand over) as in
    ?אפשר להעביר את המים, בבקשה.
     
  11. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    I suppose as with all things, it is almost on the way to becoming standard because it is so common. It's not grammatically "incorrect" per se - it just a kind of shortening. It can even be seen as "(is) water possible?" or "(is) (the) bill/cheque possible?"

    Technically it may be considered informal, but it is the default way of speaking for most of us.
     
  12. arielipi Senior Member

    Israel
    Hebrew
    I actually regarded this:
    אפשר שזה יהיה גדול יותר?
     
  13. k8an Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia.
    English - Australian
    Oh, right. I agree again - it's one of those things that sounds a bit strange but is pretty common.
     
  14. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Thanks everyone! I know that a lot of colloquial Hebrew doesn't make sense (in fact a relative of mine wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the differences between formal and colloquial Hebrew and she says that 40% of colloquial Hebrew is technically "incorrect"). I now understand not only the difference between אולי and אפשר, but also why I was confused in the first place.
     

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