Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by airelibre, Mar 10, 2013.
Is there any difference between אני פוחד and אני מפחד? Are they interchangeable?
Completely interchangeable, even in the bible.
I think it is called by Hebrew linguistics השלמת נטייה (complementary conjugation), where a verb is conjugated with the same meaning in different Binyanim (and sometimes different roots). Another example is the verb ניגש (approach), which in the past and present goes by Nif'al and in the future, imperative and infinitive goes by Pa'al.
See also: http://hebrew-academy.huji.ac.il/sheelot_teshuvot/MivharTeshuvot/Pages/07071106.aspx
Some try to find a difference, see here for example: https://www.safa-ivrit.org/form/mefahed.php. Yet I agree with the answers above that in modern Hebrew the two are interchangeable, possibly also in Biblical (I haven't checked in depth).
אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם, מְפַחֵד תָּמִיד; וּמַקְשֶׁה לִבּוֹ, יִפּוֹל בְּרָעָה. from משלי כח יד is an example of piel
שָׂרִים, רְדָפוּנִי חִנָּם; וּמִדְּבָרְךָ, פָּחַד לִבִּי. from תהילים קיט קסא is an example of paal
This tells us that both forms exist, but not that they have the same meaning. Your examples fit into the assumption made in safa-ivrit (link above) about a difference.
Separate names with a comma.