נא vs בבקשה

Essex1

Member
English-USA
When can each one be used appropriately for 'please'?
does נא sound a little less polite or more impatient??
 
  • Amadé

    New Member
    Hebrew
    The everyday word for 'please' is בבקשה.

    נא is more of a demand and is quite formal:
    "נא לא לדרוך"
    "נא וודאו כי לא השארתם חפצים באוטובוס"
    "נא חזור אליי" (Something you'd normally say to your employee, not to your friend).

    Then there's אנא, and I'm not quite sure how it differs from נא. It's just as formal, yet it feels softer and less assertive to me. Maybe someone can elaborate on it.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    So, נא always comes at the end of the sentence while בבקשה usually comes at the end?
    And it seems נא can be followed by an infinitive or an imperative but בבקשה is not used with infinitives. Am I correct?
    Lastly, if you want to use a negative infinitive after נא, can you say something like נא בלתי לדרוך instead of נא לא לדרוך?
     
    Last edited:

    JAN SHAR

    Member
    pashto
    The word נא is used to add emphasis in biblical Hebrew. For example, שמר-נא which means "Keep now".
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    The word "emphasis" is thrown around a lot without much meaning. I always recommend, any time you encounter the word "emphasis", to think about this: How would you explain this without using the word "emphasis" or any similar word? Oftentimes that question becomes very difficult to answer.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Our Hebrew professor said that when נא is added to an imperative it softens it. He gave the example of the following verse:

    וְעַתָּה֩ לְכָה־נָּ֨א אָֽרָה־לִּ֜י אֶת־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֗ה כִּֽי־עָצ֥וּם הוּא֙ מִמֶּ֔נִּי אוּלַ֤י אוּכַל֙ נַכֶּה־בּ֔וֹ וַאֲגָרְשֶׁ֖נּוּ מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּ֣י יָדַ֗עְתִּי אֵ֤ת אֲשֶׁר־תְּבָרֵךְ֙ מְבֹרָ֔ךְ וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר תָּאֹ֖ר יוּאָֽר׃

    (במדבר כב ו)

    He went on to say that by adding נא, Balak was saying "Pardon me for using an imperative verb.", for he was in no position to give orders to Balaam. Personally, I don't see why Balak needed to add נא; he was, after all, the king!
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Our Hebrew professor said that when נא is added to an imperative it softens it.
    Isn't it exactly what "please" means?

    Thinking of it again (without checking too much), couldn't the נא appended to a verb be a remnant of an ancient conjugation, re-analyzed later as נא = please? Conjugation like the feminine plural imperative לכנה, בואנה.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    He went on to say that by adding נא, Balak was saying "Pardon me for using an imperative verb.", for he was in no position to give orders to Balaam. Personally, I don't see why Balak needed to add נא; he was, after all, the king!
    Could be an early example of The Two Swords doctrine as formulated by Pope Gelasius, about division of power between the state and church, the secular and religious leaders.
     
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