שולחן - שולחנות / חלון - חלונות (irregular plural formation)

stree12

Member
USA
English - American
I'm learning Hebrew. At wiktionary, it says that the word for window(s), שׁוּלְחָן - שֻׁלְחָנוֹת , is "m or f". It's not one gender or the other, but interchangable, it seems. It's both of them, or neither one, at the same time. I'd like to use adjectives with the Hebrew word for window(s), such as tall window(s), ugly window(s), clean window(s), and so on. So I have a better idea, could someone please explain which gender is more commonly used with this word? Under what context is שׁוּלְחָן - שֻׁלְחָנוֹת male? And when is it female? Are there parts of the Israel country where it is more often used as female, than male, and vice versa?
 
  • slus

    Senior Member
    Hebrew - Israel
    There's a lot of confusion there.
    שולחן is table
    שולחנות are tables
    Both are male.

    Window is חלון
    Windows are חלונות
    Also both male.

    It's true that there are a few Hebrew nouns that are both male and female, and their gender is chosen by the speaker by personal choice (פנים - face, סכין - knife) but tables and windows are always male.

    Maybe some sourceof the confusion is that *usually* male plurals end with ים and female plurals end with ות.
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    In addition to what @slus wrote: it may be confusing to see an expression like חלונות גבוהים (tall/high windows) where the first word's plural is ות- and the second is ים-, but this is how it works (the adjective's gender is like the noun's, masculine in this case, therefore ים-).
     
    Last edited:

    utopia

    Senior Member
    Israel, Hebrew
    There's a lot of confusion there.
    שולחן is table
    שולחנות are tables
    Both are male.

    Window is חלון
    Windows are חלונות
    Also both male.

    It's true that there are a few Hebrew nouns that are both male and female, and their gender is chosen by the speaker by personal choice (פנים - face, סכין - knife) but tables and windows are always male.

    Maybe some sourceof the confusion is that *usually* male plurals end with ים and female plurals end with ות.


    Actually, חלון according to Even Shoshan is both male and female.

    Israelis refer to it in modern Hebrew as male. It also has a literary plural - חלונים
     

    Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Actually, חלון according to Even Shoshan is both male and female.

    Israelis refer to it in modern Hebrew as male. It also has a literary plural - חלונים
    It's feminine in book of Ezekiel.
    It's חלונים in book of Joel.

    For a language student I'd recommend to start with the modern terms, unless he/she is interested specifically in the biblical language.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Let me try to make this clearer.

    In Hebrew, most masculine nouns take -ים in the plural, and most feminine nouns take -ות, but there are many exceptions, many of which are everyday words: these are words that are masculine but take -ות or feminine but take -ים.

    Examples:

    Masculine with -ים (regular):
    ילד - ילדים
    ספר - ספרים
    בית - בתים

    Masculine with -ות (irregular):
    שולחן - שולחנות
    חלון - חלונות
    אב - אבות

    Feminine with -ות (regular):
    דירה - דירות
    בת - בנות
    שמש - שמשות

    Feminine with -ים (irregular):
    מילה - מילים
    דרך - דרכים
    עיר - ערים

    Now, as if this weren't complicated enough, adjectives are consistent: masculine adjectives always take -ים, and feminine adjectives always take -ות, which means that when you combine nouns and adjectives, all four combinations of suffixes are possible!

    Masculine regular: ילדים יפים
    Masculine irregular: שולחנות גדולים
    Feminine regular: דירות חדשות
    Feminine irregular: מילים קשות

    (Yes, this is a nightmare for Hebrew learners!)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Another complication is that the pronunciation often changes when the suffix is added. From my list:

    yeled - yeladim
    sefer - sfarim
    bayit - batim
    bat - banot
    shemesh - shmashot
    derex - draxim
    'ir - 'arim

    One of my favorites, not on my list, is shuk - shvakim. :eek:

    Hebrew phonology is fun. :D

    (The feminine suffix -a is dropped when -ot or -im is added; that's a regular pattern.)

    Your two examples happen to be phonologically well-behaved; they take an irregular suffix, but the pronunciation doesn't change:

    shulḥan - shulḥanot
    ḥalon - ḥalonot
     
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