I had you (past/future)

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by trigel, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    Is the "be" in the 3rd person masculine, 3rd person varying gender or in the 2nd person in the sentence "I had you"?
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  2. C_J Member

    I don't understand your question; in the example you give the verb "to have", but then you ask about the verb "to be"?
    In any case, there is no just one single Hebrew equivalent to the English "to be" and "to have", so it depends on the sentence.

    If you are referring to the troublesome "yesh et" construct again, so the future and past conjugations of "haya" sometimes agree with "yesh" (male noun) even though it's dropped.
    אני לא לבד, מפני שיש לי את שרה.
    לא הייתי לבד, מפני שהיה לי [יש] את שרה.
    לא אהיה לבד, מפני שיהיה לי [יש] את שרה.

    Please note the difference between definite/indefinite subject:
    אני לא נוסע באוטובוס, מפני שיש לי את המכונית החדשה.
    אני לא נסעתי באוטובוס, מפני שהיה לי [יש] את המכונית החדשה.
    אני לא נוסע באוטובוס, מפני שיש לי מכונית חדשה.
    אני לא נסעתי באוטובוס, מפני שהייתה לי מכונית חדשה.

    Also, please note that even though the above constructs are sometimes used in speech, there are other, more appropriate options, which as I said before, depend on the sentence and may avoid the troublesome "yesh et" altogether.
    אני לא לבד מפני ששרה איתי/אני לא הייתי לבד מפני ששרה הייתה איתי.
    אני לא נסעתי באוטובוס מפני שהייתה ברשותי מכונית חדשה/מפני שהמכונית החדשה הייתה ברשותי.
  3. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    Thank you for the extra information... I'm asking about the sentence "I had [personal-pronoun]". Does the "lihyot" not agree, only agree with gender or agree fully with the personal pronoun?

    "I had you":

    "haya li otxa"/"hayita li otxa"?
    "haya li otax"/"hayta li otax"/"hayit li otax"?
  4. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    Part of the problem is that "I had you" has so many meanings in English:

    - I tricked you
    - You were in love with me (but you're not in love with me now)
    - I owned you (not used today; we don't own slaves any more)
    - I caught you (said by a police officer before the criminal escaped)
    - You were in my camera viewfinder (but you're no longer there)
    - etc., etc.

    All of those different meanings are expressed differently in Hebrew. To the extent that "lihyot li" is the correct translation, and it might be for the second of them, it would be "hayita li" to a male, "hayit li" to a female. The otcha/otach is not used. The second person verb form is enough.
  5. C_J Member

    As I said, this example a bit problematic. The english "I have/had" is not formally equal to "יש לי/היה לי". Since you are multilingual, you probably aware of the fact that word-for-word translation is not always possible.
    In this case, not in all contexts it is appropriate to say in Hebrew that "you have/had a person in your possession".

    In cases that you do use the aformentioned construct, like in the somewhat colloquial "yesh li et p.pronoun", the past/future conjugation will still refer to "yesh".
    If you use the other conjugations that you proposed, the resulting sentence will be pretty much meaningless: "hayit li otakh/ hayta li otakh" = "you were to-me ["object maker"] you/she was to-me ["object marker"] you".
    So if you insist in a word-for-word [calque in this case] translation of "Good thing I have/had you with me" it will be "טוב שיש/שהיה לי אותך איתי" the sense-for-sense translation will be "טוב שאת/ה איתי / טוב שהיית איתי" (note: literally "God thing you are/were with me" ).

    IMHO, in many of the questions that you ask here you are expecting a word-for-word/one-for-one translations. This simply doesn't always exist. Native speakers often use various calques, but many of them are limited to a particular context (or set of contexts). In this case, even though "yesh/haya le... [et] ha..." is "very common, as for now, it is not used in all contexts with people as the object (it implies some subordination or intimacy).
    Please consider the following instance: "I made a mistake (I committed an error)" = "טעיתי", but in this case you can "get away" with "עשיתי טעות" which is very common.
    On the other hand, "I made a wish" = "הבעתי משאלה" and never "עשיתי משאלה", and "I made acommitement" "התחייבתי" = and never "עשיתי התחייבות".
  6. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I think his question is much simpler: If you say היה לי אותך, is היה (third singular masculine) the correct conjugation or should any other conjugation be used? Why third singular masculine is correct becomes clear when you translate היה לי אותך word-for-word back into English: There-was to-me you-accusative.
  7. C_J Member

    "I think his question is much simpler" - True, but I still wanted to point out that this is not necessarily the way he should say that, and that his example may not be the natural sense-for-sense translation.

    "Why third singular masculine is correct becomes clear when you translate היה לי אותך word-for-word back into English: There-was to-me you-accusative""
    This is not necessarily correct, this specific construct is somewhat controversial, trigel and I discussed this in pm, so he/she understands what I mean.
    If the "yesh li et" is "naturally" grammatically correct in Hebrew, the future/past conjugations could also still refer to "yesh". Nonetheless, you have a point of pointing out that היה/יהיה can refer to any other unspecified subject/object; since the default Hebrew conjugation coincides with the male one (the reason of the apparent lack of any subject in the sentence "היה לי את יצחק" may lay in the "yesh li et" controversy).

    In any case, and regardless of the controversy of "yesh li et", the 3rd person singular conjugation is used regardless of the pronoun.
    היה לי אותך/אתכם/אותם / היה לי את לאה וריבקה/את יצחק ויעקוב
  8. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Interesting you analyse yesh as a noun here. I would analyse it as an adverb and at least some dictionaries agree with me (see meaning #2 here or meaning #1 here).
  9. C_J Member

    Yesh is a noun. It's also used as an adverb (in Hebrew some adjectives and nouns are used as adverbs), or even as a verb. There is some controversy over it, and there is some controversy over "et" in some cases as well.
    These two words are sometimes difficult to analyse properly, linguists have proposed various explanations (calques, yesh=verb, "et" can grant a subject some "object-like" properties and others) but there is no consensus, so dictionaries classify it according to their views (my dictionary Even Shushan 2006 lists it only as a noun). It's somewhat similar to the problematic classification of the English "not" which is somewhat of an exception.
    You cannot even use the classical analysis by asking a question regarding the example: "yesh li et Sarah" since there is no apparent verb (Sara ratza maher. - Ekh hi ratza? Sarah amda sham. - Eifo hi amda?).
    Also note in the Wiktionary link you provided: "לדעת חלק מהלשונאים הביטוי "יש את" אינו תקני בעברית משום שמה שיש הוא הנושא, ואילו את באה לפני מושא בלבד"

    Back to the topic: Even if you do classify "yesh" as an adverb, "haya" is still a verb, and while "hayta li mekhonit" is obvious, "haya li et Sarah" is much more complicated to analyse. "Hayta li Sarah" is weird, and doesn't have the meaning that "haya li et Sarah" has.

    This overall inconclusiveness and complexity also drove me to suggest using a different phrasing, so that all of this confusion could be avoided.

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