Vowel of ל before infinitives

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by utrecht, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. utrecht New Member

    Utrecht, Netherlands
    Nederlands (Dutch)
    שלום כולם,

    As you can see I'm very new to this forum, so sorry if this is the wrong place for my question, but I thought I'd just tag along with this old thread about infinitives. Here a question that might sound stupid, but seriously, I can't find any rule to it.

    With infinitives, how do you know which vowel to use after ל? Why is it lilmod, but ledaber and la'asot? Is there a rule and if so, what is the rule?

    בתודה מראש!
  2. C_J Member

    The basic rules are:
    1. the default vocalisation is "le" (lelamed) לְ+לָמד = לְלַמד
    2. unless the prefix ל appears before a letter with a shwa = li (lilmod) לְ+לְמוד = לִלְמוד
    3. unless prefix ל appears before a yod with a shwa = li, yod loses shwa (lizom) לְ+יְזום = לִיזום
    4. unless prefix ל appears before a letter with a hataf = same niqud as in the hataf (laarog) לְ+עֳרוג = לַעֲרוג

    Nif'al, pi'el, hitpa'el and hif'il are always as in case 1.

    Since pu'al and huf'al have no infinitives, variations occur only in pa'al.
    For instance; as JaiHare noted, the initial א,ה,ע in pa'al cannot take shwa so they have hataf instead: אֱ, הֳ, עֳ. In the case of initial ח it stays in shwa, but the ל gets patah...
    א':אהב-לֶאֱהוב אכל-לֶאֱכול אסף-לֶאֱסוף (le-e...)
    ה': הדף-לַהֲדוף, הרס-לַהֲרוס, הרג-לַהֲרוג (la-ha...)
    ע': ערג-לַעֲרוג, ענה-לַעֲנות, עזב-לַעֲזוב (la-ʿa..)
    ח': חטף-לַחְטוף, חתך-לַחְתוך, חתם-לַחְתום (la-ḥ...)

    As you can probably see, these rules are not very simple, and they require deep knowledge of the gizrot as well (נטל-ליטול, ירש-לָרשת,שם-לָשים, סב-לָסוב)...
    So unfortunately, the best way is to check in a dictionary and memorise...

    Hope you find this useful

    PS: The four rules I mentioned before, in addition to the fifth one that I will describe here, apply to the ב,כ,ל prefixes in almost all cases (except a few rare exceptions).
    5. unless the prefix appears before the definite article prefix ה "he hayedia" = it replaces "he hayedia" while retaining its vocalisation הַבִּית+בְ=בַּבִּית,הֶהָרִים+לְ=לֶהָרִים
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  3. utrecht New Member

    Utrecht, Netherlands
    Nederlands (Dutch)
    Hm, sounds like something I'll have to memorize, indeed. But then I still wonder why it's לָשים and not simply לְשים? Because there's no shwa and no hataf.

    Thank you very much anyway, it's really useful!
  4. arielipi Senior Member

    Really, you go by whats comfortable with the pronunciation - lasim is simply more comfortable than lesim. Of course that particular thing is not formal, but (this is) every exception/irregular in hebrew is due that.
  5. C_J Member

    To be completely honest, I don't remember what process causes it, but I do remember that pa'al verbs of the פ"י,עו"י, כפולים gizrot often have lamed with kamatz.
    In all three of these gizrot some letters are dropped so this is probably reflected on the prefix only (maybe the maqor had hataf kamatz, but I'm not sure).

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