When to use אל instead of ל

Doug R

Member
English - Canada
In English, both אל and ל translate as "to".
However, what are some situations in Hebrew where only אל can be used?
 
  • LXNDR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I would translate אל as towards just for the sake of clarity, which necessarily implies movement and closing the distance.
    So with verbs of movement of one physical object towards another it's (i guess) always אל
    With pronominal suffixes אליי, אליה, אליכם etc. it's used both literally and figuratively, that is when reference to a person implies the person's place.
    The difference between the connotation may transpire from context where אל in physical sense seems to be more pertinent to continuous actions while in figurative sense - to completed (perfective) actions, e.g.

    מספר שניות הלכתי אליו - for a few seconds i was walking towards him
    אחרי עבודה הלכתי אליו - after work i went to his place
     
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    slus

    Senior Member
    Hebrew - Israel
    I cannot think about a simple rule, but usually אל is for "towards" and ל is for "to"
     

    Doug R

    Member
    English - Canada
    If אל translates better as "towards", how does it differ in use from
    לקראת or כּלפּי?
     

    LXNDR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well that's the usage purview. It's very difficult to give account of all nuances and possible permutations.
    In some context they could be more or less synonymous but not in others.
    Example: פניתי אליו - I turned to him (mainly figuratively, for help, with a request, much rarer physically) vs פניתי כלפיו - I turned towards him (physically, turned my body to face him)

    The more one immerses into the language the more they start to feel the shades of meaning and appropriate usages.
     
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