Quick, fill in the blanks!
A bird ___.
A ____ surfs.
The travellers ___.
We eat ____.
The players play the ____.
In English, nouns and verbs have their own separate lives. Sometimes they intersect (“a surfer surfs” “a traveller travels” “the players play” “a guard guards”), and sometimes, they don’t (“a bird flies” “we eat food” “the players play the game”).
In Hebrew, the two are closer together and far more flexible than in English. Where in English, they’re always conjugated slightly differently, in Hebrew, nouns and verbs are often completely interchangeable. For example:
- השומר שומר / hashomer shomer = the guard guards
- הגולש גולש על הגולש / hagolesh golesh al ha golesh = the surfer surfs (on the surfboard)
- הנוסעים נוסעים / hanosim nosim = the travellers travel
- הוא אוכל אוכל / hoo o-CHEL O-chel (same spelling, slightly different emphasis) = he eats food
- המשחקים משחקים במשחקים / hamesachakim mesachakim ba-mischakim (same spelling, slightly different pronunciation) = the players play the games
But today I realized there’s one example where English is more flexible. There is no verb in Hebrew (that I know of, which isn’t saying much!) for “to rain.”