ל־

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Aramaic[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Preposition[edit]

ל־ (transliteration needed)

  1. to, for

Hebrew[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Particle[edit]

לְ־, לִ־, לַ־, לֶ־, לָ־, לֵ־, לוֹ־ (l'-, li-, la-, le-, la-, le-, lo-)

  1. To; the first part of a to-infinitive.
    סְגוֹר (s'gór, close) → לִסְגּוֹר (lisgór, to close)

Usage notes[edit]

  • In most verbs of the pa'ál construction, the vowel is khirík (as in לִסְגּוֹר), but in others it may be patákh (as in לַעֲזוֹב or לַחְזוֹר), segól (as in לֶאֱכוֹל), kamáts (as in לָקוּם or לָרֶדֶת), or, very rarely, tseiréi (as in לֵאמוֹר) or kholám malé (as in לוֹמַר).
  • In verbs of the pi'él, hitpa'él, hitpu'al, and hif'íl constructions (including variations such as polél, hitpolél, and nitpa'él), the vowel is sh'vá ná.
  • Verbs of the pu'ál and huf'ál constructions do not have infinitives.

Preposition[edit]

לְ־, ל־, לִ־, לַ־, לֶ־, לָ־ (l'-, l-, li-, la-, le-, la-)

  1. To; indicating a destination or end-point.
    1. Indicating the destination of movement.
      בשבוע שעבר נסעתי לירושלים.bashavúa she'avár nasá'ati lirushaláyim. — Last week I went to Jerusalem.
      באיזו שעה נגיע לעיר?b'éizo sha'á nagía la'ír? — What time will we get to the city?
    2. Indicating the second end-point of a range or interval.
      יש כביש ישר מפה לשם.yesh k'vísh yashár mipó l'shám. — There's a straight road from here to there.
      לא יצלצלו בין שש לשמונה.lo y'tzaltz'lú béin shésh lish'móne. — They won't call between six and eight.
  2. To, for; corresponding to an English indirect object or a Latin dative.
    1. Indicating the recipient of a transfer.
      נתתי לה מתנה.natáti láh mataná. — I gave her a gift.
    2. Indicating the addressee of an utterance.
      אמרו לנו מה קרה.amrú lánu má kará. — They told us what happened.
    3. Indicating the beneficiary of an action.
      תפתח לי בבקשה את הדלת?tiftákh b'vakashá ét hadélet? — Could you open the door for me?
    4. Indicating the person or thing affected by an action.
      מה עושים לאוכל?má osím la'ókhel? — What are we/you/they doing to the food?
    5. Introducing an ethical dative, especially after a verb of motion.
      אנחנו הולכים לנו ברחוב.anákhnu hol'khím lánu barakhóv. — We're walking down [literally walking us in] the street.
  3. Of; indicating a possessor.
    1. Used with a form of הָיָה (hayá).
      היתה להם בעייה.haytá lahém b'ayá.They had [literally To them was] a problem.
    2. Used with יֵשׁ (yesh) or (for non-possession) אֵין (ein).
      לרופאה יש עינים כחולות.larof'á yésh eináyim k'khulót. — The doctor has [literally To the doctor there are] blue eyes.
      אין לך כסף?éin l'khá/lákh késef? — Don't you have [literally Isn't there to you] money?
    3. (now rare) Used as a bare predicate, with no copula.
      • Song of Songs 6:3:
        אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי הָרֹעֶה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים׃aní l'dodí v'dodí haro'é bashoshaním. — I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.[1]
    4. Used with another verb, indicating the possessor of another object of the verb.
      הוא יושב לי על הכובע.hú yoshév ál hakóva. — He is sitting on my hat [literally to me on the hat].
      היא נגעה לו במרפק.hí nag'á bamarpék. — She touched him on the elbow.
  4. To, into; indicating a result.
    מה גרם לזה?má garám l'zé? — What caused this? [literally What caused to this?]
    1. Indicating the result of a transformation.
      הספה הופכת למיטה.hasapá hofékhet l'mitá. — The sofa turns into a bed.
  5. For, according to, in the opinion of; indicating the holder of a viewpoint, or the source of a claim.
    לדעתי, אין ברירה.l'da'atí, éin b'rerá.In my opinion, there's no choice.
    לדבריו, האירוע נגמר בחצות.lid'varáv, ha'eirúa nigmár b'khatsót. — He said that [literally To his words] the event ended at midnight.
  6. Indicating the theme of an impersonal verb or other impersonal predicate.
    נראה לי שגבוה מדי.nir'á shegavóah midai.I think [literally It seems to me] that it's too high.
    קר לכם?kár lakhém? — Are you cold? [literally Cold to you?]
    לא מגיע להם.ló magía lahém.They don't deserve it. [literally Not arrives to them.]
  7. Of; indicating the reference-point relative to which a direction may be specified.
    צפונה ל־tzafóna l'- — north of
    מתחת ל־mitákhat l'- — under, underneath [literally from bottom to]
    חוץ לארץkhúts la'áretz — abroad [literally outside to the land]
  8. Of, to, before: indicating the hour before which a number of minutes or fraction of an hour is specified.
    רבע ל־10réva l'éser — a quarter to ten
    עשרה לחמשasará l'chamésh — ten to five
  9. (by extension, slang) Before: indicating the number of years before which a fraction of a year is specified.
    רבע ל־10réva l'éser — a quarter [of a year] less than ten [years]

Usage notes[edit]

  • The above list of uses is not exhaustive; many verbs and compound prepositions use ל־ to construe their objects, and in general, this is an idiosyncratic property of the verb or preposition. Conversely, above-listed uses are not definitive; in many cases, there are other prepositions that may be used similarly (or even somewhat interchangeably). Finally, the above-listed uses are not mutually exclusive; a single instance of ל־ may serve more than one of them.
  • Like all one-letter words in Hebrew, ל־ functions as a clitic, attaching to the word that follows it. Since it is a preposition, this means it attaches to the first word of its object.
  • In traditional grammar, ל־ undergoes some vowel changes, depending on the word it attaches to:
    • The default form, used when none of the below rules applies, is לְ־ (l'-). It is also the only form in ordinary use in colloquial Modern Hebrew, except in various fixed expressions that always use the traditional pronunciation.
    • When the first syllable of the word has a sh'vá ná, the form לִ־ (li-) is used; hence, when ל־ is attached to the noun פְּעָמִים (p'`amím, times), we obtain the adverb לִפְעָמִים (lif'`amím, sometimes). Further, when the word starts with the syllable יְ־ (y'-), it loses its sh'va; hence, in traditional grammar, when ל־ is attached to יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (y'rushaláyim, Jerusalem), we obtain לִירוּשָׁלַיִם (lirushaláyim, to Jerusalem).
    • When the first syllable of the word has a khataf vowel, ל־ takes the corresponding non-khataf vowel.
    • When it is combined with the clitic הַ־ (ha-, the), the two clitics fuse into one syllable, with the onset being ל and the vowel being that of the ה־ (i.e., a pataḥ, a qamatz, or a segol, depending on the first syllable of the word); for example, when ל־ and ה־ are attached to יֶלֶד (yéled, boy), we obtain לַיֶּלֶד (layéled, to the boy) (note the dagesh forte in the יּ), and when they're attached to אִמָּא (íma, mother), we obtain לָאִמָּא (la'íma, to the mother).
    • The same modifications occur with כְּ־ (k'-) and בְּ־ (b'-).
  • Since the attachment of ל־ means that the following letter now follows an open syllable or sh'va, that letter loses any dagesh lene; hence the above example, where פְּעָמִים (p'`amím) becomes לִפְעָמִים (lif'`amím) rather than *לִפְּעָמִים (lip'`amím).
  • (before the hour): As in English ("it's ten to"), the complement of this preposition is often omitted in informal registers.

Inflection[edit]

In older forms of Hebrew, and still in formal Modern Hebrew, ל־ (l'-) has been distinguished from the similar preposition אל (él). In everyday Modern Hebrew, however, this distinction is preserved only in the inflected forms, with the effect that ל־ (l'-) essentially has two different sets of inflected forms: its own original forms, which are used in most circumstances, and the forms originally belonging to אל (él), which are used with words of motion, words of connection, words of relation, and so on.

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Authorized King James translation (1611).