The Hebrew personal pronouns — corresponding to English I, you, them, and so on — are realized in some cases as full words, and in some cases as inflectional endings on other words (that is, as suffixes in conjugated and declined forms).
The full-word, standalone personal pronouns are mainly used when the pronoun is the subject of a clause; for example, הִיא דיברה \ דִּבְּרָה (hi dibrá, “she spoke”). However, subject pronouns are not quite as common in Hebrew as in English, because the form of the verb frequently implies the subject.
The standalone pronouns are also used in various other cases, for example as predicate nouns.
These forms are as follows:
אָנוּ (ánu, “we”)2
|second-person||אַתָּה (atá)||אַתּ (at)||אַתֶּם (atém)||אַתֶּן (atén)3|
|third-person||הוּא (hu)||הִיא (hi)||הֵם (hem)||הֵן (hen)3|
- The form אָנֹכִי (anokhí) occurs many times in the Hebrew Bible, but is basically obsolete today.
- In Modern Israeli Hebrew, the form אָנוּ (ánu, “we”) is the more formal, אֲנָחנוּ (anákhnu) the more colloquial.
- In colloquial Modern Israeli Hebrew, the nominally masculine forms אַתֶּם (atém) and הֵם (hem) are sometimes taken as gender-neutral and substituted for אַתֶּן (atén) and הֵן (hen), but this is commonly considered incorrect.
The inflectional-ending personal pronoun suffixes are used:
- when the pronoun is the object of a preposition. For example, בִּשְׁבִיל (bishvíl, “for, for the sake of”) + ־ךָ (-kha, “you (masculine singular)”) = בִּשְׁבִילְךָ (bishvilkhá, “for you, for your sake”).
- when the pronoun is the direct object of a verb. For example, עָשָׂה (asá, “did, made”) + ־נִי (-ni, “me”) = עָשַׂנִי (asáni, “created me”). However, this construction is extremely rare in Modern Israeli Hebrew, where this is expressed using the preposition אֶת (et), producing עָשָׂה אוֹתִי (asá otí, “created me”).
- when the pronoun is the possessor of a noun. For example, סֵפֶר־ (séfer, “book of”) + ־וֹ (-o, “him”) = סִפְרוֹ (sifró, “his book”). However, in Modern Israeli Hebrew, especially in colloquial registers, this is usually expressed using the preposition שֶׁל (shel, “of”), producing הַסֵּפֶר שֶׁלּוֹ (haséfer sheló, “his book, literally the-book of-him”).
- in certain other expressions. For example, אֵין־ (ein-, “no”) + ־נוּ (“us”) = אֵינֶנו (einénu, “we are not”). However, in Modern Israeli Hebrew, especially in colloquial registers, these expressions are uncommon.
As may be inferred from the above, in Modern Israeli Hebrew, suffix pronouns usually appear as objects of prepositions.
These forms depend on the word they attach to, much as how the English past participle ending is sometimes -en (as in “I have given”) and sometimes -ed (as in “I have received”). The following are fairly typical:
|first-person||־י (-í)||־נוּ (-ánu)|
|second-person||־ךָ (-khá)||־ךְ (-ákh)||־כֶם (-khém)||־כֶן (-khén)|
|third-person||־וֹ (-ó)||־הּ (-áh)||־ם (-ám)||־ן (-án)|
In Hebrew, the distinction between noun and pronoun is less clear than in some languages, since indefinite nouns do not require any determiner. That said, the term "pronoun" can reasonably be applied to the Hebrew counterparts of English pronouns. Taking that approach, Hebrew has a variety of pronouns, including: