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See also: Appendix:Variations of "la"
לָא • (lā)
- אֵין (ʾēn, “yes”)
לֹא • (lo)
- Not; used in negating verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
- לא is not used to negate verbs in the imperative; rather, in ancient texts negative imperatives consist of לא and a verb in the second-person jussive, and in modern use they consist of אל (al) and a verb in the second-person future. However, even in modern use, לא may be used together with a to-infinitive to create what might be called a "general negative imperative", where no specific person is being addressed. (The general negative imperative might be better viewed as a kind of declarative, however, as it can be used in a subordinate clause.)
- Hebrew does not require a "dummy auxiliary verb" to negate a verb; for example, English "I didn't go" corresponds to Hebrew לא הלכתי (lo halákhti, “not went-1ST-PERSON-SINGULAR”).
- לא cannot be used to negate יש (yesh, “there is, there are”); rather, its negative counterpart אין (ein, “there isn't, there aren't”) must be used.
- In formal Hebrew, clauses of the form <subject> לא <adjective or noun phrase> (meaning <subject> isn't/aren't/am not <adjective or noun phrase>) are typically recast using אין (ein).
- לא can stand in for an entire negative clause, rather like English not or an English auxiliary verb plus not, but a bit more flexibly.
לֹא • (lo)
- No; used in responding to questions.