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 Hebrew Numerals: Hundreds, Thousands, and more

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Hebrew Numerals: Hundreds, Thousands, and more

Some of you had probably heard the name "Me'a She`arim". Know the meaning? Bingo, "Hundred Gates". מֵאָה [ me'a ] means hundred. (In spoken Hebrew it's also pronounced as [ me'a ], with the stress on the first syllable.)

So, 101 will be מֵאָה וְאֶחָד [me'a ve-'echad] (we put the "ve-" before the last word in numbers), 123 is מֵאָה עֶשְׂרִים וְשָׁלוֹשׁ [ me'a `esrim ve-shalosh ], and so on.

Now, the plural of [ me'a ] is [ me'ot ]: מֵאוֹת. That's simple. And [ me'a ] is obviously a noun of feminine gender (typically can be recognized by the final "-a" in Hebrew*.) And since we had already learned all the feminine numerals, your job should be easy now. Watch the following:

  • Remember all the "combinational" forms of 3, 7, 9 in 13, 17, 19? (Now, say it: [ shlosh-esre ], [ shva-esre ], [ tesha-esre... ].) You can use them to build up the hundreds too:

300 - שְׁלוֹשׁ מֵאוֹת   [ shlosh me'ot ] - three hundred

700 - שְׁבַע מֵאוֹת   [ shva me'ot ] - seven hundred

900 - תְּשַׁע מֵאוֹת   [ tsha me'ot ] - nine hundred

That's how it works when you count abstract numbers. But it wouldn't be incorrect to say also:

300 - שָׁלוֹשׁ מֵאוֹת   [ shlosh me'ot ]

700 - שֶׁבַע מֵאוֹת   [ shva me'ot ]

900 - תֶּשַׁע מֵאוֹת   [ tsha me'ot ]

It's rather intuitive than a rule, but I would say, you typically use the smikhut (combinational form) when you're either counting or talking about some objects: "three hundred dollars" - שְׁלוֹשׁ מֵאוֹת דּוֹלָר, but if you say an abstract number (and you're not counting), it would be rather:  מִסְפָרָם נֱאֶמָד בְּשָׁלוֹשׁ מֵאוֹת  - something like this: "their number was estimated by three hundred", rather "by three hundreds" - like the words three and hundreds are separated rather than one "combinaitonal" word.

Wait a second! How you say 200 now? Ah, that's interesting. As we've seen, we barely can escape mentioning the grammar while discussing numbers. This time we have to mention the Dual form of Nouns (existing along with Single and Plural.) Dual form means we have two objects: יוֹם [ yom ] (day) -- יָמִים [ yamim ] (days) -- יוֹמַיִם [ yomayim ] (two days). Typically this form is used with numbers, time measures, or clearly dual objects (e.g. parts of human body or some types of cloth):

מִכְנָסַים   [ mikhnasayim ] - pants

יָדַיִם [ yadayim ] - hands

עֵינַיִם [ `einayim ] - eyes

שְׁנָתַיִם [ shnatayim ] - two years

Although this [ -ayim ] ending is not exclusive for the Dual form, all Dual forms do have this ending. (Also, not the stress on the syllable before the last.)

So, for 200 we'll have dual form of 100: מָאתַיִם [ matayim ] (some Jerusalem old-timers also say [ma'atayim].) So, for example, 276 is [ matayim shiv`im ve-shesh ], and so on.

The picture with thousands is similarף

אֶלֶף   [ elef ] stands for thousand

אֲלָפִים  [ alafim ] - thousands

אַלְפַּיִם  [ alpayim ] - two thousands


1234 - אֶלֶף מָאתַיִם שְׁלוֹשִׁים וְאַרְבַּע - [ elef matayim shloshim ve-arba ]

2009 - אַלְפַיִם וְתֵשַׁע - [ alpayim ve-tesha ]

הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם - the hope of two thousand years (line from Hatikva - Israeli national anthem.)

The idea is the same as with tens and hundreds, with a little exception: אלף is a masculine Noun, and the notion for thousands should be in masculinе combinational form:

3,000 - שְׁלוֹשֶׁת אֲלָפִים - [ shloshet alafim ]

4,000 - אַרְבַּעַת אֲלָפִים - [ arba`at alafim ]

5,000 - חֲמֶשֶׁת אֲלָפִים - [ chameshet alafim ]

6,000 - שֵׁשֶׁת אֲלָפִים - [ sheshet alafim ]

7,000 - שִׁבְעַת אֲלָפִים - [ shiv`at alafim ]

8,000 - שְׁמוֹנַת אֲלָפִים - [ shmonat alafim ]

9,000 - תִּשְׁעַת אֲלָפִים - [ tish`at alafim ]

10,000 - עֲשֶׂרֶת אֲלָפִים - [ `aseret alafim ]


3145 - שְׁלוֹשֶׁת אֲלָפִים מֵאָה אַרְבָּעִים וְחָמֵשׁ - [ shloshet alafim me'a arba`im ve-chamesh ]

What about the gender? The thousands don't change, neither do hundreds or tens, so the life is easy. Only the units should be of the same gender as the following noun, hence we say:

3145 tomatoes (f): שלושת אלפים מאה ארבעים וחמש עַגְבָנִיּוֹת

3145 apples (m): שלושת אלפים ארבעים וְחֲמִישָׁה תַּפּוּחִים

It's also acceptable to keep the the thousand in Single form, if we place the following Noun in Single form too:

שלוש אלף שקל - as acceptable as שלושת אלפים שקלים

חמש אלף דוֹלָר - as acceptable as חמשת אלפים דוֹלָרִים

שש אלף אִישׁ - this is even preferrable (although I can't really tell why exactly) over ששת אלפים אֲנָשִׁים

That's quite a lot of new material to learn. Have fun!

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