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 Simple Conversation with Israelis

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Simple Conversation with Israelis

Let's take look of a simple dialog: visitors from America arrives to their relatives' house in Israel. This conversation is full of little words you might hear all around you among Israelis:

- Shalom, shalom! - שלום, שלום!
Shalom, how are you (plural)? - Shalom, ma shlomkhem? - שלום! מַה שלוֹמכֶם?
(We are) Ok.
How was your flight?
- Beseder.
Eikh hayta ha tisa?
- בְּסֵדֶר.
אֵיך הַיתָה הַטִיסָה?
(It was) totally Ok. - Beseder gamur. - בסדר גָמוּר.
Did you fly El-Al? - Tastem El-Al? - טַסְתֶּם אֶל־עַל?
No, El-Al are too expensive.
We flied with American (Airlines) to London,
and British (Airways) from there.
- Lo, El-Al hem yekarim miday.
Tasnu American (Airlines) le-London,
u-mi-sham British (Airways).
- לֹא, אל־על הֵם יְקָרִים מִדַּי. טַסנוּ אַמֵרִיקָן לְלוֹנדוֹן, וּמִשָם בּריטיש.
Did you take a cab from the airport? - Lakachtem monit mi-NATBAG? - לָקַחְתֶּם מוֹנִית מִנַתְבָּ"ג?
No, Yoni picked us from the airport and took to his house. - Lo, Yoni lakax otanu mi Ben Gurion
elav habayta.
- לא, יוֹני לָקַח אוֹתָנוּ מנתב"ג אֵלָיו הַבַּיְתָה.
That's great. When did you arrive then? Yesterday? - Yofi, yofi. Az matay higa`tem? Etmol? - יוֹפי, יוֹפי. אַז מַתַּי הִגַעתֶּם? אֶתמוֹל?
We're already three days here in Israel. - Anaxnu kvar shlosha yamim ba Aretz. - אֲנַחְנוּ כּבָר שלוֹשָה יָמִים בָּאָרֶץ.
Nu, then you are real old-timers here! - Nu, az atem kvar vatikim po! - נוּ, אַז אַתֶּם כְּבָר וַתִּיקִים פֹּה!
(laughter) -


נַתְבָּ"ג is a commonly used abbreviation for the Ben-Gurion Airport, or Nemal Te`ufa Ben-Gurion: N.T.B.G.

Expressions "בסדר גמור" ,"מה שלומכם" are very common; you'd better memorize them טוב-טוב :)

?איך היתה הטיסה  -  In English (at least in American English) we would probably say "How was your flight?" In Hebrew it's usually enough to specify the subject, so it's more like "How was the flight?"

As we already know, Israelis "take" taxi, exactly like Americans. (If you think about it, you're riding а  taxi; "taking" is just an idiomatic expression, and such expressions don't have to be the same in all languages. In this case it's the same, which means we're lucky: it's easier for us to learn. Don't expect it always to be the same though.)

אל-על means "Skywards" or "To the Heights". You have probably heard of El-Al - Israeli national airlines company, but if you have not, take a look at Wikipedia.


אותנו, אליו - otanu, elav -- For some reason, many textbooks for beginners either ignore proposition conjugation, or give them in "advanced" lessons. I don't think it's a good approach. Propositions with suffixes are the very essence of Hebrew, and avoiding them for a while only means you're postponing your ability to communicate. You'd better start learning this construct as soon as possible.

אל means to, towards, into. אליו הביתה means "to his house" or more literally "to his home".

Conjugation of אֶל


to me

  אֵלֵינוּ to us
אֵלֶיךָ to you (m. sing.)   אֱלֵיכֶם to you (m. pl.)
אֵלַיִך to you (f. sing.)   אֱלֵיכֶן to you (m. pl.)*
אֵלָיו to him   אֱלֵיהֶם to them (m. pl.)**
אֵלֶיהָ to her   אֱלֵיהֶן to them (f. pl.)*,**

*) these forms (feminine plural) are used more and more rarely.

**) classical vocalization is slightly different (אֲלֵיכֶן), however the vocalization present here reflects the modern pronunciation, which makes a better difference between אֱלֵיכֶן and עֲלֵיכֶן, and also makes it easier to remember.

This short dialogue is actually giving us lots of material to discuss.

What about אותנו, and all those verbs like טסנו, לקחנו... Too much for a single lesson though. I need a break for today, but I promise: the saga will continue.

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