View all path courses
Hebrew—An Introduction to Reading the Old Testament
About this course
Lesson 6: Nouns, pronouns and participles
Pronouns (step 4 of 8)
Noun placeholders

Next to learn are pronouns which function just like noun representatives. There are four different types of pronouns in Hebrew we will look at.
Personal pronouns

This is the most basic type of pronoun and typically what we mean when we speak of pronouns in general. You can notice that some of them have a likeness to the equivalent person-gender-number suffixes in perfect verbs.
personal pronouns
primary and alternative forms
1cs אָנֹכִי אֲנִי I
1cp אֲנַחְנוּ we
2ms אַתָּה you [sir]
2fs אַתְּ you [ma’am]
2mp אַתֶּם you all
2fp אַתֶּן אַתֵּנָה [ladies] you all
3ms הוּא he
3fs הִיא הִוא she
3mp הֵם הֵמָּה they
3fp הֵן הֵנָּה [those ladies]
Note that while personal pronouns are fairly common in Hebrew, they are not nearly as common as they are in English. This is due to the fact that inflected Hebrew verbs give much clearer indicators of person, gender and number than English does. Thus, pronouns are less necessary. In addition, pronouns are often represented in suffixes in Hebrew (as we will learn in lesson 7) instead of using the words above.
Interrogative and indefinite pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are pronouns used to ask questions. Indefinite pronouns are the same question words, but used as placeholders in statements. For example, in English we use the five w’s + h: who, what, why, when, where and how. These words can be used to ask questions like, “Who is there?” or “Where did you go?” In such cases, they are functioning as interrogative pronouns. But these same words can also be used as placeholders in statements. “You are not who I thought you were.” “Where you go, I will go.” In these examples, the same words are functioning as indefinite pronouns.

Hebrew has just two interrogative / indefinite pronouns, and you have already learned them: מִי (“who”) and מָה (“what” or “how”). These words do not change form.
Demonstrative pronouns

The last type of pronoun is the demonstrative pronoun—the pronoun we use when pointing at something. You can see that many of the 3rd person pronouns can be either personal or demonstrative.
demonstrative pronouns
primary and alternative forms
ms זֶה זֹה this
fs זֹאת this
cp אֵלֶּה these
ms הוּא that
fs הִיא that
mp הֵם הֵמָּה those
fp הֵנָּה those
Pronouns in the songs we’ve learned

We have already seen pronouns in two of the songs you have learned. To understand them, you will need to understand an important dynamic in Hebrew that we have yet to mention. That is, the fact that Hebrew does not require a verb to communicate that something is. Sometimes the verb הָיָה is used, but it needn’t be if a present reality is being indicated. You can note this below where you see translations like, “this is...” without any specific word translated to “is.”

וְאָמַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא — “And [one] will say on that day”
הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵינוּ זֶה — “Behold, this is our God”
זֶה יְהוָה — “This is the Lord

מַה־יְּדִידוֹת מִשְׁכְּנוֹתֶיךָ — “How beloved are your dwelling places ”
On the next step we will learn a final verb form.