Lesson 1.3: The Direct Object Marker

Introduction

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned in the two previous lessons – the conjunction Vav (וּ, or וַ ,וְ) and the definite article Hey (i.e., הַ and הָ).  Both of these words occur as prefixes. The ו, with its appropriate vowels is most frequently translated as ‘and‘,  while the definite article translates to ‘the‘. In addition, you learned these two vowels,

אְ  אוּ

The Shureq (/oo/ sound)  and the Sheva (short /uh/ sound). Note that the Shureq requires the Vav consonant. Thus, the following word, הוּ, is pronounced /hoo/ (sounds like ‘who’).

In this lesson we’ll learn about the direct object marker (or dom) – a  a Hebrew word that indicates to the reader (or listener) that the following word is a direct object of a preceding verb. More specifically, in the Hebrew passages you will examine, all will be simple doms.

Listen and Recognize

  • /et/

And here is how it sounds in its spoken context:

How many occurrences of the dom did you hear? As you will learn later, this particular verse has only one verb. Thus, this is an example of a single verb having multiple direct objects. Here’s an example of an English sentence with one verb and two direct objects (colored red):

Jill handed the ball and the bat to her teammate.

In this sentence, ‘ball’ and ‘bat’ are the direct objects of the verb, ‘handed‘. As we’ve done previously, let’s rewrite this English sentence using the dom (et) and Hebrew syntax:

Jill handed et theball andet thebat to her teammate((Remember, the definite article is always prefixed).

And, since you’ve learned the sound of both the definite article and the conjunction vav, let’s add those to the sentence as well:

Jill handed  et haball   və·et   habat  to  her  teammate.

NOTE:

  1. et is a standalone, independent word.
  2. və (the conjunction) is prefixed to, and precedes, et (the dom).
  3. ha is never prefixed to et but always is prefixed to et when present.

Now, here is the previous verse again. Listen carefully until you can clearly distinguish the dom phrases, et ha and və·et ha:

  • et·ha    və·et·ha

You should keep in mind that direct objects in Hebrew are always definite, so it should not surprise you to learn that these two word combinations, /et·ha/ and /və·et ha/, are very common.

In the next two verses, listen for the dom, but also keep in mind that you also know the conjunction and the definite article. Listen over and over again until you are certain you’re able to hear and distinguish all three words.

Spelling and Pronunciation

The Direct Object Marker is commonly spelled in two ways as follows:

 אֶת   אֵת

These spellings presents you with a new consonant and two new new vowel pointings, the Tsere (the two horizontal dots underneath its consonant) and the Segol (the triangle dots under the consonant). The Tsere makes the /ay/ and the Segol makes the /e/ sound as in bed, red.

אֶ Segol: /e/ rhymes with bed, red, said
אֵ Tsere: /ey/ rhymes with bay, say

Here, now, is the pronunciation of both spellings of the dom (repeated twice and read from right to left):

  • אֶת   אֵת

The new consonant is the Tav, ת and it makes the /T/ sound. Here are the pronunciations of ת with the six vowels you’ve learned so far. Each sequence of five pronunciations is repeated twice (and, of course, read from right to left);

  • תַ  תָ   תֶ   תֵ   תְ

Read and Recognize

In the next exercise you will be asked to identify all of the words you have learned to date. However, in the text immediately below, the words you have learned have bolded.

וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאוֹר כִּי־טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ ♦ וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד

Now, do the same for the following text – read and identify all occurrences of the definite article, the conjunction Vav, and the direct object marker, dom:

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי־אוֹר וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאוֹר כִּי־טוֹב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד

In the same text (above), count the instances of each vowel that you have learned. For example, in the first line there are 5 Sheva, 9 Qamats, 2 Patach, 3 Tsere, and 3 Segol vowels. Also, there are two Shureq vowels – one is a conjunction and the other is in the middle of a word. Find them both.

Good luck.

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