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June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
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In Hebrew: ‘Boyfriend/Girlfriend’

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חָבֵר, חֲבֵרָה English distinguishes clearly between “just friends” and friends of a romantic nature.

Hebrew, however, doesn’t have a special word for boyfriend/girlfriend, making interactions sometimes confusing or embarrassing, especially for those who don’t know the nuances.

Here’s what you need to know.

The words חָבֵר referring to a male and חֲבֵרָהreferring to a female, mean both friend and boyfriend/girlfriend. Whether the word carries a romantic air depends on context and tone of voice.

Rules of thumb:

* When referring to a member of the same sex, חבר/חברה means friend, unless the person might have a romantic partner of the same sex. * When referring to a member of the opposite sex, חבר/חברה means boyfriend/girlfriend, unless tone of voice or context indicates otherwise. * When used in the plural, חֲבֵרִים/חֲבֵרוֹת means simply friends, unless context indicates otherwise. For example:

יֵשׁ לוֹ הַרְבֵּה חֲבֵרוֹת. He has a lot of girlfriends/female friends (depending on context). To refer to someone of the opposite sex as just a friend with the confidence that no one will misunderstand, use a different set of words: יָדִיד for a male friend and יְדִידָה for a female friend.

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About the Author: Ami Steinberger is founder and director of Ulpan La-Inyan.

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