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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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In Hebrew: ‘Nice to Meet You’

A daily dose of Hebrew.

נָעִים לְהַכִּיר

When I go to the pool, I’m usually there to swim laps, so I use the fast lane. Last night, as I was swimming at my regular pace, an older man suddenly cut into my lane and started doing a slow breaststroke. Out of respect for his age and out of fear for my ego, I laughed it off instead of saying something about his intrusion. When we both rested at the end of the lane, I introduced myself – and when he introduced himself, I was amazed. Alas, I mustn’t share with you this man’s identity, as I’m sworn to secrecy. But I can share with you the right Hebrew phrase to use in lieu of the English nice to meet you:

נָעִים לְהַכִּיר – literally, it’s a pleasure to make (your) acquaintance

A simpler version of נעים להכיר that you may know is נָעִים מְאֹד– literally,very pleasant.

Mind you, the active-causative הִפְעִיל verb, להכיר, is the one to use when expressing meeting someone for the first time. להכיר means literally, to become acquainted or familiar with. להכיר is also the correct word to use when saying I know someone – it’s right-brain, spatial-emotional knowledge, as distinguished from left-brain factual knowledge, where לָדַעַתis the correct word. לִפְגּוֹשׁ also means to meet, while לְהִפָּגֵשׁmeans to meet with – but these lack the right-brain, first-impression quality that comes with the word להכיר.

An example of להכיר in action:

אֶתְמוֹל הִכַּרְתִּי אָדָם מְעַנְיֵן בַּבְּרֵכָה.
Yesterday I met an interesting person at the pool.

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

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