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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777
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In Hebrew: ‘To Arrive’

Your daily dose of Hebrew.

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If you’re studying a new foreign language, one of the first words you’re bound to come across is the one for to arrive, especially if you’re planning to visit that language’s country and tour around. If you already know some Hebrew, you likely know that לְהַגִּיעַ is Hebrew’s word for to arrive or to reach a place.

But what you may not know is that the three-letter root of the word להגיע is נ.ג.ע (n.g.a), meaning touch.

What does touch have to do with arriving? When we reach an object or place, we’ve gone through a process of approaching that object or place. This process ends in touching the object we were approaching or reaching for.

So the Hebrew speakers in the ancient world, probably without even realizing it, plugged the נ.ג.ע root into their active-causative הִפְעִיל verb form, yielding לְהַנְגִּיע. But since להנגיע is difficult to utter when spoken quickly (try it yourself), the נ (n) sound fell off and instead the ג (g) in לְהַגִּיעַ was accentuated – hence the dot of emphasis, or דָּגֵשׁ, in that letter.

An example of להגיע, conjugated:

מָתַי הוּא כְּבָר יַגִּיעַ הַבַּיְתָה?
When will he arrive home already?

(You can learn to conjugate להגיע and other similar verbs via this chart.)

And the colloquial expression:

אֲנִי כְּבָר מַגִּיעַ.
I’ll be right there (literally, I’m already arriving, when spoken by a male).

The noun form of להגיע is הַגָּעָה, meaning arrival. A conjugation of להגיע features prominently in this classic Israeli song by Shlomo Artzi.

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Ami Steinberger

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

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