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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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In Hebrew: ‘To Wonder’

A daily dose of Hebrew.
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לִתְהוֹת

The Hebrew word for to wonder is לִתְהוֹת. In English, we use the verb to wonder to express not only genuine wonder, but also to make a polite request, such as I was wondering whether you’d be able to pick me up on the way to work. Such an expression in Hebrew might replace the wondering with I wanted to know:

רָצִיתִי לָדַעַת אִם תּוּכַל לֶאֱסוֹף אֹתִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ לַעֲבוֹדָה. I wanted to know whether you’d be able to pick me up on the way to work.

The Hebrew word לתהות is generally used literally, as in:

תָּהִיתִי מַדּוּעַ הֵם עוֹד לֹא הִגִּיעוּ. I was wondering why they hadn’t arrived yet.

The root of לתהות is ת.ה.ה (t.h.h) and is an active-simple פָּעַל verb.

To wonder, in Hebrew, is different from a wonder. The word for that is פֶּלֶא.

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

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