An adverb is a word that describes a verb, or sometimes describes a sentence as a whole.

Some particles in Biblical Hebrew are closely related to adverbs.


Because there are not many direct adverbs in Biblical Hebrew, other kinds of words often function as adverbs.


Biblical Hebrew does not contain many words that are classified directly as adverbs. However, many different kinds of words can function as adverbs, including an infinitive absolute, an adjective, or even a noun. Many particles are closely related to adverbs in Biblical Hebrew. A general rule is that when a particle occurs after the verb, it functions as an adverb; but when a particle appears before the verb, then it functions in some other way (usually as a conjunction or a discourse marker). But this rule is not universal; sometimes both adverbs and particles can appear before the verb rather than after the verb, as in the example below (GEN 32:11).

Describes a verb

There are several different ways that an adverb can describe a verb. Many adverbs in Biblical Hebrew have the potential to serve multiple functions. For example, כֹּה can function as an adverb of place, an adverb of time, or an adverb of manner; פֹּה can function as an adverb of time or an adverb of place, etc.

describes a place or location

A locative adverb describes something about the place or location where the action of the verb happens.

Example: GEN 22:5
שְׁבוּ־לָכֶ֥ם פֹּה֙ עִֽם־הַחֲמ֔וֹר וַאֲנִ֣י וְהַנַּ֔עַר נֵלְכָ֖ה
shevu-lakhem poh ‘im-hahamor wa’ani wehanna’ar nelekhah
Stay_to-you here with_the-donkey and-I and-the-lad will-go
You two stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go over
Example: DEU 31:26
וְהָֽיָה־שָׁ֥ם בְּךָ֖ לְעֵֽד׃
wehayah-sham bekha le’ed
it-may-be there as-a-witness against-you
it may remain there to testify about what Yahweh will do to the
people if they disobey him
Example: EZE 40:30
וְאֵֽלַמּ֖וֹת סָבִ֣יב ׀ סָבִ֑יב אֹ֗רֶךְ
we’elammoth saviv saviv ‘orekh
And-porticos surrounding surrounding length
There were also porticos all around the inner wall

describes time

A temporal adverb describes something about the time when the action of the verb happens.

Example: GEN 32:11
וְעַתָּ֥ה הָיִ֖יתִי לִשְׁנֵ֥י מַחֲנֽוֹת
and-now I-have-become to-two companies
and now I have become two camps
Example: GEN 4:26
אָ֣ז הוּחַ֔ל לִקְרֹ֖א בְּשֵׁ֥ם יְהוָֽה
Then he-began to-call-out in-name-of Yahweh
At that time people began to call on the name of Yahweh.

describes quantity

A quantitative adverb describes an amount of something in relation to the action of the verb.

Example: GEN 31:41
וַיִּ֤חַר לְקַ֙יִן֙ מְאֹ֔ד
And-it-burned for-Cain greatly
So Cain was very angry
Example: GEN 22:15
וַיִּקְרָ֛א מַלְאַ֥ךְ יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֑ם שֵׁנִ֖ית
And-he-called-out angel-of Yahweh to_Abraham second
The angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time from heaven

describes manner of action

An adverb of manner describes something about how the action of the verb happens.

Example: JDG 21:14
וְלֹֽא־מָצְא֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם כֵּֽן׃
but-not they-found for-them thus
but there were not enough women for all of them.
Example: ZEP 1:14
מַ֥ר צֹרֵ֖חַ שָׁ֥ם גִּבּֽוֹר׃
mar tsoreah sham gibbor
bitterly cries there hero.
even brave soldiers will cry loudly.

Describes an entire clause or sentence

A sentential adverb describes an entire clause or sentence rather than an individual verb. Sentential adverbs are closely related to conjunctions.

Example: GEN 9:4 –– אַךְ as a restrictive adverb
אַךְ־בָּשָׂ֕ר בְּנַפְשׁ֥וֹ דָמ֖וֹ לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽלוּ׃
‘akh-basar benafsho damo lo thokhelu
However_meat in-its-life its-blood not you-shall-eat
But you must not eat meat with its life—that is its blood—in it.
Example: NUM 12:2 –– רַ֥ק as a restrictive adverb
הֲרַ֤ק אַךְ־בְּמֹשֶׁה֙ דִּבֶּ֣ר יְהוָ֔ה
haraq ‘akh-bemosheh dibber yehwah
only really_with-Moses spoken Yahweh
Is Moses the only one to whom Yahweh has spoken messages to tell
to us?
Example: DEU 15:5 –– רַ֥ק as a restrictive adverb
רַ֚ק אִם־שָׁמ֣וֹעַ תִּשְׁמַ֔ע בְּק֖וֹל יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ
raq ‘im-shamoa’ tishma’ beqol yehwah ‘eloheykha
only if_listening you-will-listen to-voice-of Yahweh your-God
if only you diligently listen to the voice of Yahweh your God

Functions as a noun

A nominal adverb is an adverb that functions as a noun rather than describing the verb directly.

Example: ISA 65:16
יִשָּׁבַ֖ע בֵּאלֹהֵ֣י אָמֵ֑ן
he-will-swear by-God-of Amen
Whoever … will swear by me, the God of truth

Other words functioning as adverbs

Because Biblical Hebrew does not contain many adverbs, sometimes other kinds of words can function as adverbs.

Particles functioning as adverbs

Example: GEN 3:22
וְלָקַ֕חַת גַּ֥ם אֶת־דּוּדָאֵ֖י בְּנִ֑י
and-to-take also [dir.obj]_mandrakes-of my-son
Do you now want to take away my son’s mandrakes, too?
Example: GEN 6:5
וְכָל־יֵ֙צֶר֙ מַחְשְׁבֹ֣ת לִבּ֔וֹ רַ֥ק רַ֖ע כָּל־הַיּֽוֹם
and-all-of_intentions-of thoughts-of his-heart only evil
every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil

Infinitive absolute verbs functioning as adverbs

Example: GEN 2:16
מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל
mikkol ‘ets-haggan ‘akhol tokhel
from-every tree-of_the-garden eating you-may-eat
From every tree in the garden you may freely eat.
Example: 1SA 3:12
אָקִ֣ים אֶל־עֵלִ֔י אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי אֶל־בֵּיתֹ֑ו הָחֵ֖ל וְכַלֵּֽה
‘aqim ‘el-‘eli ‘eth kol-‘asher dibbarti ‘el-bethow
hahel wekhalleh
I-will-fulfill to_Eli [dir.obj] all_that I-have-spoken
to_his-house beginning and-ending.
I will fulfill against Eli everything that I have spoken concerning
his house, from beginning to end.

Adjectives functioning as adverbs

This is called an adverbial adjective.

Example: JOS 21:10
כִּ֥י לָהֶ֛ם הָיָ֥ה הַגּוֹרָ֖ל רִיאשֹׁנָֽה
for to-them it-was the-lot first
For the first casting of lots had fallen to them.
Example: JOS 1:7
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר עֵשָׂ֖ו יֶשׁ־לִ֣י רָ֑ב אָחִ֕י
And-he-said Esau ‘There-is_for-me enough my-brother’
Esau said, “I have enough, my brother.”

Nouns functioning as adverbs

This is called an adverbial noun.

Example: 1SA 12:11
וַתֵּשְׁב֖וּ בֶּֽטַח׃
watteshevu betah
and-you-lived safety
and you lived safely
Example: HOS 14:4 (in Hebrew: HOS 14:5)
אֹהֲבֵ֖ם נְדָבָ֑ה
‘ohavem nedavah
I-will-love free
I will love them freely