A conjunction is a word that shows a relationship between two different words, phrases, sentences, or even entire paragraphs. In other words, conjunctions are grammatical connectors. The most common conjunctions in English are “and,” “or,” “but,” and “for.” Conjunctions are closely related to both sentential adverbs and particles.

Some particles in Biblical Hebrew are closely related to conjunctions.


Biblical Hebrew contains only one primary conjunction (the prefix וְ), but a whole family of other words also function as conjunctions. In Biblical Hebrew, particles and conjunctions are often combined with each other to form compound conjunctions. Compound conjunctions should not be considered merely as the sum of the components, but rather as a single grammatical entity with its own range of meanings which may or may not be different than the individual component words.

There are eight major categories of conjunctions. There are others as well, but these are the main kinds of conjunctions: conjunctive (“and”); alternative (“or”); contrastive (“but”); explicative (“surely”); causal (“for”); conditional (“if”); concessive (“except”); restrictive (“only”).

Many conjunctions in Biblical Hebrew have potential to function in multiple categories.

Sentences in Biblical Hebrew often begin with the conjunction ו (as either a consonant or a shureq vowel). This conjunction וְ (“and”) cannot stand alone as an independent word but must be connected to another word as a prefix. This can be added to a noun, a verb, a pronoun, or a particle. The shewa in וְ can lengthen to a vowel, usually pathah (when paired with the definite article) or qamets (when paired with both the article and a ה prefix), but others are also possible.


The conjunction וְ is often left untranslated when it begins a sentence or clause, or when it appears within the sequential verbal forms (Verb Sequential Perfect and Verb Sequential Imperfect). Also, the conjunction is often added between every item of a list in Biblical Hebrew; but in English the וְ is not translated for each item.



The conjunction וְ can appear either as a prefix to a word or particle, or as part of a sequential verbal form.

Example: ZEC 3:3 –– as a prefix to a separate word

וְעֹמֵ֖ד לִפְנֵ֥י הַמַּלְאָֽךְ‬

we’omed lifne hammal’akh‬

and-he-was-standing to-face-of the-angel

and he was standing in front of the angel

Example: GEN 1:13 –– as part of a sequential verbal form

וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם שְׁלִישִֽׁי׃

wayehi-‘erev wayehi voqer yom shelishi

And-there-was_evening, and-there-was_morning, day


This was evening and morning, the third day.


The conjunction וְ can express any of the following connective relationships:


A conjunctive conjunction simply joins two words/phrases/sentences together and is usually translated as “and” in English. This kind of conjunction can be used either comparatively (joining similar ideas) or contrastively (joining dissimilar ideas).

Example: GEN 2:17

וּמֵעֵ֗ץ הַדַּ֙עַת֙ ט֣וֹב וָרָ֔ע לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ

ume’ets hadda’ath tov wara’ lo thokhal mimmennu

But-from-tree-of the-knowledge-of good and-evil not you-shall-eat


But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not


When a conjunctive conjunction connects two events that happen at the same time, it has a similar meaning to a conditional conjunction expressing an actual condition. In these cases, the conjunction can be translated as “while” or “when” in English.

Example: GEN 1:5
וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ לָאוֹר֙ י֔וֹם וְלַחֹ֖שֶׁךְ קָ֣רָא


wayyiqra ‘elohim la’or yom welahoshekh qara laylah

And-he-called God to-the-light day and-to-the-darkness he-called


He named the light “day,” and he named the darkness “night.”

Example: GEN 45:14
וַיִּפֹּ֛ל עַל־צַוְּארֵ֥י בִנְיָמִֽן־אָחִ֖יו וַיֵּ֑בְךְּ

וּבִנְיָמִ֔ן בָּכָ֖ה עַל־צַוָּארָֽיו׃

wayyippol ‘al-tsawwere vinyamin-‘ahiw wayyevk uvinyamin bakhah


And-he-fell on_neck-of Benjamin_his-brother and-he-wept

and-Benjamin wept on_his-neck.

He hugged his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin

wept on his neck.


An alternative conjunction compares two words/phrases/sentences as alternates and is usually translated as “or” in English.

Example: EXO 20:10

לֹֽ֣א־תַעֲשֶׂ֨ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֜ה אַתָּ֣ה ׀ וּבִנְךָֽ֣־וּבִתֶּ֗ךָ עַבְדְּךָ֤ וַאֲמָֽתְךָ֙ וּבְהֶמְתֶּ֔ךָ וְגֵרְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֥ר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ׃

lo-tha’aseh khol-melakhah ‘attah uvinkha-wwvittekha ‘avdekha

wa’amathekha uvehemtekha wegerekha ‘asher bish’areykha

Not_you-shall-do any_work you nor-your-son_nor-your-daughter

your-male-servant nor-your-female-servant nor-your-cattle nor-foreigner who in-your-gates.

On it you must not do any work, you,

or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the foreigner who is within your gates.


A contrastive conjunction contrasts two words/phrases/sentences as different in some way and is usually translated as “but” in English.

Example: GEN 6:8

וְנֹ֕חַ מָ֥צָא חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃

wenoah matsa hen be’ene yehwah

But-Noah found favor in-eyes-of Yahweh.

But Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh.

Example: GEN 4:4

וְהֶ֨בֶל הֵבִ֥יא גַם־ה֛וּא מִבְּכֹר֥וֹת צֹאנ֖וֹ וּמֵֽחֶלְבֵהֶ֑ן

wehevel hevi gam-hu mibbekhoroth tsono umehelvehen

And-Abel brought also_he from-firstborn-of his-flock even-from-fat

As for Abel, he brought some of the firstborn of his flock and some of the fat


The word אוֹ is the standard alternative conjunction in Biblical Hebrew, usually translated as “or” in English.

Example: EXO 21:32

אִם־עֶ֛בֶד יִגַּ֥ח הַשּׁ֖וֹר א֣וֹ אָמָ֑ה׃

‘im-‘eved yiggah hashor ‘o ‘amah

If_male-servant gores the-ox or female-servant

If a bull attacks and gores a male or female slave



כִּי is one of the most flexible words in Biblical Hebrew in terms of its meaning. It can function either as a conjunction or as a particle, with many different potential meanings. If in doubt, it is recommended to always consult a dictionary or lexicon to confirm how the word is being used in any specific instance.

The word כִּי is the standard causal conjunction in Biblical Hebrew, and is usually translated as “for” in English. However, it is also commonly used as a conditional conjunction (usually translated, “if”). Often,כִּי is conditional when it occurs at the beginning of a sentence and causal when it occurs in the middle (or toward the end) of a sentence, but there are notable exceptions to this general rule.


A causal conjunction expresses a relationship of cause (of some kind) between two grammatical items. These can include a relationship of reason or result as well as a relationship of purpose or goal. However, sometimes it is extremely difficult to distinguish between a causal conjunction that expresses purpose/goal and one that expresses reason/result.

When כִּי functions as a causal conjunction, it is often translated into English simply as “for”, which can express either reason/result or purpose/goal. This is the most common use of the word כִּי.

expresses reason or result

This kind of causal conjunction expresses either the reason for or the result of an action/event. In English, it is usually translated as “for” or “because”.

Example: GEN 3:14
וַיֹּאמֶר֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֥ים ׀ אֶֽל־הַנָּחָשׁ֮ כִּ֣י עָשִׂ֣יתָ

זֹּאת֒ אָר֤וּר אַתָּה֙׃

wayyomer yehowah ‘elohim ‘el-hannahash ki ‘asitha zoth ‘arur


And-he-said Yahweh God to_the-serpent because you-have-done this

cursed you

Then Yahweh God said to the snake, “Because you did this, I will

curse you.”

expresses purpose or goal

This kind of causal conjunction expresses the purpose for or intended outcome of an action/event. In English, it is usually translated as “for” or “so that”.

Example: GEN 20:10

מָ֣ה רָאִ֔יתָ כִּ֥י עָשִׂ֖יתָ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃

mah ra’itha ki ‘asitha ‘eth-haddavar hazzeh

What did-you-see so-that you-did [dir.obj]_the-thing the-this?

What prompted you to do this thing?


A conditional conjunction introduces either a hypothetical situation or an actual situation, as determined by the context.

This is also a very common use of the word כִּי in Biblical Hebrew.

expresses a hypothetical condition

A hypothetical condition expresses an imaginary action or event that has not actually happened in reality. This kind of conditional conjunction is usually translated as “if” in English. Hypothetical conditions have potential to convey many different nuances of possibility and/or desirability.

Example: 2KI 4:29
כִּֽי־תִמְצָ֥א אִישׁ֙ לֹ֣א תְבָרְכֶ֔נּוּ וְכִֽי־יְבָרֶכְךָ֥

אִ֖ישׁ לֹ֣א תַעֲנֶנּ֑וּ

ki-thimtsa ‘ish lo thevorkhennu wekhi-yevarekhkha ‘ish lo


If_you-meet man not_greet-him and-if_greets-you man

not answer-him.

If you meet any man, do not greet him, and if anyone greets

you, do not answer him.

expresses an actual condition

An actual condition expresses an action or event that has actually happened in reality, and is usually translated as “when” or “while” in English. Usually, this kind of condition indicates something that is happening concurrently with the main action/event being described, or something that has happened in the past in certain circumstances.

Example: GEN 27:1

וַיְהִי֙ כִּֽי־זָקֵ֣ן יִצְחָ֔ק וַתִּכְהֶ֥יןָ עֵינָ֖יו מֵרְאֹ֑ת

wayhiy ki-zaqen yitshaq wattikhheyna ‘enayw mere’oth

And-it-happened when_old Isaac and-were-dim his-eyes


When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see

Other uses

The word כִּי can also express other conjunctive meanings, often as an contrastive following a negated statement. If in doubt, it is recommended to always consult a dictionary or lexicon for the exact meaning of the word in any specific instance.

Example: GEN 17:15
שָׂרַ֣י אִשְׁתְּךָ֔ לֹא־תִקְרָ֥א אֶת־שְׁמָ֖הּ שָׂרָ֑י כִּ֥י

שָׂרָ֖ה שְׁמָֽהּ׃

saray ‘ishtekha lo-thiqra ‘eth-shemah saray ki sarah shemah

Sarai your-wife not_call [dir.obj]_her-name Sarai but Sarah


As for Sarai your wife, do not call her Sarai any more. Instead,

her name will be Sarah.



Like the word כִּי, the word אִם in Biblical Hebrew is also extremely flexible in its meaning. If in doubt, it is recommended to always consult a dictionary or lexicon for the exact meaning of the word in any specific instance.


The word אִם is the standard conditional conjunction in Biblical Hebrew. It is most often used to describe a hypothetical condition and translated as “if” in English. However, this term can can be nuanced and translated in a variety of specific ways, and it can be joined with various other particles to form different compound conjunctions. Therefore, this word must be translated always with senstivity to the context to express the correct nuance.

expresses a hypothetical condition

A hypothetical condition expresses an imaginary action or event that has not actually happened in reality. This kind of conditional conjunction is usually translated as “if” in English. Hypothetical conditions have potential to convey many different nuances of possibility and/or desirability.

Example: GEN 18:26

אִם־אֶמְצָ֥א בִסְדֹ֛ם חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים צַדִּיקִ֖ם בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעִ֑יר

‘im-‘emtsa visdom hamishim tsaddiqim bethokh ha’ir

If_I-find in-Sodom fifty righteous in-place the-city

If I find fifty people in Sodom who have done nothing wrong

The following example is a hypothetical condition as an affirmation of an actual condition.

Example: JER 15:1

אִם־יַעֲמֹ֨ד מֹשֶׁ֤ה וּשְׁמוּאֵל֙ לְפָנַ֔י

‘im-ya’amod mosheh ushemu’el lefanay

Though_stood Moses and-Samuel before-me

Even if Moses or Samuel were standing in front of me

Example: NUM 21:9
וְהָיָ֗ה אִם־נָשַׁ֤ךְ הַנָּחָשׁ֙ אֶת־אִ֔ישׁ וְהִבִּ֛יט

אֶל־נְחַ֥שׁ הַנְּחֹ֖שֶׁת וָחָֽי׃

wehayah ‘im-nashakh hannahash ‘eth-‘ish wehibbit ‘el-nehash

hannehosheth wahay

And-it-happened when_he-had-bitten the-serpent [dir.obj]_man

and-he-looked to_serpent-of the-bronze and-he-lived

When a snake bit any person, if he looked at the bronze snake, he


Example: GEN 31:8
אִם־כֹּ֣ה יֹאמַ֗ר נְקֻדִּים֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה שְׂכָרֶ֔ךָ וְיָלְד֥וּ

כָל־הַצֹּ֖אן נְקֻדִּ֑ים

‘im-koh yomar nequddim yihyeh sekharekha weyoldu khol-hatson


When_thus he-said speckled-ones it-will-be your-wages

and-they-bore all_the-flock speckled-ones

If he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ then all

the flock bore speckled young.


This use of the conjunction אִם is often found in a question and is usually translated as “or” in English.

Example: JOS 5:13

הֲלָ֥נוּ אַתָּ֖ה אִם־לְצָרֵֽינוּ׃

halanu ‘attah ‘im-letsarenu

Are-for-us you or_for-our-enemies?

Are you for us or for our enemies?


The word עַתָּה (“now”) in Biblical Hebrew often functions as a temporal adverb, and sometimes as a sentential adverb. However, when עַתָּה appears at the beginning of a sentence or clause, it usually functions not as an adverb but as a conjunction, either standing alone or as a compound conjunction (when paired with the prefix וְ or with particles such as גַּם or כִּי). In either case, the term functions as a type of causal conjunction, indicating that what follows is based upon what has come before. This conjunction must be translated always with great sensitivity to the context to express the correct nuance; in English, this conjunction can be translated as “now”, “so”, “so now”, “and now”, “therefore”, and others. A dictionary or lexicon will indicate the specific nuance of this term in individual contexts.

Example: GEN 31:13 –– as a stand-alone conjunction

עַתָּ֗ה ק֥וּם צֵא֙ מִן־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַזֹּ֔את

‘attah qum tse’ min-ha’arets hazzoth

Now rise-up go-out from_the-land the-this

Now rise up and leave this land

Example: 1KI 8:26 –– with prefix וְ
וְעַתָּ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יֵאָ֤מֶן נָא֙ דְּבָרֶיךָ אֲשֶׁ֣ר

דִּבַּ֔רְתָּ לְעַבְדְּךָ֖ דָּוִ֥ד אָבִֽי

we’attah ‘elohe yisra’el ye’amen na’ devareykha ‘asher dibbarta

le’avdekha dawid ‘avi

And-now God-of Israel let-it-be-true [exh.prtc] your-words that

you-spoke to-your-servant David my-father

Now then, God of Israel, I pray that the promise you made to your

servant David my father, will come true.

Example: GEN 44:10 –– in compound conjunction with גַּם

וַיֹּ֕אמֶר גַּם־עַתָּ֥ה כְדִבְרֵיכֶ֖ם כֶּן־ה֑וּא

wayyomer gam-‘attah khedivrekhem ken-hu

And-he-said also_now as-your-words thus_it

Now also let it be according to your words.

Example: 1SA 13:13 –– in compound conjunction with כִּי

כִּ֣י עַתָּ֗ה הֵכִ֨ין יְהוָ֧ה אֶת־מַֽמְלַכְתְּךָ֛

ki ‘attah hekhin yehwah ‘eth-mamelakhtekha

For now he-established Yahweh [dir.obj]_your-reign

For then Yahweh would have established your rule


This term is a conditional conjunction, similar to אִם but used only to express hypothetical conditions. The word can also appear in the alternate forms לוּא and לֻא. This conjunction either: 1) expresses a condition that cannot (or probably will not) happen, usually translated “if” in English; or 2) conveys a strong desire for something to happen that cannot (or probably will not) be realized, usually translated “if only” in English.

Example: JDG 13:23

לוּ֩ חָפֵ֨ץ יְהוָ֤ה לַהֲמִיתֵ֙נוּ֙

lu hafets yehwah lahamithenu

If he-wanted Yahweh to-kill-us

If Yahweh intended to kill us

Example: NUM 14:2

לוּ֩־מַ֙תְנוּ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם

lu-mathnu be’erets mitsrayim

If-only we-had-died in-the-land-of Egypt

We wish we had died in the land of Egypt


This term is also a conditional conjunction, and it expresses a certain kind of hypothetical condition. The word can be used in two different ways: either 1) in warnings to express a potential condition that will take place if the warning is not heeded, usually translated “lest” in English; or 2) to express the reason for a certain action to prevent a possible condition from taking place, usually translated as “so that…not” (or similar phrasing) in English.

Example: GEN 3:3

וְלֹ֥א תִגְּע֖וּ בּ֑וֹ פֶּן־תְּמֻתֽוּן׃

welo thigge’u bo pen-temuthun

and-not you-will-touch in-it so-that-not_you-will-die

nor may you touch it, or you will die.

Example: GEN 31:24
הִשָּׁ֧מֶר לְךָ֛ פֶּן־תְּדַבֵּ֥ר עִֽם־יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִטּ֥וֹב


hishamer lekha pen-tedabber ‘im-ya’aqov mittov ‘ad-ra’

Be-guarded to-you so-that-not_you-speak with_Jacob from-good


Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.


A restrictive conjunction sets apart a clause or phrase as unique within its context. Sometimes this restrictive function emphasizes a particular item as the most important or most prominent; in these cases, the conjunction is similar in meaning to an affirmative conjunction. At other times, however, this restrictive function introduces a particular limitation to something previously expressed; in these cases, this conjunction is similar in meaning to a concessive conjunction.

The word רַק is the standard restrictive conjunction in Biblical Hebrew.

Compound conjunctions


Sometimes multiple conjunctions or particles appear together but do NOT form a compound conjunction; in such cases, each word retains its individual range of meanings. These instances must be determined from the context. If in doubt, consult a dictionary or lexicon for the exact meaning of any specific occurrence.

A concessive conjunction expresses an exception or disclaimer to what has been stated immediately previous.

כִּי אִם

Sometimes the words כִּי and אִם are paired together to form a compound conjunction that functions most often as a strong contrastive or a strong concessive (“except”). In English, it is usually translated as “but”, “but if”, or “except”. It is recommended to always consult a dictionary or lexicon for the exact meaning of any specific occurrence of this compound conjunction.

Example: 2KI 23:9

כִּ֛י אִם־אָכְל֥וּ מַצֹּ֖ות בְּתֹ֥וךְ אֲחֵיהֶֽם׃

ki ‘im-‘okhlu matsowth bethowkh ‘ahehem

but if_they-ate unleavened-bread in-midst-of their-brothers.

but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers.

אַף כִּי

Sometimes the words אַף and כִּי are paired together to form a compound conjunction that functions as a strong affirmative (similar to an affirmation particle). This compound conjunction can appear with or without the prefix conjunction וְ (“and”).

Example: GEN 3:1

אַ֚ף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֔ים

‘af ki-‘amar ‘elohim

indeed he-has-said God

Has God really said

Example: EZK 23:40

וְאַ֗ף כִּ֤י־אַחֲרֵ֥י מוֹתִֽי׃

we’af ki-‘ahare mothi

and-more after my-death

how much more after my death?