Particle

Summary

Particles are auxiliary words that do not fit neatly into any specific category.

Article

Particles are auxiliary words in a language that do not describe or refer to a specific object or action. Rather, particles often mark grammatical structures and/or show how other words within a sentence relate to each other. Many particles in Biblical Hebrew are closely related to adverbs or conjunctions. Some Hebrew particles are prefixes that are attached to another word. Some particles are extremely flexible in their meaning and can also serve other functions within a sentence, especially as conjunctions or adverbs. For example, the word כִּי can function as either a particle or a conjunction; the word עַתָּה can function as either a particle or an adverb; and there are others as well.

In Biblical Hebrew, particles are sometimes paired together to form compound conjunctions. Compound conjunctions are best understood as a single unit with its own range of meanings which may or may not overlap with the meanings of the individual particles themselves. When in doubt, it is recommended to consult and dictionary or lexicon to determine whether any particular occurrence of a particle stands alone or as part of a compound conjunction.

Note

The classification of these words (i.e. words called “particles” in this grammar) is a subject of much debate among Hebrew linguists. This is true even for particles which have a clear meaning and function. Other parsing systems may have different names for these groups of particles, may have different groupings, or may even parse an individual particle as another kind of word such as a noun, an adverb, a conjunction, or others.

Types

The parsing system used by this grammar identifies the following types of particles:

Affirmation particle

These particles usually convey a sense of “affirmation of” or “addition to” some idea within the sentence. In English, they are commonly translated using words such as “yes” or “also” or “even” or “really”, etc.

Definite Article

This is a prefix that makes a word definite.

Demonstrative particle

These particles focus the attention of the reader/listener to the word, phrase, or sentence that immediately follows. In English, they are commonly translated using words such as “See!” or “Look!” or “Behold!”, etc.

Direct Object marker

This particle precedes the direct object in a sentence, used especially in places where there might be confusion.

Exhortation particle

Exhortation particles are used to emphasize or strengthen a request or command. They are often left untranslated in English.

Interjection

These particles are exclamations of emotion. In English, they are commonly translated using words such as “Oh!” or “Woe!” or “Aha!”, etc.

Interrogative particle

This prefix indicates that the sentence is a question and not a statement.

Negative particle

These particles negate some word in the sentnce, usually a verb or adjective.

Relative particle

These particles introduce a relative clause or phrase, often more fully describing a preceding noun or verb.