Particle Negative


Negative particles are terms that negate some aspect of a sentence, either an individual word or an entire phrase.


אַיִן or אֵין

This term is used in verbless clauses to negate an entire clause or sentence. It is sometimes classified as a noun but usually appears in the verbal position of normal word order. Literally, the term is translated in English as “there is no” or “there is not”; but the English translation is often simplified to “is not” (see example below).

Example: ISA 45:5
אֲנִ֤י יְהוָה֙ וְאֵ֣ין עֹ֔וד זוּלָתִ֖י אֵ֣ין אֱלֹהִ֑ים
‘ani yehwah we’en ‘owd zulathi ‘en ‘elohim
I Yahweh and-there-is-no beside apart-from-me there-is-no
I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God but me.
Example: 2KI 1:3
הַֽמִבְּלִ֤י אֵין־אֱלֹהִים֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל
hamibbeli ‘en-‘elohim beyisra’el
For-nothing is-there-no_God in-Israel?
Is it because there is no God in Israel?
Example: GEN 37:29
וְהִנֵּ֥ה אֵין־יוֹסֵ֖ף בַּבּ֑וֹר
wehinneh ‘en-yosef babbor
and-behold there-is-no_Joseph in-the-pit
and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit


The word לֹא is the standard negative particle in Biblical Hebrew. This term often negates verbs, but it has potential to negate other kinds of words as well. In English, it is usually translated as “no” or “not”. When used with 2nd person imperfect verbs to express a negative command, this particle signifies a more emphatic command than the use of the negative particle אַל (with an imperfect verb).

Example: GEN 2:17
לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ
lo thokhal mimmennu
not you-eat from-it
you may not eat from it
Example: JER 43:2
לֹֽא־תָבֹ֥אוּ מִצְרַ֖יִם לָג֥וּר שָֽׁם
lo-thavo’u mitsrayim lagur sham
not_you-go Egypt to-sojourn there
Do not go to Egypt to live there.


The term אַַל is almost exclusively used to negate verbs; it is also the standard particle used to negate jussive and cohortative verbs. When used with 2nd person imperfect verbs to express a negative command, this particle signifies a less emphatic command than the use of the negative particle לֹא.

Example: GEN 21:16
אַל־אֶרְאֶ֖ה בְּמ֣וֹת הַיָּ֑לֶד
‘al-‘er’eh bemoth hayyaled
Not_I-will-look in-death-of the-child.
Let me not look upon the death of the child.


This term is sometimes used (especially with לְ) to negate infinitive construct verbs, and is usually translated in English as “no” or “not”.


This term is most often used as a concessive conjunction; a dictionary or lexicon will indicate the specific use of this particle in each individual context.

Example: GEN 3:11
צִוִּיתִ֛יךָ לְבִלְתִּ֥י אֲכָל־מִמֶּ֖נּוּ
tsiwwithikha leviltiy ‘akhol-mimmennu
I-commanded-you to-not eat_from-it
I commanded you to not eat from it

בַּל or בְּלִי (sometimes בְּלֹא)

These particles are usually used in poetry and carry no special meaning other than to negate a word or concept within a sentence. In English, they are usually translated as “no” or “not”.

Example: PSA 19:3 (PSA 19:4 in Hebrew)
בְּ֝לִ֗י נִשְׁמָ֥ע קוֹלָֽם
beli nishma’ qolam
not is-heard their-voice
their voice is not heard
Example: NUM 35:23
בְּלֹ֣א רְא֔וֹת
belo re’oth
without seeing
without seeing