The Hebrew Alphabet

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For those who have never seen written Hebrew or the Hebrew alphabet, at first glance it may seem strange. Firstly, the letters of the alphabet are not the Latin or roman letters that we are used to in most Western European alphabets. The letters are derived from ancient Aramaic which in itself was derived from even more ancient pictographs and hieroglyphics. For example, the equivalent of the letter “a” in the Hebrew alphabet is “א” and of the letter “h”, “ה”. There are even letters in the Hebrew alphabet that have no equivalents in English, for example, “צ” which would be pronounced in English as “Ts”. Secondly, the language is written not from left to right, but from right to left.

Those are the major, obvious differences, there are others but during the course of your program, we will gradually introduce you to the Hebrew language in such a way as to make the learning process, simple, natural and fast.

The Alphabet

The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters with five letters having a different form when they appear at the end of a word. Some letters are pronounced differently according to the structure of the word or if they are the first letter in a word. Also, Hebrew does not use separate characters for numerals, rather each letter of the alphabet also has a numerical value.

Below you will find a table showing the different Hebrew characters, their names, their approximate pronunciations and their numerical values. Remember, Hebrew is not a European language and the actual pronunciation may be different from that written here. When two Hebrew characters appear in the same cell, the left hand character is the letter in its final form.

Confused – don’t worry, learning any new language is a challenging task. With patience and perseverance you will soon be talking like a native Israeli.

Name Form Sound Numerical Value
Aleph א silent 1
Beis בּ b 2
Veis ב v 2
Gimel ג g 3
Dalet ד d 4
Hay ה h 5
Vav ו v or oo 6
Zayin ז z 7
Khes ח kh 8
Tes ט t 9
Yud י y 10
Kaf כּ k 20
Lamed ל l 30
Mem מ m 40
Nun נ n 50
Samekh ס s 60
Ayin ע silent 70
Pay פּ p 80
Fay פ f 80
Tzadi(k) צ tz 90
Kuf ק k 100
Raysh ר r 200
Shin שׁ sh 300
Sin שׂ s 300
Tav תּ t 400
Sav ת s 400