how to say “to listen” in Hebrew – two ways (click for the answer)

להקשיב, להאזין

The most common word for to listen in Hebrew is לְהַקְשִׁיב. For example, אֲנִי מַקְשִׁיב לְךָ, חָבֵר (ah-NEE mahk-SHEEV leh-KHAH hah-VEHR) means I’m listening to you, friend, when both the speaker and the friend are male. קֶשֶׁב (KEH-shev), with the same root as להקשיב, means attention.

Another word is לְהַאֲזִין (leh-hah-ah-ZEEN). If you look carefully at the word, you may notice that its root is א.ז.נ (a.z.n), the same root as the word for ear – אֹזֶן (OH-zen). This word is slightly “higher” Hebrew – a radio announcer would use it to say listen to the news – הַאֲזִינוּ לַחֲדָשׁוֹת (hah-ah-ZEE-noo lah-hah-dah-SHOHT). It’s also used in the Torah, in the closing poem of Moses to the people of Israel (look it up – Deuteronomy 32).

Call-to-action for this Shabbat/weekend

I invite you to join me in a Shabbat/weekend challenge.

Let’s take two people with whom we regularly come into contact but haven’t paid much attention to… and engage them in a conversation in which we give them our full קשב – attention.


שבת שלום! (Shabbat Shalom)

After having studied literature and linguistics on the bachelors level and psychology on the masters, Ami decided to draw upon his hobby of learning languages, his understanding of human thought processes and his skill of explaining complex ideas in simple terms, to found a program that enables people to speak Hebrew with confidence.

10 Comments

  • This was very helpful. Thank you.

    I’m writing my request in transliteration, because it’s ever Shabbat, and I don’t have time to agonize over the Hebrew spelling.

    What exactly is the difference between a “ma’avar” and a “hemshaich”? When traveling by bus, we have gotten into interesting and spicy arguments with bus drivers — which, P.S., always end pleasantly. (As our friend Marc says, “Scratch to just below the surface of any Israeli Jew, male or female, and you will find a Jewish mother, dying to help you out.”)

    rutimizrachi Reply
  • המשך (hem-SHEKH) – continuation
    מעבר (mah-ah-VAHR) – passage

    The latter is the one they give out on buses – a “transfer”.

    Marc’s dead on.

    שבת שלום!

    Ami Reply
  • Toda rabah for reminding us all of the immense power of listening. If everyone applies a “Ktzat” each day, the world will be a better place. Shabbat Tov.

    Anonymous Reply
  • I have a female friend (Jewish) whom I am listening to, and pay very close attention to what she says… She is wise beyond her years… I would like to express this to her in the proper way … I have looked for a way to translate English into Ivrit… but am learning the computer and the process is slow. can you help me translate this, and direct me to a good translation site for future communications?
    Wayne

    Anonymous Reply
  • I’ve heard that there is a distinct difference between לה’שיב and לשמוע. How can I tell when to use which?

    Dukaine Reply
  • להקשיב is to listen (actively).
    לשמוע is to hear (passively).

    Ami Steinberger Reply
    • I’ve seen sentences like אני שןמע לחגשןת ברדין. I would think that this would be active listening, so why is לשמןע used?

      Dukaine Reply
    • You’ve probably heard אני שומע חדשות. Culturally, it translates to the English “I’m listening to the news.” But it means, literally, “I’m hearing the news,” in a similar way that אני רואה טלוויזיה means, literally, “I’m seeing TV,” but its cultural English equivalent is “I’m watching TV.”

      Ami Steinberger Reply
    • Thanks. Excuse my horrible and embarrassing spelling! My fingers must have gotten off track on the keyboard, switching back and forth between Hebrew and English.

      Dukaine Reply

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