Yiddish Tips

Copied from Duolingo and duome.eu (https://duome.eu/tips/en/yi)

  1. Aleph-Bais 1
  2. Aleph-Bais 2
  3. Aleph-Bais 3
  4. Aleph-Bais 4
  5. Hello!
  6. Home
  7. Food 1
  8. You
  9. Me
  10. Questions
  11. More
  12. Origin
  13. Need
  14. Which
  15. Time
  16. Trip
  17. Siblings
  18. Family
  19. Hobbies
  20. Suffix
  21. Complain
  22. Food 2
  23. How is it?
  24. Mealtime
  25. Restaurant
  26. Classroom
  27. Breakfast
  28. Friends
  29. Shop
  30. Vacation
  31. Languages
  32. Leisure
  33. Caring
  34. School
  35. Furniture
  36. Shabbos
  37. Party
  38. Requests
  39. Numbers
  40. Clothes
  41. University
  42. Hanukkah
  43. Pets
  44. Zoo
  45. Park
  46. Travel
  47. Job
  48. Living
  49. Whose
  50. Does!
  51. Learning
  52. Purim
  53. Water
  54. Forest
  55. Passover
  56. Future
  57. Sick
  58. Used to
  59. Body
  60. Bedroom
  61. Diminutive
  62. Passive
  63. Indef. Pronouns
  64. Reflexive
  65. Cute!
  66. Religion
  67. Phrases
  68. Would
  69. Present
  70. Sayings
  71. Abbreviation
  72. Forgive me!
  73. Work
  74. Wedding
  75. Fantasy
  76. Good luck!
  77. Chassidish
  78. Litvish
  79. Synonyms

Aleph-Bais 1 updated 2021-04-19 ^

Hello, and welcome to the Yiddish course!

There are tips and notes for the majority of the skills, please take your time to read them.

Whether you're learning Yiddish because your family used it as a secret language, or because you're curious about what the other language Middle High German split off into looks like, this course will help you get familiar with the Yiddish language.

Because Yiddish uses the Hebrew alphabet, the writing system is written from right to left!.

English letters Yiddish letters
m מ
a אַ
n ן
man מאַן

The Yiddish Alphabet

The Yiddish alphabet has no capitalization, instead, there are 5 letters that, when at the end of the word, change, just like the greek 'σ/ς'. Those letters look different when written at the end of a word (their pronunciation does not change).

Each letter is given with the pronunciation in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and a close-matching example in English:

Please pay attention to the asterisks and ☞!

Name Letter Ending form IPA English example
Shtimer Alef א - silent, used at the beginning of a word that starts with a vowel (except ע/ayin, אַ/pasekh alef, and אָ/kumits alef)
Kumits alef אָ /u~ə~ɔ/ ooh/uh/not (when said with a British accent)
Pasekh alef אַ /ä~aː/ hop, stop
Bays/☞Vays ב /b/,☞/v/ boy, van
☞Vays** ☞בֿ** /v/** van
Gimel ג /g/ go
Daled ד /d/ dog
Hay ה /h/ hen
Vuv ו /ʊ~iː~i/ , rarely☞/v/* boo, in, see, ☞van
Melipm vuv*** וּ*** /ʊ~iː~i//* boo, in, see
Zayin ז /z/ zoo
☞Khes ☞ח /χ/ loch
Tes ט /t/ ten
Yeed י /j~i:~i/ yes, fin, see
Khirik yeed*** יִ*** /i/ fin
☞Kuf ☞כּ /k/ cat
Khuf כ ך /χ/ loch
Lamed ל /l/ log
Mem מ ם /m/ man
Neein נ ן /n/ no
Samekh ס /s/ see
Ayin ע /ɛ/, /ej/ eh, hey
Pay פּ /p/ pan
Fay פ ף /f/ four
Fay** פֿ** ף /f/ four
Tsadik צ ץ /ts/ cats
Keef ק /k/ cat
Raysh ר /r/ bottle (like the Spanish R/RR)
Sheein ש /ʃ/ she
☞Seein ☞שׂ /s/ sea notice the dot to the left
☞Tuf ☞תּ /t/ tap
☞Suf ☞ת /s/ so

*Very rarely used, in words of Semitic origin where the "v" sound is the first letter of the word, like ושתּי, Vashti.

**Not used in this course; used in YIVO standard spelling.

***Only used to disambiguate when located adjacent to other letters with which it could theoretically combine (but doesn't).

☞ Only used in words of Semitic origin, like חלום, dream.

Aleph-Bais 2 updated 2021-04-13 ^

Letter IPA English example
אי/או /i/ in, eerie used in the beginning of words

Aleph-Bais 3 updated 2021-04-13 ^

Letter IPA English example
יי /aj/~ (rarely)/ɛɪ/ Thai, (rarely) hey
טש /t͡ʃ/ hatch
זש /ʒ/ garage
דזש /d͡ʒ/ Pajamas
וו /v/ vote
ײַ /aː/~/aj/ stop, Thai

Aleph-Bais 4 updated 2021-03-03 ^

Letter IPA English example
ייִ /ji/ Yiddish
וי /ɔj/~/oʊ/ oy vay, oh

Hello! updated 2021-09-03 ^

In English, for 'negative' sentences you can use (no/not a), but in Yiddish there exists only one option: קיין. "She is not a boy." = "She is no boy." For both of these you would simply say "קיין" instead of "אַ". One important note for those of you who speak German: אײן (which is cognate with eine) does not mean "a" - it specifically means "one". So איין קאַץ is "one cat", not "a cat". The indefinite article is אַ or אַן.

Home updated 2021-09-03 ^

Yiddish, like German, has three grammatical genders, meaning a word can be masculine, feminine, or neuter. Knowing the gender of the word is important, as it affects the words around it. It can seem overwhelming trying to remember the gender of each word, but don't worry! Here are a few tricks to help you out: - If the word ends in a schwa sound, a vowel, or ונג, then it is most likely feminine. - If a word ends in ער, then it's most likely masculine. - If the word is in the diminutive case, which indicates a smaller version of something, then it is always neuter.

Great! Now that you've got those useful tricks, here's one way you'll use them. The definite articles ("the") are dependent on the noun's gender. They are: דער for masculine (דער קאָמפּיוטער, der kompyuter, the computer) די for feminine (די סאָפע, di sofe, the sofa) דאָס for neuter, (דאָס קינד, dus kind, the kid)

If there is a compound word, such as וואַשצימער, which is וואַש+צימער, it will almost always take the gender of the last word.

In Yiddish, when you say "not a..." the "a" becomes negative as well, and the negative 'a' in Yiddish is קיין.

דאָס בעט איז נישט קיין הויז. The bed is not a house.

גאַנץ = quite (NOT "very/so"), זייער = very (In Yiddish they are different!)

Food 1 updated 2021-02-10 ^

In Yiddish, just like in English, there are only two indefinite articles, "a" and "an." They are used exactly like in English. Before a vowel sound, אַן / an is used. Before a consonant sound, אַ / a is used.

Examples: אַן עפּל - an epl - an apple אַ באַר - a bar - a pear

You updated 2021-09-03 ^

Verb Conjugations

In the skills You and Me, you will learn the first person present and the second person present conjugation. The first person present is just the base form of the verb (e.g., איך טרינק, I drink). The second person present conjugation is formed by adding ־סט (e.g., דו טרינקסט).

Here is a conjugation table of the verbs you'll learn in this skill:

First Person Second Person
איך בין דו ביסט
איך האָב דו האָסט
איך הײס דו הײסט
איך טרינק דו טרינקסט
איך קום דו קומסט
איך לויף דו לויפסט
איך שווים דו שווימסט
איך זינג דו זינגסט
איך מאַך דו מאַכסט

Note - the נ and ב drop away before the ־סט.*

*האָבן is an irregular verb

Introducing Yourself

In Yiddish, (like in French or Spanish), when you want to introduce yourself, you say "I am called..." The verb for this is הייסן, which means "to be called/named." So, if you want to tell someone your name, you can say "...איך הייס„ (Ikh hays..., I am called..., or My name is...)

Me updated 2021-09-03 ^

Verb Conjugations

In the skills You and Me, you will learn the first person present and the second person present conjugation. The first person present is just the base form of the verb (e.g., איך טרינק, I drink). The second person present conjugation is formed by adding ־סט (e.g., דו טרינקסט).

First Person Second Person
איך בין דו ביסט
איך האָב דו האָסט
איך הײס דו הײסט
איך טרינק דו טרינקסט
איך קום דו קומסט
איך לויף דו לויפסט
איך שווים דו שווימסט
איך זינג דו זינגסט
איך מאַך דו מאַכסט

Note - the נ and ב drop away before the ־סט.*

*האָבן is an irregular verb

The letter ח

The letter ח (kh) is only used in words of Semitic (e.g. Hebrew) origin.

Important vocabulary

וויפל: how much/many

אויך : also

אַ סך : a lot/many

קיין אַנונג : no idea

קיין סך: not a lot/not many

Questions updated 2021-04-10 ^

Yiddish has two words for "how"! 1. When you're using "how" together with an adjective or an adverb - How old? How high? How quickly? - you would use "ווי„ ("vi"). 2. When you're using "how" together with a verb - How can I say this? How do you know him? How should we do this? - you would use "ווי אַזוי„ ("vi azoy").

In questions, instead of saying דו ביסט (you are), the words are inverted and the ד drops off.

דו ביסט -> ביסטו (di bist -> bisti)

ביסטו סענדער? Are you Sender?

דו הייסט-> הייסטו (di hayst -> haysti)

הייסטו מירל? Are you Mirl?

More updated 2021-02-10 ^

A quick primer on possessives: Singular - מײַן means "my" and דײַן means "your" Plural - You add an ע to the singular, so the plural possessive pronouns are מײַנע, דײַנע.

Origin updated 2021-10-20 ^


If you’re asking where someone is from, instead of saying ״פון װוּ״, you say “פון וואַנען„ or "פון וואַנעט„ (both mean the same thing, it's just a dialectal difference).


There are two ways to say "to live." “וווינען” means to live, as in "to reside,” while “לעבן” means to live, as in to be alive.

Coming from

If you’re saying you’re from somewhere, you would use the verb "שטאַמען„, meaning “originate”. Think of it as saying "stem" ("I stem from Poland" איך שטאַם פון פּוילן.) So if you’re asking someone where they’re from, you’d say: “פון װאַנען/װאַנעט שטאַמסטו?”


If you want to describe yourself as being from another country, you wouldn't use the adjective (e.g., איך בין פראַנצייזיש). You would say the equivalent of "I am a Frenchman" (i.e., איך בין אַ פראַנצויז). In English, those constructions are generally archaic; the more natural translation is "I am French".

Yiddish actually has different words for "A Jew from xx" and "a person (usually implied non-Jew) from xx". A Jew from France would be called a פראַנצייזישער; someone who is not specifically Jewish would be called a פראַנצויז. In this course, we teach the generic term.

Standalone Possessive Pronouns

Remember the genders we learned? Here’s a situation where it’s important: If you’re using a possessive pronoun on its own (e.g. That book is mine, vs. My book), the ending of the pronoun changes. If the noun is masculine, you add ־ער to the end - דער קאָמפּיוטער איז מײַנער, the computer is mine. If the noun is feminine or plural, you add ־ע to the end - די סאָפע איז דײַנע, the sofa is yours. If the possessive pronoun is before the noun, it doesn't change. מײַן בעט, דײַן סאָפע.

צי and Yes/No Questions

If you start a sentence with צי, it signals that you’re asking a Yes/No question:

צי האָסטו אַ קאַץ?

Do you have a cat? (Yes or no?)

If צי is used in the middle of a sentence, it means either/or - האָסטו אַ קאָמפּיוטער צי אַ בעט? Do you have a computer or a bed? It must be either one of those, not neither.

Need updated 2021-09-03 ^


In English, you'd say you're "looking for" something. In Yiddish, this can be done in one word: זוכן. You don't say זוכן פאַר because that is superfluous.


נו is a popular exclamation. It has many meanings, often depending on the tone of voice.

Yiddish English
נו agree
נו not so bad
נו! come on!
נו נו I've heard worse
נו! stop that right now!
נו? why are you telling me this?
נו נו נו... don't you dare do that...
נו... go on...
נו get on with it
נווווו? well, spill the beans!
נו stop bothering me
נו that's all

(taken from https://i.redd.it/9ci8z81ugab41.jpg)

The Passive Voice

In Yiddish, the passive voice is introduced using the pronoun מ׳/מע/מען. Think of it as saying "one" in English. In English, you might say "What is sold here/What does one sell here?" to ask about a shop, but in Yiddish, you would say וואָס פאַרקויפט מען דאָ? What does "one" sell here? In Yiddish, this pronoun is used VERY frequently, and sometimes it's used as the first person plural pronoun even, such as "We're working here!" מע אַרבעט דאָ!

Whether you should use מ׳ or מע or מען depends on where it is in the sentence. If it is… before a verb starting with a vowel, you should use מ׳, such as מ׳עסט before a verb starting with a consonant, you should use מע, such as מע זוכט, one searches (we search) After a verb, you should use מען. “How does one eat this/How is this eaten” becomes ווי אַזוי עסט מען דאָס?

Which updated 2021-09-03 ^

The word 'which' in Yiddish has to match the gender of the noun that follows. If the accompanying noun is... Masculine: Use װעלכער. Which computer (m) is װעלכער קאָמפּיוטער. Feminine: Use װעלכע. Which cat (f) is װעלכע קאַץ. Neuter: Use װעלכעס. Which house (n) is װעלכעס הויז.

The word וועלכער gets conjugated like an adjective. You'll learn dative in a few lessons; it's only included here for completeness.

Nominative Accusative Dative
Masculine וועלכער וועלכן וועלכן
Feminine וועלכע וועלכע וועלכער
Neuter וועלכעס וועלכעס וועלכן

We learned דײַנער, מײַנער, דײַנע, מײַנע, and now we're teaching מײַנס/דײַנס for neuter.

Time updated 2021-04-13 ^

If you want to say something will happen in a certain amount of time (e.g. I’m coming in three minutes), you add the word אַרום after the time - איך קום אין דרײַ מינוט אַרום. Note: even though אַרום means "around", this does not mean "I am coming in around there minutes".

Even though in English you say “in three minutes”, in Yiddish you just use the singular for minute, “אין דרײַ מינוט”. Another example is with hours - in seven hours is in the singular, “אין זיבן שעה אַרום”.

גיין has two meanings: to walk and to go.

Trip updated 2021-09-03 ^

Going Somewhere?

If you’re talking about going to a certain place, the word you use for “to” depends on where you’re going. If you’re going to a named geographic location, such as a country, city, continent, etc, you would say קיין. For example, “איך פאָר קיין ליטע”, I am traveling to Lithuania. However, if you’re going somewhere else, such as a park, you use אין, as in, “איך גיי אין פּאַרק”, I’m going to the park.


פאָרן can mean to travel in a vehicle, whether it's a train, car, or bus, or whether you’re driving or just a passenger. There is also a special verb פירן if you want to highlight that you're driving.

Going home

היים means home, but אַהיים means "homewards/towards home". “I’m going home” is "איך פֿאָר/גיי אַהיים"

In a language

When saying something is in a certain language (e.g. the book is in English), you use אויף instead of אין. “I’m speaking in Polish” - “איך רעד אויף פּויליש”. “This book is in Yiddish” - “דאָס בוך איז אויף ייִדיש”.

The Dative Case

Until now, we've only learned about two cases: the nominative (for the subject of a sentence) and the accusative (for the object of a sentence). The third case in Yiddish is called the dative. In Yiddish, it can be used in several different context, including the indirect object and following a preposition. In the dative case, the feminine די becomes דער, and the masculine דער and neuter דאָס both become דעם. For example, די שיף is feminine. When adding the preposition אויף, it becomes איך בין אויף דער שיף.


Type of adverb Where There Here
Adverb of location (no motion) וווּ where דאָרט/דאָרטן there דאָ here
Preposition (to/from) + place וואַנען prep. + where (whence) דאָרט/דאָרטן prep. + there (thence) דאַנען prep. + here (hence)
Adverb of motion (place to which) וווּהין to where (whither) אַהין to there (thither) אַהער to here (hither)

צו פוס

צו פוס is a set phrase, meaning "by foot".

Siblings updated 2021-02-10 ^

When using a direct object in a sentence (e.g. I see the computer), we use what is called the accusative case. The accusative case is another example of when the definite article changes, but only for masculine nouns. Even though computer (קאָמפּיוטער) is masculine, the proper way to say “I see the computer” is איך זע דעם קאָמפּיוטער. This change only occurs for masculine nouns (with the definite article דער). So in the sentence “איך זע די קאַץ”, the definite article doesn’t change, because it is feminine.

When the possessive pronoun is on its own, the ending can be affected: דאָס איז מײַן קאָמפּיוטער, וווּ איז דײַנער דאָס איז מײַן בוך, וווּ איז דײַנס In these examples, the independent possessive pronoun changes its ending to match the object of the sentence. So with a masculine object, the possessive pronoun will end in ־ער.

The same is true with direct objects (accusative case), but as explained above, the masculine ending will change to ־עם, while the feminine and neuter remain the same. איך זע מײַן קאָמפּיוטער, אָבער איך זע נישט דײַנעם - Masculine changes איך זע מײַן בוך, אָבער איך זע נישט דײַנס - Neuter remains the same

Accusative endings: https://prnt.sc/tz6dn9

קענען means to be familiar with/to know something, such as a person, place, or thing. איך קען דעם מענטש, I know this person. איך קען זי, I know her.

Just like in English you would say "I see him and not I see he, in Yiddish you would say איך זע אים and not איך זע ער. (Put a small chart showing the changes).

אַהער means "here" direction-wise, so "Come here" would be קום אַהער, and "there" would be אַהין ,גיי אַהין, go there.

Family updated 2021-02-10 ^

ליב האָבן is a verb with two parts. You would conjugate the verb האָבן, and put ליב at the end, unchanged. So, איך האָב עס ליב, I like it. (Lit: I have it like). Another example would be איך האָב דיך ליב, I love you (lit: I have you like/love).

A select amount of nouns also end in ן- in the dative case (indirect object): זיידע-->זיידן טאַטע-->טאַטן האַרץ-->האַרצן רבי-->רבין, מאַמע-->מאַמען באָבע-->באָבען

Hobbies updated 2021-09-03 ^

אינעם, פונעם, etc

When you use a preposition with a neuter or masculine noun, for example "In + the house" then you would combine the preposition with the definite article to create the equivalent of "inthe". So אין דעם הויז becomes אינעם הויז. This isn't a must, like de+el in Spanish-->del, but it is recommended to write like this.

אין דעם-->אינעם

פון דעם-->פונעם

צו דעם-->צום

פאַר דעם-->פאַרן

אויף דעם-->אויפן

For masculine nouns, you generally don't need to add a definite article after "אין„ and sometimes even for "פון„.

איך גיי אין דעם מוזיי

איך גיי אין מוזיי

איך גיי אינעם מוזיי

איך קום פון מוזיי

איך קום פון דעם מוזיי

איך קום פונעם מוזיי

These are all correct and mean the same thing; however, if you want to emphasize that you are going to this museum, then you should use דעם.

Suffix updated 2021-02-10 ^

שוין can mean two things: 1. Already, איך בין שוין דאָ, I am already here 2. Right now/This instant, קום שוין אַהער! Come here right now/this instant!

Complain updated 2021-09-03 ^

Hot and cold

In Yiddish, we don't say "I am cold" you would say "Me (dative) is cold" (מיר איז קאַלט), or "It's cold for me" (ס׳איז מיר קאַלט). The same goes for several other senses, such as "hot", "nauseous", "uncomfortable".

Adjective conjugations

Adjectives are conjugated the same way definite articles are: for case and gender. The neuter case also has two special subcategories: when the noun is preceded by דאָס (e.g., דאָס קינד) and when it is not (e.g., מײַן קינד, אַ קינד).

Conjugation Table for גוט Masculine Feminine Neuter (with דאָס) Neuter (without דאָס) Plural
Nominative גוטער גוטע גוטע גוט גוטע
Accusative גוטן גוטע גוטע גוט גוטע
Dative גוטן גוטער גוטן גוטן גוטע

Food 2 updated 2021-02-10 ^

וועלן means to want to, not to be confused with the English "will". איך וויל עסן, I want to eat.

נאָך נישט means not yet.

How is it? updated 2021-09-03 ^

ווי איך? or פון מיר?

They both mean the exact same thing ("than"). The only difference is that after ווי you must use the nominative case and after פון you must use the dative case.

פון + dative

ווי + nominative

Mealtime updated 2021-02-10 ^

The plural and singular for male vegetarians are the same: וועגעטאַריער. איין וועגעטאַריער, צװיי וועגעטאַריער.

In Jewish culture, כּשר/kosher means food that follows the strict dietary standards of traditional Jewish law, such as not mixing meat with dairy. טרייף means anything that isn't כּשר.

נאָר can mean "only/just", and also "but/rather" in the sense of "איך עס נישט קיין טרייף, נאָר כּשר„ I am not eating treif, but kosher."

Restaurant updated 2021-09-03 ^

There is no/There isn't any

When saying "there isn't any" or "there is no" in Yiddish, you'd say עס איז נישטאָ, or ס׳איז נישטאָ. For example:

עס איז נישטאָ קיין פעפער = there is no pepper


סתּם means "just" in the sense of "just like that", "just because" or "for no reason."


שבת is one of the most important days of the week for Jews. It is the day of rest, when one cannot work or many do not use any technology. There is a skill coming up teaching important vocabulary pertaining to Shabbos.


איך מאַך נישט קיין חשבונות is an idiom meaning literally "I do not make any calculations". Figuratively, it means I don't poke into someone else's business. A good example of this can be when donating money, your friend might say "Don't donate to him/her, he/she uses the money to buy bad things!" then you might answer "איך מאַך נישט קיין חשבונות„; I just give him/her money, and let God figure out the rest. I am not here to judge/calculate their life.

אינדערפרי vs אין דער פרי

אינדערפרי is a noun, meaning 'a morning'

אין דער פרי is an adverb, meaning in the morning.

Classroom updated 2021-10-20 ^


In many Yiddish communities, grades don't go by number, but rather by alphabet.

כּיתּה א = First grade. ּכּיתּה ב = Second grade, etc.

איינס vs איין?

איינס is the noun; e.g., when counting, איינס, צוויי, דרײַ, or when saying "I want one" with no noun following it.

איין is the adjective, i.e., when it's followed by a noun.

For comparison:

איך װיל איין עפּל (I want one apple)


איך װיל איינס (I want one)

Breakfast updated 2021-09-03 ^

קאַשע vs גרײַפּלעך

קאַשע is hot cereal, such as oatmeal or farina.

גרײַפּלעך is cold cereal, such as Cheerios or Rice Krispies.

Friends updated 2021-09-03 ^

Suffixes in the Dative Case for Names

Some names (usually, Jewish ones), when in the dative case (indirect object), get an ע)ן), so איך רעד מיט מענדלען and not איך רעד מיט מענדל.

What to Call Your Parents

פאָטער/מוטער vs טאַטע/מאַמע? They mean the same thing, but פאָטער and מוטער are much more formal. Kind of like father/dad, but טאַטע is not necessarily as informal as "dad".

ווײַל vs וועגן?

ווײַל means because (not "while"!!), while וועגן means "about" or "because of".

איך בין פריילעך ווײַל ער העלפט מיר. = I am happy because he is helping me.

איך בין פריילעך וועגן זײַן הילף. = I am happy because of his help.


בײַ can be used to mean at (someone)'s house.

איך בין בײַ מענדלען (אין דער היים) I am by Mendl('s house).

Some of you may be familiar with this due to Jewish American English syntax (I ate by her house yesterday).


נאָך has 2 meanings, with 2 pronunciations.

נאָך, with the vowel "oo" (as in book), means "after", as in:

מיר שווימען נאָך זיי = We are swimming after them.

נאָך, with the vowel sound "o" (as in enough), means "more", as in:

איך וויל נאָך איינס, I want one more.

Shop updated 2021-02-10 ^

Good news! There is only one past tense. The same way English uses the verb "to have", Yiddish uses האָבן, so "I have eaten" = איך האָב געגעסן This means both, I have eaten, and I ate.

געשעפט means business as well as shop.

Vacation updated 2021-02-10 ^

When using cardinal directions (e.g. North, West) in a sentence, you usually say the word אויף before. Here are some cases and examples: 1. Traveling in a direction. For example, “I am traveling westward/to the west” is “איך פאָר אויף מערב” 2. Comparing one area to another. For example, “Is France to the west of Spain?” is “איז פראַנקרײַך אויף מערב פון שפּאַניע?”

Languages updated 2021-09-03 ^

סײַ ווי סײַ means anyway, and it's also often shortened to just סײַ ווי.

You may notice that some verbs have prefixes. In Yiddish grammar, this is called a converb. פאָרשטעלן (to introduce) is an example of this. When conjugating these types of words, the parts separate. Here’s an example in the present tense: She introduces me - זי שטעלט מיך פאָר The main (second) part of the verb is conjugated on its own and comes right after the subject, while the prefix gets pushed to the end. In the past tense: She introduced me - זי האָט מיך פֿאָרגעשטעלט Because it’s past tense, the verb האָבן is conjugated first as usual. The whole verb פאָרשטעלן is pushed to the end, and the “גע” comes right before the main part of the verb, while the prefix stays at the beginning.

Leisure updated 2021-02-10 ^

We saw the first example of a separable verb in the previous module. There are a few more examples in this one: אויפשטיין, אָנקוקן. Remember, you conjugate the second part of the verb, and in some case the prefix appears separate from the main part of the verb.

טעלעוויזאָר means the actual tangible TV, while טעלעװיזיע is the content you watch. This difference exists in English too, but more subtly: "I'm watching TV" versus "I'm looking at the TV".

Caring updated 2021-02-10 ^

שטערן vs אַרן - Both mean “bother”, but in different contexts. שטערן is used in the context of bothering someone/something, such as when I hug my cat, it bothers her, or when I bother my brother and don't let him do his homework. אַרן is more like to care about something, such as “It doesn't bother me that my cat sleeps all day,” or “It doesn't bother my mother when I call her 500 times a day.” אָנגיין is similar to אַרן, except it's a separable verb.

There are several ways to say you like something/someone: שמעקן, ליב האָבן, געפעלן שמעקן is used in the context of food. דאָס עסן שמעקט מיר נישט - I do not like this food. (literally, the food doesn’t smell to me)

געפעלן means “it pleases me” or “it’s attractive to me”. It introduces the dative case. It’s similar to relevant words in other languages, like the Spanish 'me gusta.' דאָס בענקל געפעלט מיר - This chair pleases me, or I like this chair.

ליב האָבן can mean to love or to like and can be used in most cases, about people or things. איך האָב אים ליב - I love him.

Similar to ליב האָבן, the verb for hate is פײַנט האָבן, and it works the same as ליב האָבן. איך האָב אים פײַנט I hate him.

School updated 2021-02-10 ^

Numbers in the 20-90s are said "backwards". 23 would be verbalized as "three-and-twenty" instead of the standard "twenty-three" in English. Here are some examples: איין־און־צוואָנציק twenty-one (Lit: one and twenty) צוויי־און־צוואָנציק twenty-two (lit: two and twenty) נײַן־און־דרײַסיק thirty-nine (lit: nine and thirty)

Furniture updated 2021-02-10 ^

פאַר has three meanings: before, for, and in front of. איך עס אַן עפּל פאַר מיטאָג - I eat an apple before lunch. איך האָב אַן עפּל פאַר דיר - I have an apple for you. איך בין פאַר אַן עפּל - I am in front of an apple.

הינטער=behind (Some Yiddish speakers don't pronounce the ה) אונטער=under(neath) איבער=over צווישן= between/among

Shabbos updated 2021-02-10 ^

סעודה is a feast - typically used to refer to a Shabbos or holiday meal.

Many people try to make the day special, either by preparing lavish meals or wearing nice clothes to honor the day. A common saying is לכבוד שבת קודש, meaning “in honor of the holy Shabbos”.

Party updated 2021-02-10 ^

A שׂימחה is a celebration or a party, such as a birthday, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a wedding, and so on.

Most verb in Yiddish use האָבן in the past tense form (i.e. as an auxiliary verb). However, a few verbs use זײַן instead. These verbs tend to have to do with motion or lack thereof. Some examples: I went - איך בין געגאַנגען They slept - זיי זײַנען געשלאָפן We sat - מיר זײַנען געזעסן

Requests updated 2021-02-10 ^

The imperative (commands) case in Yiddish is very simple. To command a single person, you conjugate the verb the same as the standard first person singular. איך גיי אַהיים, I go home -> גיי אַהיים! Go home! איך עס באַבקע. I eat babka -> עס באַבקע! Eat babka!

To command multiple people, it's even simpler. All you have to do is remove the pronoun, so for example איר עסט ברויט You (all) eat bread עסט ברויט! Eat bread! (all of you/formal)! איר לויפט דאָ You run here לויפט דאָ! Run here!

נאָך אַ מאָל is a set phrase which means “again” (literally, once more).

בעטן vs פרעגן. פרעגן is used for asking questions, while בעטן is used for asking for something (i.e. request). Just like you don’t “request for” things in English, you also wouldn’t say that in Yiddish. For example, איך בעט געלט - I request money.

Use of זיך/מיך: In Yiddish, like Spanish, French, and German, there are reflexive verbs. These verbs often refer to actions performed on oneself, but this is not always the case. In this course, מיך is used for the first person singular while זיך is used everywhere else*. Some verbs exist as both standard verbs and reflexive verbs, and in these situations it’s extra important to know which you’re using. For example: קענסטו זיך זעצן - can you take a seat? קענסטו זעצן - can you punch/strike? Alone, זעצן means to hit, but as a reflexive verb, it means to sit.

*Note that in the YIVO standard, the reflexive is always זיך.

Numbers updated 2021-09-03 ^

When using ordinal numbers, the endings must match the related noun. For example: איך בין דער ערשטער- I am the first one (masculine) versus איך בין די ערשטע (feminine)

In the above example, the noun is the speaker. However, this is not always the case. For example: איך בין דער ערשטער קאַפּיטאַן - I am the first captain Note that ערשטער will always appear masculine in this sentence even if used by a female speaker, because the related noun (captain) is masculine. This can get even trickier when the noun is implied but not verbalized (e.g. in a discussion about captains, someone can just say “איך בין דער ערשטער”).

Ordinal numbers (usually used with the proper endings): ערשט - first צווייט - second דריט - third פערט - fourth פינפט/פיפט - fifth זעקסט - sixth זיבעט - seventh אַכט - eighth נײַנט - ninth צענט - tenth

The format for dates in Yiddish is adding ־ער after the cardinal number. For example: הײַנט איז דער צענטער יולי An exception is when the cardinal number ends in a ק, then ־סטער is added: צוואָנציקסטער דרײַסיקסטער

Clothes updated 2021-02-10 ^



Note: The מיך in this sentence is indicating the reflexive nature of the verb. In this usage, מיך is the first-person form of זיך. For all other pronouns, you would just use זיך. Example:

דו טוסט זיך אָן די שיך. You put on the/your shoes.


ער טוט זיך אויס - He is getting undressed ער טוט זיך אויס דעם מאַנטל - He takes off the coat

University updated 2021-02-10 ^


ווי vs פון?

The only difference, as you can see, is that the word פון is a preposition in Yiddish, so it introduces the dative case, and thus it's אײַך and not איר. However, ווי on the other hand, is an adverb in this case, thus after it comes the nominative case and NOT the dative case.


An example of this is מסביר זײַן. On its own, מסביר does not mean anything in Yiddish, but combined with the verb "זײַן„, it means "to explain." When using this compound verb, the זײַן is the part that’s conjugated. Example:

איך בין מסביר: I explain

דו ביסט מסביר: you explain

... ער איז איר מסביר: he explains ... to her.

Hanukkah updated 2021-02-10 ^


The Jewish festival of Hanukkah (חנוכּה) is a celebration of a miracle that took place during the second century B.C.E. The miracle was two-fold: The Jews were successful in their revolt of their Greek-Syrian oppressors (led by King Antiochus IV) and after their Second Temple was looted, the only oil that was left burned for eight days (though it was only enough for one), allowing them time to prepare more oil. Hanukkah is celebrated in many ways: lighting the menorah, eating fried foods (e.g. latkes and doughnuts), and playing dreydl (a four-sided spinning top) are a few examples.

Pets updated 2021-02-10 ^


חיה vs בהמה

Both mean “animal”. A חיה is any animal, while a בהמה usually refers to bigger animals or cattle that are found on farms, such as cows, sheep, goats, and even camels. בהמה does not include animals such as snakes.

פרעסן vs עסן

Both mean “to eat”. עסן is the general term. פרעסן is used specifically to indicate gorging on food. Humans and animals alike can פרעס or עס their food, depending on how quickly/in what manner they are eating.


אָן can mean without, but it can also mean "onward" in the sense of "From now on..." or "Starting from now" or “from here and onward”. Example:

פון יעצט אָן - From now on

פון דעם הויז אָן - From this house and on(ward)

פון הײַנט אָן - Starting from today/from today on

Zoo updated 2021-02-10 ^

אַנדער vs אַנדערש

These words mean “different”.


דער אַנדערער מאַנטל - The other coat

די אַנדערע לערערין - The other teacher (f.)

דאָס אַנדערע בוך - The other book

Declensions of אַנדער:


איך וויל עפּעס אַנדערש - I want something else/different

איז דאָס אַנדערש ווי יענס? - Is this different than that?

פאַרוואָס שווימסטו אַנדערש ווי זיי? - Why do you swim differently than them?

ייִדיש איז אַנדערש פון דײַטש - Yiddish is different than German

טו עס אַנדערש - Do it differently

אַן אַנדער


איך וויל אַן אַנדער - I want a different one

איך זע אַן אַנדער קאַטשקע - I see a different duck

אַן אַנדער קינד זאָגט דאָס - A different kid says this

The only exception is when the noun is implied. Examples:

ווילסטו דעם דעסערט אָדער אַן אַנדערן? - Do you want this dessert or a different one?

נעם דעם מאַראַנץ ווײַל ער איז אַן אַנדערער - Take this orange because it’s a different one.


אַנדערע can also mean “other people”. Example:

אַנדערע עסן דאָס נישט, נאָר איך - Other people don't eat it, just I (do).

Park updated 2021-02-10 ^


נעכטן vs אייערנעכטן

דורך vs אַדורך These are usually used interchangeably to mean “through”. For this course, however, we added a distinction:

This is similar to אַהין vs דאָרט:

אַהין means “to there,” while דאָרט simply means “there.”

Travel updated 2021-02-10 ^

פאַרלוירן גיין vs זיך פאַרבלאָנדזשען

Both mean “to get lost”.

Job updated 2021-02-10 ^

אַזאַ vs אַזעלכע

Both words mean “such.”

For singular, use אַזאַ. Example:

For plural, use אַזעלכע. Example:

Living updated 2021-02-10 ^

There are several ways to say floor (as in story of a building):

Whose updated 2021-03-03 ^



In Yiddish, just like in English, the genitive (possessive) case is simply done by adding ס to the end of the word. Note that unlike in English, there is no apostrophe before the ס. Examples:

דײַן מאַמעס הויז - Your mother’s house

װעמענס הויז איז דאָס? - Whose house is this?

When using the possessive for nouns, such as "The dog's bed", you would introduce the dative case, so it would be דעם הונטס בעט. Examples:

דער שװעסטערס קאַץ - The sister’s cat (קאַץ is feminine)


זייער is the possessive third person plural. Example:

דאָס איז זייער הויז - That is their house.

Does! updated 2021-02-10 ^


In order to enforce positive emphasis that you do do something, you would say יאָ. Example:

דו קענסט נישט קאָכן - You can’t cook. ----> איך קען יאָ קאָכן - Yes, I can cook

The opposite would be נישט. Example:

איך קען גוט טאַנצן - I can dance well ----> ניין, דו טאַנצט נישט גוט - No, you do not dance well

Learning updated 2021-03-03 ^

אָפּלאָזן vs לאָזן

דערציילן vs חזרן

לאָז מיר = לאָמיר

לאָמיר is a contraction of לאָז מיר. It functions just like “let's” in English.

Purim updated 2021-02-10 ^

The Jewish Calendar and Purim

Unlike the solar Gregorian calendar, the Jewish calendar, known in Yiddish as the לוח, is lunisolar (months are dependent on the moon, years are based on the sun). The לוח also has twelve months, but with distinct names. For example, the month during which we celebrate the festival of Purim, is called אדר (usually around February/March). A unique feature of the לוח is that a leap month is added every few years.

Purim is a celebration of when the Jewish people were saved from Haman, an official in the Persian Empire, who was planning on killing them. Two important individuals who led to the positive outcome are Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai. The story and events are recounted in the Book of Esther. Purim is a one-day celebration, during which children dress up in costume, the Book of Esther is read, gifts of food are exchanged, and charity is given.

Water updated 2021-02-10 ^


Heavy rain

There are several ways to say it’s pouring or it’s raining cats and dogs:

A מבול is a very heavy downpour, most famously the one from Noah's Ark.

Just like in English, you can also say: סע גיסט/ס׳גיסט - literally, it's pouring, when referring to heavy rain.


וועש - laundry

Instead of doing laundry, in Yiddish we wash laundry. Example:

Although „איבערגיין„ has "איבער„ in it, you still use the accusative for the direct object.

Forest updated 2021-02-10 ^



Passover updated 2021-02-10 ^


The Story

Passover is an eight-day (seven-day, in Israel) holiday celebrated in the Jewish month of ניסן (usually April/May) that commemorates the miracle of God bringing the Jewish people out of slavery from Egypt. In commemoration of the story that their dough didn’t have time to rise as they rushed to leave Egypt, we eat מצה (unleavened bread) but don’t eat חמץ (leaven) during the entire holiday. In preparation of the holiday, we clean our houses to ensure no חמץ is found.

פּסח סדר

The iconic part of the Passover celebration is the סדר, a multi-part ritual feast that includes the retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, guided by the text of the הגדה.

Two highlights from the פּסח סדר:

חול המועד

The סדר happens on the first night of Passover (and on the second night, outside of Israel). The beginning and end of Passover are celebrated similar to Shabbos, in that no work is allowed. The middle days, called חול המועד, have looser restrictions - some people have traditions to do less work, but others treat it like a standard day (minus the eating of חמץ).

Future updated 2021-02-10 ^



In Yiddish, the future tense is formed with the verb וועלן (not to be confused with the infinitive for the verb “to want”=וועלן).


Sick updated 2021-02-10 ^


It hurts

When referring to a body part that hurts, you say "the X hurt me" instead of "my X hurts me." Examples:

דער קאָפּ טוט מיר וויי - My head hurts

די הענט טוען איר וויי - Her hands hurt

דאָס אויער טוט אים וויי - His ear hurts/is hurting

Used to updated 2021-02-10 ^



איך פלעג עסן קארטאָפל - I used to eat potatoes

דו פלעגסט לויפן גיך - You used to run fast

זיך צוגעווויינען


דו דאַרפסט זיך צוגעװוינען צו מײַן קאַץ - You need to get used to my cat

אַרײַן vs אין


איך בין אין שול - I am in/at school

איך בין אַרײַן אינעם געשעפט - I went into the store



יעדער איינער איז װיכטיק - Everyone is important

איך העלף יעדן איינעם - I help everyone

אַיעדער and יעדער איינער are synonymous, and the same is true for אַיעדן and יעדן איינעם. Another way to say “everyone” is אַלע, all. Like in English, all words meaning “everyone” are considered third person singular, so it conjugates the same as "he/she".

געשעט vs געשען


װאָס געשעט - What is happening?

װאָס איז געשען - What happened?

Body updated 2021-02-10 ^



The word שטערן has several meanings:


קישקע means intestines, but it also refers to a Shabbos delicacy cooked in cholent (traditional Ashkenazi stew). This delicacy used to be encased in intestines, hence the name.


The word for hair, האָר, is always plural in Yiddish.

Bedroom updated 2021-02-10 ^


קאָלדרע vs קאָץ

Both words mean blanket. A קאָץ is usually a thinner blanket, but in some dialects, the two words are completely interchangeable.

Just for show

You know the set of dishes your parents proudly display but never end up using? There’s an expression in Yiddish that describes items that are just for show, or just used as a decoration:

"סתּם פאַר שיינקייט„ or "נאָר פאַר שיינקייט„ (lit. just for beauty)

Diminutive updated 2021-02-10 ^

טאַטי מאַמי זיידי and באָבי are all used when talking to ones own parents, like mommy/mom/mama, daddy/dad/papa, grandpa/pawpaw, grandma/nana/mawmaw etc

Most diminutives are formed by adding ל to the end of the word. There are some vowel changes when forming the diminutive case. This isn't always true though. https://prnt.sc/u17hpc Essentially all words in the diminutive case are neuter, and the plural is usually -לעך. example: (דער חזיר, די חזירים, דאָס חזירל, די חזירלעך ). When talking about children's body parts usually the diminutive case is used. It not only shows more affection but can also make the object sound smaller and daintier, like ביכל sounds like booklet rather than a book, or שיפל is like a boat rather than a ship, שיף.


Many names can also be made diminutive by adding ל. דוד-->דודל, David.

Some exceptions to this include קינדער, which is plural and can get the diminutive ending קינדערלעך meaning kids, but nobody would say קינדל for a small child. יונגערמאַנטשיק means a small child, it's an endearing term, kind of like saying "Squirt" in English.

Passive updated 2021-02-10 ^

You've previously learned that the passive can be formed using the pronoun מע, מע קען דאָ קויפן ווײַן-wine can be bought here However, not always can מען be used, for example when using a pronoun: זי ווערט שענער און שענער. She becomes more and more beautiful. ער ווערט מאָרגן געבוירן-he will be born tomorrow.

דאָס ווערט געטוישט יעדן טאָג-this gets changed every day. מע טוישט דאָס יעדן טאָג- This gets changed every day the difference here is that when using מע in this case, it gives it a 'human' sense, so, when saying דאָס ווערט געטוישט it means it gets changed, whether on its own, or through human help, but when saying מע טוישט דאָס יעדן טאָג, it means that there is a person, or many people changing the thing every day.

Prepositions can sometimes be combined with the definite pronoun: מיט דעם-->דערמיט צו דעם-->דערצו פאַר דעם-->דערפאַר ווײַל דעם-->דערווײַל איבער דעם-->דעריבער וועגן דעם-->דערוועגן נאָך דעם-->דערנאָך Some get a new meaning, while others mean the exact same thing. דערפאַר can mean "therefore", or "for it". דערווײַל means "in the meantime" דעריבער can mean over it, such as I am stepping over it, or "consequently/hence". האַלטן can mean "Observe" as in "observe a holiday" or to physically hold. האַלטן וועגן means to have an opinion about, וואָס האַלטסטו וועגן אים-what do you think of him/What is your opinion on him?

Indef. Pronouns updated 2021-02-10 ^

געבן אַ means to do an action but in a momental aspect, such as in the English "have a look" or "give a kiss" rather than "kiss" or "look". גיב אַ קוק-have a look גיב אַ שרײַב-write quickly, and shortly. גיב אַ זוך שנעל! go search quickly/shortly.

ערגעץ vs ערגעץ וווּ ערגעץ means someplace, but with knowledge where the place is. ערגעץ וווּ is somewhere, but without the knowledge where.

אַבי means at least, אַבי ביסט געקומען at least you came אַבי געזונט at least health (at least you're healthy), but, this is used rather sarcastically meaning to do something without any desire/will and do it sloppily. ער טוט דעם פּראָיעקט אַבי געזונט! He is doing the project sloppily/just to get it over with/without any care and dedication. אַבי can also mean just about in the sense of He isn't just about anyone! He is the president! ער איז נישט אַבי ווער! ער איז דער פּרעזידענט!

נישט טאָרן means to not be allowed to

Reflexive updated 2021-02-10 ^

זאָלן is an auxiliary verb meaning ought to, should, or shall, it needs to be conjugated. ער זאָל אַהיים קומען-he should/shall come home.

(זיך נעמען (ווערב means to start (verb) rather suddenly and quickly. ער נעמט זיך שרײַבן. He is starting to write (present progressive, not habitually). ווען כ׳האָב אים דאָס געזאָגט האָט ער זיך גענומען וויינען, when I told him that, he started to cry.

זיך פילן is not exactly the same as in English. It specifically is talking about emotionally or healthwise, and not to feel something physically with your bodyparts/hand.

(עס דאַכט זיך (דאַטיוו means to believe/think, or to seem to someone.. or methinks.

עקשנען means to be stubborn about something and not budge/change your mind.

Cute! updated 2021-02-10 ^

You've learned the diminutive, now imagine a way to make words even smaller and possibly more affectionate sounding. Well, Yiddish has what is called a second-degree of diminutive, or the iminutive case. This case works very similarly to the diminutive case a few lessons back. In order to make something in the iminutive case, there usually is the same vowel changes as seen in the diminutive cases, such as דאָס הויז-->דאָס הײַזל, or דער פיש-->דאָס פישל

In order to form the iminutive case, you must add an ע before and after the ל. For example, דער פיש-->דאָס פישל-->דאָס פישעלע. דער קאָפּ-->דאָס קעפּל-->דאָס קעפּעלע. This is usually used to describe things that belong to babies, whether it's their foot (פיסעלע) or their shoes (שיכעלע).

מאַ and טאַ are like ma and pa in English when referring to your parents. מאַמעלע and טאַטעלע, although they sound like little tiny cute fathers and mothers, it really is not used in that context. When calling a little kid טאַטעלע or מאַמעלע, depending on his or her gender, it's kind of like saying sweetie or darling.

קליינטשיק is one of the other really irregular (d)iminutives.

Religion updated 2021-02-10 ^

בטחון does not mean faith as in religion or belief. It just means faith in the context of having faith in someone or something. צדיק and צדיקת are basically very holy, spiritual people, like a Rabbi, but more righteous and holy. They are very important figures in Judaism. Not to be confused with צדקה which just means charity. Where Jews live, it is common to find Jews knocking on people's door to collect money for charity for an organization, school, etc.

While צניות means modest in terms of clothing, it's mostly referring to the rules of dressing for females, such as wearing clothing that covers the collar bone, knees, and elbows. If something aligns by these rules, then the woman is צניות. The article of clothing is צניותדיק.

Phrases updated 2021-02-10 ^

שעפּן נחת means to get second-hand pleasure from someone you love. For example if your son receives an award, you will get pleasure or feel pride from him getting the award because he is your son and all. שעפּן means to scoop and נחת is the second-hand pleasure itself.

A משוגעת means a craze someone has or does, kind of like a weird quirk or weird shenanigan they like to do. For example, a משוגעת can be that when someone eats, they need to listen to music. Another משוגעת can be that when they sleep, they like sleeping with 2 blankets. Or when getting your nails painted, you ask the nail technician if they speak another language and if they don't you recommend duolingo to them.

While חלשן means to faint, it's kind of used in the same way "to die" in English is used. Like "I am dying to see him!" איך חלש אים צו זען!

יענטע is a (usually) old lady who loves to talk gossip and knows everything about everyone.

זיצפלייש, or "sit-meat" means your perseverance in staying still. When you have ADHD you have no זיצפלייש.

ממש is used nearly in the same way as "literally" is, but not the literal definition of "literally". I am literally not going! איך ממש גיי נישט! It also means "really" or "exactly/specifically". ס׳איז געווען ממש דער אויטאָ! It was exactly/precisely this car! באַשערט if something is supposed to happen it will happen because it is באַשערט, it's meant to be/happen. ס׳איז באַשערט אַז כ׳האָב אים נישט געזען. It is meant to be that I did not see him.

קיין עין הרע is used like "knock on wood".

Would updated 2021-02-10 ^

When using the verb וואָלט, the past tense follows (in some dialects the infinitive follows) אויב זי וואָלט מיך געקענט...if she knew me... איך וואָלט געגאַנגען=I would go.

Sometimes the words אויב, אַז, ווען and צי work in the same way to mean "if" when giving a hypothetical situation. ווען איך וואָלט געווען רײַך...If I were rich...

Present updated 2021-02-10 ^

כאַפּן means both to catch and to understand. כאַפּסטו וואָס איך זאָג? Do you understand what I am saying? כאַפּ דעם באַלעם! catch the ball!

האַלטן means to have an opinion about something, איך האַלט אַז ער איז נישט אַ גוטער מאַן- I think that he is not a good guy,

or to observe a holiday. האַלטסטו שבת? Do you observe the Sabbath/Shabbos?

האַלטן אין איין .. means to keep on... זיי האַלטן אין איין טעלעפאָנירן-they keep on calling

מעגסט used in an imperative way can be like מעגסט זיך שעמען! May you be ashamed of yourself!

Sayings updated 2021-10-20 ^

געזונטערהייט means 'healthily'', but it can be used in a way meaning "by all means" or "go ahead" and "be my guest". טשיק טשאַק is a sound meaning 'chop-chop,' like rushing someone. You already leaned חוצפּה now you learn the person who is doing the חוצפּה is a מחוצף, or an insolent, disrespectful person

A נעבעך is an unfortunate, sad person. It can also just be used for an unfortunate or sad situation, such as נעבעך, זײַנע שיך זענען צעריסן. Poor guy, his shoes are ripped.

Abbreviation updated 2021-02-10 ^

In Yiddish, abbreviations are usually done with an apostrophe or a double apostrophe, or gershayim (״), depending on the word. Do not confuse the gershayim with a quotation mark (״ vs “). In English, abbreviations can be done by just shortening the word and adding a period after the abbreviation, this does not always work in Yiddish.

Miss Smith-->Ms. Smith פרוי שמיד-->פר׳ שמיד.

Doctor Smith-->Dr. Smith דאָקטער שמיד-->ד״ר שמיד.

Some abbreviations do have periods in Yiddish. אאַז״וו-->א.א.ז.וו/א.אז.וו

Forgive me! updated 2021-03-27 ^

Yiddish has inherited many words from ancient Hebrew, these are collectively called "lushn-koydesh" or "loshn koydesh" words (lushn-koydesh meaning "the holy tongue").


These words are traditionally written the way they are in Hebrew, which doesn't follow Yiddish spelling rules.

  1. ב can also represent the sound _V_;

  2. vowels are rarely spelled out;

  3. the vowel ו can represent either an U_, or an _OY (OY in closed lushn-koydesh syllables usually becomes _O_, so while a merchant is a soykher, the plural form is sokhrim).

Verb conjugation

The way verbs of lushn-koydesh-origin are formed can be a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it it's really very simple.

Very few verbs blended completely into Yiddish and conjugate the way Yiddish verbs do. Examples are גנבענען, הרגענען.

Most verbs however, are just said in their infinitive form along with an auxiliary verb which conjugates for past present future, first second or third person. This auxiliary is in addition to the auxiliary used to form the past tense.

So as an example we have the verb "to succeed". The infinitive מצליח (matzliyekh) is used along with the auxiliary זײַן. So "I succeeded" - "איך האָב מצליח געווען", "I will succeed" - "איך וועל מצליח זײַן".

Work updated 2021-02-10 ^

פּאָליציי is the police in general, as a police force. פּאָליציסט or פּאָליציאַנט means the police officer

Wedding updated 2021-02-10 ^

In Yiddish, there are many in-law terminologies. שוויגער - mother-in-law שווער - father-in-law שוועגערין - sister in law שוואָגער - brother-in-law שנור - daughter-in-law איידעם - son-in-law מחותּן - the son or daughter's father-in-law. מחותּנתטע - the son or daughter's mother-in-law. מחותּנים - the son or daughter's parents-in-law.

שדכן is the person who finds you a match; a matchmaker In Jewish weddings, the bride and groom officially get married under a canopy called a חופּה, or a Chuppah. The marriage contract is called a כּתובה.

שבע־ברכות is seven days after the wedding where people invite the newly married couple to eat by them and people celebrate it.*double check this

Fantasy updated 2021-02-10 ^

In Yiddish, to say "Once upon a time" we say "אַ מאָל ...„ so "Once upon a time, there was a princess who...„ „אַ מאָל איז געווען אַ פּרינצעסין וואָס..."

A remnant of archaic grammar remains in the phrase "אין דער לופטן„ meaning "in the air" and not "in the airs."

Good luck! updated 2021-04-13 ^

Verbs like הנאה האָבן ,מצליח זײַן, מחליט זײַן, מסביר זײַן are called periphrastic verbs in Yiddish. The auxiliary verbs האָבן and זײַן are conjugated just as they would be with regular verbs; however, whether they take זײַן or האָבן in the present/future, they all take האָבן in the past tense. For example: איך וועל הנאה האָבן. איך האָב הנאה. איך האָב הנאה געהאַט.

איך וועל מסביר זײַן. איך בין מסביר. איך האָב מסביר געווען.

Chassidish updated 2021-02-10 ^

The dialect spoken by Chassidim is the most spoken dialect in today's day. The dialect is heavily based on that of Central Yiddish (or Polish-Hungarian Yiddish).


Although not taught in the course, Chassidish spelling is varied. Since Chassidim tend to be unaware of the standardization of Yiddish spelling, they spell words however they sound to them; this means you might see דו spelled as די, or און as אין.

As seen in the Litvish skill, the silent alef in the middle of the word is usually used to avoid confusion. "Thus וווּ will be spelled וואו, and רויִק will be spelled רואיק, etc".


Many Chassidim use English words for technical terms, such as medical terminology. In this course, however, we tried to remain true to the Yiddish language, so we did not teach any anglicized vocabulary. There are major differences between YIVO and Chassidish Yiddish. Here are some of them:

  1. The use of an additional pronoun for the familiar second-person plural, or "you all/you guys" in English.

    עטס (nominative)

    ענק (accusative/dative)

    ענקער (possessive)

  2. The lack of genders. דער/דאָס/די formed into just די. Some gender of words did, however, stay in set phrases, such as "אַ גוטן טאָג„ and "גוטע נאַכט„.

  3. Although all definite pronouns changed from דער/דאָס/די to just די, two new definite pronouns appeared: דעיס, דעיע.

    דעיס meaning "this", and "דעיע" meaning "This (noun)" or "this one."

Litvish updated 2021-02-10 ^

Congratulations! You have almost reached the end of the course. Now it's time to dive into some dialectal variety.

The Litvish (Lithuanian) dialect was never spoken by the majority of Yiddish speakers, but it always had a special prestige and influence.

Once spoken throughout Lithuania and Belarus, it survives today as the vernacular of Chabad Jews.

In this skill, we will be focusing mostly on the Litvish pronunciation, and less on the peculiarities of the Litvish grammar and vocabulary.


In the Litvish dialect, most vowel marks represent one sound only. There are no long vowels in Litvish. So:

  1. the vowel אָ is always pronounced _O_ (American English hut, British English hot);

  2. the vowel ו (as in דו) is pronounced _U_ (like English tooth);

  3. the vowel יי is pronounced EY (like English break);

  4. the vowel ײַ is always pronounced AY (like English light);

  5. the vowel ע is always pronounced _E_ (like English let);

  6. vowels אַ and י are pronounced like in all other dialects, but they are always short.

The only exception is the vowel וי, which is sometimes pronounced EY and sometimes UY.


As the Litvish dialect is mostly consistent with its pronunciation, the spelling is largely the same as the standard language.

One important difference of spelling, which is used in other dialects as well, is the use of the silent alef in the middle of the word to avoid confusion. Thus וווּ will be spelled וואו, and רויִק will be spelled רואיק, etc.


For the most part, we haven't added much Litvish specific vocabulary, but there are a few words that are written/said differently:

  1. זענען in Litvish would be זײַנען;

  2. נישט in Litvish is (for the most part) ניט;

  3. אים in Litvish is עם.

One thing that characterizes the Belarusian subdialect of Litvish, is the large number of Russian borrowings. We have added some of those in the final lesson of this skill.

Synonyms updated 2021-02-10 ^

This skill is meant to teach you how to say the same word in more than one way. Some of them are used more in certain dialects vs other ones, and some might just be a big spelling change.