-ב (preposition)

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OsehAlyah

Senior Member
English(USA), Russian
שלום וברכה

I have several questions for which I'm unable to find a complete or a satisfactory answer for, so I'd like to pose them to you.
Here are the first two.

1. The complete translation of the prefix ב (Bet) in front of the word. The Morfix dictionary gives the following translation - "in, at; with, by; for" whereas my Meridian paper based dictionary gives the following: "in ,by, at, during, because of, for, according to, against (preposition that transforms noun into adverb [..ly]). Now this all sounds reasonable except that I see over and over where something like בנו will almost mean אותנו. So can anyone give a full exhaustive translation of the prefix, or a link to one will suffice.

<second question deleted by moderator>

תודה רבה מראש ושבוע טוב
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    Hi,
    I am afraid your question is simply too broad to be answered with any accuracy. I am not sure that it is possible at all to translate a preposition.
    In many, many cases the use of a preposition (NB ב is a preposition, not a prefix) is determined by the governing verb, not by the preposition's proper meaning. The preposition's use is idiomatic and, thus, unpredictable.
    My suggestion is that you re-ask your question with more specific information about the context.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    Hi,
    I am afraid your question is simply too broad to be answered with any accuracy. I am not sure that it is possible at all to translate a preposition.
    In many, many cases the use of a preposition (NB ב is a preposition, not a prefix) is determined by the governing verb, not by the preposition's proper meaning. The preposition's use is idiomatic and, thus, unpredictable.
    My suggestion is that you re-ask your question with more specific information about the context.
    Thank you Scriptum. I think I obviously wasn't clear in my question above. I'm not looking for a translation of the ב in and of itself. But rather in its usage. My main question centers around the usage of ב with pronouns. In the example I gave above, I tried to point out that when I read a Hebrew text, the meaning of the text seems to point to בנו as to mean אותנו. Even though none of the dictionaries allude to this possibility. Which is why I listed the dictionary translations. Perhaps all I'm looking for is the Conjugation of preposition/prefix ב with all of the possible meanings.

    However, if there is something that the dictionaries omit, relating to its usage with Verbs for example I'll gladly take that as well. Although as of yet I haven't encountered anything unusual in that particular usage.

    Thanks again.

    EDIT: P.S. Translations in Russian or English are equally acceptable. Also thanks to elroy the Mod for editing my initial unruly attempt at a question. :)
     
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    scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    Hi OsehAlyah,
    Could you give an example of בנו meaning אותנו and viceversa? That would help me to understand the problem...
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    Sure. There is a prayer that we say when we are called up to the Tora, or during the morning prayers. In the middle of the sentence there is this: .......
    אשר בחר בנו מכל העמים ונתן לנו את תורתו

    This can be found in any Siddur. Plus I have seen similar usage in the Torah, as I go through it in Hebrew for the first time this year. :)
     

    scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    To the best of my knowledge, in the Bible בח"ר requires the preposition ב.
    In the modern language both בחר ב and בחר את are correct and differ from each other stylistically.
    בחר ב is rather bookish.
    בחר את seems to be more colloquial.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    So does that mean that the answer is Yes. That בנו really does mean אותנו?

    Also, is there a link that shows non verb conjugations and their translations? Into English or Russian.

    Thank You Scriptum.
     

    scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    So does that mean that the answer is Yes. That בנו really does mean אותנו?
    No. That means exactly what I said: that there is a small stylistic difference between בחר בנו and בחר אותנו. This fact belongs to the idiomatics of modern Hebrew and has no bearing on the correlation between ב and את in general.

    Also, is there a link that shows non verb conjugations and their translations?
    Not that I know of, sorry.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    No. That means exactly what I said: that there is a small stylistic difference between בחר בנו and בחר אותנו. This fact belongs to the idiomatics of modern Hebrew and has no bearing on the correlation between ב and את in general.
    Hmmm. You lost me here with the No reply. I understand that there are subtle differences between the two words. But isn't the meaning the same?

    Come to think of it, let me ask it a different way. What is the meaning of בחר בנו in the Blessing, part of which that I quoted above? How would you translate it?

    Thank You.
     

    scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    but isn't the meaning the same?
    Да нет же. Глагол לבחור в современном языке может быть переходным или непереходным (с предлогом ב), сохраняя при этом свое значение с легкими стилистическими изменениями. Но это не значит, что у предлога ב и у частицы את (индикатор прямого дополнения) вообще одинаковое значение. Эти два слова взаимозаменимы (насколько помню) только после данного глагола. В огромном большинстве случаев их функции резко различаются.
    את стоит перед прямым дополнением.
    ב стоит перед обстоятельством.
    Пример:
    הוא אכל את הגלידה בכפית
    "Он ел мороженое ложечкой".
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    В огромном большинстве случаев их функции резко различаются.
    Yes of course. I'm not questioning that at all. I understand their differences. My question relates to their similarities. In fact the whole reason I even asked the question is because I could not imagine that there was any similarity between the two. We actually are on the same page here.
    Эти два слова взаимозаменимы (насколько помню) только после данного глагола.
    OK so in this one particular exception/case they do in fact mean the same thing? This was my question.

    Thank You (Спaсибо). :)
     

    hadronic

    Senior Member
    French - France
    As suggested early, you cannot translate prepositions. They are unpredictable and depends on each verb for each language.
    En : "I'm waiting for you" --> "for"
    Fr : "Je t'attends" --> direct object
    Hb : "אני מחכה לך" --> prepostion -ל
    That doesn't mean that "for" means -ל , or that "for" is used in English for direct objects in French...
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    As suggested early, you cannot translate prepositions. They are unpredictable and depends on each verb for each language.
    En : "I'm waiting for you" --> "for"
    Fr : "Je t'attends" --> direct object
    Hb : "אני מחכה לך" --> prepostion -ל
    That doesn't mean that "for" means -ל , or that "for" is used in English for direct objects in French...
    In my particular situation, I'm only interested in Hebrew. The question arises, if prepositions cannot be translated how do I gain the understanding for what they mean?
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Prepositions show relationships. The only way I know of to learn them is to find out the approximate equivalents in your own language (and it is usually not one-to-one) and to build on that by memorizing preposition use in Hebrew. I'm sorry. Wish there were an easier way.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Yes, sorry. When I said "memorizing preposition use", I meant learning the prepositions along with the verbs.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    Prepositions show relationships. The only way I know of to learn them is to find out the approximate equivalents in your own language (and it is usually not one-to-one) and to build on that by memorizing preposition use in Hebrew. I'm sorry. Wish there were an easier way.
    Not to get into hair splitting but before they can be memorized they still need to be translated. No?

    One thing I'll be on the lookout for, from now on, is for this relationship between verbs and prepositions. Thanks to you guys.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    What we mean is, when you learn a verb, you learn which preposition goes with it for each of the meanings of the verb.
     

    scriptum

    Senior Member
    Israel / Hebrew, Russian
    I don't understand.:confused:
    OsehAlyah, привет!
    Мне, честно говоря, не очень понятно - что именно вам непонятно :).
    Перевод предлога - дело хлопотное и, в общем, почти невозможное.
    Совет (который вам дали уже, не сговариваясь, три человека) состоит в следующем: не думайте о значении предлога вообще. Представьте себе, что это не отдельное слово, а НЕОТДЕЛИМАЯ ЧАСТЬ предшествующего ему глагола. Что, например, בחר ב - это не два слова, а одно, и значит оно "выбрать". А בחר את - это другое слово, чуть-чуть отличающееся от первого стилистически. И их следует запомнить, не пытаясь их анализировать. Мне кажется, что тогда все сразу станет ясным.
    Удачи.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    OsehAlyah, привет!
    Мне, честно говоря, не очень понятно - что именно вам непонятно :).
    Перевод предлога - дело хлопотное и, в общем, почти невозможное.
    Совет (который вам дали уже, не сговариваясь, три человека) состоит в следующем: не думайте о значении предлога вообще. Представьте себе, что это не отдельное слово, а НЕОТДЕЛИМАЯ ЧАСТЬ предшествующего ему глагола. Что, например, בחר ב - это не два слова, а одно, и значит оно "выбрать". А בחר את - это другое слово, чуть-чуть отличающееся от первого стилистически. И их следует запомнить, не пытаясь их анализировать. Мне кажется, что тогда все сразу станет ясным.
    Удачи.
    Yes yes I understood that, thanks to your earlier posts, and the others that have chimed in have reinforced that.

    Thanks to all that have replied.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    Following up our discussion here, I've run accross another verb preposition pait that is giving me trouble. It is from Shemot (Exodus) 14:27. Here's the quote:
    לֹא-נִשְׁאַר בָּהֶם, עַד-אֶחָד
    Once again, to me, the use of the preposition ב seems to carry an identical meaning to את . However, my Hebrew is rather weak, so I'd like a clarification from experts.

    Thank you all.
    ר
     

    MSZ

    Member
    Hungarian (NA-English dominant)
    Not sure how you see that:

    You never find את after נשאר.

    In modern H, I think you would say נשאר מהם: remained of them. The phrasing in Exodus (by the way, one reference says that it is 14:28 - for what it's worth:)) is obviously archaic, and the usage here may be idiosyncratic - I don't know the Bible well enough to say.

    The closest approximation in English might be: [there] was left among them [not a one] ... and I'm not sure who would say that ...

    The reason you won't find את in this context is the same as why you won't say:
    I remained it
    in English. In technical terms נשאר, like remain, never has a direct object, and since את is used (almost exclusively) to designate a direct object, את has no opportunity to appear.
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    Thank you MSZ for a great reply. I really appreciate it.
    Not sure how you see that:

    You never find את after נשאר.
    Keep in mind that I did not mean את on its own here, but rather אותם which of course would mean them. I'm not sure if you read the previous posts in this thread, but in them we discussed the fact that the meaning of prepositions cannot be separated from the verbs they are associated with, and that preposition ב only meant אותם in one case, that case being the verb לבחור. So seeing that it appears to mean the same thing here with the verb נשאר made me wonder if there's more to it than we thought or discussed.
    In modern H, I think you would say נשאר מהם: remained of them.
    This certainly makes sense to me, and sounds more natural. However, my understanding of Hebrew is quite minuscule.
    The phrasing in Exodus (by the way, one reference says that it is 14:28 - for what it's worth:)) is obviously archaic, and the usage here may be idiosyncratic - I don't know the Bible well enough to say.
    The verse number came from Mechon Mamre so I didn't question or double check it with my printed copy of Tanakh. :) I'm very much interested in Biblical as well as modern Hebrew, and see it as a must to know both. Idiosyncratic bringing it ever so much closer to home. :) Although the more I see them the more I realize that they are more one language rather than two. However, I'm hardly in a position to make that determination. :)
    The closest approximation in English might be: [there] was left among them [not a one] ... and I'm not sure who would say that ...
    This translation makes perfect sense to me in English, in fact it's more poetic/literate than it is idiosyncratic. My problem is that I cannot seem to find a resource that would allow me to produce this translation. In no dictionary that I have access to is preposition ב translated as among. So the million dollar question is how do I make myself self sufficient and come up with these translations on my own?
    The reason you won't find את in this context is the same as why you won't say:
    I remained it
    in English. In technical terms נשאר, like remain, never has a direct object, and since את is used (almost exclusively) to designate a direct object, את has no opportunity to appear.
    Thank you, this is great info nonetheless.

    ר
     

    MSZ

    Member
    Hungarian (NA-English dominant)
    OsehAlyah:
    So the million dollar question is how do I make myself self sufficient and come up with these translations on my own?
    Hmmm.

    Time, I think. Give it time ... :)
     

    hadronic

    Senior Member
    French - France
    and that preposition ב only meant אותם in one case, that case being the verb לבחור.
    No, no, no and no again.
    Without forcefully repeating all that has been said earlier, a given verb can have several regimes (ie, possible following prepositions), and that, in all languages (or so ;)).
    Sometimes, changing the preposition does change the meaning of the verb, sometimes it does only change the literary & poetical effects, sometimes it doesn't do anything (very seldom though).

    In that particular case, livkhor can be used either with את (or אותי, אותך אותו and so on), or with ב ( or בי, בך, בו and so on). In both cases, meaning/style do change.
     

    hadronic

    Senior Member
    French - France
    And to answer one of your questions, ב roughly conveys the following meanings :
    - stative location [space or time](in, at, among, during...)
    - instrumental, means (with [a pen], using, by, ...)
    - adverbs from noun, a sub-category from the above ( באמת ,בשמחה , במהירות...)
    - sometimes, used as the de facto gap-filler good-for-all-purposes preposition, as opposed to other more meaningful prepositions : kafe be-khalav (instead of "kafe im khalav"), nilkham ba-oyev (instead of "nilkham neged ha-oyev"), ha-yashar ba-adam (instead of "ha-yashar bein ha-adam(im)).
     

    OsehAlyah

    Senior Member
    English(USA), Russian
    In that particular case, livkhor can be used either with את (or אותי, אותך אותו and so on), or with ב ( or בי, בך, בו and so on). In both cases, meaning/style do change.
    While I appreciate the beauty of the fact that the language has the flexibility of expressing the same thing in a different style. As I also appreciate you guys mentioning that fact. I'm still struggling with the basic meaning of what is being expressed. :) So the stylistic subtleties are still somewhat ahead of me.
    And to answer one of your questions, ב roughly conveys the following meanings :
    - stative location [space or time](in, at, among, during...)
    - instrumental, means (with [a pen], using, by, ...)
    - adverbs from noun, a sub-category from the above ( באמת ,בשמחה , במהירות...)
    Thank youת this is great info, although I've never seen the word among included as one of the translations, it is now clear that it is in fact one of them.
    - sometimes, used as the de facto gap-filler good-for-all-purposes preposition, as opposed to other more meaningful prepositions : kafe be-khalav (instead of "kafe im khalav"), nilkham ba-oyev (instead of "nilkham neged ha-oyev"), ha-yashar ba-adam (instead of "ha-yashar bein ha-adam(im)).
    Yeah, this is the kind of stuff that will give me gray hair. :) Although as MSZ put it. Some things just take time. Hopefully I can put the info in this thread with the info I find on the WEB like this:
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ב־
    That it will all eventually clear up.

    Whew. Thank You.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    I'd like to add that in the expression "מה יש בך?" it means "What's wrong with you?" or "What's your problem?"
     
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