Hebrew has a gender for anything. Nouns are either male or female. There are no neuter nouns. Living things such as people and animals are named according to their sex.
In English we have similar differentiation; male ‘dog’ but female ‘bitch’; כֶּלֶב – כַּלְבָּה a ‘lion’ as opposed to a ‘lioness’ אָרְיֶה – לְבִיאָה; a ‘horse’ as opposed to a ‘mare’; סוּס – סוּסָה.
In Hebrew, when it is difficult to determine the sex of an
animal we find that we only assign it ONE gender.
It is difficult to determine the sex of birds, bees, snakes, fish, etc. That is why we only have the word: צִפּוֹר – tzee-pohr but never: צִיפּוֹרָה tzee-poh-rah.
Tzee-pohr has the form of a male noun (per the rules) but it is actually a female word. We say צִיפּוֹר קְטָנָה tzee-pohr k’tah-nah = a little bird. ( קְטָנָה is a female adjective).
The plural form of the word ‘bird’ is צִפּוֹרִים – tzee-poh-reem. צִפּוֹרִים is the form of plural male but it is still a female word. We say: צִפּוֹרִים קְטָנוֹת. Notice that the adjective IS female. We do not care what the form of the plural form is. As long as we know that the word is female, then we know that the adjective must be a female word.
You ALWAYS determine the gender of a word by its adjective (if it has one).
Bees – דְבוֹרִים – דְּבוֹרָה= only female noun.
Snake: נָחָשׁ – נְחָשִׁים = only male noun.
Fish: דָּג – דָּגִים = only male noun.
SAYING OF THE WEEK:
Speak of the devil:
מְדַבְּרִים עַל הַחָמוֹר
Literally: speaking of the donkey.
If you already downloaded it, feel free to share.
Ruti Yudovich is the author of Speak Hebrew For Real; Learn How to Read Hebrew For Real, Hebrew Binyanim the Easy Way and I Hate to Say Goodbye. She is a native Israeli that has tutored Modern and Biblical Hebrew for four decades.
For more detail about me and my books – see my author Page Here