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Particle Direct Object Marker - Grammar of Biblical Hebrew

Summary

This particle immediately precedes the term that functions as the direct object of a verb.

Article

As the name suggests, the direct object marker indicates the direct object of some verb. It does this by directly preceding the noun or phrase that functions as the direct object of a verb (either finite or non-finite). The direct object marker does not occur before every direct object, but it usually appears in places where there might be confusion. Thus, the direct object marker is not strictly necessary in Biblical Hebrew. Many languages, including English, do not have any specific word or symbol that serves a similar function; instead, those languages use other means of indicating the direct object of a verb (such as word order). Therefore, in many translations this particle is never translated.

The standard form of the direct object marker is אֵת. It can take both the prefixed conjunction and/or a pronominal suffix.

Note

The direct object marker is easily confused with the preposition אֵת (“with”) which has an identical standard form. When taking a pronominal suffix, however, the two words can be distinguished by the vowel they each select. The direct object marker takes a holem or holem-waw vowel with an attached suffix (אוֹתִי or אֹתִי), whereas the preposition takes a hireq vowel (אִתִּי) with an attached suffix.

Example: GEN 1:1 –– marking individual nouns as direct objects
בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
ara ‘elohim ‘eth hashamayim we’eth ha’arets
he-created God [dir.obj] the-heavens and-[dir.obj] the-earth
God created the heavens and the earth
Example: GEN 1:29 –– marking an entire phrase as the direct object
נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־כָּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב׀ זֹרֵ֣עַ זֶ֗רַע
nathatti lakhem ‘eth-kol-‘esev zorea’ zera’
I-have-given to-you [dir.obj]_every_plant seeding seed
I have given you every plant yielding seed
Example: GEN 2:10 –– marking the direct object of a non-finite verb
וְנָהָרּ֙ יֹצֵ֣א מֵעֵ֔דֶן לְהַשְׁק֖וֹת אֶת־הַגָּ֑ן
wenahar yotse me’eden lehashqoth ‘eth-haggan
And-a-river going-out from-Eden to-irrigate
[dir.obj]_the-garden
A river went out of Eden to water the garden.
Example: JDG 10:13 –– with 1st common singular pronominal suffix
וְאַתֶּם֙ עֲזַבְתֶּ֣ם אֹותִ֔י
we’attem ‘azavtem ‘owthi
And-you have-left [dir.obj]-me
Yet you abandoned me

Grammar of Biblical Hebrew