The Concept of ‘Grammatical Words’ as Reflected in the Works of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra

  • Dr. Thaier Kizel Head of the Department of Hebrew Language and Hebrew Literature Arab Academic College of Education, Haifa


The group of grammatical words1 used by Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra in his writings overall2 includes the words ’bl ―but‖,
’wlm ―but, however‖, ’ḥr ―after‖, ’k ―but, only‖, ’kn ―indeed‖, ’l ―to‖, ’ṣl ―at‖, ’šr ―that‖, b ―in‖, byn ―between‖, bšbyl ―for‖, ḥwṣ
―except‖, ṭrm ―not yet‖, k ―as, like‖, kbr ―already‖, kmw ―like‖, kn ―so, thus‖, kpy ―as, like‖, l ―to‖, lbd ―alone‖, lkn ―therefore‖,
lm‛n ―for the sake of/so as to‖, mn ―from‖, ngd ―against‖, nwkḥ ―in the face of‖, ‛bwr ―in order that‖, ‛d ―until, up to‖, ‛l ―on‖, ‛m
―with‖, qwdm ―before, previously‖, rq ―only‖, twk ―within‖, tḥt ―under‖ and tmwr ―in the place of‖.3 Ibn Ezra did not use the
grammatical terms prevailing in modern Hebrew, such as mylym dqdwqywt ‗grammatical words‘, mylwt yḥs ‗prepositions‘,
mylwt ḥybwr or mylwt qyšwr ‗conjunctions‘, etc., but sorted these words into groups that he labelled ‛bdym ‗slaves‘, mlwt
‛nyyn ‗words of matter‘ and ’wtywt ‛nyyn ‗letters of matter‘, mlwt ṭ‛m ‗words of sense‘ and mlwt dbq ‗words of adhesion‘.
These terms appeared in his writings as the topic and context required. Examination of Ibn Ezra‘s works shows that by
these terms he meant the words that constitute a third word class, neither nouns nor verbs. This class includes
prepositions (independent and clitic), conjunctions, adverbs and interjections. The definitions change from one work to
another, as do the groups of words that the labels refer to, so that some grammatical words may belong to more than one
group according to Ibn Ezra‘s definitions.


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1. Allony, N. 1984. yswd dqdwq hw’ spt ytr m’t rby ’brhm ’bn ’zr‛ [Yĕsôd diqdûq hû’ sĕpat yeter by Rabbi
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