לפגוש and להיפגש – how to use them correctly
I’m a Hebrew coach living in Israel. I taught myself Hebrew when I moved here in 2012 and have been teaching others since 2014. I help students develop conversational Hebrew for everyday situations while also supporting them in overcoming fears, anxieties and other blocks which are limiting their full self-expression. For me Hebrew is not just a language, it’s a way of connecting to ourselves and to others.
If there are two verbs that confuse Hebrew learners more than most it has to be the verbs לִפְגּוֹשׁ and לְהִפָּגֵשׁ.
What’s so confusing about them is that, in English, they both mean to meet. This is an example of when translating to English or other languages can be more of a hindrance than a help.
I prefer to learn them in the context of where they are used. In Hebrew.
Before we look at some examples let’s first examine them grammatically (examination…sounds so very scientific).
לפגוש comes from בניין פעל the pa’al structure. While להיפגש comes from בניין נפעל the nifal structure.
פעל paal verbs generally take the preposition את for example לכתוב את המייל writing the email.
נפעל nifal verbs generally take the prepositions עם, מ, ב, על ידי and many times take no preposition at all. המייל נכתב על ידי ג’ק the email was written by Jack.
Additionally, נפעל verbs are often passive in nature. Something is happening to the person or thing. פעל verbs are generally active. The person or thing is doing something to something or someone else.
This can help us remember an important rule with these two verbs – לפגוש and להיפגש – which is…
That לפגוש will take an אֶת and להיפגש won’t. It will take an עִם.
אֲנִי פּוֹגֶשֶׁת אֶת לוּסִי
אֲנִי נִפְגֶּשֶׁת עִם לוּסִי
נִפְגַּשְׁתִּי עִם חֲבֵרִים
So the first step is to make sure you use the correct preposition.
The second step is to use the correct verb. Oftentimes, like above, you can use them interchangeably. However sometimes only one is appropriate.
Because נפעל is more passive it’s kind of like english’s to get together (with) so it’s often used like we got together נִפְגַּשְׁנוּ. Or we’ll meet up tomorrow נִיפָּגֵשׁ מָחָר.
You wouldn’t use לפגוש in either of these contexts. לפגוש requires some sort of subject after it. I met David פָּגַשְׁתִּי אֶת דָּוִד or we’ll meet one another נִפְגּוֹשׁ אֶחָד אֶת הַשֵּׁנִי.
It’s not an exact science and if you’re feeling still not fully sure about using לפגוש and להיפגש know that that is perfectly normal. It takes time to feel comfortable with them. The best thing you can do besides remembering the use of the preposition is also to try and expose yourself to as many uses of the different verbs as possible. Build up the different contexts that you understand and you will continually improve your understanding and thus ability to use these two verbs.
I’m a Hebrew coach living in Israel. I taught myself Hebrew when I moved here in 2012 and have been teaching others since 2014. My focus is on supporting my students develop expressive conversational Hebrew for everyday situations while also supporting them in overcoming fears, anxieties and other blocks which are limiting their full self-expression. For me Hebrew is not just a language, it’s a way of connecting to ourselves and to others.