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Jan 2, 2013

how to say "boyfriend/girlfriend" in Hebrew


having trouble seeing the print?
חָבֵר, חֲבֵרָה

English distinguishes clearly between "just friends" and friends of a romantic nature.

Hebrew, however, doesn't have a special word for boyfriend/girlfriend, making interactions sometimes confusing or embarrassing, especially for those who don't know the nuances.


Here's what you need to know.

The words חָבֵר referring to a male and חֲבֵרָהreferring to a female, mean both friend and boyfriend/girlfriend. Whether the word carries a romantic air depends on context and tone of voice.


Rules of thumb:

  • When referring to a member of the same sex, חבר/חברה means friend, unless the person might have a romantic partner of the same sex.
  • When referring to a member of the opposite sex, חבר/חברה means boyfriend/girlfriend, unless tone of voice or context indicates otherwise.
  • When used in the plural, חֲבֵרִים/חֲבֵרוֹת  means simply friends, unless context indicates otherwise.
For example:

יֵשׁ לוֹ הַרְבֵּה חֲבֵרוֹת.
He has a lot of girlfriends/female friends (depending on context).

To refer to someone of the opposite sex as just a friend with the confidence that no one will misunderstand, use a different set of words: יָדִידfor a male friend and יְדִידָה for a female friend.



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