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Dec 5, 2013

how to say "to serve" in Hebrew

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לְהַגִּישׁ, לְשָׁרֵת

As often happens when crossing linguistic boundaries, the single English verb to serve has several translations in Hebrew, corresponding to several different meanings of the word in English.


There's to serve as in to give something to someone else, such as a meal - לְהַגִּישׁ אֲרוּחָה listen and repeat. This in Hebrew is לְהַגִּישׁ listen and repeat, an active-causative verb of the root נ.ג.שׁ ( meaning approaching (discussed here).

להגיש can also mean to submit something, as in:

הִגַּשְׁתִּי מָעֳמָדוּת לַתַּפְקִיד.
I applied (submitted candidacy) for the position.

The act of serving, in this case, is הַגָּשָׁה listen and repeat.


And then there's to serve as in to serve a person or enterprise. This is לְשָׁרֵת listen and repeat, an active-intensive verb of the root שׁ.ר.ת (sh.r.t). The abstract noun of לשרת is שֵׁרוּת listen and repeat, service, as in שֵׁרוּת לָקוֹחוֹת - customer service and שירות צְבָאִי listen and repeat - military service.

An example of לשרת:

הִיא שֵׁרְתָה שְׁנָתַיִם בְּחֵיל הַיָּם.
She served (for) two years in the navy.

There's also לְשַׁמֵּשׁ listen and repeat - to serve a purpose, and לְרַצּוֹת listen and repeat - to serve time, such as in prison.

by Ami SteinbergerFounder and Director, Ulpan La-Inyan
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