Alef (also spelled Aleph) is the first letter of the Alefbet, the Hebrew alphabet.

For this letter, imagine a headless man. Ok, a little gruesome, but imagine it anyways. Here's what he'd look like:

So, what does Alef sound like?

Pronouncing Alef

Alef on its own? It has no sound at all! Hence the headless guy. Like a man without a head, Alef can't make a sound, without a vowel attached.

So why is he lifting weights?

That's because when Alef does have a vowel, it sounds a bit like the grunting sound you make when you're working hard, like:


Actually, right now — try saying "UH-OH!"

Uh-Oh! (audio)

That sound you make in the middle? Almost like a catch in your throat? Like a kind of hiccup? Right as you say OH?

That's Alef.

That's how Alef sounds. It's the same as how in some kinds of English, like Cockney, the letter T in bottle is pronounced. Like "boh'ull."

Bottle! (audio)

That bit in the middle, that's Alef again. We use that sound all the time in English, usually at the beginning of words, like the E in elephant or... the A in Aleph!

Still, the letter Alef doesn't make a sound by itself. It doesn't sound like anything, in fact, unless it has a vowel attached.

So now you're thinking, "What about the vowels already? Show me the vowels!"

Right. So on to your first vowel, called Patach.