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Other diacritics cantillation, geresh,
Example of biblical Hebrew trope.svg
Gen. 1:9, "And God said,
Let the waters be collected".
Letters in black, niqqud in red,
cantillation in blue
Niqqud articles
Shva · Hiriq · Zeire · Segol · Patach · Kamatz · Holam · Dagesh · Mappiq · Shuruk · Kubutz · Rafe · Sin/Shin Dot

In Hebrew orthography, niqqud or nikud (Hebrew: ?, Modern: nikud, Tiberian: niqqud, "dotting, pointing" or Hebrew: , Modern: nekuddot, Tiberian: n?quddô?, "dots") is a system of diacritical signs used to represent vowels or distinguish between alternative pronunciations of letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Several such diacritical systems were developed in the Early Middle Ages. The most widespread system, and the only one still used to a significant degree today, was created by the Masoretes of Tiberias in the second half of the first millennium AD in the Land of Israel (see Masoretic Text, Tiberian Hebrew). Text written with niqqud is called ktiv menuqad.

Niqqud marks are small compared to the letters, so they can be added without retranscribing texts whose writers did not anticipate them.

In modern Israeli orthography niqqud is seldom used, except in specialised texts such as dictionaries, poetry, or texts for children or for new immigrants to Israel.[2] For purposes of disambiguation, a system of spelling without niqqud, known in Hebrew as ktiv maleh (? ‎, literally "full spelling") has developed. This was formally standardised in the Rules for Spelling without Niqqud ( ?‎) enacted by the Academy of the Hebrew Language in 1996,[3] and updated in 2017.[4]

One reason for the lesser use of niqqud is that it no longer reflects the current pronunciation. In modern Hebrew, tzere is pronounced the same as segol, although they were distinct in Tiberian Hebrew, and pata? the same as qamatz. To the younger generation of native Hebrew speakers, these distinctions seem arbitrary and meaningless; on the other hand, Hebrew language purists have rejected out of hand the idea of changing the basics of niqqud and fitting them to the current pronunciation - with the result that in practice niqqud is increasingly going out of use.[5]

According to Ghil'ad Zuckermann, the lack of nikúd in what he calls "Israeli" (Modern Hebrew) often results in "mispronunciations".[6]:49 For example, the Israeli lexical item ? is often pronounced as mitabním (literally "becoming fossilized (masculine plural)") instead of metaavním "appetizers", the latter deriving from teavón "appetite", whereas the former deriving from éven "stone".[6]:49 Another example is the toponym ? , which is often pronounced as maalé edomím instead of maalé adumím, the latter appearing in the Hebrew Bible (Joshua 15:7 and 18:17).[6]:49 The hypercorrect yotvetá is used instead of yotváta for the toponym , mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:7.[6]:49 The surname of American actress Farrah Fawcett () is often pronounced fost instead of fóset by many Israelis.[6]:49


This table uses the consonant letters ?, ? or ?, where appropriate, to demonstrate where the niqqud is placed in relation to the consonant it is pronounced after. Any other letters shown are actually part of the vowel. Note that there is some variation among different traditions in exactly how some vowel points are pronounced. The table below shows how most Israelis would pronounce them, but the classic Ashkenazi pronunciation, for example, differs in several respects.

Symbol Common name Alternate names Type Scientific name Hebrew IPA Transliteration Comments
Sh'va sheva Israeli shva or Ø ?, e, ', or nothing

In modern Hebrew, shva represents either /e/ or Ø, regardless of its traditional classification as shva na? (? ) or shva na (? ), see the following table for examples:

  Shva denoting the vowel /e/ Shva denoting Ø (absence of a vowel)
shva na?* ? [ki'mate?t]
? [ki'palt]
shva na [?ade?'du]
*All shvas in the words "?" and "", also those marked under the letter tet ("?"), are shva na?.

Reduced segol hataf segol Israeli ?ataf seggol ? e  
Tiberian ep? sôl ?  
Reduced patach hataf patah Israeli ?ataf pata? a  
Tiberian ep? pá?a? ?  
Reduced kamatz hataf kamats Israeli ?ataf kamats o  
Tiberian ep? q?me? ?  
Hiriq hiriq Israeli ?irik ? i Usually promoted to Hiriq Malei in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation.
Tiberian ?îreq or ) i or í  
Hiriq malei hiriq yod Israeli ?irik male ? i  
Tiberian ?îreq m?lê î  
Zeire tsere, tzeirei Israeli tsere e  
Tiberian ?  
, , Zeire malei tsere yod, tzeirei yod Israeli tsere male e More commonly ei (IPA [ei?]).
Tiberian rê m?lê ê  
Segol segol Israeli seggol ? e  
Tiberian sôl or e or é  
, , Segol malei segol yod Israeli seggol male ? e With succeeding yod, it is more commonly ei (IPA [ei?])
Tiberian sôl m?lê ?  
Patach patah Israeli pata? a A patach on a letters ?, ?, ? at the end of a word is sounded before the letter, and not after. Thus, ? (Noah) is pronounced /' This only occurs at the ends of words and only with patach and ?, ?, and (that is, ? with a dot (mappiq) in it). This is sometimes called a patach ganuv, or "stolen" patach (more formally, "furtive patach"), since the sound "steals" an imaginary epenthetic consonant to make the extra syllable.
Tiberian pá?a? or a or á  
, Patach malei patah he Israeli pata? male a  
Tiberian pá?a? m?lê ?  
Kamatz gadol kamats Israeli kamats gadol ? a  
Tiberian q?me? gôl ? ?  
, Kamatz malei kamats he Israeli kamats male a  
Tiberian q?me? m?lê â  
Kamatz katan kamats hatuf Israeli kamats katan o Usually promoted to Holam Malei in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation. Also, not to be confused with Hataf Kamatz.
Tiberian q?me? qn  
Holam holam Israeli ?olam o Usually promoted to Holam Malei in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation. The holam is written above the consonant on the left corner, or slightly to the left of (i.e., after) it at the top.
Tiberian lem ?  
, , Holam malei holam male Israeli ?olam male o The holam is written in the normal position relative to the main consonant (above and slightly to the left), which places it directly over the vav.
Tiberian lem m?lê ô  
Kubutz kubuts (shuruk - Ashkenazi) Israeli kubbuts ? u Usually promoted to Shuruk in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation.
Tiberian qibbû? ? or u or ú  
, ?, ? Shuruk shuruk (melopum - Ashkenazi) Israeli shuruk u The shuruk is written after the consonant it applies to (the consonant after which the vowel /u/ is pronounced). The dot in the shuruk is identical to a dagesh, thus shuruq and vav with a dagesh are indistinguishable. (see below).
Tiberian ?ûreq ? û  
Dagesh dagesh Israeli dagesh ? varied varied Not a vowel, "dagesh" refers to two distinct grammatical entities:
  1. "dagesh kal", which designates the plosive (as opposed to fricative) variant of any of the letters (in earlier forms of Hebrew this distinction was allophonic; in Israeli Hebrew ?, ? and ? with or without dagesh kal are acoustically and phonologically indistinguishable, whereas plosive and fricative variants of ?, ? and ? are sometimes allophonic and sometimes distinct phonemes (e.g., /i'per/ applied make up vs. /i'fer/ tipped ash),
  2. "dagesh hazak", which designates gemination (prolonged pronunciation) of consonants, but which, although represented in most cases when transliterated according to standards of the Academy of the Hebrew Language,[7] is acoustically and phonologically non existent in Modern Hebrew (except occasionally in dramatic or comical recitations, in some loanwords--such as a few Arabic profanities--and pronunciations exaggerated for the sake of disambiguation).

For most letters the dagesh is written within the glyph, near the middle if possible, but the exact position varies from letter to letter (some letters do not have an open area in the middle, and in these cases it is written usually beside the letter, as with yod).

The guttural consonants (?) and resh (?) are not marked with a dagesh, although the letter he (?) (and rarely ?) may appear with a mappiq (which is written the same way as dagesh) at the end of a word to indicate that the letter does not signify a vowel but is consonantal.

To the resulting form, there can still be added a niqqud diacritic designating a vowel.

Tiberian d? ?    
Rafe rafe Israeli rafe or Ø a?, e?, i?, o?, or u? No longer used in Hebrew. Still seen in Yiddish (especially following the YIVO standard) to distinguish various letter pairs. Some ancient manuscripts have a dagesh or a rafe on nearly every letter. It is also used to indicate that a letter like ? or ? is silent. In the particularly strange case of the Ten Commandments, which have two different traditions for their Cantillations which many texts write together, there are cases of a single letter with both a dagesh and a rafe, if it is hard in one reading and soft in the other.
Tiberian r?fa [] ?, ?, ?, or ? Niqqud, but not a vowel. Used as an "anti-dagesh", to show that a letter is soft and not hard, or (sometimes) that a consonant is single and not double, or that a letter like ? or ? is completely silent
Shin dot shin dot Israeli ?in dot ?"?‎, ‎ or ‎, "right Shin" ?/sh Niqqud, but not a vowel (except when inadequate typefaces merge the holam of a letter before the shin with the shin dot). The dot for shin is written over the right (first) branch of the letter. It is usually transcribed "sh".
Sin dot sin dot Israeli ?in dot ?"?‎, ?‎, "left Shin" ?/s Niqqud, but not a vowel (except when inadequate typefaces merge the holam of the sin with the sin dot). The dot for sin is written over the left (third) branch of the letter
Tiberian Some linguistic evidence indicates that it was originally IPA , though poetry and acrostics show that it has been pronounced since ancient times).[]


Both consonants and niqqud can be typed from virtual graphical keyboards available on the World Wide Web, or by methods integrated into particular operating systems.

Microsoft Windows

  • In Windows 8 or later, niqqud can be entered using the right alt + the first Hebrew letter of the name of the value, when using the standard Hebrew keyboard layout:
Niqqud Right Alt (=AltGr) + Hebrew-keyboard key: Explanation

(usually the first Hebrew letter of the niqqud's name)

AltGr + ? for (kamatz) first Hebrew letter of the niqqud's name
AltGr + ? for (patach)
AltGr + ? for (sheva)
AltGr + ? for (dagesh)
AltGr + ? for (hiriq)
AltGr + ? for (segol)
AltGr + ? for ? (tsere)
AltGr + ? for ? (holam) the vav key (like the 'o' vowel), since the het key is already used for hiriq
AltGr + \ for ? (kubuts) because the line \ visually resembles ?
AltGr + ] for reduced patach the key to the right of ?
AltGr + ? for reduced kamats the key to the right of ?
AltGr + ? for reduced segol the key to the right of ?
AltGr + W for the Shin dot the key above ?, right-side, since the dot is placed above ?, right-side
AltGr + Q for the Sin dot the key above ?, left-side, since the dot is placed above ?, left-side
AltGr + [ for ? (rafe)
  • On earlier versions, the typist can enter niqqud by pressing CapsLock, placing the cursor after the consonant letter, and then pressing Shift and one of the keys in the chart below.
  • The user can configure the registry to allow use of the Alt key with the numeric plus key to type the hexadecimal Unicode value.[8]
  • The user can use the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator to produce a custom keyboard layout, or can download a layout produced by another party.[9]


In GTK+ Linux systems, niqqud can be entered by holding down AltGR and pressing the same keys as for Windows below. Or by pressing ctrl+shift+u followed by the appropriate 4 digit Unicode.


Using the Hebrew keyboard layout in Mac OS X, the typist can enter niqqud by pressing the Option key together with a number on the top row of the keyboard. Other combinations such as sofit and hataf can also be entered by pressing either the Shift key and a number, or by pressing the Shift key, Option key, and a number at the same time.[10]

Niqqud input
Input (Windows) Key (Windows) Input
(Mac OS X)
Unicode Type Result
~ TildeKey.svg 0 05B0 Sh'va Tilde Schwa.svg 1
1 3 05B1 Reduced Segol Hataf Segol.svg [1]
2 1 05B2 Reduced Patach Hataf Patah.svg [1]
3 2 05B3 Reduced Kamatz Hataf Qamaz.svg [1]
4 4 05B4 Hiriq Hebrew Hiriq.svg [1]
5 5 05B5 Zeire Hebrew Zeire.svg [1]
6 9 05B6 Segol Hebrew Segol.svg [1]
7 6 05B7 Patach Hebrew Patah.svg []
8 7 05B8 Kamatz Hebrew Qamaz.svg 1
9 A 05C2 Sin dot (left) Hebrew Sin.svg 2
0 M 05C1 Shin dot (right) 0 Shin.svg 2
 - = 05B9 Holam Hebrew Holam.svg 1
= 3 , 05BC Dagesh or Mappiq Hebrew Equal Dagesh.svg 1
U 05BC Shuruk Hebrew Equal Shuruk.svg 4
\ 8 05BB Kubutz Hebrew Backslash Qubuz.svg 1


  • 1 The letter "?" represents any Hebrew consonant.
  • 2 For sin-dot and shin-dot, the letter "?" (sin/shin) is used.
  • 3 The dagesh, mappiq, and shuruk have different uses, but the same graphical representation, and hence are input in the same manner.
  • 4 For shuruk, the letter "?" (vav) is used since it can only be used with that letter.
  • A rafe can be input by inserting the corresponding Unicode character, either explicitly or via a customized keyboard layout.

SIL International have developed another standard, which is based on Tiro, but adds the Niqqud along the home keys.[11] Linux comes with "Israel -- Biblical Hebrew (Tiro)" as a standard layout. With this layout, niqqud can be typed without pressing the Caps Lock key.

See also


  • Gonen, Einat; Dan, Barak (2006). Gadish, Ronit (ed.). "Leshonenu La?am. Academy Decisions: Grammar". Ha-?Ivrit (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: The Academy of the Hebrew Language. ISSN 0024-1091.
  • Wikisource-logo.svgGesenius' Hebrew Grammar, especially §7, §8, §9
  • Netzer, Nisan (1976). Haniqqud halakha lema?ase (in Hebrew). Israel: Massada.


  1. ^ Cantillation
  2. ^ Amir Aharoni (2013). Khan, Geoffrey (ed.). Encyclopedia of Hebrew language and linguistics. 3. Leiden: Brill. p. 947. ISBN 978-90-04-17642-3. The notable exception is the newspaper Sha'ar LaMatchil 'Gate for the Beginner', intended for children and students of Hebrew, which is printed in 'easy Hebrew' with a limitedvocabulary and partial vocalization applied to scriptio plena.
  3. ^ "? " [Missing spelling rules] (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "? " [New spelling] (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ Galili, Ze'ev. " ?" "" [Benny Peled as "Canaanite"]. Retrieved 2019. Supposedly, the teachers who taught my generation knew Hebrew perfectly. They had a thorough knowledge of all the Hebrew classics as well as of modern Hebrew literature. But Hebrew was not their natural language. They had gained their knowledge of Hebrew from books, by tremendous effort. But they did not dream nor curse and did not read in Hebrew. And they subjected us, who grew up with Hebrew as our mother tongue, to a terrible torture. They demanded that we master perfectly all the niceties and nuances of a language purism which meant nothing to us. I remember when I was asked to write words with nikkud on the blackboard and made a hash of it, the teacher said "You are a total ignoramus".
  6. ^ a b c d e Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2020). Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199812790.
  7. ^ " ? " [Simple transcription for signage and mapping editors] (PDF). The Hebrew Language Academy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 July 2014. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ "How to enter Unicode characters in Microsoft Windows". Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ "Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator 1.4". Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "Macintosh Hebrew Language Kit" (PDF). Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ "Biblical Hebrew (Tiro) keyboard manual" (PDF). Retrieved 2019.

External links

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