GR 1136          AMA, HAMA

H 0033          א ם

Concept of root : if

Hebrew word


English meanings

א ם


if; when; if and when

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


א ם


if ;

when ;

if and when

i m


א ם ;א י ן

im; in

if ;

if and when

i m; i n



ινα, άν



hina, an


as soon as;

if, if and when;

am . ;

in . , an

Modern Greek



if and when

a m .


immo < inmo

immo < inmo

rather, yet,  on the contrary

i m < i nm



Proto-Semitic *IN --- *IN Indo-European



With a single but significant consonant in what obviously remains a short word, the tendency can be to pronounce this consonant with a vowel after it, in front of it or both. Hebrew often chooses to begin with a vowel, as the letter Aleph , א , tells the reader. Greek in this case does both, and a vowel is seen both before and after the consonant M. Interesting is the slight shift in meaning between Classic and Modern Greek.


The Latin word is a bit further off in meaning. It supposes something to be different , whereas the Hebrew expression "ha im" (the if) . says "perhaps rather". This is no more a simple "if", but an expectation of things being different.


  • Proto-Semitic. Some uncertainty is created by the fact that the final consonant varies between " N " and " M ". With final " N " we see Aramaic "'in", Syriac "'en and Arabic "in". But South Arabic has a final " M " like Hebrew and Ethiopic shows "'emma". We have no information that indicates which came first. Therefore we presume that Proto-Semitic already had the same couple of roots we find in Hebrew and more languages: " א ם " as well as " א ן ".


  • Indo-European. Besides Greek an Latin, Hittite gives a "imma" with the same meanings found in Latin. According to some scholars also Hittite comes from an older version with a consonant "N" in it: "*inma". Thus Indo-European may have used a form "* I N- " for words that introduce an "if" and "rather", from supposed confirmation to supposed contrast. Or from "in the case that" as in Greek to "but in the case that" as in Latin..





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/12/2012 at 11.18.33