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Tips & Notes – Basics 2

वाक्य विन्यास vākya vinyās - Sentence Structure

Hindi has an SOV Sentence Structure (Subject-Object-Verb). This means that unlike English, which has an SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) sentence structure, verbs are placed after the object in sentences.

Meaning, a sentence like The cat eats food would be Cat food eats (recall that ‘the’ does not exist in Hindi). Complex sentences like “The big blue cat eats the poisonous heavy brown food slowly” would be said as “Big blue cat slowly poisonous heavy brown food eats” (phrases in bold being the subject, those in italics being the object).

क्रिया kriyā - Verbs

Hindi verbs exist in the dictionary in a form known as the infinitive form. The structure for this form is - [Verb Root] + ना nā. E.g. खाना khānā (to eat), पीना pīnā (to drink), पढ़ना paṛhnā (to read), etc. The ‘verb root’ refers to the unique unchangeable part of the verb. It is obtained by simply removing the ना from the infinitive form (E.g. खा khā, पी pī, पढ़ paṛh).


There are three parts of Hindi verbs:

  • The Verb Root

  • Gender and Number Specification Suffix: A suffix is simply an extra sound attached at the end of a word. After the verb root, a suffix is placed which tells us whether the subject is masculine or feminine (gender) and whether it's one person or multiple people (number).

  • Auxiliary Verb होना hōnā: An auxiliary verb is a helping verb attached to another verb. It mainly tells us about the time at which the action happened (tense). It also agrees with the subject’s number (i.e. it tells us whether it's just one person or more people). It is written as a separate word.

For singular pronouns in the simple present tense, these are:

Pronoun (English) Pronoun (Hindi) Suffix (m.) Suffix (f.) होना hōnā
I मैं maim̐ ता ती हूँ hūm̐ (am)
You तू ता ती है hai (are)
He/She यह yah/वह vah ता ती है hai (is)

(Yes, the suffixes are exactly the same for these three pronouns. Remember that 'm̐' simply nasalises the preceding vowel.)

So, a verb’s format for the simple present tense is: [Verb Root][Suffix] + [Aux. Verb]

Example Verb: खाना khānā - to eat:

Pronoun (English) Pronoun (Hindi) खाना (m.) खाना (f.)
I मैं maim̐ खाता हूँ khātā hūm̐ खाती हूँ khātī hūm̐
You तू खाता है khātā hai खाती है khātī hai
He/She यह yah/वह vah खाता है khātā hai खाती है khātī hai

So, I eat an apple.” = मैं सेब खाता हूँ। maim̐ seb khātā hum̐
(Congratulations! Your first Hindi sentence! Notice that a full stop or period in Hindi is represented by a पूर्ण विराम pūrṇ virām - ।)

Addressing the Second Person (You)

Hindi has three ways to address people (three words for you) which are used depending on the listener and situation:

You Situation Example
तू informal and intimate friends, partner, people you don't need to formally convey respect to (it can be extremely disrespectful if used wrongly, better to avoid if you're not sure)
तुम tum informal and polite acquaintances, younger or similar aged people
आप āp formal and respectful anyone older than you, respectable people, complete strangers

This lesson introduces only तू tū, while other forms will be introduced later.

Pronunciation Irregularities with ह h

ह h, often changes how surrounding vowels are pronounced in a word. The most common format is the [a + ह ha] format, which instead of being pronounced like (XahaX), is rather pronounced like (XeheX). E.g. बहन (behen), where the e is like that in pet.

Another peculiarity is the word बहुत (meaning very). It is written as bahut, but pronounced like bohot, where the o is like that in pot.

And of course, यह and वह are pronounced as ye and voh, instead of yah and vah. This particular exception has historical significance. Hindustani (an umbrella term for Hindi and Urdu) was once more prevalently written using the Arabic (rather, Persian) script, which is a different writing system altogether. In it, a ہ h causes the surrounding vowels to behave differently. When people began writing Hindi using Devanagari, which is now the official form for writing it, the h stuck around along with a misleading spelling. All pronunciation exceptions in Hindi are because of this reason.

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July 29, 2018



Great work.

Can you transliterate the word for apple, verb etc, above?

It helps us get to grips with the orthography if there are always transliterations in the early stages


Aadit, muchas gracias por la explicación.Whenever you need I can help you out with my native spanish!

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