Tips & Notes – Basics 2

Sentence Structure (वाक्य विन्यास)

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.

For example, a sentence like “The cat eats food” would be said as “Cat food eats” by a Hindi speaker (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).

Verbs (क्रिया)

Hindi verbs in the dictionary exist in a form known as the infinitive form. The structure for this form is: [Verb Root] + ना naa
Eg. खाना khaanaa (to eat), पीना pīnaa (to drink), पढ़ना parhnaa (to read), etc.


There are three parts of Hindi verbs:

  • The Verb Root: to obtain the verb root, one must simply remove the ना from the infinitive form (Eg. खा khaa, पी , पढ़ parh, etc.).

  • Gender and Number Specification Suffix: A suffix is a syllable placed at the end of a word which provides additional information about it. And so, after the word root, a suffix is placed which gives information about the subject’s gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural).

  • Auxiliary Verb होना: The auxiliary verb’s primary function is to provide information about the tense. However, it also concurs with the subject’s number. The auxiliary verb is written as a separate word.

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

Pronoun (English) Pronoun (Hindi) Suffix (m.) Suffix (f.) Aux. Verb होना
I (1st person) मैं main ता taa ती हूँ hūn (am)
You (2nd person) तू ता taa ती है hai (are)
He/She/It (3rd person) यह yah/वह vah ता taa ती है hai (is)

(Yes, the suffixes are the same for these three pronouns, while है is the form of होना for both are and is for the second and third person respectively.)

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

Example Verb: खाना khaanaa - to eat

Pronoun (English) Pronoun (Hindi) खाना (m.) खाना (f.)
I (1st person) मैं main खाता हूँ khaataa hūn खाती हूँ khaatī hūn
You (2nd person) तू खाता है khaataa hai खाती है khaatī hai
He/She/It (3rd person) यह yah/वह vah खाता है khaataa hai खाती है khaatī hai

I eat an apple.” = मैं सेब खाता हूँ।
(Congratulations! Your first Hindi sentence! Notice that a full stop or period in Hindi is represented by a पूर्ण विराम pūrn viraam - ।)

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 aap formal and respectful anyone older than you, respectable people, complete strangers

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

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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

July 31, 2018

The Tips & Notes are really helpful, thanks for that!

One remark:

I find it confusing that the transliteration differs from the transliteration in the Letters 1-4 lessons, e.g. ee instead of ī in पीना peenaa.

IMO it would be best to use the same transliteration for all. But maybe there is a reason for it?

August 10, 2018
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