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I'm here if you need help! :)

Namaste! (Hi)

I am a native Hindi speaker. So, if you need any help, just post your question here. I'd be glad to help. :-)

  • Lavanya
November 18, 2019



I'd like to ask about different pronunciation oddities, but I'm more curious about चाहिए. For instance, मुझे चावल चाहिए (I want rice). Can I say this in a restaurant when ordering? In the US, "want" sounds too demanding and rude. In the US, you would say "I would like rice", but according to Google translate, "I would like rice" and "I like rice" have the same translation: मुझे चावल पसंद हैं.

The same goes for मैं नेहा से चावल लेता हूं (I take rice from Neha). What does that mean? If I said this in the US, it basically means I am getting the rice from Neha by force (against Neha's will). In the US, we'd say, "I receive/get rice from Neha".



So interesting! Yes, saying मुझे चावल चाहिए would be direct but in the context of India, it won't be rude. A more polite way of saying would be to ask क्या मैं चावल ले सकता हूँ? (Literally, Can I take rice?)

मैं नेहा से चावल लेता हूं suggests Neha is probably a storekeeper and you buy rice from her. Taking against one's will has a word - छीनना. So I take rice from Neha against her will is मैं नेहा से चावल छीनता हूं.

I guess Indian languages connote respect or bhaav more through body language and the tone of your speech - the culture has placed more importance in the speech than the text [we never wrote our scriptures, we instead kept transferring them by memory], so the literal rules in European sentence constructions wouldn't apply in Indian languages - if you say मुझे चावल चाहिए with a smile, it will sound perfectly fine to an Indian.


thanx alot!

suggests Neha is probably a storekeeper

one of the examples is: जूलिया पीटर से चाय लेती है और राज को देती है (Julia takes tea from Peter and gives it to Raj)

Is Peter a shopkeeper?



You can use 'Mujhe chaawal chahiye' in restaurants in India. (Sorry, I don't have the Hindi keyboard.) Usually, we make out whether it is rude or not by the tone of the voice. If you scream the same, it would be considered rude. But if you say it with respect and a smile, you can use it in any restaurant. You may also use - 'Bhaiya, ek plate chawal de dijie.' (Please give me one plate of rice). Here, please is not literally present but we can make that out by the tone (and 'Kripaya' i.e. please is almost never used in India, we usually use 'please').

'Mein Neha se chawal leta hun.' will also not feel offensive. It would just mean that you take rice from Neha. You may also use - 'Mein Neha se chawal kharidta hun' (I buy rice from Neha.)

What about the pronunciations?

I hope this helped! - Lavanya :)


thank you!

What about the pronunciations?

There are many different words that are pronounced differently in Duolingo, Google translate or in movies. I'm sure pronunciation is different in different regions, too.

-But, how about something common like बहुत. In the tips here it says: "It is written as bahut, but pronounced like bohot, where the o is like that in pot." But, I have heard it many times pronounced like bahought (rhyming with bought).

-Then there's गाजर and गाज़र / सबजी and सबज़ी / Pronounce as "j" or "z"?

-फल is pronounced with "f" (ph) sound at the start when said separately, but in the sentence exercise it's said with a "p" sound.

-and the most confusing is when to say a "v" or a "w" sound especially when the English writing in shops can use either v or w. [vada, halwa/halva, pav, etc]


One important thing to understand before going into your specific questions is that in spoken form, Hindi encompasses a continuum of dialects across Northern India. Some of the dialects at the edges of the continuum may be called Hindi but still not be intelligible with the Hindi spoken elsewhere. So, you can see how differences in pronunciation can crop up (similar to how American English pronunciation is different from New Zealand English).

  1. Words with ह are the most common exceptions to phonetic pronunciation in Hindi. The vowels on either side of the ह become 'e' or 'o' in pronunciation. This is why महल is pronounced 'mehel', छह as 'cheh' etc. Similarly बहुत becomes 'bohot'. While speaking fast, the first vowel is sometimes deemphasised which is what you're hearing. Note that in some dialects of Hindi, these words are pronounced how they are written.

  2. This concerns letters with dots (called nuqta). Apart from ड़ and ढ़ which are native to Hindi (but not found in Sanskrit) , the other such letters (क़, ख़, ग़, फ़, ज़) are used to represent sounds not found in Hindi in borrowed words.
    The first three(क़, ख़, ग़) are mostly found in words which come from Arabic and Persian. But many people with limited contact with these languages (or with Urdu which always retains the original pronunciations of these letters) just approximate the pronunciation to their nearest native sound (क instead of क़ etc). This is also true in writing where the dot is dropped more often than not.
    The remaining two (फ़, ज़) are also found in words from English, Marathi etc in addition to Arabic and Persian and a lot more people find these sounds easier to vocalise than the other three. So, a greater number of people would use the correct pronunciation (sabzee instead of sabjee) though, as you've observed, a good number of people still drop the dot in pronunciation and spelling. As a result, both pronunciations are quite common.
    (I think carrot is just गाजर though. I've never heard the other pronunciation).
    There is an even more curious phenomenon with फ. This is a sound native to Hindi and should technically be pronounced 'ph' (p with aspiration not f like in phone) while its dotted counterpart should be pronounced 'f'. However, even in words where it occurs without the dot, in indigenous words or those derived from Sanskrit (like फल and फूल), it is increasingly pronounced as 'f'. This is more prevalent in urban areas and may be a result of the influence of English.

  3. Hindi speakers don't care about the distinction between 'v' and 'w'. So, you can pronounce vada as wada or paav as paaw and most wouldn't even notice. This is because व has a sound intermediate between 'v' and 'w'. English speakers hear व as v in some words and w in others.


Thanx much for the detailed answers...

Hindi encompasses a continuum of dialects across Northern India.

yes, I noted that: "pronunciation is different in different regions"

Similarly बहुत becomes 'bohot'.

I was asking why I've heard is said many times as bahought (rhyming with bought), NOT "o" as in pot, ie: https://youtu.be/82HhILlGCTo?t=29

I think carrot is just गाजर though. I've never heard the other pronunciation

It's the Google translation. They don't use the dot, but pronounce गाजर with "z" and सबजी with "j".



I reversed it...in the Duolingo example, when the word is said alone, a "p" sound is used, but when in a sentence following एक, an "f" sound is used. I believe this is the Duo example, but Google pronounces it with an "f" in both instances.



I think I get the confusion. Using English words in the hints is very misleading because they are using the Indian English pronunciations which will be different from the other varieties of the language. Anyway, the vowels around ह become ऐ and औ (or in some other dialects, shorter forms of ए and ओ which is also quite common). What you hear in the video is औ.

The Google translate pronunciation for गाजर is just wrong. I looked into it and गाजर comes from Sanskrit. So, there's no way it can have the z sound. सब्ज़ी, as I said can be pronounced both ways though sabzi would be true to the original pronunciation.

फल can also be pronounced both ways but if you use the original pronunciation with the p-sound, remember that the p needs to be aspirated.


I have a similar question about imperative sentences. I know if I wanted to say, for example, "come here," I would say "आओ।" But in English that's a little bit overbearing/rude; I wouldn't tell a waitress, for example, "Come here." Instead I'd probably say something more like "Excuse me, could you please come here for a minute?" It's a question, not a command. I hear my Hindi-speaking acquaintances use the imperative, but I don't know if that's because they're family and less formal. So, would it be rude to tell someone, "आओ?" Or just more direct than we are in English? Could I ask my grandmother to come over to me with that word, or is there a more polite/respectful way to ask someone to do something?


You would still use the imperative but there are 3 levels of respect [Tu, Tum and Aap] in increasing degrees of respect.

Tu (Least respectful - something you would use to actually be rude or speak to a kid or a buddy you are very close with - kinda like the Spanish tu): Tu Yahan Aa | तू यहाँ आ | Come here!

Tum (More polite than Tu, something you would use for an acquaintance of the same age but not to your elders): Tum Yahan Aao | तुम यहाँ आओ | Come here

Aap (Most respectful, use it to speak to elders or to your same age and juniors if you want to look posh and sophisticated) Aap Yahan Aayiye | आप यहाँ आईये | (Please - implied) come here!

The last one is what you would say to your grandma. If you want to be polite but add a bit of informality, you can replace Aayiye with Aao making it Aap Yahan Aao and still be correct, although that decreases the respect points you connote.

Indian culture has respect tied to words but not as strongly as the West. We do things a lot more non verbally (smiling, tone of the voice, folding hands - all that is part of the way Indians communicate and express respect)


If it interests you, I had done a socio-linguistic survey of Tu, Tum and Aap in my office charting how respect is connoted across people. https://medium.com/@iashris/the-tu-tum-aap-project-visualizing-a-socio-linguistic-network-da23f2c1d7c5


That was a fun read!! Would you mind posting this as a post of its own on the forum? I'm sure it will interest a lot of people here.


Thank you! I've been super busy and haven't had time to look at it yet, but I will now!


Also, thank you for your very detailed post! I've been a little too busy over the past couple of weeks to respond, but I did read it and enjoy it!


Hi there!

We usually use - क्या आप इधर आ सक्ते हो? (Can you come here?) when talking to elders or anybody we don't know.

आओ is used when talking informally. And no, it might be considered rude that way. You may want to say - दादी क्या आप इधर आ सक्ते हो? (Grandmother, can you come here?). Other imperatives are (usually) also formed this way.

I hope this helped! :) -Lavanya


Thank you, it did! I'm at the point where I can understand simple sentences, but I'm learning now that there are so many ways to say everything that I didn't understand before. :) Thank you!


when are खाना, भोजन and व्यंजन used?


खाना refers to 'food' in general or to a 'meal' (eg: रात का खाना - dinner). It is also a verb ('to eat')
भोजन can replace the noun खाना in most contexts. You can also use it in a verb-sense as भोजन करना but this is limited to meaning 'having a meal'.

खाना is a word that has Sanskrit roots but has morphed in form over the years. भोजन is a word borrowed as-is from Sanskrit at a much more later time. As a result, खाना is a very common word while भोजन would be seen as somewhat 'formal'. You wouldn't hear भोजन all that often in daily conversations but see it in invitations and the like.
Such pairs of synonyms (with a word borrowed from Persian/Arabic also usually thrown into the mix) are pretty widespread in Hindi.

व्यंजन means 'dish' (cooked food prepared in a certain way). It's synonymous with पकवान and this pair is also like the one discussed above with पकवान being the one more commonly used.


Thanx for the detailed explanation. I asked this question because the translator gave these:

I eat food - मैं खाना खाता हुँ

spicy food - मसालेदार भोजन

Indian food - भारतीय व्यंजन

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