Hindi Lessons/Lesson 4

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Lesson 4: Genders in Hindi. Hindi Verbs - Part 1.

Unlike many European languages which have three genders or those such as English which have none, Hindi has precisely two, masculine and feminine. There is no reliable rule for which words are which, but one can often deduce a word's gender from its ending. Most Hindi words end in a vowel. Those ending in -aa are usually masculine. Those ending in -i (-ee) are usually feminine. There are of course some words that end in consonants or other vowels, whose gender cannot be predicted and must be learned. When we learn the adjectives and verb conjugation we will find that those -a and -i endings are very important. So, please remember that well:

-aa (ा) as in l*a*va - general mark of masculine words (singular!) - nouns, adjectives, verbs

-ī (ी) - (ee) - general mark of feminine words (even both - singular and plural) - nouns, adjectives, verbs

Many masculine Hindi words (ending in -aa of course:) can be turned into feminine ones by simply replacing the -aa ending with -ī! For example:

लड़का (laRkaa) = boy, लड़की (laRkī) = girl

बिल्ला (billaa) = tomcat, बिल्ली (billī) = cat, pussycat

Some masculine words ending in -a:

कमरा (kamraa) = room केला (kelaa) = banana तारा (taaraa) = star हवा (havaa) = wind

Feminine Words ending in -ī (-ee):

चीनी (chīnī) = sugar

But exceptions exist. for e.g., the following end in -ī (-ee) but are masculine:

पानी (paanī) = water पक्षी (pakshī) = bird

Some words ending with consonants:

दोस्त (dost) = friend (masculine) किताब (kitaab) = book (feminine) औरत (aurat) = woman (feminine :-)

A word ending in a vowel different from -a or -i:

गुरु (guruu) = teacher

To the general rule of the -a and -i ending there exist some exceptions, that is, there exist some masculine words, which end in -i. For example, the word for "man":

आदमी (aadmī) = man

Verbs in Hindi. General Information.

The infinitive form of every Hindi verb ends in ना (-na):

खाना (khaanaa) = to eat

पीना (pīnaa) = to drink

जाना (jaanaa) = to go

आना (aanaa) = to come

करना (karnaa) = to do (remember this one as it's used in many compound verb forms)

देना (denaa) = to give

लेना (lenaa) = to take

लिखना (likhnaa) = to write

पढना (paDhnaa) = to read

समझना (samajhnaa) = to understand

समझाना (samjhaanaa) = to explain (i.e. to make someone understand)

सीखना (sīkhnaa) = to learn

For the root of the verb, required for conjugation, remove its -na ending.

Making plurals:

In plural the masculine -aa ending becomes -e while the feminine -ī ending either remains -ī or becomes -i~ (nasalized):

-aa (ा) - general mark of masculine words (singular) - MASC. SG.

-e (े) - general mark of masculine words (plural) - MASC. PL.

-ī (ी) - general mark of feminine words (singular and plural) - FEM. SG. and PL.

-īn and -i~ - occasional mark of feminine words (plural) - FEM. PL.

Now back to verbs:

Add "ता" (ta) to verb root for masculine singular and "ते" (te) for masculine plural. Add "ती" (tī) for feminine singular and plural.


खाता (khaataa) = eat पीता (pītaa) = drink etc.

However, although these verbs are now conjugated, they are not quite ready to use. One cannot say "Mai~n khaataa"; one must use the copula "to be," the most important verb in Hindi:

The verb "TO BE" (Hona - होना)

मैं हुं (mai~ hu~) = I am

तु है (tu hai) = You (intimate) are

तुम हो (tum ho) = You are

वह है (voh hai) = He/She/It/That is

हम हैं (ham hai~) = We are

आप हैं (aap hai~) = You are

वे हैं (ve hai~) = They are

Let's give you a pattern:

Verb root + TAA / TE / TĪ + Conjugated corresponding form of "Hona" (to be) = Present Imperfect Tense

Some examples:

NB: Hindi does not use articles

मैं खाता हुं. (mai~ khaataa hu~) = I eat.

लडका खाता है. (laRkaa khaataa hai) = The (A) boy eats.

लडकी खाती है. (laRkī khaatī hai) = The (A) girl eats.

आप पीते हैं. (aap pīte hai~) = You (polite sg.) drink OR You (plural) drink.

मैं पानी पीता हुं. (mai~ paanī pītaa hu~) = I drink water.

तुम पानी पीते हो. (tum paanī pīte ho) = You drink water. NB: "tum" is the most used word for "you" and is actually plural. So whenever you use it, conjugate the verb as plural.

A final, somewhat "funny," example:

मैं सिगरेट पीता हुं. (mai~ sigaret pīta hu~). I smoke a cigarette... The literal meaning of the sentence is "I drink a cigarette." Every language has its oddities and peculiarities!

More about other verb tenses in the next lesson(s). Please do review this whole lesson well before continuing to the next one.