Hindi Lessons/Lesson 2

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Lesson 2: Some Basic Words & Phrases

In this lesson we will learn some very basic Hindi phrases. We'll start with the two little words "yes" and "no". I think they would be useful :-) So here we are:

  • हाँ = YES ( haa~ - note the nasal "n")
  • नहीं = NO ( nahi~ - note the nasal "n")

If you want to sound more polite you have can use the particle "जी" (ji). Remember it well! It's a very important particle, similar to Japanese "さん" (san) or Korean "씨" (sshi) in that it can be glued at the end of a name or title. If instead of "Hello Mr. X" you say "Hello Mr. X-ji" a Hindi native would appreciate it... So, let's get back to our "yes-no" thingie and see how to use "ji" there:

  • जी हाँ = YES (or "Yes, sir"... Ji Haa~)
  • जी नहीं = NO (or "No, sir"... Ji Nahi~)

Note that you can place "ji" after "haa~" or "nahi~" too:

  • हाँ जी = YES (or "Yes, sir"... Haa~ Ji)
  • नहीं जी = NO (or "No, sir"... Nahi~ Ji)

You can also use जी (ji) on its own. Alone it can mean "YES", so if you reply to a question just with "ji" you speak proper Hindi. It can mean "what?" "pardon me" "yes?" etc.:

  • जी = YES (kinda the English "yeah" or "yep")
  • जी = Yes? Pardon me? What? What do you mean? etc.

Now it's time to learn how to say "Hello" and "Goodbye". Here they are:

  • नमस्ते = Hello! OR Goodbye! ( Namaste )

As you see "namaste" is universal, just like Italian "Ciao" or Hawaiian "Aloha," which also are used for both hello and goodbye. There is another form of "namaste". It's namaskar, bearing the same meaning, and used more frequently in Southern India; you can use it instead of "namaste". They're fully interchangable. Of course if you want to be more polite, you can add the famous "ji" particle :-)

The language of Indian Muslims and Hindus from northeast India and Pakistan is more influenced by Persian, Arabic, and the Islamic religion. For example a Muslim might use the arabic "assalamu alaikum," or peace be upon you (salam /selam/ means peace, the same as the Hebrew "shalom") instead of the Hindu "namaste." If you are greeted with "assalamu alaikum", the proper response is "walaikum assalam" (peace be upon you too). In Urdu one says "khuda hafiz" for "goodbye." If you meet a Muslim you can use that for goodbye...

Next we'll learn two words, designating "thanks" or "thank you":

  • धन्यवाद = Thank you. ( Dhanyavaad, it's the "native" Hindi word )
  • शुक्रिया = Thank you. ( Shukriyaa, from the Arabic word "shukran")

We'll end this lesson with a phrase, meaning "Where are you from". You don't yet need to know what the words in there really mean, just remember it just as a phrase:

  • आप कहां से हैं? = Where are you from? ( Aap kahaa~ se hain? )
    • Note that ~ is used to show nasal sound, i.e. nasalized a. I'll use always that mark to indicate nasalized sounds.

The transliterated "ai" is pronounced not as "a" + "i", but as "ae" or "e". It's similar to the sound of "a" in "apple". I don't write it as "e" to distinguish it from the other 'e'.

That's all for this lesson. Before you continue be sure to remember it well!