Urdu/Verbs

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Hindustani has a peculiarity that not only the number, but also the gender of the noun or the pronoun may be shown by the verb. The infinitive form of any verb ends with ना / نا / na. As in many other languages, this form can be used as a noun (masculine gender, and declined likewise). There are three main tenses: present, past and future. Hindustani uses both end-inflections in the verb-stem and auxiliary verbs for conjugation. It is interesting to note that like English, but unlike Sanskrit, Latin, French, German, Russian, etc., Hindustani possesses the continuous tense for all—present, past and future. Similarly, the perfect tense can be formed using a number of auxiliaries. The present and the past participles can be used as adjectives (they undergo declination). The imperative mood and equivalents for English can / should / must / have to can also be found. Verbs can be transitive or intransitive. Hindustani demonstrates very regular verb conjugation, with the only major irregular verb being होना / ہونا / hona "to be." Three other verbs, करना / کرنا / karna "to do," लेना / لینا / lena "to take," देना / دینا / dena "to give," break from the pattern only in the perfect aspect. Aside from these, however, conjugation is very regular, with rules even governing conversion of a verb into its causative and double causative. But on the whole, the verbal conjugation can be very, very complicated for English speakers.

Conjugation[edit]

The following table gives the conjugation for the verb करना / کرنا / karna "to do" —indicative mood. The root morpheme of करना / کرنا / karna is कर / کر / kar. The second column gives the conjugation in the 2nd person with तुम / تم / tum. To conjugate the verb with तू / تو / tu, use the 3rd person singular form. To conjugate the verb with आप / آپ / ap, use the 3rd person plural form.

Simple Present
First Person Second Person Third person
Masc. Sing. करता हूँ / کرتا ہوں / karta hun करते हो / کرتے ہو / karte ho करता है / کرتا ہے / karta hai
Masc. Pl. करते हैं / کرتے ہیں / karte hain करते हो / کرتے ہو / karte ho करते हैं / کرتے ہیں / karte hain
Fem. Sing. करती हूँ / کرتی ہوں / karti hun करती हो / کرتی ہو / karti ho करती है / کرتی ہے / karti hai
Fem. Pl. करते हैं / کرتے ہیں / karte hain करती हो / کرتی ہو / karti ho करती हैं / کرتی ہیں / karti hain
Present Continuous
First Person Second Person Third person
Masc. Sing. कर रहा हूँ / کر رہا ہوں / kar raha hun कर रहे हो / کر رہے ہو / kar rahe ho कर रहा है / کر رہا ہے / kar raha hai
Masc. Pl. कर रहे हैं / کر رہے ہیں / kar rahe hain कर रहे हो / کر رہے ہو / kar rahe ho कर रहे हैं / کر رہے ہیں / kar rahe hain
Fem. Sing. कर रही हूँ / کر رہی ہوں / kar rahi hun कर रही हो / کر رہی ہو / kar rahi ho कर रही है / کر رہی ہے / kar rahi hai
Fem. Pl. कर रहे हैं / کر رہے ہیں / kar rahe hain कर रही हो / کر رہی ہو / kar rahi ho कर रही हैं / کر رہی ہیں / kar rahi hain
Present Perfect
First Person Second Person Third person
Replace the second auxiliary रहा / رہا / raha - रही / رہی / rahi - रहे / رہے / rahe in Present Continuous
with the auxiliary चुका / چکا / chuka - चुकी / چکی / chuki - चुके / چکے / chuke
or with लिया / لیا / liya - ली / لی / li - लिये / لیۓ / liye.
The third auxiliary has to be kept as it is. Some other auxiliaries are also allowable in the place of the second auxiliary.
Simple Past
First Person Second Person Third person
Replace the auxiliary हूँ / ہوں / hun - हो / ہو / ho - है / ہے / hai - हैं / ہیں / hain in Simple Present with the auxiliary
था / تھا / tha (masc. sing.) - थे / تھے / the (masc. pl.) - थी / تھی / thi (fem. sing.) - थीं / تھیں / thin (fem. pl.)۔
Past Continuous
First Person Second Person Third person
Replace the third auxiliary हूँ / ہوں / hun - हो / ہو / ho - है / ہے / hai - हैं / ہیں / hain from Present Continuous with the auxiliary
था / تھا / tha (masc. sing.) - थे / تھے / the (masc. pl.) - थी / تھی / thi (fem. sing.) - थीं / تھیں / thin (fem. pl.)۔
The second auxiliary has to be kept as it is.
Past Perfect
First Person Second Person Third person
Replace the third auxiliary हूँ / ہوں / hun - हो / ہو / ho - है / ہے / hai - हैं / ہیں / hain in Present Perfect with the auxiliary
था / تھا / tha (masc. sing.) - थे / تھے / the (masc. pl.) - थी / تھی / thi (fem. sing.) - थीं / تھیں / thin (fem. pl.).
The second auxiliary has to be kept as it is.
Simple Future
First Person Second Person Third person
Masc. Sing. करूंगा / کروں گا / karun-ga करोगे / کرو گے / karo-ge करेगा / کرے گا / kare-ga
Masc. Pl. करेंगे / کریں گے / karen-ge करोगे / کرو گے / karo-ge करेंगे / کریں گے / karen-ge
Fem. Sing. करूंगी / کروں گی / karun-gi करोगी / کرو گی / karo-gi करेगी / کرے گی / kare-gi
Fem. Pl. करेंगे / کریں گے / karen-ge करोगी / کرو گی / karo-gi करेंगी / کریں گی / karen-gi
Future Continuous
First Person Second Person Third person
Conjugate the auxiliary रहना / رہنا / rahna in Simple Future, just like in above
and use it after the declined present participle करता / کرتا / karta.
Future Perfect
First Person Second Person Third person
Replace the third auxiliary हूँ / ہوں / hun - हो / ہو / ho - है / ہے / hai - हैं / ہیں / hain of Present Perfect
with the auxiliary रहना / رہنا / rahna conjugated in Simple Future. The second auxiliary shall stay.
Imperative Mood / Subjunctive (wish/command)
First Person Second Person Third person
Masc. Sing. करूँ / کروں / karun करो / کرو / karo करे / کرے / kare
Masc. Pl. करें / کریں / karen करो / کرو / karo करें / کریں / karen
Fem. Sing. करूँ / کروں / karun करो / کرو / karo करे / کرے / kare
Fem. Pl. करें / کریں / karen करो / کرو / karo करें / کریں / karen

The present participle here is करता /karta/ and the past participle is किया /kiya/ (with variant in this case as करा /karo/ — not considered as standard) — both must be declined like adjectives when needed (see ff.). The Imperative Mood is an exception for all verbs because it has entirely different conjugal forms for /tu/ and /ap/. For the former, it is कर /kar/, and for the latter, it is कीजिये /kijiey/ (with variations in this case as करिये /kijiey/ and करें /karo/ — not considered as standard). The future also has two other conditional forms, not listed here.

Hindustani has two voices—active and passive.

A stem change in the penultimate syllable of the infinitive form can lead to a semantic change in many verbs. e.g., बनना /banna/ (to be made, to become) → बनाना /bana-na/ (to make) → / बनवाना /banva-nɑ/ (to cause to be made). See ff.

In much of Punjabi-influenced region of north west India, Pakistan, and the Indian state of Rajasthan, the pronoun आप / آپ / /ap/ is used with verbs conjugated for the तुम / تم / /tum/ form. e.g, आप / آپ / ap .... करोगे / کرو گے / karo-ge, आप करो / آپ کرو / ap karo.

There is another class of perfectives unique to Hindustani. These are used if the noun or pronoun is followed by the subject-case postposition ने / نے /ne/ (and rarely in the absence of ने / نےे too). For करना / کرنا / karna, these would be :

  • किया /kiya/ (Simple perfective)
  • किया है /kiya hai/ (Present perfective)
  • किया था /kiya tha/ (Past perfective)
  • किया होगा /kiya hoga/ —expressing doubt or possibility in the future.

Other equivalents with English areː

  • should : infinitive + चाहिये /Chahiye/ (The subject must be followed by the postposition को . If the subject is a pronoun, then the accusative case for it without any postposition is also allowed.) E.g., मुझे .... करना चाहिये or मुझको .... करना चाहिये .
  • may / can: root-morpheme + सकना /sakna/—conjugated in the Simple Present tense. e.g., मैं .... कर सकता हूँ .

Some facts about Hindustani verbs[edit]

The root morpheme of any verb can be made by removing the suffix /na/ from the corresponding infinitive form. The imperative form for /tu/ will also give the same root morpheme. The number of single-word root morpheme is very few in Hindustani, and so a lot of the so-called compound roots are used. Note that the existence of the so-called compound verbs in Hindustani has been denied by some eminent linguists like Prof. Rajendra Singh (Université de Montréal).

The auxiliary verbs in Hindustani can be listed under the following six categories (Tiwari [1966] 2004):

  1. Tense marker. (i.e., है /hai/ and था /tha/ — the present and past tense markers; forms of the verb होना /hona/ — to be). These come at the end of the verbal phrase. E.g., मैं जाता हूँ । तुम खा रहे थे |
  2. Voice-marking verb. E.g., the verb जाना /jana/; किताब पढ़ी जाती है, indicating the passive voice.
  3. Aspect-marking verb. The verb रहना /rehna/ indicates the continuous or progressive aspect. It comes just before the tense marker. E.g., आप लिख रहे हैं ।
  4. Modal verb. These include a variety of verb to express the mood or viewpoint of the speaker. E.g., पड़ना /parhna/ and होना /hona/ denote compulsion or requirement, चाहिये /Chahiye/ (not conjugated) denotes advice or need, चुकना /tʃuknaː/ indicates completeness of action — the perfective, पाना /pana/ and सकना /sakna/ indicate capability. E.g., उसे एक लाख रुपये ख़र्च करने पड़े
  5. Explicator/vector/intensifier. Such auxiliaries colorize or intensify the main verb. E.g., लेना /lena/, देना /dena/, मारना /marna/, etc. For instance, मैंने काम कर लिया । मैंने पत्र लिख दिया | Such verbs sometimes additionally denote the perfective aspect.
  6. Verbalizer. This kind of auxiliary creates a verb from a noun or an adjective that precedes it. करना /karna/ is the most important such verb. Most verbs listed under intensifier may also act as verbalizer, and so does होना /hona/. E.g., मैं तुमसे प्यार करता हूँ ।

The root of the first causative verb can be made from the basic verbal root morpheme by adding the suffix /a/ or /la/. The root of the second causative verb can be made from the basic verbal root morpheme by adding the suffix /va/ or /Ivaː/. Both cases may additionally involve ablaut gradation in the root morpheme's vowel or even a change in the consonants. E.g., बोलना — बुलाना — बुलवाना.

Hindustani participles and verbal derivative forms (कृदन्त):

  1. Present participle: It is made by the root morpheme + /t/ (present suffix) + /a/. The word must be declined properly as given below. It is also called the imperfective derivative. E.g., करता, चलता, etc. It is used as a noun, verb (including as a part of the conjugation), adjective and adverb.
  2. Past participle: It is made by the root morpheme + /a/. The word must be declined properly as given below. It is also called the perfective derivative. E.g., मरा, चला, etc. It also has numerous exceptions. It is used as a noun, verb (including as a part of the conjugation), adjective and adverb.
  3. Verbal noun or infinitive: It is made by the root morpheme + /n/ (infinitive suffix) + /a/. When used as a noun, it must be declined as the long-a ending adjectives. It also comes in verbal conjugations and imperatives. E.g., करना, चलना, etc.
  4. Pluperfect: It is made by the root morpheme + /kar/ or /karke/ or null. If the root morpheme itself is /kar/ (but not otherwise), the form is /karke/. E.g., खाकर, दौड़कर, etc. It is used as a verb and adverb.

The declension/conjugation for the Present and past participles is given below along with the suffixes for the verb root. As as example, use the verb root चल / چَل / /chal/to go. It would not work for कर / کَر / /kar/ because it has exceptions.

Present participle Past participle
Gender Singular Plural Singular Plural
Masculine / ta /
चलता
/ te /
चलते
/ a /
चला
/ e /
चले
Feminine / te /
चलती
/ ti /
चलतीं
/ i /
चली
/ i /
चलीं