April 20, 2012

Adjectives

Adjectives, like nouns, also can be classified according to two main categories: marked and unmarked.

Marked Adjectives

Marked adjectives end in in their masculine singular form, in their masculine plural form, and  in both their feminine singular and plural forms. These endings correspond to the most common endings of marked nouns of the respective gender and number.

Gender Number Ending Example
Masculine Singular अच्छा
Masculine Plural अच्छे
Feminine Singular अच्छी
Feminine Plural अच्छी

Marked adjectives agree with the nouns the modify in both gender and number.

Gender Number Example
Masculine Singular अच्छा लड़का
Masculine Plural अच्छे लड़के
Feminine Singular अच्छी लड़की
Feminine Plural अच्छी लड़कियां

Unmarked Adjectives

Unmarked adjectives end with a consonant or a vowel other than in their masculine singular form. Unmarked adjectives do not inflect, and thus have only one form.

Gender Number Phrase Translation
Masculine Singular सुन्दर लड़का beautiful boy
Masculine Plural सुन्दर लड़के beautiful boys
Feminine Singular सुन्दर लड़की beautiful girl
Feminine Plural सुन्दर लड़कियां beautiful girls

Uses

Adjectives may be used attributively, predicatively, and substantially.

Attributive Adjectives

Attributive adjectives attribute a quality to a noun. For instance: अच्छा लड़का (“good boy”). The adjective अच्छा attributes an attribute (“good”) to a noun लड़का (“boy”). Attributive adjectives must agree with the noun they modify in gender, number, and case.

Predicate Adjectives

Predicate adjectives predicate (assert) something about a noun. They are used with a copula verb (“linking verb”), such as होना (“to be”), or लगना (literally “to be attached”, but idiomatically has the sense “to seem”). For instance: यह लड़का अच्छा है (“this boy is good”), or यह लड़का अच्छा लगता है (“this boy seems good”). होना is the most common copula. Other copulas are typically verbs which express sensation or perception.

Substantive Adjectives

Substantive adjectives substitute for nouns. Consider the phrase “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” Meek is an adjective, but is functioning as a noun. Substantive adjectives therefore have “substance” – they imply a noun. In this example, the implied noun could be “people”, for instance: “The meek (people) shall inherit the Earth.” This situation is possible in Hindi also, although it is rare. हमें गरीबों की मदद करनी चाहिए (“We should help the poor”). In this sentence, the adjective गरीब is used as a substantive adjective: “the poor (people)”.

Adjective Case

Every part of a nominal phrase must be in the oblique case if the nominal is in the oblique case. Thus, for example, if a noun in the oblique case is modified by an adjective, the adjective too must be in the oblique case. Adjectives must match the nouns they modify in gender, number, and case.

Inflection of Adjectives in the Oblique Case

In both the singular and plural numbers, the final of marked masculine adjectives is changed to . Oblique feminine adjectives inflect the same way as feminine adjectives in the direct case. Unmarked adjectives do not change in the oblique case.

Type Gender Number Direct Phrase Translation Oblique Phrase Translation
Marked Masculine Singular अच्छा लड़का Good boy अच्छे लड़के का of the good boy, the good boy’s …
Unmarked Masculine Singular सुन्दर लड़का Handsome boy सुन्दर लड़के का of the handsome boy, the handsome boy’s …
Marked Feminine Singular अच्छी लड़की Good boy अच्छी लड़की का of the good girl, the good girl’s …
Unmarked Feminine Singular सुन्दर लड़की Beautiful girl सुन्दर लड़की का of the beautiful girl, the beautiful girl’s …
Marked Masculine Plural अच्छे लड़के Good boys अच्छे लड़कों का of the good boys, the good boys’ …
Unmarked Masculine Plural सुन्दर लड़के Handsome boys सुन्दर लड़कों का of the handsome boys, the handsome boys’ …
Marked Feminine Plural अच्छी लड़कियां Good girls अच्छी लड़कियों का of the good girls, the good girls’ …
Unmarked Feminine Plural सुन्दर लड़कियां Beautiful girls सुन्दर लड़कियों का of the beautiful girls, the beautiful girls’ …

Syntax

It is important to observe several aspects of the syntax of HIndi adjectives.

Word Order

Adjectives generally precede the noun that they modify, just as in English.

More Than One Adjective with a Single Noun

Multiple adjectives may modify a single noun: सुन्दर नीली साडी (“beautiful blue sari”).

Adjectives With More Than One Noun

Impersonal Nouns

When an adjective modifies two or more impersonal objects, it agrees with the closest noun: ये अच्छी साड़ियाँ और जूते लीजिये (“please take these nice saris and shoes”). Note that the adjective is feminine because the closest noun is feminine. Likewise, for predicate adjectives: ये साड़ियाँ और जूते अच्छे हैं (“these saris and shoes are nice”). Note that in this sentence, the adjective is masculine, although it is describing the same two objects as the previous sentence, because it is closer to the latter, masculine adjective.

Personal Nouns

However, when an adjective modifies two or more personal nouns, it is always masculine and plural: ये लड़के और लडकियाँ अच्छे हैं

Lexical Form of Adjectives

The lexical form of adjectives (“dictionary form”) is masculine gender, singular number, and direct case.

Invariant Adjectives Ending in

A few adjectives end in in their masculine singular form, yet do not ever change their form, such as ज्यादा (“more/too much”).

Adjective Suffixes

Some adjectives are formed by suffixing the vowel to a noun: हिंदुस्तान (“India”) can become हिन्दुस्तानी (“Indian”). This is most common with nouns referring to places.

The following 6 articles are posted under this category:

Comparative Adjectives
Superlative Adjectives
Interrogative Adjectives
Indefinite Adjectives
Reflexive Adjective
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