Adjectives, like nouns, also can be classified according to two main categories: marked and unmarked.
Marked adjectives end in आ in their masculine singular form, ए in their masculine plural form, and इ 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.
Marked adjectives agree with the nouns the modify in both gender and number.
Unmarked adjectives end with a consonant or a vowel other than आ in their masculine singular form. Unmarked adjectives do not inflect, and thus have only one form.
|Masculine||Singular||सुन्दर लड़का||beautiful boy|
|Masculine||Plural||सुन्दर लड़के||beautiful boys|
|Feminine||Singular||सुन्दर लड़की||beautiful girl|
|Feminine||Plural||सुन्दर लड़कियां||beautiful girls|
Adjectives may be used attributively, predicatively, and substantially.
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 (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 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)”.
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 आ of marked masculine adjectives is changed to ए. 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’ …|
It is important to observe several aspects of the syntax of HIndi adjectives.
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
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.
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 आ
A few adjectives end in आ in their masculine singular form, yet do not ever change their form, such as ज्यादा (“more/too much”).
Some adjectives are formed by suffixing the vowel ई to a noun: हिंदुस्तान (“India”) can become हिन्दुस्तानी (“Indian”). This is most common with nouns referring to places.
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