Conditional sentences are “if … then” sentences. They contain conditions (the “if” clause), and consequences (the “then” clause).
Conditional Sentences in English
A conditional sentence in English generally has the following form:
The “then” is optional in English.
In the previous example, the condition is “it rains today” and the consequence is “we cannot play outside”.
Conditional Sentences in Hindi
Conditional sentences in Hindi have a structure which is similar to the structure of conditional sentences in English. In Hindi, the subordinating conjunctions अगर and यदि are usually used to introduce the conditional clause. Therefore, they correspond to the word “if” in English. The word तो is used to introduce the consequence, and therefore corresponds to “then” in English.
The general structure of Hindi conditional sentences is therefore:
(अगर/यदि) [condition] तो [consequence]
अगर is the most common word used to introduce conditional clauses.
In Hindi, the words अगर and यदि are optional, but तो is always required. The presence of तो between two clauses is enough to signal a conditional sentence. This is more common in spoken Hindi, however. Note that the opposite situation is so in English: “if” is always required, but “then” is optional.
In colloquial Hindi, the relative pronoun जो may be used instead of अगर or यदि
In English, the conditional clause and consequential clause may be transposed, as in “We won’t be able to play outside if it rains today”. However, in Hindi, the conditional clause always precedes the consequential clause.
अगर आज बारिश हो/होगी तो हम बाहर नहीं खेल पाएँगे – “If it rains today, then we will not be able to play outside”
आपको हिन्दुस्तानी खाना अच्छा लगता है तो आपको मेरे घर आना चाहिए खाना खाने के लिए – “If you like Indian food then you should come to my house to eat”
Hindi conditional sentences can be broadly divided into two categories: those which employ present and future tense verbs, and those which employ past tense verbs.
Conditional Sentences for the Present and Future
Conditional sentences which contain present or future tense verbs are used for conditions that can be fulfilled in the present or future. The conditional clause and the consequential clause may employ verbs of different tenses and different moods.
Such sentences may be further classified according to the degree of probability or certainty expressed by the speaker.
Conditional Sentences with the Indicative Mood
The indicative mood implies a relative degree of certainty that the condition will be fulfilled.
Conditional Sentences with the Subjunctive Mood
The subjunctive mood implies that the condition is an uncertain situation, such as a wish, possibility, supposition, hypothesis, etc.
All conditional sentences are inherently “uncertain” in the sense that the consequences are contingent upon the fulfillment of the conditions. However, the indicative mood connotes a relatively higher degree of certainty, whereas the subjunctive mood connotes a relatively lower degree of certainty. Often the difference will be clear. However, sometimes the difference can be subtle.
These two moods can be used in conditions and consequences, and indicate relative degrees of certainty regarding the fulfillment of the condition or consequence respectively.
Examples of Conditions with the Subjunctive Mood
Conditions with subjunctive verbs imply uncertainty regarding the fulfillment of the condition.
Subjunctive Condition, Future Indicative Consequence
अगर मैं भारत जाऊँ तो मैं अपनी बहिन से मिलूँगा – “If I go to India, then I will meet my sister”
The subjunctive verb in the condition indicates that the speaker is uncertain whether he will go to India or not.
The indicative mood in the consequence indicates that the speaker will certainly meet his sister if he in fact does go.
Subjunctive Condition, Present Subjunctive Consequence
अगर हमको पैसा मिले तो हम गाड़ी खरीद लें – “If we get the money, then perhaps we will buy the car”
The subjunctive mood in the condition implies that the speakers doubt whether they will get the money or not.
The subjunctive mood in the consequence implies that the speakers doubt whether they will buy the car or not, even if they do get the money.
Subjunctive Condition, Present Indicative Consequence
अगर तुम चाहो तो हम अब मूवी देख सकते हैं – “If you’d like, then we can watch a movie now”
The subjunctive mood in the condition indicates that the speaker is unsure whether the listener wants to watch a movie.
The indicative mood indicates that they can certainly watch the movie if the listener indeed wishes so.
Examples of Conditions with the Indicative Mood
If the condition uses the indicative mood, then the consequence must also use the indicative mood, unlike conditional sentences with conditions in the subjunctive mood. Such sentences therefore indicate certain fulfillment of both the condition and consequence.
Present Tense Condition, Present Tense Consequence
अगर आपको हिंदी आती है तो आप यह अख़बार पढ़ सकते हैं – “If you understand Hindi, then you can read this newspaper”
Present Tense Condition, Future Tense Consequence
अगर आप रोज़ दौड़ते हैं तो आप उस दौड़ में बहुत आसानी से दौड़ सकेंगे – “If you run daily then you will be able to run in that race very easily”
Future Condition, Future Consequence
अगर आप भारत आयेंगे तो मैं आपको घुमाऊँगी/दिखाऊंगी – “If you come to India, I’ll show you around”
Simple Past Condition, Future Consequence
When the verb in the condition is in the simple past tense and the verb in the consequence is in the future tense, the conditional sentence emphasizes the necessity of the completion of the condition prior to the fulfillment of the consequence.
अगर तुमने ठीक से हिंदी भाषा पढ़ी तो तुम इसको सीख जाओगे – “If you study the Hindi language properly then you will learn it”
Conditional Sentences for the Past / Contrafactual Sentences
Past conditional sentences are also called “contrafactual” sentences because they indicate conditions which are false and thus consequences which are also false. They often indicate potential situations which in fact did not occur.
Such sentences employ the past subjunctive form of verbs.
अगर मैं अमीर होता तो मैं क्यों काम करता – “If I were rich then why would I work?”
अगर मैं जा सकता तो मैं जाता – “If I could have gone, I would have gone”
The negative particle used with contrafactual sentences is न.
Such constructions can be used with subjunctive verbs in other tenses and aspects also:
अगर मैं बाहर न काम कर रहा होता तो मुझे इतना पसीना नहीं आ रहा होता – “If I hadn’t been working outside then I wouldn’t be sweating so much”
अगर तुम हिंदी सीखते होते तो तुम हिंदी जानते – “If you had studied Hindi (regularly), then you would know Hindi”
अगर मुझे जाना होता तो मैं अब तक चला गया होता – “If I had to go, then I would have gone by now”