April 20, 2012

Conditional Sentences

Introduction

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:

if [condition] (then) consequence

The “then” is optional in English.

For instance:

If it rains today, then we won’t be able to play outside.

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.

Examples

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 .

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”

  • PARDEEP

    what is the difference between past tense and past perfect tense used with if. i mean , when we use had in sentense to hindi kya banegi

    • Good question. I think you are asking about sentences like “If I had arrived just one minute earlier, then I wouldn’t have missed my train”. Some people call these “contrafactual sentences”. There is some information in this article. You can also read these pages:

      http://hindilanguage.info/notes/volume-3/contrafactual-sentences/

      http://hindilanguage.info/exercises/contrafactual-sentences/

      http://hindilanguage.info/hindi-grammar/verbs/mood/subjunctive-mood/

      Basically, when we want to make these kinds of sentences, we just use a special verb form that ends in -ता/ते/ती.

      Here are a few ways to translate the example sentence above:

      अगर मैं सिर्फ एक मिनट पहले पहुंचता, तो मेरी ट्रेन नहीं छूटती
      अगर मैं सिर्फ एक मिनट पहले पहुंच गया होता, तो मेरी ट्रेन नहीं छूट गयी होती

      Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Hi, are you asking how to translate these idioms into Hindi? “Might have / may have” = ho sakta hai ki …, “could have” = “… kar sakta tha”.

  • If you have any specific questions, let me know.

  • Ikram hashim

    1] अगर मैं सिर्फ एक मिनट पहले पहुंचता, तो मेरी ट्रेन नहीं छूटती
    2] अगर मैं सिर्फ एक मिनट पहले पहुंच गया होता, तो मेरी ट्रेन नहीं छूट गयी होती

    1] If I arrived just one minute earlier, I wouldn’t miss my train.
    2] If I had arrived just one minute earlier,I wouldn’t have missed my train.

    • The translation in English of both sentences is the same: “If I had arrived just one minute earlier, I wouldn’t have missed my train”. In Hindi there are two options: non-aspectual (e.g. पहुंचता) and aspectual (e.g. पहुंच गया होता). They mean exactly the same thing in this context. The difference is that the latter emphasizes the kind of action (perfect, complete) whereas the former doesn’t. The form पहुंचता is much more common, probably because it is shorter. The English translation in (1) implies a habitual action (e.g. “If I exercised more I’d feel better”); it is more like “पहुंचता होता” in Hindi. See http://hindilanguage.info/hindi-grammar/verbs/mood/subjunctive-mood/ for more information. Also, your question seems like a question about English, not Hindi. You’re welcome to ask questions, but please limit them to questions about Hindi.

  • Ikram hashim

    In second conditional sentences, how will i know that i have to translate it in imaginery present or in unlikely future?

    for example ; if i knew the answer,i would tell you.
    reasoning in present imaginery says i don’t know the answer so i can’t tell you. here i am sure about the things.

    and in unlikely future ; i don’t know whether i will know the answer or not .

    did u get my question sir?

    • The good news is that Hindi contrafactual verbs are much simpler than English. In Hindi, subjunctive verbs don’t express tense (time). You must infer the tense from the context. For instance: “agar mujhe pata hota to main tumhein batata” could be translated as “if I knew, I’d tell you” or “if I had known, I would have told you”. If someone asks “mujhe kyon nahin bataya” and someone replies “agar mujhe pata hota to main tumhein batata”, you know that past tense is intended since the question was in the past tense. If someone asks “mujhe batao na” and someone replies “agar mujhe pata hota to main tumhein batata”, then you know that the person is saying “If I knew, I’d tell you”.

    • ikram hashim

      if i knew the answer,i would tell you.

      in imaginery present , agar may uttar jaanta to tumhey batadeta/batata.
      in unlikey future , agar may uttar jaan gaya to tumhey bata dunga .

      • Why do you call it “imaginary present”? It isn’t necessarily present tense. “agar main uttar janta to tumhein bata deta” could mean either “If I had known the answer, I would have told you” or “If I knew the answer, I would tell you”. Again, why do you call it “unlikely future”? The sentence “agar main uttar jaan gaya to main tumhein bata dunga” simply means “if I find out the answer, I’ll tell you”. This doesn’t imply improbability.