April 19, 2012


Hindi nouns have two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. There is no neuter gender in Hindi.

Grammatical genders are simply classes of nouns which follow certain patterns of inflection. They are not necessarily related to natural gender (male or female sex), although they often do coincide. It is important to know a word’s gender in order to decline the noun and to modify other words which are grammatically related to the noun within a sentence.

Masculine Nouns

Masculine nouns have two patterns of inflection: Type-I masculine nouns (“marked”), and Type-II masculine nouns (“unmarked”).

Masculine Type-I Nouns (Marked)

Type-I, or marked masculine nouns end with the vowel in the singular and in the plural:

Examples of Marked Masculine Nouns
Noun Meaning Plural Meaning
कमरा “Room” कमरे “Rooms”
वादा “Promise” वादे “Promises”
लड़का “Boy” लड़के “Boys”
बेटा “Son” बेटे “Sons”

Most nouns which end in are masculine nouns, yet some may be feminine nouns. For instance, the word भाषा (“language”) is a feminine noun, yet ends in .

Type-II Masculine Nouns (Unmarked)

Type-II, or unmarked masculine nouns are masculine nouns which have the same singular and plural form. Their number is determined by context. Type-II masculine nouns include all masculine nouns which do not end in .

Examples of Unmarked Masculine Nouns
Noun Meaning Plural Meaning
घर “Home” घर “Homes”
आदमी “Man” आदमी “Men”
शहर “City” शहर “Cities”
मकान “House” मकान “Houses”

A few masculine nouns which do end in are Type-II nouns, but these are mostly relationship terms:

Examples of Unmarked Masculine Nouns
Noun Meaning Plural Meaning
पिता “Father” पिता “Fathers”
चाचा “(Paternal) uncle” चाचा “(Paternal) uncles”
दादा “(Paternal) grandfather” दादा “(Paternal) grandfathers”
मामा “(Maternal) uncle” मामा “(Maternal) uncles”
राजा “King” राजा “Kings”

Feminine Nouns

Likewise, feminine nouns are also of two types which correspond to the two type of masculine nouns.

Type-I Feminine Nouns (Marked)

Type-I, or marked feminine nouns are feminine nouns which typically end in in the singular number and इयाँ in the plural number:

Examples of Unmarked Masculine Nouns
Noun Meaning Plural Meaning
मिठाई “Sweet” (as in a candy) मिठाइयाँ “Sweets”
लड़की “Girl” लड़कियां “Girls”
साड़ी “Sari (Indian dress)” साड़ियाँ “Saris”

Note the spellings: the plural form ends in इयाँ.

Type-I feminine nouns may also end in इया, although is the most common ending:

Examples of Unmarked Masculine Nouns
Noun Meaning Plural Meaning
चिड़िया “Bird” चिड़ियाँ “Birds”
प्रति “Copy (of a book)” प्रतियाँ “Copies”
बुढ़िया “Old Woman” बुढ़ियाँ “Old Women”

Not all nouns which end in are feminine; for instance, आदमी (“man”) and पानी (“water”) both end in , yet are masculine.

Type-II Feminine Nouns (Unmarked)

Type-II, or unmarked feminine nouns are feminine nouns which form their plural by suffixing एँ.

Examples of Unmarked Masculine Nouns
Noun Meaning Plural Meaning
माता “Mother” माताएँ “Mothers”
भाषा “Language” भाषाएँ “Languages”
आशा “Hope” आशाएं “Hopes”
औरत “Woman” औरतें “Women”
किताब “Book” किताबें “Books”
मेज़ “Table” मेजें “Tables”

Nouns in Both Genders

Some nouns can be used for either males or females. Thus, the grammatical gender of these words is dependent upon the context.

Common Exceptions

The –ता suffix generally abstracts a word, e.g., converts an adjective to a noun, or a concrete noun to an abstract noun, etc. Usually, words ending in –ता are feminine, such as सफलता, सहायता, क्षमता, सदस्यता, राष्ट्रीयता, योग्यता, सुन्दरता, आवश्यकता, मित्रता, एकता.

English Words and Hindi Gender

English words are very commonly used in colloquial Hindi. Although English words do not have any associated grammatical gender, Hindi speakers do assign a grammatical gender to English words in order for the words to function grammatically within Hindi sentences. This association is somewhat arbitrary, but often words that sound like marked Hindi feminine nouns (i.e. words that have a final “i” vowel) are treated as feminine nouns.

For instance, the English word “movie” is considered feminine: ;अच्छी movie – “good movie”.

  • Matthew Chang

    Hi David,

    I looked up the word छात्र in the Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary, which states that the noun is considered masculine. As a general rule, can “occupations and nouns that state what people are” (for lack of a more proper grammatical term – I think antecedent, but not sure) change according to the gender of the subject? For instance, I looked up the word अजनबी in the dictionary, which says it is masculine. However, will we say लड़की बहरी अजनबी है (The girl is a deaf stranger) just as we will say लड़का बहरा अजनबी है (The boy is a deaf stranger)? Or, is अजनबी masculine in all cases, meaning will we say लड़की बहरा अजनबी है and लड़का बहरा अजनबी है, using बहरा to agree with masculine अजनबी in both cases regardless of the subject’s gender? I also know that in some cases, this is not a problem because different words are used for males/females, such as अभिनेता/ अभिनेत्री (actor/actress) so we will say मेरा अभिनेता and मेरी अभिनेत्री but what will happen in such cases as अजनबी?

    • Great question. I corrected an error on this page. छात्र is masculine (“schoolboy”), छात्रा is feminine (“schoolgirl”). You’re right that many words exist in distinct pairs like this. To refer generically to a student without reference to gender, the word छात्र can be used, since masculine is the default gender. You are correct; for personal nouns such as अजनबी, the gender depends on the referent. If the noun refers to a woman, it is feminine, if the noun refers to a man, it is masculine, etc. It isn’t clear to me if अजनबी is really a proper noun or if it is a substantive adjective (i.e. the adjective अजनबी means “strange”; just as we say “the poor” or “the rich” in English, Hindi uses adjectives as nouns occasionally). Regardless, the gender depends on the referent. If we talk generically about a stranger, without reference to gender, we use the masculine gender.

  • ps

    सधवा लिग बदलो

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  • adeeba zaidi

    i want to know how many types of clause in hindi language ,,please give details

    • Hi, Adeeba – there are many kinds of clauses, such as subordinate clauses, relative clauses, etc. You can read the article http://hindilanguage.info/hindi-grammar/verbs/mood/subjunctive-mood/ to learn about subjunctive clauses, for instance. However, what, specifically, would you like to know? Maybe you can give me an example or explain a bit more, and I can help you.

      • adeeba zaidi

        thank you for reply.i want to know about noun clause with hindi example and how noun clause can be identified?

        • Okay. Usually a “clause” is a group of words that has a subject and verb, and a “noun clause” is a clause that acts like a noun in the sentence. For instance, in the English sentence “what he did was wrong”, the clause “what he did” acts like a noun. In Hindi, this would be “उसने जो किया गलत किया” (although the literal translation is “उसने जो किया वह गलत था”). So, whenever you see “relative pronouns” like जो, जिस, जिन, etc. there might be a noun clause (also called a “relative clause”). Another source of such clauses are subordinate clauses and expletives; see the article about the subjunctive mood for many examples. However, it isn’t important to identify clauses. If you see lots of examples, you’ll learn all of these concepts intuitively.

          • adeeba zaidi

            thank u so much ….here in this example ‘”उसने जो किया गलत किया” first question is that this sentence has contain main clause or not?…if it has then where i have to mark that this is main clause and this is noun subordinate clause.

          • The main clause is “(वह) गलत किया”. The relative clause is उसने जो किया.

          • adeeba zaidi

            i am very confused about noun clause is it comes always with relative clause?

          • No, not necessarily, although that is the most common type of noun clause. I gave you another example above: subjunctive clauses. However, it isn’t important how we classify them; we just need to know how to use them.

          • adeeba zaidi

            noun clause is always comes with relative marker ?

  • Stephen

    When do you use उसकी (uski) or अपनी (apni)
    I understand that these are possessive pronouns, but what is the rule for using them?
    I believe it depends on the gender of the object being possessed.
    So for example, for book, apni is used because book is feminine
    but for dress, uski is used.

    Does this mean dress is masculine? That just seems strange!

    • Hi, Stephen! Good question. Both उसकी and अपनी are feminine. You are right: they depend on the gender of the word they modify, the object being possessed. Thus, we’d say “उसकी किताब” and “अपनी कुर्सी”, etc., but we’d say “उसका काम” and “अपना खाना”, etc. अपनी is a so-called “reflexive” possessive adjective. We don’t have them in English, per se; we do have reflexive pronouns though, e.g. himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, etc. In English, we use these, for instance, when the pronoun refers to the (logical) subject of the sentence, e.g. “I did it by myself”, “(You) Help yourself”, “Let me introduce myself”, etc. However, we can use “own” to form reflexive adjectives in English: “I ate my own food”, “She did in her own way”, etc. In English, this can be ambiguous: if I say “He ate his food”, does “his food” mean “his own food”, or “someone else’s food”. However, it is always explicit in Hindi. So, in Hindi, “वह अपना काम करेगा” means “He/She will do his/her (own) work”, whereas “वह उसका काम करेगा” means “He/She will do his/her (someone else’s) work”. Thus, अपना only acquires a meaning in context, relative to the subject. Does this make sense? Read these articles for more information: http://hindilanguage.info/hindi-grammar/adjectives/reflexive-adjective/ and http://hindilanguage.info/hindi-grammar/pronouns/reflexive-pronouns/

      • Stephen

        Thank you. That was very helpful.

  • naina

    is आशा है कि तुम सकुशलपूवॆक होगे right?

    • Grammatically it is correct, but “सकुशलपूवॆक” is not a word. What do you want to say?

  • Akhil Rawat

    Which one is correct?
    Is baat ka sense banta hai. इस बात का सेंस बनता है।
    Is baat ki sense banti hai. इस बात की सेंस बनती है।
    Is sense masculine or feminine?

    • In my experience, most speakers use the masculine gender, so “iska sense”.

  • Anindita Dhar

    So, there is a sentence, उसने मेरी घड़ी तोड़ दी. We don’t know if it is referring to a he or she, so what gender should I write?

    • Good question. Only context can determine how to translate such a sentence. Hindi does not explicitly designate gender in pronouns.