April 20, 2012

ही

The particle ही has several usages in Hindi.

ही can express “only” or “just”:

मैं एक ही किताब पढ़ लूँगा – “I will read only one book”

मैंने यह किताब ही पढ़ ली – “I only read this book”

ही can amplify a word – like “very”:

यह साड़ी बहुत ही सुन्दर है – “This sari is very beautiful”

ही can come between a word and the postposition that follows it:

मैं आप ही का खाना खा रहा हूँ – “I’m only eating your food”

ही is a particle, not a postposition. Therefore, it does not require the word that precedes it to be in the oblique case.

ही can emphasize verbs as well:

वह तो होना ही है – “that at least must be so” – “that much is obvious”

प्यार तो होना ही है – “love has to happen”

Pronouns have special forms when combined with ही:

तुम + ही = तुम्हीं

यह + ही = यही

वह + ही = वही

इस + ही = इसी

उस + ही = उसी

इन + ही = इन्हीं

उन + ही = उन्हीं

Note that the plural pronouns are nasalized.

Some adverbs can be combined with ही too:

यहाँ + ही = यहीं – “right here”

वह + ही = वहीँ – “right there”

अब + ही = अभी – “right now”

तब + ही = तभी – “right then”

If ही is adjoined to the word, then it is emphatic. If it follows the adverb separately, then it has the sense of exclusivity (“only”):

अब ही – “only now” – अभी – “right now”

ही can emphasize a word in an emphatic way too:

यहीं है – “It is in this very place” – “it’s right here”

  • Matthew Chang

    Can you use ही and भी AFTER the verb?

    मैं बोलूँगा ही (I will only speak, not do something else)

    मैं खा ही रहा हूँ (I am only eating, not doing something else)

    वो सोच भी नहीं सकता

    मैंने खाया भी (I ate also, in addition to doing something else)

    मैं खाकर ही चली गयी (I went only after eating)

    • Yes, indeed! In fact, this is very common in Hindi. You gave some good examples.

  • John Knight

    Just a brief observation: In the list of adverbial combinations with (ही), [(वहॉं) is missing + ही=वहीं]. Once again, kudos to the author.

    Sincerely,

    J. Knight