English has a class of words called “prepositions”. Prepositions are words that precede a phrase and indicate a relationship between the phrase and another word in the sentence.
The book is on the table.
In this example, the preposition “on” indicates a spatial relationship between the book and the table.
She gave the book to me.
In this example, the preposition “to” indicates the indirect object of the verb.
She was talking about the book.
In this example, the preposition “about” indicates the subject of the discussion.
According to her, the book is good.
In this example, the preposition “according to” indicates the basis of the assertion that the book is good. Note that prepositions need not be single words. Such “compound prepositions” are very common in English.
Whereas English has prepositions, Hindi has a similar class of words known as “postpositions”. As the name implies, postpositions succeed the word they modify. In other respects, however, they are very similar to prepositions in English.
The Oblique Case
The primary usage of the oblique case in Hindi is to indicate the object of a postposition. All objects of postpositions must be in the oblique case.
Refer to the article about case for more information about the oblique case.
“Simple postpositions” consist of a single word.
में – “in”
मेरी बहिन दिल्ली में रहती है – “My sister lives in Delhi”
पर – “on”
मैंने मेज़ पर खाना रख दिया – “I put the food on the table”
का – “of” – को – “to”
मैं अपने भाई के घर जाने वाला हूँ – “I’m going to go to my brother’s house”
Note that the postposition का is unique. It inflects according to the gender, number, and case of the word it modifies. It was masculine singular oblique in this example, since घर is masculine singular and oblique. घर was oblique since it is functioning adverbially in this context – it specifies where the person is going. Adverbial phrases are often in the oblique case.
Hindi has many compound postpositions as well. Compound postpositions consist of two or more words. Most compound postpositions begin with the postposition के, की, or से.
के लिये – “for”
उपहार के लिये बहुत धन्यवाद – “Thanks a lot for the gift”
के बारे में – “about”
उसने मुझे भारत के बारे में बताया – “She told me about India”
की वजह से – “Because of”
हम मौसम की वजह से बाहर नहीं जा पाए – “We couldn’t go outside because of the weather”
से दूर – “far from”
हमारे घर से दूर है – “It’s far away from our house”
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