April 20, 2012

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns demonstrate particular entities (i.e. “that is my brother”). The demonstrative pronouns in English are “this, these, that, those”.

Hindi lacks a distinct class of third person personal pronouns (English “he”, “she”, “they”). Instead, Hindi uses demonstrative pronouns for this purpose. This is the most common use of demonstrative pronouns in Hindi. This is similar to one English usage of demonstrative pronouns: “that is my brother”, “this is my mother”, “those are my children”.

Examples in English

“This is the book I was telling you about.”

“I want those, please.”

“That is what I am trying to do.”

Versus Demonstrative Adjectives

The demonstrative adjectives in English have the same form as the demonstrative pronouns: “this, these, that, those”. They are simply used differently. Demonstrative adjectives are used adjectivally, as in “This book is a good book” or “That girl is my friend.”

Attributes of Hindi Demonstrative Pronouns

Hindi demonstrative pronouns have case, gender, number, and proximity. They do not indicate any gender.

Proximity

Hindi demonstrative pronouns indicate proximity. Proximal pronouns indicate something which is somehow nearby or present. Distal demonstrative pronouns indicate something which is somehow distant or absent. For instance, in English, “this person” (“the person right here”) or “that person” (“the person over there”) may indicate different proximity.

Form

Hindi demonstrative pronouns appear in the direct case and in the oblique case.

Direct Case

Number Proximal Distal
Singular यह वह
Plural ये वे

Pronunciation Note

Note that Hindi speakers will normally pronounce यह as ये and वह as वो. When writing transliterated Hindi, most people will write “ye” and “wo”. When writing in Devanagari, most people will write यह and वह although they will pronounce it differently.

Oblique Case

Number Proximal Distal
Singular इस उस
Plural इन उन

Personal Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used as third person personal pronouns in Hindi, since Hindi lacks any distinct third person personal pronouns.

यह मेरा दोस्त है – this/he/she is my friend

Examples of Hindi Demonstrative Pronouns

Consider the following examples of Hindi demonstrative pronouns:

वह मेरी बहिन हैShe/That is my sister

Note that the distal demonstrative pronoun indicates that the sister is somehow distant.

यह मेरी बहिन हैShe/This is my sister

Contrast this sentence with the previous sentence. They are essentially the same, except the latter sentence indicates that the sister is somehow present or nearby.

यह वह किताब है जिस के बारे में मैंने आपको बताया थाThis is the book that I had told you about.

This example has both a demonstrative pronoun and a demonstrative adjective. The demonstrative pronoun is यह (“this”); the demonstrative adjective is वह (“the/that”). Note that although Hindi lacks any definite article (“the” in English), demonstrative adjective are often used like the definite article.