Relative pronouns are used to relate two clauses which share a common word.
For instance, consider the two following English sentences:
“The man is standing there”; “The man is my brother”.
These sentences can be combined by using a relative pronoun:
“The man who is standing there is my brother.”
The relative pronoun “who” related the common factor of both sentences: “the man”. The pronoun “who” has the antecedent “man” (it refers to “man”). The entire relative clause “who is standing there” is like an adjective in this case.
Some Differences Versus English
Hindi relative pronouns are similar to English pronouns, but there are some notable differences.
English has a so-called “null” relative pronoun. Consider the following sentence: “You are the kindest person I know”. There is an implied relative pronoun which was omitted: “You are the kindest person (whom) I know”. This phenomenon is not present in Hindi. Hindi always requires a relative pronoun.
Relative and Interrogative Pronouns
In English, relative pronouns and interrogative pronouns have the same form, as “who” in “Who are you?” and “The person who is sitting there”. In Hindi, however, the forms are distinct. For instance, the corresponding phrases in Hindi would be आप कौन हैं and आदमी जो वहाँ पर बैठा हुआ है respectively.
Relative Correlative Constructions
Hindi generally prefers the so-called “relative correlative” construction, wherein a relative pronoun is used along with another corresponding pronoun. The pronouns are used in pairs which correlate two clauses.
In English, a slightly awkward example is: “The man who is standing there, he is my brother”. It is apparent that this construction is less common in English. In this example, the relative-correlative pair was “who … he”.
In Hindi, an equivalent example is: “जो आदमी वहां खड़ा है, वह मेरा भाई है” – “the man who is standing there is my brother”. The relative correlative pair जो … वह (“the one who … that one …”) was used.
The following chart summarizes some parallel words in Hindi:
Notice the assonance of the pronouns. Interrogative pronouns begin with क whereas relative pronouns begin with ज.
|जो (जिस/जिन) जो भी||वह/वे (उस/उन) वही (वह + ही)|
|जब, जब भी||तब/तो, तभी (तब + भी)|
|जहाँ, जहाँ भी||वहाँ, वहीं (वहाँ + ही)|
|जिधर, जिधर भी||उधर, उधर ही|
|जितना, जितना भी||उतना, उतना ही|
|जितने जितने भी||उतने उतने ही|
|जैसा, जैसा भी||वैसा, वैसा ही|
|जैसे, जैसे भी||वैसे, वैसे ही|
Some Examples of Hindi Relative Correlative Pairs
काश कि सीखना उतना ही आसान हो जितना भुलना – I wish that it were as easy to learn as it is to forget!
This example uses the relative-correlative pair जितना / उतना ही. This usage can be translated into English using the correlative pair “as … as”.
दूध में जितनी चीनी डालोगे वह उतना ही मीठा होगा – The milk will become as sweet as however much sugar you add
This example uses the relative-correlative pair जितना / उतना ही. This usage was again translated into English using the correlative adverbs “as … as”. Note that the first correlative जितनी is used as an adjective, and the second correlative उतना ही is used as an adverb.
मैंने जितना सिखा था, उतना ही मैं भूल गया – I have forgotten as much as I had learned
The relative clause can appear in several locations.
Before Main Clause
The general pattern for relative correlative pronouns is as follows:
relative word + relative clause + correlative word + main clause
जो किताब आपने मुझको दी, वह बहुत अच्छी है – “which book you gave to me, that is very good” – “the book that you gave me is very good”
Note that the relative pronoun precedes the word it refers to, whereas in English, a relative pronoun typically succeeds its referent.
Middle Of Main Clause
Other patterns are possible, however. For instance, as is common in English, the relative clause may come amid the main clause, without any explicit correlative word:
वह किताब जो आपने मुझको दी बहुत अच्छी है – “the book that you gave me is very good”
After Main Clause
Also, the order of the relative clause and correlative clause may be reversed, usually for emphasis, so that the correlative clause comes first, and the relative clause last:
वह किताब बहुत अच्छी है जो आपने मुझको दी – “that book is very good, that you gave to me” – “the book that you gave me is very good”
Notice that regardless of the word order, the common factor in the relative and correlative clauses comes first (किताब in the above examples).
The singular and plural oblique forms of जो are जिस and जिन respectively.
जिस लड़की ने मुझको किताब दी वह भारत से है – “the girl who gave me the book is from India”.
भी and ही
भी makes the preceding pronoun indefinite:
जो = who
जो भी = whoever
ही makes the preceding pronoun definite:
जो भी तुम चाहो, वही मैं करूँगा – “I will do whatever you wish” – “Whatever you wish, [that exact thing/very thing/same thing] I will do”.