April 20, 2012

Imperfective Participles

Imperfective participles denote actions which are in progress or incomplete. They can function adjectivally or adverbially. They are used in a variety of idioms in Hindi.

The Form of Imperfective Participles in Hindi

Imperfective participles are formed simply by suffixing ता, ते, or ती to a verb stem. These suffixes have endings which are similar to the endings of marked adjectives. ता is used for masculine singular, ते is used for masculine plural and masculine oblique, ती is used for feminine participles.

The following table summarizes the forms of participles for the verb हँसना “to laugh”.

Gender Number Imperfective Participle
Masculine Singular हँसता
Masculine Plural हँसते
Feminine Singular हंसती
Feminine Plural हंसती

The masculine oblique participle (singular and plural) ends in ते and the feminine oblique participle (singular and plural) ends in ती.

Imperfective participles are often reinforced by appending the perfective participle of होना (हुआ, हुए, हुई). The perfective participle matches the imperfective participle in gender, number, and case.

हँसते हुए लड़के – “The laughing boys” / “the boys who are laughing”

हंसती लड़की – “The laughing girl” / “The girl who is laughing”

The inclusion of a form of the perfective participle of होना can help to disambiguate the verbal use of an imperfective participle (as in हँसता हुआ लड़का – “the laughing boy”) and the adjectival use of an imperfective participle (as in लड़का हँसता है – “the boy laughs”).

Usage of Imperfective Participles in Hindi

The usage of imperfective participles in Hindi can be divided into two main categories: adjectival usages, and adverbial usages.

Adjectival Usage of Imperfective Participles

Imperfective participles in Hindi may be used like regular adjectives to modify some nominal word in a sentence. Just like regular adjectives, adjectival imperfective participles concord with the word they qualify in gender, number, and case. The noun modified by an imperfective participle is involved in the action indicated by the participle.

Imperfective participles in Hindi can often be literally translated into English as English participles (typically words ending in -ing, such as “the running boy”). However, it is often more idiomatic to render Hindi imperfective participles as phrases in English, such as a relative clause: “the boy who is running”.

भागता हुआ लड़का – “the boy who is running”

खेलते हुए लड़के – “the boys who are playing”

हंसती हुई लडकियाँ – “the girls who are laughing”

Imperfective participles in Hindi are generally never used predicatively, as in लड़की बोलती हुई है. Instead, a continuous verb is more appropriate: लड़की बोल रही है.

Adverbial Usage of imperfective Participles

Imperfective participles in Hindi may also be used adverbially. Imperfective participles are not finite verbs, and therefore have no tense. Instead, they indicate relative time – time relative to the main verb. Imperfective participles indicate action contemporaneous to the action of the main verb.

Adverbial imperfective participles generally assume the masculine singular oblique form invariably (just like other words that are used adverbially). In some circumstances, however, adverbial imperfective participles may agree with another word in the same clause.

Imperfective participles may modify either the subject or object of the main verb. They indicate that the subject or object is performing the action of the participle.

Imperfective participles can be used to indicate the manner of the verb also.

लड़की ने हँसते हुए यह बोला – “The girl said this while she was laughing”

रोते हुए, लड़की ने अपनी माता से बात की – “As she was crying, the girl talked with her mother”

मैंने लड़की को गाते हुए सुना – “I heard the girl while she was singing”

When the main verb and the participle have different subjects, the possessive postposition का may be used to explicitly designate which subject corresponds to the participle. The participle “possesses” the subject:

पत्र के आते ही मैंने इसको पढ़ डाला – “As soon as the letter came, I read it anxiously”

Idioms involving Imperfective Participles

Imperfective participles are used in various idioms in Hindi.

Reduplicated Imperfective Participles

Reduplicated imperfective participles emphasize the extension or repetition of an action over time. Such participles are used adverbially, and without any perfective participial form of होना.

दिन भर खेलते खेलते लड़के बहुत थक गए – “Playing all day long, the boys became very tired”

Reduplication may also indicate parallel, contemporaneous action:

कपडे धोते धोते औरत ने गाना गा रहा – “The woman continued singing as she washed the clothes”

Again, reduplication may also stress that the action of the main verb occurred immediately subsequent to the completion of the subsidiary action of the participle:

घर पहुँचते पहुँचते वह ऊपर भागने लगी – “As soon as the reached home, she began rushing upstairs”

Imperfective Participles + समय / वक्त

An imperfective participle (in invariable masculine singular oblique form) followed by समय / वक्त (“time”) means “at the time of doing”:

घर जाते समय फ़ोन करना – “Call (phone) as you’re going home”

Imperfective Participles + ही

The emphatic particle ही may be used with an imperfective participle to stress immediacy (“as soon as”, etc.):

घर पहुँचते ही मैं खाना खाया – “As soon as I reach home I ate some food”

Evasive Use of Imperfective Participles

Imperfective participles used with the verb बचना (“to escape/avoid”) may indicate that an action was barely evaded.

अँधेरे में चलकर वह गिरते गिरते बची – “Walking in the darkness, she nearly fell”

Elapsed Time

Imperfective participles may indicate elapsed time, the time since some current situation began:

भारत में रहते हुए हमें दस महीने हुए हैं – “We have been living in India for ten months”

मुझे हिंदी सीखते हुए दो साल हुए हैं – “I have been studying Hindi for two years”

Substantival Use of Imperfective Participles

Imperfective participles can be used substantivally. That is, they can be treated as a substance, as a thing, like a noun.

गिरतों को उठाएंगे – “We will uplift the fallen”

  • Priya

    Typo on “हँसते हुए लड़के – “The laughing boys” / “the boy who are laughing”” – guessing this should be ‘boys’? Great site anyway!

    • Hey, Priya – Thanks for pointing out the typo! I’m glad that you like the site.