April 20, 2012

Verbs

This section is just a very broad overview of some of the grammatical concepts related to Hindi verbs that are discussed in detail elsewhere on the site. Please refer to individual articles for more detail.

Verbs are words which convey an action or a state.

Verbs have several basic attributes:

  • Tense
  • Voice
  • Mood
  • Aspect
  • Person
  • Number
  • Gender
  • Transitivity
  • Modality

Below is a concise summary of these characteristics, followed by tables that demonstrate the general forms of verbs.

Person

“Person” refers to the relative relationship between the speaker and the listener (or writer and reader). There are three grammatical persons in Hindi: the first person, second person, and third person.

Number

Number refers to the plurality of the subject of a verb – i.e., whether it is singular or plural.

Gender

Hindi verbs have gender. English verbs, of course, have no gender. The gender of the verb is determined by the subject of the verb, or in the case of most transitive perfect verbs, the gender is determined by the object of the verb (see the sections on transitivity and ergativity below).

Verbs have two grammatical genders: masculine, and feminine.

Tense

“Tense” refers to the relative time of the action.

There are three basic tenses in Hindi:

  • Present
  • Past
  • Future

Voice

Voice refers to the relationship between the subject of a verb and the action of the verb.

There are two voices in Hindi:

  • Active
  • Passive

The Active Voice

If the verb employs the active voice, then the subject performs the action of the verb. For instance, in English, in the sentence “Jack threw the ball”, the verb “threw” is in the active voice. “Jack” is the subject of the verb, and the subject performed the action upon the object, “ball”.

The Passive Voice

If the verb employs the passive voice, then the subject receives the action of the verb. For instance, in English, in the sentence “The ball was thrown by Jack”, the verb “was thrown” is in the passive voice. Ball is the subject of the verb “was thrown”, yet receives the action of the verb. The agent of the verb (who or what performed the action) is marked by the preposition “by” (the “agentive preposition”).

Transitivity

A transitive verb is a verb which may take an object. In the sentence “Jack threw the ball”, “ball” is the object of the verb.

A sentence with an active, transitive verb can be transformed into an equivalent sentence with a passive verb, as in the previous example. Note that the object in the active sentence becomes the subject in the passive sentence, and the subject in the active sentence is marked with the agentive preposition, “by”.

Since only transitive verbs have objects, and the object of an active verb becomes the subject of a passive verb, in English only transitive verbs can have passive forms. However, in Hindi, intransitive verbs may also be grammatically passive. In Hindi, passive verbs may be used to express inability, or simply to express passivity.

Ergativity

Hindi is a so-called “partially ergative language”. In other words, in some situations, a verb must agree with its object, and not with its subject. This is very different than English, in which the subject always controls the verb. Hindi is only partially ergative, since the verb agrees with the object only in a particular situation: when the verb is both transitive and perfect/perfective. Some verbs, however, are exceptions to this general rule.

For example, consider the following sentence:

लड़के ने किताब पढ़ी (“The boy read the book”).

The verb पढ़ी is transitive and perfective, and therefore must concord with its object, किताब (“book”). Thus, since किताब is feminine, the verb is feminine, although the agent (“boy”) is male. The agent (who or what performs the action) is marked with the agentive postposition, ने.

Aspect

“Aspect” refers to the kind of action of the verb. There are three basic verb aspects in Hindi:

  • Habitual Aspect
  • Continuous Aspect
  • Perfect Aspect
  • Perfective Aspect

The Habitual Aspect

The habitual aspect refers to habitual or general actions or states.

The Continuous Aspect

The continuous aspect refers to continual, ongoing actions or states.

The Perfective Aspect

The perfective aspect refers to actions which are viewed as a simple whole.

Hindi has a past perfective verb form.

The Perfect Aspect

The “perfect” aspect is really a combination of aspect and tense which indicates a completed action which has relevance at some time.

Hindi has a present perfect and past perfect in addition to the past perfective.

Non-Aspectual Forms

Hindi has several verb forms which have no distinct aspect, such as the future tense verbs, imperative mood verbs, and some subjunctive mood forms.

Mood

The “mood” of a verb refers to a form of the verb which indicates modality. Modality qualifies the verb according to some category, such as necessity, possibility, obligation, ability, etc.

There are four basic grammatical moods in Hindi:

  • The Indicative Mood
  • The Imperative Mood
  • The Subjunctive Mood
  • The Presumptive Mood

The Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is used for general indications. For instance, in English, the statement “I ate some food” indicates a certain fact.

The Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is used to issue imperatives, such as commands and exhortations. For instance, the English sentence “Eat some food” issues a command, and the sentence “Let’s eat some food” issues an exhortation.

The Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is used for subordinate clauses and various modalities, such as wishes, polite exhortations, possibilities, uncertainties, conditional statements, etc.

The Presumptive Mood

The presumptive mood presumes some situation. For instance, the most common idiom in English used the word “must”: “He must have eaten some food”.

Modality

Other kinds of modality can be expressed in Hindi which do not employ grammatical moods. In English, a the verbal auxiliary “can” is used to express ability. This is an example of verbal modality, but it is not a grammatical mood. Likewise in Hindi, many kinds of modalities can be expressed apart from grammatical moods.

Summary of Verb Forms

The basic genius of Hindi verbs is the combination of components which indicate verbal characteristics such as tense, aspect, voice, and mood, etc. As such, the Hindi verbal system is quite elegant.

The most fundamental combination is aspect and tense/mood.

Usually, an aspectual component (usually a participle) is combined with a copula (form of the verb होना, “to be”) to create a combination of aspect and tense/mood. The aspectual component also indicates gender, and the copula indicates tense (and person, number, gender, and mood).

For instance, to form the “3rd person singular masculine present active continuous indicative” form of the verb जाना (“to go”), simply combine the aspectual component जा रहा with the copula है, as in वह जा रहा है (“he/she/it is going”). To form the “1st person plural present active habitual subjunctive” form of the verb रहना (“to remain/stay/abide/live(somewhere)”, simply combine the habitual aspectual रहता with the component हो (third person singular present subjunctive form of होना), as in शायद वह वहां रहता हो (“perhaps he lives there/used to live there”). Again, to form the “3rd person plural past active continuous indicative” form of the verb जाना, simply combine the aspectual जा रहे with the copula थे, as in वे लोग जा रहे थे (“those people were going”).

Each component encodes part of the verbal characteristics. Since रहती encodes the feminine gender, singular (or plural) number, and habitual aspect, and है encodes the third person, singular number, and indicative mood, the combination रहती है is third person, singular, feminine, present, habitual, active, and indicative”.

It is very important to recognize these patterns, since it drastically simplifies learning Hindi verbs, versus simply memorizing the many forms.

The basic aspectuals are as follows:

Habitual: the imperfective participle

Continuous: verb stem + form of रहा (the perfect participle of the verb रहना (“to remain/continue/abide”, etc.)

perfect: perfect participle

To demonstrate, review the tables below:

Indicative Mood

Verbs in the indicative mood can appear in the present, past, and future tenses.

Present Tense

Present tense indicative verbs can appear in the habitual, continuous, and perfect aspects.

Habitual Aspect

The present habitual form of a verb is formed as:

imperfective participle + form of होना

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खाता हूँ खाती हूँ
हम खाते हैं खाती हैं
आप खाते हैं खाती हैं
तुम खाते हो खाती हो
तू खाता है खाती है
यह/वह खाता है खाती है
ये/वे खाते हैं खाती हैं

Continuous Aspect

The present continuous verb form is formed as: verb stem + form of रहा + form of होना

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खा रहा हूँ खा रही हूँ
हम खा रहे हैं खा रही हैं
आप खा रहे हैं खा रही हैं
तुम खा रहे हो खा रही हो
तू खा रहा है खा रही है
यह/वह खा रहा है खा रही है
ये/वे खा रहे हैं खा रही हैं

Perfect Form

The present perfect form of a verb is formed as: perfect participle + form of होना. Note that although a perfective aspecual is used, the aspect is that of the present perfect – a completed action which results in a state or relevant situation in the present time.

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खाया हूँ खाईखायी हूँ
हम खायेखाए हैं खाईखायी हैं
आप खायेखाए हैं खाईखायी हैं
तुम खायेखाए हो खाईखायी हो
तू खाया है खाईखायी है
यह/वह खाया है खाईखायी है
ये/वे खायेखाए हैं खाईखायी हैं

Past Tense

Past indicative verbs can appear in the habitual, continuous, perfect, and perfective aspects.

Habitual Aspect

The past habitual form of a verb is formed as:

imperfective participle + past tense form of होना

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खाता था खाती थी
हम खाते थे खाती थीं
आप खाते थे खाती थीं
तुम खाते थे खाती थीं
तू खाता था खाती थी
यह/वह खाता था खाती थी
ये/वे खाते थे खाती थीं

Continuous Aspect

The present continuous verb form is formed as: verb stem + form of रहा + past tense form of होना

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खा रहा था खा रही थी
हम खा रहे थे खा रही थीं
आप खा रहे थे खा रही थीं
तुम खा रहे थे खा रही थीं
तू खा रहा था खा रही थी
यह/वह खा रहा था खा रही थी
ये/वे खा रहे थे खा रही थीं

Perfect Form

The past perfect form of a verb is formed as: perfect participle + past tense form of होना. The aspect/tense is that of the past perfect – a past action which resulted in a state which had relevance at some past time. For instance, in English, “I had finished my work”.

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खाया था खाईखायी थी
हम खायेखाए थे खाईखायी थीं
आप खायेखाए थे खाईखायी थीं
तुम खायेखाए थे खाईखायी थीं
तू खाया था खाईखायी थी
यह/वह खाया था खाईखायी थी
ये/वे खायेखाए थे खाईखायी थीं

Future Tense

The future tense is formed as: verb stem + first suffix + second suffix

The first set of suffixes is:

Suffix Condition
ऊँ If the subject is मैं
If the subject is तुम
If the subject is singular
एँ If the subject is plural

The second set of suffixes is:

Suffix Condition
गा If the subject is masculine and singular
गे If the subject is masculine and plural
गी If the subject is feminine, whether singular or plural
Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खाउँगा खाऊँगी
हम खाएँगे खाएँगी
आप खाएँगे खाएँगी
तुम खाओगे खाओगी
तू खाएगा खाएगी
यह/वह खाएगा खाएगी
ये/वे खाएँगे खाएँगी

Imperative Mood

The imperative form of a verb is formed by adding a suffix. The suffix indicates the relative social status of the speaker/writer versus the addressee.

Kind Suffix
Intimate none (verb stem alone)
Familiar
Formal इए/इये
Neutral ना (identical to the infinitive)
Deferential इएगा/इयेगा
Kind Form
Intimate खा
Familiar खाओ
Formal खाइयेखाइए
Neutral खाना
Deferential खाइएगा/खाइयेगा

Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is used for hypothetical situations and in subordinate clauses, etc.

Refer to the article about the subjunctive mood for more information.

Present/Past Tense

Non-aspectual

The basic subjunctive is formed like the future tense form of a verb, without the secondary suffix.

Pronoun Form
मैं खाउँ
हम खाएँ
आप खाएँ
तुम खाओ
तू खाए
यह/वह खाए
ये/वे खाएँ

Habitual Aspect

The habitual subjunctive form of a verb is formed as:

imperfective participle + subjunctive form of होना

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खाता हूँहोऊँ खाती हूँहोऊँ
हम खाते हों खाती हों
आप खाते हों खाती हों
तुम खाते हो खाती हो
तू खाता हो खाती हो
यह/वह खाता हो खाती हो
ये/वे खाते हों खाती हों

Continuous Aspect

The continuous subjunctive verb form is formed as: verb stem + form of रहा + subjunctive form of होना

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खा रहा हूँहोऊँ खा रही हूँहोऊँ
हम खा रहे हों खा रही हों
आप खा रहे हों खा रही हों
तुम खा रहे हो खा रही हो
तू खा रहा हो खा रही हो
यह/वह खा रहा हो खा रही हों
ये/वे खा रहे हों खा रही हों

Perfect Form

The subjunctive perfect form of a verb is formed as: perfect participle + subjunctive form of होना

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं खाया हूँहोऊँ खाईखायी हूँहोऊँ
हम खायेखाए हों खाईखायी हों
आप खायेखाए हों खाईखायी हों
तुम खायेखाए हो खाईखायी हो
तू खाया हो खाईखायी हो
यह/वह खाया हो खाईखायी हो
ये/वे खायेखाए हों खाईखायी हों

The following 20 articles are posted under this category:

Infinitive + होना
Compulsion Idioms
Participle + जाना
Negation
Tense
Aspect
Mood
Indirect Verb Constructions
Transitivity
Ergativity
Multiple Subjects
Continuity
Iterative Constructions
Causative Verbs
Voice
Idiomatic Verbs
Modality
Compound Verbs
Conjunct Verbs
Basic Verb Forms
  • sathya

    really it was awesome….the basement of every language is to clearly know the intrinsic details about the grammar in their language….u hav provided such a good thing and clearly depicted whatever we needed

    • http://hindilanguage.info/ hindilanguage.info

      Thank you very much for your comment! I am glad that you appreciate my efforts to explain Hindi grammar.