April 20, 2012

Past Perfective

The past perfective is identical to the perfect participle in form, except for nasalization. It combines the perfective aspect and past tense. It is often used in a manner that is similar to the English past tense.


Most transitive past perfective verbs exhibit ergative alignment. Practically, this means that the verb agrees with its object, and not with the agent of the verb. For instance, in the sentence अंजलि ने खाना खाया (Anjali ate some food), the verb is masculine, even though the agent, Anjali, is feminine, because the object, खाना, is masculine. When using transitive perfective nominal conjunct verbs, the verb agrees with the noun of the conjunct verb if the object is followed by a postposition, as in आदमियों ने उससे बात की (The men talked with him); the verb की agrees with बात, which is feminine. A few verbs are exceptions, however. For instance, बोलना is often used with and without ने, as in उसने बोला / वह बोली (“She said”).

The following table demonstrates the conjugation of the verb “आना” (“to come”):

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं आया आयी / आई
हम आयें आएं आयीं आईं
आप आयें / आएं आयीं / आईं
तुम आयें / आएं आयीं / आईं
तू आया आयी / आई
यह/वह आया आयी / आई
ये/वे आयें / आएं आयीं / आईं

Note the pattern of nasalization: plural past perfective verbs are nasalized. When a verb stem ends in a vowel, particularly , an optional is sometimes inserted between the verb stem and the final vowel. This results in two spelling variants. Verbs that end in consonants simply append the final vowel.

तुम and आप are considered grammatically plural, regardless of how many people are addressed.

The following table demonstrates the conjugation of the verb जाना (“to go”), which has irregular forms.

Pronoun Masculine Form Feminine Form
मैं गया गयी
हम गए/गये गयीं
आप गए/गये गयीं
तुम किये/किए गयीं
तू गया गयी
यह/वह गया गयी
ये/वे किये/किए गयीं

The verbs करना, देना, and लेना are also irregular. Their past perfective forms follow similar patterns:
किया / (किये or किए) / (कियें or किएं) / की / कीं; दिया / (दिये or दिए) / (दियें or दिएं) / दी / दीं; लिया / (लिये or लिए) / (लियें or लिएं) / ली / लीं



तुम कब आयीं – “When did you come?”
वह मुझसे बात करने आया – “He came to talk to me”


उसने अपने भाई से मेरी शिकायत की (He complained about me to his brother)
उसने कहा कि उसने मेरी चाबी मेज़ पर पड़ी हुई देखी – She said that she saw my key lying on the table