Hindi has a class of verbs called causative verbs.
As the name implies, causative verbs indicate an action that the subject does not directly perform, but rather causes to happen, perhaps by causing some other agent to perform the action.
English Causative Verbs
English has a few idioms for expressing causative actions which are similar to Hindi causative verbs, such as “to have X do Y”, “to get X to do Y”, etc.
I had him fix the chair.
I got my eyeglasses repaired.
I had my car cleaned.
I got him to move the furniture.
I got my house cleaned by the cleaners.
Note that in each of the preceding examples, the subject’s participation is not direct, but indirect – the subject causes the action of the verb somehow (perhaps by asking or gesturing or some other solicitation), but does not directly perform the action of the verb.
If the agent that performs the action of a causative verb in English is explicitly expressed, it is either marked with the preposition “by”, or else indicated syntactically, by placing the agent as the object of the verb “to have”, followed by the stem of the main verb, or by placing the agent as the object of the verb “to get”, followed by the infinitive of the main verb.
Hindi Causative Verbs
Hindi verbs can be categorized into three related categories which express various relationships between the subject of the verb and the verb itself: transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, and causative verbs.
Refer to the section about transitivity for more information about transitive and intransitive verbs.
Transitive verbs are verbs which can accept a direct object. For instance, in the English sentence “I burned the food”, the verb “burned” is transitive because it has a direct object, “food”.
मैंने खाना जलाया – “I burned the food”
The transitive verb जलाना means “to burn (something)”.
Note that Hindi speakers may prefer a compound verb in this instance: मैंने खाना जला दिया – “I burned the food”.
Intransitive verbs are verbs which do not accept a direct object. For instance, in the English sentence “The food burned”, the verb “burned” is intransitive because it has no direct object.
खाना जला – “The food burned/was burned”
The intransitive verb जलना means “to burn/to be burned”.
Note that Hindi speakers may prefer a compound verb in this instance: खाना जल गया – “the food burned”.
Note that in English the intransitive and transitive forms of verbs are often the same: “burned”, and “burned” in the previous examples. However, in Hindi, they are explicitly differentiated. Hindi has morphological correlates for transitive and causative verbs; that is, the form of the verb changes to indicate that the verb is transitive or causative. For instance, note that in the previous example, the transitive verb is lexically similar to the intransitive verb (जलाना versus जलना), and also the transitive verb is semantically similar to the intransitive verb (“to burn, to be burned”). In this instance, the transitive verb adds the vowel आ at the end of stem of the corresponding intransitive verb. This is a common pattern of pairs of intransitive and transitive verbs in Hindi.
Causative verbs express an action which the subject causes to happen (via some third party).
तुम लोग कब मेरा पासपोर्ट बनवायेंगे – When are you going to have my passport made?
मैंने उससे कुर्सी ठीक करवाई – “I had him fix the chair”
मैंने अपना चश्मा ठीक करवाया – “I had my eyeglasses fixed”
मैंने उससे कुछ खाना पकवाया – “I had him cook some food”
All causative verbs are transitive. However, the converse is not true; all transitive verbs are not causative.
Most causative verbs have stems that end with वा. Thus, causative verbs can often be formed by appending वा to the intransitive verb stems. For instance, पकना “to be cooked”, पकवाना “to cause to cook”, etc.
If the agent of the causative verb is mentioned, then it is followed by the postposition से. However, an agent need not be explicitly mentioned. Causative verbs always indicate that the action of the verb is performed by some external agent.
Form of Hindi Causative Verbs
Intransitive, transitive, and causative verbs comprise three semantically and lexically related categories of verbs.
There are several general patterns of formation.
The basic pattern of formation is that transitive verbs are formed by appending the vowel आ to the intransitive verb stem and causative verbs are formed by appending वा to the intransitive verb stem.
Thus, Hindi often indicate transitive and causative verbs with distinct morphemes (आ and वा), or else with certain morphological changes (changes to the vowels or consonants of the intransitive verb stem).
Consider the following examples, noting the progression from intransitive to transitive to causative, and observing the form of each verb. Note how the transitive verb stem appends the morpheme आ and the causative verb stem appends the morpheme वा. This is the most basic pattern of transitive and causative verbs.
|पकना to be cooked||पकाना to cook (something)||पकवाना to cause to cook|
|बनना to be made||बनाना to make||बनवाना to cause to make|
|उठना to rise||उठाना to raise||उठवाना to cause to raise|
|लगना to be applied||लगाना to apply||लगवाना to cause to apply|
|जलना to be burned||जलाना to burn (something)||जलवाना to cause to burn|
Hindi transitive and causative verbs can undergo certain morphological changes. Unfortunately, there is no prescription for all of these changes, and it is not always possible to predict each change. However, they do often follow distinct patterns.
Hindi transitive and causative verbs may undergo the following kinds of morphological changes:
- Vocalic Changes – changes to the vowels of the intransitive verb stem. This is typically the initial vowel of the intransitive verb stem, although a medial vowel may also change. When the vowels changed, they are typically either lengthened or shortened to a corresponding long or short vowel, respectively. Sometimes the pattern is obvious, since the vowel is lengthened or shortened to its complementary vowel, for instance इ, ई or उ, ऊ. However, sometimes the “lengthening” or “shortening” of the vowel is not really a lengthening or shortening of the duration of the vowel, but a change to another long or short vowel that is not complementary, for instance ओ and उ are interchanged sometimes.
- Consonantal Additions – a consonant may be appended to the intransitive verb stem. The most common such consonant is ल.
- Consonantal Changes – a medial consonant may be changed to another consonant.
- Multiple changes – many verbs undergo both vocalic and consonantal changes.
Sometimes the vowel in the preceding syllable of the intransitive verb stem is shortened in addition to adding आ or वा.
The vowels are shortened according to the following general guidelines:
आ becomes अ
ई, ए, ऐ become इ
ऊ, ओ become उ
|बैठना to be seated||बिठाना to seat||बिठवाना to cause to seat|
|घूमना to roam around||घुमाना to show someone around||घुमवाना to cause to show someone around|
|रोना to cry||रुलाना to make someone cry||रुलवाना to cause to make someone cry|
Occasionally a consonant is added when forming the transitive and causative verb stems, as in रोना/रुलाना/रुलवाना.
In contrast to the previous pattern, the initial or medial vowel of the intransitive verb stem may be lengthened when forming the transitive verb stem.
The vowels are lengthened according to the following general guidelines:
अ becomes आ
इ becomes ई or ए
उ becomes ऊ or ओ
|रुकना to be stopped (to wait)||रोकना to stop||रुकवाना to cause to stop|
|निकलना to go out||निकालना to take out||निकलवाना to cause to take out|
|खुलना to be open||खोलना to open||खुलवाना to cause to open|
|कटना to be cut||काटना to cut||कटाना/कटवाना to cause to cut|
Note that some causative verbs have two forms, one with आ and one with वा, as in कटाना/कटवाना.
Some patterns exhibit consonantal changes when forming transitive and causative verbs.
It is very common to add the consonant ल when forming the transitive and causative stems:
|सोना to sleep||सुलाना to put to sleep||सुलवाना to cause to put to sleep|
|रोना to cry||रुलाना to make someone cry||रुलवाना to cause to make someone cry|
Both vocalic and consonantal changes can occur in some verbs.
|टूटना to be broken||तोड़ना to break something||तुड़ाना/तुड़वाना to cause to break something|
|फटना to rupture, burst, break, crack, etc.||फोड़ना to rupture something||फुड़वाना to cause to rupture|
|बिकना to be sold||बेचना to sell||बिकवाना to cause to sell|
|छुटना to be free, to be released||छोड़ना to let go, to set free||छुड़ाना/छुड़वाना to cause to set free|
Note the vowel and consonant changes in the previous examples.
First and Second Causatives (Verbs with no Intransitive Forms)
Some Hindi verbs have no intransitive form. However, such verbs may still exist in groups of three related verbs: transitive, first causative, and second causative. The first causative indicates that the subject is somehow directly involved in the action of the verb, whereas the second causative indicates that the subject of the verb is only indirectly involved in the action of the verb.
|Intransitive||First Causative||Second Causative|
|सीखना to learn||सिखाना to teach (to cause to learn)||सिखवाना to have someone teach|
|देखना to see||दिखाना to show (to cause to see)||दिखवाना to have someone show|
|समझना to understand||समझाना to explain (to cause to understand)||समझवाना to have someone explain|
|सुनना to hear||सुनाना to recite, to tell (to cause to hear)||सुनवाना to cause to recite|
|खाना to eat||खिलाना to feed (to cause to eat)||खिलवाना to have someone feed|
|पीना to drink||पिलाना to give someone something to drink (to cause to drink)||पिलवाना to have someone give someone something to drink|
Observe that similar vocalic and consonantal changes often occur in first and second causative verbs as occur in other transitive and causative verbs.
Verbs without Intransitive Forms with a Single Causative Form
Some transitive verbs have only a single corresponding causative verb form.
|करना to do||करवाना / कराना to have someone do|
|लिखना लिखवाना to write||लिखना लिखवाना to have someone write|
|देना to give||दिलवाना to have someone give|
|ख़रीदना to buy||ख़रीदवाना to have someone buy|
|भेजना to send||भिलवाना to have someone send|
|पूछना to ask||पुछवाना to have someone ask|
1. All transitive adjectival conjunct verbs (adjective + करना) have adjective + होना as their intransitive form. Likewise, all transitive nominal conjunct verbs (noun + करना) have noun + होना as their intransitive form. In the same manner, transitive causative conjunct verbs are formed as adjective/noun + करवाना/कराना.
2. All causative and transitive verbs are “ने verbs”.
3. With regard to syntax, the external agent, if mentioned, generally comes after the subject. If the subject has both direct and indirect objects, the agent may be mentioned before or after the indirect object.