April 20, 2012

Continuity

Hindi has a variety of idioms for expressing continuity.

It is important for English speakers to understand some basic differences between English and Hindi verbs regarding continuity.

For instance, in English, one could say “I will always love you”. The adverb “always” is enough to express continuity. However, if this were translated literally into Hindi, it would be inappropriate:

मैं तुमसे हमेशा प्यार करूँगा – This sentence is not appropriate.

It is a literal translation. Since the sense of the sentence is “I will always continue loving you”, an idiom for continuity is more appropriate.

A more appropriate sentence is:

मैं तुमसे हमेशा प्यार करता रहूँगा – “I will always love you”

Hindi Idioms for Continuity

There are three basic idioms in Hindi for expressing various types of continuity:

  1. Imperfective participle + रहना
  2. Imperfective participle + जाना
  3. Imperfective participle + आना

Imperfective Participle + रहना

The imperfective participle (without any form of हुआ) followed by a form of रहना indicates constant or intermittent repetition of some action over time.

It could be translated as “to keep doing something”, “to continue doing something” etc.

Examples

लड़के पुरे दिन खेलते रहे – The boys kept playing throughout the day.

Note that this is not a “ने-construction” since रहना is intransitive.

हम दोनों एक दुसरे से बात करते रहे – We both kept talking with each other

Versus Continuous Verb Forms

This is not the same as the continuous verb forms in Hindi (those that use रहा). Contrast the following examples:

वह काम कर रहा है – “He is working” (continuous verb)

वह काम करता रहता है – “He keeps working”

वह काम कर रहा था – “He was working”

वह कम करता रहा – “He kept on working”

The sentences with continuous verbs represent a continuous action at a point in time, whereas the sentences with the imperfective participle + रहना represent an action that was continued or repeated over a period of time.

The idiom involving रहना cannot be used with continuous verb forms.

With Perfective Participles

For stative verbs, a form of रहना may be used with a perfective participle instead of an imperfective participle to indicate the continuation of a state.

Examples

वह वहाँ बैठी रही – “She remained sitting there”

हम यहाँ खड़े रहेंगे – “We will keep standing here”

In Compulsion Idioms

When this idiom is used in compulsion idioms, it has an invariable form: the masculine singular oblique form of the imperfective (or perfective) participle followed by the masculine singular infinitive रहना.

Examples

तुम्हें हिंदी सीखते रहना चाहिए – “You should keep learning Hindi”

मुझे यहाँ खड़े रहना पड़ेगा – “I have to keep standing here”

Imperfective Participle + जाना

See the article about participle + जाना for more information.

The imperfective participle (without any form of हुआ) followed by a form of जाना also expresses continuity in a manner similar to the imperfective participle followed by a form of रहना. However, the difference is that the idiom involving जाना additionally implies a gradual progression.

The rules of agreement and usage are the same as the रहना idiom, except for perfective participles (see note below).

Examples

लड़के घर की तरफ़ भागते गए – The boys kept rushing toward the home.

Note that this is not a “ने-construction”, since जाना is intransitive.

हम लोग काम करते रहेंगे – We will keep on working.

With Perfective Participles

The idiom involving जाना is generally not used with perfective participles, since it implies a progression, whereas perfective participles indicate a completed action or state.

With Compulsion Idioms

In compulsion idioms, the participle is always in the masculine singular oblique form and the infinitive is in the masculine singular direct form (जाना). This form is invariable.

Examples

हमें काम करते जाना चाहिए – “We ought to keep on working”

Imperfective Participle + आना

The imperfective participle (without any form of हुआ) followed by a form of आना indicates an action that beginning in the past and continuing into the present (or some further time).

This idiom may not be used with the future tense. Its use is somewhat limited.

Its agreement and usage is similar to the other idioms.

Examples

मैं हिंदी दस सालों से सीखता आया हूँ – “I have been learning Hindi for ten years”

Note that this is not a “ने-construction”, since आना is intransitive.

  • Carlos

    I recently came upon a text that read “एक आंख की रोशनी जाती रही.” I know for a fact that this is supposed to loosely translate as “blinded in one eye,” but I’m confused as to why the author chose to use this particular construction…

    • Hi, Carlos. That’s a good question. In this idiom, if someone uses “जाती रही” it means basically the same thing as “एक आंख की रोशनी गई” or “एक आंख की रोशनी चली गई”, etc. I’d personally use गई or चली गई. जाती रही is less common in this expression. It’s an idiom, so we have to interpret the meaning of the whole idiom rather than the sum of its parts. However, you could think of “जाती रही” as implying that the eye’s “light” “went” and “kept going”, i.e. “stayed away”.