April 20, 2012


The verb पाना can have many meanings, such as “to get, to obtain, to win, to earn”, etc.

However, it is very commonly used as a verbal auxiliary with the sense “to manage to do”.


When used as a verbal auxiliary, the verb has the following form:

[verb stem of main verb] [inflected form of पाना]

पाना inflects according to person, number, gender, tense, mood, etc. All of the inflection is in पाना; the main verb always appears as bare stem.


मैं पूरा खाना नहीं खा पाया – “I couldn’t eat the entire meal”

हिंदी बोल पाना बहुत मुश्किल नहीं है – “It’s not hard to manage to speak Hindi”

मैं दौड़ को ख़त्म नहीं कर पाऊंगा – “I won’t be able to finish the race”

Versus सकना

It is similar to the verb सकना (“to be able”) since both verbs can express ability. However, पाना often has the sense of conveying success, versus ability.

मैं पुरे खाने को नहीं खा पाऊंगा – “I won’t be able to eat the entire meal”

The former sentence doesn’t convey an absolute inability, but a failure in one instance.

  • Lini

    Hello! Thanks for the good auxiliary verbs list! One doubt on this one though: You wrote मैं पुरे खाने को नहीं खा पाया. But why do you use को here? It thought that खाना had direct objects only… :-/

    • It’s probably best to say “मैं पूरा खाना नहीं खा पाया”. However, को can be used with खाना; को can be used to indicate a direct object.

      • Lini

        Ok I see! को is a word with endless usages and mysteries 😉

        • Yes, indeed! The usage of को is subtle. I’ve written a few articles on this site about it.

  • hindi learner

    मैं दौड़ को ख़त्म नहीं कर पाऊंगा may be replaced by मैं दौड़ का खतम नहीं कर पाऊंगा – may i right any mistakes