July 31, 2013

Lesson 13: Case

Welcome to Lesson 13!

In this lesson, you will learn about case in Hindi.


First, let’s look at a few examples.

Case simply refers to the form of certain words. Each case form has a variety of functions. Don’t worry too much about the functions; we’ll discuss them in future lessons. Just try to learn the forms.

Remember in the previous lesson how you learned about nouns, gender, and number? All of those forms are the direct case forms of nouns. You’ve already learned one case!

One of the words that you learned is लड़का.

Now look at this example: लड़के के साथ.

The words “के साथ” are a postposition. You haven’t learned about postpositions yet, but you will in a future lesson. Postpositions are like English prepositions, but they come after their object. “के साथ” means “with”.

Thus, लड़के के साथ means “with the boy”. What happened to the word लड़का? It became लड़के.

लड़का (boy) → लड़के के साथ (with the boy)

The form लड़के is called the oblique case and लड़का is the direct case form. The oblique case has many uses. You just saw one of them: the oblique case is used when a word is the object of a postposition.

But, लड़के, the oblique singular case form, looks just like the masculine plural direct case form that you learned in Lesson 12. How can you tell the difference? In other words, लड़के was singular in one example, and plural in another example; how can you tell whether it is one boy or more than one boy?

Well, the answer is: context. This must be the oblique case because it was the object of the postposition के साथ. The oblique plural has another form. Thus, it must be singular.

What does the oblique plural form look like? Here’s an example:

लड़का (boy) → लड़कों के साथ (with the boys)

What about feminine nouns? You learned the word लड़की (“girl”). Here’s how लड़की looks with the same postposition:

लड़की (girl) → लड़की के साथ (with the girl)

Notice that it has the same form in the direct and oblique singular. What about its plural form?

लड़की (girl) → लड़कियों के साथ (with the girls)

It has the same ending as the masculine oblique plural. The letter is added to words that end with vowels. The vowel is shortened to . This is very similar to the pattern than direct case feminine nouns follow (e.g. लड़कीलड़कियां).

Nouns that end in – typically shorten the to and add in the oblique plural.

Here’s another example:

आदमी (man) → आदमियों के साथ (with the men)

Note that the vowel was shortened to and a was added.

All oblique plural words end in –ओं

Just like in the direct case, feminine nouns ending in – often change the – to –:


Now you’ve seen every pattern of the oblique case!

There’s one more case: the vocative case. The vocative case is used to make direct addresses. When you’re talking to one or more people and you want to address them, you use the vocative case.

It’s easy to learn the vocative case now that you’ve learned the oblique case: the vocative case forms are the same as the oblique case forms, except in the plural; in the plural, vocative case nouns are not nasalized.

The vocative case has the same form as the oblique case, except in the plural, where instead of –ओं the ending is –

For instance, if you are writing a message to some friends, you might begin the message with “यारो” (“friends”), which comes from the word यार (“friend”).


“Case” refers to a form of a word that is related to its usage in a sentence. The “case” is the word’s form, and each case has one or more functions.

Many parts of speech can have case. However, in this lesson we’ll discuss noun case.

A case is a form of a word. The ending of the word changes to indicate its case. Each case can have multiple functions in a sentence. The case of a word is determined by its usage in the sentence.

In Hindi, there are three cases:

  • The direct case
  • The oblique case
  • The vocative case

The Direct Case

First, let’s review the forms of nouns in the direct case, since you already know them!

Form of the Direct Case

In Lesson 12: Nouns, you learned the direct case of nouns. You learned how nouns in the direct case change their form according to their gender and number.

Here is a review of those forms:

Marked Nouns
Gender Singular Plural
Masculine (लड़का) (लड़के)
Feminine (लड़की) इयां (लड़कियां)

When other parts of speech have case, they follow the same pattern as marked nouns.

Unmarked Nouns
Gender Singular Plural
Masculine -? (आदमी) -? (आदमी)
Feminine -? (औरत) एं (औरतें)

Recall that there are two main patterns: nouns that have a specific ending, and nouns that don’t have that specific ending.

Usage of the Direct Case

When do we use the direct case? Well, it is like the default case. It is used when the other cases are not used. It is used when a word is “directly” used, e.g. when it is the subject of a verb, etc.

The Oblique Case

Next, let’s examine the oblique case.

The Form of the Oblique Case

Marked Nouns
Gender Singular Plural
Masculine (लड़के) ओं (लड़कों)
Feminine (लड़की) इयों (लड़कियों)
Unmarked Nouns
Gender Singular Plural
Masculine -? (आदमी) इयों (आदमियों)
Feminine -? (औरत) ओं (औरतों)

The Usage of the Oblique Case

The oblique case has many usages.

Object of a Postposition

The most common usage is to indicate the object of a postposition. You will learn about postpositions in a future lesson. Here is a quick preview:

Postpositions are like English prepositions, like “behind” as in “behind the door”. However, they come after the word, hence the name. When a word is used with a postposition, it must be in the oblique case. Here is an example postposition: में. It basically means “in”. So, for instance, the word घर means “house”, and if we want to say “in the houses” we say घरों में, etc.

Indefinite Quantities

The oblique plural is used to indicate indefinite quantities, such as लाखों (“hundreds of thousands”), etc.


The masculine singular oblique (MSO) form is used when some part of speech that is not an adverb is used like an adverb:

मैं अगले महीने भारत जाने वाला हूं – “I’m going to go to India next month”

In this example, the noun महिना (“month”) was in the MSO form महीने because it was used as an adverb of time that tells when the person is going to go.

The Vocative Case

Finally, let’s review the vocative case.

The Form of the Vocative Case

Remember that the form of the vocative case is the same as the form of the oblique case, except for the plural.

Marked Nouns
Gender Singular Plural
Masculine (लड़के) (लड़को)
Feminine (लड़की) इयो (लड़कियो)
Unmarked Nouns
Gender Singular Plural
Masculine -? (आदमी) इयो (आदमियो)
Feminine -? (औरत) (औरतो)

The Usage of the Vocative Case

The vocative case is used for direct address.


You learned about the three cases in Hindi. Don’t worry too much about how to use them yet. Just try to remember their forms.

  • Case is a pattern of forms of a word.
  • Each case has one or more usages.
  • There are three cases in Hindi:
    • The direct case
    • The oblique case
    • The vocative case


Translate the following into Hindi:

  1. boy
  2. boys
  3. with the boy (use के साथ)
  4. with the boys
  5. girl
  6. girls
  7. with the girl
  8. with the girls
  9. man
  10. men
  11. with the man
  12. with the men
  13. woman
  14. women
  15. with the woman
  16. with the women
  17. dear friends (i.e. at the beginning of a speech or letter); use दोस्त (“friend”) and प्रिय (“dear”)
  18. If the noun हफ़्ता is used to mean “last week”, as in “I went on a vacation last week”, what will its form be?