December 27, 2012

Expressing Inability with बनना

The verb बनना means “to be made” / “to become”, etc. It is a common verb: आज मैं मौसी बन गयी – “Today I became an aunt”.

This verb has several idiomatic uses too. One idiomatic use is to express inability:

मुझसे इतना स्वादिष्ट खाना कभी बनाए नहीं बनेगा – “I’ll never be able to make such delicious food”

उससे एक शब्द भी बोलते नहीं बनता – “He isn’t able to speak even a single word”

Here are a few notes about this idiom:

  1. It can be used to express ability, but it is almost always used to express inability (i.e., it’s used with a negative particle, such as नहीं)
  2. It’s basic form is X से Y [invariable oblique singular masculine participle] [form of बनना]
  3. This idiom can be used with either an imperfective participle or a perfect participle. The perfect participle is perhaps more common.
  4. This idiom is somewhat rare.
  • Divija Sampathi

    Hai David..In the sentence,”मुझसे इतना स्वादिष्ट खाना कभी बनाए नहीं बनेगा” , why did u use “बनाए”?? Shouldn’t it be ‘banaathe’ , the invariable oblique singular masculine participle?? Kindly clarify

    • This idiom can occur with either the invariable masculine singular oblique continuous participle (“banate”) or the invariable masculine singular oblique perfect participle (“banaye”). The perfect participle is much more common. I’ve very rarely read the continuous participle. There’s no “reason” for the perfect participle. That’s just the way it is. If you want a real challenge, try to understand this line from a famous poem by the Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib: “kya bane baat jahan baat banaye na bane”. 🙂

      • Divija Sampathi

        Thnq so much…