February 12, 2013

क्यों न

The expression क्यों न is similar to the English expression “why not …” or “Why doesn’t / don’t …”. It is used to make mild exhortations or suggestions that ostensibly have the same form as questions. It generally requires the verb to be in the subjunctive mood.

क्यों न अभी जाएं – “Why not go now?” / “Why don’t we go now?”

जाने से पहले हम क्यों न कुछ खाना खाएं – “Why don’t we eat some food before we go”

क्यों न तुम ऐसा करो कि उसको कल चाबी लाने को पूछो – “Why don’t you just ask him to bring the key tomorrow”


The final sentence could be simplified to “क्यों न तुम उसको कल चाबी लाने को पूछो“. However, for more complex sentences, separating clauses with कि is sometimes useful.

The pronoun is optional, since it is often implied. If a pronoun is used, then it may come before or after क्यों न, but it typically comes after क्यों न, as in the final example.

  • Michael

    Valentines दिन मैं ने खुद से कहा, क्यूँ न मैं अपनी दोस्त मेरे साथ बाहर चलने को पूछूँ, और पूछ कर उसने तुरंत खुद से कहा, क्यूँ न मैं उसके दिल को तोड़ दूँ?

    • मुझे आशा है कि किसी ने सच में आपका दिल नहीं तोड़ा!

  • M Sewlall

    Hi David,
    What is the function of एसा in the sentence “क्यों न तुम ऐसा करो कि उसको कल चाबी लाने को पूछो”?

    • Great question; it’s a sort of “placeholder” – this idiom is very common in Hindi, with various words; when there is a large clause that needs to be inserted somewhere, a “placeholder” is put in its place and the the clause is subordinated (placed at the end of the sentence, etc.). In this sentence, the grammar is essentially this: “क्यों न तुम करो” – the phrase within is essentially the logical “object” of the verb; a whole clause can’t really be the object of a verb, grammatically at least, so a word is put in its place (ऐसा) and then the phrase is converted to the subjunctive mood and appended in a subordinate clause with the conjunction कि – the sense is something like this: “why don’t you do *this*, namely ask him to bring the key tomorrow”, where *this* == “ask him to bring the key tomorrow”, i.e. ऐसा = उसको कल चाबी लाने को पूछो. We do this in English, but much less frequently. Does that makes sense?