March 2, 2013

Common Word Order Variations

In colloquial Hindi, there are certain common stylistic variations of word order. This note will discuss a few of the most common variations.

In one common variation, a word or phrase that qualifies the sentence is shifted to the end of the sentence.

Clause-Final Shifts

Words marked with ने are often moved to the end of the sentence:

बहुत देर तक काम किया मैंने – “I worked for a long time”

का and its object are often moved to the end of a sentence:

मैंने फ़ैसला किया था घर पर रहने का – “I decided to stay home”

Adverbial phrases such as postpositional phrases are often shifted to the end of the sentence:

बहुत अच्छी साड़ियां मिलती हैं वहां पर – “You can find good saris there”

The subject of the sentence is sometimes shifted to the end:

क्या कर रहे हो तुम – “What are you doing?”

Deviation from SOV Sentence Order

Hindi is an SOV (subject object verb) language. However, speakers often shift this word order for stylistic effect. The words can be arranged in many ways.

One common pattern is SVO:

हम हैं हिन्दुस्तानी – “We are Hindustani (Indian)”

हम हैं राही प्यार के (movie title) – “We are travelers (on a path) of love”

In one emphatic variation, a form of होना is move to the beginning:

है तो महंगा, पर फ़िक्र मत करो – “It is expensive, but don’t worry”

Inversion of Attributive Adjectives

Attributive adjectives can follow the noun they modify:

साली मेरी दिल्ली में रहती है – “My sister-in-law lives in Delhi”


  • Divija Sampathi

    Hai David..In the sentence, हम हैं राही प्यार के, what is the meaning of “राही”??

  • Divija Sampathi

    Thanks a lot David..Had u not been there, I wouldnt have learned as much grammar as I have learned now..thnq for being there..I would be obliged to meet you if you ever visit India ..Thnq

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad this site has been useful to you. You won’t find me in India, though – I’m American! Where are you from?

      • Divija Sampathi

        I am from India only..South India to be precise.:) And this is why I am struggling to learn Hindi.. I would be happy to meet u if u ever come to India.. thnq

        • Thanks, Divija! I’d be glad to meet you too. Let me know if you have any more questions.