April 19, 2013

Contrafactual Sentences

A contrafactual sentence contains a hypothetical statement that is presumed to be false.

Usually, these sentences are conditional sentences, but they can be other kinds of sentences too, such as wishes which contain a contrafactual subordinate clause.

For instance, in English, one could say “If I had arrived just one minute earlier then I would not have missed the train”.

In this sentence, the condition is false; the implication is that the person did not arrive one minute earlier.

This sentence can be translated into Hindi as follows:

अगर मैं सिर्फ़ एक मिनट पहले पहुंच जाता तो मेरा ट्रेन नहीं छूट जाती

Fortunately, contrafactual sentences in Hindi are much simpler than contrafactual sentences in English. Hindi uses the “contrafactual subjunctive” for all contrafactual sentences. In the previous example, the verbs पहुंच जाता and छूट जाती are both contrafactual subjunctive verbs.

There are two basic forms of the contrafactual subjunctive: the simple contrafactual subjunctive, and the complex contrafactual subjunctive.

The simple contrafactual subjunctive has the same form as the imperfective participle. For compound verbs, only the second verb assumes the contrafactual subjunctive form.

अगर मैं अमीर होता तो मैं काम नहीं करता – “If I were rich, then I would not work”

होता is the contrafactual subjunctive form of होना, and करता is the contrafactual subjunctive form of करना.

Contrafactual subjunctive verbs do not have any specific tense. The tense is determined by the context. For instance, the previous example could also be translated as “If I had been rich, then I would not have worked”. However, a verb may include था to explicitly designate the past tense, but this is somewhat uncommon and nonstandard.

Contrafactual subjunctive verbs inflect according to the gender and number of their subject.

Simple contrafactual subjunctive verbs do not exhibit ergative alignment. Complex contrafactual subjunctive verbs do exhibit ergative alignment.

Complex contrafactual subjunctive verbs are formed by changing the final auxiliary of a verb form to a contrafactual subjunctive. This typically means using a form of होता.

For instance:

अगर पंखा चल रहा होता तो इतनी गरमी नहीं लगती – “If the fan were running then it wouldn’t feel so hot”

The verb form चल रहा है was converted to चल रहा होता.

In other words, complex contrafactual subjunctives are nothing more than an aspectual component and a simple contrafactual subjunctive form of होना:

[aspectual component] [simple contrafactual subjunctive form of होना]

Here are a few examples of complex contrafactual subjunctive verb forms:

कर रहा हैकर रहा होता
करता है
करता होता
किया है
किया होता

Complex contrafactual verbs can appear in continuous, perfect, or habitual verb forms.


I wouldn’t do that If I were you – अगर मैं आप की जगह होता तो मैं ऐसा नहीं करता

I wish that this moment could last forever – काश कि यह पल हमेशा के लिए रह सकता

If I had not stayed up so late watching the movie then I wouldn’t be so tired – अगर मैं इतने देर तक मूवी देखते हुए नहीं जागता तो मैं इतना नींद में नहीं होता

If I wanted advice, then I would have asked for it – यदि मुझे सलाह चाहिए होती तो मैं मांगता

I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I had never met you – मैं यह कल्पना कर ही नहीं पता कि अगर मैं तुमसे नहीं मिलता तो मेरी ज़िंदगी कैसी होती

If I hadn’t worked so hard, then I wouldn’t have succeeded – अगर मैं इतना मेहनत नहीं करता तो मैं सफ़ल नहीं होता

If you had asked me, then I would have said ‘yes’ – अगर तुमने मुझे पूछा होता तो मैनेहांबोला होता

What would you do if you didn’t have to work? – अगर तुम्हें काम करना नहीं पड़ता तो तुम क्या करते?

I wish that we could spend more time here – काश कि हम यहाँ और समय बिता सकते

I wish that I hadn’t wasted so much time watching t.v. today – काश कि मैने ती.वी. देखने में इतना समय नहीं गवाया होता

I would spend all of my time reading if it were possible – अगर संभव होता तो मैं किताबें पढ़ने में अपना सारा समय बिताता

If I had known then what I know now, I would have made a different decision – यदि मुझे वो तब पता होता जो मुझे अब पता है तो मैने अलग निश्चय किया होता

Even if I had worked all night long I still would not have been able to finish my work – अगर मैने रात भर काम किया होता तो भी मैं अपना काम पूरा नहीं कर पाता

If I were a wealthy man, I wouldn’t have to work hard – अगर मैं अमीर आदमी होता तो मुझे मेहनत करने की ज़रूरत नहीं होती

I would have gone to see the movie with you, but I had to study last night – मैं तुम्हारे साथ मूवी देखने जाता, लेकिन मुझे पढ़ना था

I might have gone if I knew you would cook food! – मुझे पता होता कि तुम खाना बनाओगी तो मैं शायद जाता

I would have helped you if I knew you needed help – अगर मुझे पता होता कि तुम्हें मदद चाहिए थी तो मैं तुम्हारी मदद करता

If I had money, I would buy another car – अगर मेरे पास पैसा होता तो मैं दूसरी गाड़ी खरीदता.

If I were in India, I would go to Kerala – अगर मैं भारत में होता तो मैं केरला जाता

I would have studied art, but my grandfather wanted me to study science – मैं कला पढ़ता लेकिन मेरे दादा जी चाहते थे कि मैं विज्ञान पढूं

I wish that I’d started learning Hindi long ago! – काश कि मैं बहुत समय पूर्व से हिन्दी सीखने लगता

I would have played with you all, but my arm was injured – मैं तुम लोगों के साथ खेलता लेकिन मेरे हाथ को/में चोट लगी थी

If you hadn’t studied science, which other subject would you have studied? – अगर तुमने विज्ञान नहीं पढ़ा होता तो कौन सा दूसरा विषय पढ़ा होता?

What would have happened if you hadn’t saved me! – अगर आप मुझे नहीं बचाते तो क्या होते!

I’d help you if I were able – अगर मैं आपकी मदद कर सकता तो मैं आपकी मदद करता

If learning another language were easy, then it wouldn’t be necessary to practice – अगर दूसरी भाषा सीखना आसान होता तो हमें अभ्यास करने की कोई ज़रूरत नहीं होती!