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Hindi Grammar

Hindi is written in Devanagari alphabet and draws vocabulary


from Sanskrit.
Devanagari is a form of alphabet called an abugida, as each
consonant has an inherent vowel (a) that can be changed with
the different vowel signs. Most consonants can be joined to one
or two other consonants so that the inherent vowel is suppressed.
The resulting form is called a ligature. Devanagari is written
from left to right. Devanagari has no case distinction, i.e. no
majuscule and minuscule letters.

Devanagari alphabet for Hindi


Vowels and vowel diacritics

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Consonants

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Numerals

Hindi pronunciation
Sanskrit spelling was phonetic, but the spelling of modern
languages written in Devanagari may only be partly phonetic in
the sense that a word written in it can only be pronounced in one
way, but not all possible pronunciations can be written perfectly.
Consonants
There is a distinction in pronunciation between aspirated and
unaspirated consonants and between dental and alveoloar (or
retroflex) consonants.
Hindi distinguishes between the retroflex t sound () and the
dental t sound (). The retroflex t is pronounced with the
tongue touching the roof of the mouth further back than the
English t sound. The dental t is pronounced with the tongue
touching the roof of the mouth further forward than for the
English t sound; the tongue should touch the back of the teeth.
Each of these also has an aspirated version.
Hindi likewise distinguishes between the retroflex d sound ()
and the dental d sound (), and each of these also has an
aspirated version.
If we want to write two consonants lumped together without any
intervening vowel, you can literally chop off the trailing part of
the first consonant letter and attach whats left to the second
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consonant. For example: ("what"). Half is attached to the
following .
Another way of indicating a half or schwa-less consonant is
the halant sign, as shown here under the letter, for example .
The halant sign is used mostly in words borrowed from Sanskrit.
Vowels
In English the pronunciation of unstressed vowels is changed to
an "uh" sound. This is called reducing a vowel sound. In Hindi,
English-speakers must constantly be careful not to reduce these
vowels, especially not to reduce the final "ah" sounds to "uh."
This can lead to misunderstandings about grammar and gender.
Every consonant letter by itself automatically includes a short
"a" vowel sound unless otherwise specified. This short "a"
sound is like the "a" in English "about" or "career." In
linguistics, this sound has a special name: "schwa".
Each vowel letter has two forms:
The dependent form (matra) is used to indicate that a vowel
(other than schwa) is attached to a consonant.
The independent form is used when the vowel occurs alone, at
the beginning of a word, or after another vowel. In other words,
the independent form is used whenever there is no consonant for
the vowel to attach to.
The table gives the independent and dependent forms of each
vowel. The dependent vowel matras are shown attached to the
letter "sa" = .
Hindi vowels can be nasalized, that is a nasal quality is added to
the vowel sound. The sign for nasalization is a small dot placed

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above the clothesline. For example: (I). Is pronounced
like the French word main (hand).
In some words containing long vowels (e.g. and ) the
nasalization dot is accompanied by a small moon. This sign is
called chandra bindi. For example: (am). Is pronounced
like "hoo" with the vowel nasalized.

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If you do not learn Hindi grammar, you will most likely never
learn to speak the language fluently. Although kids learn to
speak well without first learning the grammatical rules, adults
generally will not be able to learn this way.
Hindi Grammar Lessons
Lesson one starts with the basics and many of the remaining
lessons build on all the previous lessons. In each lesson you will
find an explanation of the grammatical rules, a new vocabulary
section, and some practice sentences to check your
understanding.
Personal Pronouns
In this lesson, you will learn the personal pronouns and what or
who they are used for.
Personal Pronouns

Singular Plural
I We
You You ,
he, she, it , They ,

These personal pronouns are all the same for both male and
female subjects.

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Why two forms of plural you?
In modern English, you is the only word for second person,
singular or plural. In Hindi, is singular and is only used for
close friends or a child. is plural. It is used for friends or
children. You can use it for addressing only one person as well,
even though it is plural; this shows respect. is plural and is
the default word that will be used much more than the other two.
When addressing strangers or the elderly, always use .

Why two forms of plural he/she/it and they?


In English there is a distinction in third person pronouns
according to gender (he vs. she). In Hindi the distinction is
proximity to the speaker. If you are speaking of either a male or
female or object that is next to you, then you use . If the
person or object being talked about is distant, then you use .
Since these two pronouns can also be used for inanimate objects,
it may be helpful to consider the meaning of to be this and the
meaning of to be that. These singular third person pronouns
are not pronounced the way they are read. should be
pronounced as (as it is sometimes spelled), and should be
pronounced (spelled and pronounced the same way as the
plural). You should note that sometimes the singular is used
as if it is plural.

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Present Tense of

In this lesson, you will learn how to conjugate for each of the
personal pronouns. This is a foundational step in learning Hindi
grammar.
The Meaning of

The most basic meaning of is to be. It could sometimes mean


to happen or to exist. Before learning this you should first learn
personal pronouns. All the pronouns and the conjugated
forms of are the same for masculine and feminine
subjects.

I am
you are
he/she/it is ,
we are
you are
This is formal, but not as formal as
you are .
you are
they are
(near)
they are (far)

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Word Order
In this lesson, you will learn the basic word order in Hindi:
subject - object - verb. You will be able to speak complete
sentences after this lesson.
Word Order
The basic word order in Hindi is Subject - Object - Verb (S-O-
V). However, since Hindi uses more inflections and cases than
English, word order is somewhat less important in Hindi. Lets
consider the sentence, I am Pankaj. This English word order is
S-V-O. For Hindi we will change it to S-O-V.

- I Pankaj am.

Articles
In Hindi, articles (a, an, the) aren't used. Sometimes the word
for the number one is used for an indefinite article. For example,
instead of saying, Give me a pen, you would say, Give me one
pen. It is also fine just to say, Give me pen.
Vocabulary

dog m. book f.
people

Note: The "m." and "f." in the table above denote the gender of a
noun. Every noun is either masculine or feminine. It is very
important to learn the gender when learning Hindi nouns. More
on gender in Lesson 6.

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Examples
He (far) is Raj.

She (near) is Neetu.


I am Amit.

You (formal) are Deepak.


You (less formal) are Ravi.


You (informal) are Mohit


We are people.

That is a dog.

This is a book.

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Lesson 3 - Simple Present Tense

In this lesson, you will learn how to conjugate verbs into simple
present tense, also called habitual present tense. Then you will
be able to say sentences like I speak Hindi or I go.

Conjugating

All Hindi verbs in the infinitive form end in . Verbs have two
parts: the root and the ending. The root of the verb to speak is
and the ending in the infinitive form is . In order to
conjugate a verb into simple present tense, you must take off the
and add the appropriate ending from the table below. Then
you add what is called the present time marker (aslo in table
below) learned in Lesson 1.
Note that in the table below that when speaking in the simple
present tense, the verb agrees with the subject (not the object) in
both gender and number. When the subject is feminine (singular
or plural), the verb will end in . When the subject is masculine
singular, the verb will end in . When the subject is masculine
plural, the verb will end in .

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Masculine Feminine
I speak
you speak (informal)
you speak
you speak (formal)
he, she, it speaks
we speak
they speak

Here are a few simple English sentences that would require the
simple present tense in Hindi. Notice that they all seem habitual.
He goes to the store in the mornings.
I eat food with my hands.
She walks quickly.
I enjoy swimming.
Vocabulary

English f. to come
to read to go
to speak to tell
to want to think

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Examples
I tell.

You (formal) read a book.


You (less formal) read a book.


You (informal) read a book.


She (far) goes.


He (near) comes.

We read Hindi.

They (far) want a dog.


They (near) want a book.


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Questions
You will learn how to ask questions with the words what, why,
when, and where.
Questions
When asking a question in Hindi, the tone at the end of the
sentence is raised, just as in English. Here are some basic
question words.

what
where
when
why
who

To ask a question that demands a yes or no answer, add to the


beginning of a declarative sentence. In informal settings, it can
also be added at the end of the sentence or even omitted, but
never in the middle. Consider the question, Do you speak
English? First say, You speak English. - Then
add to the beginning to make it into a yes/no question.

Do you speak English? - ?

You could also say it without as long as you raise your tone
at the end.

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When asking questions that don't have a yes or no answer, the
question word should come just before verb. If the verb is
negated, then the question word comes before . Suppose we
want to ask, When is Diwali? First lets say, Diwali is. -
Now insert just before the verb.

When is Divali? - ?

Vocabulary

to sleep to come
to eat cricket m.
food m. breakfast m.
sir yes
yes sir , no sir
to play no

Examples
Do you play cricket? - No sir.
? -

Do you eat food? - Yes sir.


? -

What is this?
?

What is that?
?
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I don't play football.

He (far) does not eat breakfast.


She (near) eats breakfast.


Who are you?


?

Why don't you sleep?


?

Where is the Taj Mahal?


?

When do you eat breakfast?


?

Do you eat cake?


?

We don't play tennis.


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Lesson 5 - Giving Commands
You will learn here how to give a commands and make requests
in both formal and informal settings.
Regular Verbs
This table shows the verb endings used in making requests or
giving commands. An example is provided for how you would
say tell someone to sit in different situations.

Situation Ending Sit


Most Formal
Very Formal
Casual
Informal (none)

Irregular Verbs
There are four very common irregular verbs that we need to
consider now.

to give
to take
to do
to drink

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The table below shows how these verbs are used in commands.

Situation to give to take to do to drink


Most Formal
Very Formal
Casual
Informal

Negating commands
If a command is being given to not do something in the first two
cases (formal), put (pronounced "na") before the verb. Don't
sit. - When in a casual or informal situation, put before
the verb. Don't sit. - You will sometimes hear people put
after the verb when speaking in informal settings.

Ending with

When giving a command that is for some time in the future, or


to show your are not being impatient, use the ending. This is
commonly used in giving directions - Turn left or Go straight.
Note that this type of command is spelled and pronounced the
same way as the infinitive form of the verb.

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Vocabulary

store now
here right now
there today
tomorrow, yesterday to do
pen

Examples
Come here right now.

Go there.

Go to the store tomorrow.



Don't go today.

Give the book.


Don't take the vehicle today.


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Lesson 6 - Nouns, Adjectives, & Gender
In Hindi, every noun is either masculine or feminine. You will
learn how to make a noun plural and how to describe a noun
with an adjective.
Masculine Nouns
In each vocabulary section on this site, the gender of a noun is
always denoted. When making nouns plural, it is important to
know the gender. When a masculine noun ends in , change the
to to make it plural. If a masculin noun does not end in ,
then it does not inflect (change) but stays the same.

boy boys
shoe shoes
man men
house houses

Feminine Nouns

If a feminine noun ends in or , then to make it plural, change


the ending to . If a feminine noun does not end in or , then
add .

girl girls
chair chairs
woman women
pocket pockets

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Adjectives
When describing things, the adjective must agree with the noun
it describes in gender and number. Adjectives that end in
inflect. When the noun is masculine singular, the ending of the
adjective stays . If the noun is masculine plural, then the
ending of the adjective changes to . If the noun is feminine
(singular or plural), then the ending of the adjective changes to .
When an adjective modifies a noun of mixed or unknown
gender, masculine is used.

big boy big boys


small house small houses
big girl big girls
small pocket small pockets

If the adjective does not end in , it will never inflect. Here are a
few examples with adjectives not ending in .

beautiful boy
beautiful girl
clean houses
clean pockets

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Word Order
There can be two ways to describing something. In these
examples, note the differences in the meanings.

This is a big dog. -

This dog is big. -

Vocabulary
m.
boy shoe m.
man m. house m.
girl f. chair f.
woman f. pocket f.
big small
beautiful clean
red white
yellow black
blue green
weather m. how much, how many
how well
good bad
happy sad
someone

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Examples
That chair is black.

Those men are not big.


Is he a big boy?
?

How are you?


?

I am well.

Someone is happy.

How is the weather?


?

How many boys sleep?


?

She is a beautiful woman.


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Give a big, black chair.
,

Don't take the red pen.


Those pockets are not big.


Lesson 7 - Postpositions I
The English prepositions (of, on, in, etc.) come before the noun
(e.g., in India, of him). In Hindi, however, these words come
after the noun they modify, so we call them postpositions. This
lesson will show you how to use postpositions.
Inflections
When prepositions are used in English, often the pronoun is
inflected (e.g., I to me, they to them). If a noun, pronoun, or an
adjective ends in and is modified by a postposition, each one
must be inflected to (excluding names, of course). when
followed by a postposition will change to (singular).
when followed by a postposition will change to
(also singular). Plural nouns followed by postpositions will be
covered in Lesson 8. None of the pronouns in Hindi end in ,
but they are uniquely inflected as shown in the table below.

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(s.)
(pl.)

Using

This shows ownership. From the table above, + = - my. A


noun or pronoun plus is used as an adjective. This means that
it goes before the noun and that it inflects to agree with the noun
with the same rules show in Lesson 6. Of these postpositions,
this is the only one that can be inflected. Keep in mind, that
though this is the only one that can be inflected, all postpositions
cause inflection to the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that they
modify.

my house -

their boys -
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Using

The best literal meaning of is to. More uses will be explained


when learning passive sentence construction.

Give the book to me. -

Tell (to) her now. -

Using

is best translated to from. Sometimes it also means with, by, or


to. When using verbs about conversation (e.g., talk, speak, ask,
request, tell, invite, call, etc.), or will be used. Just as in
English, you must learn which postposition is paired with which
verb. More on this in the lessons to come.

Take food from her. -

He speaks to you. -

Using

is best translated to in. Sometimes it also means during or


while when added to gerunds (covered later).

A pen is in my pocket. -

I am in a store. -

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Using

is best translated to on. Sometimes it also means at when


talking about places and times.

A pen is on the book. -

The boys are at home. -

Vocabulary

table f. floor m.
m.
room street f.
mother , f. father , m.
brother m. sister f.
son m. daughter f.
friend m./f. to talk

Examples
Who's book is this?
?

The dog comes in the house.


The table is on the floor.


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My son's friend goes in the street.

My mom's house is there.


Give (to) me my brother's friend's book.


Talk to my sister in my father's room.


What is your name?


?

My name is Pankaj.

Lesson 8 - Postpositions II
In the previous lesson, we focused on how to add a postposition
to pronouns and singular nouns. In this lesson we will learn how
to add postpositions to plural nouns. We will also learn the
contracted versions and how to add a post position to a pronoun-
noun combination (e.g., to those people).

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Plural Masculine Nouns

If a plural masculine noun ends in , then change the ending to


to add the postposition. For example, + = . If a
plural masculine noun does not end in , then simply add
when using a postposition. For example, + = . Plural
adjectives will not follow this pattern. Singular adjectives,
however, that end in will inflect to if the noun or pronoun
that they modify is followed by a postposition.
Plural Feminine Nouns

If a plural feminine noun ends in , then change the ending to


to add the postposition. For example, + = .
If a plural feminine noun ends in , then change the ending to
when using a postposition. For example, + = .

Contracted Forms

When is added to a pronoun, there may be other less formal


ways to say it. You learned the formal way in Lesson 7. Here is
a list of pronouns with that can be contracted.

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Formal Casual Informal

Pronoun-Noun Combinations
Sometimes in English, we add a noun or a pronoun to a
prepositional phrase for emphasis - to boy or to him can be made
into to that boy. The same is done in Hindi. Notice that one
word can be separated to put the noun in the middle.
or can be made into . Note that an adjective can be
added to and will inflect if it ends in .

this girl's - + + =

from those beautiful women - + + + =

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Vocabulary

people m. person m./f.


child m./f. and, more
water m. or
dirty angry
crazy everything, all
thin thick, fat
only much, very, a lot

Examples
That girl tells everything to those boys.

That person talks with those angry, crazy people.


,

Don't give more dirty water to this child.


Take food or water.


Is your brother thin or fat?


?

He reads many books.


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Only boys play cricket.

Lesson 9 - Important Hindi Phrases


Now that you know some grammar, you can better understand
some very important phrases that are used often. This lesson will
teach you common greetings and questions that may be asked
when first meeting someone.
Hello and Goodbye
In India, you will hear a few different types of greetings. If you
live in India, listen to those around you to know what kind of
greetings to use.

hello - , ,

bye - ,

How are you? - ?

How are you? (short) - ?

I'm fine. -

And you? - ?

Where are you from? - ?

Where are you from? (short) - ?


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How many years (old) are you? - ? (see
vocabulary below)

I am nine years old. -

thank you - ,

please - ,

Vocabulary

opposite (location) also


maybe under
after key f.
nine year m.

Note: always refers to the word directly before it.

Examples
My house is opposite (across the street) of your house.

Maybe he also speaks Hindi.


The key is under the vehicle.


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Drink water after food.

Lesson 10 - Future Tense & Time


Learn how to speak about events that will happen in the future.
Also learn about telling the time, date, day of the week, and
month.
Future Tense
Future tense verbs in Hindi are very easy to learn. The table
below shows the verb endings used with the verb .

Masculine Feminine
I will go
you will go (informal)
you will go
you will go (formal)
he, she, it will go
we will go
they will go

Irregular Verbs

The verbs and have different forms. The same verb


endings above are used, but the verb roots and are what
change for the future tense. becomes , and becomes .
Although is generally irregular, in the future tense it follows
the pattern in the table above.

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I will give. -

She will take. -

Time of Day
When speaking of an event that will take place at a specific
time, no postposition is used. The Hindi word for o'clock is .
When specifying times in the morning, add the Hindi word for
morning - . For afternoons, add plus . For evenings, add
plus . And for nights, add plus .

X o'clock in the morning - X

X o'clock in the afternoon - X

X o'clock in the evening - X

X o'clock in the night - X

Days of the Week, Months, and Years


When describing an event that will happen on a specific day of
the week, add . When describing events that will happen
during a specific month or year, add .

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Other Important Words
When speaking of the day after tomorrow, or the day before
yesterday, use .

, by itself, means someone. , by itself, means something.


When these words are placed in front of a noun, however,
and becomes some. Use for plural nouns and uncountable
nouns, and use for singular nouns. Remember that inflects
to when followed by a post position. never inflects.

some girl -

some water -

some people -

Vocabulary

morning m. afternoon m.
evening m. night f.
Monday June

Examples
I will come tomorrow morning.

She will talk to your friend on Monday.


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Will you go home in June?
?

Will you give here some books the day after tomorrow?
?

I will read your book some night.


He will give the book to some boys.


Lesson 11 - Present Continuous Tense


Learn how to speak about events that are currently happening
(e.g., I am speaking).
Using the present continuous tense in Hindi is easy. To make a
verb present continuous, use only the root of the verb, plus the
correct form of , plus the present time marker (see Lesson 1).
The table below conjugates the verb into the present
continuous tense.

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Masculine Feminine
I am going
you are going (informal)
you are going
you are going (formal)
he, she, it is going
we are going
they are going

Note: Just as in English, this tense can sometimes be used to talk


about something that will happen in the near future (e.g., I am
going to New Delhi tomorrow).
Using

This verb is one of the most used words in Hindi. If you can
understand a few of the ways it can be used, your speaking skills
will significantly improve. Often you can put after a noun or
adjective to make it a verb. The Hindi word for help or
assistance is f.. So to make the verb to help, you can say
. Whenever these types of verbs are introduced in the
vocabulary section, you will notice a formula to help you
correctly make a complete sentence.

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Vocabulary

to wash to clean X X
cloth m.
to buy
help f. to help X X
use m. to use X X
for

Examples
I am coming right now.

My sister is buying food.


My mom is washing my clothes for me.


I am using a pen.

She is cleaning the floor.


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Lesson 12 - Past Tense of

This lesson will teach you how to say was and were. There are
also some guidelines for the postpositions and .

When the subject is masculine singular, use . When the


subject is masculine plural, use . When the subject is feminine
singular, use . And when feminine plural, use . See the table
below.

Masculine Feminine
I was
you were (informal)
you were
you were (formal)
he, she, it was
we were
they were

Some Uses of and

These postpositions are very important in Hindi. They are


usually easily understood, but knowing how to use it correctly
can be tricky. Here are all the verbs that pertain to
communication (speak, tell, talk, call, invite, ask, request, meet),
and a sample phrase to show when to use or . Keep in mind
that it is the person being communicated with that takes the
postposition, not the message being communicated.

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to speak with X - X

to talk to X - X

to call X - X

to ask X - X

to request from X - X

to tell X - X

to invite X - X

to meet X - X

In some cases, is omitted but the nouns before it remain


inflected. This can be very confusing. Perhaps the most common
case is when saying, to X's house. is usually omitted in this
case, so to my house is said, . Note that house is singular.

I am coming to your house. -

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Vocabulary

to call, to invite to call (phone)


to ask, to inquire to ask, to request
to meet

Examples
I was in your room.

Where were you yesterday?


She wasn't home this morning.


I will tell your sister.


Invite my brother too.



He will call you today.


I will ask your father.


We will meet tomorrow.


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Lesson 13 - Past Continuous Tense
This lesson will teach you how to talk about things that were
happening in the past. Also a common use of infinitives will be
explained.
The past continuous tense in Hindi is very similar to the present
continuous tense. To make a verb past continuous tense, start
with the root of the verb, add the correct form of , then add the
correct form of . The table below shows the verb
conjugated in the past continuous tense.

Masculine Feminine
I was going
you were going (informal)
you were going
you were going (formal)
he, she, it was going
we were going
they were going

Using Infinitives
In English, an infinitive is to plus a verb (eg., to run, to eat). In
Hindi, an infinitive is the form of the verb that ends in . This is
the form given in the vocabulary sections. Suppose you want to
say I want to go home or I want to speak Hindi. To say these in
Hindi, just use the infinitive form of the verb, as in English.

I want to go home. -

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I want to speak Hindi. -

When followed by a postposition, an infinitive will inflect.

after learning -

in (while) coming -

for buying (in order to buy) -

When showing a purpose as in that last example, may be


omitted.

I am going to the store to buy food. -



Vocabulary

about to learn
to make easy
difficult to teach
India to arrive

Examples
I was thinking about you.

He was studying (reading) Hindi yesterday.


I was making food in your room.


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I will learn to speak Hindi.

Learning Hindi is easy.


Teach me to make (cook) food.


I will go to India to learn Hindi.


They will make food for us after arriving home.


Lesson 14 - Past Habitual Tense &

This lesson will teach you how to talk about things that used to
happen in the past. You will also learn how to use the possessive
pronoun .

The past habitual tense in Hindi is very similar to the present


habitual tense (see Lesson 3). The only difference is that in
present habitual tense, you add the present form of to the
end, while in the past habitual tense, you add the past form of
to the end. The table below conjugates the verb into
past habitual tense.

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Masculine Feminine
I used to go
you used to go (informal)
you used to go
you used to go (formal)
he, she, it used to go
we used to go
they used to go

The Possessive Pronoun

Possessive pronouns (sometimes called possessive adjectives)


are words like my - , your - , and his - . In Hindi,
when the subject of a sentence is also what is possessive of a
different noun, a special possessive pronoun is used - . This
possessive pronoun will follow the same inflection rules as the
others you have learned.

I will give you my book. -

She thinks about her brother a lot. -

Give me your pen. -

Vocabulary

every day to live, to remain, to stay


park

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Examples
I used to go to the store every day.

She used to want to live in India.


I used to play in that park.


Tell me your name.


Eat your own food.


Lesson 15 - Past Imperfect Tense with Transitive Verbs


This lesson will teach you how to talk about things that
happened in the past for transitive verbs.
Transitive & Intransitive Verbs
A transitive verb is a verb that can take an object, such as give,
eat, or do.

I gave him money.


I ate food.
He did work.

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Intransitive verbs (discussed in the next lesson) include go,
come, and die. These verbs cannot have an object: he went food,
or I came money.
Past Imperfect Tense
The past imperfect and past perfect tenses for transitive verbs
are quite different from all the other tenses in Hindi. To form a
past imperfect transitive verb, you must first add the
postposition to the subject. Keep in mind that the subject will
inflect, if possible. Then we will modify the verb. If the verb
stem ends in a consonant, we will add if the direct object is
masculine singular, if the direct object is feminine singular, if
the direct object is masculine plural, and if it is feminine plural.
Now if the verb stem ends in a vowel, add if the direct object
is masculine singular, if the direct object is feminine singular,
if it is masculine plural, and if feminine plural. You should
notice that in the past imperfect (and past perfect) tense, the verb
agrees in gender with the direct object rather than the subject.
Irregular Verbs

There are four irregular verbs we need to consider: , , ,


and . These four verbs will all follow the same pattern.

masculine singular object:


masculine plural object:
feminine singular object:
feminine plural object:

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Examples
I gave him a book.

She ate food.


Did you (do) work today?


?

I drank tea today.


He took my book.

When did you read her book?


?

My father told me this.


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