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How to Avoid the Top 10 Common Mistakes in Learning Hindi

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Mistakes are a part of life. But some of them may get us in trouble or in quite an embarrassing situation. This is especially true when learning a new language.

Being a non-native, you may have already experienced the pain of making common Hindi grammar mistakes. Honestly, we feel you! But we can’t bend the rules for you. After all, it’s a language, something you can’t mess with!

A Little Girl Mixing Different Liquids in a Jar for a Science Experiment

Mistakes are a part of life!

But we’re not saying that you can’t do anything about it. There are several ways that you can make the learning process easier on yourself and plenty of strategies to get ahead of others.

So, in this lesson, we’ll be sharing some quick tricks and tips on how to avoid spelling mistakes in the Hindi language, in addition to common grammatical errors.

Let’s get started, guys!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hindi Table of Contents
  1. Oh, the Curse of Phonetics!
  2. The Gender Conflict
  3. Confusing Homonyms
  4. “Where” to Place “What” and “Why”!
  5. The Politeness Code
  6. Stay Away from Redundancy
  7. Clever Diacritics
  8. When to Skip the jii Suffix
  9. The Local Dialect
  10. The Fear of Making Mistakes
  11. Overcoming Your Hindi Mistakes with HindiPod101.com

1. Oh, the Curse of Phonetics!

Well, as they say, eat your frogs first. Phonetics is a real pain for any Hindi language learner. And it’s scary as hell. So, let’s tackle that first.

Common Hindi pronunciation mistakes abound when new learners begin speaking the language. Whether it’s the accent, the pronunciation, or the stretch of a syllable, this one is a head-scratcher. But HindiPod101.com has your back!

Before this scary monster begins to overpower your abilities and crush your self-confidence, check out our comprehensive guide on Hindi pronunciation. It will give you deep insight into the micro-concepts of the language and help you learn faster.

When studying Hindi, there are certain facts worth knowing about the language. We’ll do our best to cover these facts in the following sections.

1 – Writing System

Exampleक    +     म +    र +   आ = कमरा (kamaraa) = “room”
(ka) + (ma) + (ra) + (aa)

2 – Unfamiliar Sounds

  • There are a handful of new sounds in Hindi that are completely unfamiliar to non-natives. So, it’s quite possible to get confused while pronouncing them.
Examples of Unfamiliar Sounds
त (T) = This is the soft sound of [t] as used in “barista” or in the Italian pronunciation of “pasta.”
त्र (Tr) = This is the coupled sound of soft [T] + [r] to make [Tr], as in “Dmitrij” or the Italian pronunciation of “restaurant.”
ख or ख़ (kh) = This is the coupled sound of [k] + [h] to make [kh], as in “Khan” or “Bach.” Of course, both are loan words from the Urdu and German languages, because there’s no such English word with the “-kh” sound.

And we’re not even close to covering all the points which so frequently lead to the most common Hindi pronunciation mistakes.

3 – Syllables

  • A longer or shorter stretch of a syllable may completely change the meaning of a word.
Syllable ExamplesLonger StretchShorter Stretch
पेटSpoken as (pet) as in “gate” or “late”

पेट (pet) = “stomach” / “belly”
Spoken as (pet) as in “get” or “set”

पेट (pet) = “pet animal”
जेल Spoken as (jeL) as in “bale” or “tail”

जेल (jeL) = “prison”
Spoken as (jeL) as in “tell” or “fell”

जेल (jeL) = “gel”

Now, don’t sweat over it. These concepts may feel overwhelming, but with time and practice, you’ll soon be able to master them. 🙂

A Couple Helping Their Daughter Ride a Bike

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

2. The Gender Conflict

You probably know that English verbs are gender-neutral, and that only the pronouns vary based on gender. However, that’s not the case in the Hindi language.

Using the wrong gender-verb conjugation is one of the most common Hindi grammar mistakes. And it’s totally understandable because, for a beginner, the rules can be tricky at times.

Nonetheless, we have one secret code that will not only help you catch the tiger by its tail, but also tame it.

Feminine GenderAll of the verbs and other conjugations end with the -ii sound.

This rule applies to both singular and plural nouns/pronouns.
Examplesजाती है (jaaTii hai) = “goes”
सोती है (SoTii hai) = “sleeps
“खाती है (khaaTii hai) = “eats”

Masculine GenderFor the singular masculine gender, all of the verbs and other conjugations end with the -aa sound.

For the plural masculine gender, all of the verbs and other conjugations end with the -e sound.
Singular Examplesजाता है (jaaTaa hai) = “goes”
सोता है (SoTaa hai) = “sleeps”
खाता है (khaaTaa hai) = “eats”
Plural Examplesजाते हैं (jaaTe hain) = “go”
सोते हैं (SoTe hain) = “sleep”
खाते हैं (khaaTe hain) = “eat”

What we’ve covered here are just the basic rules of thumb to help you avoid conjugation-related Hindi grammar mistakes. In fact, the conjugation rules vary according to the tense, mood, and tone as well. For the more curious souls, have a look at our amazing Verb Conjugation article!

3. Confusing Homonyms

Even if you think you’ve mastered how to avoid spelling mistakes in the Hindi language, there are always things that can go wrong. Why? Because not everything has a shortcut. So, don’t judge yourself or be super-critical about minor mistakes.

Some skills take time to develop and grow. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race! 😉

One of the most troublesome concepts is that of “homonyms.” And mind you, these pairs of words are the exact copies of each other. It’s so easy for beginners to make a mistake in Hindi here without the proper experience and exposure. The only way to crack the code and differentiate between their meanings is by looking at the entire context of a conversation.

A Man Talking about Himself in an Interview

Messed up in a meeting because you said the wrong word?

Here are a few common homonyms that are easily confused.

Hindi WordEnglish Meaning 1English Meaning 2
कल (kaL)“Yesterday”“Tomorrow”
फल (phaL)“Gold” (noun)“To sleep” (verb)
फल (phaL)“Fruits” (noun)“Result” / “Outcome”
खाना (khaaNaa)“Food” (noun)“To eat” (verb)

4. “Where” to Place “What” and “Why”!

Before we continue, some good news for you: We’re almost halfway through this lesson. Yay! Give yourself a pat on the back!

Don’t get too carried away, though, because we have another brain teaser waiting for us.

Now, we’ll be talking about the Hindi sentence pattern and word order. Or, to be precise, about where you should place interrogative words when asking a question. Pay attention, because confusion on this topic leads to many Hindi mistakes! 

Unlike in English, in Hindi, we place the interrogative words right before the helping verb or main verb. Just for easy reference, here are a few common Hindi question words:

  • क्या (kyaa) = “what”
  • कब (kab) = “when”
  • कहाँ (kahaan) = “where”
  • क्यों (kyon) = “why”

5. The Politeness Code

Offending someone is the last thing you want to do in a foreign country. In India, following the proper code of conduct and showing respect and courtesy matter a lot.

Just like people in many Asian countries, we Indians have particular words and phrases we use to show respect to our elders, strangers, and other people in formal situations. We’ll admit that this isn’t so much a set of Hindi mistakes as it is a cultural difference.

So, whenever you’re meeting someone:

  • for the first time;
  • elderly;
  • of the opposite gender;
  • officially senior to you;
  • who is a stranger,

Our rule of thumb is to go with the word आप (aap) rather than तुम (Tum). Both words are Hindi translations for the pronoun “you.” But remember that आप (aap) is more than just a word; it’s a gesture of showing respect and proper etiquette.

6. Stay Away from Redundancy

A frequent mistake Hindi-learners make is to crowd a sentence with unnecessary words. Well, honestly, the crime of redundancy is not unique to Hindi, but it’s still important to cover.

First of all, repetitive words make us sound clumsy and cluttered. Redundancy steals the sharpness and freshness from our sentences and turns them into long, boring lines.

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Mastering Hindi the fun way!

Here are a few examples of common mistakes that are made while learning Hindi.

Example 1Hindi SentenceLiteral English Meaning
Wrong Wayमैं तुमसे सोमवार के दिन मिलूंगा Imain Tum Se Somavaar ke DiN miLuungaa.“I will meet you on the day of Monday.”
Right Wayमैं तुमसे सोमवार को मिलूंगा Imain Tum Se Somavaar ko miLuungaa.“I will meet you on Monday.”

Example 2Hindi SentenceLiteral English Meaning
Wrong Wayट्रेन को आने में दो घंटे का समय लगेगा ItreN ko aaNe men Do ghante kaa Samay Lagegaa.“The train will arrive in two hours of time.”
Right Wayट्रेन को आने में दो घंटे लगेंगे ItreN ko aaNe men Do ghante Lagenge.“The train will arrive in two hours.”

Example 3Hindi SentenceLiteral English Meaning
Wrong Wayक्या मुझे एक गिलास पीने का पानी मिलेगा?kyaa mujhe ek giLaaS piiNe ka paaNii miLegaa?“Can I get a glass of drinking water?”
Right Wayक्या मुझे एक गिलास पानी मिलेगा?kyaa mujhe ek giLaaS paaNii miLegaa?“Can I get a glass of water?”

As you can see, the phrases “the day of,” “of time,” and “drinking” in Examples 1, 2, and 3 respectively, are unnecessary. Removing them from the sentence doesn’t affect the meaning at all. In fact, removing those words helps us construct shorter, cleaner statements.

7. Clever Diacritics

Make no mistake! Hindi diacritics are a total game-changer. They can make you or break you. But what is a diacritic, anyway? Check out our lesson to find more information about the Hindi maatraa.

Assuming that you have a little bit of an idea about the Hindi maatraa, let’s see how missing a seemingly innocent sign here and there can completely distort the meaning of your statement.

सुना (SuNaa) = “Listened” / “Heard”

सूना (SuuNaa) = “Feeling empty” / “Deserted”

का(kaam) = “Work”

म (kam) = “Less” / “Few”

दिन (DiN) = “Day”

दीन (DiiN) = “Poor” / “Underprivileged”

सिलना (SiLaNaa) = “To sew”

सीलना (SiiLaNaa) = “Damp” / “Soggy”

र (or) = “Toward”

र (aur) = “And”

As you can see, a slight change in diacritics can greatly change a word’s meaning. Ignorance about the significance of diacritics is another common mistake Hindi-learners make, so watch out for these! 

8. When to Skip the jii Suffix

It’s always okay, and especially important, to add the जी (-jii) suffix when calling an elder person by their name. The one and only condition where using जी (-jii) may do you more harm than good, is when you attach it to your own name.

Yeah, that could leave your Indian friends laughing out loud. It just doesn’t go well with our own names. So, always remember to avoid getting into this pitfall, because it’s a natural mistake that Hindi grammar lessons don’t often talk about!

A Little Girl Practicing the Piano

9. The Local Dialect

Nearly every language can be said to have its own colloquial words. This may include synonyms, regional accents, local dialects, and so on. So, basically, a word can have the same meaning in different dialects, even if each dialect says it quite differently. 

To give you an idea, let’s recall words like “yeah” / “yup” / “ya” which all mean “yes.” Similarly, we also use “buddy” / “bud” / “pal” / “man” / “dude,” all of which mean the same thing.

Likewise, in Hindi, a category of similar words may confuse a beginner. What are these words? Well, here are some examples:

Interchangeable Hindi WordsEnglish Meaning
वह (vah) / वो (vo)“He” / “She” / “That”
सब (Sab) / सारे (Saare) / सभी (Sabhii)“All” / “Everyone”
क्यों (kyon) / काहे (kaahe) / किसलिए (kiSLiye)“Why”
कहाँ (kahaan) / किधर (kidhar)“Where”

You get the drift, right? It’s not a matter of one phrase being right and the others being wrong. It’s just a matter of preference by the individual or the regional dialect.

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How to avoid those oops moments!

10. The Fear of Making Mistakes

You’ve now learned how to improve Hindi mistakes that new learners make, and most of them are quite easy to fix. But what about the biggest mistake? 

Face your fears and don’t be ashamed of your common Hindi grammar mistakes. Have you seen a child falling again and again when trying to walk for the first time? We don’t call their fall a failure or mistake, do we? We take it as part and parcel of learning.

In our mind, we know that it’s practically impossible for him or her to crawl one day and start walking perfectly the next day. The same is true of Hindi language-learning. As long as you’re afraid of making mistakes, you’ll never learn to move forward.

So, instead of acting on the natural tendency to escape, it’s time to master the tips from this article on how to avoid Hindi language mistakes.

11. Overcoming Your Hindi Mistakes with HindiPod101.com

All right! We’ve finally covered all of the common mistakes in learning Hindi and tips on how to avoid them. We hope this lesson has been useful and easy for you to understand.

If you have any doubts or questions, reach out to us at MyTeacher Messenger. All you need to do is download our free mobile app and start learning.

Is there anything we didn’t cover in this article that you want to know about? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and connect with other learners as well!

Happy Hindi learning!

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