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Your Ultimate Guide to Hindi Grammar Basics

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Hindi grammar is the skeleton of our language. In Hindi, there are several grammar rules that are way different from those in English and other Romance or Latin languages. Understanding these theories will make your Hindi skills stronger and lower your chances of making an error.

It was with these factors in mind that we decided to create a brief lesson that covers all Hindi grammar topics for you! We’ll touch on a variety of concepts, from word order to tenses, and outline the most important things you need to know.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hindi Table of Contents
  1. General Rules of Hindi Grammar
  2. Word Order / Sentence Structure
  3. Punctuation and Diacritics
  4. Half-Consonants
  5. Gender
  6. Tenses
  7. Verbs
  8. Formal and Informal Tone
  9. Adjectives
  10. Conclusion

1. General Rules of Hindi Grammar

There are several Hindi grammar rules that differ greatly from those in other languages. Knowledge of these rules will give you an edge over other learners.

  • First of all, grammar in Hindi follows the SOV (Subject – Object – Verb) word order, as opposed to the SVO order English uses.

  • The second rule you need to remember is that everything has a gender in Hindi grammar. There are two grammatical genders in the Hindi language: feminine and masculine.

  • Many new Hindi learners also struggle with the concept of diacritics.

  • In Hindi, we have different pronouns and ways of addressing people depending on the level of respect and formality between them.

  • And the trickiest part of basic Hindi grammar for beginners is verb conjugation. But once we break it down for you with examples, you’ll find it quite easy. 🙂

We’d like to say that this list could go on and on—grammar is a vast aspect of any language. Nonetheless, this Hindi grammar guide will only focus on the most important rules to help you stand on your feet and get going!

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Let’s Start with the Basics

2. Word Order / Sentence Structure

There’s a reason we’re beginning our guide with word order information. I mean, what’s the first thing you do when you meet someone? You introduce yourself, ask their name, or even ask how they are. Even simple phrases like these can confuse you if you’re not confident about which word should be placed where!

While English sentences follow the SVO pattern, Hindi sentences follow the SOV word order.

Here, S = Subject, O = Object, V = Verb

Examples:

English Word OrderI read the book.
Hindi Word Orderमैं किताब पढ़ती हूँ। (main kiTaab padhaTii huun.) [FEMALE]
मैं किताब पढ़ता हूँ। (main kiTaab padhaTaa huun.) [MALE]

English Word OrderFather cooks the food.
Hindi Word Orderपिताजी खाना पकाते हैं। (piTaajii khaaNaa pakaaTe hain.)

Can you see how the sentence pattern changes when we shift from English to Hindi? Looks easy, right?

If you want to learn about this more in-depth, we recommend that you read our comprehensive guide on Hindi Word Order and practice with many more examples!

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3. Punctuation and Diacritics

Now it’s time to see what all the fuss on diacritics is about and in what way punctuation in Hindi differs from that in English.

1 – Punctuation

Regarding punctuation, here’s a quick tip: The Hindi ‘full stop’ is the only punctuation mark different from English or any other language. All the others, such as the comma or question mark, are the same. The ‘full stop,’ also known as the खड़ी पाई (khadii paaii) or पूर्ण विराम (puurn viraam) in Hindi, looks like the capital “।.”

Example:

  • यह मेरा घर है। (yah meraa ghar hai.) = “This is my house.” [Different Punctuation]
  • क्या तुम ठीक हो? (kyaa Tum thiik ho?) = “Are you okay?” [Same Punctuation]

2 – Diacritics

The concept of diacritics is completely new to non-native speakers, especially those who speak English or Romance languages. So, we’ll try to explain it to you in the simplest manner possible.

When a Hindi vowel and consonant are combined, the vowel dissolves by losing its separate identity and changes into a “diacritic” or मात्रा (maaTraa) attached to that particular consonant.

We know it’s easier said than done, so we’ve included a few examples for you to review.

Examples:

  • (ka) + (aa) = का (kaa)
  • (ja) + (ii)  = जी (jii)
  • (Ta) + (uu) = तू (Tuu)

Want to study more about the diacritics and how they can blend with consonants? Check out our detailed lesson on the Hindi Alphabet!

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4. Half-Consonants

Another concept that English speakers aren’t familiar with is the “half-consonant,” also called the “schwa-less” consonant. This is where the full consonant is replaced with its half version.

Every consonant in Hindi automatically includes a short “-a” sound with it. But sometimes, we might need two consonants together without any vowels between them. That’s where the concept of the “half-consonant” comes in. All we have to do is get rid of the second half of the first consonant letter and attach the other half to the second consonant.

ConsonantHalf-Consonant
  • ब्
  • स्
  • ल्

Examples:

  • डिब्बा (dibbaa) = “Container/Box” 
    • Here, half ब (ba) is attached to the following ब (ba).
  • ल्का (haLkaa) = “Light” 
    • Here, half ल (La) is attached to the following क (ka).
  • ग़ुस्सा (ġuSSaa) = “Anger” 
    • Here, half स (Sa) is attached to the following स (Sa).

5. Gender

Did you know that English has four gender classifications for its nouns and pronouns (masculine, feminine, common, and neuter), which are based on natural gender? This is not the case in Hindi. First of all, every noun and pronoun has a specific grammatical gender category assigned to it. Secondly, there are only two types of gender in the Hindi language: feminine and masculine.

Now, you must be thinking, “Fine, but how do I find out which words are masculine and which are feminine?” That’s a natural question, so we’ve outlined the basics below.

1 – Masculine Gender

More often than not, masculine, or पुल्लिंग (puLLing), nouns and pronouns end with an अ (-a) sound. It’s not spoken separately, but just as breathing space blended into the last letter of the word.

Example:

  • “Fruit” = फ (phaL) = फ् + अ + ल् +

Similarly, we have:

  • “Cloud” = बाद (baaDaL)
  • “Utensil” = बर्तन (barTaN)

2 – Feminine Gender

Feminine nouns and pronouns are easy to spot, too. They usually end with the sounds ई / ी (-ii) and आ / ा (-aa).

  • “Youth” = जवानी (javaaNii) = ज् + अ + व् + अ + न् +
  • “Mat” = चटा (cataaii)
  • “Shadow” = छाया (chaayaa

3 – Exceptions

And here comes the list of exceptions. In Hindi, there are many masculine words that sound feminine and vice-versa; you’ll just have to memorize them. Here are just a few to get you started:

Masculine Word Exceptions

  • “Room” = कमरा (kamaraa
  • “Bungalow” = बंगला (bangLaa)
  • “Dream” = सपना (SapaNaa)

Feminine Word Exceptions

  • “Bottle” = बोत (boTaL)
  • “Evening” = शा (saam)
  • “Morning” = सुब (Subah)
  • “Book” = किता (kiTaab)

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6. Tenses

Just like any other language, Hindi has three main tenses: past, present, and future. We’ll just briefly touch on Hindi grammar tenses here, but at the end of this section you’ll find a link to a comprehensive article on the topic! 

1 – Simple Present Tense

  • Ends with ता हूँ / ती हूँ / -ता है / – ती है / – ते हैं / ती हैं (-Taa huun / -Tii huun /-Taa hai / -Tii hai / -Te hain / -Tii hain).
Example Verb Form खाना (khaaNaa) = “To eat”
For MalesFor Females
1st Personमैं खाता हूँ। (main khaaTaa huun.)
“I eat.”
मैं खाती हूँ। (main khaaTii huun.)
“I eat.”
2nd Personतुम खाते हो। (Tum khaaTe ho.)
“You eat.”
तुम खाती हो। (Tum khaaTii ho.)
“You eat.”
3rd Personवे खाते हैं। (ve khaaTe hain.)
“They eat.”
वे खाती हैं। (ve khaaTii hain.)
“They eat.”

2 – Simple Past Tense

  • Ends with ता था / – ती थी / – ते थे / ती थीं (-Taa THaa / -Tii THii / -Te THe / -Tii THiin).
Example Verb Form खाना (khaaNaa) = “To eat”
For MalesFor Females
1st Personमैं खाता था। (main khaaTaa THaa.)
“I ate.”
मैं खाती थी। (main khaaTaa THii.)
“I ate.”
2nd Personतुम खाते थे। (Tum khaaTe The.)
“You ate.”
तुम खाती थीं। (Tum khaaTii THiin.)
“You ate.”
3rd Personवे खाते थे।  (ve khaaTe The.)
“They ate.”
वे खाती थीं। (ve khaaTii THiin.)
“They ate.”

3 – Simple Future Tense

  • Ends with -ऊँगा / -ऊँगी / -एगा / -एगी / -एंगे / -एंगी (-uungaa / -uungii / -egaa / -egii / -enge / -engii).
Example Verb Form खाना (khaaNaa) = “To eat”
For MalesFor Females
1st Personमैं खाऊंगा। (main khaauungaa.)
“I will eat.”
मैं खाऊँगी। (main khaauungii.)
“I will eat.”
2nd Personतुम खाओगे। (Tum khaaoge.)
“You will eat.”
तुम खाओगी। (Tum khaaogii.)
“You will eat.”
3rd Personवे खाएंगे। (ve khaaenge.)
“They will eat.”
वे खाएंगी। (ve khaaengii.)
“They will eat.”

We all know that tenses are far more comprehensive and complicated than these examples. To help you master them, we’ve got a complete guide on Hindi Tenses for you!

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7. Verbs

In Hindi, verbs conjugate according to gender, tense, and tone. We’ve already explained how tenses work, so now let’s look at some different characteristics of verbs in Hindi.

  • In Hindi, the infinitive verbs end with -ना (-Naa). For example, “to laugh” =  हँसना (hanSaNaa) and “to play” =  खेलना (kheLaNaa).

  • Moreover, the verbs always form the last part of the sentence; they come at the end. For example: सुमन गेंद से खेलती है। (SumaN genD Se kheLaTii hai.) = “Suman plays with a ball.”

  • Verbs conjugated for the masculine gender always end with an -aa or – e sound. Verbs conjugated for the feminine gender end with an -ii or -iin sound.

8. Formal and Informal Tone

In Indian culture, we use different tones for different people, based on factors like age, level of formality, and gender.

Let’s see how!

Talking about person of same ageविकास बाज़ार जाता है
(vikaaS baazaar jaaTaa hai.)
“Vikas goes to the market.”
Talking about an elderly personदादाजी बाज़ार जाते हैं
(DaaDaajii baazaar jaaTe hain.)
“Grandpa goes to the market.”

In a nutshell, we treat a singular noun or pronoun as plural in the following situations:

  • When talking to an elderly person
  • When trying to show respect
  • When talking to a person of a different gender (especially female)
  • When using a formal tone
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9. Adjectives

If you’re expressive like us Indians, chances are you’ll be needing a lot of adjective words in Hindi. But just knowing the words isn’t enough. You’ll also have to be aware of where to place those adjectives in a Hindi sentence. Moreover, keep in mind that Hindi adjectives also change their forms according to the gender of the noun they describe.

Example:

Let’s take the adjectives “yellow” and “straight” as examples.

Adjective 1Masculine NounFeminine Noun
“Yellow”यह कप पीला है। (yah kap piiLaa hai.)
“This cup is yellow.”
यह साड़ी पीली है। (yah Saadii piiLii hai.)
“This saree is yellow.”

Adjective 2Masculine NounFeminine Noun
“Straight”वह रास्ता सीधा है। (vah raaSTaa SiiDHaa hai.)
“That path is straight.”
वह गली सीधी है। (vah gaLii SiiDHii hai.)
“That street is straight.”

Also remember that an adjective is always placed adjacent to (before or after) the noun. For more information, please feel free to go through our wonderful article on Hindi Adjectives.

10. Conclusion

We’ve not even covered all the Hindi grammar points yet, as our goal was to give you a quick glimpse into the most important concepts. Sort of like a way to break the ice between you and Hindi grammar. 🙂

Did you enjoy our overview? If yes, let us know what you like about it. If not, we’d love to hear your suggestions on what else we could have included to make it better!

Do you want to delve even deeper into Hindi grammar and culture? We’re constantly adding new world-class lesson materials for you on our website. For beginners and intermediate learners, we also have a free online Hindi-English dictionary to help you out as you come across unfamiliar words or phrases.

So, don’t wait any longer! Get started with our Premium Membership to access an unlimited bundle of knowledge. It’s high time to talk like a native and impress your Hindi-speaking friends.

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Happy Hindi learning!

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