If you started to learn Hindi recently, some of the most useful words you want to add to your vocabulary will be verbs. Verbs are often formed with a noun so learning a verb is a one-stone-two-birds situation.
The Hindi language and grammar is incredibly rich and through the years, the language borrowed words not only from Sanskrit, the most ancient Indian language but from Persian, Arabic and English as well. However, there is no accurate or official estimation of how many words the Hindi language contains, even though the Collin's Hindi-English dictionary boasts more than 250,000-word translations.
For example, the Hindi language has more than 200 words to describe an elephant!
Hindi is not the only language of the Union of India, besides Bengali, Telugu and Marathi, Urdu is also commonly spoken and it is the official language of Pakistan. Yet, Urdu and Hindi are mutually intelligible, meaning that if you speak Hindi you will be able to understand Urdu.
If you would like to learn more about Hindi tenses take a look at our previous article.
The main difference between the two languages is the script system they use. Hindi words are written in the Devanagari script while Urdu uses the Persian alphabet.
Like in all languages, verbs in Hindi are used to describe an action, a state, a fact or an emotion. We saw in a previous article how to conjugate verbs in the present, past and future tense and this article will focus on common, useful or import verbs that any new learner should add to its lexicon.
Learn more about how to build Hindi sentences here.
The Auxiliary "To Be" - Honaa
This verb is just as important in Hindi as it is in English. If you don't know how to conjugate this irregular verb you will not be able to conjugate any of the Hindi regular verbs.
As we saw in our previous article, you mainly need to know the simple forms of the present, past and future tenses of this verb to decline all the regular verbs. This is the only verb we will give a full conjugation as it is most likely the most important verb you should learn.
- Present Tense -
I am = Main hoon
You (intimate) are = Too hai
You (familiar) are = Tum ho
You (formal) are = Aap hain
He / She / This is = Voh / Yeh hai
We are = Ham hain
They / That are = Ve / Ye hain
The present form of Hona does not inflect depending on the gender of the subject, however, the past and future tense do and the feminine form is written in parenthesis.
- Past Tense -
I was = Main tha (thi)
You (intimate) were= Too tha (thi)
You (familiar) were= Tum the (thin)
You (formal) were= Aap the (thin)
He / She / This was = Voh / Yeh tha (thi)
We were = Ham the (thin)
They / That were = Ve / Ye the (thin)
- Future Tense -
I will be = Main hunga (hungi)
You (intimate) will be = Too hoga (hungi)
You (familiar) will be= Tum hoge (hungi)
You (formal) will be= Aap honge (hungi)
He / She / This will be= Voh / Yeh hoga (hungi)
We will be = Ham honge (hungi)
They / That will be= Ve / Ye honge (hungi)
You will also have noticed the different grammatical pronouns that are used
"To Eat" Your Way Through India
India has an incredible cuisine culture and heritage. Just like Hindi, the food Indians eat every day is the mix of centuries of diverse and rich traditions coming from all corners of the Indian sub-continent. One thing that is certain is that Indian like their spices: make sure to precise if you do not like anything too spicy.
To eat = Khaanaa खाना
As we mention before, verbs often share the same root are may even be the exact same as their noun equivalent. For instance, the noun "food" is exactly the same as the verb "to eat". "I eat food" will read "Main (I) khaana (food) khaata (eat) hoon (am) = मैं खाना खाता हुँ "
If you are a vegetarian, a very common diet in India, simply say "I eat only vegetarian food = Main (I) keval (only) shaakaahaaree (vegetarian) bhojan (food) khaata (eat) hoon (am) = मैं केवल शाकाहारी भोजन खाता हूँ।"
You will notice that we used another word for food (bhojan) here, in fact, food is so important in Indian culture that you will probably see dozens of different way to say food.
One of the greatest ways to tone down spicy Indian food is to order some raita, a mix of yoghurt and fresh vegetables (usually onion, cucumber and tomato).
"Can I have some raita, please? = Kya mujhe kuchh raayata chaahie? = क्या मुझे कुछ रायता चाहिए?"
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"To Do" All Around India
This verb is very useful to know as many other compound verbs require to use of the auxiliary "to do" to be conjugated.
"To do = Karnaa = करना"
Verbs that require Karnaa include "to love" ,"to clean", "to feel" or "to work", so if you want to say:
- "I love you = Main (I) tumase (you) pyaar (love) karata (do) hoon (am) = मैं तुमसे प्यार करता हूँ"
Be aware when saying that in India though. Traditions and customs are still very important in the country. Even though romantic love is one of the favourite subjects of the Indian film industry or Bollywood, it is still the norm for marriages to be arranged. When a couple meets on their own, without the involvement of a matchmaker, it is very common that they still go through the intricacies of an arranged wedding.
- I will clean my room = Main (I) apana (my) kamara (room) saaph (clean) kar (do) doonga (give) = मैं अपना कमरा साफ कर दूंगा
- "I feel tired = Main (I) thakaan (tired) mahasoos (feel) kar (do) rahee (-ing) hoon (am) = मैं थकान महसूस कर रही हूँ।"
- "I am working late today" = Main (I) aaj (today) der se (late) kaam (work) kar (do) raha (-ing) hoon (am) = मैं आज देर से काम कर रहा हूँ।"
"To Give" Because Sharing Is Caring
India's two main religions are Hinduism and Islam, offerings and charity are two important aspects of both those religions.
For Hindus, it is common to make sacrificial offerings often include water (as a symbol of cleansing), flowers, incense and food (rice fruits, ghee or sugary sweets) during the prayer ritual, called Puja ( पूजा ).
For Muslims, which represent 14.2% of the Indian population, with the main Muslim communities in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh (as well as the newly formed state of Telangana). Zakat or "that which purifies" is the third pillar of the Islamic religion which means that alms-giving is an obligation for practising Muslims.
"To give = Denaa = देना"
This is another one of the Hindi auxiliary verbs that are often used to conjugate in Hindi.
When negotiating you will need to use this word to bargain the best deal possible. And be careful, Indians are famously known to be ruthless bargainers.
"One hundred rupees, that's my final offer = 100 rupees Dena hai toh deh? = १०० रुपया देना है तो देह?"
This is one of the Indian expressions that can not be translated literally in English, but it will mean that if the shopkeeper or tuk-tuk driver you are negotiating with does not take your offer, you will walk away (and if you do walk away they will usually agree, given that your offer was not insanely low).
"To Go" Anywhere And Everywhere In India
Saying that India is a big country is an understatement. It is gigantic. Ranking as the 7th biggest country in the world, India is almost as big as continental Europe.
Cities in India can fell somewhat chaotic and completely unorganised. As a fresh of the plane newcome,r the streets of Bombay or Delhi will look like a giant maze. Knowing how to ask for directions in Hindi might get you out of a few sweaty and anxious situations.
"To Go = Jaana = जाना"
If you are talking to a tuk-tuk driver here are a few sentences that will come in useful:
" I want to go to ... = Mujhe (Location) jaana hai = ( मुझे ... जाना है )"
or "I want to go to the train station = Main tren steshan jaana chaahata hoon = मैं ट्रेन स्टेशन जाना चाहता हूँ"
"How much to go to...?(...) = Jaane ka kitana lagega? = ( ... जाने का कितना लगेगा? )"
If you are taking a taxi in India, make sure to ask the driver to put the meter on unless you agreed on a flat rate for the fare. Once again, if the driver refuses, just walk away.
"To want" To Order Like An Indian
This verb will come in very handy when you want to order something in bars and restaurant or even at the street food stall around the corner.
One of the most common ways to start the day for Indian workers is to visit their favourite chai-walla (or tea seller). Chai simply means "tea" but pretty much anywhere in India, it refers to the delicious spiced milk tea that Indians make to perfection and drink by the pint.
"I want a chai = Mujhe (me) chaee (tea) chaahie (want) = मुझे चाई चाहिए"
" I would like a table for two = Mujhe (me) do (two) logon (people) ke lie (for) tebal (table) chaahie (want) = .मुझे दो लोगों के लिए टेबल चाहिए।"
" I would like three beers = Mujhe (me) teen (three) beeyar (beers) chaahie (want) = मुझे तीन बीयर चाहिए"
"Do Not Want = Nahin chaahie ( नहीं चाहिए )", the negative form of the verb will be just as useful as many touters will approach you trying to sell you anything and everything. By simply saying "Nahin Chaahie" you can be sure that they will understand that you are not interested and that they should try their luck elsewhere.
Check out some Hindi lessons for beginners.
By now you should be able to go around and about in India without feeling lost or scared. Don't be too shy to try to speak Hindi, people will be indulgent. And if you want to perfect your pronunciation, your grammar and learn more sentences either make friends with some locals or hire a private tutor.