Hindi is the most spoken native language in India with more than 422 million Indian people speaking it as their first language. On top of that, another 130 million Indians speak Hindi as their second or even third language. These figures should not be surprising given that Hindi is the official language of the Indian government along with English. With a total of more than 550 million speakers, over a population of nearly 1.4 billion, Hindi is an essential media of communication in India. If you are heading there for your studies, your work or just for holidays, getting to know the local language could come in very Hindi, mainly because India can be a very disorienting and unfamiliar territory. We previously introduced the basis of the Hindi grammar, and in this article, we will dive in a little bit deeper into Hindi verbs and Hindi tenses. If you would like to learn more about Hindi sentence structure, have a look at our previous article. In English grammar, given the strict linguistic definition of a tense, we only have two tenses: present and past. How then do you explain that English is perfectly capable of expressing actions that will take place in the future or even nuances within the timeframe of an action? Rather than using a whole different form of the verb like French loves to do, English uses the present or past form with a suffix or an auxiliary verb to differentiates between the 12 "tense forms" that we use every day. These include the simple, the perfect, the progressive and the perfect progressive tense forms for the present, past and future. See the example below (for a masculine subject):
|To Read - Padhana (पढ़ना)||Simple||Progressive||Perfect||Perfect Progressive|
|Present||I read - Main padhta hoon||I am reading - Main padh rahaa hoon||I have read - Main padhaa hoon||I have been reading - Main padhtaa rahaa hoon|
|Past||I read - Main padhaa||I was reading - Main padh rahaa thaa||I had read - Main padhaa thaa||I had been reading - Main padhtaa rahaa thaa|
|Future||I will read - Main padhunga||I will be reading - Main padhtaa rahunga||I will have read - Main padhaa hooungaa||I will have been reading - Main padhataa rahaa houngaa|
Basics of Conjugation in Hindi
To conjugate verbs in Hindi, you must first identify the stem of the verb. This is pretty easy as every regular verb will end in -naa. By removing this -naa suffix, you found the stem of the verb. The number of irregular verbs is limited, so let's not worry about them for now. Example: To read = Padhnaa >Padh is the stem of the verb, and naa is the infinitive suffix. You should also always remember:
- Verbs have a different ending depending if the subject is masculine or feminine. It means that each verb for each tense and each pronoun will have two forms. The feminine form nearly always ends in -ee or -en whereas the masculine form ends either in -e or -aa
- Unlike English, the second person pronoun is not the same according to who you speak. In English regardless if you are talking to your mate or the Prime Minister, you will use "you". In Hindi "you" can have three different forms "tū" is the "you" for your loved ones and maybe your closest friends, "tum" is the familiar "you" that you would use while speaking to your colleagues and "āp" is the formal and respectful "you" that you would use if speaking to your boss or the Indian Prime Minister.
- Most Hindi verbs are regular, making it easy for you to learn as their conjugation will follow logic and identic patterns.
Present Tenses in Hindi
Present Simple in Hindi
A tense aims to set the action within a time frame. The present simple form is commonly used to describe an action or a fact that is true in the present, something that happens regularly or something that is always true. In Hindi, to conjugate any verb in the present simple, you will use the auxiliary verb "to be" or "hona". See the declension below:
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
Also, you need to know how to form the participle of a verb. Once you identified the stem of a verb, remove the infinitive suffix -naa and add either -taa (singular masculine), -te (plural masculine) or -tee (singular and plural feminine), this give you the participle. The present simple is built as follow: (Stem of the verb + present participle suffix -taa = Present participle of the verb) + Auxiliary "to be" For "to read" this will unfold as: Padhnaa > Padh + taa > Main Padhtaa + hoon = I read
Simple isn't it?
I read= Main Padhtaa (-ee) hoon You (intimate) read = Too Padhtaa (-ee) hai You (familiar) read = Tum Padhte (-tee) ho You (formal) read = Aap Padhte (-ee) hain He / She / This read = Voh / Yeh Padhtaa (-ee) hai We read = Ham Padhte (-ee) hain They / That read = Ve / Ye Padhte (-ee) hain
Present Continous in Hindi
The present continuous is used when the action we are talking about takes place while we are talking, or to describe future plans. The mark of the continuous tense in English, no matter if it present, past or future, is the suffix -ing. In Hindi the equivalent of -ing is the word "raha"if a subject is a masculine singular, "rahe" if the subject is masculine plural and "rahi" if the subject is feminine (both singular and plural). To form the present continuous in Hindi you will need to use the stem of the verb followed by the Hindi word "rahaa" and then add the present tense of the auxiliary "to be".
I read= Main Padh raha (rahi) hoon You (intimate) read = Too Padh raha (rahi) hai You (familiar) read = Tum Padh rahe (rahi) ho You (formal) read = Aap Padh rahe (rahi) hain He / She / This read = Voh / Yeh Padh raha (rahi) hai We read = Ham Padh rahe (rahi) hain They / That read = Ve / Ye Padh rahe (rahi) hain
Past Tenses in Hindi
To be able to conjugate in the past tenses in Hindi you will need to know the past tense of the auxiliary verb To be - Hona.
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)
Past Simple in Hindi
The Past Simple is used to describe an action or a fact that happened in the past, recent or not, that is finished. To form the past simple in Hindi, you need to proceed the same way you did for the present simple but rather than using the present form of the verb "Hona" you will use the past tense. The form between parenthesis is the feminine conjugation.
I read= Main Padhtaa (-ee) tha (thi) You (intimate) read = Too Padhtaa (-ee) tha (thi) You (familiar) read = Tum Padhte (-tee) the (thin) You (formal) read = Aap Padhte (-ee) the (thin) He / She / This read = Voh / Yeh Padhtaa (-ee) tha (thi) We read = Ham Padhte (-ee) the (thin) They / That read = Ve / Ye Padhte (-ee) the (thin)
The Past Continuous
The past continuous is used to describe an action that started in the past but which is still happening at the time of speaking. It describes uncomplete or ongoing actions. Once again, to write the past continuous form of a regular verb, simply use the same way you wrote the present continuous but replace the present tense form of the auxiliary by the past tense of "hona".
I was reading= Main Padh raha (rahi) tha (thi) You (intimate) were reading = Too Padh raha (rahi) tha (thi) You (familiar) were reading = Tum Padh rahe (rahi) the (thin) You (formal) were reading = Aap Padh rahe (rahi) the (thin) He / She / This was reading = Voh / Yeh Padh raha (rahi) tha (thi) We were reading = Ham Padh rahe (rahi) the (thin) They / That were reading = Ve / Ye Padh rahe (rahi) the (thin)
Future Tenses in Hindi
The Simple Future
This tense is used for many different reasons: describing a future event, to indicate the willingness (I will) or non-willingness (I won't) of the subject, to give an order (You will!) or an invitation (Will you?) In Hindi, this tense neither requires the participle of the verb nor the use of the auxiliary "hona". Instead, the Hindi conjugation uses a unique suffix for each pronoun marking the future tense. The form between parenthesis is the feminine conjugation.
I will read= Main Padhunga (-ungi) You (intimate) will read= Too Padhega (-ungi) You (familiar) will read= Tum Padhoge (-ungi) You (formal) will read= Aap Padhenge (-ungi) He / She / This will read= Voh / Yeh Padhega (-ungi) We will read= Ham Padhenge (-ungi) They / That will read= Ve / Ye Padhenge (-ungi)
The Future Continuous
This tense is used to describe an action or state that is expected to happen in the future but that will not be completed. In English, we use the auxiliary "to be" in the future tense form (i.e . will) and we add the suffix -ing at the end of the verb. The Hindi conjugation is rather similar as we use the future tense of the auxiliary "hona" to conjugate regular verbs.
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)
I will be reading= Main Padh raha (rahi) hunga (hungi) You (intimate) will be reading = Too Padh raha (rahi) hunga (hungi) You (familiar) will be reading = Tum Padh rahe (rahi) hoge (hungi) You (formal) will be reading = Aap Padh rahe (rahi) honge (hungi) He / She / This will be reading = Voh / Yeh Padh raha (rahi) hunga (hungi) We will be reading = Ham Padh rahe (rahi) honge (hungi) They / That will be reading = Ve / Ye Padh rahe (rahi) honge (hungi)
All in all, Hindi grammar is not as complicated as one might think. But learning any new language, and especially on that is from a different family of language than our own mother tongue will be tricky and will require some time and effort. Learning Hindi verbs is great, but it will be useless until you gained a decent amount of vocabulary, including nouns, adjectives and adverbs. You should also take a look at some of the most useful phrases in Hindi and check Superprof if you wish to take Hindi lessons. Speaking Hindi while travelling or living in India will open many hidden doors!