Devanagari is an Abugida system, having 12 vowels and 34 consonants.[1]

Being Abugida basically means that when writing a consonant followed by a vowel, instead of writing them as two characters, the vowel is "mixed" into the consonant.

Thus, writing in Devanagari yields a much compressed way of expression, while at the same time it is hard to write due to complex formations ("mixtures"). Well, at first, at least.

Important difference:

Vowels and consonants in Devanagari can be pronounced in only one way. Thus, a word written in Devanagari cannot have two different ways of pronunciation. For example, in crude terms, "cut" and "put" will use different vowels in Devanagari.


ka = का (as in Cart)
ki = कि (as in Kill)
kee = की (as in Key)
ke = के (as in Kate)
ko = को (as in Cone)
ku= कु (as in Could)
cut = कट
put = पुट

Don't worry about the symbols right now! Just note one important thing: that a similar symbol (क) is repeated everytime, just with different "attachments". It follows from it that this symbol represents the sound of k. Rest of the attachments represent vowel addition.

The last two symbols are given just for comparison:

  1. "cut" and "put", in English, have three different characters, while in Devanagari, only two.
  2. "cut" and "put" not only have different characters, but also different "attachments" (vowels) in them.
  1. wikipedia entry for Abugida