Nouns in Hindi have two genders (masculine and feminine); two numbers (singular and plural) and also can be declined into three noun cases (nominative, oblique, & vocative).
Nouns in Hindi are either masculine, or feminine. There is no general "always to work" logic to identify the gender of a noun with certainity but there are some patterns which help in the identification of the gender of a noun. Those rules are summarised below:
- Animate nouns referring to the sex of a human or animal always take the gender of the person/animal it is referring to. For example: लड़का [lar̥kā] (boy), आदमी [ādmī] (man) & शेर [śer] (lion) are always considered masculine, and nouns like लड़की [lar̥kī] (girl), औरत [aurat] (woman) & शेरनी [śernī] (lioness) are always considered feminine, no matter what consonant or vowel they end in. This logic applies even to all loanwords from English, for e.g. "actor" is masculine and "actress" is feminine.
- Most nouns (which are not proper noun i.e. which are not names) which end in the vowel आ and ई are masculine and feminine respectively, for example: लड़का [lar̥kā] (boy, masc), लड़की [lar̥kī] (girl, fem.), बच्चा [baccā] (kid, masc.), बच्ची [baccī] (kid, fem.), कमरा [kamrā] (room, masc.), रिक्शा [rikśā] (rickshaw, masc), दरवाज़ा [darvāzā] (door, masc.), चर्बी [carbī] (fat, fem.) etc. However, there are exceptions such as माता [mātā] (mother, fem.) but since this noun refers to actual sex of a person, as per the rule above, the grammatical gender takes the actual gender.
- There is no logical way to guess the gender of nouns which end in a consonant. But, owing to the fact that there are significantly more masculine nouns in Hindi than feminine nouns, guessing first "masculine" as the gender of an unknown gender of a noun would be likely correct. Some common nouns which are feminine are: चीज़ [cīz] (thing), किताब [kitāb] (book), कुर्सी [kursī] (chair), नज़र [nazar] (vision/look), गाली [gālī] (cuss word) etc.
There are three noun cases in Hindi. Depending on what function a noun plays in a sentence, the form of the noun changes according to it. This variation in the form of a noun is called noun declension. The patterns which a noun follows while declining are called declension paradigms. There are six declension paradigms in Hindi (which are shown in the next section), which depends on the gender of the noun and whether the noun ends in some particular vowels or a consonant.
The nominative case basically is the dictionary form of a noun, which means that all noun entries in a dictionary are always in the nominative case. Grammatically, a noun in the nominative case always forms the subject of a sentence.
The oblique case is a general-purpose case. By its own, it does not have any meaning but instead, a grammatical meaning is given to a noun in the oblique case when one of the 7 case-markers (or, primary postpositions) of Hindi follows the noun in oblique case. Case-markers in Hindi can only ever occur after a noun (or, pronoun) in its oblique case.
The vocative case is used when one calls for someone. For example, in the sentence "Hey boy! listen to me.", the noun "boy" is doing the job of what the vocative case does in Hindi which is to call someone out. It must be noted that vocative case is a vestigial case in Hindi and more often than not, in colloquial day-to-day speech, the oblique case also does the job of the vocative case.
As discussed in the section above, there are 6 noun declension paradigms in Hindi. Nouns decline in 6 different ways which can be categorised as the following:
- Masculine noun ending in आ
- Masculine noun ending in consonant
- Masculine noun ending in ई/इ
- Feminine noun ending in ई/इ
- Feminine noun ending in आ
- Feminine noun ending in consonant
The declension pattern for the 6 categories above is shown in the below declension tables:
In this section all the eight case-markers will be discussed which are used with the oblique case nouns (and, pronouns) giving them a grammatical function. In the next section usage of these case-markers with the oblique case will be shown.
|Ergative||ने [ne]||Ergative case marks the subject of the sentence when a transitive verb is in the perfective aspect.|
|Accusative||को [ko]||Accusative case marks the direct object of the sentence to whom the action verb is done to.|
|Dative||Dative case marks the recipient or beneficiary of an action, hence it marks the object.
However, in Hindi, it can also mark the subject of the sentence when Dative construction is used.
|Instrumental||से [se]||Instrumental case marks the object with which or using which an action was performed.|
|Ablative||Ablative case shows there is motion away from the noun/pronoun in the ablative case.|
|Genitive||का [kā]||Genitive case shows that the noun/pronoun in the genitive case possesses some object.|
|Inessive||में [mẽ]||Inessive case shows there is something "in" or "inside" the noun/pronoun in inessive case|
|Adessive||पे [pe]||Adessive case shows there is something "on" or "at" the noun/pronoun in adessive case.|
|Semblative||सा [sā]||Semblative case signifies that something is "like" or "similar to" something else.|
|Terminative||तक [tak]||Terminative case shows there is motion towards and up till the noun/pronoun in the terminative case.|
Out of these 7 case-markers, the genitive and the semblative markers are declinable according to case, gender, number and formality. Its declension is shown in the table below:
Neither the oblique case nor the case-markers alone have any meaning of their own. The 7 case-markers of Hindi when they appear after a noun in the oblique case give the combination of the oblique case and the case-marker a grammatical function and meaning. The oblique case and the case-markers together are used to construct the Ergative, Accusative, Dative, Instrumental, Ablative, Inessive, Adessive, Semblative, and the Limitative grammatical cases. They are shown in the table below for the noun लड़का [lar̥kā] (boy):
|Ergative||लड़के ने||[lar̥ke ne]||the boy||लड़कों ने||[lar̥kõ ne]||boys|
|Accusative||लड़के को||[lar̥ke ko]||the boy||लड़कों को||[lar̥kõ ko]||boys|
|Dative||to the boy||to boys|
|Instrumental||लड़के से||[lar̥ke se]||with the boy||लड़कों से||[lar̥kõ se]||with boys|
|Ablative||from the boy||from boys|
|Genitive||लड़के का||[lar̥ke kā]||of the boy, boy's||लड़कों का||[lar̥kõ kā]||of boys, boys'|
|Inessive||लड़के में||[lar̥ke mẽ]||in the boy||लड़कों में||[lar̥kõ mẽ]||in boys|
|Adessive||लड़के पे||[lar̥ke pe]||on/at the boy||लड़कों पे||[lar̥kõ pe]||on/at boys|
|Limitative||लड़के तक||[lar̥ke tak]||till/until the boy||लड़कों तक||[lar̥kõ tak]||till/until boys|
|Semblative||लड़के सा||[lar̥ke sā]||like the boy, boyish||लड़कों सा||[lar̥kõ sā]||like boys, boys-ish|