Hindi Lessons/Lesson 7

Lesson 7: Cases in Hindi. The Direct and Oblique cases. Plural of Nouns.

Like the many prepositions in English (e.g. in, at, on, under, below, of etc.) in Hindi there exist the so called postpositions, playing the same role as the English prepositions, having the same meaning, but with the only difference that they stay after the noun not before it. For example in English we say "In London", but in Hindi that would be "London in" (London men).

In Hindi there are two cases: The Direct case and The Oblique case. When a word is used with a postposition it is in the Oblique case, in all other cases it is in the Direct case. The Direct case is rather like the Nominative case in many European languages. Here are some postpositions:

में (me~) = In से (se) = From का (ka) = Of को (ko) = (To) Not really translatable, used to build Dative and Accusative. I'll explain a little below.

In the previous lessons, I gave many nouns. Their forms are the main forms, i.e. they're in the Direct case. I explained also that masculine nouns ending in -a become in the plural the ending -i. That's the general rule. However there are words, which do not end in -a and I haven't explained the plural of feminine, so here it goes:

     Singular and Plural of Nouns in the Direct Case:

Masculine: Ending in -a

Singular: लडका (ladka) = boy Plural: लडके (ladke) = boys

Masculine: Ending in other vowel (very few):

Singular: गुरु (guru) = teacher Plural: गुरु (guru) = teachers

Masculine: Ending in a consonant

Singular: दोस्त (dost) = friend Plural: दोस्त (dost) = friends

Feminine: Ending in -i

Singluar: लडकी (ladki) = girl Plural: लड़कियां (ladkiya) = girls

Feminine: Ending in a consonant

Singular: किताब (kitab) = book Plural: किताबें (kitabe~) = books

Feminine: Ending in -a or -u

Singular: अध्यापिका (adhyapika) = female teacher Plural: अध्यापिकाएं (adhyapikae~) = female teachers

All the sentences I gave in past lessons you can easily turn into plural now or in some cases the sentences are even in plural since some words don't change in plural. Let me show you some examples:

लड़कियां अच्छी राटी खातीं हैं. (larkiya acchi rati khati~ hai~). = The girls eat tasty bread. लडके अच्छी रोटी खाते हैं. (larke acchi roti khate hai~) = The boys eat tasty bread. ये बडे घर हैं. (Ye bare ghar hai~) = These are big houses. वे सुन्दर लड़कियां हैं. (Ve sundar larkiya~ hai~) = Those (they) are pretty girls. वे लड़कियां सुन्दर हैं. (Ve larkiya~ sundar hai~) = Those girls are pretty.

Now for the oblique case. Nouns change in singular and plural in the oblique case as well, here is the explanation (to make it easier for you i'll use the same words as in the examples of direct case above):

     Singular and Plural of Nouns in the Oblique Case:

Masculine: Ending in -a

Singular: लडके (ladke) Plural: लडकों (ladko~)

Masculine: Ending in other vowel (very few):

Singular: गुरु (guru) Plural: गुरुओं(guruo~) (for "admi" /man/ it'll be "admiyo~" - आदमियों)

Masculine: Ending in a consonant

Singular: दोस्त (dost) Plural: दोस्तों (dosto~)

Feminine: Ending in -i

Singluar: लडकी (ladki) Plural: लड़कियों (ladkiyo~)

Feminine: Ending in a consonant

Singular: किताब (kitab) Plural: किताबों (kitabo~)

Feminine: Ending in -a or -u

Singular: अध्यापिका (adhyapika) Plural: अध्यापिकाओं (adhyapikao~)

At last you know the cases in Hindi. Now (believe me) you know almost all grammar in Hindi! Congrats! Now we can extend our well-know sentences and make them look really long. Let's try:

सफेद घर में लडकीया अच्छी रोटी खातीं हैं. (safed ghar men larkiya acchi roti khati~ hai~). = The girls eat tasty bread in the white house. मैं कमरे में ठण्डी पानी पी रहा हुं और लडकी अच्छी राटी खा रही है. (mai~ kamre me~ thandi pani pi raha hu~ aur ladki acchi rati kha rahi hai). = I'm drinking cold water in the room and the girl is eating tasty bread. etc... The point is, whenever you wanna say "in", "at", "on", "of" etc of something, you have to use the oblique case, since you use the word with a postposition. Note for example how it is: "kamre me~", not "kamra me~", because we use the postposition "in" (me~).

Now I want to explain to you the use of the postposition particle "ka", meaning "of".

     Use of the postposition "का" (ka) = OF

1. Since it's a postposition you always have to use the word preceding it in the Oblique case. 2. Second thing you have to know about it is, that it could (and should :) change to ke/ki according to the word following it (the object).

In English we say "the house of the girl". In Hindi that should be said as "the girl 's house". In this case "the girl" should be in oblique case and house of course (since obviously it is the object) is in the direct case. Our example will be in Hindi "Ladki ka ghar" (लडकी का घर). But if we use a feminine word for an object "ka" changes to "ki" as in "Ladki ki sari" (लडकी की सरी), meaning "the sari of the girl" (sari is a traditional indian female clothing). Then if we wanna say "the houses of the girl" we have to say "ladki ke ghar" (लडकी के घर). I think you got the idea. Now we can build even bigger sentences...

The last thing I should tell you about in this lesson is the use of the particle (postposition) "ko". It could be translated as "to", but in some cases it shouldn't be translated at all. That's so because actually it's the accusative or dative marker. If somebody is the receiver of an action (or the verb) you have to use that particle.

     Use of the postposition "को" (ko)

I'll give first some examples and then explain:

लडका लडकीयों को पानी देता है. (ladka ladkiyo~ ko pani deta hai) = The boy gives water to the girls. लडका लडकीयों को किताबें देता है. (ladka ladkiyo~ ko kitabe~ deta hai) = The boy gives the books to the girls. मैं लडके को जानता हुं. (mai~ ladke ko janta hu~) = I know the boy. मैं लडकी को जानता हुं. (mai~ ladki ko janta hu~) = I know the girl. मैं लडकों को जानता हुं. (mai~ ladko~ ko janta hu~) = I know the boys. मैं लड़कियों को जानता हुं. (mai~ ladkiyo~ ko janta hu~) = I know the girls.

Some verbs require the use of dative/accusative and thus the use of 'ko'. Such verb is "to know - janna" (as spanish "conocer", italian "conoscere" or german "kennen"), there are of course other verbs of that sort as for example "to give". "I give the book to the girl" -> To whom do I give the book? -> to the girl (or even just 'the girl') -> dative, so "ladki ko"... I'm sure I'll find a better way to explain that, but for now use that poor explanation. However I think examples do much...