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Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

िहंदी सीखो!
Hindi Sikho!
by Shashank Rao

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

Section 1: Introduction to Hindi
In order to learn Hindi, you first have to understand its history and structure. Hindi is descended
from an Indo-Aryan language known as Sanskrit, a classical language of India. Several countries
across the world contain a significant population of Hindi speakers, including India, being its
official language, Fiji, and the United States. It contains a significant amount Sanskrit
vocabulary, but also borrows some words from Farsi and Arabic, having been occupied by the
Muslim Mughal Empire for a significant period of time. Urdu, Hindi’s sister language, is distinct
from Hindi in this respect, borrowing almost exclusively from Farsi and Arabic vocabulary. The
Hindi-Urdu language family constitutes one of the world’s richest literary and musical traditions.
Like most Indian languages, Hindi has its own script, as does Urdu. Hindi’s script is derived
from the alphabet used in Sanskrit, also known as Dēvanāgari. Urdu uses a modified form of the
Nastaliq script used to write Arabic. The chart below shows the Dēvanāgari alphabet used to
write Hindi-Urdu in India.

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

You’ll notice that each letter has an innate vowel: a. Each letter in a Hindi word is its own
syllable. The way writing in Hindi works is that depending on the syllable you want to write, you
add a diacritic mark to change the vowel. Consonant diacritics are formed by removing the
ascending bar, and attaching them to next letter. The bottom of the vowel chart shows some
common conjunct consonants that you should know. Below is a vowel chart that shows all the
vowels in their complete and diacritic forms.

As for its structure, Hindi is an SOV language. This means a sentence is typically structured as
Subject-Object-Verb. Look at the example.
मैं चावल खा रहा हूँ ।
Maiṃ chāval khā-rahā-hūṃ.
I am eating rice.
I is the subject, rice is the object, and eating is the verb.

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

Some useful terms to remember for reading this text include object (as in nouns that receive the
actions of verbs, whether directly or indirectly), transitive (a verb that takes an object), and
intransitive (a verb that doesn’t take an object).
Words will be first given in Hindi, then the romanized forms (written as pronounced, rather than
the official romanized form), and then in English. Also, you should be aware that while you don’t
need to know how to read Hindi to learn from this text, it can be extremely helpful, especially if
you’re in a place where most things are written in Hindi.
It should be noted that some words are not said how they are written, at least, not by everyone.
For example, the word पहले is pronounced pehele, rather than pahale. Another thing to remember
about Hindi is that unchanged consonants are sometimes pronounced without the final vowel.
This is always true at the end of words, and only sometimes true for other positions; the
pronunciation will be noted in the romanization.
Long vowels will be indicated by the use of macron bars, and other romanization diacritics will
be used to indicate special sounds. Aspiration will be marked like so: Aspirated k = kh Now, let’s
go over pronunciation in Hindi. Only difficult or peculiar sounds will be explained.
ट (ṭ) VS त (t) - The former is pronounced like t at the center of the roof of your mouth, or near the
lump on the roof of your mouth. The second sound is pronounced like t touching your teeth and
the roof of your mouth at same time. Similar to the th in the beginning of thought, whereas ṭ is
the t at the end of the word.
ड (ḍ) VS द (d) - The first one is pronounced like ṭ only it’s a d sound, like the d in dead, whereas
the second one is pronounced similar to the th in the.
Aspirated consonants - This one might be a little confusing, because in English we do it a lot
without realizing it. Say any consonant against your hand, and if you feel air coming out, it’s
aspirated.. The only consonants that have aspirated and non-aspirated forms are क (k), ग (g), च
(ch), ज (j), ट (ṭ), ड (ḍ), त (t), द (d), प (p), and ब (b).
Nasal consonants - There are three unfamiliar nasal sounds in Hindi that you need to know.
These are ङ (ṅ), ञ (ñ), ण (ṇ). The first is pronounced nga, like at the end of the word going. The
second is pronounced nya. The third is a bit difficult for non-Indian language speakers. It’s
pronounced like n, but you move the tip of your tongue to the center of the roof of your mouth.
ऋ (ṛ) - This sound is pretty strange to most non-Hindi speakers, since it’s listed as a vowel. The
truth is that in Sanskrit, this letter used to represent a very short [ɯ] sound, which sounds kind of
like a hiccup. But because this vowel was basically only ever used for r in Sanskrit, the two
sounds were consolidated. The letter ऋ is pronounced tightly and shortly.

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

Arabic/Farsi sounds - These sounds are ones borrowed to pronounce words that are loaned from
Arabic and Farsi, and can instantly recognized as such. They’re much more common in Urdu,
but they come up occasionally in Hindi. These are ड़ (rh), ढ़ (rhh), ख़ (ẖ), क़ (q), and ग़ (ġ).
The ड़ sound is made by moving the end of your tongue to the back of the roof of your mouth,
and then breathing. Thankfully, it’s pretty rare in Hindi, but a little more common at the end of
syllables in Urdu. This sound is somewhat difficult to pronounce, and many Hindi speakers
pronounce it like ड instead. The ढ़ sound is the aspirated version of ड़. ख़ is somewhat like the
sound when clearing your throat, but softer. The क़ sound is a little more difficult, because you
have to shape your mouth like you’re about to make the k sound, but then you lower your tongue
from the roof of your mouth and breathing. Do the same with the g sound to try and get ग़.
A note about vocabulary in Hindi-Urdu: many Hindi-Urdu speakers, especially those who are
affluent, will (in varying extents) borrow words from other languages, particularly English. So,
while nearly every word here exists in Hindi-Urdu dictionaries, keep in mind that not all HindiUrdu speakers will use them. A good rule of thumb is that technical terms and longer words are
avoided in conversation, and it is appropriate to substitute English words.
Vocabulary: The Home
घर - ghar - house/home
कुरसी - kursī - chair
अलमारी - almāri - shelf
िबस्तर - bistar - bed
मेज़ - mez - table
दरवाज़ा - darvāzā - door
िखडकी - khiḍakī - window
पंखा - pankhā - fan
कमरा - kamrā - room
सीडीअं - sīḍīaṃ - stairs
बत्ती - battī - light
फ़शर् - farś - floor
दीवार - dīvār - wall
Vocabulary: Basic Food Vocabulary
इडली - iḍlī - rice dumpling
दोसा - dosā - dosa (crepe made from fermented rice batter)

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

इडली - idli - idli (steamed rice dumpling)
रसम - rasam - broth/soup served with rice
रोटी - roṭī - unleavened bread
चावल - chāval - rice
आलू - ālū - potato
टमाटर - tamāṭar - tomato
िभनडी - bhinḍī - okra
साग - sāg - spinach
गोभी - gobhī - cauliflower
गाजर - gājar - carrot
िछलका - chhilka - peel
बीज - bīj - seed
प्याज़ - pyāz - onion
गोबी - gobī - cauliflower
नान - nān - leavened bread
रोटी - roṭi - unleavened bread
पराँठा - paraṃṭha - stuffed unleavened bread
सब्ज़ी - sabzī - curry/vegetable
गोश्त - gośt - meat
Basic Phrases:
तुमहारा नाम क्या है? - Tumhārā nām kyā hai? - What is your name?
मेरा नाम…है। - Merā nām… hai. - My name is…
नमस्ते - Namaste - Hello (usually accompanied by a folded hand gesture for first time meetings)
िफर/िफ़र िमलेंगे - phir/fir milenge - See you later
अलिवदा/ख़ुदा हिफ़ज़ - alvidā/ẖudā hafiz - Goodbye (Urdu)
आपसे िमल कर ख़ुशी हूई। - Āpse milkar ẖuśī hūī. - Pleased to meet you.
धन्यवाद/शुिक्रया - dhanyavād/shukriyā - Thank you
कृपया - kṛpayā - please (rare)
कोई बात नहीं - koī bāt nahīṃ - no problem
ज़रूर - zarūr - sure/of course
… कहां है? - … kahāṃ hai? - Where is…?
यहां है। - Yahāṃ hai. - It is here.
यह क्या है? - Ye kyā hai? - What is this?

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

तुम/आप (कैसा/कैसी)/कैसे हो/हैं? - Tum/Āap (kaisā/kaisī))/kaise ho/haiṃ? - How are you? (non-polite
मैं ठीक हूँ । - Maiṃ ṭhīk hūṃ. - I’m fine
… का मतलब क्या है? - … kā matlab kyā hai? - What does… mean?
मुझे… पसंद है। - Mujhe… pasand hai. - I like…
*(noun) चािहए। - (…) chāhie - I want…
*(verb) चािहए। - (…) chāhie - I must/need to…
यह/वह… है। - Yah/Vah… hai. - This is...
(जी) हाँ - jī hāṃ - yes (जी makes it polite)
(जी) नहीं - jī nahīṃ - no (जी makes it polite)
*You use oblique + को form subject nouns and pronouns with these expressions; take note of
these for later use.
You should read this article to learn the numbers in Hindi. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Hindi/
Numbers. Hindi numbers tend to be irregular, considering that numbers 1-20 are all unique, and
then every 10th number after that is also unique. The numbers below are the ones that are the
most necessary for basic stuff in Hindi. Most native Hindi speakers know all their numbers, but
many Hindi-Urdu speakers do use English numbers.
शून्य/िसफ्र - śunya/sifr - 0 - ०
एक - ek - 1 - १
दो - do - 2 - २
तीन - tīn - 3 - ३
चार - chaar - 4 - ४
पाँच - pāṃc - 5 - ५
छः - chhe - 6 - ६
सात - saat - 7 - ७
आठ - āṭh - 8 - ८
नौ - nau - 9 - ९
दस - das - 10 - १०
ग्यारह - gyārah - 11 - ११
बारह - bārah - 12 - १२
तेरह - terah - 13 - १३
चौदह - caudah - 14 - १४
पंद्रह - pandrah - 15 - १५

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

सोलह - solah - 16 - १६
सत्रह - satrah - 17 - १७
अट्ठारा - aṭṭhārah - 18 - १८
उिन्नस - unnīs - 19 - १९
इक्कीस - ikkīs - 20 - २०
तीस - tīs - 30 - ३०
चालीस - calīs - 40 - ४०
पचास - pacās - 50 - ५०
साठ - sāṭh - 60 - ६०
सत्तर - sattar - 70 - ७०
अस्सी - assī - 80 - ८०
नब्बे - nabbe - 90 - ९०
सौ - sau - 100 - १००
हज़ार - hazār - 1000 - १०००
लाख - lākh - 100,000 - १००,०००
करोड़ - karoḍ - 10,000,000 - १०,०००,०००
अरब - arab - 1,000,000,0000 - १,०००,०००,०००
Days and Seasons
िदन - din - day
घंटा - ghanṭa - hour
िमनट - minaṭ - minute
हफ़ता - haftā - week
वषर्/साल - varṣ/sāl - year (H/U)
महीना/मास - mahīnā/mās - month (H/U)
सुबाह - subāh - morning
दोपहर - dopahar - afternoon
शाम - śām - evening
रात - rāt - night
सोमवार - somvār - Monday
मंगलवार - mangalvār - Tuesday
बुधवार - budhvār - Wednesday
बृहस्पितवार - bṛhaspativār - Thursday
शुकरवार - shukravār - Friday
शिनवार - shanivār - Saturday

Copyright © 2013 Shashank Rao

रिववार - ravivār - Sunday
ऋतु/मौसम - ṛtu/mausam - season (H/U) (latter is masculine)
वसंत/बसंत - vasant/basant - spring
गरमी - garmī - heat/warmth/summer
शरद - śarad - fall
िशिशर - śiśir - winter
Note: The names of months are the same as they are in English.
Telling Time
Telling time in Hindi-Urdu is very straight forward. For the most basic form, all you need to do
is take the number of the hour, and add the expression बाजे हैं (baje haiṃ), and add any time
qualifiers you need, such as “in the night” or “in the afternoon”. However, if the hour is 1, then
you change the expression to बजा है (bajā hai). Below are some other expressions you can use.
सवा - savā - 1 quarter
डेड - ḍeḍ - 1:30 (Only use)
ढाई - ḍhāī - 2:30 (Only use)
साड़े - sāṛe - half past
पौने - paune - 3 quarters past/quarter till
रात के साड़े सात है।
Rāt ke sāṛe sāt.
It is half past seven (7:30) in the night.
सुबाह के ढाई है।
Subāh ke ḍhāī hai.
It is 2:30 in the morning.
आठ बजे हैं।
Āṭh baje haiṃ.
It’s eight o’clock.
एक बजे और दस िमनट है।
Ek baje aur das minaṭ hai.
It’s 1:10.

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