Standard Hindi: Wikis


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Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi, High Hindi, Nagari Hindi or Literary Hindi is a standardised register of Hindi. It is one of the 22 languages with official status in India, and is used, along with English, for administration of the central government.[1][2] Standard Hindi is a sanskritised register derived from the khariboli dialect. By contrast, the spoken Hindi dialects form an extensive dialect continuum of the Indic language family, bounded on the northwest and west by Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Marathi; on the southeast by Oriya; on the east by Bengali; and on the north by Nepali.

The regulating authority for Standard Hindi is the Central Hindi Directorate.


Number of speakers

According to India census (2001),[3] 422,048,642 people in India regarded Standard Hindi as their mother tongue.

Official status

The Constitution of India, adopted in 1950, declares Hindi in the Devanagari script as the official language (rājabhāṣā) of the Union (Article 343(1)).[4] Hindi is also enumerated as one of the twenty-two languages of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, which entitles it to representation on the Official Language Commission.[5] The Constitution of India has stipulated the usage of Hindi and English to be the two languages of communication for the Central Government.

It was envisioned that Hindi would become the sole working language of the central government by 1965 (per directives in Article 344 (2) and Article 351)[4], with state governments being free to function in languages of their own choice. However, widespread resistance movements to the imposition of Hindi on non-native speakers (such as the Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu) led to the passage of the Official Languages Act (1963), which provided for the continued use of English, indefinitely, for all official purposes. However, the constitutional directive to the central government to champion the spread of Hindi was retained and has strongly influenced the policies of the Union government.

At the state level, Hindi is the official language of the following states in India: Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi. Each of these states may also designate a "co-official language"; in Uttar Pradesh for instance, depending on the political formation in power, sometimes this language is Urdu. Similarly, Hindi is accorded the status of co-official language in several states.


The dialect upon which Standard Hindi is based is khariboli, the vernacular of the Delhi region. This dialect acquired linguistic prestige in the Mughal Empire (17th century) and became known as Urdu, "the language of the court."

After independence, the Government of India worked on standardizing Hindi, instituting the following changes:

  • standardization of Hindi grammar: In 1954, the Government of India set up a committee to prepare a grammar of Hindi; The committee's report was released in 1958 as "A Basic Grammar of Modern Hindi"
  • standardization of Hindi spelling
  • standardization of the Devanagari script by the Central Hindi Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Culture to bring about uniformity in writing and to improve the shape of some Devanagari characters.
  • scientific mode of transcribing the Devanagari alphabet
  • incorporation of diacritics to express sounds from other languages.


Standard Hindi derives much of its formal and technical vocabulary from Sanskrit. Standard or shuddh ("pure") Hindi is used only in public addresses and radio or TV news, while the everyday spoken language in most areas is one of several varieties of Hindustani, whose vocabulary contains words drawn from Persian and Arabic. In addition, spoken Hindi includes words from English and other languages as well.

Vernacular Urdu and Hindi share the same grammar and core vocabulary and so are practically indistinguishable. However, the literary registers differ substantially in borrowed vocabulary; in highly formal situations, the languages are barely intelligible to speakers of the other. Hindi has looked to Sanskrit for borrowings from at least the 19th century, and Urdu has looked to Persian and Arabic for borrowings from the eighteenth century. On another dimension, Hindi has been associated with the Hindu community and Urdu with the Muslim community.

There are five principal categories of words in Standard Hindi:

  • Tatsam (तत्सम् / تتسم / same as that) words: These are words which are spelled the same in Hindi as in Sanskrit (except for the absence of final case inflections).[6] They include words inherited from Sanskrit via Prakrit which have survived without modification (e.g. Hindustani nām/Sanskrit nāma, "name"),[7] as well as forms borrowed directly from Sanskrit in more modern times (e.g. prārthanā, "prayer").[8] Pronunciation, however, conforms to Hindi norms and may differ from that of classical Sanskrit. Among nouns, the tatsam word could be the Sanskrit uninflected word-stem, or it could be the nominative singular form in the Sanskrit nominal declension.
  • Ardhātatsam (अर्धातात्सम् / اردهاتاتسم) words: These are words that were borrowed from Sanskrit in the middle Indo-Aryan or early New Indo-Aryan stages. Such words typically have undergone sound changes subsequent to being borrowed.
  • Tadbhav (तद्भव / تدبھو / born of that) words: These are words which are spelled differently from Sanskrit but are derivable from a Sanskrit prototype by phonological rules (e.g. Sanskrit karma, "deed" becomes Pali kamma, and eventually Hindi kām, "work").[6]
  • Deshaj (देशज / ديشج) words: These are words that were not borrowings but do not derive from attested Indo-Aryan words either. Belonging to this category are onomatopoetic words.
  • Videshī (विदेशी / ودیشی) words: these include all words borrowed from sources other than Indo-Aryan. The most frequent sources of borrowing in this category have been Persian, Arabic, Portuguese and English.

Similarly, Urdu treats its own vocabulary, borrowed directly from Persian and Arabic, as a separate category for morphological purposes.

Hindi from which most of the Persian, Arabic and English words have been ousted and replaced by tatsam words is called Shuddha Hindi (pure Hindi). Chiefly, the proponents of Hindutva ideology ("Hindu-ness") are vociferous supporters of Shuddha Hindi.

Excessive use of tatsam words sometimes creates problems for most native speakers. Strictly speaking, the tatsam words are words of Sanskrit and not of Hindi—thus they have complicated consonantal clusters which are not linguistically valid in Hindi. The educated middle class population of India can pronounce these words with ease, but people of rural backgrounds have much difficulty in pronouncing them. Similarly, vocabulary borrowed from Persian and Arabic also brings in its own consonantal clusters and "foreign" sounds, which may again cause difficulty in speaking them.


Writing system

Hindi is written in the Devanagari script, an abugida which is written from left to right.

Transliteration conventions

The standard transliteration of Hindi into the Roman alphabet is usually the IAST scheme, whereby the retroflex consonants (retroflex t, d, their aspirates, n, vowel-like r) and the breath h are shown with a dot beneath; the long vowels are shown with a macron or a bar (as ā above); aspiration of a plosive is shown with a following h; and elided a's are removed for a truer correspondence to speech. Other alphabet characters are pronounced as in normal English. Another transliteration (ITRANS) uses capital letters of English to transcribe the long vowels and retroflex consonants. However, since English is a lingua franca of the educated middle class in India, and since computer keyboards do not have features for typing the IAST characters, Indians today use a casual transliteration into English for Hindi words; in such a casual transliteration, used especially in online chatting, the retroflex and dental consonants are not differentiated, and neither the short and the long vowels (except that sometimes people double the alphabet to indicate a long vowel). We can also use ALA romanization table, which is a standard given by ALA-LC / U.S. Library of Congress.[9] English to Hindi Transliteration can be done by using the English to Hindi Transliteration Editor developed by C-DAC Mumbai.


Despite Hindi and English both being Indo-European languages, Hindi grammar is different in many ways from what English speakers are used to. Most notably, Hindi is a subject-object-verb language, meaning that verbs usually fall at the end of the sentence rather than before the object (as in English). Hindi also shows mixed ergativity so that, in some cases, verbs agree with the object of a sentence rather than the subject. Unlike English, Hindi has no definite article (the). The numeral ek might be used as the indefinite singular article (a/an) if this needs to be stressed.

In addition, Hindi uses postpositions (so called because they are placed after nouns) where English uses prepositions. Other differences include gender, honorifics, interrogatives, use of cases, and different tenses. While being complicated, Hindi grammar is fairly regular, with irregularities being relatively limited. Despite differences in vocabulary and writing, Hindi grammar is nearly identical with Urdū. The concept of punctuation having been entirely unknown before the arrival of the Europeans, Hindi punctuation uses western conventions for commas, exclamation points, and question marks. Periods are sometimes used to end a sentence, though the traditional "full stop" (a vertical line) is also used.



In Hindi, there are two genders for nouns. All male human beings and male animals (and those animals and plants that are perceived to be "masculine") are masculine. All female human beings and female animals (and those animals and plants that are perceived to be "feminine") are feminine. Things, inanimate articles and abstract nouns are also either masculine or feminine according to convention. While this is the same as Urdū and similar to many other Indo-European languages such as Italian, French and Spanish, it is a challenge for those who are used to only the English language, which although an Indo-European language, has dropped nearly all of its gender inflection.

The ending of a word, if a vowel, usually helps with gender classification. Among tatsam words, the masculine words of Sanskrit remain masculine in Hindi, and same is the case for the feminine. Sanskrit neuter nouns usually become masculine in Hindi. Among the tadbhav words, if a word ends in long /aː/, it is normally masculine. If a word ends in /iː/ or /ɪn/, it is normally feminine. The gender of words borrowed from Arabic and Persian is determined either by phonology (usually the last vowel in the word) or by the gender of the nearest Hindi equivalent. The gender assignment of Hindi words directly borrowed from English (which are numerous) is also usually determined by the gender of the nearest Hindi "synonym" or by the ending. Most adjectives ending in a vowel are inflected to agree with the gender of the noun: /meːriː beːʈiː/ 'my daughter' vs. /meːraː beːʈaː/ 'my son'.


Besides the standard interrogative terms of who (कौन kaun), what (क्या kyaa), why (कयों kyõ), when (कब kab), where (कहाँ kahã), how and what type (कैसा kaisaa), how many (कितना kitnaa), etc, the Hindi word kyaa (क्या) can be used as a generic interrogative often placed at the beginning of a sentence to turn a statement into a Yes/No question. This makes it clear when a question is being asked. Questions can also be formed simply by modifying intonation, exactly as some questions are in English.


Hindi has pronouns in the first, second and third person for one gender only. Thus, unlike English, there is no difference between he or she. More strictly speaking, the third person of the pronoun is actually the same as the demonstrative pronoun (this / that). The verb, upon conjugation, usually indicates the difference in the gender. The pronouns have additional cases of accusative and genitive, but no vocative. There may also be binary ways of inflecting the pronoun in the accusative case. Note that for the second person of the pronoun (you), Hindi has three levels of honorifics:

  • आप (/aːp/): Formal and respectful form for you. Has no difference between the singular and the plural. Used in all formal settings and speaking to persons who are senior in job or age. Plural could be stressed by saying आप लोग (/aːp loːɡ/ you people) or आप सब (/aːp səb/ you all).
  • तुम (/t̪ʊm/): Informal form of you. Has no difference between the singular and the plural. Used in all informal settings and speaking to persons who are junior in job or age. Plural could be stressed by saying तुम लोग (/t̪ʊm loːɡ/ you people) or तुम सब (/t̪ʊm səb/ you all).
  • तू (/t̪uː/): Extremely informal form of you, as thou. Strictly singular, its plural form being /t̪ʊm/. Except for very close friends or poetic language involving God, it could be perceived as offensive.

Imperatives (requests and commands) correspond in form to the level of honorific being used, and the verb inflects to show the level of respect and politeness desired. Because imperatives can already include politeness, the word "kripayā", which can be translated as "please", is much less common than in spoken English; it is generally only used in writing or announcements, and its use in common speech may even reflect mockery.

Word order

The standard word order in Hindi is, in general, Subject Object Verb, but where different emphasis or more complex structure is needed, this rule is very easily set aside (provided that the nouns/pronouns are always followed by their postpositions or case markers). More specifically, the standard order is 1. Subject 2. Adverbs (in their standard order) 3. Indirect object and any of its adjectives 4. Direct object and any of its adjectives 5. Negation term or interrogative, if any, and finally the 6. Verb and any auxiliary verbs. (Snell, p93) The standard order can be modified in various ways to impart emphasis on particular parts of the sentence. Negation is formed by adding the word नहीं (nahī̃, "no"), in the appropriate place in the sentence, or by utilizing न (na) or मत (mat) in some cases. Note that in Hindi, the adjectives precede the nouns they qualify. The auxiliaries always follow the main verb. Also, Hindi speakers or writers enjoy considerable freedom in placing words to achieve stylistic and other socio-psychological effects, though not as much freedom as in heavily inflected languages.[10]

Tense and aspect of Hindi verbs

Hindi verbal structure is focused on aspect with distinctions based on tense usually shown through use of the verb honā (to be) as an auxiliary. There are three aspects: habitual (imperfect), progressive (also known as continuous) and perfective. Verbs in each aspect are marked for tense in almost all cases with the proper inflected form of honā. Hindi has four simple tenses, present, past, future (presumptive), and subjunctive (referred to as a mood by many linguists).[11] Verbs are conjugated not only to show the number and person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) of their subject, but also its gender. Additionally, Hindi has imperative and conditional moods. The verbs must agree with the person, number and gender of the subject if and only if the subject is not followed by any postposition. If this condition is not met, the verb must agree with the number and gender of the object (provided the object does not have any postposition). If this condition is also not met, the verb agrees with neither. It is this kind of phenomenon that is called mixed ergativity.


Hindi is a weakly inflected language for case; the relationship of a noun in a sentence is usually shown by postpositions (i.e., prepositions that follow the noun). Hindi has three cases for nouns. The Direct case is used for nouns not followed by any postpositions, typically for the subject case. The Oblique case is used for any nouns that is followed by a postposition. Adjectives modifying nouns in the oblique case will inflect that same way. Some nouns have a separate Vocative case. Hindi has two numbers: singular and plural—but they may not be shown distinctly in all declinations.

Sample text

The following is a sample text in High Hindi, of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations):

अनुच्छेद 1 — सभी मनुष्यों को गौरव और अधिकारों के मामले में जन्मजात स्वतन्त्रता प्राप्त है। उन्हें बुद्धि और अन्तरात्मा की देन प्राप्त है और परस्पर उन्हें भाईचारे के भाव से बर्ताव करना चाहिये।

Transliteration (IAST):

Anucched 1 — Sabhī manuṣyoṃ ko gaurav aur adhikāroṃ ke māmle meṃ janmajāt svatantratā prāpt hai. Unheṃ buddhi aur antarātmā kī den prāpt hai aur paraspar unheṃ bhāīcāre ke bhāv se bartāv karnā cāhiye.

Transcription (IPA):

ənʊtʃʰːeːd̪ eːk — səbʱiː mənʊʃjõː koː ɡɔːɾəʋ ɔːr əd̪ʱɪkaːɾõ keː maːmleː mẽː dʒənmədʒaːt̪ sʋət̪ənt̪ɾət̪aː pɾaːpt̪ hɛː. ʊnʱẽ bʊd̪ʱːɪ ɔːɾ ənt̪əɾaːt̪maː kiː d̪eːn pɾaːpt̪ hɛː ɔːɾ pəɾəspəɾ ʊnʱẽː bʱaːiːtʃaːɾeː keː bʱaːʋ seː bəɾt̪aːʋ kəɾnə tʃaːhɪeː.

Gloss (word-to-word):

Article 1 — All human-beings to dignity and rights' matter in from-birth freedom acquired is. Them to reason and conscience's endowment acquired is and always them to brotherhood's spirit with behaviour to do should.

Translation (grammatical):

Article 1 — All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


Common phrases

English Hindi (Transliteration) Hindi (Devanagari)
Hindi hindī हिन्दी
English aṃgrezī अंग्रेज़ी
Yes hāṃ हाँ
You1 āp (formal) आप
You² tum (Informal) तुम
You³ tū (used intimately, often derogatory) तू
Your tumhārā तुम्हारा
Me mujh मुझ
My hamārā हमारा
No na
Not nahiṃ नहीं
Hi/Hello namaste नमस्ते
Goodbye namaste, alvidā नमस्ते, अलविदा
How are you? āp kaise haiṃ आप कैसे हैं?
See you later phir mileṃge फिर मिलेंगे
Thank you dhanyavād, shukriyā धन्यवाद, शुक्रिया
I'm Sorry kṣamā kījiye, (also māf kījiye) क्षमा कीजिये (माफ़ कीजिये)
Why? kyoṃ? क्यों?
Who? kaun? कौन?
What? kyā? क्या?
When? kab? कब?
Where? kahāṃ? कहाँ?
How? kaise? कैसे?
How much? kitne? कितने?
I did not understand maiṃ samjhā nahīṃ मैं समझा नहीं
Help me (please)
Help me!
meri madad kījiye / sahāyatā kījie! मेरी मदद कीजिये / सहायता कीजिये
Do you speak English? kyā āp aṃgrezī bolte haiṃ? क्या आप अंग्रेज़ी बोलते हैं?
Time please?
Time please?
samay kyā huā? / kitne baje haiṃ? समय क्या हुआ? / कितने बजे हैं?
I do not know mujhe nahīṃ patā मुझे नहीं पता

See also





  • McGregor, R.S. (1993), Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary (2004 ed.), Oxford University Press, USA.

Further reading

  • Bhatia, Tej K A History of the Hindi Grammatical Tradition. Leiden, Netherlands & New York, NY : E.J. Brill, 1987. ISBN 90-04-07924-6

External links

Standard Hindi edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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