If you explored the tenses in Hindi, you learned that in basic Hindi, verbs can be regular or irregular, intransitive or transitive, and that these concepts influence the conjugation or inflection of a verb when used in a sentence. However, as you have probably noticed, Hindi is a nuanced language! So there are also other basic Hindi verb types that can modify the inflection or the very meaning of a verb! Identifying and distinguishing between these verb types is a cornerstone of mastering basic Hindi. Ready for the challenge? चिंता मत करो! (Don't worry!) In this section, we will define these verb types in greater detail and provide examples of each through basic Hindi sentences.

INTRANSITIVE AND TRANSITIVE VERBS

As discussed previously, in basic Hindi we have both intransitive and transitive verbs. Verb transitivity is a classic and age old linguistic concept, but it is also a simple concept to understand.

An intransitive verb has no direct object. In other words, there is no person or thing in the sentence that is the recipient of the action of the verb.

Example:

I exist. / Main astitva hoon. / अस्तित्व होना.

Because one cannot exist a person or exist a thing, the above verb "astitva honaa" is an intransitive verb.

In contrast, a transitive verb has one or more direct objects. So, there is a person or thing in the sentence that receives the action of the verb.

Example:

He eats vegetables. / Voh sabziyaan khaataa hai. / वह सब्ज़ियाँ खाता है.

Because one can eat a thing, (hopefully one cannot eat a person!), and in this case the thing eaten is vegetables, the above verb "khaanaa" is a transitive verb. Understanding transitivity is pivotal to basic Hindi, so it is helpful to practice identifying the transitivity of other Hindi verbs.

Notice that the verb "khaataa" and the auxiliary verb "hai" come at the end of the sentence, after the verb's direct object. Why is this? Standard Hindi sentence structure differs from that of English! While in English the verb follows the subject and precedes its direct object, in Hindi, verbs are placed at the end of the sentence and auxiliary verbs are placed very last in the sentence.

COMPOUND VERBS

A compound verb is, as you may have expected, a multi-word compound. This compound consists of a primary verb and an auxiliary (helping) verb that work together as a single verb. The compound verb has a subtle, altered meaning from its constituent verbs. The auxiliary verb typically adds specificity to the verb by describing the manner in which the primary verb is performed, to add depth and flair to basic Hindi sentences.

Example:

I sat down. / Main baith gayaa. / मैं बैठ गया.

The standard Hindi verb for "to sit" is बैठना "baithnaa". However, when we use the compound verb बैठ जाना "baith jaanaa," combining the root "baith" of the primary verb baithnaa with the auxiliary verb jaanaa (to go), the compound verb meaning is "to sit down." Notice that when conjugating the compound verb, only the auxiliary verb is inflected, while the primary verb remains in its root form.

CONJUNCT VERBS

Similar to compound verbs, conjunct verbs also operate by combining two basic Hindi words. A conjunct verb is formed by joining either a noun or an adjective with a verb. When it is a noun joining with the verb, this is known as a nominal conjunct. When it is an adjective joining with the verb, this is known as an adjectival conjunct. As with compound verbs, conjunct verbs function as a single verb.

Example:

She cleans. / Voh saaf kartee hai. / वह साफ़ करती है.

The standard Hindi adjective for "clean" is साफ़ "saaf." However, when we use the conjunct verb साफ़ करना "saaf karnaa," combining the adjective "saaf" with the verb karnaa (to do), the conjunct verb meaning is "to clean."

IMPERATIVE VERBS

Imperative verbs typically command, instruct, or request a person or thing to do or not to do something. You can think of imperative verbs as the bossy verbs! For this reason, it is wise to use discretion when employing imperative verbs in basic Hindi conversations, particularly when with strangers, so as not to give the impression of haughtiness or anger in our speaking tone. One can also use imperative verbs simply to offer permission or to extend an invitation.

Example:

Speak Hindi. / Hindee Bolo. / हिन्दी बोलो.

The standard Hindi verb for "to speak" is बोलना "bolnaa." However, in the common "tum" form of the imperative construction, ओ is appended to the verb root. Imperative verb conjugation depends upon which form of "you" is used in the sentence. When the formal (aap) is used, we append इए to the verb root. When the informal (tum) is used as in the above example, we append ओ to the verb root. Finally, when the very informal (too) is used, we simply use the verb root on its own. Notice that the subject "You" is implied but not literally stated in the sentence. This is typical in imperative constructions. Similarly, the word "Please" is implied by the "aap" form, but there is no need to literally state it.

CAUSAL VERBS

Causal or causative verbs represent actions that are indirectly caused by the subject. In basic Hindi causal verb constructions, the subject causes, makes, or otherwise enables another person or thing to do something. Causal verbs are classified as transitive verbs.

Example:

I had him explain. / Mainne usse samajhvaayaa. / मैंने उससे समझवाया.

The standard Hindi verb for "to explain" is समझाना "samjhaanaa." However, when we use the causal verb समझवाना "samajhvaanaa," by appending वा to the verb root as typically done to form a causal verb, the conjunct verb meaning is "to cause to explain." Notice that because causal verbs are transitive verbs and this sentence is in the past tense, the postposition ने is appended to the subject per the tenses in Hindi. The subject should also be put into the oblique case when used with the postposition ने, however "I" is an exception pronoun so instead of using the traditional oblique form of "I," we simply use मैंने. Moreover, in causal verb constructions the postposition "से" must be appended to the agent directly performing the action if the agent is named in the sentence as in the example, so उस became उससे.

POLYSEMANTIC VERBS

This concept goes beyond basic Hindi but I know you smart cookies are up for the challenge! What in the world is a polysemantic verb, you may be asking! Let's break it down. "Poly" means many, and "semantic" relates to word meaning. Therefore, a polysemantic verb is one which can have multiple meanings. These secondary meanings typically add a more figurative aspect to the verb's literal meaning.

Example:

I feel hungry. / Mujhe bhukh lagee hai. / मुझे भूख लगी है.

The standard Hindi verb for "to attach" is लगना "lagaanaa." However, this polysemantic verb has more than one meaning. It can also be used to express feelings, such as hunger. In the example above, the feeling of hunger is conveyed through the literal attachment of hunger भूख "bhukh" to the subject. Language works in funny ways, doesn't it! In Hindi proverbs and Hindi idioms, you will see more complex examples of literal expressions with underlying figurative meanings.