Hindi, Urdu: Grammatical gender agreement

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Kahaani, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. Kahaani

    Kahaani Senior Member


    So I know nouns in Hindi/Urdu have a gender. But how is this applied in sentences? Does the subject of a sentence inflict the gender of the noun? Like would a man say mera yaad, or a woman meri kutta? What about dost which is a male noun, would it become meri dost if talking about a female friend? Could you give me some example sentences which demonstrate these phenomenons?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    The adjective corresponds to the gender of the noun.

    yaad (f) > merii yaad (my memory)..Does n't matter about the gender of the speaker.

    kuttaa (m) > meraa kuttaa (my dog)

    kahaanii (f) > lambii kahaanii ( a long story)

    dost is an interesting example.

    dost is typically masculine and culturally/linguistically speaking a man/boy's male friend is a dost/mitr and a woman/girl's female friend is a sahelii. But, in these modern times, the language has changed to accommodate new sensitivities.

    meraa dost = my male friend

    merii dost = my female friend

    In both cases "my" can be a male speaker or a female speaker.
  3. Kahaani

    Kahaani Senior Member

    Thank you very much for your explanation. How interesting! Can you think of more situations like the one with mera/merii dost? And would a sentence like mujhe bharat ka yaad aata hai/ mujhe mere dost ke yaad aate hain be correct, or would it rather be mujhe bharat kii yaad aati hai/mujhe mere dost kii yaad aati hai?
  4. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am sure there are other such words which can be dual-gender. I can't think of any more at the moment, but no doubt other friends will.

    mujhe bhaarat kii yaad aatii hai

    mujhe apne dost kii yaad aatii hai

    mujhe apne dostoN kii yaad aatii hai

    By the way, if "merii dost" means "my female friend", then how would you say "my female friends" still using "dost"?
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  5. Kahaani

    Kahaani Senior Member

    Thank you for the sentences! I completely forgot to use the oblique case in the sentences! I also still struggle with apne, I know when to use it, but it's just strange for me since I'm familiar with western languages. I'm sure experience will help with this though. Shukriyah/Shukriyaa

    Maybe you could say mere dosten, since it's considered a female noun here.
  6. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    If you are familiar with languages like French or Italian, Kahaani, then you would recognize the rules of Hindi/Urdu: they are the same as far as adjective usage goes.

    "dost" is invariable in the nominative case, so it stays "mere dost" (m. pl.) and "merii dost" (f. pl.). In the oblique case, "dost" would change to "dostoN". However, in the nominative case again, "mere kutte" (my dogs, m. pl.), "merii kuttiyaaN" (f. pl.).
  7. Kahaani

    Kahaani Senior Member

    Thank you both! Something I've always found strange is that possessive pronouns for female plurals don't actually become plural. You can even see this with verbs, i.e. Tum kya karte ho? Tum kya kartii ho?
  8. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    You are most welcome. Well, please don't forget that technically the singular (for one person) would be "tuu kartii hai" and "tum" is for more than one person even though we use to address an individual too, all related to respect and all that.

    As a matter of interest, once upon a time, the female possessive also had a plural.

    paRhte phireN ge galiyoN meN in rextoN ko log
    muddat raheN gii yaad yih baateN hamaariyaaN

    People will go on reading these pieces of Urdu poetry
    They will remember my words for a long time to come!

    Miir Taqii Miir

    Strictly speaking "hamaariyaaN" should be "our", nut the poet is using it in the "royal" sense.
  9. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    QP SaaHib, in Urdu (and Colloquial Hindi) for the nominative case: merii / tumahaarii (terii) etc. dost (f. sing.) and merii / tumhaarii (terii) dosteN (f. plural).

    As you know when referring to masculine friends alone, then and only then dost is not declined: meraa / tumhaaraa (teraa) etc. dost (m.plural) and mere / tumhaare (tere) etc. dost (m.plural). If it is mixed male and female friends then the plural is seen only for the females and that too only for emphasis: mere dost aur (merii) dosteN aaj aa-rahe haiN = my male and female friends are coming today. Otherwise one just uses the non-declined form even when there is mixed male and female company.
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  10. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ Faylasoof, I meant to answer my own question when Kahaani replied to me but I forgot all about it.

    Yes I too had "dosteN" in mind, Faylasoof SaaHib, and in all honesty I find it rather "awkward" to say the least, albeit it is perfectly legitimate formation from the grammatical perspective. I can't comment about its use in Hindi. My concern is what will happen to be-chaarii "sahelii" and even more beatiful (to my mind) "sakhii". I am of course aware that a male saying "dosteN" would not have "saheliyaaN" or "sakhiyaaN" in mind!
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  11. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Never heard it ever in Hindi.
  12. Swasthika New Member

    Hi there! Is it the same thing with the word डॉक्टर (doctor)?
    Meri daktar and Mera daktar, right?
    So what are the nominative plural forms then - mere daktar (मेरे डॉक्टर) and meri daktareN (मेरी डॉक्टरें) ?

    Also, my Oxford's Hindi-English dictionary says that the word मँगेतर (fiance, fiancee) can refer to male or a female person. So the plural forms would then be mere mangetar and meri mangetreN?
  13. gagun Senior Member

    Telugu-TS, Deccani-TS
    I use dostaN (plural) for both masculine and feminine(deccani).
  14. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Hi Swasthika, welcome to the Forum.

    I agree with your summation although I would still find DaakTareN (like dosteN) "awkward" to say the least. maNgetareN would be fine. I think the reason is clear. A "dost" theoratically speaking is a masculine noun and so is a "DaakTar". But "maNgetar" is a noun of dual gender.
  15. Swasthika New Member

    I see, thank you a lot! :)

    So in the case of words like dost and DaakTar, the plural feminine sufix (in nominative of course) will not be added to the nouns but semantically it still affects adjectives - so sentences like - Meri dost/meri DaakTar aa gayi haiN - would be correct in standard hindi?

    What about the word saNtaan? Primarily the gender of the word is feminine and it means - offspring, children; descendants (I am guessing its a noun in sg. which means a group of something, i.e. plural). But it can also mean a son (then its masc.) and/or daughter (then its fem.) - according to Oxford's dictionary. My question is, when in plural - is the case same as with the words maNgetar? (means, mere santaan (my sons), meri santaaneN (my daughters))
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  16. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Hello Swasthika, welcome to the forum from me too, I see you have a great interest for Hindi and go into its intricacies, therefore please excuse me if I unknowingly mislead you as I am not a native Hindi speaker.

    merii dost aa gayii haiN
    merii DaakTar aa gayii haiN
    is a respectful manner of referring to a single person in this case.

    Respectful doesn't mean it's something rarely done, in fact, for some it is a standard way of talking about third persons especially about a doctor.

    Your train of thought is of course right, in the singular you are free to use merii DaakTar and merii dost however I am not sure about the latter as for Standard Hindi. We say so in Urdu but it might vary.

    What is found colloquially though cannot be labelled as Standard Hindi because it's being done away with the dilemma of a plural ending by the means of English:

    merii DaakTarz aa gayii haiN.
  17. flamboyant lad

    flamboyant lad Senior Member

    Gate Keeper to a patient: Andar room mai doctaro ki meeting chal rahi hai. Aap enter nahi kar saktay.

    In the preceding sentence doctor is used in plural form.

    Announcement: Kal sabhi doctaray chuti par hongi.
    It means all female doctors.
  18. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    ^ If for you these sentences in Hindi are alright, then I can only agree.

    What about dost? I mean the plural form for feminine?
  19. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    We say "merii dost" in Hindi for a female friend. Also "merii mitra" in more formal usage.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  20. flamboyant lad

    flamboyant lad Senior Member

    It's not pronounced as daaktar but doctar.

    If someone pronounces it as daaktar I'll think either the person is uneducated or pronouncing in US accent.
  21. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ While speaking Urdu, I pronounce the word as "DaakTar". I don't have a US accent.
  22. Swasthika New Member

    What about meri mitreN? As in - my friends (who are female). For ex. Meri mitreN aa gayi haiN.

    Is there any actual rule in some grammar book about this? I couldnt find it. All i can find is that some of the words can denote both male and female - there is nothing about the usage, sufixes and adjectives...

    Here are some of the words which dictionaries consider as both F and M - daaktar, mantrii, mitr, santaan, mangetar.
    Words like dost are of M gender in dictionaries.

    So what I have come to the conclusion might be this - if the word is M or can be both M and F - it will act like M in the declension paradigm but the adjective will get the correct gender. So if we say Meri daaktar aa gayi hain or Meri mitr aa gayi hain...it would be ok right?

    Now, im thinking about this. Santaan is originally F, and so is for example savaari (passenger). While savaari can be only F and nothing but F, even the passenger is a male person, santaan can mean son (then its M) or daughter (then its F). Would these sentences be correct:

    Mera saavari aa gaya hai (im guessing this can be only F, even though the passenger might be male right?)
    Mera santaan aa gaya hai / Mere santaanEN aa gaye hain (what do you say if the meaning is "son"?)
    Meri santaaneN aa gayi hain (my daughters have come?)
  23. Swasthika New Member

    I have heard both pronunciations while I was in India and my dictionary suggests daaktar too, so its ok :) at least in standard hindi.
  24. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    After giving this some more thought, the feminine plurals have to be "merii doste.n" and "merii mitre.n" in order to be grammatically correct. Otherwise it would be too ambiguous about whether one female friend is meant or more. But many Hindi speakers just say "merii friends", "merii saheliyaa.n", "merii sakhiyaa.n", or ignore gender rules and say "mere dost", depending on the situation.

    Traditionally, "mitra" and "dost" have been for male friends only, so dictionaries may not always be up to date. It is only in modern times that they are being used for female friends too. Hence, the confusion about the feminine plural form.


    The word is "savaarii". I don't know if this sentence is correct because I don't use it in this sense. A common word for passenger is "paise.njar", which is in the masculine form, unless it's a train then it's feminine.



    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014
  25. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    merii DaakTar aa ga'ii haiN

    merii mitra aa ga'ii haiN

    These two sentence would be correct if there is only one female doctor and one female friend and one is using a plural verb for respect.

    meraa savaarii aa gayaa hai

    This would be wrong, since "savaarii" (passenger) is feminine. The correct sentence would be:

    merii savaarii aa ga'ii hai......even if the passenger is a male person.


    merii santaan aa gayaa hai would be wrong because "santaan" as far as I know is feminine. So, if the santaan (progeny) happens to be a male offspring...the correct form would be

    merii santaan aa ga'ii hai.

    mere santaaneN aa ga'e haiN...again is incorrect since santaan is feminine.

    merii santaan aa ga'ii hai.

    I know that this is going to be ambiguous but "santaan" can imply one or more offspring. If there was a situation where a man had children from more than one woman (or a woman with children from more than one man)..

    merii santaan aa ga'ii hai..or

    merii santaaneN aa ga'ii haiN...and this does not imply daughters only. "santaan" is a feminine noun that depicts a son or a daughter. The sentence would merely mean..

    My offspring are here (males only, females only, a mixture of males and females).
  26. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    ^ "santaan" can be used as masculine too if the santaan are males. However, it's not as common as treating "santaan" as feminine.
  27. Swasthika New Member

    Oh my there are just so many varieties... :S

    What about gender agreement in the following sentence:
    (1) बेटे और माताएँ रो रहे थे।
    (2) बेटे और माताएँ रो रही थीं।

    My grammar book says the verb will agree with all the subjects (ex. 1) or the nearest of them (ex. 2). Would these sentences be correct then? I am not a native speaker but to me the 2nd example sounds a bit unusual, however not wrong. So Im not sure.
    (ps. examples are mine, not from the grammar book)
  28. Swasthika New Member

    Also i want to ask this.
    With the pronoun koii its possible to say: Koii aa gayaa hai/ Koii aa gayii hai (Someone (M or F) came).
    How about asking Did someone come? Is it also possible the two way? Koii aa gayaa hai?/Koii aa gayii hai?
  29. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    There is a reason for that. In Hindi, "santaan" evolved into feminine and this is the most common usage. However, in Sanskrit "santaana" is masculine and this usage survives to some extent. But you don't need to worry about the masculine usage. You should focus on learning the most common form (feminine) since that is what you are more likely to encounter.

    I've seen both forms in writing. Your grammar book also seems to imply that both are correct.
  30. Swasthika New Member

    Thanks A LOT mundiya :)
    Could you please answer the question bellow my 1st comment too?

    ...also i would like to add to the question: is it possible to ask Kaun ayii hai?
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2014
  31. gagun Senior Member

    Telugu-TS, Deccani-TS
    can aulaad be also used like ka santaan(ka aulaad?)
  32. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    No, aulaad is always feminine.
  33. gagun Senior Member

    Telugu-TS, Deccani-TS
    i know the usage of santaan like meri PEHLI santaan putr/putrii huwa/hui but not pahla santaan that is why i have arised a doubt.
    thankyou Qureshpor saaheb.
  34. Swasthika New Member

    Hi its me again.. :)

    Which gender do have currencies in hindi - im interested in those who end in -aa, like krona and lira (क्रोना, लीरा). If you have to say 10 kronas/liras/rupees - what would be correct?

    यह कमीज़ दस रुपये है.
    यह कमीज़ दस क्रोने है.
    यह कमीज़ दस लीरे है.

    Or would lira and krona stay the same?
    यह कमीज़ दस क्रोना है.
    यह कमीज़ दस लीरा है.

    to me it seems there is no reason why these nouns wouldnt change their endings..and there is even the analogy with rupee that can support that.

    Do they have puling gender or striling?
    If they are puling, is the noun indeclinable or they behave likenouns like raajaa - they are puling but change only in oblique form in plural...?
  35. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    It is commonly used in Delhi, and I have always (and frequently) heard it in feminine there irrespective of the sex of the passenger. So, just +1 for QP from my end on this point.
  36. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    Almost forgot to respond because I travel for work!

    लीरा becomes लीरे in the plural, and क्रोना becomes क्रोनोर. They follow the plurals found in the original languages: Italian and Swedish.

    EDIT: I should mention that they are probably adopted from English usage.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014

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