Hindi, Urdu: When Tha/thi/the is needed after a past participle

99sobi

New Member
English - England
I've had tutoring from two tutors.

The first taught me that past tense is formed by changing the verb, e.g. kaya, gaya, etc.

The second taught me that this is "incomplete" and that I need tha/thi/they afterwards, e.g. kaya tha, gaya tha.

Am I right in saying that, Mein ne khana khaya = I ate food, and Mein ne khana khaya tha = I had eaten food?

Thanks
 
  • 99sobi

    New Member
    English - England
    Yes. And,
    "maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa hai" = I have eaten food.
    Thanks for the reply. I didn't want to debate this with the second tutor as she is a teacher after all :rolleyes: so I accepted what she said while still being unsure as to whether or not it was true -- since it sounds very unnatural to say "tha/thi/they" in a simple past tense sentence.

    You have given a present perfect sentence -- is there a reason you don't use "hoon"?

    I'm not sure why, but saying "Mein ne khana khaya hoon" feels weird, and your version sounds natural. But doesn't "main" go with "hoon"?
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    You have given a present perfect sentence -- is there a reason you don't use "hoon"?

    I'm not sure why, but saying "Mein ne khana khaya hoon" feels weird, and your version sounds natural. But doesn't "main" go with "hoon"?
    "hooN" would be used in the present (progressive or habitual) tenses:

    "main khaanaa khaa rahaa hooN" = I am eating food.
    "main khaanaa khaataa hooN" = I (habitually) eat food.

    "hai" remains invariable with respect to the subject (in the past tense), as long as the object remains singular (otherwise "haiN").
    "auratoN ne khaanaa khaayaa hai" = Women have eaten food.
    BUT
    "main ne miThaaiyaaN khaaii haiN" = I have eaten sweets.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I've had tutoring from two tutors.

    The first taught me that past tense is formed by changing the verb, e.g. kaya, gaya, etc.

    The second taught me that this is "incomplete" and that I need tha/thi/they afterwards, e.g. kaya tha, gaya tha.

    Am I right in saying that, Mein ne khana khaya = I ate food, and Mein ne khana khaya tha = I had eaten food?

    Thanks
    I think you meant to write "kiyaa","gayaa" "khaayaa", "khaanaa", "thaa", "maiN ne"

    With regard to the meaning of "maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa" and "maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa thaa", the English equivalents are not set in stone as "I ate" and "I had eaten". Please see page 118 (section 139) of the book below (Introductory Urdu - Volume 1 by C.M. Naim).

    http://dsal.uchicago.edu/digbooks/images/PK1983.N2_1999_V1/PK1983.N2_1999_V1.pdf
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Am I right in saying that, Mein ne khana khaya = I ate food, and Mein ne khana khaya tha = I had eaten food?
    Yes. And,
    "maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa hai" = I have eaten food.
    As Qureshpor rightly pointed out, this equation is a bit too imprecise, though not exactly wrong. I'd suggest an alternative view:
    I think, the normal usage is the following:
    1) maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa hai = I have eaten food.
    2) maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa thaa = I ate food / I had eaten food.

    However, "maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa" is also possible in the sense (1). The other use of this tense is when you are narrating a story in the past. The sequence of events happening one after another is given in this tense. "maiN ghar gayaa, phir maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa, ... etc." In this case, it has the sense (2): "I went home, then I had food, ... etc."

    There are some more subtle differences with English, e.g. in English it's very wierd to say *"She has arrived yesterday". You say "she arrived yesterday", whether she is still there or not. Hindi, however, would focus exclusively on whether she is still there or not, and say "vo kal pahuNchhii (hai)" if she is still there and "vo kal pahuNchhii thii" if she has already gone back. Compare the difference between "she has arrived" and "she (had) arrived" in English without the "yesterday".
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I think, the normal usage is the following:
    1) maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa hai = I have eaten food.
    2) maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa thaa = I ate food / I had eaten food.
    Do you have any examples, @Dib jii, of something like sentence (2) meaning "I ate food" within a context? I can't think of it!
    However, "maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa" is also possible in the sense (1).
    I again don't see how. Once you remove "hai," it is a discrete event (e.g., in a narrative, just like you mention), unanchored in the present. I don't see how after removing "hai," it can remain anchored to the present. Any examples you can make up?
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Do you have any examples, @Dib jii, of something like sentence (2) meaning "I ate food" within a context? I can't think of it!
    Here is one example (from दादीमाँ, a story in the NCERT Hindi book for class 7. I am reading school Hindi books these days! :D):

    dadima.PNG

    I again don't see how. Once you remove "hai," it is a discrete event (e.g., in a narrative, just like you mention), unanchored in the present. I don't see how after removing "hai," it can remain anchored to the present. Any examples you can make up?

    Imagine you meet a friend towards noon, and ask them:
    A: kyaa bhaaii, khaanaa khaayaa? (or probably, more likely, "khaa liyaa")
    B: haaN, khaayaa. (or "khaa liyaa")
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Here is one example (from दादीमाँ, a story in the NCERT Hindi book for class 7. I am reading school Hindi books these days! :D):

    View attachment 57603
    It's always good to read school textbooks :) More fun, and more illuminating to see how language mechanics works. Thanks for a very good example! My non-native English mind would have translated this again as "He had given me this jewelry for such a day only" (though "paihnaayaa thaa" is more "had me worn," but in English, I guess, "to give" would be more idiomatic), but on reflecting, I guess English speakers would indeed say "He gave me ... for such a day only." It seems that the mapping of time is different in my mind than a native English speaker's, maybe that's why the confusion!

    Imagine you meet a friend towards noon, and ask them:
    A: kyaa bhaaii, khaanaa khaayaa? (or probably, more likely, "khaa liyaa")
    B: haaN, khaayaa. (or "khaa liyaa")

    Yes, but I don't see any anchor to the present. It seems to me again being treated as a discrete event. Now imagine the same two friends meeting towards noon: A had asked B to meet him because he wanted B's help to lift some heavy loads, so A wants to ensure that B has come prepared.

    A: kyon bhaii, khaanaa to khaayaa hai naa? nahiiN to past paR jaaoge.
    B: (laughing) haaN, haaN, khaaya hai/khaa liyaa. (B may not feel the need to remain anchored in his response.)

    Let's take a more "natural" example. A is a supervisor on a construction site. He thinks he can push the workers a bit more. He shouts at them:

    A: kyaa khaanaa nahiiN khaayaa hai? yeh, bairaa kyoN rahe ho? chalo, diivaar do ghanTe/ghanToN meN chin jaanii chaahiye!
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    It seems that the mapping of time is different in my mind than a native English speaker's, maybe that's why the confusion!
    Maybe not "time," but "aspect"...?

    The technical point that we're probably skirting around might be the distinction between perfective vs retrospective aspects. The Urdu-Hindi kiyaa [hai/thaa] construction is typically analyzed as carrying a perfective aspect. On the other hand, the English had/has/have/will have done construction is typically analyzed as carrying a retrospective aspect (usually confusingly called the "perfect" aspect, but let me use the alternative term "retrospective" to make the terminology more distinctive).

    ---

    In English, the retrospective aspect conveys that you're situating yourself at a particular time, the time of reference, and then, from that time of reference, you're looking back at an earlier event that had/has/have/will have some ramification all the way up to the time of reference (and possibly after, but the retrospective aspect is agnostic about this). The position of the time of reference relative to the present is conveyed by the tense of the auxiliary verb (had vs has/have vs will have).
    He had given me a bracelet.​
    Time of reference = some time in the past​
    The giving happened before that time of reference and had ramifications up to that time​
    He has given me a bracelet.​
    Time of reference = present​
    The giving happened before the present and has ramifications up to the present​
    He will have given me a bracelet.​
    Time of reference = some time in the future​
    The giving will have happened before that time of reference and will have ramifications up to that time​

    The retrospective aspect results in a decoupling of the time of reference from the time that the action occurred.

    Using a simple past, on the other hand, does not decouple the time of reference from the time that the action actually occurred:
    He gave me a bracelet​
    Time of reference = some time in the past​
    The giving happened at the time of reference​

    Sometimes this decoupling of the time of reference from the time of the event just doesn't make any difference. But sometimes it does make subtle differences. For example, if a grandmother is telling a story to her grandchild and says one of the following:
    (A) Your grandfather had given me this bracelet on our wedding day.​
    (B) Your grandfather gave me this bracelet on our wedding day.​

    At first pass, these sentences are almost synonymous. After all, in both cases, the giving actually occurs on the wedding day. But... I would guess that the grandmother would be more likely to say (A) in certain situations where there's been more of a "break" with the present since the time of the giving, since that "break" would then serve as a relevant time of reference. Two examples come to mind:

    * If they're looking at a photograph of a bracelet and she no longer has the bracelet. In this situation, her time of reference is at or before the loss of the bracelet, and she's looking back from that time of reference to her wedding day.
    * If the grandfather is now dead. In this situation, her time of reference might be at some point at or before his death, and she's looking back from that time of reference to her wedding day.

    On the other hand, if she's currently wearing the bracelet and the grandfather is sitting alive and well in the same room when the grandmother is relating this story, I would guess that she would most likely just use (B) instead: there's no particular reason to decouple the time of reference from the time of the event.

    ---

    On the other hand, the Hindi-Urdu kiyaa [hai/thaa] conveys a perfective aspect: it views the action as a completed whole without internal structure. It perhaps doesn't distinctly decouple the time of reference from the time of the action like English's retrospective aspect does. For example, it doesn't matter whether the grandmother still has the bracelet, and it doesn't matter if the grandfather is dead or alive, she would probably just say

    ye kangan tere daadaa ne mujhe shaadii ke din diyaa thaa.​

    The time of reference is the day of the wedding, and that is when the giving happened. The above sentence in context does not really lead me to posit a time of reference that's distinct from the time of the event.

    This does again bring up the question posed in the OP, about how the form with the thaa appended differs from the form without. To me, it feels like adding the thaa situates the event firmly in the past. Not having it makes the time of reference vaguer (perhaps a little closer to the present, or perhaps just unknown). For example, if I contrast asking someone:
    (C) ye kangan aapko kisne diyaa thaa?​
    (D) ye kangan aapko kisne diyaa?​

    (C) feels to me like the question presumes that the giving happened decidedly in the past: for instance, maybe the person I'm talking to is my grandmother and I know she's had it for as long as I can remember, or something like that.

    On the other hand, (D) feels to me to be more agnostic about how recently the person I'm talking to might have been given the bracelet: perhaps it was just two minutes ago when I happened to not be looking, or maybe I just don't know when it was. (And actually, (D) seems to express enough doubt about the circumstances of the giving that the first situation that comes to mind for when (D) might be appropriate would be some kind of a [very polite] interrogation, when I might harbor some doubts about how the person I'm talking to got their hands on this bracelet or about if they really have a legitimate right to have this bracelet, or something like that...)

    Note also that, just as (A) vs (B) is expressing a distinction that isn't really made in Hindi-Urdu, (C) vs (D) is expressing a distinction that isn't really made in English. If I'm asking my grandmother about a bracelet she has that I know she's had for many years, I would just say "Who gave you this bracelet?" If instead I'm interrogating someone about how they acquired a bracelet which perhaps they acquired very recently and which I perhaps somewhat doubt they even have a legitimate right to have, I would again just say the exact same words: "Who gave you this bracelet?" Neither situation clearly prompts the past retrospective "Who had given you this bracelet?"

    ---
    1) maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa hai = I have eaten food.
    2) maiN ne khaanaa khaayaa thaa = I ate food / I had eaten food.

    There are probably even situations where Urdu-Hindi naturally uses the present perfective but English naturally uses the simple past! For instance,
    maiNne thoRii der pahle hii khaanaa khaayaa hai.​
    I ate just a little while ago.​
    [In most situations, it would probably be a little strange to say "I have eaten just a little while ago."]​

    So I might propose slightly revising @Dib jii's equations to:

    maiNne khaanaa khaayaa hai = I ate food / I have eaten food.
    maiNne khaanaa khaayaa thaa = I ate food / I had eaten food.
    maiNne khaanaa khaayaa = I ate food

    ---

    TLDR; The Hindi-Urdu tense-aspect combinations don't perfectly line up with the English ones. Theoretically, the distinction can probably be understood reasonably well in terms of the distinction between the retrospective vs perfective aspects. But that's not very practical advice if you're a learner. Probably the best advice for the sake of learning is just to listen carefully to what native speakers use in various contexts...?

    ---

    [Actually, the situation is actually even more complicated than described above. There's the fact that throwing a huaa into the perfective construction can slightly change meaning, as @Dib pointed out a while ago. There are also sentences of the form maiN khaanaa khaa chukaa huuN, which have very similar but not identical semantics and further throw a wrench in things. I also remember a similar topic coming up in this thread.]
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Yes, but I don't see any anchor to the present. It seems to me again being treated as a discrete event. Now imagine the same two friends meeting towards noon: A had asked B to meet him because he wanted B's help to lift some heavy loads, so A wants to ensure that B has come prepared.

    A: kyon bhaii, khaanaa to khaayaa hai naa? nahiiN to past paR jaaoge.
    B: (laughing) haaN, haaN, khaaya hai/khaa liyaa. (B may not feel the need to remain anchored in his response.)

    Let's take a more "natural" example. A is a supervisor on a construction site. He thinks he can push the workers a bit more. He shouts at them:

    A: kyaa khaanaa nahiiN khaayaa hai? yeh, bairaa kyoN rahe ho? chalo, diivaar do ghanTe/ghanToN meN chin jaanii chaahiye!
    Well, underlyingly, I tend to see two tenses in Hindi being expressed by three expressions: khaayaa hai / khaayaa thaa / khaayaa. I see the distinction between "khaayaa thaa" and "khaayaa hai" as relatively clear-cut, and I view simple "khayaa" as a conditioned replacement for both.

    My impression is that [except when the relevance (or "anchor" as you say) of the event to the present is to be emphasized - as your examples demonstrate] the "hai" of the "khaayaa hai" kind of construction can be ommitted. My noon-time conversation example was supposed to demonstrate this. The "hai" could be added to it without much of a difference in meaning. Your examples also demonstrate that semantically it is indeed a case of "hai".

    But the ommission of "thaa" from "khaayaa thaa" is more constrained. In a narrative context, the "thaa" must be dropped, if a sequential reading is to be forced, e.g. "maiN ghar (bhii) gayaa thaa, khaanaa (bhii) khayaa thaa" (no clear implication about which event happened first) vs. "maiN ghar (bhii) gayaa, khaanaa (bhii) khaayaa" (implication that "ghar jaanaa" preceeded "khaanaa khaanaa"). Here, the addition of "bhii" weakens the sequential reading or strengthens the non-sequential reading, such that the first sentence is probably not very likely to occur without the "bhii". Anyway, there maybe also other situations that allow/require the thaa-dropping.

    There are probably even situations where Urdu-Hindi naturally uses the present perfective but English naturally uses the simple past! For instance,
    maiNne thoRii der pahle hii khaanaa khaayaa hai.​
    I ate just a little while ago.​
    [In most situations, it would probably be a little strange to say "I have eaten just a little while ago."]​
    Indeed, this is because adding an explicit past time reference seems to block the present perfect in English. I also observed this:
    ... in English it's very wierd to say *"She has arrived yesterday". You say "she arrived yesterday", whether she is still there or not. Hindi, however, would focus exclusively on whether she is still there or not, and say "vo kal pahuNchhii (hai)" if she is still there and "vo kal pahuNchhii thii" if she has already gone back. Compare the difference between "she has arrived" and "she (had) arrived" in English without the "yesterday".
     
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