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Bengali grammar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bengali grammar (Bengali: বাংলা ব্যাকরণ Bangla Bækôrôn) is the study of the morphology and syntax of Bengali, an Indo-European language spoken in the Indian subcontinent. Although Bengali is typically written in the Bengali script, a Romanization scheme[which?] is used here to suggest the pronunciation.

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Transcription

Contents

Pronouns

Bengali pronouns are somewhat similar to English pronouns, having different words for first, second, and third person, and also for singular and plural (unlike for verbs, below). Bengali pronouns, unlike their English counterparts, do not differentiate for gender; that is, the same pronoun may be used for "he" or "she". However, Bengali has different third-person pronouns for proximity. The first are used for someone who is nearby, and the second are for those who are a little further away. The third are usually for those who are not present. In addition, each of the second- and third-person pronouns have different forms for the familiar and polite forms; the second person also has a "very familiar" form (sometimes called "despective"). It may be noted that the "very familiar" form is used when addressing particularly close friends or family as well as for addressing subordinates, or in abusive language. In the following tables, the abbreviations used are as follows: VF=very familiar, F=familiar, and P=polite (honor); H=here, T=there, E=elsewhere (proximity), and I=inanimate.

Given that Bengali has two forms, চলিত ভাষা cholito bhasha and সাধু ভাষা shadhu bhasha, it is important to note that the pronouns before are given in the চলিত cholito form.

The nominative case is used for pronouns that are the subject of the sentence, such as "I already did that" or "Will you please stop making that noise?"

Personal pronouns (nominative case)
Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 ami (I) amra (we)
2 VF tui (you) tora (you)
F tumi (you) tomra (you)
P apni (you) apnara (you)
3 H F e (he/she) era (they)
P ini (he/she) ẽra (they)
I eţi/eţa (it) egulo (these)
T F o (he/she) ora (they)
P uni (he/she) õra (they)
I oţi/oţa (it) ogulo (those)
E F she (he/she) tara (they)
P tini (he/she) tãra (they)
I sheţi/sheţa (it) shegulo (those)

The objective case is used for pronouns serving as the direct or indirect objects, such as "I told him to wash the dishes" or "The teacher gave me the homework assignment." The inanimate pronouns remain the same in the objective case.

Personal pronouns (objective case)
Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 amake (me) amaderke (us)
2 VF toke (you) toderke (you)
F tomake (you) tomaderke (you)
P apnake (you) apnaderke (you)
3 H F eke (him/her) ederke (them)
P ẽke (him/her) ẽderke (them)
I eţi/eţa (it) egulo (these)
T F oke (him/her) oderke (them)
P õke (him/her) õderke (them)
I oţi/oţa (it) ogulo (those)
E F take (him/her) taderke (them)
P tãke (him/her) tãderke (them)
I sheţi/sheţa (it) shegulo (those)

The possessive case is used to show possession, such as "Where is your coat?" or "Let's go to our house." Note that the plural forms are identical to those for the objective case.

Personal pronouns (possessive case)
Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 amar (my) amader (our)
2 VF tor (your) toder (your)
F tomar (your) tomader (your)
P apnar (your) apnader (your)
3 H F er (his/her) eder (their)
P ẽr (his/her) ẽder (their)
I eţir/eţar (its) egulor (of these)
T F or (his/her) oder (their)
P õr (his/her) õder (their)
I oţir/oţar (its) ogulor (of those)
E F tar (his/her) tader (their)
P tãr (his/her) tãder (their)
I sheţir/sheţar (its) shegulor (of those)

Nouns

Case

Nouns are also inflected for case, including nominative, objective, genitive (possessive), and locative. The case marking pattern for each noun being inflected depends on the noun's degree of animacy.[clarification needed] The objective case cannot be inflected upon nouns which are inanimate, and the locative case cannot be inflected upon nouns which are animate. When a definite article such as -ţa (singular) or -gulo (plural) is added, nouns are also inflected for number. In formal contexts, especially in writing, the definite article -ţa is replaced by -ţi. There is also an alternative way of using the plural definite article, -gulo, by making it -guli. Below are two tables which show the inflections of an animate noun, ছাত্র chhatrô (student), and an inanimate noun, জুতা juta (shoe).

Noun Inflection
Animate Inanimate
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative ছাত্রটি/ছাত্রটা
chhatrô-ţi/chhatrô-ţa

the student

ছাত্ররা
chhatrô-ra

the students

জুতাটি/জুতাটা
juta-ţi/juta-ţa

the shoe

জুতাগুলো
juta-gulo

the shoes

Objective ছাত্রটিকে/ছাত্রটাকে
chhatrô-ţi-ke/chhatrô-ţa-ke

(to) the student

ছাত্রদেরকে
chhatrô-der-ke

(to) the students

Genitive ছাত্রটি/ছাত্রটা

chhatrô-ţi-r/chhatrô-ţa-r the student's

ছাত্রদের

chhatrô-der the students'

জুতাটি/জুতাটা

juta-ţi-r/juta-ţa-r the shoe's

জুতাগুলো

juta-gulo-r the shoes'

Locative জুতাটিতে/জুতাটায়

juta-ţi-te/juta-ţa-y on/in the shoe

জুতাগুলোতে

juta-gulo-te on/in the shoes

It should be noted that all of the inflected nouns above have an indefinite article preceding their case markers. There are some basic rules to keep in mind about the cases, apart from the "default" nominative.

For the objective case, the ending -রে -re may be used in certain non-standard dialects of Bengali. For example, the non-standard ছাত্রটারে chhatrô-ţa-re may be used instead of the standard ছাত্রটাকে chhatrô-ţa-ke.

For the genitive case, the ending may change, though never with a definite article attached. A noun (without an article) which ends in a consonant or the inherent vowel, অ ô, is inflected by adding - ের -er to the end of the word (and deleting the inherent vowel if applicable). An example of this would be the genitive of মাংস mangshô "meat" being মাংসের mangsher "of meat" or "(the) meat's". A noun which ends in any vowel apart from the inherent vowel will just have a -র -r following it, as in the genitive of ছেলে chhele being ছেলে chheler "(the) boy's".

For the locative case, the marker also changes in a similar fashion to the genitive case, with consonants and the inherent vowel having their own ending, - ে -e, and all other vowels having another ending, -তে -te, with one exception. If a noun ends with - া -a, then it's locative case marker would be -য় -y, as in কলকাতায় Kolkata-y "to Kolkata". However, this special exception for -a ending nouns is often ignored, and colloquially many will say কলকাতাতে Kolkata-te instead of the proper Kolktata-y.

Measure words

When counted, nouns must also be accompanied by the appropriate measure word. As in many East Asian languages (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc.), nouns in Bengali cannot be counted directly by adding the numeral directly adjacent to the noun. The noun's measure word (MW) must be used in between the numeral and the noun. Most nouns take the generic measure word ţa, although there are many more specific measure words, such as jon, which is only used to count humans.

Measure Words
Bengali Literal translation
Nôy-ţa ghoŗi Nine-MW clock Nine clocks
Kôy-ţa balish How many-MW pillow How many pillows
Ônek-jon lok Many-MW person Many people
Char-pañch-jon shikkhôk Four-five-MW teacher Four or five teachers

Measuring nouns in Bengali without their corresponding measure words (e.g. aţ biŗal instead of aţ-ţa biŗal "eight cats") would typically be considered ungrammatical. However, omitting the noun and preserving the measure word is grammatical and not uncommon to hear. For example, Shudhu êk-jon thakbe. (lit. "Only one-MW will remain.") would be understood to mean "Only one person will remain.", since jon can only be used to count humans. The word lok "person" is implied.

Verbs

Bengali verbs are highly inflected and are regular with only few exceptions. They consist of a stem and an ending; they are traditionally listed in Bengali dictionaries in their "verbal noun" form, which is usually formed by adding -a to the stem (for instance, rakha = "to put or place"). The stem can end in either a vowel or a consonant. Verbs are conjugated for tense and person by changing the endings, which are largely the same for all verbs. However, the stem vowel can often change as part of the phenomenon known as "vowel harmony", whereby one vowel can be influenced by other vowels in the word to sound more harmonious. An example would be the verb "to write", with stem lekh-: লেখো lekho (you all write) but লিখি likhi (we write). In general, the following transformations take place: ôo, ou, æe, ei, and ae, where the verbal noun features the first vowel but certain conjugations use the second. In addition, the verbs dêoa (to give) and nêoa (to take) switch between e, i, a, and æ. If verbs are classified by stem vowel and if the stem ends in a consonant or vowel, there are nine basic classes in which most verbs can be placed; all verbs in a class will follow the same pattern. A prototype verb from each of these classes will be used to demonstrate conjugation for that class; bold will be used to indicate mutation of the stem vowel.

Non-finite forms

The Bengali verb can occur in six non-finite forms: by definition, they do not offer any information on tense (whether the event is in the present, past, or future) or number (whether the event involves one or more subject). They do, however, indicate other information – these are shown below using the verbal root jan- "know":

Person

Verbs are inflected for person and honour, but not for number. There are five forms: first person, second person (very familiar), second person (familiar), third person (familiar), and second/third person (polite). The same sample subject pronouns will be used for all the example conjugation paradigms: ami (Bengali: আমি), tui (তুই), tumi (তুমি), she (সে) and apni (আপনি). These have the following plurals respectively amra (আমরা), tora (তোরা), tomra (তোমরা), tara (তারা) and apnara (আপনারা).

Mood

There are two moods for Bengali verbs: the indicative and the imperative. The imperative mood is used to give commands. The indicative mood is used for statements of fact; its various tenses are given below.

Aspect

There are three aspects for Bengali verbs: simple aspect, the progressive/continuous aspect, and the perfect. These are combined with the different tenses described below to form the various verbal conjugations possible.

  • আঁকা ãka – verbal noun ("act of drawing")
  • আঁকতে ãkte – verbal infinitive ("to draw")
  • আঁকতে-আঁকতে ãkte-ãkte – progressive participle ("while drawing")
  • আঁকলে ãkle – conditional participle ("if X draws")
  • এঁকে ẽke – perfect participle ("having drawn")
  • এঁকে-এঁকে ẽke-ẽke – iterative participle ("having drawn many times")

Tense

Bengali has four simple tenses: the present tense, the past tense, the conditional or habitual past tense, and the future tense. These combine with mood and aspect to form more complex conjugations, such as the past progressive, or the present perfect.

Simple present tense

The present tense in Bengali is similar to that of English: I eat, you run, he reads. The endings are -i, -(i)sh, -o, -e, and -(e)n. In most Eastern Dialects, the Very Familiar forms drop the final vowel from the original verb without instead of adding -(i)sh for most verbs that end with la and add -(o)s for most verbs that end with na.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami boli tui bolish tumi bôlo she bôle apni bôlen
বলা আমি বলি তুই বলিস তুমি বল সে বলে আপনি বলেন
khola ami khuli tui khulish tumi kholo she khole apni kholen
খোলা আমি খুলি তুই খুলিস তুমি খোল সে খোলে আপনি খোলেন
khêla ami kheli tui khelish tumi khêlo she khêle apni khêlen
খেলা আমি খেলি তুই খেলিস তুমি খেল সে খেলে আপনি খেলেন
chena ami chini tui chinish tumi cheno she chene apni chenen
চেনা আমি চিনি তুই চিনিস তুমি চেন সে চেনে আপনি চেনেন
jana ami jani tui janish tumi jano she jane apni janen
জানা আমি জানি তুই জানিস তুমি জান সে জানে আপনি জানেন
hôoa ami hoi tui hosh tumi hôo she hôe apni hôn
হওয়া আমি হই তুই হোস তুমি হও সে হয় আপনি হন
dhoa ami dhui tui dhush tumi dhoo she dhoe apni dhon
ধোয়া আমি ধুই তুই ধুস তুমি ধোও সে ধোয় আপনি ধোন
khaoa ami khai tui khash tumi khao she khae apni khan
খাওয়া আমি খাই তুই খাস তুমি খাও সে খায় আপনি খান
deoa ami dii tui dish tumi dao she dêe apni dên
দেওয়া আমি তরে দিই তুই তারে দিস তুমি দাও সে দেয় আপনি দেন

Simple past tense

The (simple) past tense differs from its use in English in that it is usually reserved for events that have occurred recently; for instance, less than a day ago. It would be translated into the English simple past tense: I ate, you ran, he read. The endings are -lam, -li, -le, -lo, -len (notice that the vowels for the second and third [familiar] persons are the reverse of those in the present tense). For example: ami dekhlam, tui dekhli, tumi dekhle, se dekhlo, apni dekhlen. In Eastern varieties of Bengali, "a" is substituted for "e" in second-person familiar forms; thus "tumi bolla, khulla, khella," etc.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bollam tui bolli tumi bolle she bollo apni bollen
বলা আমি বললাম তুই বললি তুমি বললে সে বলল আপনি বললেন
khola ami khullam tui khulli tumi khulle she khullo apni khullen
খোলা আমি খুললাম তুই খুললি তুমি খুললে সে খুলল আপনি খুললেন
khêla ami khellam tui khelli tumi khelle she khello apni khellen
খেলে আমি খেললাম তুই খেললি তুমি খেললে সে খেলল আপনি খেললেন
chena ami chinlam tui chinli tumi chinle she chinlo apni chinlen
চেনা আমি চিনলাম তুই চিনলি তুমি চিনলে সে চিনল আপনি চিনলেন
jana ami janlam tui janli tumi janle she janlo apni janlen
জানা আমি জানলাম তুই জানলি তুমি জানলে সে জানল আপনি জানলেন
hôoa ami holam tui holi tumi hole she holo apni holen
হওয়া আমি হলাম তুই হলি তুমি হলে সে হল আপনি হলেন
dhooa ami dhulam tui dhuli tumi dhule she dhulo apni dhulen
ধোওয়া আমি ধুলাম তুই ধুলি তুমি ধুলে সে ধুল আপনি ধুলেন
khaoa ami khelam tui kheli tumi khele she khelo apni khelen
খাওয়া আমি খেলাম তুই খেলি তুমি খেলে সে খেল আপনি খেলেন
dêoa ami dilam tui dili tumi dile she dilo apni dilen
দেওয়া আমি দিলাম তুই দিলি তুমি দিলে সে দিল আপনি দিলেন

Habitual past tense

The habitual past tense has a few different uses. It is used for events that happened regularly, such as "I used to eat out every day" or "He wrote poems when he was young", the equivalent of an imperfect. It may also be used as a sort of conditional, such as the following: "If you asked I would come" or "If you had asked I would have come". It is easy to form the habitual past tense: simply start with the simple past tense and change the l to t (except in the tui [2 VF] form). The endings are -tam, -tish, -te, -to, -ten. For example: ami dekhtam, tui dekhtish, tumi dekhte, she dekhto, apni dekhten. In less standard varieties of Bengali, "a" is substituted for "e" in second-person familiar forms; thus "tumi bolta, khulta, khelta," etc.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami boltam tui boltish tumi bolte she bolto apni bolten
বলা আমি বলতাম তুই বলতিস তুমি বলতে সে বলত আপনি বলতেন
khola ami khultam tui khultish tumi khulte she khulto apni khulten
খোলা আমি খুলতাম তুই খুলতিস তুমি খুলতে সে খুলত আপনি খুলতেন
khêla ami kheltam tui kheltish tumi khelte she khelto apni khelten
খেলে আমি খেলতাম তুই খেলতিস তুমি খেলতে সে খেলত আপনি খেলতেন
chena ami chintam tui chintish tumi chinte she chinto apni chinten
চেনা আমি চিনতাম তুই চিনতিস তুমি চিনতে সে চিনত আপনি চিনতেন
jana ami jantam tui jantish tumi jante she janto apni janten
জানা আমি জানতাম তুই জানতিস তুমি জানতে সে জানত আপনি জানতেন
hôoa ami hotam tui hotish tumi hote she hoto apni hoten
হওয়া আমি হতাম তুই হতিস তুমি হতে সে হত আপনি হতেন
dhooa ami dhutam tui dhutish tumi dhute she dhuto apni dhuten
ধোওয়া আমি ধুতাম তুই ধুতিস তুমি ধুতে সে ধুত আপনি ধুতেন
khaoa ami khetam tui kheltish tumi khete she kheto apni kheten
খাওয়া আমি খেতাম তুই খেতিস তুমি খেতে সে খেত আপনি খেতেন
dêoa ami ditam tui ditish tumi dite she dito apni diten
দেওয়া আমি দিতাম তুই দিতিস তুমি দিতে সে দিত আপনি দিতেন

Future tense

In less standard varieties of Bengali, "a" is substituted for "e" in second-person familiar forms; thus "tumi bolba, khulba, khelba," etc. The তুমি tumi and সে she conjugations are identical in this tense.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bolbo tui bolbi tumi bolbe she bolbe apni bolben
বলা আমি বলব তুই বলবি তুমি বলবে সে বলবে আপনি বলবেন
khola ami khulbo tui khulbi tumi khulbe she khulbe apni khulben
খোলা আমি খুলব তুই খুলবি তুমি খুলবে সে খুলবে আপনি খুলবেন
khêla ami khelbo tui khelbi tumi khelbe she khelbe apni khelben
খেলে আমি খেলব তুই খেলবি তুমি খেলবে সে খেলবে আপনি খেলবেন
chena ami chinbo tui chinbi tumi chinbe she chinbe apni chinben
চেনা আমি চিনব তুই চিনবি তুমি চিনবে সে চিনবে আপনি চিনবেন
jana ami janbo tui janbi tumi janbe she janbe apni janben
জানা আমি জানব তুই জানবি তুমি জানবে সে জানবে আপনি জানবেন
hôoa ami hobo tui hobi tumi hobe she hobe apni hoben
হওয়া আমি হব তুই হবি তুমি হবে সে হবে আপনি হবেন
dhooa ami dhubo tui dhubi tumi dhube she dhube apni dhuben
ধোওয়া আমি ধুব তুই ধুবি তুমি ধুবে সে ধুবে আপনি ধুবেন
khaoa ami khabo tui khabi tumi khabe she khabe apni khaben
খাওয়া আমি খাব তুই খাবি তুমি খাবে সে খাবে আপনি খাবেন
dêoa ami dibo tui dibi tumi dibe she dibe apni diben
দেওয়া আমি দিব তুই দিবি তুমি দিবে সে দিবে আপনি দিবেন

Postpositions

Whereas English features prepositions, Bengali typically uses postpositions. That is, while these modifying words occur before their object in English (beside him, inside the house), they typically occur after their object in Bengali (or pashe, baŗir bhitore). Some postpositions require their object noun to take the possessive case, while others require the objective case (which is unmarked for inanimate nouns); this distinction must be memorised. Most postpositions are formed by taking nouns referring to a location and inflecting them for locative case.

Postpositions that require genitive (possessive) case

  • আগে age 'before': সকালের আগে shôkal-er age 'before the morning'
  • পরে pôre 'after': সন্ধ্যার পরে shondha-r pôre 'after the evening'
  • উপরে upore 'on top of', 'above': বিছানার উপরে bichhana-r upore 'on top of the bed'
  • নিচে niche 'below', 'under': বইয়ের নিচে boi-er niche 'under the book'
  • পিছনে pichhone 'behind': আলমারির পিছনে almari-r pichhone 'behind the cupboard'
  • সামনে shamne 'in front of': গাড়ির সামনে gaŗi-r shamne 'in front of the car'
  • ওই পারে oi pare 'across': নদীর ওই পারে nodi-r oi pare 'across the river'
  • কাছে kachhe 'near': জানালার কাছে janala-r kachhe 'near the window'
  • পাশে pashe 'beside': চুলার পাশে chula-r pashe 'beside the stove'
  • জন্য jonno 'for': শিক্ষকের জন্য shikkhôk-er jonno 'for the teacher'
  • কাছ থেকে kach theke 'from' (people): বাবার কাছ থেকে baba-r kach theke 'from father'
  • দিকে dike 'towards': বাসার দিকে basha-r dike 'towards the house'
  • বাইরে baire 'outside': দেশের বাইরে desh-er baire 'outside the country'
  • ভিতরে bhitore 'inside': দোকানের ভিতরে dokan-er bhitore 'inside the store'
  • মধ্যে moddhe 'in the middle of': সমুদ্রের মধ্যে shomudr-er moddhe 'in the middle of the ocean'
  • ভিতর দিয়ে bhitor die 'through': শহরের ভিতর দিয়ে shôhorer bhitor die 'through the city'
  • মতো môto 'like': তোমার মতো tom-ar môto 'like you'
  • সঙ্গে shôngge 'with': আমার সঙ্গে am-ar shôngge 'with me'
  • কথা kôtha 'about': সেটার কথা sheţa-r kôtha 'about that'
  • সম্মন্ধে shômmondhe 'about': ইতিহাসের সম্মন্ধে itihash-er shômmondhe 'about history'
  • সাথে shathe 'with'(animate): মায়ের সাথে ma-er shathe 'with Mother'

Postpositions that require accusative (objective) case

  • করে kore 'by means of': টেকসই করে ţêksi kore 'by taxi'
  • ছাড়া chhaŗa 'without', 'aside from': আমাকে ছাড়া ama-ke chhaŗa 'aside from me'
  • থেকে theke 'from' (places): বাংলাদেশ থেকে Bangladesh theke 'from Bangladesh'
  • দিয়ে diye 'by': তাকে দিয়ে ta-ke diye 'by him'
  • ধরে dhore 'for' (time): দুদিন ধরে dudin dhore 'for two days'
  • নিয়ে niye 'including'(animate+inanimate), 'with'(inanimate): তোমাকে নিয়ে toma-ke niye 'including you'
  • পর্যন্ত porjonto 'until': দশটা পর্যন্ত dôshţa porjonto 'until ten o' clock'
  • সহ shôho 'with', 'including': টাকা সহ ţaka shôho 'along with the money'
  • হয়ে hoe 'via': কলকাতা হয়ে Kolkata hoe 'via Kolkata'
  • তে te 'to': মাঠেতে mathete 'to the temple'

Prepositions that require locative case

  • বিনা bina 'without': বিনা অনুমতিতে bina onumoti-te 'without permission'

References

  • Chatterji, Suniti Kumar. Bengali Self-Taught. Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1991.
  • Radice, William. Teach Yourself Bengali. Chicago: NTC Publishing Group, 1994.
  • Bonazzi, Eros. Grammatica Bengali. Bologna (Italy): Libreria Bonomo Editrice, 2008. ISBN 978-88-6071-017-8

Further reading

  • Thompson, Hanne-Ruth (2012). Bengali. Volume 18 of London Oriental and African Language Library. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 9027273138.
This page was last edited on 9 October 2018, at 23:53
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