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Basic Bengali Grammar

These are just some basic points of Bengali grammar that non-Bengali  speakers must keep in mind when learning Bengali. The grammar will gradually be made clear to you in more details in succeeding lessons. For now, please  take to heart the following three very essential points.

  • Bengali grammar generally follows the SOV form (Subject Object Verb) though in some rare cases SVO forms are allowable. Consider the following sentence:

    Lexicon: Ami [I], Am [Mango] khAi [eat, present tense]
    Bengali: Ami Am khAi
    English: I eat Mango.

  • Bengali does not require the verb to be in the Subject-Verb Complement types of sentences. Instead of saying I am a student, in Bengali it is grammatically correct to say: I student. The verb to be is inherent in such sentences. An example is given below:

    Lexicon: chhAtro [student, masculine]
    Bengali: Ami chhAtro
    English: I am a student.

  • Based on the subject of the sentence the, basic root of a verb form is modified by appending a suffix. Examples will be given in a succeeding lesson.
  • The pronouns

    Bengali pronouns are relatively easy to learn but one must remember some key points:

    1. There is no distinction of gender in Bengali pronouns.
    2. Bengali pronouns distinguish between honorific/polite and familiar pronouns. Honorific or polite forms are marked by a [p] and familiar forms are marked by a [f] in the following tables. This is not only present in the second person as in French but also in the third person. There is yet a third form that is not recommended for use by a visitor to Bangladesh.
    3. In the third person nearness distinguishes three different types of third person pronouns. As an example, for the familiar forms, e imlplies he/she over here, o implies he/she over there, and shay implies he/she elsewhere. These position dependent pronouns are marked by [h], [t], and [e] denoting the proximal relations here, there, and elsewhere respectively.

    Basic Personal Pronouns

    Subject forms

    Person English Singular Plural English
    First I Ami AmrA We
    Second You [p] Apni ApnArA You
    You [f] tumi tomrA You
    Third [h] He/She [p] Ini enArA They
    He/She [f] e erA They
    Third [t] He/She [p] uni unArA They
    He/She [f] o orA They
    Third [e] He/She [p] tini tenArA They
    He/She [f] shay tArA They

    Possessive forms

    Person English Singular Plural English
    First my AmAr AmAder our
    Second Your [p] ApnAr ApnAder Your
    Your [f] tomAr tomAder Your
    Third [h] His/Hers [p] enAr enAder Their
    His/Hers [f] er eder Their
    Third [t] His/Hers [p] unAr unArder Their
    His/Hers [f] or oder Their
    Third [e] His/Hers [p] tA(n)re tA(n)der Their
    His/Hers [f] tAr tAder Their

    Object forms

    Person English Singular Plural English
    First me AmAke AmAderke us
    Second You [p] ApnAke ApnAderke You
    You [f] tomAke tomAderke You
    Third [h] Him/Her [p] InAke enAderke Them
    Him/Her [f] eke ederke Them
    Third [t] Him/Her [p] unAke unArderke Them
    Him/Her [f] oke oderke Them
    Third [e] Him/Her [p] tenAke tenAderke Them
    Him/Her [f] tAke tAderke Them

    Demonstrative Pronouns

    Bengali English
    eTA this [h]
    oTA that [t]
    sheTA that [e]
    egulo these [h]
    ogulo those [t]
    shegulo those [e]
  • Sentence Structure: Interrogation

    ki, the Bengali for what, is much more versatile than in English. It can be used straight forward as an interrogative whence it is pronounced with a slight stress. It can also be used to turn a statement into a question.

    Example:

      Ami chhAtro. [I am a student]
      Ami ki chhAtro? [Am I a student?]

    The general rule of thumb is to add the word ki after the subject inorder to convert the statement into an interrogative one.

  • Sentence Structure: Negation

    Just like the rule that the verb in Bengali always comes at the end, in negative sentences the negative particle (nA) always comes after the verb. There are of course some exceptions to this where the negative particple is placed before the verb. We will deal with them later.

    First, consider the following sentence with which you are already familiar:

    I am a student: Ami chhAtro

    The negation of this sentence is:

    I am not a student: Ami chhAtro nA

    Exceptions:

    • if sentences:

    If you don't go: tumi jodi nA jAo

    • With the word jyano (so that)

    You watch that I do not fall: tumi dyakho jyano Ami nA pori

    Selected Glossary:

    dyakho: watch
    pori: fall
    jodi: if
    jAo: go (second person, familiar)

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