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
- 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.
Bengali pronouns are relatively easy to learn but one must remember some key points:
- There is no distinction of gender in Bengali pronouns.
- 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.
- 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
||this [h] |
||that [t] |
||that [e] |
||these [h] |
||those [t] |
||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.
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
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
jAo: go (second person, familiar)