In the "Local Language Series" we are taking Hindi, as it is worthwhile noting that due to spread of Hindi movies and TV, Hindi is understood and spoken in almost every part of the country. There is some interesting discussion on where Hindi is spoken, and where it is not on the IM Forums.
While IndiaMike can’t teach you Hindi from scratch, here is a brief overview of Hindi words and phrases to get you through your travels in India. It would also be helpful to know what others are saying. So learning few words and few sentences would be helpful during your travel to India.
Hindi is a tricky language for almost anyone! Its numerous cases and two genders can certainly trip you up, particularly when you're just learning Hindi. You can take comfort in the fact that Hinglish (a blend of Hindi and English) is used a lot in the metros, particularly in the north of the country, and many people, across class, education, income, speak and understand at least some basic English words like ‘problem’, ‘allergy’, and definitely words like 'doctor', 'toilet', and 'chemist'.
Hindi for Absolute Beginners
How you will communicate in a new language can be a daunting challenge. The essential item of kit in India is your Namaste. You will definitely be greeted with Namaste and it is polite to respond. Namaste is gender neutral and essentially means ‘for the good in you, and the good in me’. Therefore any person you meet or interrupt to seek help or directions from, can be addressed with Namaste, preferably said with palms together.
People love to help. If you are not able to find a location, book a ticket or ask for something in a shop you will have to ask a stranger. Giving respect to that person with your greeting means it is most often responded to and with interest, so the whole journey becomes a bit smoother.
Requests Versus Commands
A lot of short words in Hindi primers online are in the Imperative – they’re commands, like “stop!” and “go”, and more so than in English, they’re considered quite rude, especially in a language where politeness and respect are communicated in how you address someone (i.e., how a verb is ended will indicate just how respectful you are being to be someone). Adding "iye" in a verb shows respect while communicating.
As a general rule it is best to be as polite and respectful as possible. When in doubt, say “chaliye” (let’s go), rather than “chalo” (go!); “Kijiye” rather than “karo” (do it). It’s a subtle thing, but it will go a long way in endearing people. If you show respect to them, people will go beyond their limits to help you out.
Of course if someone is annoying you and you are trying to get rid of them, it is best to use the “o” verb in a little stern tone ending to reinforce the message.
Addressing a Stranger
Just like in France, you wouldn’t address a stranger as ‘tu’, or as “ty” in Polish or as “du” in German, try to avoid saying “tum” unless you are really familiar with someone. Refer to people as “aap” (the equivalent of “vous” or “Sie”) and they will generally respond in kind.
In the north, male shopkeepers, auto rickshaw wallahs, coconut sellers can be addressed as “bhaiya” (brother) or “Bhaiyaji” if you’re being more respectful. But, when in Maharashtra, basically in Mumbai, one should try to avoid using term “bhai”. In the East, “dada” (which also means elder brother) works and in South "Anna" ('na' pronounced as in Krishna; and again means elder brother) works fine. Ladies, likewise, are sisters – “didi” or "Akka" in South.
In a social situation – i.e. when you’re not dealing with someone doing you a service, you can generally call anyone older than you Aunty or Uncle, and don’t be surprised if they do the same. For example, if an elderly lady cuts line at a restroom, it’s ok to say “Aunty, there’s a queue, we’re all waiting.”
The Basics: English to Hindi Translation
- Hello – Namaste
- Thanks – shukriya / dhanyavad
- Tea – chai
- What is your name? – Aapka shubh naam kya hai? / Aapka naam kya hai?
- Excuse me – Maaf keejiye
- Please – meharbani se / krupaya
- Yes – haan
- No – nahin
- English – Angrezi
- Do you understand English? – Kya aap angrezi samajhate hain?
- Yes, I do understand – haan, main samajhata / samajhati hoon
- No, I don't understand – nahin, main nahin samajhata / nahin samajhati
- I did not understand – mujhey samajh nahi aaya
- How are you? – Aap kaise hain?
- Very well, thank you. And you? – Bahut achchhe, shukriya. Aur aap?
- I am facing some problem – mujhe kuchch dikkat / paeshani ho rahi hai.
- Yes, please tell what it is – haan, bataaiye, kya pareshani hai
- That’s nice (referring to some object) – Yeh bahut acchhaa hai
- Cool/Alright/Nice – baddhiya
- Ok – achchha / theek hai
- It’s all right – Theek hai
- Nice of you – meherbani aap ki
- Big – bada
- Small – chhotta
- Today – aaj
- Tomorrow – kal
- Day – din
- Afternoon – do-pahar
- Evening – shaam/sandhya
- Night – raat
- Week – haftah
- Month – mahina
- Year – saal/varsha
- Medicine – davai
- Drugstore/Pharmacy – davaakhana
- What is the time? – Kitneh bajeh hain?
- One – Ek
- Two – Do
- Three – Teen
- Four – Chaar
- Five – Paanch
- Six – Chhah
- Seven – Saat
- Eight – Aath
- Nine – Nau
- Ten – Das
- Eleven – Gyaarah
- Twelve – Baarah
- Thirteen – Terah
- Fourteen – Chaudah
- Fifteen – Pandrah
- Sixteen – Solah
- Seventeen – Satrah
- Eighteen – Athaarah
- Nineteen – Unnees
- Twenty – Bees
- Twenty Five - Pachees
- Fifty - Pachaas
- Hundred - Sau / So
- Thousand - Hazaar
- Left – bayein (Please turn left – Krupaya Bayein murre)
- Right – daayein/daahine (The building is on right side – Bhawan daahinee ore hai)
- Straight – seedhha (Please go straight and then turn right – Krupaya seedhe jaaein aur daahinee ore murre)
- Stop – rukko / rukiye (Stop, please – Krupaya rukiye!)
- Stop (something) command – roko!
- Here – yahaan (Please come here – Krupaya yahaan aaiye)
- There – vahaan (Please go there – Krupaya wahaan jaaiye)
- Where – kahaan (Where is he going? – Woh kahaan jaa raha / rahee hai?)
- Who – kaun (Who is he/she? – Woh kaun hai? For both the genders it will be spoken in same way.)
- How – kaise (How are you? – Aap kaise hain?)
- Bath – nahaana (I want to have bath – Main nahaana chahta / chahtee hoon)
- Bathing – nahaana
- This – yeh
- That – vah / woh
- Let's go – chaliye
- Will you go? – chalengay?
- Will you take me to (place)? – (place) chalengay?
- Where is (x) hotel? – (x) hotel kahan hai?
- How far is (place)? – (place) kitni door hain?
- How do i get to (place) – (place) kaiseh jaatein hain?
Shopping, or Avoiding Shopping
- I want (X) - Mujhe (X) chahiye
- I need (X) - Mujhe (X) ki zaroorat hai
- Stop following me / Leave me alone – Mera peechhaa chhodo
- Go away – Chaley Jao
- I'm not interested/I don’t want it – Mujhe zaroorat nahin / Mujhe Nahin Chahiye
- Shoo away a beggar (literally – forgive or excuse me) – Maaf karo
- How much? – Kitna hua? / Kitne paise?
- This is too expensive – Yeh bahut zyaada mehanga hai
- Give me discount/better price – Daam kum keejiye / kiraya
Buying or Ordering Food
- Egg / Eggs – anda / ande
- Fruit – phal
- Vegetables – sabzi
- Sugar – cheeni (or shakkar)
- Butter – makkhan
- Rice – chaaval
- Water – paani
- Milk – doodh
- Lemon – neemboo
- Ice – barf
- Do you have (thing)? – Aap ke paas (thing) hai?
- Show me the Menu – Mujheh menu dikhaiyeh
- The bill please – Bill de dijiyeh
- I want water – Mujheh paani chahiye
- I want cold water – Mujheh thandha paani chahiye
- I want hot water – Mujheh garm paani chahiye
- I want lukewarm water – Mujheh kunkuna paani chahiye
- I am hungry – Mujhe bhookh lagi hai
Days of the Week
- Monday - Som-vaar
- Tuesday - Mangal-vaar
- Wednesday - Budh-vaar
- Thursday - Guru-vaar
- Friday - Shukra-vaar
- Saturday - Shani-vaar
- Sunday - Ravi-vaar
Unlike English language, Hindi language has two genders while using verbs. "I am going" is used for both the genders but in Hindi it becomes "Main jaa rahaa hoon" for male but for ladies it becomes "Main jaa rahee hoon". When a male goes, it is said "jaata hai" but a lady always "jaati hai". A male always "khaata hai" for eating whereas a lady "khaati hai".
Getting interested to know more? There is also some great discussions, advice on pronounciation and more useful Hindi phrases from the IM community. You must be curious to know about the popular idioms and proverbs. mchp92 had started a discussion on the proverbs and idioms Hindi proverb - meaning? - jiski laathi tiski bhains. It's very rich in content.
For more translations and common phrases also try these resources suggested by IM-ers:
Feel free to add the words and phrases you’ve found most useful or suggest more categories for situations you’d like Hindi words for to the community.
Latest comments for Some Basic Hindi For Travelers
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- Apr 2016
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