by Ingroj Shrestha on Aug. 6, 2017


Like nominal inflections, verbal inflections in Nepali occur due to suffixation. Verbs in Nepali are highly inflected. Inflectional suffixes operate on verb roots to represent different grammatical categories of verb. In this blog post, we'll discuss verbal inflections in Nepali.


Different grammatical categories encoded by verbal inflections(suffixes) in Nepali is given in Table 1.


Table 1: Grammatical Categories Encoded by Verbal Inflections in Nepali

Aspect

Mood

Tense

Person

Honorifics

Number

Gender

Perfect

Imperative

Past

First

Casual

Singular

Masculine

Habitual

Optative

Present

Second

Familiar

Plural

Feminine

Imperfect

Potential

Future

Third

Respectful

-

-

Inferential

-

-

-

-

-

-


Aspect


Aspect is a grammatical category of verb, which expresses how an event or action is viewed over time. There are four aspects in Nepali namely perfect, imperfect, habitual and inferential.


Perfect aspect indicates that the action has occurred in an earlier time. In Nepali, suffix एको(eko) indicates perfect aspect. Suffix एको(eko) inflects for number: singular and plural and gender: masculine and feminine.


Imperfect aspect characterizes an ongoing action. In Nepali, suffixes दै(dai), दो(do), दी(dii) and दा(da) indicate imperfect aspect.


Table 2 shows inflections for perfect and imperfect aspect in Nepali.


Table 2: Inflections for Perfect and Imperfect Aspect

Aspect

Gender (लिङ्ग)

Number (वचन)

Singular(एकवचन)

Plural(बहुवचन)

Perfect

Masculine (पुलिङ्ग)

लेखेको (lekh-eko)

लेखेका (lekh-eka)

Feminine (स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखेकी (lekh-eki)

लेखेका (lekh-eko)

Imperfect

Masculine (पुलिङ्ग)

लेख्दो(lekh-do), लेख्दै(lekh-dai)

लेख्दा(lekh-da), लेख्दै(lekh-dai)

Feminine (स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेख्दी(lekh-di), लेख्दै(lekh-dai)

लेख्दा(lekh-da), लेख्दै(lekh-dai)


Habitual aspect is used to describe an action occurring regularly. In Nepali, variants of छ(cha), and थ्(th) represent present and past forms of habitual aspect, respectively. They also inflect for person, number, gender and grades of honorifics.


Inferential aspect is used to describe an action that has occured in the past but is only known in the present. Occurrence of ए(e) and इ(i) between stem and forms of छ(cha) indicate inferential aspect, in Nepali.


Table 3 shows inflections for habitual and inferential aspect in Nepali.


Table 3: Inflections for Habitual and Inferential Aspect

Aspect

Person (पुरुष)

Gender(लिङ्ग

Number(वचन)

Singular(एकवचन)

Plural(बहुवचन)

Habitual

First (प्रथम)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)/ Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेख्छु(lekh-chu), लेख्थेँ(lekh-the)

लेख्छौ(lekh-chau), लेख्थ्यौँ(lekh-theu)

Second (दृतिय)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)

लेख्थिस्(lekh-this), लेख्थ्यौ(lekh-theu)*

लेख्थ्यौ(lekh-theu)

Third (तृतीय)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)

लेख्थ्यो(lekh-thyo), लेख्थे(lekh-the)*

लेख्थे(lekh-the)

Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेख्थि(lekh-thi), लेख्थिन्(lekh-thin)*

लेख्थे(lekh-the)

Inferential

First (प्रथम)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)/ Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखेछु(lekh-e-chu)

लेखेछौँ(lekh-e-chau)

Second (दृतिय)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)

लेखेछस्(lekh-e-chas), लेखेछौ(lekh-e-chau)*

लेखेछौ(lekh-e-chau)

Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखिछस्(lekh-i-chas), लेखिछौ(lekh-i-chau)*

लेखेछौ(lekh-e-chau)

Third (तृतीय)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)

लेखेछlekh-e-cha), लेखेछन्(lekh-e-chan)*

लेखेछन्(lekh-e-chan)

Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखिछ(lekh-i-cha), लेखिछन्(lekh-i-chan)*

लेखेछन्(lekh-e-chan)


NOTE: * represents honorifics.


Mood


Mood is a grammatical category of verb, which expresses speaker's attitude towards what is being written. The three moods for which verbs in Nepali inflect for are imperative, optative and potential.


Imperative mood expresses command, advice or restrictions. The imperative forms inflect for number and grades of honorifics. Some examples of variants for imperative mood is given below.

#singular
लेखि(lekh-i)

#singular and familiar honorific
लेख(lekh-a)
खाऊ(kha-u)

#plural
लेख(lekh-a)
खाओ(kha-o)

Optative mood expresses wish or hope. The optative forms inflect for person, number and grade of honorifics. Some examples of variants for optative mood is given in Table 4.


Table 4: Inflections for Optative Mood

Person (पुरुष)

Number(वचन)

Singular(एकवचन)

Plural(बहुवचन)

First (प्रथम)

लेखुँ(lekh-u)

लेखौँ(lekh-au)

Second (दृतिय)

लेखेस्(lekh-es), लेखे(lekh-e)*

लेखे(lekh-e)

Third (तृतीय)

लेखोस्(lekh-os), लेखून्(lekh-un)*

लेखून्(lekh-un)


NOTE: * represents honorifics.


Potential mood is used to express possibility of occurrence an action. The potential forms inflect for person, gender and number. Table 5 shows inflected variants for potential mood.


Table 5: Inflections for Potential Mood

Person (पुरुष)

Gender(लिङ्ग

Number(वचन)

Singular(एकवचन)

Plural(बहुवचन)

First (प्रथम)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)/ Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखुँला(lekh-ula)

लेखौँला(lekh-aula)

Second (दृतिय)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)

लेख्लास्(lekh-las), लेखौला(lekh-aula)*

लेखौला(lekh-aula)

Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेख्लिस्(lekh-lis), लेखौली(lekh-auli)*

लेखौला(lekh-aula)

Third (तृतीय)

Masculine(पुलिङ्ग)

लेख्ला(lekh-la), लेख्लान्(lekh-lan)

लेख्लान्(lekh-lan)

Feminine(स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेख्ली(lekh-li), लेख्लिन्(lekh-lin)

लेख्लान्(lekh-lan)


NOTE: * represents honorifics.


Tense


Tense defines forms taken by verbs to indicate time of action with reference to the time of speaking. Nepali verbs show three forms for tense: past, present and future. Tense verbs show variations for person, gender, honorifics and number.


Past tense indicates the action that has occurred in the past. Past ई(ii), ए(e), यौ(you)and यो(yo) are some suffixes that indicate past tense.


The action that happens at the time of speech is represented by present tense. Present test is marked by the variants of छ(cha).


Future tense indicates the action is going to happen in the future. The future tense verbs are marked by the presence of ने(ne) between verb stem and present tense inflections.


Person


In Nepali, verbs inflect in agreement with Person. Such inflections show the distinction between the first(speaker), second(recipient/addressee) and third(others). These verbs show variations for gender(in case of second and third person), mood, tense, aspect, number and grades of honorifics(in case of second and third person).


Honorifics


Nepali language has extensive honorifics which influence the verbs to express different forms to indicate level of respect in a speech. Second and third person verb forms can inflect for three different grade of honorifics: casual, familiar and respectful. Inflection for honorifics is based on agreement with the subject.


Casual honorifics is used when addressing juniors or friends. The second grade of honorific, familiar honorifics, is used when speaking to friends, acquaintances or colleagues. It is more formal and is considered proper compared to casual honorifics. Respectful honorifics is used while addressing seniors/elders. Some examples of casual, familiar and respectful honorifics are given below.

#casual

जा(jaa)
लेख्(lekh)
भन्(bhan)

#familiar

जाउ(jaau)
लेख(lekha)
भन(bhana)

#respectful

जानुहोस्(jaa-nu-hos)
लेख्नुहोस्(lekh-nu-hos)
भन्नुहोस्(bhan-nu-hos)


Number


Verbs in Nepali, show two dimension of number: singular and plural, in agreement with the subject.


Gender


Verbal inflections in Nepali can take two forms for gender: masculine and feminine, with respect to the subject's gender. This distinctions based on gender is obvious in case of second and third person singular verb forms.


Nepali verbs also have negative markers. These negative markers cause the verb to take positive or negative forms.


Some examples of negative verb forms are given below.

लेख्दिन(lekh-dina)
लेख्ने छैन(lekh-ne chha-ina)
लेखेनौ(lekh-enau)

Verbal inflection for person, number, tense and gender in their positive form is given in Table 6.


Table 6: Verbal inflections for person, number, tense and gender in positive form

Person (पुरुष)

Gender (लिङ्ग)

Number (वचन)

Singular(एकवचन)

Plural(बहुवचन)

Past

Present

Future

Past

Present

Future

First (प्रथम)

Masculine (पुलिङ्ग)/ Feminine (स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखेँ (lekh-e)

लेख्छु (lekh-chu)

लेख्नेछु (lekh-ne-chu)

लेख्यौँ (lekh-you)

लेख्छौँ (lekh-chau)

लेख्ने छौँ (lekh-ne-chau)

Second (दृतिय)

Masculine (पुलिङ्ग)

लेखिस् (lekh-is)

लेख्छस् (lekh-chas)

लेख्नेछस् (lekh-ne-chas)

लेख्यौ (lekh-you)

लेख्छौ (lekh-chau)

लेख्ने छौ (lekh-ne-chau)

Feminine (स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखिस् (lekh-is)

लेख्छेस् (lekh-ches)

लेख्नेछेस् (lekh-ne-ches)

लेख्यौ (lekh-you)

लेख्छौ (lekh-chau)

लेख्ने छौ (lekh-ne-chau)

Third (तृतीय)

Masculine (पुलिङ्ग)

लेख्यो (lekh-yo)

लेख्छ (lekh-cha)

लेख्ने छ (lekh-ne cha)

लेखे (lekh-e)

लेख्छन् (lekh-chan)

लेख्ने छन् (lekh-ne-chan)

Feminine (स्त्रिलिङ्ग)

लेखी (lekh-ii)

लेख्छे (lekh-che)

लेख्ने छे (lekh-ne che)

लेखे (lekh-e)

लेख्छन् (lekh-chan)

लेख्ने छन् (lekh-ne-chan)


References


A Computational Analysis of Nepali Morphology: A Model for Natural Language Processing


A New Stemmer for Nepali


Tags: Nepali Grammar