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As you continue learning Hindi, hopefully you are coming to appreciate how streamlined the grammatical system is, especially when compared to the disorganized, exception-ridden behemoth of a language that is English. Luckily for learners, Hindi has a relatively straightforward grammar based on that of its parent language, Sanskrit, which has a more complicated, yet still relentlessly logical, grammar. This week, let’s dive into another grammatical concept that will prove immensely useful to you in your Hindi conversations and/or forays into reading in Hindi: करता रहना or जाना/kartaa rehnaa/jaanaa (to keep/go on doing).
Now, these are two distinct concepts that I would like to keep separate initially, for clarity’s sake. The first concept is करता रहना/kartaa rehnaa/to keep on doing. Basically, the rule is that you can use almost any verb in the first position (in this one we have करता/kartaa from the infinitive verb करना/karnaa=to do), but you must conjugate it in the imperfective participle and change it according to the number and gender of your subject. The next rule is that रहना/rehna (to be, live, stay) must come afterwards and must be conjugated to agree in number and gender with your subject and also with the primary tense of your sentence. This is how you express the sentiment “to keep on X-ing.” Be patient, illumination may come with a few examples:
Thus, you can see that you must have a verb in the first position that is conjugated as an imperfective participle and agrees with the number and gender of the subject. Then, you must have the verb रहना/rehnaa in the second position, conjugated to agree with the subject in gender and number and also to reflect the actual tense of the sentence (which might be future, past, etc.). As in these explanations from the above examples:
The cool thing about this construction is that the initial verb will always be in the same tense (this is its default tense in order to complete the construction), it will just change to reflect the gender and number of your subject. So, काम करता never becomes काम किया or काम करेगा, etc. रहना is the only verb that changes tense.
Now for जाना/jaanaa (to go)! This construction is very similar to the one with रहना/rehnaa and you will often see the two used interchangeably as speakers often aren’t overly concerned with grammatical correctness (who is, anyway)? But, if you want to know the fine differences, sentences with जाना/jaanaa (to go on doing X) indicate a building up or progression to a completion or culmination, at which activity would logically have to cease.
Thus, hopefully you can see that जाना/jaanaa deals with actions that are more easily quantifiable and/or tangible (or actions that occur in stages, step by step) and has the implication of an end point, whereas रहना/rehnaa is more intangible and unquantifiable and doesn’t necessarily suggest an end point.
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