Hindi Language Blog

Compound Verbs in Hindi: Jana/जाना (Part 3) Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

Compound verbs are VERY important in Hindi, especially the compounds formed with लेना/lenaa (to take), देना/denaa (to give) and जाना/jaanaa (to go), the latter of which I will explore today. If you haven’t yet read my earlier posts on देना/denaa compounds and लेना/lenaa compounds, I encourage you to do so before you dive in to this blog.

Image by Smeet Chowdhury on Flickr; licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Like compounds with देना/denaa and लेना/lenaa, जाना/jana adds a subtle shade of meaning that would otherwise be absent from a non-compound verb. When using जाना as part of a compound, it adds a sense of finality, completion and/or change of state, as we can see in the following examples:

  1. मैं बहुत समय से उनका इंतज़ार कर रही थी जब, अचानक, वे यहाँ आ गये । (Main bahut samay se unkaa intazaar kar rahi thi jab, achaanak, ve yahaan aa gaye). I was waiting for them for a while when, suddenly, they arrived (here).  

*Notice how आ जाना here means “to arrive,” giving a sense of finality and completion that is more pronounced than merely आना, which just means “to come.” This compound also conveys a change of state from being in another place to “arriving here.”

2. घोड़े को इतनी भूख लग रही थी कि एक मिनट में सारी गाजरें खा गया । (Ghore ko itnee bhook lag rahi thi ki ek minute me saari gaajaren khaa gayaa). The horse was so hungry that he ate up all of the carrots in one minute.

*Instead of merely “to eat/खाना/khaanaa,” the verb used here is खा जाना/khaa jaanaa which means to thoroughly consume or eat up, adding a sense of completion to the act of eating. The same is true of पी जाना/pi jaanaa, which means something like “drink up,” giving a sense of completion that पीना/pinaa/to drink doesn’t have on its own.

3. नमस्ते सर, बैठ जाइये यहाँ पे । (Namaste sir, baith jaiye yahaan pe). Hello sir, please sit down here.

*बैठ जाना/baith jaanaa means to “sit down,” adding a sense of completion to the act of sitting that बैठना/baithnaa/to sit does not possess on its own. This compound verb also indicates a change of state from standing, presumably, to sitting.

Image by Ville Hyvonen on Flickr; licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

4. पहले मुझे लगा कि हिंदी का व्याकरण बहुत ही कठिन था; लेकिन, थोड़े अभ्यास के बाद, मैं व्याकरण के ज़्यादातर विचार समझ गया । (Pehle mujhe lagaa ki Hindi kaa vyaakaran bahut hi kathin thaa; lekin, thore abhyaas ke baad, main vyaakaran ke zyaadaatar vichaar samajh gayaa). Before, I thought that Hindi grammar was very difficult; but, after a bit of practice, I understood most of its principles/ideas.

*समझ जाना adds a sense of completion to the basic idea of “to understand” (समझना). It can also mean “to realize.” It is a very common usage of “to understand,” especially in the simple past tense.

5. हम कल इतने थके (हुए) थे कि बहुत जल्दी (से) सो गये । (Hum kal itne thake (hue) the ki bahut jaldi (se) so gaye). We were so tired yesterday that we fell asleep/went to sleep very quickly.

*This usage of a compound verb adds an emphasized sense of change of state from sleeping to waking. Instead of just saying “we slept” (सोना), this usage is more colloquial and emphatic, indicating that “we fell asleep” or “went to sleep.”

6. बहुत सारे विषय पढ़के पढ़के तुम बहुत अच्छे अध्यापक हो जाओगे (बन जाओगे) । (Bahut saare vishay parhke parhke tum bahut acche adhyaapak ho jaaoge (ban jaaoge). After studying an array of subjects, you will become a great teacher.

*हो जाना is a very common compound using जाना that you should definitely know. It is the ultimate compound verb conveying the sense of a change of state, from being one thing to being another thing. In this case, when talking about assuming a position and/or working in a particular profession, etc. you can also use the compound “बन जाना” (also “to become” but a bit more colloquial and used only in particular circumstances).

F4Niko aka John D. Fisher on Flickr; licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

7. छोटे बच्चे पूरी कहानी अख़िर तक सुन गये । (Chote bacche poori kahaani aakhir tak sun gaye). The small/young children listened to the whole story till the end.

*Again, जाना as used in सुन जाना indicates a sense of completion, as in the children listened to the story fully, to its end. सुनना or to listen by itself does not have this sense.

8. भाई साहब, दर्ज़ी की दुकान कब खुली हो जायेगी ? (Bhaai saahab, darzi ki dukaan kab khuli ho jaayegi)? Brother (sir), when will the tailor’s shop open?

*Here, you can see that you can use हो जाना not just to mean “to become” in a more straightforward sense but as a way to further indicate change of state from something being “closed,” in this case, to something being open (you can also use this for something being closed). होना or “to be” does not have this sense on its own.

9. दुर्घटना के बाद, वह पूरी तरह से बदल गयी । (Durghatnaa ke baad, voh poori tarah se badal gayi). After the accident, she changed completely.

*Again, बदल जाना (to change) indicates a change of state or condition from being one way, to being another, completely different, way. It also indicates a sense of finality or completeness in that this sentence suggests that “she” changed completely and there was no prospect of her changing back to her old self.

Image by runran on Flickr; licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

10. उसने अपनी जेब में चाबियाँ टटोलीं, लेकिन फिर एहसास हुआ कि खो गयीं ! (Usne apni jeb me chaabiyaan tatolin, lekin phir ehsaas huaa ki kho gayin). He searched for/felt for his keys in his pocket, but then realized that they had been lost.

*खो जाना is a very common usage that you will most likely hear a lot. It adds a sense of finality and change of state that खोना/khonaa, to lose, does not have on its own. Note that, in this usage, you are indicating that the “keys were lost” in an intransitive sense rather than “I lost them” in a transitive sense. Remember that transitive verbs (I kicked the ball, He smoked the cigarette, We read the book) take an object and intransitive ones do not (I ran for my life, He jumped over the river, We went to the movie theatre).

*याद रखिये !!! REMEMBER, you cannot use compound verbs with all verb tenses. Because they describe the “manner” in which a verb is done, they are most often used with past tenses (indicating a completion or finality of something) and commands.

*Additionally, जाना, unlike लेना and देना, is an INTRANSITIVE VERB, meaning it deals with movement or a change of state and thus does not take an object. Therefore, when you are using it as part of a compound in the past tense, you cannot use the particle ने with it. For example: मैंने सो गया = WRONG. मैं सो गयी = CORRECT. See? Because जाना is intransitive and does not take an object, you must conjugate the verb to agree with the subject rather than the object of the sentence. The rule for compound verbs is that BOTH verbs need to be transitive in order to justify using the particle ने in the past tense.

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About the Author: Rachael

नमस्ते, मेरा नाम रेचल है/السلام علیکم، میرا نام ریچل ہے۔ Hello, my name is Rachael, but I also on occasion go by Richa––an interesting story for another time :) My two great loves are Hindi and Urdu. I first traveled to India (Jaipur, Rajasthan) in college on a Hindi study abroad program. A little over a year later, I returned to the same city to study Hindi in a yearlong program. I've also spent a summer in Kolkata, West Bengal learning Bengali, and I studied Urdu at the University of California, Berkeley, where I was a graduate student in South Asian Studies. I hope to share with you the fascinating world of Hindi and Urdu literature, society, culture and film through my blogs!