Hindi Language Blog

Hindi or Urdu? Posted by on Oct 7, 2012 in Hindi Language

You might have heard about Hindi and Urdu and wondered, what the difference between the two languages? Are they same?

Hindi is originated from 9th to 11th century. Thereafter, the Islamic invaders have promoted and forced the use of their own tongue to the Indians, be it Turkish, Persian as well as Pashto. Because of that, many words of these languages  entered into the vocabulary of people. Arabic words also came along because of their prominence in Persian and its importance because of religion of Islam. An entirely new language like Urdu is made from Hindi and promoted for the Islamic courts just like British rule favored the use of English from 18th century onward.

There are some striking differences between Hindi and Urdu. First, Hindi uses Devanagari script which is used by Sanskrit while Urdu uses script from Persian. Second, Hindi uses more words derived from Sanskrit and lesser words which are loaned from Urdu while Urdu uses more words which are derived from Arabic, Turkish and Persian.

The biggest similarity between the two is, both use the same grammatical structure which is derived from Sanskrit including verbs. Hence, both of the languages, be it Hindi and Urdu originated indirectly from Sanskrit. For example,

वो काम करता है? – Wo kaam karta  hai? – Does he works?

Where काम  (kaam – work) comes from कर्म  (karm) from Sanskrit.

Both of the languages use the same verbs like “kaam karna” (काम करना – to work). However, the vocabulary is different because of the origin of their derived words.

हृदय (Hardaya) and दिल (Dil) is used for Heart in Hindi and Urdu respectively. Other words like धन्यवाद (dhanyavad – thanks) of Hindi धन्य Dhanya) and शुक्रिया Shukriya  (Arabic, Shukran)

Many don’t realize this fact because they have been conditioned by popular media such as films. Those films are labeled as Hindi films but mixture of Hindi and Urdu. Many films as well as media such as daily soaps, magazine etc are using more and more words from Urdu without even realizing it.

List is long but I would like to point to some of Urdu words which are infrequently used by the native Hindi speakers:

Urdu Hindi English Translation
दोस्त – Dost मित्र – Mitr Friend
शुक्रिया – Shukriya धन्यवाद – Dhanyavad Thank/Thank you
दिल – Dil हृदय – Hardiya Heart
औरत – Aurat स्त्री – Stri Woman
आज़ादी – Azadi स्वतन्त्रता – Svatantrata Independence
कानून – Kanoon नियम – Niyam Rule/Law
साहब – Sahab श्रीमान – Shrimaan Mister
खून – Khoon रक्त – Rakt Blood
इमारत – Imaarat भवन – Bhavan Building
दिन – Din दिवस – Divas Day
हालत – Halat स्थिति – Sthithi Condition
कमरा – Kamara कक्ष – Kaksh Room
दरवाजा – Darwaza द्वार – Dwar Door


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About the Author: Nitin Kumar

Nitin Kumar is a native Hindi speaker from New Delhi, India. His education qualification include Masters in Robotics and Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Currently, he is working in the Research and Development in Robotics in Germany. He is avid language learner with varied level of proficiency in English, German, Spanish, and Japanese. He wish to learn French one day. His passion for languages motivated him to share his mother tongue, Hindi, and culture and traditions associated with its speakers. He has been working with Transparent Language since 2010 and has written over 430 blogs on various topics on Hindi language and India, its culture and traditions. He is also the Administrator for Hindi Facebook page which has a community of over 330,000 members.


  1. HindiAndUrdu:

    Hindi and Urdu are very close and it is very easy for Hindi speakers to learn to write Urdu and vice-versa because the common vocabulary is pretty much identical. And so is the grammar. If you read Devanagari, you can learn to read Urdu in a single webpage. Try https://sites.google.com/site/hindiurdu2/hindi2urdu (Urdu for Hindiwallas) – just give it one shot.

  2. Judi (Simran) Silva:

    Oh wow, I never knew this. Dhanyavad for sharing the list. If there are more words that we mix up, please add them.

  3. Chakraborty:


    The Languages may be very similar but due to Royal Patronage, Urdu has evolved and developed beautifully whereas Hindi is confined to Religious literature with few exceptions.

    The dialects of Hindi – Braj, Bhojpuri are popular and sound good to ears. But alas Hindi the pure one is almost dead as its not spoken. Even if its spoken, its heavily bastardized with Urdu.

    I am a Bengali who knows Hindi Well. I feel good with the kind of Hindi used in Chanakya Serial by Chandraprakash Dwiwedi Ji. But Hindi speaking elite dont respect the language and 99% people dont know people like Bharatendu Harishchandra or other greats.

    Thats why Bengalis, Tamils, marathis dont like propagation of Hindi as its now too bastardized with Urdu, Less eveolved than many Indian languages, Less poetic and Has less literary greats.

    I feel sorry for Hindi speaking people and urge them to revive the language so that it gains respect.

    In Bollywood its Urdu, In daily life there is too much Urdu.
    Why ?

    Introspect and work.

    Urdu had before invaded and still ruling over Hindi.

    With due respect

    Rajat Chakraborty

    • Nitin Kumar:

      @Chakraborty Namaste Rajat,

      Your criticism are directed toward Hindustani rather than Standard Hindi. Hindi has its origin in 9th Century, whereas Urdu came later only in 12th Century. Northwestern states speaks mostly Hindustani and some register of Standard Hindi, whereas northern India which also has more population still speaks Standard Hindi. Intermingling of languages is now global phenomenon so I am not talking about Hinglish etc.

      As far as your praise for Urdu which I’d like strongly disagree to the fact that I don’t even consider Urdu as a language which has its grammatical structure taken from Hindi, its script taken from Persian, and all of its vocabulary taken from Hindi, Persian, Arabic, Pasto, Turkish etc. It has not evolved as a natural language in any way. I don’t see any royal heritage to it and if you do, that’s your humble opinion.

      Many prominent languages of the world such as English got its legacy from French and German and yet it has evolved as an ever-evolving, complex language which has shaped the future of many countries, both linguistically and politically.

      Hindi has been favored and promoted in India and the world because of many strong points which no other native Indian language satisfy are (which I can remember):

      1. It has largest number of native speakers in India.
      2. It has largest number of speaker who define Hindi as their second tongue.
      3. It has 4th largest number of speaker in the world. Here, we are considering Hindi and its derived language or mutated form like Urdu.
      4. Unlike English, it is indigenous tongue which has the largest number of native speakers in India.
      5. It has influenced the world through different media unlike any other native language of India.
      6. It closely resembles to Sanskrit and since Sanskrit has been written in Devanagari script since 18th Century, it has made Hindi a entry language to learn Sanskrit latter on as the grammatical as well as the script has much similarity.

      There are more political reasons of not favoring Hindi by any particular state or group, rather than any linguistic reasoning or ground realities.

  4. Ahmad H Khan:

    Shiriman Nitin Kumar, Aapka blog parha. Jis se achcha gyan prapt hua. Agar is tarah ke aur shabd hoon to kripya woh bhi share kariyega. My first language is Pashto and Urdu is my second language. But I like Hindi language as well. I have learned to read and write in Devanagari script. Thus with a very little effort (mainly learning few frequently used pure Sanskrit words in Hindi)I do not feel uncomfortable to understand even difficult Hindi Programs on media. Lekin ek chinta jo ap ne dikhayi hai woh yeh ke adhik se adhik Sanskrit words Hindi bolne walon ko use karne chahiye, jo sambhav nahi dikhta. Samasya yeh hai ke cheezain global horahi hain, scripts romanize ho rahe hain, aur bhavishr mai Hindi-Urdu conflict words English words se replace hote dikhayi de rahe hain. Is liye lagta hai ke agle chand varsho ma Hindustani raj karegi.

  5. HeeraLaal:

    Please add the below to your list

    Kitaab – Pustak – Book
    Maloom – Gyaat – Know
    Tezi – Gati – Fast/Speed
    Jawaan – Yuwak – Youth
    Jaldi – Shighra – Quickly
    Mushkil/Takleef – Kasht- Problem

  6. HeeraLaal:

    and some more –

    Kharaab – Dosh – Defect
    Hairaan – Stabdh – Shocked
    Demaag – Mastishk – Brain
    Aadmi – Manav/Manushya – Human

  7. HeeraLaal:

    Kitaab – Pustak – Book
    Maloom – Gyaat – Know
    Tezi – Gati – Fast/Speed
    Jawaan – Yuwak – Youth
    Jaldi – Shighra – Quickly
    Mushkil/Takleef – Kasht- Problem