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In my previous blog, I explained the Hindi particle “bhi.” In this blog, I will explain a related concept – the particle “hi.” Like “bhi,” this particle needs to be placed with care directly behind the word or phrase it is modifying. While “bhi” can mean “also, too, even, as well as,” “hi” lends a different shade of meaning – it can be roughly translated as “just” and “only” in some circumstances but is difficult to translate in other contexts. But, like “bhi,” “hi” conveys a sense of emphasis and sometimes restriction that lends more personality, meaning and intensity to a sentence. Let’s explore a few examples to understand the many facets of this fascinating little particle.
In this example, remember the vital rule behind both “bhi” and “hi” – they modify the word or phrase that directly precedes them. So, in this sentence, “हिंदी ही” or “just Hindi/Hindi alone/only Hindi,” conveys a sense of emphasis in that you are stressing your goal to speak only Hindi as well as a sense of restriction in that you are restricting the number of languages you will allow yourself to speak to only one.
Here, you can appreciate two different uses of “hi.” In the first part of the sentence, you encountered a common phrase “बहुत ही” which clearly emphasizes the meaning of “बहुत” (“very,” in this case) to mean something like “extremely.” In the second part of the sentence, you encountered another meaning of “hi” to mean “just or only” – “एक ही” means something like “just one or only one” and emphasizes the number of cars – one.
This example is similar to the contrasting pairs we had in our “bhi” blog. Now what, may you ask, is the difference between these two sentences? In the first sentence, “hi” follows the day, hence emphasizing that they will come only on that day, or on that day alone. This is a very common expression in Hindi that Hindi speakers will sometimes translate into English wholesale, although this expression is not common in American and British English. However, this expression is EXTREMELY common in Indian English, so you should become familiar with it. It is basically just a way of emphasizing a particular fact of this sentence (which is, in this case, that they will come on Wednesday itself and no other day). In the second sentence, “hi” follows “they” and therefore emphasizes the subject of the sentence – “they” – and restricts the subject to “they alone” thereby indicating that no one else, apart from this group of people will come on Wednesday.
And, keep in mind that when pronouns combine with “hi,” they change forms to become contractions, much like pronouns + the postposition को/ko we covered earlier:
|मैं (main, I)||+ ही (hi)||मुझी (mujhi)|
|तू (too, you, intimate)||+ ही (hi)||तुझी (tujhi)|
|यह (yah, this/it/she/he)||+ ही (hi)||यही (yahi)|
|वह (voh, that/it/she/he)||+ ही (hi)||वही (vohi)|
|इस (oblique form of यह/yah)||+ ही (hi)||इसी (isee)|
|उस (oblique form of वह/voh)||+ ही (hi)||उसी (usee)|
|हम (hum, we)||+ ही (hi)||हमीं (humee)|
|तुम (tum, you, informal)||+ ही (hi)||तुम्हीं (tumhee)|
|इन (oblique form of ये/ye)||+ ही (hi)||इन्हीं (inhee)|
|उन (oblique form of वे/ve)||+ ही (hi)||उन्हीं (unhee)|
In this example, तुम changes form when combined with the particle ही to become तुम्हीं, which lends the sense of “just you, only you, etc.” and restricts and emphasizes the people who “do their work on time” to “only you” (तुम + ही = तुम्हीं).
Here, वह combines with ही to form “वही” which specifies the man as “the same man” who tried to sell something to someone else earlier – this is a way of emphasizing the fact that it was the same person who bothered another individual at an earlier time.
In this sentence, ही has been combined with अब (now) to form अभी (or for even more emphasis and urgency, you can say अभी अभी) which means “right now” or “this instant.” This is a good phrase to memorize as it is commonly used and may come in handy.
In this example, यह combines with ही to form यही to mean the “very same thing” or just “this same thing” emphasizing that the speaker of the sentence was thinking the same thing as their interlocutor.
In addition to combining with pronouns, ही also combines with adverbs to form some unique words that may prove useful:
|यहाँ (yahaan, here)||+ही||यहीं (yaheen, right here)|
|वहाँ (vahaan, there)||+ही||वहीं (vaheen, right there)|
|अब (ab, now)||+ही||अभी (abhi, right now)|
|सब (sab, all)||+ही||सभी (sabhi, all, absolutely all)|
*Be careful to distinguish between वही (that very same one) and यही (this very same one) and वहीं (right over there) and यहीं (right over here) – they are different words with different meanings and usages. It will help you to remember the differing meanings of वहीं and यहीं if you remember that the dot (बिंदु) that appears at the end of the word is a carry-over from the ordinary form of the words: वहाँ and यहाँ, which have a chandrabindu (चंद्रबिंदु) or, literally, a combination of a half moon and a dot to denote nasalization of the vowel.
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