Pashto Language Blog

Past Tense of the “To Be” Verbs in Pashto Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in language


The “to be” verb in English has only two forms (was, were) in the past tense. In Pashto, however,  we have at least six forms for the past tense of the verb “to be”. The reason we have so many forms for the verb “to be” is because unlike the English verbs, Pashto verbs have genders and also verbs are conjugated according to the subject of the sentence. For example, If we want to say Hagha wa “she was” vs.  Hagha woo“he is” as you can see the verb, which is underlined, is different and that is because in Pashto for the masculine nouns we use a masculine verb. As the example shows, wa “is” is used for feminine nouns and woo is used for masculine nouns.

And here are the past tense of the “to be” verbs:

Pashto                   transliteration                   meaning

زه وم                         za  wom                             I was

ته وې                         ta way                              you were

هغه و                        hagha wo                         He was

هغه وه                       hagha wa                         she was

مونږ وو                     moong woo                      we were

تاسې وئ                   taase  wai                         you were (plural)

هغوی وو                   haghoi  woo                     they were

دوی وو                     dooi woo                           they were

As y you can notice, the word “they “appears two times at the last two lines. That is because in Pashto there are two versions of the word “they”.  The first one haghoi refers to the group of people who are far away from the speaker. The second one, dooi , refers to a group of people who are located very close to the speaker.

Here are the example sentences for the verbs above.

زه خوشحاله وم          za khoshala wom                 I was happy.

هغه خوشحاله وه       hagha khoshala wa                she was happy.

تاسې خوشحاله وئ    taase khshala wai                  You were happy.

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About the Author: Sayed Naqibullah

Sayed Naqibullah speaks Pashto and Dari as his native languages. Since 2004 he has been teaching Dari and Pashto and working as cultrual advisor to NGO workers, foreigners who live, work, or are visiting Afghanistan. Sayed has worked as a linguist for several companies that produce language course-ware. He has worked as a guide, interpreter and translator of a number of NGOs working in Afghanistan. Sayed is also a blog writer on Afghan culture and languages. He is the author of a Dari language textbook called “Dari as a Second Language”.


  1. Angel:

    Hello Sir,

    I’m interested in learning Pashto, because I want to work in Afghanistan with the development/aid organizations that may be staying in afghanistan after 2014. Since you have extensive experience as a linguist, would a language like Pashto, if I learned it to a strong elementary, limited working proficiency level, be enough to get my ‘foot’ in the door?