Mistakes are a part of life. But some of them may get us in trouble or in quite an embarrassing situation. This is especially true when learning a new language.
Being a non-native, you may have already experienced the pain of making common Hindi grammar mistakes. Honestly, we feel you! But we can’t bend the rules for you. After all, it’s a language, something you can’t mess with!
Mistakes are a part of life!
But we’re not saying that you can’t do anything about it. There are several ways that you can make the learning process easier on yourself and plenty of strategies to get ahead of others.
So, in this lesson, we’ll be sharing some quick tricks and tips on how to avoid spelling mistakes in the Hindi language, in addition to common grammatical errors.
Let’s get started, guys!
Table of Contents
Well, as they say, eat your frogs first. Phonetics is a real pain for any Hindi language learner. And it’s scary as hell. So, let’s tackle that first.
Common Hindi pronunciation mistakes abound when new learners begin speaking the language. Whether it’s the accent, the pronunciation, or the stretch of a syllable, this one is a head-scratcher. But HindiPod101.com has your back!
Before this scary monster begins to overpower your abilities and crush your self-confidence, check out our comprehensive guide on Hindi pronunciation. It will give you deep insight into the micro-concepts of the language and help you learn faster.
When studying Hindi, there are certain facts worth knowing about the language. We’ll do our best to cover these facts in the following sections.
1 – Writing System
Hindi follows an alphasyllabary writing system, where each combination of consonants and vowels is taken as a unit.
Exampleक + म + र + आ = कमरा (kamaraa) = “room”(ka) + (ma) + (ra) + (aa)
2 – Unfamiliar Sounds
There are a handful of new sounds in Hindi that are completely unfamiliar to non-natives. So, it’s quite possible to get confused while pronouncing them.
Examples of Unfamiliar Soundsत (T) = This is the soft sound of [t] as used in “barista” or in the Italian pronunciation of “pasta.”त्र (Tr) = This is the coupled sound of soft [T] + [r] to make [Tr], as in “Dmitrij” or the Italian pronunciation of “restaurant.”ख or ख़ (kh) = This is the coupled sound of [k] + [h] to make [kh], as in “Khan” or “Bach.” Of course, both are loan words from the Urdu and German languages, because there’s no such English word with the “-kh” sound.
And we’re not even close to covering all the points which so frequently lead to the most common Hindi pronunciation mistakes.
3 – Syllables
A longer or shorter stretch of a syllable may completely change the meaning of a word.
Syllable ExamplesLonger StretchShorter StretchपेटSpoken as (pet) as in “gate” or “late”पेट (pet) = “stomach” / “belly”Spoken as (pet) as in “get” or “set”पेट (pet) = “pet animal”जेल Spoken as (jeL) as in “bale” or “tail”जेल (jeL) = “prison”Spoken as (jeL) as in “tell” or “fell”जेल (jeL) = “gel”
Now, don’t sweat over it. These concepts may feel overwhelming, but with time and practice, you’ll soon be able to master them.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
You probably know that English verbs are gender-neutral, and that only the pronouns vary based on gender. However, that’s not the case in the Hindi language.
Using the wrong gender-verb conjugation is one of the most common Hindi grammar mistakes. And it’s totally understandable because, for a beginner, the rules can be tricky at times.
Nonetheless, we have one secret code that will not only help you catch the tiger by its tail, but also tame it.
Feminine GenderAll of the verbs and other conjugations end with the -ii sound.This rule applies to both singular and plural nouns/pronouns.Examplesजाती है (jaaTii hai) = “goes”सोती है (SoTii hai) = “sleeps“खाती है (khaaTii hai) = “eats”
Masculine GenderFor the singular masculine gender, all of the verbs and other conjugations end with the -aa sound.For the plural masculine gender, all of the verbs and other conjugations end with the -e sound.Singular Examplesजाता है (jaaTaa hai) = “goes”सोता है (SoTaa hai) = “sleeps”खाता है (khaaTaa hai) = “eats”Plural Examplesजाते हैं (jaaTe hain) = “go”सोते हैं (SoTe hain) = “sleep”खाते हैं (khaaTe hain) = “eat”
What we’ve covered here are just the basic rules of thumb to help you avoid conjugation-related Hindi grammar mistakes. In fact, the conjugation rules vary according to the tense, mood, and tone as well. For the more curious souls, have a look at our amazing Verb Conjugation article!
Even if you think you’ve mastered how to avoid spelling mistakes in the Hindi language, there are always things that can go wrong. Why? Because not everything has a shortcut. So, don’t judge yourself or be super-critical about minor mistakes.
Some skills take time to develop and grow. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race!
One of the most troublesome concepts is that of “homonyms.” And mind you, these pairs of words are the exact copies of each other. It’s so easy for beginners to make a mistake in Hindi here without the proper experience and exposure. The only way to crack the code and differentiate between their meanings is by looking at the entire context of a conversation.
Messed up in a meeting because you said the wrong word?
Here are a few common homonyms that are easily confused.
Hindi WordEnglish Meaning 1English Meaning 2कल (kaL)“Yesterday”“Tomorrow”फल (phaL)“Gold” (noun)“To sleep” (verb)फल (phaL)“Fruits” (noun)“Result” / “Outcome”खाना (khaaNaa)“Food” (noun)“To eat” (verb)
Before we continue, some good news for you: We’re almost halfway through this lesson. Yay! Give yourself a pat on the back!
Don’t get too carried away, though, because we have another brain teaser waiting for us.
Now, we’ll be talking about the Hindi sentence pattern and word order. Or, to be precise, about where you should place interrogative words when asking a question. Pay attention, because confusion on this topic leads to many Hindi mistakes!
Unlike in English, in Hindi, we place the interrogative words right before the helping verb or main verb. Just for easy reference, here are a few common Hindi question words:
क्या (kyaa) = “what”कब (kab) = “when”कहाँ (kahaan) = “where”क्यों (kyon) = “why”
Offending someone is the last thing you want to do in a foreign country. In India, following the proper code of conduct and showing respect and courtesy matter a lot.
Just like people in many Asian countries, we Indians have particular words and phrases we use to show respect to our elders, strangers, and other people in formal situations. We’ll admit that this isn’t so much a set of Hindi mistakes as it is a cultural difference.
So, whenever you’re meeting someone:
for the first time;elderly;of the opposite gender;officially senior to you;who is a stranger,
Our rule of thumb is to go with the word आप (aap) rather than तुम (Tum). Both words are Hindi translations for the pronoun “you.” But remember that आप (aap) is more than just a word; it’s a gesture of showing respect and proper etiquette.
A frequent mistake Hindi-learners make is to crowd a sentence with unnecessary words. Well, honestly, the crime of redundancy is not unique to Hindi, but it’s still important to cover.
First of all, repetitive words make us sound clumsy and cluttered. Redundancy steals the sharpness and freshness from our sentences and turns them into long, boring lines.
Mastering Hindi the fun way!
Here are a few examples of common mistakes that are made while learning Hindi.
Example 1Hindi SentenceLiteral English MeaningWrong Wayमैं तुमसे सोमवार के दिन मिलूंगा Imain Tum Se Somavaar ke DiN miLuungaa.“I will meet you on the day of Monday.”Right Wayमैं तुमसे सोमवार को मिलूंगा Imain Tum Se Somavaar ko miLuungaa.“I will meet you on Monday.”
Example 2Hindi SentenceLiteral English MeaningWrong Wayट्रेन को आने में दो घंटे का समय लगेगा ItreN ko aaNe men Do ghante kaa Samay Lagegaa.“The train will arrive in two hours of time.”Right Wayट्रेन को आने में दो घंटे लगेंगे ItreN ko aaNe men Do ghante Lagenge.“The train will arrive in two hours.”
Example 3Hindi SentenceLiteral English MeaningWrong Wayक्या मुझे एक गिलास पीने का पानी मिलेगा?kyaa mujhe ek giLaaS piiNe ka paaNii miLegaa?“Can I get a glass of drinking water?”Right Wayक्या मुझे एक गिलास पानी मिलेगा?kyaa mujhe ek giLaaS paaNii miLegaa?“Can I get a glass of water?”
As you can see, the phrases “the day of,” “of time,” and “drinking” in Examples 1, 2, and 3 respectively, are unnecessary. Removing them from the sentence doesn’t affect the meaning at all. In fact, removing those words helps us construct shorter, cleaner statements.
Assuming that you have a little bit of an idea about the Hindi maatraa, let’s see how missing a seemingly innocent sign here and there can completely distort the meaning of your statement.
सुना (SuNaa) = “Listened” / “Heard”सूना (SuuNaa) = “Feeling empty” / “Deserted”
काम (kaam) = “Work”कम (kam) = “Less” / “Few”
दिन (DiN) = “Day”दीन (DiiN) = “Poor” / “Underprivileged”
सिलना (SiLaNaa) = “To sew”सीलना (SiiLaNaa) = “Damp” / “Soggy”
ओर (or) = “Toward”और (aur) = “And”
As you can see, a slight change in diacritics can greatly change a word’s meaning. Ignorance about the significance of diacritics is another common mistake Hindi-learners make, so watch out for these!
It’s always okay, and especially important, to add the जी (-jii) suffix when calling an elder person by their name. The one and only condition where using जी (-jii) may do you more harm than good, is when you attach it to your own name.
Yeah, that could leave your Indian friends laughing out loud. It just doesn’t go well with our own names. So, always remember to avoid getting into this pitfall, because it’s a natural mistake that Hindi grammar lessons don’t often talk about!
Nearly every language can be said to have its own colloquial words. This may include synonyms, regional accents, local dialects, and so on. So, basically, a word can have the same meaning in different dialects, even if each dialect says it quite differently.
To give you an idea, let’s recall words like “yeah” / “yup” / “ya” which all mean “yes.” Similarly, we also use “buddy” / “bud” / “pal” / “man” / “dude,” all of which mean the same thing.
Likewise, in Hindi, a category of similar words may confuse a beginner. What are these words? Well, here are some examples:
Interchangeable Hindi WordsEnglish Meaningवह (vah) / वो (vo)“He” / “She” / “That”सब (Sab) / सारे (Saare) / सभी (Sabhii)“All” / “Everyone”क्यों (kyon) / काहे (kaahe) / किसलिए (kiSLiye)“Why”कहाँ (kahaan) / किधर (kidhar)“Where”
You get the drift, right? It’s not a matter of one phrase being right and the others being wrong. It’s just a matter of preference by the individual or the regional dialect.
How to avoid those oops moments!
You’ve now learned how to improve Hindi mistakes that new learners make, and most of them are quite easy to fix. But what about the biggest mistake?
Face your fears and don’t be ashamed of your common Hindi grammar mistakes. Have you seen a child falling again and again when trying to walk for the first time? We don’t call their fall a failure or mistake, do we? We take it as part and parcel of learning.
In our mind, we know that it’s practically impossible for him or her to crawl one day and start walking perfectly the next day. The same is true of Hindi language-learning. As long as you’re afraid of making mistakes, you’ll never learn to move forward.
So, instead of acting on the natural tendency to escape, it’s time to master the tips from this article on how to avoid Hindi language mistakes.
All right! We’ve finally covered all of the common mistakes in learning Hindi and tips on how to avoid them. We hope this lesson has been useful and easy for you to understand.
Is there anything we didn’t cover in this article that you want to know about? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and connect with other learners as well!
Happy Hindi learning!
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