This primer presents a systematic introduction to the structure of Modern Standard Hindi. It is
intended to provide the student with a through foundation in the grammatical structure of that
variety of Hindi that is commonly taught in Indian schools and that is the common vehicle of
publication in Hindi. Although much emphasis is placed on the written language, discussion is also
provided of aspects of conversational Hindi.
The core of the work contains thirty-one chapters. The first four offers discussions of
the linguistic status of Hindi as well as comprehensive description of Hindi phonetics and the
Devanagari syllabary in which Hindi is written. Chapter 5 through 31 each contains description of
fundamental aspects of Hindi grammar. These chapters have extensive translation and grammatical
exercises appended to them. The work as a whole introduces a core vocabulary of approximately
fifteen hundred entries, incorporating lexical items found on most standard elementary word lists
for the language.
Supplemental materials in this book include graded reading passages, a guide to further
study in Hindi, and Hindi English glossary. Although the Devanagari syllabary is used throughout
the book, Roman transliteration is also provided through Chapter 15.
A Primer of Modern Standard Hindi can be used in several different ways. It can be used as
part of a university-level course as a text for Hindi grammar and writing. As such it will nicely
supplement other materials addressing more conversational aspects of the language. It can also be
used for self- study purposes by the student who does not have access to a formal instructional
About the Author:
Michael C. Shapiro is Associate Professor of Indian Languages and Literature at the University of
Washington (Seattle, USA). He is the author of Language and Society in South Asia (with Harold F.
Schiffman, MLBD Studies in Linguistics, Vol. 1), Current Trends in Hindi Syntax: A Bibliographic
Survey (Studien zur Indologieund Iranistik, Monographic 5), and many studies in Hindi language,
linguistic, and literature
This book arises from a sense of dissatisfaction with the teaching materials that are available
for the Hindi language. Those materials written during the past three decades, particularly those
published in the United States, have concentrated almost exclusively on the inculcation of oral
skills in Hindi. Inadequate attention has been given to formal grammar, reading, and writing. It
has been my experience that as a result of this emphasis, many students of Hindi in the United
States have been seriously deficient in basic literacy skills. Other Hindi instructors with whom I
am acquainted like- wise have decried the lack of emphasis on written skills in available language
courses, grammars, and the like. There has been a growing sentiment among Hindi teachers that
instruction in the language should effect a more even balance among reading, writing, and speaking
skills than it currently does.
The title I have selected for this book, A Primer of Modern Standard Hindi, has a decidedly
old-fashioned ring to it. This is by intention. The book is a primer, that is, a systematic
introduction to its topic. Subjects have been included and arranged on the basis of pedagogical
efficacy. The work presupposes no prior knowledge of Hindi or its writing system. Moreover, this
is a primer of standard, as opposed to colloquial, Hindi. It tries to impart knowledge of that
style of Hindi that is taught in Indian schools and that is used in the various Indian media. The
book is not a manual of colloquial Hindi. For that, other materials are readily available. This is
not to say that much of what is said in this book about formal Hindi is not applicable to the
structure of the conversational language. On the contrary, there is a considerable degree of
overlap between the two styles or registers of the language and many of the peculiarities and
idiosyncrasies of the colloquial language cannot be explained except in reference to the
structures of standard written Hindi. But in the end the imparting of literacy skills and the
developing of speaking skills in Hindi are enterprises sufficiently different from one another to
warrant that they be accomplished by different techniques and in con- junction with different
In writing a book such as this it is difficult to know what to include and what to leave out. My
overriding concern has been to include all of the "nuts and bolts" of Hindi grammar that I believe
a student needs to master during the first two years of a college level instructional program. The
specific points of grammar that have been treated in this work are, for the most part, those
recommended in a recent three-year curriculum for the Hindi language} In addition, I have included
a core vocabulary, distributed across the various chapters, of approximately fifteen hundred
items. These items have been chosen after examining several published core vocabularies for Hindi.
The sequencing of grammatical information in this book is in accordance with my own preferences
and teaching practices. I have not aimed for an exhaustive treatment of Hindi grammar in this
work—such would be appropriate in a comprehensive reference grammar-, but rather for a systematic
and logical exposition of those aspects of the language whose mastery is essential for the
development of basic literacy skills.
A Primer of Modern Standard Hindi consists of 31 chapters divided into six parts. Part I (Chapters
1-4) provides some general information about the Hindi language and describes the language’s
sounds and writing system. The core of the book, Parts II—VI (Chapters 5-31) comprises a
step-by-step introduction to the basic grammatical categories and inflections of the language.
Each chapter contains discussions of several facets of the language, a vocabulary section
containing approximately 50 entries, and a set of written exercises. Hindi forms are given both in
the Hindi (or Devanagari) writing system and in Roman transliteration through Part III. The Roman
transliteration is eliminated beginning with Part IV. In order to provide the student with samples
g of Hindi of greater than sentence length, a set of supplementary reading passages has been
included at the end of each of Parts Il through VI. These are graded in order of difficulty and
include both prose and poetry texts. The passages have been taken from diverse sources. Many are
from children’s readings in use in India. Others are from newspapers, books of riddles,
anthologies of children‘s literature, and All India S Secondary Board examination papers in Hindi.
Special vocabulary sections have been appended to these reading passages. Following the 31
chapters are two supplements that should be of assistance to the students. These are a Guide To
Further Study of Hindi and a Hindi-English Glossary.
GUIDE TO FURTHER STUDY
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