• Overview of Punjabi Grammar


An adjective modifies a noun or pronoun i.e. highlights some of the properties of a noun or pronoun. In Punjabi, adjectives usually precede the nouns but follow the pronouns. E.g. ਸੋਹਣਾ sōhṇā ‘handsome’, ਕਾਲਾ kālā ‘black’, ਹਰੀ harī ‘green’, ਨੀਲੀਆਂ nīlīāṃ ‘blue’ are functioning as adjectives in ਸੋਹਣਾ ਮੁੰਡਾ sōhṇā muṇḍā ‘handsome boy’, ਕਾਲਾ ਘੋਡ਼ਾ kālā ghōṛā ‘black horse’, ਹਰੀ ਬੱਸ harī bass ‘green bus’, ਨੀਲੀਆਂ ਕਾਰਾਂ nīlīāṃ kārāṃ ‘blue cars’ respectively. As mentioned earlier, various pronouns can act as adjectives modifying nouns in sentences. Therefore, if a pronoun is modifying a noun then it will be termed an adjective.

Punjabi adjectives can be classified into two categories – inflected and uninflected, depending upon whether they change forms for number and case or not. This classification is also referred to as black and red, respectively. Class of black adjectives can change forms, black meaning ਕਾਲਾ kālā in Punjabi. Red adjectives do not change form for number and case, red meaning ਲਾਲ lāl in Punjabi.

Inflected adjectives

These adjectives behave like nouns i.e. have assigned gender, and change forms for number and case. For example, ਸੋਹਣਾ sōhṇā ‘handsome’, ਕਾਲਾ kālā ‘black’, ਗੋਰਾ gōrā ‘white’ are all inflected adjectives for masculine gender, and ਸੋਹਣੀ sōhṇī ‘beautiful’, ਕਾਲੀ kālī ‘black’, ਗੋਰੀ gōrī ‘white’ are the corresponding forms for feminine gender.
Grammatical categories
Inflected adjectives change forms with number and case.
Inflected adjectives can be either masculine or feminine.
Inflected adjectives can be in two numbers – singular and plural, like Punjabi nouns.
As mentioned earlier, inflected adjectives take forms like Punjabi nouns. However, only direct and oblique case forms are generally used. Vocative case forms may be used in specific contexts. Different forms of ਸੋਹਣਾ sōhṇā ‘beautiful’ are ਸੋਹਣਾ sōhṇā ‘beautiful’ (direct singular), ਸੋਹਣੇ sōhṇē ‘beautiful’ (oblique singular and direct plural), and ਸੋਹਣਿਆਂ sōhṇiāṃ ‘beautiful’ (oblique plural). Inflectional forms of feminine form ਸੋਹਣੀ sōhṇī ‘beautiful’ are ਸੋਹਣੀ sōhṇī ‘beautiful’ (direct singular and oblique singular) and ਸੋਹਣੀਆਂ sōhṇīāṃ ‘beautiful’ (direct plural and oblique plural).

Uninflected adjectives

This class of adjectives do not change form for gender, number, or case, e.g. ਲਾਲ lāl ‘red’, ਮਿਹਨਤੀ mihnatī ‘hardworking’, ਮਸ਼ਹੂਰ mashhūr ‘famous’, ਦਿਲਚਸਪ dilcasap ‘interesting’ etc.
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