• Overview of Punjabi Grammar


Various phrases combine to constitute clauses, and those clauses in turn combine to form sentences, though an independent clause can constitute a sentence on its own. There can be various elements in a clause, in addition to the verb phrase, which is the essential element. All the phrases can act as clause/sentence elements, like noun phrase, adjective phrase, postpositional phrase etc. The favorite clause type in Punjabi has one essential element, a main verb phrase, e.g. ਚੱਲੀਏ callīē ‘let’s go’, which is a shortened form of ਆਪਾਂ ਚੱਲੀਏ āpāṃ callīē ‘we should go’, or ਦੇਖੀਂ dēkhīṃ ‘look’, a shortened form of ਤੂੰ ਦੇਖੀਂ tūṃ dēkhīṃ ‘you look’.

The clauses can be of two types:

Independent Clause

Independent clause is the basic element of a sentence. In the independent clause, a finite verb phrase is almost an essential element. The finite verb phrase occurs finally in the clause. An independent clause can constitute a simple sentence on its own.

Dependent Clause

Dependent clause is that which cannot constitute a sentence on its own; it occurs with an independent clause in a complex sentence. It typically consists of subordinate verb phrases or start with a subordinate conjunction or words of relative pronoun word class. In some cases it can have the structure same as an independent clause. Dependent clause typically conveys an incomplete thought, for whose completion an independent clause is required.

Dependent clauses in complex sentences can be realized by the following means:
Subordinate Conjunctions
Clauses beginning with subordinate conjunctions or relative pronouns are dependent clauses and these precede the independent clause in a complex sentence. However, dependent clauses beginning with conjunction ਕਿ ki follow the independent clause.
Non-finite Verb Forms
Root verb and its forms ending in KE, NON, IAN, DIAN are non-finite, as these do not show inflection for any grammatical category. Non-finite verb forms generate non-finite verb phrases, which in turn generate dependent clauses. Dependent clauses, so generated, usually precede independent clause in a complex sentence. For example, consider the following sentence:
  1. ਰਾਮ ਘਰ ਜਾ ਕੇ ਸੌਂ ਗਿਆ।
    rām ghar jā kē sauṃ giā.
    Ram went to sleep on reaching home.
In the above sentence, ਘਰ ਜਾ ਕੇ ghar jā kē is a part of the dependent clause, and ਸੌਂ ਗਿਆ sauṃ giā is a part of the independent clause. ਰਾਮ rām ‘Ram’ is acting as a subject for both the clauses, and thus for the whole sentence.
Embedded Sentences
These are special cases of dependent clauses, these do not precede or follow an independent clause; rather these are embedded in it. These begin with relative clause of pronouns starting with ਜ ja, like ਜੋ , ਜਿਹਡ਼ਾ jihṛā etc. For example, consider the following sentence:
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਜੋ ਕੱਲ੍ਹ ਆਇਆ ਸੀ ਅੱਜ ਚਲਾ ਗਿਆ ਹੈ।
    muṇḍā jō kallh āiā sī ajj calā giā hai.
    The boy who came yesterday went today.
Highlighted part in the above sentence is an example of an embedded sentence. This embedded sentence is acting as a modifier for the noun ਮੁੰਡਾ muṇḍā ‘boy’, which is also the subject of this sentence. Unlike English, embedded sentences are not common in Punjabi, and are used usually while translating English texts in Punjabi.

Note: Typically, the internal structure or constituents of an independent and a dependent clause are the same. It is only that no independent clause can have only non-finite verb forms. Later, we will outline the clause structure, which will partly apply to both the independent and the dependent clauses.
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