• Overview of Punjabi Grammar

Main Verb

A verb expresses action, event, state of being, state of happening etc. For example, ਜਾ ‘go’, ਕਰ kar ‘do’, ਸੁਣ suṇ ‘listen’, ਹੱਸ hass ‘laugh’, ਲਿਖ likh ‘write’ are all verbs. In sentences, these single word verbs are occasionally used and frequently lengthier phrases are used as compound verbs, e.g. ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ jāndā hai ‘(he) is going’, ਕਰ ਰਿਹਾ ਸੀ kar rihā sī ‘(he) was doing’, ਸੁਣਿਆਂ ਕਰਾਂਗੇ suṇiāṃ karāṅgē ‘(we) will listen’, ਹੱਸਦੇ ਰਹਿੰਦੇ ਹਨ hassdē rahindē han ‘(they) keep on laughing’, ਲਿਖ ਲਿਆ ਕਰੋ likh liā karō ‘(you) write’ etc. A Punjabi verb root is always in second person singular form in imperative mood. In a Punjabi sentence, verbs must agree with the subject or object of the sentence in terms of gender, number, and person.
Grammatical categories
Punjabi verbs change forms for gender, number, person, phase, and tense. The verbs have assigned transitivity and causality.
Transitive verbs are those that require an object in a sentence unlike intransitive verbs. For example, ਹੱਸ hass ‘laugh’ is intransitive as in ਮੁੰਡਾ ਹੱਸ ਰਿਹਾ ਸੀ muṇḍā hass rihā sī ‘The boy was laughing’; ਲਿਖ likh ‘write’ is transitive as in ਉਸਨੇ ਚਿੱਠੀ ਲਿਖੀ usnē ciṭṭhī likhī ‘He/She wrote a letter’. Some verbs may be used as both transitive and intransitive, e.g. ਖੇਡ khēḍ ‘play’ is transitive in ਮੁੰਡਾ ਹਾਕੀ ਖੇਡ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ muṇḍā hākī khēḍ rihā hai ‘The boy is playing hockey’, but intransitive in ਮੁੰਡਾ ਖੇਡ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ muṇḍā khēḍ rihā hai ‘The boy is playing’.
Some verb roots extend to form causatives. There are two types of causatives – simple and double. In general, the simple causative is formed by adding ਆ ā and double by adding ਵਾ . For example, causative forms of verb root ਰੱਖ rakkh ‘put’ are ਰਖਾ rakhā (simple causal) and ਰਖਵਾ rakhvā (double causal). All the causatives are transitive irrespective of the transitivity of their root.
There are two genders – masculine and feminine for which Punjabi verbs change forms.
Like other word classes, Punjabi verbs change forms for two numbers – singular and plural.
Punjabi verbs take forms for three persons – first, second, and third.
Punjabi verbs can be in perfect or non-perfect forms. Prefect refers to the action completed or perfected at the time of saying, and non-prefect refers to the remaining states of the action like ongoing or not yet started.
Punjabi verbs take forms for future tense only, and for present and past tense, appropriate auxiliary verb form (for present or past tense) is used. For example, ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ jāndā hai ‘(he) goes’ is for present tense, ਜਾਂਦਾ ਸੀ jāndā sī ‘(he) was going’ is for past tense, and ਜਾਵੇਗਾ jāvēgā ‘(he) will go’ is for future tense. Please note that for future tense, no auxiliary verb is used.

Various forms of a Punjabi verb root based on above mentioned grammatical categories can be classified into 14 inflectional classes, which serve the purpose of ‘mood’. These inflectional classes are U, O, E, NA, DA, IA, IDA, EGA, DIAN, IAN, NON, N, KE, and DON. Out of these DIAN, IAN, NON, N, and KE are termed as non-finite and show no inflection, rest all the classes are termed finite and show inflection for gender, number, and person. For example, inflectional class wise grouping of the forms (or paradigm) of verb ਜਾ ‘go’ are provided here, U – ਜਾਊਂ jāūṃ and ਜਾਊ jāū, O – ਜਾ , ਜਾਈਂ jāīṃ, and ਜਾਇਓ jāiō, E – ਜਾਣ jāṇ, ਜਾਵਾਂ jāvāṃ, ਜਾਈਏ jāīē, ਜਾਓ jāō, ਜਾਏਂ jāēṃ, and ਜਾਏ jāē, NA – ਜਾਣਾ jāṇā, ਜਾਣੇ jāṇē, ਜਾਣੀ jāṇī, and ਜਾਣੀਆਂ jāṇīāṃ, DA – ਜਾਂਦਾ jāndā, ਜਾਂਦੇ jāndē, ਜਾਂਦੀ jāndī, and ਜਾਂਦੀਆਂ jāndīāṃ, IA – ਗਿਆ giā, ਗਏ gaē, ਗਈ gaī, and ਗਈਆਂ gaīāṃ, IDA – ਜਾਈਦਾ jāīdā, EGA – ਜਾਵਾਂਗਾ jāvāṅgā, ਜਾਵਾਂਗੇ jāvāṅgē, ਜਾਵਾਂਗੀ jāvāṅgī, ਜਾਵਾਂਗੀਆਂ jāvāṅgīāṃ, ਜਾਵੇਗਾ/ਜਾਏਗਾ jāvēgā/jāēgā, ਜਾਵੋਗੇ/ਜਾਓਗੇ jāvōgē/jāōgē, ਜਾਵੇਗੀ/ਜਾਏਗੀ jāvēgī/jāēgī, ਜਾਵੋਗੀਆਂ/ਜਾਓਗੀਆਂ jāvōgīāṃ/jāōgīāṃ, ਜਾਵੇਂਗਾ/ਜਾਏਂਗਾ jāvēṅgā/jāēṅgā, ਜਾਵੇਂਗੀ/ਜਾਏਂਗੀ jāvēṅgī/jāēṅgī, ਜਾਣਗੇ jāṇgē, and ਜਾਣਗੀਆਂ jāṇgīāṃ, DIAN – ਜਾਂਦਿਆਂ jāndiāṃ, IAN – ਗਿਆਂ giāṃ, NON – ਜਾਣੋਂ jāṇōṃ, N – ਜਾਣ jāṇ, KE – ਜਾਕੇ jākē, and DON – ਜਾਂਦੋਂ jāndōṃ, ਜਾਂਦਿਓ jāndiō, and ਜਾਂਦੀਓ jāndīō. Other verb roots may have more or less forms than these described here for ਜਾ ‘go’. U, O, and EGA forms are for future tense. IA, IAN, and KE forms are classified as perfect forms and all others are non-perfect.

Punjabi main verbs, on an average have 48 distinct forms, unlike English verbs, which usually have only five different forms.
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