• Overview of Punjabi Grammar


The structure for clauses/sentences that we have provided earlier is just for simple or kernel sentences. Quite a large number of sentences are constructed with some transformations in these structures. It is not possible to discuss all those transformations here. However, we will provide only a sketchy picture of some of the important transformations, as under.


Interrogative sentences have interrogative pronouns or some specific words starting with ਕ k like English ‘wh’. These are ਕੌਣ kauṇ ‘who’, ਕੀ ‘what’, ਕਿੱਥੇ kitthē ‘where’, ਕਦੋਂ kadōṃ ‘when’, ਕਿਵੇਂ kivēṃ ‘how’, ਕਿਉਂ kiuṃ ‘why’ etc. corresponding to the English ‘wh’ questions. These sentences normally end in a question marker (?), e.g.
  1. ਤੁਸੀਂ ਕੀ ਖਰੀਦਿਆ ਹੈ ?
    tusīṃ kī kharīdiā hai ?
    What have you purchased?
  2. ਕੀ ਕਹਿ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈਂ ?
    kī kahi rihā haiṃ ?
    What are you saying?
If the question is asked in a dependent clause in a complex sentence, then question marker is not used, e.g.
  1. ਮੈਂ ਪੁੱਛਦਾ ਹਾਂ ਕਿ ਤੁਹਾਡਾ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਹੈ ।
    maiṃ pucchdā hāṃ ki tuhāḍā nām kī hai.
    I am asking, what is your name.


For this, negative particles like ਨਾ , ਨਹੀਂ nahīṃ are used. These particles generally follow the word being negated. In a verb phrase, these are used after emphatic particles, if present, e.g.
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ।
    muṇḍā nahīṃ jā rihā.
    The boy is not going.


There are at least three ways in which emphasis can be represented in written Punjabi sentences, iteration of words, changing the phrase order, or using emphatic particles, like ਤਾਂ tāṃ, ਜ਼ਰਾ zarā, ਹੀ , ਈ ī etc. The meaning of these emphatic particles can be different in different contexts. As shown in sentences 5 and 6.
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਜਾਣ ਹੀ ਲੱਗਾ ਸੀ ।
    muṇḍā jāṇ hī laggā sī.
    The boy was about to leave.
  2. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਇਹ ਹੀ ਕਹਿ ਰਿਹਾ ਸੀ ।
    muṇḍā ih hī kahi rihā sī.
    The boy was saying just this.
The following sentence 7 is an emphasized form of the sentence 8 provided below, the emphasis is shown by changing the order of the phrases:
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਗਿਆ ਸੀ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ।
    muṇḍā giā sī shahir.
    The boy went to the city.
  2. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ ਗਿਆ ਸੀ।
    muṇḍā shahir giā sī.
    The boy went to the city.
The following sentence 9 shows the emphasis by iteration of words:
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਜਲਦੀ ਜਲਦੀ ਚਲਾ ਗਿਆ ।
    muṇḍā jaldī jaldī calā giā.
    The boy went very quickly.
There is one additional form of emphasis using intonation, i.e. raising the pitch for the word or phrase being emphasized. It can be realized only in the speech form, and from the simple written form of that particular sentence, we cannot distinguish which word is being emphasized.


This is the process of joining two or more independent clauses using coordinate conjunctions to form compound sentences. For example, consider the following two sentences:
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਸਕੂਲ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ।
    muṇḍā sakūl jā rihā hai.
    The boy is going to school.
  2. ਕੁਡ਼ੀ ਸਕੂਲ ਜਾ ਰਹੀ ਹੈ।
    kuṛī sakūl jā rahī hai.
    The girl is going to school.
The above two sentences 10 and 11 can be combined to form a new compound sentence 12, provided below:
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਅਤੇ ਕੁਡ਼ੀ ਸਕੂਲ ਜਾ ਰਹੇ ਹਨ।
    muṇḍā atē kuṛī sakūl jā rahē han .
    The boy and girl are going to school.
Similarly, the following compound sentence 13 is formed of the sentences 14 and 15:
  1. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਬੱਚਾ ਹੱਸ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ।
    muṇḍā shahir jā rihā hai atē baccā hass rihā hai.
    The boy is going to the city and the kid is laughing.
  2. ਮੁੰਡਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ।
    muṇḍā shahir jā rihā hai.
    The boy is going to the city.
  3. ਬੱਚਾ ਹੱਸ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ।
    baccā hass rihā hai.
    The kid is laughing.


The process of inserting a clause into another clause is known as embedding. The inserted clause can function as a noun, adjective, or adverb clause. Embedding results in the formation of complex sentences, as described earlier. The inserted or embedded clause will act as a dependent clause, and will require some independent clause to make a sentence or complete the thought.
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