Overview of Punjabi Grammar
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In a sentence, when two units inflect for similar grammatical categories, then those units are said to be in concord with each other. We will provide below two main types of concord or agreement that exist in the Punjabi sentences:
Noun and Modifier Agreement
The modifiers of a noun in a noun phrase agree with the noun in terms of three grammatical categories – gender, number, and case. Provided below are some examples to show this concord, modifiers are highlighted in these phrases/clauses. With the transliteration of the words taking part in this agreement, gender (M-Masculine, F-Feminine), number (S-Singular, P-Plural), and case (D-Direct, O-Oblique) information has been provided for better understanding.
ਘੋਡ਼ੇ ਨੇ ਪਾਣੀ ਪੀਣਾ ਹੈ ।
_MSO ghōṛē_MSO nē pāṇī pīṇā hai.
horse has to drink water.
From the above examples, it can be noted that the modifiers change with the gender, number, and case of their nouns. In the first example, ਘੋਡ਼ਾ
‘horse’ is masculine, singular, and direct case form, so does its modifier ਕਾਲਾ
‘black’. In the second example, the noun is in plural form along with its modifier. In the third sentence, ਘੋਡ਼ੇ
‘horse’ is masculine, singular, and oblique case form, and its modifier is also in the same form. In the last two examples, ਘੋਡ਼ੀ
‘mare’ and ਘੋਡ਼ੀਆਂ
‘mares’ are in singular and plural numbers, respectively, both are in direct case and feminine gender, their modifiers ਕਾਲੀ
‘black’ and ਕਾਲੀਆਂ
‘black’ are in the same forms as their headwords.
The modifiers can also follow a noun or act as a verb compliment; the concord is same irrespective of the position in the sentence, as apparent from the following sentences:
The boy is
The girls are
Subject/Object and Verb Agreement
The main verb phrase often is in concord with either the subject or object of the sentence. If the subject of the sentence is in direct case then the verb agrees with it, otherwise it agrees with the object in that sentence. If there is no object, or if none of the subject and object is in direct case, then the verb is in masculine, singular, and third person form, by convention. In Punjabi, the subject and verb has concord in terms of gender, number, and person. The following examples illustrate this fact (verb phrase is highlighted). In these examples, the transliterated forms of the words taking part in the agreement are marked with gender (M-Masculine, F-Feminine, B-Both, X-No inflection shown), number (S-Singular, P-Plural, B-Both, X-No inflection shown), and person (F-First, S-Second, T-Third, X-No inflection shown) information.
ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹਾਂ
ਜਾ ਰਹੇ ਹਨ
ਮੁੰਡੇ ਨੇ ਸੰਤਰਾ
muṇḍē nē santarā_MSX
ਕੁਡ਼ੀ ਨੇ ਸੰਤਰੇ
kuṛī nē santarē_MPX
has to go
has to go
In sentence 8, the verb phrase is in masculine, singular, and third person form in concord with the subject - ਮੁੰਡਾ
‘boy’. In sentence 9, the verb phrase is in feminine, singular, and third person form as per its subject - ਕੁਡ਼ੀ
‘girl’. In sentence 10, the verb phrase is in masculine, singular, and first person form in accordance with ਮੈਂ
‘I’. In sentence 11, the verb phrase is in masculine, plural, and third person form as per its subject ਉਹ
‘they’. In sentences 12 and 13, the verb phrase is in agreement with the objects of these sentences, ਸੰਤਰਾ
‘orange’ – masculine, singular, and third person, and ਸੰਤਰੇ
‘oranges’ – masculine, plural, and third person, respectively. In the last two sentences 14 and 15, the subject is not in direct case and there is no object, therefore the verb phrase is in default form i.e. masculine, singular, and third person form.
If a sentence has a compound subject (or object, for that matter), i.e. formed of more than one noun joined by connective ਅਤੇ
‘and’, then the rules of agreement will be:
When two or more singular/plural feminine nouns are joined, the whole is treated as feminine plural, e.g.
ਕੁਡ਼ੀ ਅਤੇ ਬੱਚੀ ਘਰ
ਜਾ ਰਹੀਆਂ ਹਨ
kuṛī_FSX atē baccī_FSX ghar
The girl and child
When two or more masculine singular/plural nouns are joined, or one masculine singular and other feminine singular are joined then the whole is treated as masculine plural, e.g.
ਮੁੰਡਾ ਅਤੇ ਕੁਡ਼ੀ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ
muṇḍā_MSX atē kuṛī_FSX shahir
The boy and girl
to the city.
ਮੁੰਡਾ ਅਤੇ ਬੱਚਾ ਸ਼ਹਿਰ
muṇḍā_MSX atē baccā_MSX shahir
The boy and child
to the city.
When two plural nouns of different genders are joined, the whole is treated as per the gender and number of the last element, e.g.
ਚਾਰ ਆਦਮੀ ਅਤੇ ਦੋ ਔਰਤਾਂ
cār_XPX ādmī_MXX atē dō_XPX aurtāṃ_FPX
Four men and two women
ਦੋ ਔਰਤਾਂ ਅਤੇ ਚਾਰ ਆਦਮੀ
dō_XPX aurtāṃ_FPX atē cār_XPX ādmī_MXX
Two women and four men
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Last updated: Feb 11, 2013 UTC