Wednesday, November 28, 2012


One of the most useful expressions that a Hindi student can learn are: “यह क्या है?” (Yah kyaa hai? – What is this?) or “मतलब?” (Matlab? – What does it mean? Or What do you mean?)

During my four years in India these have been the most used expressions by me. When living in a new culture, it is impossible to know the names of the things you’ve never seen before. Also people in every culture tend to use loads of idioms that need to be experienced in order to learn. That’s why it is a great idea to turn into a little child and keep asking the natives: “What is this?”, “Who is that?” and “What do you mean?”

In this post I’d like to introduce the main keywords that are mainly demonstrative pronouns (roughly introduced before), some question words and few very important nouns.  After that I am going to demonstrate the usage of these words in the examples. I would highly recommend learning these by heart in the first place when you are going to India. These are fun and they may become your invaluable tool when communicating in India, especially when you do not have a dictionary with you.

Our key vocabulary:

word (Hindi)
word (Urdu)
(thing; object)


1. Asking what/who is this.

(For best results you might learn them by heart)

यह क्या है?
Yah kyaa hai?
What is this?

यह चीज़ क्या है?
Yah cheez kyaa hai?
What is this thing?

यह क्या चीज़ है?
Yah kyaa cheez hai?
What is this thing?

यह कौन है?
Yah kaun hai?
Who is this?

यह आदमी कौन है?
Yah aadmee kaun hai?
Who is this man?

यह औरत कौन है?
Yah aurat kaun hai?
Who is this woman?

यह महिला कौन है?
Yah mahilaa kaun hai?
Who is this lady?

वे लोग कौन है?
Ve log kaun hai?
Who are these people?

क्या मतलब है?
Kyaa matlab hai?
What does it mean?

मतलब क्या है?
Matlab kyaa hai?
What is the meaning?

इसका मतलब क्या है?
Iskaa matlab kyaa hai?
What is its meaning?

What do you mean? (lit. “Meaning?”)

इस शब्द का मतलब क्या है?
Is shabd kaa matlab kyaa hai?
What’s the meaning of this word?

इस लफ्ज़ का मतलब क्या है?
Is lafz kaa matlab kyaa hai?
What is the meaning of this word?

अर्थ क्या है?
Arth kyaa hai?
What is the meaning? (Another word for “meaning”)

More examples:

2. Asking whether it is what you thought it was.

क्या यह ताज महल है?
Kyaa yah Taaj Mahal hai?
Is this Taj Mahal?

क्या यह देवनागरी लिपि है?
Kyaa yah Devanagaree lipi hai?
Is this Devanagari script?

क्या यह आपका घर है?
Kyaa yah aapkaa ghar hai?
Is this your house?

क्या आज दीवाली है?
Kyaa aaj Deewaalee hai?
Is today Diwali?

3. A dialogue of an Englishman (or a foreigner) with an Indian friend. Asking about the names of Bollywood actors.

अँगरेज़: यह कौन है?
Angrez: Yah kaun hai?
Englishman: Who is this?

भारतवासी: यह आमिर खां है।
Bhaaratvaasee: Yah Aamir Khaan hai.
Indian: This is Aamir Khan.

अँगरेज़: और यह कौन है?
Angrez: Aur yah kaun hai?
Englishman : And who is this ?

भारतवासी: यह सलमान खां है।
Bhaaratvaasee: Yah Salmaan Khaan hai.
Indian: This is Salman Khan.

अँगरेज़: और यह कौन है? क्या यह ऋतिक रोशन है?
Angrez: Aur yah kaun hai? Kyaa yah Ritik Roshan hai?
Englishman: And who is this? Is this Ritik Roshan?

भारतवासी: नहीं, यह ऋतिक रोशन नहीं है. रणबीर कपूर है।
Bhaaratvaasee: Naheen, yah Ritik Roshan naheen hain. Ranbeer Kapoor hai.
Indian: No, this is not Ritik Roshan. It’s Ranbeer Kapoor.

अँगरेज़: अच्छा।
Angrez: Achchhaa.
Englishman: I see.

4. How to use the word “thing/object” in Hindi.

यह चीज़ क्या है?
Yah cheez kyaa hai?
What is this thing?

यह पायल है।
Yah paayal hai.
This is an anklet.

I see.

5. How to use the word “meaning” and “word” in Hindi.

इस शब्द का मतलब क्या है?
Is shabd kaa matlab kyaa hai?
What is the meaning of this word?

इसका मतलब है "अच्छा"।
Iskaa matlab hai “achchhaa”.
Its meaning is “good”.

I see. (lit. OK)

6. A dialogue where the word “meaning” is used.

लज़ीज़ का मतलब क्या है?
“Lazeez” kaa matlab kyaa hai?
What is the meaning of “lazeez”?

लज़ीज़ का मतलब "स्वादिष्ट" है।
“Lazeez” kaa matlab “svaadiShT” hai.
“Lazeez” means “delicious”.

अजीब बात है! दोनों शब्दों को एक जैसा अर्थ है।
Ajeeb baat hai! Donon shabdon ko ek jaisaa arth hai.
Strange! The both words have the same meaning!

"लज़ीज़" एक उर्दू लफ्ज़ है और "स्वादिष्ट" - एक हिंदी शब्द.
"Lazeez" ek Urdoo lafz hai aur "svaadiShT" - ek Hindi shabd.
"Lazeez" is an Urdu word and "svaadiShT" - a Hindi word.

I see.

7. Asking the meaning of Hindi idioms.

भारतवासी: सलमान खां बहुत बड़े आदमी हैं. वे छोटे-मोटे आदमी से बात नहीं करते हैं।
Bhaaratvaasee: Salmaan Khaan bahut baDe aadmee hain. Ve chhoTe-moTe aadmee se baat naheen karte hain.
Indian: Salman Khaan is a very big man. He doesn’t speak to “small and fat” people.

अँगरेज़: जी,  वे जिम जाते हैं।
Angrez: Jee, ve gim jaate hain.
Englishman: Yes, he goes to a gym.

भारतवासी: नहीं. मेरा मतलब है वे बहुत मशहूर और आमिर आदमी है इसीलिए उसको "बड़ा" कहते है।
Bhaaratvaasee: Naheen. Meraa matlab hai ve bahut mashoor aur aamir aadmee hai iseeliye usko “baDaa” kahte hai.
No, I mean he is very famous and rich, that’s why they call him: “big man”.

अँगरेज़: अच्छा. और छोटे-मोटे आदमी कौन होते हैं?
Angrez: Achchhaa. Aur chhoTe-moTe aadmee kaun hote hain?
Englishman: I see. And who are “small and fat” people?

भारतवासी: छोटे-मोटे आदमी आम लोग होते हैं। मतलब मशहूर और आमिर नहीं होते हैं।
Bhaaratvaasee: ChhoTe-moTe aadmee aam log hote hain. Matlab mashoor aur aamir naheen hote hain.
Indian; “Small-fat” people are common people. I mean they are not famous and rich.

अँगरेज़: अच्छा. बहुत दिलचस्प बात है यह!
Angrez: Achchhaa. Bahut dilchasp baat hai yah!
Englishman: I see. This a very interesting thing!

Madhubani style primitive-tribal inspired painting of animals.



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