Bengali grammar

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Bengali grammar (Bengali: বাংলা ব্যাকরণ Bangla Bækôrôn) is the study of the morphology and syntax of Bengali, an Indo-European language spoken in the Indian subcontinent. Given that Bengali has two forms, চলিত ভাষা (cholito bhasha) and সাধু ভাষা (shadhu bhasha), it is important to note that the grammar discussed below applies fully only to the চলিত (cholito) form. Shadhu bhasha is generally considered outdated and no longer used either in writing or in normal conversation. Although Bengali is typically written in the Bengali script, a Romanization scheme[which?] is also used here to suggest the pronunciation.


Personal pronouns[edit]

Bengali personal pronouns are somewhat similar to English pronouns, having different words for first, second, and third person, and also for singular and plural (unlike for verbs, below). Bengali pronouns, unlike their English counterparts, do not differentiate for gender; that is, the same pronoun may be used for "he" or "she". However, Bengali has different third-person pronouns for proximity. The first are used for someone who is nearby, and the second are for those who are a little further away. The third are usually for those who are not present. In addition, each of the second- and third-person pronouns have different forms for the familiar and polite forms; the second person also has a "very familiar" form (sometimes called "despective"). It may be noted that the "very familiar" form is used when addressing particularly close friends or family as well as for addressing subordinates, or in abusive language. In the following tables, the abbreviations used are as follows: VF=very familiar, F=familiar, and P=polite (honor); H=here, T=there, E=elsewhere (proximity), and I=inanimate.

The nominative case is used for pronouns that are the subject of the sentence, such as "I already did that" or "Will you please stop making that noise?"

Personal pronouns (nominative case)
Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 আমি (ami, I) আমরা (amra, we)
2 VF তুই (tui, you) তোরা (tora, you)
F তুমি (tumi, you) তোমরা (tomra, you)
P আপনি (apni, you) আপনারা (apnara, you)
3 H F এ (e, he/she) এরা (era, they)
P ইনি (ini, he/she) এঁরা (ẽra, they)
I এটি/এটা (eţi/eţa, it) এগুলো (egulo, these)
T F ও (o, he/she) ওরা (ora, they)
P উনি (uni, he/she) ওঁরা (õra, they)
I ওটি/ওটা (oţi/oţa, it) ওগুলো (ogulo, those)
E F সে (she, he/she) তারা (tara, they)
P তিনি (tini, he/she) তাঁরা (tãra, they)
I সেটি/সেটা (sheţi/sheţa, it) সেগুলো (shegulo, those)

The objective case is used for pronouns serving as the direct or indirect objects, such as "I told him to wash the dishes" or "The teacher gave me the homework assignment". The inanimate pronouns remain the same in the objective case.

Personal pronouns (objective case)
Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 আমাকে (amake, me) আমাদেরকে (amaderke, us)
2 VF তোকে (toke, you) তোদেরকে (toderke, you)
F তোমাকে (tomake, you) তোমাদেরকে (tomaderke, you)
P আপনাকে (apnake, you) আপনাদেরকে (apnaderke, you)
3 H F একে (eke, him/her) এদেরকে (ederke, them)
P এঁকে (ẽke, him/her) এঁদেরকে (ẽderke, them)
I এটিকে/এটাকে (eţike/eţake, it) এগুলোকে (eguloke, these)
T F ওকে (oke, him/her) ওদেরকে (oderke, them)
P ওঁকে (õke, him/her) ওঁদেরকে (õderke, them)
I ওটিকে/ওটাকে (oţike/oţake, it) ওগুলোকে (oguloke, those)
E F তাকে (take, him/her) তাদেরকে (taderke, them)
P তাঁকে (tãke, him/her) তাঁদেরকে (tãderke, them)
I সেটিকে/সেটাকে (sheţike/sheţake, it) সেগুলোকে (sheguloke, those)

The possessive case is used to show possession, such as "Where is your coat?" or "Let's go to our house". In addition, sentences such as "I have a book" (আমার একটি বই আছে) or "I need money" (আমার টাকা দরকার) also use the possessive (the literal translation of the Bengali versions of these sentences would be "There is my book" and "There is my need for money" respectively).

Personal pronouns (possessive case)
Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 আমার (amar, my)

In poetry:

মম (mômo, my) or

মোর ( mor, my)

আমাদের (amader, our)

In poetry:

মোদের (moder, our)

2 VF তোর (tor, your) তোদের (toder, your)
F তোমার (tomar, your)

In poetry:

তব (tôbo, your)

তোমাদের (tomader, your)
P আপনার (apnar, your) আপনাদের (apnader, your)
3 H F এর (er, his/her) এদের (eder, their)
P এঁর (ẽr, his/her) এঁদের (ẽder, their)
I এটির/এটার (eţir/eţar, its) এগুলোর (egulor, of these)
T F ওর (or, his/her) ওদের (oder, their)
P ওঁর (õr, his/her) ওঁদের (õder, their)
I ওটির/ওটার (oţir/oţar, its) ওগুলোর (ogulor, of those)
E F তার (tar, his/her) তাদের (tader, their)
P তাঁর (tãr, his/her) তাঁদের (tãder, their)
I সেটির/সেটার (sheţir/sheţar, its) সেগুলোর (shegulor, of those)

Indefinite and negative pronouns[edit]

Bengali has no negative pronouns (such as no one, nothing, none). These are typically represented by adding the negative particle না (na) to indefinite pronouns, which are themselves derived from their corresponding question words. Common indefinite pronouns are listed below.

Question word Indefinite pronoun Indefinite negative pronoun
কে (ke, who) কেউ (keu, someone) কেউ না (keu na, no one)
কার (kar, whose) কারও (karo, someone's) কারও না (karo na, no one's)
কাকে (kake, to whom) কাউকে (kauke, to someone) কাউকে না (kauke na, to no one)
কোন (kon, which) কোনো (kono, any) কোনো না (kono na, none)
কি (ki, what) কিছু (kichu, some/something) কিছু না (kichu na, nothing)

Relative pronouns[edit]

The relative pronoun যে (je) and its different variants, as shown below, are commonly employed in complex sentences. The relative pronouns for animate objects change for number and honor, but those for inanimate objects stay the same.

Animate relative pronouns
Nominative (who) Genitive (whose) Objective (to whom)
Singular (VF/F) যে (je) যার (jar) যাকে (jake)
Singular (P) যিনি (jini) যাঁর (jãr) যাঁকে (jãke)
Plural (VF/F) যারা (jara) যাদের (jader) যাদের (jader)
Plural (P) যাঁরা (jãra) যাঁদের (jãder) যাঁদের (jãder)
Inanimate relative pronouns
Nominative/Objective (which) Genitive (of which) Locative (in which)
যা (ja) যার (jar) যাতে (jate)



Nouns are also inflected for case, including nominative, accusative, genitive (possessive), and locative. The case marking pattern for each noun being inflected depends on the noun's degree of animacy.[clarification needed] The accusative case cannot be inflected upon nouns which are inanimate, and the locative case cannot be inflected upon nouns which are animate. When a definite article such as -ţa (টা, for singular nouns) or -gulo (গুলো, for plural nouns) is added, nouns are also inflected for number. In formal contexts, especially in writing, the definite article -ţa is replaced by -ţi (টি). There is also an alternative way of using the plural definite article, -gulo, by making it -guli (গুলি). For animate nouns, -gulo/-guli are often replaced by -ra (রা) Below are two tables which show the inflections of an animate noun, ছাত্র chhatrô (student), and an inanimate noun, জুতা juta (shoe).

Noun Inflection
Animate Inanimate
Singular Plural Singular Plural





ছাত্রটি/ ছাত্রটা

chhatrô-ţi/ chhatrô-ţa

the student





the students





জুতাটি/ জুতাটা

juta-ţi/ juta-ţa

the shoe





the shoes






ছাত্রটিকে/ ছাত্রটাকে

chhatrô-ţi-ke/ chhatrô-ţa-ke

(to) the student





(to) the students






ছাত্রটি/ ছাত্রটা

chhatrô-ţi-r/ chhatrô-ţa-r

the student's





the students'





জুতাটি/ জুতাটা

juta-ţi-r/ juta-ţa-r

the shoe's





the shoes'






জুতাটিতে/ জুতাটায়

juta-ţi-te/ juta-ţa-y

on/in the shoe





on/in the shoes

All of the inflected nouns above have an indefinite article preceding their case markers. There are some basic rules to keep in mind about the cases, apart from the "default" nominative.

For the accusative case, the ending -রে -re may be used in certain non-standard dialects of Bengali. For example, the non-standard ছাত্রটারে chhatrô-ţa-re may be used instead of the standard ছাত্রটাকে chhatrô-ţa-ke.

For the genitive case, the ending may change, though never with a definite article attached. A noun (without an article) which ends in a consonant or the inherent vowel, অ ô, is inflected by adding – ের -er to the end of the word (and deleting the inherent vowel if applicable). An example of this would be the genitive of মাংস mangshô "meat" being মাংসের mangsher "of meat" or "(the) meat's". A noun which ends in any vowel apart from the inherent vowel will just have a -র -r following it, as in the genitive of ছেলে chhele being ছেলে chheler "(the) boy's". The genitive ending is also applied to verbs (in their verbal noun forms), which is most commonly seen when using postpositions (for example: শেখা জন্য shekhar jonno, "to/for learning").

For the locative case, the marker also changes in a similar fashion to the genitive case, with consonants and the inherent vowel having their own ending, – ে -e, and all other vowels having another ending, -তে -te, with one exception. If a noun ends with – া -a, then its locative case marker would be -য় -y, as in কলকাতায় Kolkata-y "to Kolkata". However, this special exception for -a ending nouns is often ignored, and colloquially many will say কলকাতাতে Kolkata-te instead of the proper Kolktata-y.

Measure words[edit]

When counted, nouns must also be accompanied by the appropriate measure word. As in many East Asian languages (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc.), nouns in Bengali cannot be counted directly by adding the numeral directly adjacent to the noun. The noun's measure word (MW) must be used in between the numeral and the noun. Most nouns take the generic measure word ţa, although there are many more specific measure words, such as jon, which is only used to count humans.

Measure Words





Nôy-ţa ghoŗi

Nine-MW clock

Nine clocks


How many-MW



Kôy-ţa balish

{How many-MW} pillow

How many pillows





Ônek-jon lok

Many-MW person

Many people





Char-pañch-jon shikkhôk

Four-five-MW teacher

Four or five teachers

Measuring nouns in Bengali without their corresponding measure words (e.g. aţ biŗal instead of aţ-ţa biŗal "eight cats") would typically be considered ungrammatical. However, omitting the noun and preserving the measure word is grammatical and not uncommon to hear. For example, Shudhu êk-jon thakbe. (lit. "Only one-MW will remain.") would be understood to mean "Only one person will remain.", since jon can only be used to count humans. The word lok "person" is implied.


Adjectives do not inflect for case, gender, or number in Bengali and are placed before the noun they modify.

Some adjectives form their opposites by prefixing অ- (before consonants) or অন- (before vowels): for example, the opposite of সম্ভব (sômbhôb, "possible") is অসম্ভব (asômbhôb, "impossible").

Demonstrative adjectives – this and that – correspond to এই and ওই respectively, with the definite article attached to the following noun. Their plural forms (these/those) remain the same, with the plurality denoted by the definite article or the classifier. Thus, this book would translate to এই বইটি, while those books would translate to ওই বইগুলো.

Comparatives and superlatives[edit]

Bengali adjectives form their comparative forms with আরও (aaro, "more"), and their superlative forms with সবচেয়ে (shôbcheye, "than all"). Comparisons are formed by using genitive form of the object of comparison, followed by the postposition চেয়ে (cheye, "than") or the postposition মতো (môto, "like") and then by আরও ("more") or কম (kôm, "less"). The word for "more" is optional, but the word for "less" is required, so in its absence "more" is inferred. Adjectives can be additionally modified by using অনেক (ônek, "much") or অনেক বেশি (ônek beshi, "much more"), which are especially useful for comparing quantities.

Bengali Literal Translation Meaning
সুভাষ রাহিমের চেয়ে লম্বা Subhash of Rahim than tall Subhash is taller than Rahim
সুভাষ রাহিমের চেয়ে আরও লম্বা Subhash of Rahim than more tall Subhash is taller than Rahim
সুভাষ রাহিমের চেয়ে কম লম্বা Subhash of Rahim than less tall Subhash is shorter than Rahim
সুভাষ রাহিমের মতো লম্বা Subhash of Rahim like tall Subhash is as tall as Rahim
সুভাষ রাহিমের চেয়ে অনেক লম্বা Subhash of Rahim than much tall Subhash is much taller than Rahim


Bengali verbs are highly inflected and are regular with only few exceptions. They consist of a stem and an ending; they are traditionally listed in Bengali dictionaries in their "verbal noun" form, which is usually formed by adding -a to the stem: for instance, করা (kôra, to do) is formed from the stem কর. The stem can end in either a vowel or a consonant. Verbs are conjugated for tense and person by changing the endings, which are largely the same for all verbs. However, the stem vowel can often change as part of the phenomenon known as "vowel harmony", whereby one vowel can be influenced by other vowels in the word to sound more harmonious. An example would be the verb "to write", with stem lekh-: লেখো (lekho, you all write) but also লিখি (likhi, we write). In general, the following transformations take place: ôo, ou, æe, ei, and ae (the latter only in the perfect tenses), where the verbal noun features the first vowel but certain conjugations use the second. In addition, the verbs দেওয়া (dêoa , to give) and নেওয়া (nêoa, to take) switch between e, i, a, and æ. If verbs are classified by stem vowel and if the stem ends in a consonant or vowel, there are nine basic classes in which most verbs can be placed; all verbs in a class will follow the same pattern. A prototype verb from each of these classes will be used to demonstrate conjugation for that class; bold will be used to indicate mutation of the stem vowel. Additionally, there are irregular verbs, such as যাওয়া (jaoa, to go) that change the first consonant in their stem in certain conjugations, or such as চাওয়া (chaoa, to want) that add an extra ই -i- to the stem in the future, present progressive, simple past, and past habitual.

Like many other Indo-Aryan languages (such as Hindi or Marathi), nouns can be turned into verbs by combining them with select auxiliary verbs. In Bengali, the most common such auxiliary verb is করা (kôra, to do); thus, verbs such as joke are formed by combining the noun form of joke (রসিকতা) with to do (করা) to create রসিকতা করা. When conjugating such verbs the noun part of such a verb is left untouched, so in the previous example, only করা would be inflected or conjugated (e.g.: "I will make a joke" becomes আমি রসিকতা করব; see more on tenses below). Other auxiliary verbs include দেওয়া and নেওয়া, but the verb করা enjoys significant usage because it can be combined with foreign verbs to form a native version of the verb, even if a direct translation exists. Most often this is done with English verbs: for example, "to vote" is often referred to as ভোট দেওয়া (bhot dæoa, where bhot is the transliteration of "vote").


Bengali is considered a zero copula language in some aspects.

  • In the simple present tense, there is no verb connecting the subject to the predicative (the "zero-verb" copula). There is one notable exception, however, which is when the predicative takes on the existential, locative, or possessive aspects; for such purposes, the incomplete verb আছ- (ach) is used, which is conjugated according to the rules given below. Whereas the verb হওয়া (howa) means "to be", the verb আছ- can be roughly translated as "to exist" or "to be present".
  • In the past tense, the incomplete verb আছ- is always used as the copula, regardless of the nature of the predicative.
  • For the future tense and non-finite structures, the copula is supplied by the verb হওয়া (howa), with the exceptions being the possessive and locative predicatives for which the verb থাকা (thaka, "to remain") is utilized.
  • Possession: Bengali does not have a verb for possession (i.e. "to have", "to own"). Instead of the sentence "You have a book", possession in Bengali is expressed by the verb আছ- (for present and past tenses) and the verb থাকা (for future tense) inflected with the possessed object ("book") and a possessive (genitive) case for the possessor (i.e. তুমি → তোমার, you → your). For example: তোমার একটা বই আছে ("You have a book"; Literally: "Your one book exists").

The following table demonstrates the rules above with some examples.

English Bengali Notes
Simple Assertive
I am happy আমি সুখী Simple present: No verb used to denote the copula
I was happy আমি সুখী ছিলাম Simple Past: আছ- is used as the copula (with past inflection)
I will be happy আমি সুখী হব Simple future: হওয়া is used as the copula
Locative aspect
I am at home আমি বাড়িতে আছি Present: আছ- is used to connect to a locative predicative
I was at home আমি বাড়িতে ছিলাম Past: আছ- is used
I will be at home আমি বাড়িতে থাকব Future: থাকা is used
Possessive aspect
I have a book আমার একটা বই আছে Present: আছ- is used to connect to a possessive predicative
I had a book আমার একটা বই ছিল Past: আছ- is used
I will have a book আমার একটা বই থাকবে Future: থাকা is used
Existential aspect
There is time সময় আছে Present: আছ- is used to connect to an existential predicative
There was time সময় ছিল Past: আছ- is used
There will be time সময় থাকবে Future: থাকা is used


There are four sentence negators employed in Bengali:

  • The zero verb copula is negated using the incomplete negator ন-, which is conjugated as নই (1), নও (2F), নন (2P), নয় (3).
  • Existential sentences that use the verb আছ- are negated with নেই (nei), which does not need to be conjugated.
  • All other verbs (with the exceptions of the ones listed above) are negated using the universal negative particle না (na), which can also refer to "no" in yes-no questions. না is typically placed after the finite verb (see examples below), but can also be placed at the end of the sentence, which negates the whole sentence. না can be used in all tenses except two: the present perfect and the past perfect.
  • Verbs in the present perfect and the past perfect tenses are negated using the suffix -নি (ni) attached to the simple present verb form; this naturally means that in negative sentences the distinction between the two tenses is lost, since they both use the same verb form.
Negating verbs
English Bengali Notes
I am not happy আমি সুখী নই Incomplete negator ন- conjugated for first-person
We don't have a car আমাদের গাড়ি নেই নেই used to negate আছ-, which is completely replaced
I don't work আমি কাজ করি না না is used to negate all other finite verbs
I didn't help him আমি তাকে সাহায্য করিনি The suffix -নি is attached to the simple present form of করা to negate the past perfect form


Verbs are inflected for person and honour, but not for number. There are five forms: first person, second person (very familiar), second person (familiar), third person (familiar), and second/third person (polite). The same sample subject pronouns will be used for all the example conjugation paradigms: ami (Bengali: আমি), tui (তুই), tumi (তুমি), she (সে) and apni (আপনি). These have the following plurals respectively: amra (আমরা), tora (তোরা), tomra (তোমরা), tara (তারা) and apnara (আপনারা).


There are two moods for Bengali verbs: the indicative and the imperative. The indicative mood is used for statements of fact; its various tenses are given below.

The imperative mood is used to give commands. Just as in other Indo-Aryan languages, the imperative form of a verb differs on the basis of honorifics. The three sets of second-person pronouns – তুই/তোরা (2 (VF)), তুমি/তোমরা (2 (F)), আপনি/আপনারা (2/3 (P)) – combined with slight modifications to the stem of any verb form the imperatives for that verb; these are described in the table below. Bengali also has a 3rd person imperative, using the pronouns সে/তারা (3 (F)). Note that the plural command forms change the pronoun but not the verb ending. The 2nd person familiar and very familiar don't take stem transformations, while the others do.

Imperative mood
Verb 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla tui bôl tumi bôlo she boluk apni bolun
বলা তুই বল্ তুমি বলো সে বলুক আপনি বলুন
khola tui khol tumi kholo she khuluk apni khulun
খোলা তুই খোল্ তুমি খোলো সে খুলুক আপনি খুলুন
khêla tui khêl tumi khêlo she kheluk apni khelun
খেলা তুই খেল্ তুমি খেল সে খেলুক আপনি খেলুন
chena tui chen tumi cheno she chinuk apni chinun
চেনা তুই চেন্ তুমি চেন সে চিনুক আপনি চিনুন
jana tui jan tumi jano she januk apni janun
জানা তুই জান্ তুমি জান সে জানুক আপনি জানুন
hôoa tui hô tumi hôo she hok apni hon
হওয়া তুই হ তুমি হও সে হোক আপনি হোন
dhoa tui dho tumi dhoo she dhuk apni dhun
ধোয়া তুই ধো তুমি ধোও সে ধুক আপনি ধুন
khaoa tui kha tumi khao she khak apni khan
খাওয়া তুই খা তুমি খাও সে খাক আপনি খান
deoa tui de tumi dao she dik apni din
দেওয়া তুই দে তুমি দাও সে দিক আপনি দিন

Bangla also has a future imperative. In the second person familiar, this is formed by changing the vowel in the present imperative. In the second person very familiar, it's the same as the simple present form for that person. For the rest of the persons, the future imperative is the same as the future.

Non-finite forms[edit]

  • আঁকা ãka – verbal noun ("act of drawing")
  • আঁকতে ãkte – verbal infinitive ("to draw")
  • আঁকতে-আঁকতে ãkte-ãkte – progressive participle ("while drawing")
  • আঁকলে ãkle – conditional participle ("if X draws/ drew/ had drawn")
  • এঁকে ẽke – perfect participle ("having drawn")
  • এঁকে-এঁকে ẽke-ẽke – iterative participle ("having drawn many times")

For non-causative verbs (see more on causative verbs below), the verbal infinitive and perfect participle forms require stem transformations according to the principles of vowel harmony. Causative verbs only require stem transformations for forming their perfect participles.

The verbal noun can act like a regular noun, and can therefore take case-endings and classifier particles; additionally it can also function as an adjective. Both the verbal noun and the verbal infinitive are often used in constructions where the infinitive is needed.

The perfect participle can be combined with some verbs to denote a slight change in meaning for the first verb (as opposed to two verbs.) For example, (এটা) করে দাও (kore dao, 'do it (for us)'), করে নাও (kore nao, 'do it (for yourself)'), করে ফেল (kore phêlo, 'do it (with an emphasis on getting it done)'), etc. Many of these are similar to the light verbs used in other Indo-Aryan languages, though formed slightly differently.

Impersonal structures[edit]

Many common sentence constructions, such as those involving obligation, need, and possibility ("I have to", "We must", "He is supposed to", etc.) are built in Bengali without using nominative subjects; instead, the subject is omitted, or often put into the genitive case. These are typically constructed using the verbal noun (or the verbal infinitive in some cases) along with other nouns or verbs.

  • Obligation is expressed using the verbal infinitive and a third-person form of হওয়া (in any tense, but present tense also uses the future tense conjugation), with the subject in the objective case. For example: আমাকে খেতে হবে ("I have to eat"; হবে is the future tense conjugation for হওয়া).
  • Need is expressed by using the verbal noun with the noun দরকার (dôrkar, need), and the subject in the genitive. For example: আমার কথা বলা দরকার ("I need to talk").
  • Constructions involving "should", "ought to", or "must" are constructed with the verbal noun and the adjective উচিত (uchit, appropriate), and the subject in the genitive. For example: আমাদের যাওয়া উচিত ("We ought to go").


Any active verb can be turned into a passive one by attaching the auxiliary হওয়া to the verbal noun aspect of the verb in question. Only this suffix is conjugated, using the third-person endings for the various tenses. For example: "to eat" is খাওয়া, so "to be eaten" becomes খাওয়া হওয়া; in the future tense, "will be eaten" would be খাওয়া হবে, where হবে is the third-person conjugation for হওয়া in the future tense (more information on tenses below).


Most verbs (not all verbs have causative forms) can be made causative by adding the suffix -ন/নো to it. For example: "to do" is করা, which takes the -নো suffix to become করানো, or "to cause to do". The stem of such a causative verb – to be used when conjugating it – is thus the verbal noun form of the base verb (করা in the case of করানো). For the most part, such stems do not undergo any vowel transformations when conjugating for tenses. However, in the perfective participle (and thus, the perfect tenses), the -a at the end of the base gets removed, the -iye suffix is added, and the stem vowel changes, while the second person familiar future imperative is the same but with an -iyo and not an -iye.


Bengali has four simple tenses: the present tense, the past tense, the conditional or habitual past tense, and the future tense. These combine with mood and aspect to form more complex conjugations: the perfect tenses, for example, are formed by combining the perfect participles with the corresponding tense endings.


There are three aspects for Bengali verbs: simple aspect, the progressive/continuous aspect, and the perfect. The progressive aspect is denoted by adding prefix the regular tense endings with ছ (for stems ending with consonants) or চ্ছ (for stems ending with vowels), while the perfect aspect requires the use of the perfect participle. These are combined with the different tenses described below to form the various verbal conjugations possible.

Simple present tense[edit]

The present tense in Bengali is similar to that of English: I eat, you run, he reads. The endings are -i, -(i)sh, -o, -e, and -(e)n, and only the 1st-person and the VF forms require stem transformations for vowel harmony.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami boli tui bolish tumi bôlo she bôle apni bôlen
বলা আমি বলি তুই বলিস তুমি বল সে বলে আপনি বলেন
khola ami khuli tui khulish tumi kholo she khole apni kholen
খোলা আমি খুলি তুই খুলিস তুমি খোল সে খোলে আপনি খোলেন
khêla ami kheli tui khelish tumi khêlo she khêle apni khêlen
খেলা আমি খেলি তুই খেলিস তুমি খেল সে খেলে আপনি খেলেন
chena ami chini tui chinish tumi cheno she chene apni chenen
চেনা আমি চিনি তুই চিনিস তুমি চেন সে চেনে আপনি চেনেন
jana ami jani tui janish tumi jano she jane apni janen
জানা আমি জানি তুই জানিস তুমি জান সে জানে আপনি জানেন
hôoa ami hoi tui hosh tumi hôo she hôe apni hôn
হওয়া আমি হই তুই হোস তুমি হও সে হয় আপনি হন
dhoa ami dhui tui dhush tumi dhoo she dhoe apni dhon
ধোয়া আমি ধুই তুই ধুস তুমি ধোও সে ধোয় আপনি ধোন
khaoa ami khai tui khash tumi khao she khae apni khan
খাওয়া আমি খাই তুই খাস তুমি খাও সে খায় আপনি খান
deoa ami dii tui dish tumi dao she dêe apni dên
দেওয়া আমি দিই তুই দিস তুমি দাও সে দেয় আপনি দেন

Present progressive tense[edit]

The present progressive tense in also similar to that of English: I am eating, you are running, he is reading, etc. This tense is formed by combining the progressive aspect suffix (ছ/চ্ছ) with the present tense endings; we thus get -chhi, -chhish, -chho, -chhe and -chhen, and all forms require stem transformations for vowel harmony.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bolchhi tui bolchish tumi bolchho she bolchhe apni bolchhen
বলা আমি বলছি তুই বলছিস তুমি বলছ সে বলছে আপনি বলছেন
khola ami khulchhi tui khulchhish tumi khulchho she khulchhe apni khulchhen
খোলা আমি খুলছি তুই খুলছিস তুমি খুলছ সে খুলছে আপনি খুলছেন
khêla ami khelchhi tui khelchhish tumi khelchho she khelchhe apni khelchhen
খেলা আমি খেলছি তুই খেলছিস তুমি খেলছ সে খেলছে আপনি খেলছেন
chena ami chinchhi tui chinchhish tumi chinchho she chinchhe apni chinchhen
চেনা আমি চিনছি তুই চিনছিস তুমি চিনছ সে চিনছে আপনি চিনছেন
jana ami janchhi tui janchhish tumi janchho she janchhe apni janchhen
জানা আমি জানছি তুই জানছিস তুমি জানছ সে জানছে আপনি জানছেন
hôoa ami hochhi tui hochhish tumi hochho she hochhe apni hochhen
হওয়া আমি হচ্ছি তুই হচ্ছিস তুমি হচ্ছ সে হচ্ছে আপনি হচ্ছেন
dhoa ami dhuchhi tui dhuchhish tumi dhuchho she dhuchhe apni dhuchhen
ধোয়া আমি ধুচ্ছি তুই ধুচ্ছিস তুমি ধুচ্ছ সে ধুচ্ছে আপনি ধুচ্ছেন
khaoa ami khachhi tui khachhish tumi khachho she khachhe apni khachhen
খাওয়া আমি খাচ্ছি তুই খাচ্ছিস তুমি খাচ্ছ সে খাচ্ছে আপনি খাচ্ছেন
deoa ami dichhi tui dichhish tumi dichho she dichhe apni dichhen
দেওয়া আমি দিচ্ছি তুই দিচ্ছিস তুমি দিচ্ছ সে দিচ্ছে আপনি দিচ্ছেন

Present perfect tense[edit]

The present perfect tense is used to relate events that happened fairly recently, or even past events whose effects are still felt in the present. It is formed by adding the present progressive tense suffixes (see above) with the perfect participle of the verb.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bolechhi tui bolechhish tumi bolechho she bolechhe apni bolechhen
বলা আমি বলেছি তুই বলেছিস তুমি বলেছ সে বলেছে আপনি বলেছেন
khola ami khulechhi tui khulechhish tumi khulechho she khulechhe apni khulechhen
খোলা আমি খুলেছি তুই খুলেছিস তুমি খুলেছ সে খুলেছে আপনি খুলেছেন
khêla ami khelechhi tui khelechhish tumi khelechho she khelechhe apni khelechhen
খেলা আমি খেলেছি তুই খেলেছিস তুমি খেলেছ সে খেলেছে আপনি খেলেছেন
chena ami chinechhi tui chinechhish tumi chinechho she chinechhe apni chinechhen
চেনা আমি চিনেছি তুই চিনেছিস তুমি চিনেছ সে চিনেছে আপনি চিনেছেন
jana ami jenechhi tui jenechhish tumi jenechho she jenechhe apni jenechhen
জানা আমি জেনেছি তুই জেনেছিস তুমি জেনেছ সে জেনেছে আপনি জেনেছেন
hôoa ami hoyechhi tui hoyechhish tumi hoyechho she hoyechhe apni hoyechhen
হওয়া আমি হয়েছি তুই হয়েছিস তুমি হয়েছ সে হয়েছে আপনি হয়েছেন
dhoa ami dhuyechhi tui dhuyechhish tumi dhuyechho she dhuyechhe apni dhuyechhen
ধোয়া আমি ধুয়েছি তুই ধুয়েছিস তুমি ধুয়েছ সে ধুয়েছে আপনি ধুয়েছেন
khaoa ami kheyechhi tui kheyechhish tumi kheyechho she kheyechhe apni kheyechhen
খাওয়া আমি খেয়েছি তুই খেয়েছিস তুমি খেয়েছ সে খেয়েছে আপনি খেয়েছেন
deoa ami diyechhi tui diyechhish tumi diyechho she diyechhe apni diyechhen
দেওয়া আমি দিয়েছি তুই দিয়েছিস তুমি দিয়েছ সে দিয়েছে আপনি দিয়েছেন

Simple past tense[edit]

The (simple) past tense differs from its use in English in that it is usually reserved for events that have occurred recently; for instance, less than a day ago. It would be translated into the English simple past tense: I ate, you ran, he read. The endings are -lam, -li, -le, -lo, -len (notice that the vowels for the second and third [familiar] persons are the reverse of those in the present tense), and all forms require stem transformations for vowel harmony. For example: ami dekhlam, tui dekhli, tumi dekhle, se dekhlo, apni dekhlen. In non-rarhi varieties of Bengali, that is to say northern and eastern dialects, "a" is substituted for "e" in second-person familiar forms; thus tumi bolla, khulla, khella etc. which is the original inflection, the “e” in contrast is a vowel-harmonised variant of the former, having gone through a process called abhisruti.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bollam tui bolli tumi bolle she bollo apni bollen
বলা আমি বললাম তুই বললি তুমি বললে সে বলল আপনি বললেন
khola ami khullam tui khulli tumi khulle she khullo apni khullen
খোলা আমি খুললাম তুই খুললি তুমি খুললে সে খুলল আপনি খুললেন
khêla ami khellam tui khelli tumi khelle she khello apni khellen
খেলে আমি খেললাম তুই খেললি তুমি খেললে সে খেলল আপনি খেললেন
chena ami chinlam tui chinli tumi chinle she chinlo apni chinlen
চেনা আমি চিনলাম তুই চিনলি তুমি চিনলে সে চিনল আপনি চিনলেন
jana ami janlam tui janli tumi janle she janlo apni janlen
জানা আমি জানলাম তুই জানলি তুমি জানলে সে জানল আপনি জানলেন
hôoa ami holam tui holi tumi hole she holo apni holen
হওয়া আমি হলাম তুই হলি তুমি হলে সে হল আপনি হলেন
dhooa ami dhulam tui dhuli tumi dhule she dhulo apni dhulen
ধোওয়া আমি ধুলাম তুই ধুলি তুমি ধুলে সে ধুল আপনি ধুলেন
khaoa ami khelam tui kheli tumi khele she khelo apni khelen
খাওয়া আমি খেলাম তুই খেলি তুমি খেলে সে খেল আপনি খেলেন
dêoa ami dilam tui dili tumi dile she dilo apni dilen
দেওয়া আমি দিলাম তুই দিলি তুমি দিলে সে দিল আপনি দিলেন

Past progressive tense[edit]

The past progressive tense is similar to that of English: I was eating, you were running, he was reading, etc. This tense is formed by combining the progressive aspect suffix (ছ/চ্ছ) with the past tense endings, but with an extra -i- inserted in between; we thus get -chhilam, -chhili, -chhile, -chhilo and -chhilen, and all forms require stem transformations for vowel harmony.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bolchhilam tui bolchili tumi bolchhile she bolchhilo apni bolchhilen
বলা আমি বলছিলাম তুই বলছিলি তুমি বলছিলে সে বলছিল আপনি বলছিলেন
khola ami khulchhilam tui khulchhili tumi khulchhile she khulchhilo apni khulchhilen
খোলা আমি খুলছিলাম তুই খুলছিলি তুমি খুলছিলে সে খুলছিল আপনি খুলছিলেন
khêla ami khelchhilam tui khelchhili tumi khelchhile she khelchhilo apni khelchhilen
খেলা আমি খেলছিলাম তুই খেলছিলি তুমি খেলছিলে সে খেলছিল আপনি খেলছিলেন
chena ami chinchhilam tui chinchhili tumi chinchhilo she chinchhile apni chinchhilen
চেনা আমি চিনছিলাম তুই চিনছিলি তুমি চিনছিলে সে চিনছিল আপনি চিনছিলেন
jana ami janchhilam tui janchhili tumi janchhile she janchhilo apni janchhilen
জানা আমি জানছিলাম তুই জানছিলি তুমি জানছিলে সে জানছিল আপনি জানছিলেন
hôoa ami hochhilam tui hochhili tumi hochhile she hochhilo apni hochhilen
হওয়া আমি হচ্ছিলাম তুই হচ্ছিলি তুমি হচ্ছিলে সে হচ্ছিল আপনি হচ্ছিলেন
dhoa ami dhuchhilam tui dhuchhili tumi dhuchhile she dhuchhilo apni dhuchhilen
ধোয়া আমি ধুচ্ছিলাম তুই ধুচ্ছিলি তুমি ধুচ্ছিলে সে ধুচ্ছিল আপনি ধুচ্ছিলেন
khaoa ami khachhilam tui khachhili tumi khachhile she khachhilo apni khachhilen
খাওয়া আমি খাচ্ছিলাম তুই খাচ্ছিলি তুমি খাচ্ছিলে সে খাচ্ছিল আপনি খাচ্ছিলেন
deoa ami dichhilam tui dichhili tumi dichhile she dichhilo apni dichhilen
দেওয়া আমি দিচ্ছিলাম তুই দিচ্ছিলি তুমি দিচ্ছিলে সে দিচ্ছিল আপনি দিচ্ছিলেন

Past perfect tense[edit]

The past perfect tense differs from its usage in English. It's usually used for events that didn't happen recently; over a day ago, for instance, unlike Bangla's simple past (see above). It would usually be translated with English's simple past: I ate, you ran, he read, etc. but it can also be translated with English's past perfect tense: I had eaten, you had run, he had read, etc. It's formed by adding the past progressive tense suffixes (see above) to the perfect participle of the verb.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bolechhilam tui bolechhili tumi bolechhile she bolechhilo apni bolechhilen
বলা আমি বলেছিলাম তুই বলেছিলি তুমি বলেছিলে সে বলেছিল আপনি বলেছিলেন
khola ami khulechhilam tui khulechhili tumi khulechhile she khulechhilo apni khulechhilen
খোলা আমি খুলেছিলাম তুই খুলেছিলি তুমি খুলেছিলে সে খুলেছিল আপনি খুলেছিলেন
khêla ami khelechhilam tui khelechhili tumi khelechhile she khelechhilo apni khelechhilen
খেলা আমি খেলেছিলাম তুই খেলেছিলি তুমি খেলেছিলে সে খেলেছিল আপনি খেলেছিলেন
chena ami chinechhilam tui chinechhili tumi chinechhile she chinechhilo apni chinechhilen
চেনা আমি চিনেছিলাম তুই চিনেছিলি তুমি চিনেছিলে সে চিনেছিল আপনি চিনেছিলেন
jana ami jenechhilam tui jenechhili tumi jenechhile she jenechhilo apni jenechhen
জানা আমি জেনেছিলাম তুই জেনেছিলি তুমি জেনেছিলে সে জেনেছিল আপনি জেনেছিলেন
hôoa ami hoyechhilam tui hoyechhili tumi hoyechhile she hoyechhilo apni hoyechhilen
হওয়া আমি হয়েছিলাম তুই হয়েছিলি তুমি হয়েছিলে সে হয়েছিল আপনি হয়েছিলেন
dhoa ami dhuyechhilam tui dhuyechhili tumi dhuyechhile she dhuyechhilo apni dhuyechhilen
ধোয়া আমি ধুয়েছিলাম তুই ধুয়েছিলি তুমি ধুয়েছিলে সে ধুয়েছিল আপনি ধুয়েছিলেন
khaoa ami kheyechhilam tui kheyechhili tumi kheyechhile she kheyechhilo apni kheyechhilen
খাওয়া আমি খেয়েছিলাম তুই খেয়েছিলি তুমি খেয়েছিলে সে খেয়েছিল আপনি খেয়েছিলেন
deoa ami diyechhilam tui diyechhili tumi diyechhile she diyechhilo apni diyechhilen
দেওয়া আমি দিয়েছিলাম তুই দিয়েছিলি তুমি দিয়েছিলে সে দিয়েছিল আপনি দিয়েছিলেন

Habitual past tense[edit]

The habitual past tense has a few different uses. It is used for events that happened regularly, such as "I used to eat out every day" or "He wrote poems when he was young", the equivalent of an imperfect. It may also be used as a sort of conditional, such as the following: "If you asked I would come" or "If you had asked I would have come" (তুমি যদি বলতে আমি আসতাম tumi jodi bolte ami ashtam). It is easy to form the habitual past tense: simply start with the simple past tense and change the l to t (except in the tui [2 VF] form). The endings are -tam, -tish, -te, -to, -ten, and all forms require stem transformations for vowel harmony. For example: ami dekhtam, tui dekhtish, tumi dekhte, she dekhto, apni dekhten. In less standard varieties of Bengali, "a" is substituted for "e" in second-person familiar forms; thus tumi bolta, khulta, khelta etc.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami boltam tui boltish tumi bolte she bolto apni bolten
বলা আমি বলতাম তুই বলতিস তুমি বলতে সে বলত আপনি বলতেন
khola ami khultam tui khultish tumi khulte she khulto apni khulten
খোলা আমি খুলতাম তুই খুলতিস তুমি খুলতে সে খুলত আপনি খুলতেন
khêla ami kheltam tui kheltish tumi khelte she khelto apni khelten
খেলে আমি খেলতাম তুই খেলতিস তুমি খেলতে সে খেলত আপনি খেলতেন
chena ami chintam tui chintish tumi chinte she chinto apni chinten
চেনা আমি চিনতাম তুই চিনতিস তুমি চিনতে সে চিনত আপনি চিনতেন
jana ami jantam tui jantish tumi jante she janto apni janten
জানা আমি জানতাম তুই জানতিস তুমি জানতে সে জানত আপনি জানতেন
hôoa ami hotam tui hotish tumi hote she hoto apni hoten
হওয়া আমি হতাম তুই হতিস তুমি হতে সে হত আপনি হতেন
dhooa ami dhutam tui dhutish tumi dhute she dhuto apni dhuten
ধোওয়া আমি ধুতাম তুই ধুতিস তুমি ধুতে সে ধুত আপনি ধুতেন
khaoa ami khetam tui kheltish tumi khete she kheto apni kheten
খাওয়া আমি খেতাম তুই খেতিস তুমি খেতে সে খেত আপনি খেতেন
dêoa ami ditam tui ditish tumi dite she dito apni diten
দেওয়া আমি দিতাম তুই দিতিস তুমি দিতে সে দিত আপনি দিতেন

Future tense[edit]

In less standard varieties of Bengali, "a" is substituted for "e" in second-person familiar forms; thus tumi bolba, khulba, khelba etc. The endings are -bo, -bi, -be, -be, -ben; the তুমি and সে conjugations are identical in this tense. Forms ending in a consonant do require stem transformations for vowel harmony, but ones ending in a vowel don't.

Verb 1 2 (VF) 2 (F) 3 (F) 2/3 (P)
bôla ami bolbo tui bolbi tumi bolbe she bolbe apni bolben
বলা আমি বলব তুই বলবি তুমি বলবে সে বলবে আপনি বলবেন
khola ami khulbo tui khulbi tumi khulbe she khulbe apni khulben
খোলা আমি খুলব তুই খুলবি তুমি খুলবে সে খুলবে আপনি খুলবেন
khêla ami khelbo tui khelbi tumi khelbe she khelbe apni khelben
খেলে আমি খেলব তুই খেলবি তুমি খেলবে সে খেলবে আপনি খেলবেন
chena ami chinbo tui chinbi tumi chinbe she chinbe apni chinben
চেনা আমি চিনব তুই চিনবি তুমি চিনবে সে চিনবে আপনি চিনবেন
jana ami janbo tui janbi tumi janbe she janbe apni janben
জানা আমি জানব তুই জানবি তুমি জানবে সে জানবে আপনি জানবেন
hôoa ami hôbo tui hôbi tumi hôbe she hôbe apni hôben
হওয়া আমি হব তুই হবি তুমি হবে সে হবে আপনি হবেন
dhooa ami dhobo tui dhobi tumi dhobe she dhobe apni dhoben
ধোওয়া আমি ধোব তুই ধোবি তুমি ধোবে সে ধোবে আপনি ধোবেন
khaoa ami khabo tui khabi tumi khabe she khabe apni khaben
খাওয়া আমি খাব তুই খাবি তুমি খাবে সে খাবে আপনি খাবেন
dêoa ami debo tui debi tumi debe she debe apni deben
দেওয়া আমি দেব তুই দেবি তুমি দেবে সে দেবে আপনি দেবেন

Prepositions and postpositions[edit]

Whereas English features prepositions, Bengali typically uses postpositions. That is, while these modifying words occur before their object in English (beside him, inside the house), they typically occur after their object in Bengali (or pashe, baŗir bhitore). Some postpositions require their object noun to take the possessive case, while others require the objective case (which is unmarked for inanimate nouns); this distinction must be memorised. Most postpositions are formed by taking nouns referring to a location and inflecting them for the locative case. They can also be applied to verbal nouns.

Postpositions that require genitive (possessive) case[edit]

  • আগে aage 'before': সকালের আগে shôkal-er age 'before the morning'
  • পরে pôre 'after': সন্ধ্যার পরে shondha-r pôre 'after the evening'
  • উপরে upore 'on top of', 'above': বিছানার উপরে bichhana-r upore 'on top of the bed'
  • নিচে niche 'below', 'under': বইয়ের নিচে boi-er niche 'under the book'
  • পিছনে pichhone 'behind': আলমারির পিছনে almari-r pichhone 'behind the cupboard'
  • সামনে shamne 'in front of': গাড়ির সামনে gaŗi-r shamne 'in front of the car'
  • ওই পারে oi pare 'across': নদীর ওই পারে nodi-r oi pare 'across the river'
  • কাছে kachhe 'near': জানালার কাছে janala-r kachhe 'near the window'
  • পাশে pashe 'beside': চুলার পাশে chula-r pashe 'beside the stove'
  • জন্য jonno 'for': শিক্ষকের জন্য shikkhôk-er jonno 'for the teacher'
  • কাছ থেকে kachh theke 'from' (people): বাবার কাছ থেকে baba-r kachh theke 'from father'
  • দিকে dike 'towards': বাসার দিকে basha-r dike 'towards the house'
  • বাইরে baire 'outside': দেশের বাইরে desh-er baire 'outside the country'
  • ভিতরে bhitore 'inside': দোকানের ভিতরে dokan-er bhitore 'inside the store'
  • মধ্যে moddhe 'in the middle of': সমুদ্রের মধ্যে shomudr-er moddhe 'in the middle of the ocean'
  • ভিতর দিয়ে bhitor die 'through': শহরের ভিতর দিয়ে shôhorer bhitor die 'through the city'
  • মতো môto 'like': তোমার মতো tom-ar môto 'like you'
  • সঙ্গে shôngge 'with': আমার সঙ্গে am-ar shôngge 'with me'
  • কথা kôtha 'about': সেটার কথা sheţa-r kôtha 'about that'
  • সম্মন্ধে shômmondhe 'about': ইতিহাসের সম্মন্ধে itihash-er shômmondhe 'about history'
  • সাথে shathe 'with'(animate): মায়ের সাথে' ma-er 'shathe 'with Mother'

Postpositions that require accusative (objective) case[edit]

  • করে kore 'by means of': ট্যাক্সিকরে' ţêksi kore 'by taxi'
  • ছাড়া chhaŗa 'without', 'aside from': আমাকে ছাড়া ama-ke chhaŗa 'aside from me'
  • থেকে theke 'from' (places): বাংলাদেশ থেকে Bangladesh theke 'from Bangladesh'
  • দিয়ে diye 'by': তাকে দিয়ে ta-ke diye 'by him'
  • নিয়ে niye 'about' (animate), 'with' (animate): তোমাকে নিয়ে toma-ke niye 'about/with you'
  • পর্যন্ত porjonto 'until': দশটা পর্যন্ত dôshţa porjonto 'until ten o' clock'
  • সহ shôho 'with', 'including': টাকা সহ ţaka shôho 'along with the money'
  • হয়ে hoe 'via': কলকাতা হয়ে Kolkata hoe 'via Kolkata'

Postpositions that require nominative case[edit]

  • ধরে dhore 'for' (time): দুদিন ধরে dudin dhore 'for two days'
  • নিয়ে niye 'about' (inanimate), 'with' (inanimate): 'তা নিয়ে' ta niye 'about/with it'

Prepositions that require locative case[edit]

  • বিনা bina 'without': বিনা অনুমতিতে bina onumoti-te 'without permission'


  • Chatterji, Suniti Kumar. Bengali Self-Taught. Calcutta: Rupa & Co., 1991.
  • Radice, William. Teach Yourself Bengali. Chicago: NTC Publishing Group, 1994.
  • Bonazzi, Eros. Grammatica Bengali. Bologna (Italy): Libreria Bonomo Editrice, 2008. ISBN 978-88-6071-017-8

Further reading[edit]

  • Thompson, Hanne-Ruth (2012). Bengali. Volume 18 of London Oriental and African Language Library. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 9027273138.

MW:measure word