Marathi grammar

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The grammar of the Marathi language shares similarities with other modern Indo-Aryan languages such as Odia, Gujarati or Punjabi. The first modern book exclusively on Marathi Grammar was printed in 1805 by Willam Carey.[1][2]

The principal word order in Marathi is SOV (subject–object–verb).[3] Nouns inflect for gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), number (singular, plural), and case. Marathi preserves the neuter gender found in Sanskrit, a feature further distinguishing it from many Indo-Aryan languages. Typically, Marathi adjectives do not inflect unless they end in long a, in which case they inflect for gender and number. Marathi verbs inflect for tense (past, present, future). Verbs can agree with their subjects, yielding an active voice construction, or with their objects, yielding a passive voice construction. A third type of voice, not found in English for example, is produced when the verb agrees with neither subject nor object. Affixation is largely suffixal in the language and postpositions are attested.[4] An unusual feature of Marathi, as compared to other Indo-European languages, is that it displays the inclusive and exclusive we feature, that is common to the Dravidian languages, Rajasthani, and Gujarati.

The contemporary grammatical rules described by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and endorsed by the Government of Maharashtra are supposed to take precedence in standard written Marathi. These rules are described in Marathi Grammar, written by M.R Walimbe. The book is widely referred to students in schools and colleges.

Sanskrit influence[edit]

Traditions of Marathi Linguistics and above mentioned rules give special status to ‘tatsama’ (तत्सम) words borrowed from the Sanskrit language. This special status expects the rules for ‘tatsama’ words be followed as of Sanskrit grammar.

Parts of speech[edit]

Marathi words can be classified in any of the following parts of speech:

English Sanskrit
Noun nāma (नाम)
Pronoun sarvanāma (सर्वनाम)
Adjective vishheshana (विषेशण)
Verb kriyāpada (क्रियापद)
Adverb kriyāvishheshana (क्रियाविषेशण)
Conjunction ubhayanvayī avyaya (उभयान्वयी अव्यय)
Preposition shabdayogī avyaya (शब्दयोगी अव्यय)
Interjection kevalaprayogī avyaya (केवलप्रयोगी अव्यय)


Nouns are primarily divided into three categories - proper nouns (विशेषनाम, visheshnāma), common nouns (सामान्यनाम, samānyanāma), and abstract nouns (भाववाचकनाम, bhāvvāchaknāma) - that are identical in definition to their counterparts in other languages (such as English), and are inflected for gender, number and case. They are also often categorized based on their ending vowel, which is especially useful in studying their inflection - those ending in the schwa (or inherent vowel) a (अ) are termed akārānt (अकारान्त), those ending in the vowel ā (आ) are termed ākārānt (आकारान्त), those ending in the vowel ī (ई) are termed īkārānt (ईकारान्त), and so on.


There are three genders in Marathi: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Some other, modern Indo-European languages have lost these genders, completely or in part, with either neuter and common gender (merging masculine and feminine), as in some Northern Germanic languages, or feminine and masculine (absorbing neuter), as in almost all Romance languages.

While there exists no concrete rules for determining the gender of a given noun, certain observations do help speakers in that regard: masculine nouns can only be akārānt or ākārānt, while neuter nouns can only be akārānt, īkārānt, ukārānt (उकारान्त, ending in u), or ekārānt (एकारान्त, ending in e).

The grammatical gender of common nouns referring to animated objects corresponds to their natural sex - for example, mulgā (मुलगा, 'boy') is a masculine noun, whereas mulgī (मुलगी, 'girl') is a feminine one. Given the masculine forms of such nouns, the feminine noun can often be determined using a set of rules:

  • Some ākārānt nouns have corresponding feminine forms as īkārānt with the same root - mulgā/mulgī (boy/girl), kutrā/kutrī (dog/bitch), ghoḍā/ghoḍī (horse/mare).
  • Some akārānt nouns also have their corresponding feminine forms as īkārānt with the same root - hansa/hansī (male and female swans), vānar/vānrī (male and female monkeys).
  • Some nouns use the suffix -īṇ (ईण) to form their feminine forms - vāgha/vāghīṇ (tiger/tigress), mālaka/mālakīṇ (male and female owners).
  • Some nouns have their feminine forms made out of entirely different words - navrā/bāyko (husband/wife), bāp/āī (father/mother), rājā/rāṇī (king/queen).

Similarly, for masculine ākārānt common nouns referring to inanimate objects, the 'diminutive' (लघुत्वदर्शक, lughatvadarshak) forms are feminine, and are īkārānt - danḍā/danḍī (big/small stick), loṭā/loṭī (big/small mug).


There are differences of opinion regarding grammatical cases in Marathi.[5] According to one view, there are two cases: direct, which is unmarked (e.g. Ram 'Ram') and oblique, which is used before postpositions (e.g. ram-a-pasun 'from Ram', ram-a-la 'to Ram', -a being the case marker and -la the dative postposition). According to the alternative analysis, there is a distinction between two classes of "postpositions". Some of them, like -pasun 'from' have a wide range of meanings and can be separated form the noun by clitics like -cya (e.g. ram-a-cya-pasun), while others (like -la) are only used to mark arguments and cannot be separated from the noun by clitics (*ram-a-cya-la is ungrammatical). The latter are then considered to be the case markers. In this view, the cases are: nominative (unmarked), accusative/dative (singular -la, plural -na), ergative, which is traditionally called 'instrumental' (sg. -ne, pl. -ni) and genitive/possessive (-tsa, -tse, -tʃa, -tʃi). The class of true postpositions will then include -hatun 'through', -hu(n) 'from'/ablative, -t locative, -jagi 'in place of' and many more.[6] The genitive markers inflect to agree with the governing noun. The form of the oblique suffix depends on the gender and the final vowel of the word it is suffixed to.[7]

Traditional grammar[edit]

In traditional analyses which follow the pattern of Sanskrit grammatical tradition, case suffixes are referred to as vibhaktī pratyaya (विभक्ति प्रत्यय). There are eight such vibhaktī (विभक्ति) in Marathi. The form of the original word changes when such a suffix is to be attached to the word, and the new, modified root is referred to as saamaanya ruup of the original word. For example, the word ghodā (घोडा “horse”) gets transformed into ghodyā- (घोड्या-) when the suffix -var (वर- “on”) is attached to it to form ghodyāvar (घोड्यावर “on the horse”). The nominal suffixes are tabulated below.


Ordinal Number


Ordinal Number


Case Description


Case Description

Singular Suffixes


Plural Suffixes


pratham (प्रथम) First kartā (कर्ता) Nominative case -ā (आ)

dwitīya (द्वितीय)

Second karma (कर्म) Accusative case -sa (-स), - (-ला), -te (-ते) -sa (-स), - (-ला), - (ना), -te (-ते)
trutīya (तृतीय) Third karaṇa(करण) Instrumental case - (नी), e (ए), shī (शी) - (नी), - (ही), e (ए), shī (शी)
caturthī (चतुर्थी) Fourth sampradāna(सम्प्रदान) Dative case -sa (-स), - (-ला), -te (-ते) -sa (-स), - (-ला), -te (-ते)
pancamī (पञ्चमी) Fifth apādāna(अपादान) Ablative case -un (-उन), -hun (हुन) -un (-उन), -hun (हुन)
shhashhthī (षष्ठी) Sixth sambandh (संबंध) Genitive case -chā (-चा), -chī (-ची), -che (-चे) -ce (-चे), -cyā (-च्या), - (-ची)
saptamī (सप्तमी) Seventh adhikaran (अधिकरण) Locative case -ta (-त), -i (-इ), -ā (-आ) -ta (-त), -ī (-ई), -ā (-आ)
sambhodan (संबोधन) Vocative case -no (-नो)






Case Ending




Case Ending


Nominative case विद्यार्थी अभ्यास करतात
Accusative case त्याने संस्थे देणगी दिली -sa (-स) त्यानी संस्थे देणगी दिली -sa (-स)
Accusative case घराला रंग दिला - (-ला) घरांना रंग दिला - (ना)
Instrumental case विद्यार्थी पेन्सिलनी चित्र काढतो - (नी) विद्यार्थी पेन्सिलनी चित्र काढतात - (नी)
Instrumental case मुलगा दाराशी उभा होता -shī (शी) मुलें दाराशी उभी होती shī (शी)
Dative case मी मुला ओळखतो -sa (-स) मी मुलांना ओळखतो - (ना)
Dative case मी विद्यार्थ्याला ओळखतो - (-ला) मी विद्यार्थ्यांना ओळखतो - (ना)
Ablative case मुलगा घरु निघाला -un (-उन) मुलें घरु निघाली -un (-उन)
Ablative case मुलगा गावाहुन आला -hun (हुन) मुलं गावाहुन आली -hun (हुन)
Genitive case घराचा दरवाजा सुंदर आहे -cā (-चा) घरांचे दरवाजे सुंदर आहेत -ce (-चे)
Genitive case मुलांची तब्येत सुधारली आहे - (-ची) मुलांच्या तब्येती सुधारल्या आहेत -cyā (-च्या)
Genitive case मुलाचे प्रगती पत्रक मिळाले -ce (-चे) मुलांची प्रगती पत्रके मिळाली - (-ची)
Locative case मुलगा घरा होता -ta (-त) मुलें घरा होती -ta (-त)
Locative case मुलगा घरी होता -ī (-ई) मुलें घरी होती -ī (-ई)
Locative case गाय घरी परतली -ī (-ई) गाई घरा परतल्या -ā (-आ)
Vocative case मुलानो शांत बसा -no (-नो)

[clarification needed]


Adjectives typically precede the noun (although in adjective phrases they can follow the noun) and are divided into declinable and indeclinable categories. Declinable adjectives end in the vowel -ā (आ) and must be declined for the gender, number and case of the nouns they qualify. Declining adjectives for case is easier compared to declining nouns, since a single ending applies to all cases; a complete table listing the different endings is given below, with the masculine nominative singular as the citation form.

Nominative All else Notes
Declinable Masculine Singular -ā (आ) -yā (या) The -yā (या) ending requires the removal of the schwa from the final consonant. In other words, the adjective is transformed to its saamaanya ruup.
Plural -e (ए)
Feminine Singular -ī (-ई)
Plural -yā (या)
Neuter Singular -e (ए)
Plural -ī (-ई)
Indeclinable -


Possessive adjectives in Marathi are slight modifications to the personal pronouns, suffixed with the genitive/possessive case markers - चा/ची/चे (cā/cī/ce), for masculine, feminine and plural subjects respectively. However, in the first and second-person singular the case marking is different, as shown below. Possessive adjectives agree in gender and number with the noun they modify; for plural nouns, the markers change from चा/ची/चे to चे/च्या/ची (ce/cyā/cī), with a similar transformation for the first and second-person singular adjectives.

Singular (M/F/N) Plural (M/F/N)
Singular noun Plural noun Singular noun Plural noun
1st person माझा/माझी/माझे








2nd person तुझा/तुझी/तुझे








3rd person त्याचा/त्याची/त्याचे

















There are three grammatical persons (पुरुष purushh) in Marathi. There is gender distinction in the first- and second-persons when the pronouns act as agreement markers on verbs; as independent pronouns this distinction in lost.[8]

English Sanskrit Singular Plural
First Person pratham purushh (प्रथम पुरुष) (मी) “I” āmhī (आम्ही) “we” (exclusive)

āpaṇ (आपण) “we” (inclusive)

Second Person dwitiya purushh (द्वितिय पुरुष) (तू) “you” tumhī (तुम्ही) “you” (formal)

āpaṇ (आपण) “you” (extremely formal)

Third Person trutiya purushh (तृतिय पुरुष) to (तो) “he”

(ती) “she”

te (ते) “it”

te (ते) “they” (masculine) or “he” हे (formal)

tyā (त्या) “they” (feminine)

(ती) “they” (neuter)


Verb stems can end in a vowel (ākārānt, īkārānt, or ekārānt) or a consonant (akārānt) and are declined for person, gender and number. They are usually listed in dictionaries in their infinitive forms, which consist of the verb stem with the suffix - ṇe (णे); for example खाणे (khāṇē, to eat), बोलणे (bolaṇē, to speak), चालणे (cālaṇē, to walk). Verbs are fairly regular, although the copula and other auxiliaries are notable exceptions.

The verbal system, much like in other Indo-Aryan languages, revolves around a combination of aspect and tense - there are 3 main aspects (perfect, imperfect, and habitual) and 3 main tenses (present, past, and future). Tenses are marked using conjugations, while aspects are marked using suffixes and by adding conjugations of a copula/auxiliary verb.


The verb असणे (asṇē, to be) is an irregular verb that acts as the copula/auxiliary for all tenses and for the perfect and imperfect aspects; its conjugations are shown below.

असणे (asṇē, to be)
Present tense Past tense Future tense
Singular (M/F/N) Plural (M/F/N) Singular (M/F/N) Plural (M/F/N) Singular (M/F/N) Plural (M/F/N)
1st person āhe (आहे) āhot (आहोत) hoto/hotī (होतो/होती) hoto (होतो) asen (असेल) asū (असो)
2nd person āhes (आहेस) āhāt (आहात) hotās/hotīs (होतास/होतीस) hotā(t) (होता(त)) asshīl (असशील) asāl (असाल)
3rd person āhe (आहे) āhet (आहेत) hotā/hotī/hote (होता/होती/होते) hote (होते) asel (असेल) astīl (असतील)

The habitual aspect uses a different set of conjugations of the same auxiliary verb (असणे); for present-tense and past-tense these conjugations are shown below. In future tense a different auxiliary verb, जाणे (jāṇē, to go), is typically used.

असणे (asṇē, to be, habitual aspect)
Present tense Past tense
Singular (M/F/N) Plural (M/F/N) Singular (M/F/N) Plural (M/F/N)
1st person asto/aste (असतो/असते) asto (असतो) asāyco/asāyce (असायचो/असायचे) asāyco (असायचो)
2nd person astos/astes (असतोस/असतेस) astā (असता) asāycās/asāycis (असायचास/असायचीस) asāycā(t) (असायचात)
3rd person asto/aste/asta (असतो/असते/असतं) astāt (असतात) asāycā/asāyci/asāyca (असायचा/असायची/असायचं) asāyce/asāycyā/asāyci (असायचे/असायच्या/असायची)


Causatives are created from existing verb stems and typically follow the set of patterns listed below.

  • Attaching 'व' (v) to the stem of the verb; in modern literature 'व' is often replaced by 'वि' (vi). So हसणे (hasaṇē, to laugh) → हसवणे/हसविणे (hasavṇē/hasviṇē, to cause to laugh); चालणे (cālaṇē, to walk) → चालवणे/चालविणे (cālavṇē/cālviṇē, to cause to walk).
    • For verbs with stems that have single syllables (खा, घे, दे; khā, ghē, dē), attach 'ववि' (vavi) instead of 'व'. Thus, खाणे (khāṇē, to eat) → खावविणे (khāvaviṇē, to cause to eat); देणे (dēṇē, to give) → देवविणे (dēvaviṇē, to cause to give).
  • Root vowel change: aā (अ → आ), u/ūo (उ/ऊ → ओ), i/īe (इ/ई → ए); sometimes also accompanied by the root final consonant change 'ṭ' → 'ṛ' (ट → ड). So तुटणे (tuṭaṇē, to be broken) → तोडणे (toṛaṇē, to cause to broken/to break); गळणे (gaḷaṇē, to be buried) → गाळणे (gāḷaṇē, to cause to be buried/to bury).


The imperative form of a verb (called आज्ञार्थ, ādñārtha) is formed by applying a simple set of rules to the stem of the verb, and has second-person singular (where there is a distinction between formal and informal) and second-person plural forms (which are the same as the second-person singular formal).

  • For akārānt verbs, the informal imperative form is the verb stem itself. The formal imperative is formed by utilizing the transformation aā (अ → आ) to the stem vowel.
  • For ākārānt verbs, the imperative form (formal and informal) is the verb stem itself.
  • For īkārānt and ekārānt verbs, the informal imperative is the verb stem itself. The formal imperative is formed by transforming the final vowel to the semi-vowel या ().
  • Negative imperative forms are constructed by adding the suffix -ऊ (ū) to the verb stem, and then by adding a separate negative particle नकोस/नको (nakosa/nako, for informal imperative) or नका (nakā, for formal imperative).
Imperative forms
Verb (infinitive) Second-person singular (informal) Second-person singular (formal)/Second-person plural
बोलणे (bolaṇē, to speak) - तू बोल (tū bola) तुम्ही बोला (tumhī bolā)
Negative तू बोलू नकोस/नको (tu bolū nakosa/nako) तुम्ही बोलू नका (tumhī bolū nakā)
खाणे (khāṇē, to eat) - तू खा (tū khā) तुम्ही खा (tumhī khā)
Negative तू खाऊ नकोस/नको (tū khāū nakosa/nako) तुम्ही खाऊ नका (tumhī khaū nakā)
देणे (dēṇē, to give) तू दे (tū de) तुम्ही द्या (tumhī dəyā)
Negative तू देऊ नकोस/नको (tū deū nakosa/nako) तुम्ही देऊ नका (tumhī deū nakā)


Traditional grammar distinguishes three grammatical voices (प्रयोग, prayog) in Marathi.

  • Active voice (कर्तरी प्रयोग kartrī prayog) refers to a sentence construction in which the verb changes according to the subject
Rām mhanto (राम म्हणतो) “Rām says”, Rām āmbā khāto (राम आंबा खातो) “Rām eats a mango”
  • Passive voice (कर्मणी प्रयोग karmanī prayog) refers to a sentence construction in which the verb changes according to the object
Rāmāne āmbā khāllā (रामाने आंबा खाल्ला) “The mango was eaten by Raam”, Rāmāne sāngitle (रामाने सांगितले) “It was told by Rām”
  • Bhāve prayog (भावे प्रयोग) refers to a sentence construction in which the verb does not change according to either the subject or the object. This is used for imperatives.
Mājha nirop tyālā jāūn sāng (माझा निरोप त्याला जाऊन सांग) “Go tell him my message”

Sentence structure[edit]

A Marathi sentence generally has three parts: subject (कर्ता kartā), object (कर्म karma), and verb (क्रियापद kriyāpad). In a Marathi sentence, the subject comes first, then the object, and finally the verb. However, in some sentences there is no object.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rao, Goparaju Sambasiva (1994). Language Change: Lexical Diffusion and Literacy. Academic Foundation. pp. 48 and 49. ISBN 9788171880577. Archived from the original on 7 December 2014.
  2. ^ Carey, William (1805). A Grammar of the Marathi Language. Serampur [sic]: Serampore Mission Press. ISBN 9781108056311.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ Dryer, Matthew S. (21 April 2008). "Datapoint Marathi / Order of Subject, Object and Verb". WALS Online. Archived from the original on 7 December 2014.
  4. ^ "UCLA Language Materials Project- Marathi". UCLA Language Materials Project. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
  5. ^ Dhongde & Wali 2009, p. 43–44.
  6. ^ Dhongde & Wali 2009, pp. 44,109–19.
  7. ^ Dhongde & Wali 2009, p. 45.
  8. ^ Bhat, D.N.S. 2004. Pronouns. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 18–19


External links[edit]