The passive voice in both Hindi and English allows us to talk about actions and events when we do not know who is the agent ("Jimmy Hoffa was murdered."), when we do not wish to reveal the identity of the agent ("The numbers will be delivered in a brown paper bag."), or when the agent's identity is too obvious or unimportant to mention ("Dillinger has been arrested."). It is formed in Hindi, as you know, with the auxiliary verb j:a which governs the past participle of the main verb. Or the passive can be thought of as being expressed by the sequence -Aa j:a (after vowels -y:a j:a -) which is attached to the stem of the main verb:
'ask' => 'be asked'
1b. K:a => K:ay:a j:a 'eat' => 'be eaten'
1c. kr => eky:a j:a 'do' => 'be done'
1d. l:ð j:a => l:ð j:ay:a j:a 'take away' => 'be taken away'
The passive agrees in gender, in number, and, where possible, in person with whatever was the direct object in the corresponding active:
2a. Uem:ül:a kb:ab:
'Urmila will eat the kababs.'
2b. kb:ab: K:aO
'The kababs will be eaten.'
3a. m:òø s:v:al:
p:ÜC rhi hÜú.
'I am asking a question.'
3b. s:v:al: p:ÜCa j:a rha
'A question is being asked.'
As you know, direct objects, especially animate ones, are often marked by kað. In the corresponding passive sentence such a kað may be retained or dropped. If retained, the verb must assume the masculine singular "default" form:
4a. m:aú didi kað
Q:Üb: m:art:i hò.
'Mom beats sis a lot.'
4b. didi kað Q:Üb: m:ara
'Sis gets beaten a lot.'
5a. v:h b:aðl:i, " v:ð m:ØJ:ð faòrn: p:hc:an:
'She said, "They'll recognize me right away."'
b:aðl:i, " m:ØJ:ð
faòrn: p:hc:an: el:y:a j:aOg:a. "
'She said, "I'll be recognized right away."'
If kað is dropped, then there is
5c. v:h b:aðl:i, " m:òø faòrn: p:hc:an: l:i j:aUûg:i. "
However, if such a kað expresses indirect object it cannot be dropped, even in a passive sentence:
6. B:òy:a kað Et:n:a b:e`y:a es:t:ar Vy:aðø edy:a j:a rha hò ?
'Why is brother being given such a fine sitar?'
This applies as well to the kað in derived transitive kað -expressions. In the passive such a kað cannot be dropped:
7. un:kað y:ad edl:ay:a j:aO ek Aaj: ran:i ki v:\:üg:aúY hò.
'May they be reminded that today is the Queen's birthday.'
Modal verbs s:k and c:Øk are separated from the main verb in
the passive by -y:a j:a-:
8a. v:h y:h g:a_i c:l:a s:kt:a hò.
'He can drive this car.'
8b. y:h g:a_i c:l:aI j:a s:kt:i hò.
'This car can be driven.'
Compound verbs, however, act as a unit with both parts coming to the left of -y:a j:a-:
9a. Vy:a m:òø m:ðz: hXa dÜú ?
'Shall I move the table away?'
9b. Vy:a m:ðz: hXa di j:aO ?
'Shall the table be moved away?'
Only these compund verbs whose auxiliary element is itself a transitive verb can be put in the passive when the main verb is transitive. Thus, s:m:J: l:ð is passivizable; s:m:J: j:a is not:
10a. s:Ølt:an:a s:m:J: g:I.
m:ðrð S:bdaðø ka m:t:l:b:
10b. s:Ølt:an:a n:ð s:m:J: el:y:a.
'Sultana understood the meaning of my words.'
10b'. m:ðrð S:bdaðø ka m:t:l:b: s:m:J: el:y:a g:y:a.
'The meaning of my words was understood.'
c:ah, c:aehy:ð, hað, l:g: and dð permit a dependent infinitive to be in the passive:
11. hm: v:haú l:ð j:aO
'We don't want to be taken there.'
12. g:aOú m:aðXi rss:i
s:ð b:aúD: di j:an:i c:aehy:ð.
'Cows should be tied with a thick rope.'
13. edll:i ki s:_kñù Ab:
s:ØD:ari j:an:ð l:g:i hòø.
'The streets of Delhi have now begun to be improved.'
14. s:ahb: Et:n:a m:al: hz:m: eky:a
j:an:ð n:hiø dðg:a.
'The boss won't allow so much stuff to be diverted.'
p:_n:a , however, seldom allows a passive
15a. g:nn:a Ab: kaXn:a p:_ðg:a.
'The cane has to be cut now.'
15b. ?? g:nn:a Ab: kaXa j:an:a
p:a also does not occur with a passive.
Except in expressions of incapacity the agent of a passive is very rarely expressed. But in formal or journalistic Hindi it is sometimes found followed by the postposition kñ ¾v:ara :
16. y:h kev:t:a raD:ðSy:am: kñ ¾v:ara el:K:i g:I hò.
'This poem was written by Radheshyman.'
English to Hindi translation exercise.
To index of grammatical notes.
To index of m:lhar.
Keyed in by ev:v:ðk Ag:rv:al: 2-3 May 2002. Posted 8 May 2002. Reformatted 23 May 2002.