Bengali Language/Pronouns

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Personal Pronouns[edit]

Bengali personal pronouns share some similarities with pronouns in other Indo-Aryan languages and even English, but also some marked differences compared to these languages.

  • Pronouns do not differentiate for gender - the same pronoun can be used for a male or a female person.
  • The second-person pronouns have three forms - the very familiar (VF), the familiar (F), and the polite (P) forms. Which set of pronouns is to be used in a given situation depends on the familiarity/intimacy of the person to the speaker (similar to the tú/usted distinction in Spanish).
  • Similarly, the third-person pronouns also have three forms - the familiar (F), the polite (P), and the inanimate (I) - where the inanimate pronouns are used to refer to inanimate objects. The VF form doesn't apply to third-person pronouns.
  • In addition to the different pronouns for familiarity/intimacy, the third-person pronouns also offer three forms based on the on proximity of the person to the speaker - the here (H), the there (T), and the elsewhere (E) forms. The first is used to refer to people who are nearby, the second to those a little far away, and the last to refer to those who aren't present at all.

Let's start by looking at all these personal pronouns for the nominative case.

Nominative case[edit]

The nominative case is used to refer to the subjects in the sentence, such as "I am talking", or "You look great!".

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)

Objective case[edit]

The objective case is used to refer to the direct or indirect objects in speech, (i.e., upon which (or whom) the verb acts), such as "I am talking to him", or "He took it".

Note that the I (inanimate) pronouns remain the same in objective case as they are in the nominative case. Typically this isn't a problem since the context can easily determine if a pronoun is acting as a subject or an object. For all the other pronouns, simply adding the -কে ("ke") suffix for singular pronouns, and the -দেরকে ("derke") suffix for the plural pronouns, along with slight modification the original nominative pronoun, yields the objective case pronoun.

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 এটি/এটা (eţi/eţa, it) এগুলো (egulo, these)
T F ওকে (oke, him/her) ওদেরকে (oderke, them)
P ওঁকে (õke, him/her) ওঁদেরকে (õderke, them)
I ওটি/ওটা (oţi/oţa, it) ওগুলো (ogulo, those)
E F তাকে (take, him/her) তাদেরকে (taderke, them)
P তাঁকে (tãke, him/her) তাঁদেরকে (tãderke, them)
I সেটি/সেটা (sheţi/sheţa, it) সেগুলো (shegulo, those)

Possessive case[edit]

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" or "I need money" (আমার টাকা দরকার) also use the possessive (more on this in later chapters).

Again, similar to the objective case pronouns, pronouns in the possessive case are formed by introducing small suffixes (র for singular, দের for plural) to the corresponding nominative pronoun, along with slight modifications.

Subject Proximity Honor Singular Plural
1 আমার (amar, my) আমাদের (amader, our)
2 VF তোর (tor, your) তোদের (toder, your)
F তোমার (tomar, 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)

Demonstrative Pronouns[edit]

Before you proceed to study the demonstrative pronouns, make sure you understand the singular and plural articles/markers describe in the Nouns chapter.

Demonstrative pronouns - this, that, these, those - are used to point out things or refer to previously defined objects in a sentence without naming them again. Observe some examples below to see how we would use them in Bengali:

English Bengali Pronoun Marker
This is mine এটা আমার -টা
These are mine এগুলো আমার -গুলো
That is mine ওটা আমার -টা
Those are mine ওগুলো আমার -গুলো

As you may have already noticed, there are two basic pronouns - এ and ও - and these are suffixed with specific markers to make them refer to particular objects. Similar to the articles used to refer to nouns, the -টা marker is for singular nouns, while -গুলো is for plural nouns, although these can be replaced with -টি/-গুলি.

These pronouns can be used in interrogative sentences as well (note that কি is the translation for 'what' in the examples below):

English Bengali
What is this? এটা কি?
What are these? এগুলো কি?
What is that? ওটা কি?
What are those? ওগুলো কি?

Notice that these pronouns are identical to the third-person personal pronouns (H and T forms) for inanimate objects. For animate beings - you guessed it - you would use the third-person H and T pronouns in F or P, depending on the formality you wish to convey to the person being referred by the pronoun. Observe the examples below using the F form (note that কে is the translation for 'who', and কারা refers to 'who' in the plural) :

English Bengali Pronoun Marker
Who is this? কে? -
Who are these? এরা কারা? -রা
Who is that? কে? -
Who are those? ওরা কারা? -রা

As with the pronouns in the inanimate case, there are two basic pronouns - এ and ও - and these are suffixed with specific markers to make them refer to particular people. For singular animate nouns, no marker is used, while -রা is for plural animate nouns.