Hindi is written in the Devanagari Script, whose alphabet is as follows:
अ a आ ā इ i ई ī उ u ऊ ū ऋ ṛ ए e ऐ ai ओ o औ au
Dependent Forms of the Vowels With the consonant त (t)
त ta ता tā ति ti ती tī तु tu तू tū ते te तै tai तो to तौ tau
अँ ã आँ ă इँ ĩ ईँ ĭ उँ ũ ऊँ ŭ एँ ẽ ऐँ aĩ ओँ õ औँ aũ
तँ tã ताँ tă तिँ tĩ तीँ tĭ तुँ tũ तूँ tŭ तेँ tẽ तैँ taĩ तोँ tõ तौँ taũ
क k क़ q ख kh ख़ kh ग g ग़ g घ gha ङ n * च c छ ch ज j ज़ z ञ ñ ट ṭ ठ ṭh ड ḍ ड़ ṛ ढ ḍh ढ़ ṛh ण ṇ त t थ th द d ध dh न n प p फ ph फ़ f ब b भ bh म m य y र r ल l व v श śh ष ṣh स s ह h
When two consonants are pronounced together they are often joined together in a form called a conjunct, for example स+त→स्त in the word दोस्त dost (friend).
Two consecutive consonants not forming a conjunct can indicate the presence of अ a, as in कम kam (little, a small amount of). However, two non-conjunctive consonants can also indicate that the consonants are pronounced separately. For example in बिलकुल bilkul (completely), the ल and क do not form a conjunct because बिल and कुल are separate syllables-बिलकुल is pronounced bil—kul.
It is generally not possible to tell whether two non conjoined consonants are separated by 'अ' or not. Sometimes the absence of 'अ' is marked by a stroke under the leading consonant, but this is rarely done outside of dictionaries. Hindi-English dictionaries also give the pronunciation in roman script, from which the pronunciation can be inferred. Also, there are some patterns:
- Two consecutive unjoined consonants at the start of a verb are almost always separated by 'अ'.
- Verbs in their regular infinitive form consist of a stem followed by ना nā. In this case the n is not conjoined with a preceding consonant, e.g. बोलना bolnā (to speak) देखना dekhnā (to see). The same principle applies to the imperfective form of verbs, e.g. बोलता boltā (speaks).
- When two words form a compound word, the consonants at their interface are not conjoined e.g. गपशाप=गप-शाप gapshap=gap-shap (gossip, an echo word) अजकल=अज-कल ajkal=aj-kal (these days). The latter is formed from aj (today) and kal (yesterday, tomorrow).