In every language, including English, the words in a sentence are not arranged randomly, rather, they follow a specific order.
When an English speaking person is learning Punjabi, they need to give special attention to the word order in Punjabi because it is different than the word order in English. Arranging words in the proper order is vital to being understood.
In English the word order is (subject + verb + object)
In Punjabi the word order is (subject + object + verb)
For example: “Nick sends letters” would become “Nick letters sends”
The subject, direct object and verb are the main parts of a sentence. These three parts of a sentence are like boxes. You can put one or more words into each box. To determine which box to put a word into, ask the following questions:
1. What is being done? (VERB)
2. Who is doing it? (SUBJECT)
3. …what? (DIRECT OBJECT)
TIP: Always identify the verb first. If you start by identifying the VERB then you will never get your subject and object confused.
At this point, find page 19 entitled “Lesson One Worksheet.” We will now practice rearranging English words into the Punjabi word order. This worksheet has five sentences for you to translate. Go ahead and follow steps 1 – 4 closely. We will do steps 5 and 6 later.
TIP: Punjabi does not use the words “a” or “the”. So ignore these words when you translate into English.
The next important matter to discuss is verb endings. In English, to a limited extent, the verb changes in order to match the subject. For example, let’s look at the sentence: “Nick sends letters.” If we want to say in English, “We send letters” then we would need to change “sends” to “send”.
In Punjabi, a similar thing happens. The verb changes in order to match the subject.
In Punjabi, the verb changes depending on whether the subject is:
1. singular or plural
2. masculine or feminine
How do we change the verb?
First: Find the stem (or root) of the verb. In Punjabi, this means simply removing the ਨਾ nā or ਣਾ ṇā ending.
For example: “to send” ਭੇਜਣਾ bhejṇā (the stem is ਭੇਜ bhej)
Second: Add the appropriate ending to the stem of the verb.
For example: ਭੇਜ bhej (stem) + ਦਾ dā (ending) = ਭੇਜਦਾ bhejdā
REMEMBER: The verb must match the subject. In our example sentence, “Nick” is a masculine singular subject, so we add the masculine singular ending ਦਾ dā to the stem.
In the present tense, there are four different verb endings:
ਦਾ dā (masculine singular)
ਦੀ dī (feminine singular)
ਦੇ de (masculine plural)
ਦੀਆਂ dīāṇ (feminine plural)
If you are using a pronoun (I, we, you, he, she, they) then use the corresponding ending from the “Present Tense Chart” on page 20. In this chart the verb root is shaded in gray and the verb endings are highlighted in red.
NOTE: The plural form of ‘you’ is used for respect and ALWAYS uses the masculine ending. The pronouns ‘we’ and ‘they’ most often use the masculine ending because even if only one in the group is masculine then the masculine ending should be used. Wherever possible, the chart shows the ending that is most commonly used.
Now, let’s discuss the last column (highlighted in yellow) on the “Present Tense Chart” which is called “Aux. Verb”.
In English, we put a minimum of one verb into the verb box. However, in Punjabi, it is common to put TWO verbs into the verb box:
1. The main verb
2. The auxiliary verb
Most commonly, the verb “to be” is used as the auxiliary verb. In English, the verb “to be” can be expressed using the words: am, is & are. These words must match the subject. For example, singular subjects use ‘is’ and plural subjects use ‘are.’ If the subject is a pronoun, it has a matching pair.
For example: I am You are We are He/She is They are
In Punjabi, the verb ਹੋਣਾ hoṇā (to be) can be expressed using the words: ਹੈ hai, ਹਾਂ hāṇ, ਹੋ ho & ਹਨ han
1. Singular subjects use ਹੈ hai
2. Plural subjects use ਹਨ han
If the subject is a pronoun, it has a matching pair as shown below.
ਮੈਂ ਹਾਂ maiṇ hāṇ
ਤੁਸੀਂ ਹੋ tusīṇ ho
ਅਸੀਂ ਹਾਂ āsīṇ hāṇ
ਉਹ ਹੈ uh hai
ਉਹ ਹਨ uh han
The auxiliary verb is put into the verb box after the main verb. Notice our example sentence one last time: “Nick sends letters” Nick is masculine singular so we use the auxiliary verb ਹੈ hai
Using the “Present Tense Chart” on page 20 you can now complete steps 5 – 6 on the worksheet. All the necessary vocabulary is at the bottom of the page. After completing the worksheet, you can use the answer sheet to check your sentences. Each lesson has an answer sheet for the worksheet on the last page of the lesson.
Daily practice exercises are included with each lesson so that you can immediately apply what you are learning. The accompanying practice calendar is for tracking your progress for a month, so it is recommended to spend sufficient time practicing each lesson before moving on to the next lesson. Remember, the goal of this course is not simply to learn grammar but to start speaking Punjabi by putting theory into practice.
The daily practice exercises use the ‘think and speak’ method. Rather than writing out the answers, you will be asked to think about the answer and then say it out loud. It can be said that to learn to read, you need to practice reading. To learn to write, you need to practice writing. But to learn to speak, you need to practice speaking.
There is no answer sheet provided for the daily practice exercises. This encourages you to go back to the lesson and its accompanying charts for confirmation. The daily exercises can be done either individually or with a partner. We recommend a daily practice sessions of approximately 15 minutes. Research has shown that brief but frequent practice sessions are far more beneficial than long but infrequent sessions. When you feel comfortable with performing the exercises then you are ready to move on to the next lesson and build larger sentences!