Vocabulary: Family And Kinship


The Nepali family is a complicated family, and its tree is there to prove that. Families in Nepal tend to be extended, with the smallest of relationships cherished and remembered. The family tree can be roughly split into a paternal side and a maternal side, with each side having a slightly different term for each member. Furthermore, there are different terms to refer to the relatives of your spouse, along with different words depending on whether you are a male or a female.

Family is called परिवार (pariwār) in Nepali. Kinship is called  नातागोता (nātāgotā) in Nepali.




The immediate family have the same terms for both sides of the family. 

Grandfather = बाजे (bāje); हजुरबुवा (hajurbuwā)
Grandmother = बज्यै (bajyai); हजुरआमा (hajurāmā)
Father = बुवा (buwā); बाबा (bābā)
Mother = आमा (āmā)
Elder brother = दाइ (dāi)
Younger brother = भाइ (bhāi)
Elder sister = दिदी (didī)
Younger sister = बहिनी (bahinī)
Daughter =  छोरी (chorī)
Son =  छोरा (chorā)
Granddaughter = नातिनी (nātinī)
Grandson = नाति (nāti)

Husband = श्रीमान् (śrīmān); पति (pati); बुढा (buḍhā)
Wife = श्रीमती (śrīmatī); पत्नी (patnī) ; बुढी (buḍhī)


In order to navigate through the nomenclature, the following applies to your blood relatives (includes spouses):

  • Terms are listed assuming that your mother or father is already accounted for. This means, a term such as “Younger sister” in “Maternal Side” means “Mother’s younger sister”. For example, your “(mother’s) younger sister” is your “chyāmā”.
  • In case of sibling side, the term is explicitly written. For example, your “sister’s son” is your sister’s son.
  • Terms are listed so that “younger” means someone who is relatively younger than your parent, and “elder” indicates someone who is elder than your parent. In cases where this is not applied, then the term applies equally without age into consideration.
  • Terms which have (m) in front of the term is the term you use if you are a male, and (f) is the term you use if you are a female. For example, your sister’s son is your “bhānjā” if you are a male, and “chorā” if you are a female.
  • Cousins use the same term as your siblings. For example, your aunt’s son will be either your “dāi” or “bhāi”, depending on their seniority. 

Maternal Side

Brother =  मामा (māmā)
Brother’s wife = माइजू (māijū)
Elder sister = ठुली आमा (ṭhulī āmā)
Elder sister’s husband = ठुलो बुवा (ṭhulo buwā)
Younger sister = छ्यामा (chyāmā)
Younger sister’s husband = बुवा (buwā)

Paternal Side

Elder brother = ठुलो बुवा (ṭhulo buwā)
Elder brother’s wife = ठुली आमा (ṭhulī āmā)
Younger brother = काका (kākā)
Younger brother’s wife = काकी (kākī)
Sister = फुपू (phupū)
Sister’s husband = फुपा (phupā)

Sibling Side

Brother’s wife = भाउजू (bhāujū)
(f) Brother’s daughter = भदै(नी) (bhadai(nī)) [ is optional]
(f) Brother’s son = भदाहा (bhadāhā
(m) Brother’s daughter = भतिजी (bhatijī)
(m) Brother’s son =  भतिजो (bhatijo

Sister’s husband = भिनाजु (bhināju)
(f) Sister’s daughter = छोरी (chorī)
(f) Sister’s son = छोरा (chorā)
(m) Sister’s daughter = भान्जी (bhānjī
(m) Sister’s son = भान्जा (bhānjā)


In case of in-laws, the term is explicitly written for the following four terms and apply consistently throughout the family tree. As for your spouse’s relatives, they are separated according to whether your spouse is your husband or wife, and the term is assumed to refer back to your spouse. For example, in “husband’s side”, the term “younger sister” refers to your “husband’s younger sister”, which is called “nanda”.

Father-in-law = ससुरा (sasurā)
Mother-in-law = सासू (sāsū)

Daughter-in-law = बुहारी (buhārī)
Son-in-law = ज्वाइँ (jwāim̐)


Elder brother = जेठाजु  (jeṭhāju)
Elder brother’s wife = जेठानी (jeṭhānī)
Younger brother = देवर (dewar)
Younger brother’s wife = देउरानी (deurānī)
Elder sister = आमाजू (āmājū)
Elder sister’s husband = बुवा (buwā)
Younger sister = नन्द (nanda)
Younger sister’s husband = नन्दभाइ (nandabhāi)


Elder brother = जेठान (jeṭhān)
Elder brother’s wife = जेठान दिदी (jeṭhān didī)
Younger brother = सालो (sālo)
Younger brother’s wife = बहिनी (bahinī)
Elder sister = दिदी (didī)
Elder sister’s husband = दाइ (dāi)
Younger sister = साली (sālī)
Younger sister’s husband = साढु भाइ (sāḍhu bhāi


The seniority terms are terms denoting the order of birth. The first born always takes up the term for first born, while the last born always takes up the term for last born. Furthermore, the genders are separated, meaning they are counted as first born daughters and first born sons. The rest are relative, so if there are two children (both female), they would be first born daughter and “last born” daughter instead of “second born” daughter. Similarly, if there are three daughters, the order would be: first born daughter, second born daughter, and last born daughter. Finally, if there are mixed sexes, for example, two daughters and one son, the order would be: first born daughter, last born daughter, first born son (even if the son was born after the last born daughter). Remember that the seniority terms are declinable adjectives, so the female form must decline accordingly (e.g. jeṭho > jeṭhī). The forms listed are in neutral/masculine. 

First born = जेठो (jeṭho)
Second born = माहिलो (māhilo
Third born = साहिँलो (sāhim̐lo)
Fourth born = काहिँलो (kāhim̐lo)
Last born = कान्छो (kāncho)


This is a term that often comes up in Nepali conversations, and often has the casual meaning of “friend” in Nepali. However, what does it really mean in terms of family context? 

Officially, सोल्टी (solṭī) or सोल्टा (solṭā) is a term used by women to refer to their brother’s सालो (sālo) or जेठान (jeṭhān), basically her brother’s wife’s brother. Similarly, सोल्टिनी (solṭinī) or सोल्टिना (solṭinā) is the term used to refer to one’s brother’s wife’s sister. 

However, the lines are pretty blurred, so solṭī could also be used to refer to one’s sibling’s spouse’s brother, and solṭinī to refer to one’s sibling’s spouse’s sister.

The following pink line shows who your solṭī is. The relation goes two way, so you would either be their solṭī or solṭinī depending on your gender. 

An example solṭī line.


  • In the Eastern dialect, ठुलो बुवा (ṭhulo buwā) and ठुली आमा (ṭhulī āmā) are replaced by बडा बुवा (baḍā buwā) and बडी आमा (baḍī āmā) respectively, with the end part often omitted. 
  • The seniority can be denoted on relatives as well. So, if you father had three sisters, they could be referred to as: जेठी फुपू (jeṭhī phupū), माहिली फुपू (māhilī phupū) and कान्छी फुपू (kānchī phupū).
  • If you want to indicate a step-relationship, you have to use the term सौता (sautā) for males and सौतेनी (sautenī) for females before the kinship term. For example, your सौतेनी आमा (sautenī āmā) is your stepmother. Note that use of “step” term can be seen as taboo or derogatory in Nepal.
  • Seniority terms in case of immediate family (other than one’s progeny) indicates step-relationship. For example, if your father married two women (with the elder wife being your mother), he would have a जेठी श्रीमती (jeṭhī śrīmatī) and कान्छी श्रीमती (kānchī śrīmatī), while they would be your आमा (āmā) and कान्छी आमा (kānchī āmā) respectively. 
  • Seniority terms in case of progeny (children, grandchildren etc.) usually only indicates their birth rank. As mentioned earlier, you can use सौता (sautā) and सौतेनी (sautenī) to refer to step-progeny. 


“You are Mary (F), coming to Nepal with your husband Ashish (29) to meet his relatives for a week. You are pretty excited to meet his parents, Jaya (F) and Prakash (M), who have three children together, born in the following order: Ankita, Ashish, Anjali. While one of the sisters is unmarried, the other, Anjali, has two children, Shital (5F) and Rupesh (3M). 

After landing at the airport, you go outside and see a few relaives Ashish told you about. Ashish’s beloved elder aunt from his father’s side, Mrs. Gurung, had come over today to receive you two. Mrs. Gurung had also brought along her daughter with her, Mimamsha (20). Prajwal, Jaya’s brother, also arrived 10 minutes later with his wife, Shristi.” 


You can obtain the blank table below. Mirror link here.


0. Who is Jaya to Ashish?
= आमा (āmā) [mother]

1. Who is Ankita to Anjali?
2. Who is Ashish to Anjali?
3. Who is Rupesh to Ankita?
4. Who is Mrs. Gurung to Ashish?
5. Who is Ashish to Mrs. Gurung?
6. Who is Mimamsha to Ashish?
7. Who are you to Prakash?
8. Who is Ankita to Prajwal?
9. Who are you to Shital?
10. Who is Ankita to you?
11. Who are you to Anjali?
12. Who is Prajwal to Mrs. Gurung?



B.1. दिदी (didī) [elder sister]
B.2. दाइ (dāi) [elder brother]
B.3. छोरा (chorā) [(f) sister’s son]
B.4. फुपू (phupū) [paternal aunt]
B.5. भदाहा (bhadāhā) [(f) brother’s son]
B.6. बहिनी (bahinī) [female cousin]
B.7. बुहारी (buhārī) [son’s wife]
B.8. भान्जी (bhānjī) [maternal uncle’s sister’s daughter]
B.9. माइजू (māijū) [mother’s brother’s wife]
B.10. आमाजू (āmājū) [husband’s elder sister]
B.11. भाउजू (bhāujū) [brother’s wife]
B.12. सोल्टी (solṭī) [Mrs. Gurung’s brother’s wife’s brother]



I met John yesterday. John was very tired because John had just come from a long marathon. John and I talked only for a little moment because John had to soon go meet up with John’s friends.

The above paragraph is what a language without pronouns would look like. Each repetition of ‘John’ is redundant because you know what the speaker is talking about. Instead of using the noun itself to represent a person/entity, it would be better if we used a different word to refer to that participant. Those words that do this function are called pronouns.

Pronouns are basically words that take the place of a noun that is participating in a conversation. With pronouns, we can reduce the sentence to much-needed breivity. Pronouns can refer to people, objects, locations, unknown objects etc. Examples in English include: I, we, they, it, that, who etc. Pronouns are called सर्वनाम (sarwanām) in Nepali, with nām referring to ‘noun’.

In Nepali, pronouns have no inherent gender unless the context is clear. This means, the word itself has no gender. For example, ‘she’ is clearly feminine, but ‘they’ does not have gender. In Nepali, all pronouns are like ‘they’ i.e. lacking gender.


Before we move on to personal pronouns, it is important to understand what a grammatical person is. It isn’t a real person like you and me, but rather,  grammatical person refers to the perspective of the speaker. Basically, a conversation has three members:

  1. The first person, or the speaker, who is referred to as ‘I/ We/ Self’
  2. The second person, or the adressee/listener, who is referred to as ‘You’
  3. The third person, or the others, who is referred to as ‘He/ She/ They/ It etc.’

The verb you use highly depends on the perspective used in a conversation, thus it is important to recognize it while forming a sentence. For example, in English:
eat the food.
He eats the food.

Notice how the inflection (verb) changes according to the perspective. Nepali does the same, thus it should be clear what perspective refers to later on.


Pronouns that refer to human beings in a conversation.

Note that inflections are not listed and are listed according to dictionary form. For example, ‘him’ is not listed because it is an inflection of ‘he’. Also, note that there are three tiers of respect used while addressing the listener (and sometimes the third party, but never the speaker). Much like the French tu and vous, Nepali uses different pronouns depending on the formality needed and the level of respect that is commanded by the speaker. This system is also known as honorifics.

First Person

Iम (ma)
Weहामी (hāmī)

Second Person

You (Low Respect)तँ (tam̐)
You (Medium Respect)तिमी (timī)
You (High Respect)तपाईँ (tapāīm̐)

Third Person

He/ She (Neutral Respect)ऊ (ū) [no plural]
He/ She (Medium Respect)उनी (unī)
He/ She (High Respect)उहाँ (uhām̐)

To make plural forms of second and third person pronouns, concatenate हरू (harū) to the end of the pronoun. First person pronouns cannot be pluralized. For example:
तिमी (timi) + हरू (harū) =  तिमीहरू(timiharū)

The conjugations for the plurals are the same as for their singular counterpart. For example, timī-harū has the same conjugation rules as for timī.

Note: Do not pronounce  as it is a nasaliser not a character; nasalise the word instead. 


Pronouns that help identify the object based on their proximity to the speaker.

This/Itयो (yo)
Theseयी ()
That/Itत्यो (tyo)
Thoseती ()


Pronouns used to refer to the unknown subject as part of a question.

Whoको (ko)
Whatके (ke
Whichकुन (kun)


Pronoun that refers to itself.

Oneselfआफू (āphū)/ आफैँ (āphaim̐)


While English has possessive pronouns like myyour etc., Nepali does not in the sense of a pronoun. There are no true pronouns in the possessive sense in Nepali, because pronouns are inflected with a case marker to show possession instead. As this changes the form of the pronoun, we will look more into this later. I will list some common ones below for reference purposes only and should not be treated as true pronouns in a Nepali sense.

Note that the case marker used to inflect the pronoun does inflect for gender and number as well. The ones listed below are in singular, neutral/masculine form. Possessive pronouns behave like adjectives.

First Person

Myमेरो (mero)
Ourहाम्रो (hāmro)

Second Person

Your (Low Respect)तेरो (tero)
Your (Medium Respect)तिम्रो (timro)
Your (High Respect)तपाईँको (tapāīm̐-ko)

Third Person

His/ Her (Neutral Respect)उसको (usko)
His/ Her (Medium Respect)उनको (unko)
His/ Her (High Respect)उहाँको (uhām̐-ko)


 जन हो (ma jan ho)
[I + John + am]
I am John.

तपाईँ जन हो (tapāīm̐ jan ho)
[You (respect) + John + are]
You are John. (respectful)

ऊ घर आयो (ū ghar āyo)
[He + house + came]
He came home.

यो स्याउ हो (yo syāu ho)
[This + apple + is]
This is (an) apple.

को जन हो? (ko jan ho)
[Who + John + is]
Who is John?

मेरो नाम जन हो (mero nām jan ho)
[My + name + John + is]
My name is John.


  • Pronouns are words that represent nouns and refers to either the participants or other things in the conversation.
  • Grammatical person is a concept that describes the proximity of something relative to the speaker. Has three perspectives: First person, second person, third person.
  • Nepali has three tiers of respect when using certain pronouns, whose use depends on the social context. These are called honorifics.
  • In Nepali, possessive pronouns do not exist in the English sense. Rather, they are case marker-modified pronouns, and can indicate gender and number. Possessive pronouns behave like adjectives.



1. __ ate the food yesterday. (First person, singular)
2. John said __ were out of gas. (First person, plural)
3. I love __ all. (Second person, plural, medium respect)
4. John met his professor yesterday. __ was on the parking lot. (Third person, singular, high respect)
5. __ work on the latest project of Tokyo electronics. (Third person, plural, medium respect)


1. You (low respect) eat rather slowly. (hāmī, timī, tam̐
2. I am very tired.  (ma, ko, hāmī)
3. What is the answer to this riddle? (tyī, tapāīm̐, ke
4. The road goes this way. (tyoyo
5. Those apples are rotting in the basket. (yotam̐)


(tapāīm̐-ko, hāmro, tero, usko, mero,timro, uhām̐-ko)

1. Our country of origin is Germany.  
2. My dog is very energetic.
3. Did he meet your (medium respect) Grandfather?
4. The cake is his creation.
5. Your (high respect) apples are delicious.


A.1. म (ma)
A.2. हामी (hamī)
A.3. तिमीहरू (timīharū)
A.4. उहाँ (uhām̐)
A.5. उनीहरू (unīharū)
B.1. tam̐
B.2. ma
B.3. ke
B.4. yo
B.5. tyī
C.1. hāmro
C.2. mero
C.3. timro
C.4. usko
C.5. tapāīm̐-ko

Schwa Syncope


Over the past few lessons you may have noticed that some sounds went silent, especially those around the end. Although Devanagari, the script Nepali uses, is a phonetic script with no silent letters (unlike English), the sound in the end vanishes away like it never existed, although it seems that the sound should really exist. This sound is known as ‘schwa’ and the phenomenon of it being deleted from pronunciation is called ‘Schwa Syncope’. It is also known as Schwa Deletion Phenomenon.

First, let’s see what a schwa really is. Take an example word like ghām, which means ‘Sun’ in Nepali. It is written as घाम in Devanagari, which ideally should be pronounced as ‘ghāma’ (according to the spelling) but somehow, the last ‘a’ simply vanished. This unstressed vowel is called a schwa and is usually represented as ‘ə’ in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). Technically, a schwa in English phonology is an unstressed vowel in the mid-central region, but we will nonetheless still call the end unstressed vowel “schwa”, mostly because we are focused on Nepali phonology rather than English phonology. Specifically, schwa here refers to the end vowel sound made by अ (a), because it is the only one that is affected by this phenomenon. Other vowel sounds are not deleted.

Syncope /ˈsɪŋkəpi/ means deletion, or rather omission of certain sounds from a word. An example of this would be the omission of ‘a’ from the pronunciation of library /ˈlʌɪbri/.


Now, you may say “Why not use a halanta instead to delete the schwa?” This is an interesting question, but the reason why we don’t is because of history. Nepali came from Prakrit, which itself came from Sanskrit. Sanskrit used Devanagari to write, much like Nepali, but it did not delete the schwa from the words. Thus, घाम would be read with the schwa i.e. ghāma. It is only when things went awry in Prakrit, when the final ‘a’ (or the schwa of the word) was deleted for unknown reasons (perhaps, for convenience). We’ll never know. What we do know is that the change in pronunciation did not reflect upon the word, thus we still retain the spelling for words that originally had a schwa. 

Another reason is that it makes separation of words easier. Morphemes, or unit of words, usually retain their schwa-less pronunciation while building up bigger words. Thus, one can easily glance at the large word and guess what it means by looking at the morphemes used. Another reason may be because using a lot of halanta looks really crowded, thus for aesthetics this is not done. 

As an evidence, many languages that use Devanagari as the script delete the schwa from their words. This is more or less pronounced, with Nepali being a bit towards the lesser side. Nepali is way more phonetic than say Hindi, because the original sound of Sanskrit is somewhat more preserved than in other languages.


It is very important to be able to delete schwa appropriately if you want to read properly. As said before, only the vowel sound of अ (a) is affected by this phenomenon. Do not delete the other vowel sounds! 

I will assume you have encountered terms like ligatures and consonant clusters in the previous lessons. If you have not, click here. In brief, ligatures are characters that represent two or more sounds, much like the German ‘ß’ (Eszett). 

For this lesson, I will separate each syllable with an interpunct (·). I have separated the consonant with the schwa as well, but take care not to pronounce that ligature’s schwa.


If a consonant (or a consonant cluster) is modified by a vowel sound in a word (other than the default ‘a’ sound) to form a syllable, you do pronounce that syllable. Example:
मुला /radish/ = mu · lā

Consonants marked with a halanta are not pronounced with any vowel sound. Example:
सन् /CE/ = san (not sa · na)

Generally retain the schwa of all characters but the final one. Example:
कलम /pen/ = ka · la · m (not ka· la· ma or any other variation like kla · ma

Now that we have these two rules in mind, let’s learn how to delete that pesky ‘a’ sound efficiently. Note that the below guidelines apply only to words that have the schwa in the end. Also, I have included the deleted schwa [ə] in square brackets. Do not include [ə] in your pronunciation! I have only included it for reference. For example, read rā ·m[ə] as Rām and not Rāma.


Schwa of independent characters are retained

A standalone character’s schwa is always spelt out, unless dictated otherwise by a halanta. Examples:
म /I/ = ma
ल /okay/ = la

Schwa of nouns and adjectives are usually deleted

The schwa of nouns are usually deleted, but exceptions can arise if the word was imported fairly recently. Examples:
नेपाल /Nepal/ = ne · pā · l[ə]
हिमाल /mountain/ = hi · mā · l[ə]
नरम /soft/ = na · ra · m[ə] 

Schwa of verbs are retained

Generally, every syllable in a verb (and its conjugates) is pronounced. This is because the verb relies on absence or presence of the schwa to indicate different moods. Examples:
गर /do/ = ga · ra
गर् /do/ = ga · r (notice the lack of schwa as it is removed by the halanta)

Schwa of ligatures are usually retained

When a schwa is present in a ligature, the schwa is usually spelt. Exceptions are usually imported words; native words almost always pronounce the schwa of ligatures. Examples:
वाक्य /sentence/ = wā · kya
पूर्व /East/ =  pū · rwa 
साहित्य /literature/ = sā · hi · tya 
पत्र /newspaper/ = pa · tra 

रङ्ग /colour/ = ra · ṅg[ə] [Some people don’t omit the schwa, so this is in grey area]

Schwa of grammatical functions are retained

Grammatical markers and functions like case markers retain their schwa. Examples:
पर /across/ = pa · ra
बाट /from/ = bā · ṭa 

State of schwa of words persist even if the word gets modified/ concatenated

Addition of case markers, adverbs, adjectives, postpositions etc. do not affect the retention (or lack thereof) of the schwa of the previous word. They function independently and do not affect each other. Examples:
नेपालबाट /from Nepal/ =  ne · pā · l[ə] – bā · ṭa
घरलाई /to house/ = gha · r[ə]  – lā · ī 

This also means that, when words are joined together to make larger words, each component retains their original pronunciation. Examples:
एकदिन /one day/ = e · k[ə] · di · n[ə]
आजभोलि /nowadays/ =  · ā · ja · bho · li 

These rules do not apply for imported words

The schwa syncope rules do not really apply for imported words, whose lack of schwa (or presence thereof) depends a lot on the original pronunciation of the word as it was imported. Examples:
घटना /event/ [Hindi] = gha · ṭ[ə] · nā 
जानकारी /information/ [Hindi] = jā · n[ə] · kā · rī


With the above rules, you should be able to make educated guesses on the schwa status. While I will not guarantee you will get it right all the time, with this you should be able to pronounce most of the words correctly. 

Schwas are usually not deleted if they are part of a song or a poem. This is done for a poetic effect and should not be taken as the Gospel truth for pronunciation. 

Finally, if any word confuses you, it is best to consult that word with a native speaker. They can tell the correct pronunciation so you can be sure of your guess. 



1. पारस /lamp/
2. हिड्ँछ /walks/
3. गरीब /poor/
4. तँ /informal you/
5. निर /at/


1. इष्ट /relation/
2. लेख्य /written/
3. तर /but/
4. सिमसिम /light pitter-patter of the rain/
5. चीन /China/


1. धाक /bluff/ = dhāka
2. व्युत्पन्न /etymology/ =  vyutpann 
3. नाम /name/ =  nāma
4. पाटनबाट /from Patan/ =  pāṭna bāṭ 
5. सरल /simple/ = srala


A.1. Yes; Noun
A.2. No; Verb conjugate
A.3. Yes; Adjective
A.4. No; Single syllable word
A.5. No; Postposition/ Grammatical function
B.1. iṣṭa
B.2. lekhya
B.3. tara
B.4. simsim
B.5. cīn
C.1. dhāk
C.2. vyutpanna
C.3. nām 
C.4. pāṭan-bāṭa   
C.5. saral

Reading The Devanagari Script


Over the previous few lessons, we have gone through the script in thorough detail. Now that you know how to write the script, it is now important how to read it as well. After all, people do not write individual letters but rather words, so it is vital learning how to read the script fluently. 

Fortunately, Nepali is a very phonetic script. There are some exceptions pertaining to vowel sounds, but overall, you read what you see. One infamous rule is the Schwa deletion, where you randomly delete the last ‘a’ sound from the word, but we’ll discuss this topic here. For now, just omit the final a-sound unless specified.


कलम (pen)
It compromises of three characters, namely: क (ka), ल (la) and म (ma). Omitting the schwa in the end, we read this as kalam.

काम (work)
We now introduce diacritics. This is the ā diacritic attracted to क (ka), thus we read it as . Overall, the word is read as kām.

दूध (milk)
Similar to above, it uses the ū diacritic. It reads as dūdh.


हुन्छ (okay) 
Now we introduce ligatures and conjuncts. This is the ncha conjunct. It should be noted that the schwa of conjuncts are usually retained, thus this word reads as huncha.

गर्छ (does)
This is the rcha conjunct. We read it as garcha.

प्रेस (press)
This is the pre conjunct, made up of pr e. The word reads as pres.

मृग (deer)
The diacritic used belongs to the semi-vowel ‘ṛ(i)’, thus the word is read as ‘mṛ(i)ga’. The schwa here is not deleted for some reason.


संसार (world)
We now introduce nasalisers. This particular dot adds an ‘ṃ’ sound after the syllable, thus we read it as saṃsār. Note that IAST denotes this sound as ‘m’, although a closer real approximation is actually ‘n’.

बाँस (bamboo)
The second type of nasaliser, this one adds a nasal sound to the syllable itself than add it after the word ends. Thus, this reads as bām̐s. Note that the actual pronunciation is closer to ‘bās’ and the ‘’ only tells you to read ‘’ with a nasal voice.

श्रेष्ठ (good)
It contains the ligature śre and ṣṭha. The word overall reads as śreṣṭha.

श्रुतिसम्भिन्नार्थक (homonym)
Full of ligatures, it contains the following conjuncts: śrumbhinnārtha. With proper care, we can read this word as śrutisambhinnārthak.

ओर्ह्लिनु (to descend)
A rather complicated ligature. We can easily see that the main character here is ह्ल (hla), which is modified into ह्लि (hli). Since the sickle used above it is the r-diacritic (which precedes the word), the character is read as rhli. Overall, the word is orhlinu.



1. घरमा पानी पर्‍यो 
2. हामीलाई सञ्चो थिएन 
3. अहिले काठमाडौंमा शित्तल छ
4. अस्ति बाटोमा ओर्ह्लिरहेको मृगलाई देखेँ
5. आकाशको रङ्गसँगै तिमी उडिगयौ स्वप्नसरि, नहेरी नफर्की बाटै बाटो लाग्यौ 


ANSWERS (translations are approximate

A.1. ghar-mā pānī par‍yo
A.2. hāmī-lāī sañco thiena 
A.3. ahile kāṭhmāḍauṃ-mā śittal cha
A.4. asti bāṭo-mā orhliraheko mṛ(i)ga-lāī dekhem̐
A.5. ākāś-ko raṅg-sam̐gai timī uḍigayau swapna-sari, naherī napharkī bāṭai bāṭo lāgyau
B.(A.1.). Rain fell on (the) house
B.(A.2.). We were not (feeling) fine
B.(A.3.). (It) is cool in Kathmandu now
B.(A.4.). Day before yesterday on the road (I) saw a deer going downhill
B.(A.5.). You flew away with (the) colours of (the) sky like (a) dream, without looking (or) turning back (you) went (for the) road

Writing The Devanagari Script


Many younger people in Japan find it difficult to write their complex Kanji script due to the advent of digitalisation. Since there is no incentive in remembering how to write them, many people just opt reading the letter. 

Of course, if you are only interested in reading Nepali and not writing it, there is no incentive to learn how to write the script! However, this does not mean you should not learn how to write it down, because you many come across many situations which obligates you to write the script down. We may succeed in writing the word down, but it will usually be inconvenient. 

This is because we have been seeing the script as glyphs, rather than building blocks. Thus, we might be tempted to write each and every letter as they appear, making the text blocky and choppy. This is horribly inefficient.

So, how do people write the Devanagari script?


The primary thing to understand here is that, unlike the Japanese or the Chinese script, the order of strokes (which build up your character) does not matter. However, in order to increase the efficiency of writing, we employ the following guidelines:

  • Write the characters without the horizontal line above it
  • Attach any diacritics (other than dots) after you are done writing that particular character (don’t make the horizontal line yet)
  • After you are done, carefully make the horizontal line above the word
  • Finally, jot down the remaining dots or strokes after you are done

Caveats: Of course, I’d hate to be dogmatic about your writing style. Since everyone writes differently, you can try and explore your own writing style. For example, I know people who write their diacritics as they come. Some people may omit the horizontal line for speed, as seen in pharmacies. I have attached an animated GIF below to show you how I would write the sentence below. Note that this is my writing style and serves as a reference only. For example, I draw my horizontal lines from right to left, since I am a left handed person. Also, you may wish not to emulate my handwriting as it is not exactly the most calligraphic. 

Sentence: I like dogs.
Nepali: मलाई कुकुर मनपर्छ (ma-lāī kukur manparcha)


  1. ma
  2. l(a)
  3. Diacritic of ā
  4. ī 
  5. Horizontal line
  6. k(a)
  7. Diacritic of u
  8. Repeat steps 6-7
  9. r(a)
  10. Horizontal line
  11. ma
  12. n(a)
  13. pa
  14. cha
  15. r as part of the ligature rch-a
  16. Horizontal line
  17. Full stop 


When using lined paper, it is better if we use the line itself as the horizontal line guide. In other words, you write the letters on the top rather than the bottom.



1. घरमा पानी छ
2. यो मन त मेरो नेपाली हो 
3. किकि, तिमीले मलाई माया गर्छौ ? 
4. संसारको काम गर्ने कालुको बाङ्गो बञ्चरोले बाँस काट्यो