In Traditional (English) grammar, a clause is said to consist of a subject and a predicate. However, let’s not truly think of clauses in that way in Nepali.Instead, clauses can be defined in another way.
A clause is a unit of grammatical organization next below the sentence in rank. That means, it is the smallest grammatical unit that can express a proposition. First, we need to understand the concepts behind verbs and verbals.
This is an extremely lengthy lesson (according to my standards), so do have the patience to go through it. I seek to clear any misunderstandings and questions on the components of a sentence. So, if you don’t understand something, then please do inform me.
Verbs are anything that complete and conclude a sentence, meaning it is the word which shows an action,state, occurrence etc. Verbs are important because fundamentally they are the ‘core’ of a sentence. Take these sentences:
1. The apples
2. The apples were eaten.
3. The apples were eaten by Mary.
The first sentence isn’t complete since it lacks a verb. The apple could exist in any state or action; it could have been eaten, pressed, squashed etc. We cannot tell what its fate is unless a verb comes in and tells us what to do.
In the second sentence, the verb finally comes and tells us that The apples were eaten. Finally, the sentence feels complete however we still do not know who ate it. Was it a cow or a monkey or a human? We can never know until the action-doer comes in.
In the third sentence, we now know that the apples were eaten by Mary. A complete sentence is formed…however, the sentence was already complete in the second step! Why?
That is because in Nepali, we do not need subjects or the action-doers to complete the sentence. In Nepali, only the final verb’s state is considered to be verbs because they complete a simple sentence. Since the ultimate verb is on the end, that part which links directly with this verb will be the main clause. The rest of them will be made up of Verbals, becoming subordinate clauses. That includes verbs which look like main verbs but appear anywhere but at the last.
What are santa’s helpers called?
= Subordinate clauses
Now, what are verbals? I call them pseudo-verbs because it sounds technical (but incorrect per se). There is an article to it so you can click here to go to it. However, in short:
· Verbals are derivatives of verbs
· Since they are forms of verbs, they can behave in various ways such as behaving like an adjective, an adverb etc.
· Verbals can appear anywhere in the sentence
Here, we will be considering verbals as being the ‘predicate’ to a clause. Please know that it is vital to know verbals and their functions to go ahead! Verbals are widely employed in Nepali, so I recommend knowing verbals before going on. (I will assume you know what verbals are from this point onwards)
So, a clause can be defined in Nepali terms asa unit in a sentence composed of a verbal or a verb and an object (a modifier). The subject doesn’t need to be expressed sometimes because it can be derived from the sentence itself.
Now, how many different types of clauses are there?
As I said above, there are two main types of Clauses:
1. Main (or Independent) Clause
2. Subordinate (or dependent) Clause
3. Santa Claus
Subordinate Clauses can be further divided into three more clauses:
· Noun Clause
· Adjective Clause
· Adverb Clause
MAIN/ INDEPENDENT CLAUSE
A Main/ Independent Clause is a group of words formed with a verb that expresses a complete thought. That means, if we separate the main clause from the other clauses, the main clause will still be a complete sentence by itself.
मैलेमलाई सहयोग गर्ने केटालाई भेटेँ(mailemalai sahayog garneketa`lai bhete)
=I met the boy who helped me.
[ I + me + help + do + boy + met]
Now, as you noticed the main clause is…split! However, that’s how Nepali Sentence structure works. As I have always said, Nepali follows a SOV structure meaning the Subject comes first, then the Object and finally the Verb. The un-bolded part ‘मलाई सहयोग गर्ने’ (malai sahayog garne) is actually the subordinate clause, but more on that later! But that still doesn’t explain why the main clause is split. Well, we can think of the subordinate clause as the modifier of the word ‘boy’. This subordinate clause is describing the boy, this subordinate clause is an adjective clause. Since adjectives come before the word they modify, it came before ‘the boy’ and can be treated as one word.
A main clause can always stand for itself. For example, take this sentence:
ऊमलाई देखेररिसायो (u malai dekhera risayo)
= He got angry after seeing me.
[He + Me + After seeing + got angry]
The main clause ‘ऊरिसायो’ (u risayo) can stand for itself, translating into ‘He got angry’. Main clauses always expresses a complete thought hence it is the heart of any sentence. There is no such thing as a complete sentence lacking a main clause.
In fact, a standalone main clause is also called a simple sentence. A simple sentence is a sentence that has one main clause. For example:
म घर गएँ (ma ghar gae)
= I went home.
[I + home + went]
There isn’t much left to say on main clauses. Now comes the clauses that more important, the subordinate clauses.
SUBORDINATE (DEPENDENT) CLAUSES
Subordinate Clauses are clauses which do not express a complete expression or thought. Since they do not express a complete thought, they depend upon the main clause to make complete sense (hence ‘dependent’ clause). A sentence having subordinate clauses must have a main clause. Therefore, Subordinate clauses cannot stand alone as independent sentences due to these factors. However, they are very important! A subordinate clause here is a group of words containing at least one modifier with a verbal. Taking the above sentence:
मैले मलाई सहयोग गर्नेकेटालाई भेटेँ (mailemalai sahayog garneketa`lai bhete)
= I met the boy who helped me.
[ I + me + help + do + boy + met]
The subordinate clause is highlighted in bold. Notice how it has a verbal to it but does not form a complete sentence/ send complete meaning.
There are three different types of Subordinate clauses:
· Noun Clause
· Adjective Clause
· Adverb Clause
A noun clause is a subordinate clause that functions as a noun. In English they can be recognized easily because they usually start with ‘who, that, what, whomever, whoever’ etc. You can learn more about these reflexive pronouns in this lesson. Now, an example:
तिमीले जे गरे पनि ठीक छ (timi`le je gare panithik cha)
= Whatever you do will still be fine.
[You + Whatever + Do + still + Fine + is]
Noun clauses essentially function like a noun, which should be obvious by this point. We can construct a bit longer sentences using finite verbs and linking it with an auxiliary. Usually, these auxiliary verbs are the -era forms of verbs. The below sentence is an example of it:
उसलाई म परिक्षामा सफल हुनेछु भनेर थाहा छ (us`laima pariksha`ma safal hunechu bhanerathaha cha)
= He knows that I will pass in my exams.
[He + I + In Exams + Pass + Will + that + knows]
In the above sentence, the noun clause makes use of a secondary finite verb however this will not be considered to be the main verb. Why? Look at the main clause for some time. The main clause is ‘He knows’ so we cannot assign a higher priority to the subordinate clause. However, can’t the subordinate clause stand alone too?
It cannot, simply due to the final auxiliary verb that is attached to it. Addition of an auxiliary in the end of any clause renders it unable to stand for itself. In the sentence above, the subordinate clause behaves like a noun (try replacing it with another noun like ‘apple’ and you’ll notice it does make some sense). Since it behaves like a noun, it is a noun clause.
Noun clauses are usually constructed this way:
Subject + Predicate + -era form of verb
With the predicate usually being a verbal, and the end of the clause being a verb in the -era form. However, any clause that functions essentially like a noun becomes a noun clause. It doesn’t necessarily have to follow the above format.
तिमीले भनेको जोक राम्रो थियो (timi`le bhaneko jokramro thiyo)
= That joke you said was good.
[You + said + joke + good + was]
Remember that to make a longer sentence we are just simply joining smaller sentences together! That’s how we construct longer sentences anyway. So, you can think of long sentences as being consisted of modules which we add to the sentence. Remembering that clauses are simply these modules is usually enough to know how to place clauses like a jigsaw puzzle. The subordinate clause always precedesthe main clause. This is due to something that grammarians call ‘head finality’ which is completely useless for a language learner. In short, theses clauses called ‘modifiers’ must always precede the main clause because it modifies the main clause.
Here are a few (read ‘two’) more sentences which employ a noun clause:
जसले राम्रो काम गर्छ ऊ स्वर्ग जान्छ (jasle ramro kam garchau swarga jancha)
= He who does good workgoes to heaven.’
उसले गरेको कुरालेउसलाई समस्या दिइरहेको छ (usle gareko kura`leuslai samasya diiraheko cha)
= The thing he did has been giving him (a) problem.
This will be the most important clause for you because it will give you great powers without great electricity bills though. Before I go ahead, I faced a dilemma…should I call this relative clause or just adjective clause? In the end, I called it adjective clause because this clause will encompass relative clause too. So, what are adjective clauses and why are they so important so suddenly?
Let’s do a small exercise. Wait! Don’t start wearing jogging equipment yet! Read this sentence:
The person who walks on that street is my father.
You probably noticed that relative pronoun ‘who’ is linking the two clauses together. So, you’ll probably translate the sentence into as:
जो मान्छे सडकमा हिँड्छ वँहा मेरो बाबा हो (jo manche sadak`ma hidcha waha mero baba ho) [ostte]
[Who + person + In street + Walks + he + my + father +is]
While correct, it is cumbersome and not how Nepali people say it at all. Rather, we use a noun modified by an adjective clause. What is an adjective clause, then?
An adjective clause is a clause that behaves like an adjective. In Nepali, it is a clause that has a verbal which modifies a noun. That means, verbals and other words are simply joined together to make up an adjective clause which modifies a noun. For example:
घर गएको मान्छे फेरी आयो (ghar gaeko manche pheri aayo)
= Person who went home returned again.
[home + went + person + again + returned]
Literally, it doesn’t make much sense. Home went person returned again? However, that is how adjective clauses work in Nepali.
Here is a base format that is used to construct an adjective phrase. Note that R2 is not part of the actual clause but nevertheless important because it is the word that the adjective clause modifies:
R1 + -eko form of verb + R2 [R represents group of words/ word that can take up the -eko form]
R1 + -ne form of verb + R2
R1 and R2 can be nouns, locations, adverbs or nominal phrases. They cannot be adjectives though. Also, what’s the difference between the top format and the bottom format? If you know your verbals, then you know that -eko form is used to display something innate (like driedfish) or something of a past (happenedevent) while -ne form is used to show something habitual (like eatinghabit) or something of the present (walkingperson).
रातो (रङ) भएकोफूल (rato (rang) bhaekophul)
= Red (colour) havingflower
So, what does ‘The person who walks on that street is my father’ translates into?
First, split the main clause and the subordinate clause:
The person who walks on that streetis my father. (Sub, Main)
Now, analyse the subordinate clause:
The person who walkson that street (’the person who walks’ will be one component because it contains one one modifier for one object)
We can rewrite this as:
Person who walks on that street (omission of articles because they do not appear in Nepali)
on that street Person who walks (interchanging the two parts)
on that street walking person (conversion ofperson who walksintowalking person)
that + street + on + waking + person (Nepali-fication word order)
and finally, direct translation:
tyo sadak ma hidne manche
Which is literally ‘that street on walking person’. So, joining that to the main clause:
tyo sadak ma hidne manchemero buba ho.
= That person who walks on the street is my father.
I am sorry if this is a bit confusing but with some practice you can easily master the use of adjective clauses. In it’s true sense, the above sentence is actually a relative clause. However, relative clauses are adjective clause too!
I hope you are getting why ‘person who walks’ becomes ‘walking person’. Let’s consider this example. The word ‘eating thing’ can also be written as ‘Thing which can be eaten’. So, using the same logic the reverse is also true. ‘Person who is studying/ who studies’ becomes ‘studying person’. Similarly, ‘person who eats’ becomes ‘eating person’.
We can directly use this new powerful to write shorter and easier sentences:
हिजो घर जानेमान्छे को थियो ? (hiko ghar jane manche ko thiyo)
= Who was the person who went home yesterday?
[yesterday + house + going + person + who + was]
राम जहिले पढ्ने मान्छे हो (ramjahile padhnemanche ho)
= Ram is always a person who studies.
[Ram + always + studies + person + is]
माछा किनेकोव्यक्तिहरु यता बस्नुहोस् (macha kineko byakti`haru yata basnuhos)
= People who have bought fish sit here.
[fish + bought + people + here + sit]
Now, why did I call them powerful? That is because even though we have means of using relative clauses, we use the simpler one instead in daily life. It is powerful because a lot can be expressed using a lot less! Adjective clauses work because they behave like adjectives hence they must always precede the word they are modifying and definitely before the main clause.
खल्तीमा भएकोचाबी हरायो (khalti`ma bhaeko chabi harayo)
= The keys that were in pocket got lost.
[In Pocket + Having + key + lost]
उसले राम्रो देखिने लुगा लगायो (usleramro dekhineluga lagayo)
= He wore clothes that looks nice. (= He wore clothes which looks nice)
[He + good + looks + clothes + wears]
मेरो घरमा घाँस काट्ने छुरी छ (mero ghar`maghaas katnechuri cha)
= There is grass-cutting knifein my home.
[My + in house + grass + cutting + knife + is]
However, this doesn’t mean that adjective clauses which have relative pronouns are not adjective clauses! We can still use them, especially when the verb is one that shows a state-of-being, that is ‘ho’:
जोविद्यार्थी होईन, त्यो स्कूल जाँदैन (jo bidyarthi hoina tyo skul jadaina)
= Who is not a student doesn’t go to school.
[who + student + is not + that + school + not go]
An adverb clause is a clause that behaves as an adverb. It describes or modifies the situation, action in terms of effect, conditions etc. In English, adverb clauses can be recognized because it modifies the main clause in terms of time (when, since etc.), cause (because, since etc.), contrast (while, even etc.) and condition (if, whether etc.).
यो हुनु भन्दा अगाडी नजाऊ
= Don’t go until this happens.
Adverb clauses usually tell a reason so you expect a ‘le’ particle to be attached to the verbal. ‘Le’ is really just a short-cut of saying ‘le garda’ so don’t be confused when you see both appear at the same time. It isn’t uncommon for the clause to appear in the beginning of the sentence because the preference of a subordinate clause coming before a main clause is usually greater than adverbs appearing before verbs.
ऊ बिरामी भएकोले ऊ औषधी लिन्छ (u birami bhaekole u ausadhi lincha)
= He takes medicines because he is ill
[He + sick + is therefore + he + medicine + takes]
भाईले धेरै खाएकोले गर्दाउसको पेट दुख्यो (bhai`le dherai khaaekole gardausko pet dukhyo)
= Brother’s tummy was upset because he ate a lot.
[Brother + Lot + Ate + Do + His + Tummy + Hurt]
Literally, ‘le garda’ means ‘by doing’, so the above sentence looks more like this:
Brother by doing many eating, brother’s tummy got hurt (= was upset)
पानीपरेन भने म स्कूल जान्छु (pani parena bhane ma skul janchu)
=If it doesn’t rain then I will go to school.
[Water + not fall + if + I + school + go]
यो ठाउँको पानी सफा भएपछि मात्रैमाछाहरु आउँछन् (yo thau`ko pani safa bhaepachi maatrai macha`haru aauchan)
= Only after this place’s water becomes cleanfishes will come.
[This + place’s + water + clean + after becoming + only + fishes + come]
The above sentence looks unnecessarily complicated. Let me break it down for you:
यो ठाउँको पानी (yo thau`ko pani) /this place’s water/ = Nominal Phrase (Part of the Adverb Clause) [this + place’s + water’
सफा भए-पछि मात्रै (safa bhaepachi matrai) /only after being clean/ = Adverb Clause (Subordinate Clause) [clean + becoming – after + only]
माछाहरु आउँछन् (macha`haru auchan) /fishes come/ = Main Clause [fishes + come]
Even if we literally put the sentence together, we get an understandable sentence in English:
This place’s water only after being clean fishes come.
To recognize an adverb clause, ask a question using ‘how’, ‘why’ or ‘unless’. If it is answerable, then it is an adverb clause. For example:
He takes medicines. Why? Because he is sick.
That ‘because he is sick’ will be your adverb clause.
JOINING UP CLAUSES
Now that we know the various kinds of clauses and phrases, we can now construct a sentence by joining up various clauses. It is vital to be able to split a sentence into its components and placing it back in order later on.
Here are some rules of adding clauses:
- The Subordinate clause must always precede the main clause or at least the main verb
- Mostly, the subject (if it is present) of the main clause is written first, then the subordinate clause then finally the rest of the main clause
- When clauses are used, the whole group can be treated as one word and placed accordingly
- Word order still prevails in clauses
Here is an example:
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (finding the subordinate clause/ here, the noun clause is bolded)
Now, translate the subordinate clause into Nepali. We can even split it into phrases!
Thee to a summer’s day
a summer’s day = nominal phrase
Now, since ‘to’ is modifying the nominal phrase ‘a summer’s day’ (it behaves like one word…try saying ‘to X’), the ‘to’ will come after the phrase because in Nepali, prepositions like ‘to’ come after the word they intend to modify. (Go to this lesson to find out more) To is ‘sanga’ in Nepali.
Now, the phrase will be ‘summer’s day to’ in Nepali. Joining it with ‘thee’ which is ‘timi`lai’ in Nepali,
तिमीलाई गर्मीको दिनसँग (timi`lai garmi`ko din`sanga)
[Thee + Summer’s + day + To]
Now that we have our subordinate clause, we can join it with the main clause:
Shall I compare
= म तुलना गरुँ (ma tulana garu)
[I + compare + shall do]
Now, join it with the subordinate clause:
म तिमीलाई गर्मीको दिनसँग तुलना गरुँ? (ma timi`lai garmi`ko din`sanga tulana garu?)
= Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
[subject + subordinate clause + main clause]
Pretty easy, right? Once you know how to work out the clauses and phrases and translate them, you can easily handle lengthier sentences. Let’s check out an example:
Cinderella’s stepmother was a wicked woman who treated her badly.
The ‘who treated her badly’ is an adjective phrase because it modifies ‘wicked woman’.
Cinderella’s stepmother = Nominal Phrase
Cinderella’s stepmother was a wicked woman = Main Clause
who treated her badly. = Adjective Clause
Now, we can translate them:
= सिंडिरेल्लाकी सौतेनी आमा (sidirella`ki sauteni aama)
[Cinderella’s + Step + Mother]
was a wicked woman
= एक दुष्ट स्त्री थिई (ek dushta stri thii)
[one + wicked + woman + was]
who treated her badly.
= उसलाई दुर्व्यवहार गर्ने (us`lai durbyawahaar garne)
[Her + mistreat + doing]
Joining the sentence:
सिंडिरेल्लाकी सौतेनी आमा उसलाई दुर्व्यवहार गर्ने एक दुष्ट स्त्री थिई (sindirella`ki sauteni aama uslai durbbyawahaar garne ek dushta stri thii)
In this way, you can construct sentences.
Phew! That was a lengthy lesson. However, I believe that after reading that, you should be able to construct better sentences. A sentence is really just clauses and phrases. I would have explained more about the types of sentences but it would take too much length. If you didn’t understand something, then please ask! Thank you!
A. RECOGNIZE THE NOUN AND THE ADJECTIVE CLAUSES
1. The tree that blooms throughout spring was planted by my father.
2. Toys that are sold in this store are of good quality.
3. रातो काडाँ भएको फूल कुन हो?
4. घर हिँड्दै जाने विद्यार्थीहरु को-को हुन्?
5. मेरो कपाल बिगार्ने को हो?
B. RECOGNIZE THE ADVERB CLAUSE
1. यहाँका रुखहरु स्यार नपुगेर मरे
2. If it rains the farmers will be happy.
C. REARRANGE THESE PHRASES AND CLAUSES TO MAKE MEANINGFUL SENTENCES
1. राम्रो हुन्थ्यो / मेरो घरमा/ बाटोमा हिँड्ने मान्छेहरु/ आएको भए (It would be good if people walking on the streets would come to my home)
2. हेपेको हो/ सबैले /सानो भएर/ तिमीलाई (Everyone despises you because you are small)
D. TRANSLATE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES
1. The bird which crows in the morning is the rooster.
2. Mr. Jones ate some rice because he was hungry.
3. The person who made this art was my brother.
ANSWERS (for illustrative purposes only)
A. 1. The tree that blooms throughout spring was planted by my father.
A. 2. Toys that are sold in this store are of good quality.
A. 3. रातो काडाँ भएको फूल कुन हो?
A. 4. घर हिँड्दै जाने विद्यार्थीहरु को-को हुन्?
A. 5. मेरो कपाल बिगार्ने मान्छे को हो?
B. 1. यहाँका रुखहरु स्यार नपुगेर* मरे
B. 2. If it rains the farmers will be happy.
C. 1. मेरो घरमा बाटोमा हिँड्ने मान्छेहरु आएको भए राम्रो हुन्थ्यो
C. 2. सबैले तिमीलाई सानो भएर हेपेको हो
D. 1. बिहान बास्ने चरा भाले हो
D. 2. भोक लागेकोले जोनेस ज्यूले भात खानुभयो
D. 3. यो कला बनाउने मान्छे मेरो भाई हो