Verbs are perhaps the most important part of Nepali Language. A whole sentence can be completed by a verb and infact a sentence can have only a verb! Verbs are also one of the most – if not the most – difficult parts on learning Nepali. Did you learn all your basic verbs? That’s cute, because there are compound verbs too! Great, now what?
Worry no more! A compound verb is a fusion between two or more verbs (one main and other auxiliary) whose meanings join and functions as one verb. That meaning, verbs join to be one and then that compound verb functions as one single verb. Sometimes, a Noun/ Predicate + Verb combination is also called a compound verb. However, some linguists argue that they aren’t real compound verbs and only Verb + Verb compounds can be considered to be true. The point of the lesson is to teach you how to make compound verbs (V+V) in Nepali.
Compound verbs are extremely rare in English, with only a fist full like ’stirfry’ and ’forcefeed’. On the other hand, you can create many compound verbs in Nepali using only a handful of Auxiliary Verbs.
So, first let’s see the structure of V + V compounds.
In English, the auxiliary verb comes before the main verb. For example:
He has studied. (auxiliary in italics, main verb in bold)
So as you can see, the auxiliary verbs comes before the main verb. In Nepali however, the auxiliary verb comes AFTER the main verb. Weird, right? So that means:
He studied has.
However, things are not simply that easy. The main verb has to be slightly modified when we add such auxiliaries. That means, the main verb is not kept unaltered when we add auxiliaries!
So first, let’s see the common auxiliary verbs in Nepali, and their original meaning:
गर्नु (garnu) = To do
दिनु (dinu) = To give
हाल्नु (halnu) = To put
राख्नु (rakhnu) = To keep; to place
सक्नु (saknu) = To finish
छोड्नु (chodnu) = To leave
पाउनु (paaunu) = To get; To receive
आउनु (aaunu) = To come
Now, as you know, the auxiliary is kept after the main verb. But, we cannot just say, like:
खानुराख्नु (khanurakhnu) [खानु + राख्नु]
In other words, we cannot just keep the main verb unaltered! Even though the auxiliary verb is kept unaltered, the main verb must be changed a bit. That also means, all conjugations will affect the auxiliary verb and not the main verb.
So, how do we change the main verb?
First, extract the root from the verb. To do that, just remove ‘नु’ (nu) from the verb. [E.g: खानु (khanu) -> खा (kha) / रोक्नु (roknu) -> रोक् (rok) ]
For दिनु (dinu), हाल्नु (halnu), राख्नु (rakhnu), छोड्नु (chodnu) and हेर्नु (hernu):
Add इ (i) to the root and then add the auxiliary. If the root ends in a consonant sound (AKA without an inherent vowel sound) then change the consonant into its ‘i’ sound. For example:
खा (kha) + इ (i) + दिनु (dinu) = खाइदिनु (khaidinu)
रोक् (rok) + इ (i) + दिनु (dinu) = रोकिदिनु (rokidinu)
For सक्नु (saknu) and पाउनु (paaunu):
Add न (na) to the root and then add the auxiliary. For example:
खा (kha) + न (na) + सक्नु (saknu) = खानसक्नु (khanasaknu)
रोक् (rok) + न (na) + सक्नु (saknu) = रोक्नसक्नु (roknasaknu)
For गर्नु (garnu) and आउनु (aaunu):
Add दै (dai) to the root and then add the auxiliary. For example:
खा (kha) + दै (dai) + गर्नु (garnu) = खाँदैगर्नु (khadaigarnu)
रोक् (rok) + दै (dai) + गर्नु (garnu) = रोक्दैगर्नु (rokdaigarnu)
The auxiliary and the main verb must stick together, so for example it shouldn’t be रोक्दै गर्नु but it should be रोक्दैगर्नु.
When you add दै (dai) to verb roots that is only one character long, then you must add the nasalising diacritic ँ (chandrabindu) to the root. You can see that in the example खाँदैगर्नु (khadaigarnu).
If जानु (janu) happens to be the main verb in the condition where the root takes इ (i), the compounding is done with the root ग (ga).
So, now you have learnt how to compound verbs. However, what are their respective meanings? As you might have guessed, the auxiliary verb loses a large amount of its original meaning. So, that means, खाइदिनु doesn’t mean ‘To eat give’! So, what will happen then?
WHAT THEY MEAN
When you say ’X garnu’ (where X is the main verb), it sends a meaning of habituality and continuity of the main verb. So, for example:
= To keep eating
Easy, right? Now, the ‘garnu’ part is conjugated, for example:
3rd Person Conjugation (No honour) = खाँदैगर्छ (khadaigarcha)
उ खाना खाँदैगर्छ (u khana khadaigarcha)
= He will keep eating rice.
When you say ‘X dinu’ (where X is the main verb), it gives three meanings (depending on the context):
It means that the receiver is benefited from the action of the main verb. For example:
मैले यो तिमीलाई किनिदिएँ (maile yo timi`lai kinidiye)
= I bought this for you.
It gives permission or command to do the action of the main verb. For example:
यो काम गरिदेऊ (yo kaam garideu)
= Do this work
It gives emphasis to the action of the main verb. For example:
उसले त सबै काम गरिदियो! (us`le ta sabai kaam garidiyo)
= He did all the work!
When you say ‘X haalnu’ (where X is the main verb), it gives a meaning of ‘to do the action of the main verb immediately’. For example:
= To do immediately
त्यो काम गरिहाल (tyo kaam garihaala)
= Do that work immediately.
When you say ’X rakhnu’ (where X is the main verb), it gives a meaning of continuity. The difference between rakhnu and garnu is that, rakhnu might not denote habituality like garnu does. For example:
= To keep eating
उसले खाना खाइराख्यो (us`le khana khairakhyo)
= He kept eating food.
Using ’saknu’ denotes Potential to do some work. Since this has already been explained in the lesson ‘Potentiality in Nepali’, you can head over to that lesson by clicking here.
When you say ’X chodnu’ (where X is the main verb), it shows determination to do the action of the main verb. When used to describe past events, it signals that the action of the main verb was completed with determination. For example:
= To be determined to do
= To be determined to eat
उसले खाना खाइछोड्यो (us`le khana khaichodyo)
= He ate food, (finally!). [Indicates he was determined or kept trying]
When you say ’X paaunu’ (where X is the main verb), it shows opportunity to do the action of the main verb. For example:
= To get the opportunity to eat (or to get to eat)
रामले मीठो खाना खानपायो (ram`le mitho khana khanapaayo)
= Ram got to eat good food. (OR /Ram got the opportunity to…/)
When you say ’X aaunu’, then the sentence’s meaning depends on the conjugation of the auxiliary. Usually shows continuity.
= To come eating
If conjugated into Simple: Gives a meaning of ‘To come X-ing’
ऊ भात खाँदैआयो (u bhat khadaiaayo)
= He came eating rice.
If conjugated into Perfective: Gives a meaning of continuity (since a long time). That means, the event was done since a long span of time.
ऊ पढाउँदैआएको छ (u padhaaudaiaaeko cha)
= He has been teaching (for a long time).
The transitivity of the compound verb depends on the main verb’s transitivity. That means, even if the auxiliary verb is intransitive, if the main verb happens to be transitive, the whole compound verb will be transitive. This will guide you where to use ’le’.
UP TO HOW MANY VERBS CAN BE COMPOUNDED?
Theoretically up to 10 verbs can be compounded. However, for practical reasons, the standard limit is imposed to 4. Yeah, I know. I will tell more about 2+ verb compounding later. One thing is, as verb compounding gets larger and larger, the meaning gets more and more abstract. An example is:
उसले खाइदिसकिहाल्यो (us`le khaaidisakihaalyo)
= He had already eaten it immediately.
[Here: खाइ + दि + सकि + हाल्यो]
More about 2+ verb compounding later.
Q. WHAT PARTICIPIAL FORMS (like -dai, -i) ARE USED TO CONSTRUCT THESE COMPOUND VERBS? IS -era USED TOO?
A. Five participial forms are used to make compound verbs:
1. Absolutive (-i) [most used]
2. Infinitive (-na)
3. Continuative (-dai)
4. Gerundive (-nu)
5. Prospective (-ne) [least used]
Personally, you shouldn’t be worried about this. So no, –era is not used.
Q. CAN WE USE ANY PARTICIPIAL TO FORM COMPOUNDS WITH ANY VERB? LIKE USING -dai WITH CHODNU?
A. No. Verbs take only certain participials assigned to them when forming compound verbs.
So, that is all you have to know now about compound verbs. It might be a bit of a hassle to learn first, but learning compound verbs brings you one step closer to mastering Nepali Verbs.
A. FILL IN THE BLANKS WITH THE CORRECT MAIN VERB FORM:
1. ______छोड्नु (खान, खाइ, खाँदै)
2. ______सक्नु (पढ्न, पढ्नु, पढ्ने)
B. IS THE FOLLOWING COMPOUND VERB FORM CORRECT?
C. MAKE ANY COMPOUND VERB USING THE FOLLOWING VERBS AS THE BASE:
ANSWERS (Answers for C are for illustrative purposes only)
A. 1. खाइ
A. 2. पढ्न
B. 1. Yes
B. 2. Yes
B. 3. No
C. 1. हिँडिहाल्नु
C. 2. छुनसक्नु