As every language learner knows, no rules of grammar is written in concrete and there are exceptions in everything and there are exceptions in every exception. Something like Exception-Inception. However, this is not a deterrent!
You have good news and bad news. The bad news is, there are irregular verbs in Nepali. The good news is that, there are only two irregular verbs in common use! I guess you might have guess one. The first one is हुनु (hunu) which means ‘to be’ and the other is ‘जानु’ (janu) which means ‘To go’. Also, ‘लानु’ (lanu) is somewhat the ‘adulterated’ or ‘casual’ version of ‘लग्नु’ (lagnu) so, all conjugations of लानु (lanu) follows of ‘लग्नु’ (lagnu).
There is already a lesson about ‘Hunu’, so you can check it here.
Also, the good thing is, ‘जानु’ (janu) follows standard formations. It is just that, while you conjugate ‘janu’ into past tense, its root will be ‘ग’ (ga) instead of ‘जा’ (jaa). There is no other difference.
Just in case, for example, the verb ‘हिंड्नु’ (hidnu), while conjugating, we remove the ’nu’ from it and add the various forms of whatever you are conjugating. So, the root of हिंड्नु (hidnu) is ‘हिंड्’ (hid). As you (might) know, verbs are quite inflicted, so the Past Tense (1st person, simple, singular) conjugation is ‘हिंड्छुँ’ (hidchu).
Now, in the case of ‘Janu’, instead of using ‘जा’ (jaa) for past tense, we use ‘ग’ (ga). Yet, for Present and Future tense, we use ‘जा’ (jaa) as the root word. Example, the 1st person (simple, singular) Past tense will be ‘गएँ’ (gae) yet the Present of the same would be ‘जान्छु’ (janchu) and the Future will be ‘जानेछु’ (janechau).
And that is it! The ’ga’ will follow standard verb conjugation rules which have been written in their respective lessons.
While you conjugate verbs which have a root ending with a vowel sound to 3rd person (Simple Present Tense) then that vowel sound takes a nasalisation. For example, a normal verb like ‘रोक्नु’ (roknu/ to stop) would be:
रोक्नु (roknu) = रोक् (rok)+ छ (cha) = रोक्छ (rokcha)
But a verb like बनाउनु (banaunu) [to make] will take a ’Chandrabindu’ (ँ) sign [Chandrabindu dictates Nasalisation].
So, the verb would be conjugated into:
बनाउनु (banaunu) = बनाउ (banau) + छ (cha) = बनाउँछ (banaucha)
But then, it behaves the same way with Present Continuous Tense too! So:
बनाउनु (banaunu) = बनाउ (banau) + दै (dai) + छ (cha) = बनाउँदै छ (banaucha)
And it behaves the same way with others too! (except tapai, because it doesn’t involve roots)
So, it isn’t बनाउछु (banauchu) but it is ‘बनाउँछु’ (banauchu). [Simple Present, Single, 1st Person].
So, it isn’t ‘आउछु’ but it is ‘आउँछु’. [Notice the mark]
So, we have come to a conclusion that verbs which has a vowel as its end sound takes a nasalisation. This means that, the roots of such kind of vowels is not a clean vowel but rather a nasalized one.
Some verbs with vowels as the ending are:
आउनु (aaunu/ to come)
जलाउनु (jalaunu/ to burn something)
पकाउनु (pakaunu/ to cook)
so, you can practically imagine their roots as :
respectively. (* = chandrabindhu)
TAI OR DAI
Sometimes the verb, while conjugating it into continuous tense, the verb takes ‘तै’ (tai) instead of the normal ‘दै’(dai). This is often seen in Negative Conjugation.
Example, the verb ‘सक्नु’ (saknu) [to finish] is often written as ‘सक्तैन’ (saktaina) instead of ‘सक्दैन’ (saktaina), especially in older texts. Another example is ‘हाँस्तैन’ (hastaina).
However, due to the modern trends, the ‘तै’ (tai) is often readily replaced with ‘दै’(dai), so no need to worry on that! The ‘tai’ conjugation was removed, because it is archaic, confusing and of course, to standardize Nepali. ‘Dai’ is more accepted nowadays. I just mentioned this because some texts do this.
In fact, nowadays, it is said that the ‘hraswa’ and ‘dirgha’ rules don’t really apply and now, you can write whichever you prefer! So, basically, you can write फूल (phool) which means ‘flower’ as ‘फुल’ (phul) which means ‘egg’. Of course, there is a lot of debate still going on about this topic, so I think it is best to avoid this spelling debacle all together.
Some argue that the true meanings won’t be conveyed, like they won’t make sense.
For example, if you say ‘म तिमीलाई फूल दिन्छु’ (ma timi lai phool dinchu), you mean you will give a flower. But if you say ‘म तिमीलाई फुल दिन्छु’ (ma timi lai phul dinchu) then it would mean that you will give an egg. But if you meant ‘flower’ but wrote ‘egg’ instead (in Nepali), then will people understand? Which person would give an egg? Like, here! An egg! I love you! What?
How can you say “म तिमीलाई फुल दिन्छु’ (ma timi lai phul dinchu) but what you actually meant was I will give a flower? That is why there is a debate. There are a lot of words which sound the same, just differentiated by the critical, hraswa and dirgha.
Yet, people argue that this ‘Hraswa’ and ‘Dirgha’ rule has confused people, especially children. They say that the context makes things clear, like of course, you mean to give a ‘flower’.
So, the debate goes on.
PRESENT TENSE AS FUTURE TENSE
In Nepali, it is not at all uncommon to use Present Tense to denote the Future. Also, people use present tense to denote a habitual thing.
This leads the present tense to have three meanings:
- As Present tense
- As future Tense
- As a habitual tense
Taking the sentence:
म भात खान्छु (ma bhat khanchu)
So, it means that it can be interpreted three ways:
I eat rice.
I am about to eat rice. (Or I will eat rice)
I eat rice (as a habit).
राम घर जान्छ (ram ghar jaancha)
Ram goes home.
Ram will go home. (As now)
Ram goes home. (as a habit)
The context makes it clear, usually, so it is very important to know what is being talked about.
VARIATION OF VERBS
Sometimes, two verbs with same magnitude (meaning) might appear with a slight variation in their spelling. For example, in Nepali, these two verbs:
Both have the same meaning, ’To be destroyed’. The basic difference is that, in such verbs, the second last syllable might appear with either with an ‘अ’ (a) sound or an ‘इ’ (i) sound. You can interswitch between those two and both are correct, though. Another example is :
सल्किनु (salkinu) – सल्कनु (salkanu) [= to be ignited]
FACT: Saying ‘inu’ is easier but conjugating ‘anu’ is easier!
But please do note that ‘सकाउनु’ (sakaaunu/ to finish) and सकिनु (sakinu/ to be finished) are different things!