So you have learnt how to make simple sentences with the right conjugations in the previous chapter, which was published around seven months ago. Let’s learn how to use Agyaat and Habitual Form of Verb! Also, we will learn how ‘Present’ tense is used for ‘future tense’.
So, you probably know that Nepali is a SUBJECT + OBJECT + VERB language. That means, the verb appears in the end. So “John oranges ate ” would be a normal sentence in Nepali.
Last time, what we saw was sentences in Simple Tenses only. This time, we will learn a new aspect of Verb that is not present in English, the ’agyaat’ or ‘Unknown’.
THE UNKNOWN ASPECT
Perhaps one of the more difficult things to master in Nepali (for a learner) is the ‘Unknown Aspect’. The unknown aspect is known as ‘अज्ञात भूत’ (agyaat bhut) in Nepali. The unknown aspect belongs to the family of Past Tense(s), hence agyaat bhut describes the past.
Do you know what it is? It basically encompasses things that were not aware to a subject but now the subject is aware of it. That thing can be anything, a physical notion or an abstract one. It refers to the state indicated by the verb which was not ‘known’ prior to the speaker till this this current time.
There is no translation for such type of conjugations in English and hence, translators are forced to paraphrase things to convey the same meaning. Take the sentence:
रामले भात खाएछ (ram le bhat khaecha)
= Ram has eaten rice, I see.
That word ’khaecha’ is in the unknown aspect. Prior to this report, the reporter was not aware of ’Ram’ eating Rice. Although Ram has already eaten rice, the reporter did not know it. Other people might have known that action but the speaker did not. However, the reporter finds out and he exclaims ’Ram has eaten rice, I see’ or ‘Ram has eaten rice, I didn’t know’.
So basically, the reporter was unaware of the whole situation! Someone, he finds out and hence he exclaims that statement.
ऊ काठमाडौंबाट रहेछ (u kathmadau bata rahecha)
= He is from Kathmandu, I see.
Nepali doesn’t use the verb ‘हुनु’ (hunu) when describing unknown aspect, if you mean to make sentences like above. Rather, the verb रहनु (rahanu) is used. That is because, the past tenses of हुनु (hunu) are भयो (bhayo) and थियो (thiyo) which…kind of don’t make sense because they have a meaning of something like ’became’ and ’existed’ respectively.
परिक्षा सजिलो रहेछ (pariksha sajilo rahecha)
= The exam was easy, I didn’t think so.
Now, when you say the above, the speaker had expected the Exam to be ‘difficult’. However, he later finds out that it was ‘not’ difficult. Hence, he later tells his friend that ‘the exams was easy’. The unknown aspect dictates that prior to the knowledge of the situation to the reporter, that event and its aspects remain unknown to the reporter even though the event has already been performed. Now, the reporter can be anyone at anytime, but the unknown aspect applies in those conditions.
Suppose you were walking on the street when suddenly you found out that you have forgotten to bring your cellphone! You panic and then say ‘मोबाइल ल्याउन बिर्सेछु!’ (mobail lyauna birsechu) which means ‘I forgot to bring my Cellphone! Oh no!’ Now, you are physically present on a different location, away from your Phone however the cellphone is yours right? You do seem to remember fiddling with it during the morning. However, you were not aware of the fact that you had forgotten your phone home. You were walking on the streets, oblivious to that fact. In fact, you might even be confident that your phone was in your pocket (a false knowledge). Now, you reach for your pockets but alas! No phone and hence you exclaim that sentence ‘मोबाइल ल्याउन बिर्सेछु!’. Prior to your knowledge, the phone ‘existed’ in your pockets but then after you know the situation, you now know that the phone was never there in the first place. The unknown aspect is that, prior to the report or the knowledge, the condition was unknown to you. Here, the condition of the phone being missing was unknown to you.
So, did you get the unknown aspect in Nepali?
तिमीले खाना खान बिर्सेछौ (timi le khana khana birsechau)
= You forgot to eat your food, it seems.
Oh my god! How can you even forget to eat! God hath saidth in the ten eleven commandments-th that thou shalt never forget to eat!
Okay, so the sentence says what the translation says. Dissecting the parts, the subject here ‘You’ (तिमी) is not aware of the fact that he has not eaten. However, the speaker becomes aware that he hasn’t eaten and hence conveys the said message to the subject. So, can you guess how he would reply (without going outside the box)?
ए! मैले त खानै बिर्सेछु (e! maile ta khanai birsechu)
= Oh! (it seems) I have forgotten to eat!
So, here he is now aware of the fact and reprimands himself. Prior to the reporting done by someone else, the subject himself wasn’t aware of the situation. What happens after that? The subject will probably help himself with food. Don’t ask me, and don’t use too much of that logic!
Okay, one last example and I expect you to understand the Unknown Aspect in Nepali:
तिमीले लेखेनछौ (timi le lekhenachau)
= (It seems) you haven’t written.
Wait, this doesn’t look like Unknown Aspect at all? But in fact, it is. It is in the unknown aspect, but the mood is in Negative. Put bluntly, this sentence was composed using Negative Conjugation. What happens when we use negative conjugation in Sentences then? Does it become ‘Known Aspect’?
Put straightforward, no. It doesn’t become ‘Known Aspect’. It rather denotes negative actions done in the past but now that the reporter knows about it. So, prior to the knowledge of the speaker, the ‘non-writing’ even had already been done, just the speaker wasn’t aware of it. Now, the speaker is aware of it, the speaker points out to the subject ‘तिमी’ that he hasn’t written yet. It is just the event carrying negativity. The event is done technically, but that event is ’not do = write’ instead of the positive ’do = write’.
THE PAST HABITUAL TENSE
The Past Habitual Tense is called ‘अभ्यस्त भूत’ (abhyasta bhut) in Nepali. Some people also call it ’Past Imperfective Tense’ but I don’t use the moniker. So, it basically indicates regular occurrence of a certain action in the past. Kind of like ‘used to eat’ in the sentence ‘I used to eat’.
The action may or may not be done now, however the doer of that action used to do it habitually (at regular occurrences) during the past. Understand this concept is very easy, because it does have an equivalent (Albeit using auxiliaries) in English. The auxiliaries that show habituality in English is ‘Used to’ or ‘would’, as in ‘I used to eat rice’ or ‘I would eat early’.
Take the following sentence:
जन भात खान्थ्यो (jan bhat khanthyo)
= John used to eat rice.
Just as a note, subjects in sentences which uses past habitual tenses do not take the particle ले (le). Okay, so here, the subject ‘John’ did an event in the past at regular occurrences. So, he ‘Used to’ do the action. The action is ‘to eat rice’. Therefore, he used to eat rice during the past in regular intervenes.
ऊ हिमाल चड्थ्यो (u himal chadthyo)
= He used to climb mountains.
Not so difficult to understand, right? However, if we use negative conjugation, then what will the results be?
जन भात खादैनथ्यो (jan bhat khadainathyo)
= John did not used to eat rice.
So, using Negative Conjugation denotes actions that was not done at regular occurrences.
HOW DOES PRESENT TENSE DENOTE THE FUTURE?
Time flows on. In English, when you describe future events, you say ‘X will Y’. The word ‘will’ denotes that an action Y will be done by X in some point in the future. Nepali too, has a future tense. However, people usually do not use future tense to denote the future at all! People use Present Tense. Now, an interesting question arises. Even when there is a future tense, why do people use present tense then?
Read the first line! Time flows on. 1 second ago, it becomes Past; time 1 second later is the future, however we reach future quick enough. There is no absolute ‘Present’. As soon as the present happens, it becomes past. The ‘future’ soon becomes present!
What I mean to say is that, you cannot take any frame of time as your ’absolute present’. The future soon becomes present after all! However, the present was a ‘future’ some time ago, right? Past is past, but present and the future keeps moving. So, this moving timeline sends its roots in Nepali…the present was after all, future at some point in time.
Well, that was a horrible explanation (at least to me), so long story short Present Tense also denotes future tense. However, by Present Tense I meant ‘Simple Present Tense’. I think I forgot to mention that…Continuous Tense doesn’t denote the future partly because it describes a continuous event happening right now, whereas Present Perfect Tense denotes an event that has already been completed. *phew*
Now, how do you differentiate? Through Context and common sense. When you say ‘म भोलि भात खान्छु’ (ma bholi bhat khanchu) [I + tomorrow + Rice + Eat), you automatically understand that ‘You will eat rice tomorrow’. How can we describe tomorrow using today, right? In fact, simple present is seldom used as such (a bit more than seldom…). It is often used in the context of present habitual tense.
Hence, म भात खान्छु (ma bhat khanchu) can also mean ‘I eat rice regularly’.
So, when you say ‘म अमेरिका जान्छु’ (ma amerika janchu), people understand by the context that you will go to America.
- The Unknown Aspect denotes the state indicated by the verb which was not ‘known’ prior to the speaker till this this current time.
- The Past Habitual Tense denotes an action which was done at regular occurrences during the past.
- Simple Past Tense can denote Future Tense and Present Habitual Tense.
So, that is all you have to know in the intermediate step! It wasn’t so hard right? By this time, you are expected to understand basic sentences and be able to read and write Devanagari. Remember, in order to learn a language, you need to be fluent on the script too! You cannot depend on Romanization forever!
And finally, as always, if you feel some things need to be explained to you, then you can contact me anytime.
A. TRANSLATE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES
1. रुख अग्लो रहेछ (rukh aglo rahecha)
2. घाम र छायाँ साथी हुन गर्दथ्यो । (gham ra chaya sathi huna gardathyo)
B. FILL IN THE BLANKS WITH THE CORRECT VERB FORM
1. ऊ भात _________ (खान्थ्यो / खान्थे )
2. मेरी मेचमा __________ (बसेछ / बसिछे )
C. CONVERT THE VERBS INTO WHAT THE BRACKET DENOTES
1. सक्नु (Past Habitual Tense, 2nd Person, Low Respect, Masculine, positive)
2. मार्नु (Unknown Aspect, 1st Person, Plural, negative)
A. 1. The tree was tall, I didn’t know. (might vary among translators)
A. 2. The sun and the shadow used to be friends. (as above)
B. 1. खान्थ्यो
B. 2. बसिछे
C. 1. सक्थिस्
C. 2. मारेनछौँ