Gendered Speech: Adjectives

Last time you learnt how to convert gender between nouns. This time, you will learn how to convert gender of adjectives

An adjective is a type of word which modifies a noun to describe it. An example of an adjective in English is ’Cold’. Translating, you get ‘चिसो’ (chiso).

You will encounter two types of Adjectives. They are:

  1. ‘Type-One’ Adjectives: The ones whose gender can be changed. An example of this is ‘कालो’ (kalo/ black). These type of adjectives generally describe animate Objects’ Personal Characteristics (like colour, shape). Please do note that adjectives DO NOTgo under the knife to change their gender, because someone had asked me that. Oh lord(e)…                                      
  2. ‘Type-Two’ Adjectives: Those whose gender cannot be changed. An example of this is ‘धनी’ (dhani/ rich). That means, it has only one form and can be used unaltered in all situations. These type of adjectives generally describe inanimate objects but you know, it could be anything!


Now, only type-one adjectives undergo change. The changes are of three types. For example, the word ‘कालो ’ (kalo/ black) can undergo 3 changes, otherwise 2 more changes. Why? Because the word ’kalo’ is in Neutral/ Masculine Form. As you know, masculine words can be used to describe neutral-gender denoting objects but that doesn’t mean that neutral objects are masculine objects.

Anyway, the three changes are:

  1. Masculine/ Neutral     [Singular]
  2. Feminine                    [Singular/ Plural]
  3. Masculine/ Neutral    [Plural]

So, the word kalo, being ’Neutral Singular’, has 2 more forms, namely:

Feminine Form = काली (kali)

Plural Form = काला (kala)

An added bonus in this lesson is that, you will also learn the plural form rather than just Masculine and Feminine form.


Note: The form of the adjective depends on the status of the following word (i.e. the word it modifies)

So, what are the words that constitute Type-one and Type-Two form of adjectives?

Type-One: अग्लो (aglo/ tall),   कालो (kalo/ black),  मोटो (moto/ fat),  दुब्लो (dublo/ thin), राम्रो (ramro/ good) … etc.

Type-Two: धनी (dhani/ rich),   गरीब (garib/ poor),  नरम (naram/ soft),  गर्मी [garmi/ hot (season)] … etc.

Did you notice any pattern in Type-one adjectives?

Type-one Adjectives have all ended in the vowel sound ‘ओ’ (o). Please do note that the examples are in Masculine/ Neutral form of Adjective.

That is how we identify type-one and type-two adjectives. Type-one adjectives always ends with an ‘ओ’ (o) sound (given the form is in masculine/ neutral form).

On the other hand, type-two Adjectives can end in any vowel ending, including ‘ओ’ (o). So how do we distinguish between them if it ends in ‘ओ’ (o)? Logic of course! You don’t describe animate objects being ‘तातो’ [tato/ hot (temperature) ] or ‘जाडो’ (jado/ cold (weather) ]… well unless you are mother nature of course…


So how do we convert between gender-tone of Adjectives? We conjugate it with the masculine/ neutral form of Adjective, i.e. use it as our base. The rules are very simple! 


Let’s take the adjective ‘मोटो’ (moto/ fat). You can see that it is currently in the form of masculine/ neutral form. Now, to convert it into feminine-form, we simply replace the ‘ओ’ (o) sound with ‘ई’ (ii) sound. Easy  right? Let’s see how to do it:

मोटो (moto)

= मो (mo) + [ ट् (t) + ओ (o) ]

= मो + ( ट् + ओ )   [replace ओ (o) with ई (ii) ]

= मो + (ट् + ई )

= मो + टी (tii ) 

= मोटी (motii )

And the resulting word ‘मोटी’ (motii ) is the feminine version of the word ‘मोटो’ (moto). Easy right? We just replace that ‘o’ sound with ‘ii’ sound! 

Other examples:

कालो (kalo/ black) -> काली (kalii )

सेतो (seto/ white) -> सेती (setii )

दुब्लो (dublo/ thin) -> दुब्ली (dublii )

राम्रो (ramro/ good) -> राम्री (ramrii )



Let’s use the same adjective again. This too, is easy! We replace that ‘ओ’ (o) sound with ‘आ’ (aa) sound. 

मोटो (moto )

= मो (mo) + [ ट् (t) + ओ (o) ]

= मो + ( ट् + ओ )   [replace ओ (o) with आ (aa) ]

= मो + (ट् + आ )

= मो + टा (taa

= मोटा (motaa )

So, the resulting word ‘मोटा’ (motaa) is in Plural Form.

Other examples:

कालो (kal/ black) -> काला (kalaa )

सेतो (seto / white) -> सेता (setaa )

दुब्लो (dublo / thin) -> दुब्ला (dublaa )

राम्रो (ramro / good) -> राम्रा (ramraa )



Like I said before, the form depends on what word it is modifying. So, the adjective ‘X’ will depend of Y (a noun) given that  X is describing Y, i.e. X Y. 

That means in Nepali, If I John had a wife named Mary, John would say ‘I am his husband’! (ma usko shriman ho) That also means Mary would say ‘I am her wife’! (ma uski patni ho) [Do note that ‘his’ and ‘her’ are used as Adjectives (We have a category for that…we call it Sarwanamik bisheshan)]

Now, If the noun is masculine otherwise neutral, we use the ‘Masculine/ Neutral Singular) form of adjective, given the noun is in Singular. While this is often a ‘duh’ kind of statement, most people often overlook this fact. 

So, the words ‘केटा’ (keta/ boy) and किताब (kitab/ book) will take Masculine/ Neutral Singular form of adjective. So:

मोटो केटा (moto keta)

= Fat boy

मोटो किताब (moto kitab)

= Fat Book


It cannot be मोटी केटा (moti keta)!! That would confuse people! Now, don’t be a rebel…Nepali is a bit strict with adjectives!

If the noun is Feminine, we use the ’Feminine’ form of adjective. This applies both to singular and plural aspects. So, the word ‘केटी’ (keti/ girl) will take the feminine form of adjective. So,

मोटी केटी (moti keti)

= Fat girl 

Get it?


Now, just because the word is ’napungsakling’ doesn’t mean you discard its gender. The word ’person’ can refer both to a girl and a boy. So, suppose you don’t want to name a person (thingamy) or don’t know that person, you would still have to differentiate gender if you know the gender. Therefore, saying ‘मोटी मान्छे’ (moti manche) and ‘मोटो मान्छे’ (moto manche) makes a big difference! When you say the former, the listener understands that THAT person being talked about is ‘a girl’ whereas in the latter, the listener would understand that THAT person is ‘a boy’. 

Similarly, if the word is plural, then you use the ‘plural’ form of adjective, unless the plural word is feminine. So, you cannot say ’mota ketiharu’ but instead say ’moti ketiharu’ with feminine Words, i.e. you use feminine Adjectives for feminine words no matter what.

Most people say ‘अल्गी’ (algi ) to describe a Tall girl, even though the proper term is ‘अग्ली’ (agli ). The reason is, ’agli’ sounds similar to ’ugly’ so people find it offensive!  Also, the word ‘ramro’ can also denote the beauty of a person, so ’ramri keti’ means ‘a pretty girl’.




1. दुब्लो (dublo/ thin)

2. राम्रो (ramro/ good)

3. हँसिलो (hasilo/ cheerful)


1. मोटी (moti/ fat

2. सेती (seti/ white)

3. पुड्की (pudki/ short)


1. रातो (rato/ red)

2. पिरो (piro/ spicy)



A. 1. दुब्ली (dubli)

A. 2. राम्री (ramri)

A. 3. हँसिली (hasili)

B. 1. मोटो  (moto)

B. 2. सेतो (seto)

B. 3. पुड्को (pudko)

C. 1. राता (rata)

C. 2. पिरा (pira)