Postpositions: Causal


Correlation does not equal causation, or so the saying goes. Yet sometimes, you just can’t help but wonder why the global temperatures are rising while the number of pirates are decreasing. Are they somehow related? We’d never know.

Yet, when you look at cause and effect at a grand scale, there are certain times when something results in something happening. There are also times when an action is supported with a reason. When you take this into view, you have causes. In Nepali, you point to a cause using causal postpositions. What are they?

Causal postpositions are postpositions that deal with information regarding cause, or the reason for an action that was undertaken. For example, in the following sentence, the word made bold is what a causal postposition is:
Mr. Brown worked hard for his family.

There are several causal postpositions, and we shall look over them in detail.


परिवार (pariwār) = Family
काम गर्नु (kām garnu) = To work (lit. to do work)
छुरी (churī) = Knife
पाउरोटी (pāuroṭī) = Bread
पूजारी (pūjārī) = Priest
काका (kākā) = Younger paternal uncle
युद्ध लड्नु (yuddha laḍnu) = To fight a war
कोरोनाभाइरस (koronabhāiras) =  Coronavirus
विद्यालय (vidyālaya) = School
बन्द (banda) = Closed; Shut
घाम (ghām) = Sun
ननिभेको (nanibheko) = Not extinguished, from the negation of the verb निभ्नु (nibhnu) which means “to be extingushed”
चुरोट (curoṭ) = Cigarette
डढेलो (ḍaḍhelo) = Forest fire
डढेलो लाग्नु (ḍaḍhelo lāgnu) = For a forest fire to be started


लागि (lāgiis a quintessential postposition that roughly has the meaning of “for”. This postposition also requires an obligatory genitive case to be used, that being the use of the genitive case marker को (ko). So, instead of thinking of the postposition as only लागि (lāgi), think of it as “-को लागि (-ko lāgi)” instead. As a consequence, the postposition लागि (lāgi) itself is written separately, and not appended to the word.

To illustrate the separate nature of लागि (lāgi), and how it uses the genitive, let’s look at an example sentence:
म परिवारको लागि काम गर्छु (ma pariwār-ko lāgi kām garchu)
= I work for (the) family
[I + family (+) ko-genitive marker + lāgi-postposition + work + do]

In the sentence above, “family” is modified by the genitive marker ko, and only then is the postposition added (although not appended to the word itself). An important note is that words modified by genitives still follow the rules of genitive marker addition, that is, if you have certain pronouns, then those pronouns have to be modified as to fit with the genitive marker. To show what I mean:
यो मेरो लागि हो (yo mero lāgi ho)
= This is for me
[this + me (+) ro-genitive marker + lāgi-postposition + is]

As noted above, the singular first person pronoun takes on the ro-form of the genitive marker. 

Note that although लागि (lāgi) does translate into for, not all cases where you would use “for” would use लागि (lāgi). This is especially true for concepts that involve the use of “for” to indicate time. For example, in sentences where you provide a reference point using “for”, such as “He has been waiting for three hours”, you have to use the case marker देखि (dekhi) instead. This is because देखि (dekhi) is the one you use to show a frame or reference point. If you, however, mean “wait for a limited amount of time”, then you have to use the postposition सम्म (samma) instead, since सम्म (samma) gives the idea of a closed boundary (i.e. has the same connotation of “till”). In Nepali, you have to be a little concise.

निम्ति (nimti) is a more formal form of लागि (lāgi), that being, if you replace all the लागि (lāgi) with निम्ति (nimti), you would still get the same meaning. It also follows the same rules of लागि (lāgi), including requiring a genitive:
यो मेरो निम्ति हो (yo mero nimti ho)
= This is for me
[this + me (+) ro-genitive marker + nimti-postposition + is]

When you think of लागि (lāgi), imagine you are giving away something to someone else, whether it be an object, an action or something abstract. The following are the ways how लागि (lāgi) is used.

Indicates purpose

When you indicate purpose, you are saying that a thing is used for achieving something. For example:
काट्नको लागि छुरी (kāṭna-ko lāgi churī)
= Knife for cutting
[Cutting (+) ko-genitive marker + lāgi-postposition + knife]

Indicates the recipient 

When you indicate the recipient of an object or an activity, it means they either receive something, or the action affects them directly. For example:
यो पाउरोटी पूजारीको लागि हो (yo pāuroṭī pūjārī-ko lāgi ho)
= This bread is for (the) priest
[this + bread + priest (+) ko-genitive marker + lāgi-postposition + copula] 

In the sentence above, the priest is the receiver of the object. Let’s take another example:
काकाले देशको लागि युद्ध लड्नुभयो (kākā-le deś-ko lāgi yuddha laḍnubhayo)
= (Younger paternal) uncle fought (a) war for (the) country
[uncle (+) le-case marker + country (+) ko-genitive marker + lāgi-postposition + war + verb]

In the sentence above, the country is the receiver of the action of the uncle. You can also use this for other actions and objects (exchange), such as going to the store for someone else, or giving €2 for an apple:
स्याउको लागि २ हो! (syāu-ko lāgi duī ho)
= (It) is (€) 2 for (an) apple!
[apple (+) ko-genitive marker + lāgi-postposition + 2 + copula]


कारण (kāraṇ) is another genitive postposition like लागि (lāgi), but it is not a postposition in the strictest sense. That is because कारण (kāraṇ) is a noun which means “reason”, but when used together with the genitive, it functions exactly like a postposition, thus its inclusion in the list. Furthermore, there are many ways you can express कारण (kāraṇ), and the meaning remains identical. First, let’s see how कारण (kāraṇ) plays in a sentence. When used with the genitive, it means “because of” or “due to”:
कोरोनाभाइरसको कारण विद्यालयहरू बन्द (koronābhāiras-ko kāraṇ vidyālayaharū banda)
= Schools closed because of (the) Coronavirus
[Coronavirus (+) ko-genitive marker + kāraṇ-postposition + schools + closed]

In the sentence above, कारण (kāraṇ) is used to indicate reason for something. However, I would say that the use is somewhat formal, and when you want to transmit the meaning, it is usually replaced by the following postposition: गर्दा (gardā).


गर्दा (gardā) in its strictest sense is also not a postposition, as it more of a verb derivative than a postposition. However, it essentially functions as a postposition along with the case marker ले (le). The meaning is similar to कारण (kāraṇ), used as “because of” or “due to” to indicate reason or cause. For example:
घामले गर्दा खोला सुक्यो (ghām-le gardā kholā sukyo)
= (The) river dried (up) due to (the) sun
[sun (+) le-case marker gardā-postposition + river + verb]

In the sentence above, the reason is stated by गर्दा (gardā). One thing to note is that the word before it must be marked by ले (le). Sometimes, you will see गर्दा (gardā) and कारण (kāraṇ) used together often to mean “because of”. It is pedantic, but it is a thing to note, and the meaning is still “because of” or “due to” nevertheless:
घामको कारणले गर्दा खोला सुक्यो (ghām -ko kāraṇ-le gardā kholā sukyo)
= (The) river dried (up) due to (the) sun
[sun (+) ko-genitive marker + kāraṇ (+) le-case marker gardā-postposition + river + verb]

Here is another sentence:
ननिभेको चुरोटले गर्दा डढेलो लाग्यो (nanibheko curoṭ-le gardā ḍaḍhelo lāgyo)
= (The) forest fire took place because of (a) kindled cigarette
[not-extinguished + cigarette (+) le-case marker gardā-postposition + forest fire + verb]


  • Causal postpositions are postpositions that deal with information regarding cause, or the reason for an action that was undertaken.
  • लागि (lāgiis a postposition that roughly means “for”.
  • लागि (lāgi) requires an obligatory genitive case to be used.
  • निम्ति (nimti) is a more formal form of लागि (lāgi).
  • कारण (kāraṇ) is a genitive postposition that means “because of” or “due to”.
  • गर्दा (gardā) is a replacement for कारण (kāraṇ), because they have the same meaning, but  गर्दा (gardā) requires the case marker ले (le) instead.
  • Sometimes, गर्दा (gardā) and कारण (kāraṇ) are used together.


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