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Marathi grammar

The grammar of the Marathi language shares similarities with other modern Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Gujarati or Punjabi. The first modern book exclusively on Marathi Grammar was printed in 1805 by Shubham Bhatt.[1][2]

The principal word order in Marathi is SOV (subject–object–verb).[3] Nouns inflect for gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), number (singular, plural), and case. Marathi preserves the neuter gender found in Sanskrit, a feature further distinguishing it from many Indo-Aryan languages. Typically, Marathi adjectives do not inflect unless they end in long a, in which case they inflect for gender and number. Marathi verbs inflect for tense (past, present, future). Verbs can agree with their subjects, yielding an active voice construction, or with their objects, yielding a passive voice construction. A third type of voice, not found in English for example, is produced when the verb agrees with neither subject nor object. Affixation is largely suffixal in the language and postpositions are attested.[4] An unusual feature of Marathi, as compared to other Indo-European languages, is that it displays the inclusive and exclusive we feature, that is common to the Dravidian languages, Rajasthani, and Gujarati.

The contemporary grammatical rules described by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and endorsed by the Government of Maharashtra are supposed to take precedence in standard written Marathi. These rules are described in Marathi Grammar, written by M.R Walimbe. The book is widely referred to students in schools and colleges.

Sanskrit influence

Traditions of Marathi Linguistics and above mentioned rules give special status to ‘tatsama’ (तत्सम) words borrowed from the Sanskrit language. This special status expects the rules for ‘tatsama’ words be followed as of Sanskrit grammar. While this supports Marathi Language with a larger treasure of Sanskrit words to cope up with demands of new technical words whenever needed; maintains influence over Marathi.[clarification needed]

Parts of speech

Marathi words can be classified in any of the following parts of speech:

English Sanskrit
Noun nāma (नाम)
Pronoun sarvanāma (सर्वनाम)
Adjective vishheshana (विषेशण)
Verb kriyāpada (क्रियापद)
Adverb kriyāvishheshana (क्रियाविषेशण)
Conjunction ubhayanvayī avyaya (उभयान्वयी अव्यय)
Preposition shabdayogī avyaya (शब्दयोगी अव्यय)
Interjection kevalaprayogī avyaya (केवलप्रयोगी अव्यय)



There are three genders in Marathi: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Some other, modern Indo-European languages have lost these genders, completely or in part, with either common gender (merging masculine and feminine), as in some Northern Germanic languages, and neuter or masculine (absorbing neuter) and feminine, as in almost all Romance language, with the notable exception of Romanian. The three-gender system of German is seen as one reason for the popularity of studying German amongst Marathi native speakers.[5]


There are differences of opinion regarding grammatical cases in Marathi.[6] According to one view, there are two cases: direct, which is unmarked (e.g. Ram 'Ram') and oblique, which is used before postpositions (e.g. ram-a-pasun 'from Ram', ram-a-la 'to Ram', -a being the case marker and -la the dative postposition). According to the alternative analysis, there is a distinction between two classes of "postpositions". Some of them, like -pasun 'from' have a wide range of meanings and can be separated form the noun by clitics like -cya (e.g. ram-a-cya-pasun), while others (like -la) are only used to mark arguments and cannot be separated from the noun by clitics (*ram-a-cya-la is ungrammatical). The latter are then considered to be the case markers. In this view, the cases are: nominative (unmarked), accusative/dative (singualr -la, plural -na), ergative, which is traditionally called 'instrumental' (sg. -ne, pl. -ni) and genitive/possessive (-tsa, -tse, -tʃa, -tʃi). The class of true postpositions will then include -hatun 'through', -hu(n) 'from'/ablative, -t locative, -gaji 'in place of' and many more.[7] The genitive markers inflect to agree with the governing noun. The form of the oblique suffix depends on the gender and the final vowel of the word it is suffixed to.[8]

Traditional grammar

In traditional analyses which follow the pattern of Sanskrit grammatical tradition, case suffixes are referred to as vibhaktī pratyaya (विभक्ति प्रत्यय). There are eight such vibhaktī (विभक्ति) in Marathi. The form of the original word changes when such a suffix is to be attached to the word, and the new, modified root is referred to as saamaanya ruup of the original word. For example, the word ghodā (घोडा “horse”) gets transformed into ghodyā- (घोड्या-) when the suffix -var (वर- “on”) is attached to it to form ghodyāvar (घोड्यावर “on the horse”). The nominal suffixes are tabulated below.


Ordinal Number


Ordinal Number


Case Description


Case Description

Singular Suffixes


Plural Suffixes


pratham (प्रथम) First kartā (कर्ता) Nominative case -ā (आ)

dwitīya (द्वितीय)

Second karma (कर्म) Accusative case -sa (-स), - (-ला), -te (-ते) -sa (-स), - (-ला), - (ना), -te (-ते)
trutīya (तृतीय) Third karaṇa(करण) Instrumental case - (नी), e (ए), shī (शी) - (नी), - (ही), e (ए), shī (शी)
caturthī (चतुर्थी) Fourth sampradāna(सम्प्रदान) Dative case -sa (-स), - (-ला), -te (-ते) -sa (-स), - (-ला), -te (-ते)
pancamī (पञ्चमी) Fifth apādāna(अपादान) Ablative case -un (-उन), -hun (हुन) -un (-उन), -hun (हुन)
shhashhthī (षष्ठी) Sixth sambandh (संबंध) Genitive case -chā (-चा), -chī (-ची), -che (-चे) -ce (-चे), -cyā (-च्या), - (-ची)
saptamī (सप्तमी) Seventh adhikaran (अधिकरण) Locative case -ta (-त), -i (-इ), -ā (-आ) -ta (-त), -ī (-ई), -ā (-आ)
sambhodan (संबोधन) Vocative case -no (-नो)






Case Ending




Case Ending


Nominative case विद्यार्थी अभ्यास करतात
Accusative case त्याने संस्थे देणगी दिली -sa (-स) त्यानी संस्थे देणगी दिली -sa (-स)
Accusative case घराला रंग दिला - (-ला) घरांना रंग दिला - (ना)
Instrumental case विद्यार्थी पेन्सिलनी चित्र काढतो - (नी) विद्यार्थी पेन्सिलनी चित्र काढतात - (नी)
Instrumental case मुलगा दाराशी उभा होता shī (शी) मुलें दाराशी उभी होती shī (शी)
Dative case मी मुला ओळखतो -sa (-स) मी मुलांना ओळखतो - (ना)
Dative case मी विद्यार्थ्याला ओळखतो - (-ला) मी विद्यार्थ्यांना ओळखतो - (ना)
Ablative case मुलगा घरु निघाला -un (-उन) मुलें घरु निघाली -un (-उन)
Ablative case मुलगा गावाहुन आला -hun (हुन) मुलं गावाहुन आली -hun (हुन)
Genitive case घराचा दरवाजा सुंदर आहे (-चा) घरांचे दरवाजे सुंदर आहेत -ce (-चे)
Genitive case मुलांची तब्येत सुधारली आहे - (-ची) मुलांच्या तब्येती सुधारल्या आहेत -cyā (-च्या)
Genitive case मुलाचे प्रगती पत्रक मिळाले -ce (-चे) मुलांची प्रगती पत्रके मिळाली - (-ची)
Locative case मुलगा घरा होता -ta (-त) मुलें घरा होती -ta (-त)
Locative case मुलगा घरी होता -ī (-ई) मुलें घरी होती -ī (-ई)
Locative case गाय घरी परतली -ī (-ई) गाई घरा परतल्या -ā (-आ)
Vocative case मुलानो शांत बसा -no (-नो)

[clarification needed]


There are three grammatical persons (पुरुष purushh) in Marathi. There is gender distinction in the first- and second-persons when the pronouns act as agreement markers on verbs; as independent pronouns this distinction in lost.[9]

English Sanskrit Singular Plural
First Person pratham purushh (प्रथम पुरुष) (मी) “I” āmhī (आम्ही) “we” (exclusive)

āpan (आपण) “we” (inclusive)

Second Person dwitiya purushh (द्वितिय पुरुष) (तू) “you” tumhī (तुम्ही) “you” (formal)

āpan (आपण) “you” (extremely formal)

Third Person trutiya purushh (तृतिय पुरुष) to (तो) “he”

(ती) “she”

te (ते) “it”

te (ते) “they” (masculine) or “he” हे (formal)

tyā (त्या) “they” (feminine)

(ती) “they” (neuter)



Traditional grammar distinguishes three grammatical voices (प्रयोग prayog) in Marathi.

  • Active voice (कर्तरी प्रयोग kartrī prayog) refers to a sentence construction in which the verb changes according to the subject
Rām mhanto (राम म्हणतो) “Rām says”, Rām āmbā khāto (राम आंबा खातो) “Rām eats a mango”
  • Passive voice (कर्मणी प्रयोग karmanī prayog) refers to a sentence construction in which the verb changes according to the object
Rāmāne āmbā khāllā (रामाने आंबा खाल्ला) “The mango was eaten by Raam”, Rāmāne sāngitle (रामाने सांगितले) “It was told by Rām”
  • Bhāve prayog (भावे प्रयोग) refers to a sentence construction in which the verb does not change according to either the subject or the object. This is used for imperatives.
Mājha nirop tyālā jāūn sāng (माझा निरोप त्याला जाऊन सांग) “Go tell him my message”

Sentence structure

A Marathi sentence generally has three parts: subject (कर्ता kartā), object (कर्म karma), and verb (क्रियापद kriyāpad). In a Marathi sentence, the subject comes first, then the object, and finally the verb. However, in some sentences there is no object.

See also


  1. ^ Rao, Goparaju Sambasiva (1994). Language Change: Lexical Diffusion and Literacy. Academic Foundation. pp. 48 and 49. ISBN 9788171880577. Archived from the original on 7 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Carey, William (1805). A Grammar of the Marathi Language. Serampur [sic]: Serampore Mission Press. ISBN 9781108056311. 
  3. ^ Dryer, Matthew S. (21 April 2008). "Datapoint Marathi / Order of Subject, Object and Verb". WALS Online. Archived from the original on 7 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "UCLA Language Materials Project- Marathi". UCLA Language Materials Project. 
  5. ^ Nandi, Soumabha (2 October 2011). "German language still most-preferred foreign language in Pune". Daily News and Analysis. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Dhongde & Wali 2009, p. 43–44.
  7. ^ Dhongde & Wali 2009, pp. 44,109–19.
  8. ^ Dhongde & Wali 2009, p. 45.
  9. ^ Bhat, D.N.S. 2004. Pronouns. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 18–19