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Some Common Hindi Words One Should Know Before Visiting India

Umesh is a freelance writer contributing his creative writings on varied subjects in various knowledge and educational sites in internet.

Introduction

Due to Covid-19 situation, the international tourism has been affected much and tourism and hospitality industry has suffered also to some extent. We hope that once the vaccine or drug for the pandemic becomes available and the threat is contained or eradicated then the tourism industry would strike back with great force to its own glory and there would be an unprecedented turnaround. With that hope and such feelings in mind I have created this article providing a few common Hindi words which can make the life of a visitor comfortable while he or she is visiting India.

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Background

India was under the rule of Mughals (Muslims) for a considerable period and thereafter Britishers took the control and ruled here with all their might. So, the Indian languages in general and Hindi in particular were affected by those two cultures and two languages to a great extent. There are many words from Urdu and English languages which have become so common in Hindi that we take them as Hindi words only. We write them in Hindi script just like that and for us they are very commonly used words in our day to day life. So any visitor visiting or travelling to India can use those words comfortably to communicate with the local people. Now we will first go throgh those English words which are very common among the general public and then we would go through some of those Hindi words which are useful for a visitor.

Some English words used in Hindi

It would be a surprising thing to note that there are so many English words used in Hindi that even the Hindi speaking people prefer to use them as it is easier to do so rather than using the exact Hindi substitute. One reason could be the long ruling period of Britishers in India during which these words were absorbed by the Hindi speaking people in particular and other Indians in general. Before learning a few Hindi words, it would be prudent to understand what are these common English words that can be used anywhere in India. A visitor should not feel hesitant to use these words whenever required during his or her visit to India. These words can be used thinking as if they are Hindi words only. Let us go through them and see what they mean in India (there could be subtle differences) when one uses them -

  • Airport - A place where planes take off and land.
  • Railway Station - A place where trains come and leave as per their schedule.
  • Bus Station - A place where Buses from other place come and also depart to other places. Generally every town has a Bus station. One can get a bus from these stations to other towns. Do not confuse it with bus stand which is used for local bus stoppage.
  • Time - This is a very popular and common word to denote things like - What is the time now? Can you spare some time?
  • Taxi - This is a very common word used here. You can have a non-air conditioned taxi or air conditioned one or a sharing one or Uber taxi or Ola taxi. Sometimes your hotel itself will send a complimentary taxi to pick you.
  • Auto / Auto-rickshaw - This is very common and is a three wheeler cab for moving over places within the city.
  • Road - Used to denote all sort of roads - wide roads, normal roads, and narrow roads.
  • Lane - This generally means narrow roads branching from a main road.
  • School - An educational institute up to class XII.
  • College - An educational institute for under graduation and post graduation.
  • Office - Generally used to denote Govt offices. Private office set ups are known as company office.
  • Bank - This has same meaning as it has in your country.
  • Courier - A private service for taking letters and parcels from one place to another.
  • Money - It generally means currency in cash. It means price also. You can say - how much money for this? The vendor will understand that you are asking price.
  • Card - It means any card like debit card or credit card when you make a payment through it. Small shops may not accept card and one has to give money.
  • Post Office - This has same meaning as it has in your country.
  • Shop - Any place selling something. Like tea shop, sweet shop, vegetable shop etc.
  • Xerox shop - A shop where photocopying is done for a charge.
  • Stationery shop - A shop where stationery items are available.
  • Hair cutting saloon - A barber shop.
  • Cyber cafe - A place where one can use Internet by paying charges.
  • Hospital - This has same meaning as it has in your country.
  • Medical laboratory - A pathological laboratory where medical tests are done on doctor's prescription.
  • Medical store - This denotes pharmacy. One can ask for nearest medical store for buying medicines, many of the medicines are available OTC.
  • Travel agent - A person who books train / bus / air tickets / hotels for us and arranges a taxi also.
  • Temple - A place of worship for Hindus.
  • Church - This has same meaning as it has in your country.
  • Mobile recharging - This term is used for buying data and talk time from the mobile company. Do not confuse it with mobile battery charging.
  • Restaurant - Place where people go to have snacks or food.
  • Hotel - In India we use it for both - a place to take food or a place to stay overnight. Cheaper hotels are known as guest house or lodge.
  • Park - A place where people go for walk or evening strolls or take their children to play there.
  • Hello! - When you want to talk or ask something from a stranger nearby, you just say hello! and then ask him anything. When you meet a known person then also it can be used to greet each other.
  • Lady - Female person.
  • Girl - Young female.
  • Boy - Young male.
  • Baby - Small kid male or female.
  • Teacher - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Student - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Sir - This is a respectful way of addressing other person (male gender) and is very popular as many people also use it to address the friends and relatives. A very common word. Please use it liberally.
  • Madam - Respectful way used to address ladies.
  • Thank you - This is also very common but not used as frequently as in western societies.
  • Yes - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • No - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Good - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Bad - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • One / two / three ... and so on - These English numbers are used frequently everywhere by everyone for counting. So one can use them without any problem.
  • Tea - Another common word and these tea stalls are available almost everywhere providing tea at a very reasonable rate. Many of them can supply you custom made tea as per your specifications.
  • Coffee - Very common word but coffee will not be available everywhere. However some tea stalls provide it. When you visit Southern part of India then coffee would be available most of the places.
  • Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner - Very common. Please use them as you use them in your country.
  • Morning - A very common word to denote morning time.
  • Evening - Denotes evening time.
  • Night - Anytime after evening. If someone asks you when you would return from outing, you can simply tell - night. That is all.
  • Bread - This means same as it means in your home country. Do not confuse it with Indian bread that we would come to, in the list of Hindi words.
  • Butter - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Oil - Means cooking oil.
  • Gas - Means cooking gas cylinder.
  • Pepper - It means black pepper powder.
  • Apple - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Mango - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Bag - A cloth container for bringing things from market. For example - A plastic bag, a cloth bag, a school bag etc.
  • Pant - This is short of pantaloons and denotes trousers.
  • Coat - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Tie - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Milk - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Water - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Geyser - Electric water heater.
  • Door - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Window - This means same as it means in your home country.
  • Garage - Where one parks ones car.
  • Balcony - This means same as it means in your home country.

So, this is only an indicative list and there are many other English words which are used in India just as if they are Hindi words. The interesting thing is we are habitual of using these words in place of their exact Hindi equivalents. That is definitely an encouraging point for the visitors knowing English and coming to India.

Some common Hindi words

As we discussed, many Urdu words also entered in Hindi and are used very commonly without any problem. Urdu words are also present in a large quantity just like the English words so we do not distinguish them and use wherever required. Let us now see some of these Urdu and Hindi words in Hindi script which could be very useful for the foreign tourists visiting India.

  • नमस्ते (Namas'te) - A general word for greeting each other, something like good morning or hello in your place. Very useful word. You can break the ice by using it with anyone.
  • चपाती (Cha'pati) or रोटी (Ro'ti) - Indian bread.
  • परोठा (Parotha) - A special Indian bread with oil applied on it and sauted in a pan.
  • पूरी (Poo'ri) - Another bread variant which is deep fried in oil. Very delicious.
  • सब्जी (Sab'ji) - General term for all the Indian cooked vegetables (dry or curry). Very useful word for visitors.
  • दाल (Daal) - A curry prepared with pulses.
  • सलाद (Sa'laad) - Very general term for chopped vegetables like carrot, cucumber, onion, tomato, raddish etc consumed raw along with the meals.
  • पनीर (Pa'neer) - Cottage cheese. This is a popular item commonly used in dishes in restaurants.
  • चिकन (Chi'ken) - A general word to denote any chicken dish. The default is chicken curry.
  • मटन (Mu'tton) - A general word to denote any mutton dish. The default is mutton curry.
  • स्वीट (Sweet) - A general word to denote sweet items generally taken after meals. Examples: Icecream, Custard, Pudding etc.
  • अनार (A'naar) - Pomegranate.
  • अंगूर (An'goor) - Grape.
  • मन्दिर (Man'dir) - Temple, a place of Hindu worshipping.
  • मस्जिद (Mas'jid) - Mosque, a place of Muslim worshipping.
  • क्या (Kya) - What?
  • कितना (Kit'na) - How much?
  • कब (Kab) - When?
  • किधर (Ki'dhar) - Where?
  • आदमी (Aad'mi) - Person. Generally male.
  • औरत (Au'rut) - Female.
  • मैं (Mai) - I
  • हम (Hum) - We
  • आप (Aap) - You
  • वे (Way) - They

Some small useful sentences in Hindi for visitors

Now we will go through some simple and small sentences in Hindi language which are very much useful for the visitors to India. I am trying to give these in their simplest form so that one need not to learn the subtle variations due to change of gender or change from singular to plural. As in Hindi language the verb and other words change if there is a change in gender or singular to plural or back, we will restrict ourselves to the verb form which is used for masculine gender and singular form. This is against the grammar and rules of the language but it works for practical purposes.

So let us go ahead and find out these useful phrases.

1. आप कौन? (Aap kaun?) - Who are you / What is your name?

2. खाना कब? (Khana kab?) - When the food will be available?/ What is dinner or lunch time?

3. आप जाओ (Aap jao) - You can go / You go.

4. आओ (Aaoa) - Come / Welcome / Come here.

5. शिर दर्द (Shir dard) - Headache.

6. कल जाना है (Kal jana hai) - I/We have to go tomorrow.

Reading material

For those interested in learning basic Hindi words and phrases, there are some really good resources available. I would recommend two of them. One is the elementary picture book containg Hindi words and their English translations while other is flash cards with the CD. One can make a choice as per one's requirement. Some people feel that flash cards are more convenient in learning new words.

Conclusion

It is said that knowing about 250 to 500 words of a foreign language can make a person comfortable in that land. So, that may look like a big target but even knowing a few words helps a lot when we are travelling in foreign lands. The people knowing English and travelling in India have an advantage that so many English words are a part of Hindi language and visitors can use them as if they are using Hindi words. So pack your bag and welcome to India.

References

1. https://tim.blog/2014/03/21/how-to-learn-a-foreign-language-2/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Umesh Chandra Bhatt

Comments

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 04, 2020:

Dale, nice to hear from you about India.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on November 03, 2020:

This is a smart idea for a hub article. I have no intentions of visiting India but I must admit that the people that I know who have visited there say it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 27, 2020:

Manatita, thanks for your observations. You have already learnt so many hindi phrases. It is remarkable. Thanks for your visit to this article.

manatita44 from london on October 26, 2020:

An extensive list of both English and Hindi words, my brother. Bahut Dhanyvaad! Aab Kaise hai?

It is truly amazing to see how cultures have merged in so many ways, in this case with the language. Shukriyaa my Bhaia ji

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 19, 2020:

Linda, these are only some main words and there are many more English words used here. Of course pronunciation would be an issue. Thanks for your visit. Highly appreciate.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 19, 2020:

This is very interesting. I had no idea that so many English words were used in India. The list of English words and the list of Urdu ones would certainly be useful for travelers.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 17, 2020:

Brenda, thanks a lot for your detailed comment.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 17, 2020:

Very helpful write for those wanting to visit.

I know a few people from India who have shops here in my small town. We have never had problems communicating but I am certain it might be different if I were in their country.

I think I would prefer the flash cards. Pictures with names.

Thanks for the share.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 17, 2020:

Helna, thanks a lot for your elaborate and nice comment and also for the blessings. I also wish you all the best in your place and God bless you.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 17, 2020:

Marlene, thanks for your nice comment.

Helna on October 16, 2020:

You have covered a lot of Hindi words. It is an informative article with a lot of common English words that are used in India. Due to the reforms in the education system in India, it is easy for an English speaking foreigner to travel to India without much difficulty as city dwellers are educated in English to some extent. But it is not the same in the villages. Interacting in a village is much difficult even today. Due to the development of technology we hope that the next generation will be English friendly.

Thanks for sharing the knowledgeable article. Keep up the good work. Remember Jesus Loves You. You are eternal. Blessings.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 16, 2020:

I found this to be quite fascinating. There are a great number of common words and that helps a lot. It was interesting to realize that a person would only need to become familiar with 250 to 500 words to be able to get around comfortably in a foreign land.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 15, 2020:

Kalpana, thanks for your interesting comment.

Kalpana Iyer from India on October 15, 2020:

I am already in India so couldn't vote in your poll :) My Hindi is terrible and makes me cringe all the time mostly because I don't have much experience in talking the language. I am a pro in understanding it though, thanks to my craze in Hindi movies since I was a little girl.

Very helpful article.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 15, 2020:

Anicham, thanks a lot for commenting.

Anicham Pugal from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India on October 15, 2020:

I did learn a bit of Hindi last year and this too may help me if I ever have the idea of visiting any of the Northern State. Though I learnt Hindi I never really understood the meanings of certain words and this article actually gives me the meaning of some words I didn't know.

This is really informative, not just for me, but for all readers sir.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 15, 2020:

Liz, thanks a lot. Happy that you liked it.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt (author) from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 15, 2020:

Lorna, thanks for your detailed comments. Appreciate much.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 15, 2020:

This is a very interesting and helpful article. It makes Hindi much more accessible for visitors and also those interested in learning a few words of the language.

Lorna Lamon on October 15, 2020:

I feel it is so important to attempt the language of the country you are visiting. I would love to visit India and have become quite familiar with some of the more commonly used Hindi words due to my Indian friends.

I was surprised at the number of English words which are still used with a similar meaning, however, it is also helpful to know what the subtle differences are. I enjoyed reading this informative and interesting article which has encouraged me to practice my Hindi. Thank you for sharing.