Phone Phrase – Part 1 – Who is this?

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Today is Monday, June 9, 2008.

“Who is this?”(with respect) ये कौन हैं?

When talking to someone with respect, you use the plural version of pronouns and verbs. Therefore, if you look at ये कौन हैं? You would literally have “Who are these?” Which would not make sense. But in Hindi, when talking to someone with respect, it is correct.

ये = these (formal; grammatically plural)

The singular form of ये is यह.

कौन = who

हैं = are

The singular version of हैं is है. The bindu appears with the plural version but is not present in the singular version. The bindu adds a nasal sound.

If you want to say “Who is this?” in a casual way, without the formal respect that is in “ये कौन हैं?”, then you would say “यह कौन है?”.

“What is your name?” – आपका नाम क्या है?

“Who is speaking?” – आप कौन बोल रहे हैं?

In English, we often try to make phrases seem more respectful by adding “please”. For example, instead of saying “Who is speaking?” we might say, “who is speaking please?”. It might be tempting to add “कृपया” which is the Hindi word for “please” into these phrases. However, that is not necessary, because “आप” and “ये” already convey the respect.

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