Honorifics or Addressing People – संबोधन (Sambodhan) – Part 1

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[If you are an ISpeakHindi.com Paid subscriber, then you should download this lesson from the Paid Subscribers’ Area] The way of addressing a person varies with the age and position.

आप (Aap) is used for addressing elders, lesser known people and in formal  instances. It is used for respectfully addressing a singular person, and as a second person plural pronoun. The most formal is "aap" and is the safest to use in all situations. It can be used in situations that range from deeply respectful to the merely businesslike.

तू (Tu) and तुम (Tum) are used for addressing younger people and in informal and intimate instances. तुम (Tum) is slightly formal, in the sense, it is used addressing people of your age who may not be very close to you. तू (Tu) is highly informal and is used while addressing very close friends or someone of your age or younger to you or when there is utmost familiarity/friendship/intimacy.


You listen (formal)
आप सुनिए
Aap suniye

You sit here(formal)
आप यहाँ बैठिए
Aap yahan baitiye

You listen (slightly informal)
तुम सुनो
Tum suno

You sit here(slightly  informal)
तुम यहाँ बैठो
Tum yahan baitho

You listen (very informal)
तू सुन
Tu sun

You sit here(very informal)
तू यहाँ बैठ
Tu yahan baith

भैया (Bhaiya) or भाई साहब (Bhai sahab) actually means elder brother. But is also used to address a male member who is lesser known or unknown to you and may be slightly older. Likewise, दीदी (didi) or बहनजी (bahanji) is used to address an older female member who is lesser known or unknown. These honorifics are used by both male and female alike.


Brother, can you move aside?
भैया, आप ज़रा हटेंगे?
Bhaiya, aap jara hatenge?

Brother, Thank you very much!
भाई साहब, आपका बहुत सुक्रिया!
Bhai sahab, aapka bahut sukriya!

Sister, did you see my child?
दीदी, आपने मेरे बच्चे को देखा?
Didi, aapne mere bachche ko dekha?

जी (Ji) is suffixed after the name or position title for sufficiently older people or respectable persons. Baba, or Swami or Swamiji are honorifics denoting great respect, usually denoting spiritual mastery. Pandit/Panditji is an honorific title given to a scholar, a teacher, religion, music or philosophy. Guru/Guruji is widely used with the general meaning of teacher. It also refers to a person who has authority because of his or her perceived secular knowledge or skills.Mahatma” means Great Soul. The term is also used to refer to liberated souls or professionals.Sahib” is a term of respect, meaning Sir, master or lord. Sahiba is the authentic form address to be used for a female.


Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhiji, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Swami Vivekananda , Khan Sahib, Rani Sahiba, Nair Sahab, Ramji, Laxmiji, and so on.


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