Bengali grammar – obligation (need, must, should, ought etc)

I need to revise this area of Bengali grammar, which covers things that I must do, those I should and those I ought to do.

It also an area that will come in really handy talking to my sons: You must wash your hands, you need to do your homework, you should watch less television and you ought to stay in your own bed at night. The variations are limitless.

However, it’s not true to say that I structure all my Bengali study around ways to tell off my children. (Some, perhaps, but by no means all.)

Common obligation (must, have to):

object case + infinitive + third person হওয়া (hōoya)

• Tense of হওয়া (hōoya – the verb ‘to be’) depends on the time of the obligation

• Possessive case can be used instead of the object case, particularly if the obligation in question arises from circumstances, rather than someone actually imposing an obligation

• West Bengalis often use a contracted form of the object case in its singular form আমায়, আপনায়, তোমায় (amay, apnay, tomay)


আমাকে আরো বাংলা শেখা করতে হয় (amake aro bangla shekha kōrte hōy)

তোমাকে স্কুলে যেতে হবে (tomake skule yete hōbe)

অসুক হয়ে আমার আপিসে যেতে হবেনা (osuk hoye amar apise yete hōbena)

তোমায় বাড়ি পরিস্কার করতে হবে (tomay bari pōriskar kōrte hōbe)

Moral Obligation (ought to, should):

possessive of person obliged + verbal noun + উচিত (ucit

• Present tense needs no main verb; to make negative add the ‘negative verb’ ন-, নই, নও, নয় (nō-, nōi, nōo, nōy etc); for the past use ছিলো(না) (chilō(na)) and for the future হবে(না) (hōbe(na))

• N.B. The possessive can go after the verbal noun as well as before it


আপনার আরো খাবার দেওয়া উচিত (apnar aro khabar deoya ucit)

এতো বেসি বইগুলো পড়ার উচিত (aro besi bōigulo pōrar ucit)

এটা করা আমার উচিত ছিলনা (eta kōra amar ucit chilōna)

আমার সেটা করা উচিত হবে (amar seta kōra ucit hōbe)


Need can either be expressed in Bengali by using লাগা (laga – the verb ‘to strike’) in the following kinds of forms:

আমার ঘুম লাগে (amar ghum lage)

বড় বাড়ি কিনতে অনেক টাকা লাগা (bōrō bari kinte ōnek taka lage)

Alternatively দরকার (dōrkar – need, necessity) is commonly used in the form:

possessive + noun/verbal noun in possessive case + দরকার (dōrkar)

Past, future and negative formulations follow the same rules that apply to উচিত ucit.


আমাদের আরো ঘুমার দরকার (amader aro ghum dōrkar)

গাড়ি বেস সকাল-সকাল আসার দরকার হবে (gari bes sōkal-sōkal asar dōrkar hōbe)

শীতকালে আমাদের মোটা পোশাক পরবার দরকার ছিলো (sitkale amader mota posak porbar dōrkar chilō)

• If you don’t see Bengali script above then you need to install Bengali fonts

5 responses to “Bengali grammar – obligation (need, must, should, ought etc)

  1. I love these mini Bangla lessons of yours! One point and a question. The point: you’ve got the same problem here as in your other post: the vowel markers are appearing after the consonant even when they should precede it. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to Bangla fonts on my iPhone so I can’t show you what I mean. The question: what vowel sound are you using o makron to mean? Short or long integral vowel? Intuitively, I would expect it to be the long vowel (because makrons are usually used to show lengthening) but in the examples above it must surely be the short one.

  2. OK, this is weird. They all look fine now.

  3. Hi Eyoki. Thanks for the comments and I’m glad you like the Bangla posts – they’re really just my revision notes, with all the built-in room for error that implies.

    And it’s a relief the fonts are coming out ok now (I thought Google’s tools had let me down for a minute).

  4. I hope that this is still active.
    I am having the hardest time finding a dictionary
    that can ‘decipher’ all of the words and that means slang and the ‘shortened words’…..

    Sandy Ej

    • Hi Sandy, the blog certainly is still active – though replies to comments aren’t always instant 🙂

      I’ve not seen a slang dictionary for Bengali, though one would certainly be useful. The ‘correct’ way to say things is often not the only way to phrase them and slang is usually more common in real speech.

      If by shortened words you mean different forms of verbs, these too are not usually in dictionaries because only the full ‘verbal noun’ form tends to be given.

      For example, লাগে (lage) won’t be shown, instead you’ll find it in its verbal noun form লাগা (laga) – the verb means to strike, but has a variety of uses including expressing need (as shown in this post) and expressing a liking/disliking, e.g. আমার বই ভালো লাগে (amar bōi bhalo lage) – I like books.

      I hope that helps. I’ll try and cover this in more detail in a future blog post.

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