Today’s post is on Bengali personal pronouns (possessive pronouns will be covered in the next post).
Bengali doesn’t distinguish between genders (so in the third person one word can be used for ‘he’ or ‘she’), but it does distinguish between proximity.
Thus, depending on whether a person is, whether here, there or elsewhere, you would use এ, ও or সে for the singular, familiar form of ‘you’.
The main lists below only includes personal pronouns in their familiar and polite forms. There is one other form, the intimate, but it’s much less commonly used. In fact it’s not mentioned in William Radice’s Teach Yourself Bengali and Dr Hanne-Ruth Thompson’s Useful Extras booklet that complements that book notes that the intimate form “should never be used by foreigners”.
Nevertheless, having seen relatives use it, I think it’s useful to be aware of it – even if you’re not going to use it. So I will include that form at the foot of the page. That said, the main forms are as follows:
Bengali personal pronouns
I – আমি (ami)
You (familiar) – তুমি (tumi)
She/he (familiar, here) – এ (e)
She/he (familiar, there) – ও (o)
She/he (familiar, elsewhere) – সে (se)
You (polite) – আপনি (apni)
She/he (polite, here) – ইনি (ini)
She/he (polite, there) – উনি (uni)
She/he (polite, elsewhere) – তিনি (tini)
We – আমরা (amra)
You (f) – তোমরা (tomra)
They (f, h) – এরা (era)
They (f, t) – ওরা (ora)
They (f, e) – তারা (tara)
You (p) – আপনারা (apnara)
They (p, h) – *এরা (*era)
They (p, t) – *ওরা (*ora)
They (p, e) – *তারা (*tara)
* There’s a Chandrobindu required over the first letter of these words (and I really should stop relying on Google Transliterate for Bengali script and thus not being able to add that grammatical sign when its needed)
The intimate form, as given in the Lonley Planet Bengali Phrasebook, is as follows: Personal pronouns – You (singular) – তুই (tui), You (plural) – তোরা (tora); Possessive pronouns – Your (singular) – তর (tōr), Her/His – তার (tar), Your (plural) – তদের (tōder), Her/His – তাদের (tader).