Believe it or not how to say “I” in Hindi isn’t as straightforward as that. There are actually two ways to say “I”. Since I teach kids from age 3-17, I have come up with ways to explain this (or not explain it quite yet to my youngest students).
I grew up in a Hindi-speaking household so the whole mai vs. mujhe confusion was not something I ever used mindshare to think about. When I spoke/speak, the correct word would just happen, because I just knew which one to use. But now that I’m actually teaching Hindi, I have become keenly aware that which one to use is not obvious.
It’s confusing enough that there are two words for “I” in Hindi. But then how do you know which one to use?
The Two Ways To Say “I” in Hindi
When my students ask me, how to say “I” in Hindi, I tell them there are two ways:
Both words mean I. So how do you know when to use each?
Use mai when “I” is the doer of the verb.
- I live in California.
- I am eating a paper dosa with pav bhaji masala inside (and it’s really yummy).
- I was doing Bhangra with Diljit Dosanjh but he couldn’t keep up with me.
Use mujhe when “I” is not the doer of the verb but “I” is referred to.
- I want a gulab jamun cake for my birthday.
- I love to dunk Parle G’s into garam garam chai.
- I don’t know where we put the pichkari’s, but we better find them soon! Holi’s around the corner!
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About Samta Aunty
I try to be like the quintessential cool Masi, to all of my students. Smiling, loving, and ALWAYS trying to make them laugh.
Welcome and thank you for joining me today! I set out to create an educational platform for desi children to learn conversational Hindi (no reading, no wriring) and their culture in a fun, no stress, and convenient way. Students across the globe take our classes right from the convenience of their living room!
I learned Hindi at home while growing up in southern California. My parents were amongst the first Indian and South Asian immigrants to this country and I appreciated their efforts and those of the Uncles and Aunty’s that worked hard to foster cultural and religious awareness for us first generation American-born desi kids. Especially when they themselves were establishing their lives in a new country.
And now I’m in a position to continue their work. Language connects people. And for the children I teach I’m helping them connect to their grandparents and other loved ones.