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Learning the Hindi Script

First of all, Why learn Devanagari, the Hindi Alphabet?Devanagari is used to write several languages including Hindi, Nepali and Sanskrit. It is the 5th most widely used writing system on the planet after the Latin Script, Chinese Characters, the Arabic Script and the Cyrillic Alphabet.

If you put in an hour or two per day you should be able to (very slowly) read Hindi out loud after about a week.


Make sure to read and understand each lesson. Then open the corresponding quiz and go through the review Flash Cards until you feel ready. Then take the test and move on after you have passed it.

Hindi has 11 vowel sounds. For each vowel you will need to learn two shapes. An Independent Form that is only used when coming at the beginning of a word and a Diacritic that is used after a consonant. The Independent form is its own letter but most diacritics are small marks above or below the consonant it comes after.

Devanagari has 38 consonants covered in 4 separate lessons. Each consonant specifies a single sound, unlike the English alphabet which can use the same letter to represent many different sounds. This means that once you know the letters, pronouncing words correctly will be easy (unlike English).

Two consonants in a row are represented by a Conjunct letter which is (usually) a mash-up of the two consonants.

The Hindi consonants in their basic forms are pronounced with a default "a" sound afterwards. But sometimes you want to write a sound with two consonants in a row like "sta" in start. If you wrote the letters in their basic state, "sa" ( स ) "ta" ( त ) you would end ups with "sata" not "sta" ( स्त ). As you can see "sta" ( स्त ) is a combination of "sa" ( स ) and "ta" ( त ). Not all conjuncts are this obvious but most are.

There are a ton of possible conjuncts but we'll just give you a sample that should help you figure out any others you may come across.

Spelling and Reading
Every language has a few quirks. The Final Spelling Rules lesson will cover any remaining tidbits you need to know. There are also two Reading Practice lessons where you can read Hindi out loud and compare with a native speaker.

The quiz review FlashCards for each letter have an animated drawing. Check these out as you go along and then again at the end when you start working on your writing skills.