Demonstratives are words like this and that, used to differentiate things from other things.
Before learning what the Dhivehi words are, there is a new concept that English speakers will have to get used to.
English makes a two-way distinction between its demonstratives: this refers to things near the speaker, and that refers to things away from the speaker.
Dhivehi makes a three-way distinction, equivalent to first, second and third person. That is, one word refers to things near the speaker, another word refers to things near the person being spoken to, and another word refers to things far away from both of them. (I call this first, second and third “place”)
This three-way distinction also occurs in other languages like Spanish and Japanese, so if you know any of those, this concept shouldn’t be too hard to grasp.
Here are the Dhivehi demonstratives:
The Dhivehi words are the same for singular and plural. The meaning can be inferred from the noun they qualify.
- މި ފޮތް – This book
- އެ ދޮރު – That door
- މި މޭޒު – This table
- ތި ގަލަން – That pen (you have) OR That pen (near you)
- ތި ގަލަންތައް – Those pens (you have/near you)
- އެ ކުއްޖާ – That kid
- އެ ކުދިން – Those kids
- މި އާފަލު – This apple
- މި އާފަލުތައް – These apples
Very often you will see the demonstratives used like prefixes; attached to the beginning of the noun they qualify. The attached way of writing can be considered more “proper”, but it is still acceptable to write the words separately. I will probably use a mix of both ways throughout the lessons. It is just one of the many inconsistencies of written Dhivehi that you will have to get used to.
The words shown above were demonstrative determiners, meaning that they modify a noun. In contrast, demonstrative pronouns replace nouns altogether. Compare the sentences “Those apples are good” and “Those are good”.
In Dhivehi, the two ideas are kind of mixed together, as demonstrative pronouns are formed by combining the demonstrative determiners and the word “thing” or “things”.
The Dhivehi word for “thing” is އެތި, and the word for “things” is އެއްޗެހި (usually pronounced އެއްޗިހި and often spelt that way). Some slight changes occur in pronunciation when they combine with the demonstratives.
In addition to meaning “this”, “that”, “these” and “those”, the demonstrative pronouns are also used where third person neuter pronouns (“it” and “they”) would be used in English.
Here are the Dhivehi demonstrative pronouns:
ތިއެއްޗެހި ,މިއެއްޗެހި and އެއެއްޗެހި are usually pronounced ތީއްޗިހި ,މީއްޗިހި and އޭއްޗިހި respectively. They are occasionally spelt that way.
- މި އާފަލު މީރު – This apple is tasty
- މީތި މީރު – This is tasty
- ތި ހެދުން ވަރަށް ރީތި – That dress (you have/you are wearing) is very nice
- ތީތި ވަރަށް ރީތި – That is very nice
- އެ މެޓާތައް ވަރަށް ނުބައި – Those lollies are very bad
- އެއެއްޗެހި ވަރަށް ނުބައި – Those are very bad
- މި ގަމީސް ރަނގަޅު – This shirt is good
- މީތި ރަނގަޅު – This is good
Two things to note:
- Dhivehi doesn’t have words for “is” or “are”. To say “[noun] is [adjective]”, you simply say “[noun] [adjective]”
- These forms of the demonstrative pronouns can only be used in “[noun] [adjective]” type sentences. There is another form used for “[noun] [noun]” sentences which we will look at in a future lesson.