Note: This lesson has been edited since I originally posted it, to fix a mistake regarding 2nd person conjugations. Anyone learning Dhivehi is advised to go through it again.


Habitual verbs describe actions that regularly take place. In this lesson, we’ll look at the present habitual since that has its own conjugation in Dhivehi.

In English, the present habitual tense is the same as the simple present. Look at the following sentences:

  • She plays with her toys.
  • Cows eat grass.
  • A plane lands here every week.
  • I listen to music.

All the sentences above imply that the action takes place regularly. In the third sentence, it is even stated how regularly that action happens.

In Dhivehi, just like in English, the present habitual is the same as the simple present.

Habitual/Simple Present Conjugations

For many verb tenses, Dhivehi does not have separate verb conjugations for first, second and third person. For this tense, however, separate conjugations exist.

This is where things get a bit confusing. In a somewhat archaic form of literary Dhivehi, there are three conjugations, but they don’t line up perfectly with each person. In modern spoken Dhivehi, two of these forms have merged, so there is one conjugation for first and second person, and another for third person.

Here are the literary conjugations for the verb ކުރުން:

Person Conjugated Verb Form
1st (singular) ކުރަން
1st (plural)
2nd (singular and plural)
ކުރަމު
3rd (singular and plural) ކުރޭ

Note how the first person singular conjugation is the same as the infinitive. That’s one less thing for you to remember. For first person plural and second person, just change the ން to މު. For the third person, remove the އުން of the gerund and replace it with އޭ. Some verbs deviate from this pattern slightly, as you will soon see.

Even though those are “literary” conjugations, you will rarely find them in modern literature. Here are the modern forms for ކުރުން:

Person Conjugated verb form
1st ކުރަން
2nd and 3rd ކުރޭ

One of the conjugations has disappeared entirely, leaving only two for you to learn. The second person conjugation is a bit confusing. For statements, it is the same as the 3rd person, as seen in the table above. However, for questions, it matches the 1st person conjugation, as in the table below:

Person Conjugated verb form with question suffix
1st and 2nd ކުރަންތަ؟
3rd ކުރޭތަ؟

 

This “split conjugation” is likely the result of the question form continuing to be used with the literary conjugation, that is, ކުރަމުތަ became ކުރަންތަ. Meanwhile, for some unknown reason, the statement form fell out of use and was replaced with the 3rd person conjugation. Examples of 2nd person statements and questions in the habitual tense are in a later section of this lesson.

Now let’s look at some other verbs. Notice how the 2nd and 3rd person conjugations are slightly different for these:

Verb 1st Person 2nd and 3rd Person
ބެލުން (to watch/look at) ބަލަން ބަލާ
ނެށުން (to dance) ނަށަން ނަށާ
ހެދުން (to make) ހަދަން ހަދާ
ޖެހުން (to hit) ޖަހަން ޖަހާ

The އުން of the gerund changes to އާ. This applies when the first vowel of the 1st/2nd person conjugation is އަ, like the examples above (and the majority of Dhivehi verbs).  For verbs where the first vowel is something different, there is no hard and fast rule to determine whether the 3rd person conjugation for a verb should end in އާ or އޭ. For example, ކިޔުން becomes ކިޔާ but ލިޔުން becomes ލިޔޭ.

Monosyllabic and Irregular Verbs

Verbs where the infinitive consists of one syllable do not have their 1st/2nd person conjugation exactly the same as the infinitive. Instead, the vowel is shortened. The following table shows monosyllabic verbs and some other irregular verbs.

Verb Infinitive 1st 2nd/3rd
ވުން (to be/become) ވާން ވަން ވޭ
ލުން (to put) ލާން ލަން ލައި
ކެއުން (to eat) ކާން ކަން ކައި
ބުއިން (to drink) ބޯން ބޯން ބޮއެ
ދިޔުން (to go) ދާން ދަން ދޭ
ދިނުން (to give) ދޭން ދެން ދޭ
ހުނުން (to laugh) ހޭން ހެން ހޭ
އައުން (to come) އަންނަން އަންނަން އާދޭ

އައުން is one of the most irregular verbs in Dhivehi. You’ll just have to memorise its conjugation separately. Also, even though ދިޔުން and ދިނުން are the same in the 3rd person, the meaning can be deduced from the context.

Adding އެވެ to End Sentences

This is a rule for ending sentences in formal written Dhivehi. Basically, all sentences have to end with އެވެ. I don’t know exactly why this rule exists, but I have a feeling that this suffix originates from the Sanskrit emphatic particle एव/އޭވަ. The exception to this rule is when you are quoting someone. When you are reading a formal text, you wouldn’t normally pronounce it as އެވެ. Instead, you just say އޭ. Like I said, it’s not exactly intuitive, but eventually it will start to sound natural.

The reason I’m introducing this now is that habitual verbs pretty much always go at the end of sentences. Also, you would need to be introduced to this rule at some point, so now is as good a time as any.

First, let’s see how އެވެ is added to the literary conjugations, using ކުރުން as an example:

1st (S) 1st (P) 2nd (S/P) 3rd (S/P)
Without އެވެ ކުރަން ކުރަމު ކުރޭ
With އެވެ ކުރަމެވެ ކުރަމުއެވެ ކުރެއެވެ

It’s pretty straightforward. Here you see the ން to މ change again for the first person singular. For the third person, the އޭ is shortened to އެ before adding އެވެ. When reading this word, it might sound like ކުރެޔޭ.

The following table shows how އެވެ is added to other verbs, including monosyllabic and irregular verbs using the modern conjugations.

Verb 1st Without އެވެ 1st With އެވެ 2nd/3rd Without އެވެ 2nd/3rd With އެވެ
ބެލުން ބަލަން ބަލަމެވެ ބަލާ ބަލައެވެ
ހެދުން ހަދަން ހަދަމެވެ ހަދާ ހަދައެވެ
ވުން ވަން ވަމެވެ ވޭ ވެއެވެ
ކެއުން ކަން ކަމެވެ ކައި ކައެވެ
ދިޔުން ދަން ދަމެވެ ދޭ ދެއެވެ
އައުން އަންނަން އަންނަމެވެ އާދޭ އާދެއެވެ

You should see the pattern. For first and second person, the final ން changes to މ. For the third person, the final vowel is shortened (which means it is removed entirely for verbs like ކެއުން).

Example Sentences

Here are some sentences which use the simple present/habitual:

  • ނިދުމުގެ ކުރިން، އަހަރެން ފޮތެއް ކިޔަމެވެ – Before going to sleep, I read a book.
  • އަހަރެމެން ސްކޫލުގައި ކިޔަވަމެމެ – We study at school.
  • ކަލޭ ރަހުމަތްތެރިންނަށް ސިޓީ ލިޔެއެވެ – You write letters to your friends.
  • ކަލޭ ރަހުމަތްތެރިންނަށް ސިޓީ ލިޔަންތަ؟ – Do you write letters to your friends?
  • ކޮންމެ ހޮނިހިރު ދުވަހަކު މަންމަ އޮފީހަށް ދަންތަ؟ – Do you go to work every Saturday, mum?
  • ކޮންމެ ހަފުތާއަކު މިތަނަށް ބޯޓެއް ޖައްސައެވެ – A plane lands here every week.
  • އަހަރެންގެ ރައްޓެހިން ކޮންމެ ރެއަކު އަހަރެންގެ ގެއަށް އާދެއެވެ – My friends come to my house each night.

Note how the 2nd person conjugations differ between questions and statements.

You might notice that all these sentences contain an adverb group, which tells where or when the habitual action takes place (e.g. at school, every week, on Saturdays). Without these adverb groups to provide context, the sentences can sound very awkward, despite still being grammatically correct. This is kind of true in English as well, since the habitual tense is not used often. Without the context, it can sound like you’re emphasising that a certain event does truly happen. For example:

  • އަހަރެން ފޮތެއް ކިޔަމެވެ – I [do] read a book.
  • ބޯޓެއް ޖައްސައެވެ – A plane [does] land.

The above two sentences would only be used in situations where the context has already been implied, for example, if someone had asked you what you do before sleeping. Compare this to the following which are just generic statements:

  • އަހަރެން ފޮތް ކިޔަމެވެ – I read books.
  • ބޯޓު ޖައްސައެވެ – Planes land.

Notes:

  • އޮފީސް is how a lot of Maldivians will refer to their place of employment. This is especially true in Malé where most people work white collar jobs. However, it does not necessarily mean a literal office.
  • ކޮންމެ in this context means “each” or “every”. It is based on the word ކޮން (“which”). To say that something happens at specific intervals (each day/month/year etc.) the time word after ކޮންމެ is suffixed with އަކު.
  • ބޯޓު is short for މަތިންދާބޯޓު (literally “above-going boat” i.e. an aeroplane). When Maldivians say ބޯޓު, it is very unlikely that they’re referring to watercraft.

Using އެބަ with the Simple Present

އެބަ is a prefix/particle (often written as a separate word) meaning “now”. It is often used with the simple present, mostly in the third person. When used this way, it has a range of potential effects on the meaning of the sentence:

  • Changing the meaning to present progressive/continuous
  • Combining the simple present meaning with the present perfect continuous
  • Adding emphasis to the fact that something does happen

އެބަ is also frequently used with a range of verbs meaning “to be”, usually when saying “there is” or “there are”. We will look at this in more detail in another lesson.

Examples

  • އޭނާ ގެއަށް އެބަ ދެއެވެ – s/he is going home OR s/he does go home
  • އެކުއްޖާ އެބަ ކައެވެ  – That kid is eating OR that kid does eat (with the implication that they have been eating regularly)
  • އަހަރެން މިފޮތް އެބަ ކިޔަމެވެ – I am reading this book (with the implication that I have been reading it regularly)

If you were to use the present continuous conjugations (ކަނީ ,ދަނީ and ކިޔަނީ) the sentences would mean that the action is happening right now, without implying that it has been happening regularly in the past.

އެބަ can be tricky to wrap your head around at first, especially since there are occasions where using it makes little or no change to the meaning of a sentence, but its use will eventually become intuitive.


That’s the end of the lesson. Go over it as much as you need. The next section is there to help you apply what you have learned.

Practice Questions

I was asked a while ago to include questions at the end of lessons, as a sort of revision task. I will include these from this lesson onward.

  1. Conjugate the following verbs in the habitual/simple present tense (using modern conjugations) a) without އެވެ, and b) with އެވެ
    • ފެތުން – to swim
    • އެޅުން – to pour
    • ދެމުން – to pull
    • ވެއްދުން – to bring in/to insert
    • ހިއްލުން – to lift
  2. Translate the following into Dhivehi:
    • I eat an apple every day.
    • Those kids write in their books.
    • The cat climbs the tree. (to climb/to get on to = އެރުން)
  3. Translate the following into English:
    • ކުޑަ މީދަލެއް ގޭތެރޭގައި އެބަ ދުވައެވެ (to run = ދުވުން)
    • ކޮންމެ ރެއަކު އަހަރެން ދައްތައާއި އެއްކޮށް ފަތަމެވެ
    • އެމީހުން ކޮންމެ އަހަރަކު ކާފަގެ ރަށަށް ދެއެވެ

Answers

1.a)

  • ފަތާ ,ފަތަން
  • އަޅާ ,އަޅަން
  • ދަމާ ,ދަމަން
  • ވައްދާ ,ވައްދަން
  • ހިއްލާ ,ހިއްލަން

1.b)

  • ފަތައެވެ ,ފަތަމެވެ
  • އަޅައެވެ ,އަޅަމެވެ
  • ދަމައެވެ ,ދަމަމެވެ
  • ވައްދައެވެ ,ވައްދަމެވެ
  • ހިއްލައެވެ ,ހިއްލަމެވެ

2.

  • ކޮންމެ ދުވަހަކު އަހަރެން އާފަލެއް ކަމެވެ
  • އެކުދިން ފޮތުގައި ލިޔެއެވެ
  • ބުޅާ ގަހަށް އަރައެވެ

3.

  • A small rat is running around the house
  • I swim with my older sister every night
  • They go to their grandfather’s island each year