Sinhala Personal Pronouns – More than just your average “I” & “you”

sinhala personal pronounsSo far, the blog posts I’ve written have been on specific Sinhala phrases. So, for a change, I’m going to do a few on Sinhala vocabulary and wanted to start of with something very basic but important: Sinhala personal pronouns.

For those of you who have already watched Episode 1 of the Sinhala Video Tutorials, before you say “Boo Dilshan, old stuff, boooo!” and close your browser, not so fast, because I’ve put in some additional things about Sinhala personal pronouns that you didn’t see in the tutorials.

Plus, it’ll be nice n’ quick revision.

Let’s go…

 

Sinhala Personal Pronouns

 

1st person pronouns: “I” & “we”

Although the correct word for “I” is ma∙mȧ, when speaking (especially when speaking quickly), you might hear this often being pronounced as mang.

The word for “we” is a∙pi.

“I”
  ma∙mȧ      /     
  mang
“we”
  a∙pi

 

2nd person pronouns: “you”

Let’s start with the informal “you”. The word is o∙yaa.

  • This is the form of “you” that is most often used when speaking. It can be used on a friend, family member, or someone near your age.
  • In an informal context, you could also use it on a stranger (for example when speaking to shop staff, hotel staff, etc)

 

The informal & plural “you” is used on two or more familiar people. In English, the closest equivalent is “you all” or “y’all” (the latter, which is usually accompanied by a nice southern drawl…).

  • The word for plural “you” is either  o∙yaa∙la  or  o∙yȧ gol∙lo.
  • Note: During normal conversation, I’d say that  o∙yȧ gol∙lo  is used slightly more often than  o∙yaa∙la.
“you”(informal)
  o∙yaa
“you”(informal;plural)
  o∙yaa∙la      /     
  o∙yȧ gol∙lo

 

Now, let’s look at the formal “you”. It’s good to know this form of “you” but honestly speaking, no one’s going to expect you (the non-native Sinhala speaker) to use it, especially in an informal context.

“you”(formal)
  o∙bȧ
“you”(formal;plural)
  o∙bȧ∙la

 

 

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3rd person pronouns: “he”, “she”, “they”

In Sinhala, we use just one word for “he” and “she” and that word is é∙yaa.

The word for “they” is é∙yaa∙la or  ḗ gol∙lo  (the second word is used slightly more often than the first).

  • And like the English word “they”, these words are gender-neutral, meaning that they can refer to a group of males, females, or a group consisting of both genders.
“he/she”
  é∙yaa
“they”
  é∙yaa∙la      /       
  ḗ gol∙lo

 

And that’s it for the main Sinhala personal pronouns. And you thought it was going to be difficult… tsk tsk…

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment below. And also, please feel free to share this post around. Just use any of the social media buttons.

 

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24 Responses to Sinhala Personal Pronouns – More than just your average “I” & “you”

  1. Wendy June 1, 2013 at 11:30 #

    If found this page most helpful! I’ve just started to learn Sinhala. I’m going to Sri Lanka for a few months at the end of the year and want to be able to converse. Your website is one of the first sources I find with quality audio material. Thank you very much for this.

    PS: Some of your YouTube videos don’t seem to work for me. Is this a temporary thing of should I try something else?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 1, 2013 at 17:08 #

      Wendy, thanks for the nice words. I appreciate it.

      I’ve checked and the videos work for me.

      Tell me, which videos exactly are not working for you and what’s the message you get? And are you watching it on youtube or on my site?

      BTW, It could depend on the browser you’re using. You might find a temporary solution by trying to watch them through a different browser.

      PS: I also just noticed that you signed up to this blog. Welcome!

  2. Gail June 1, 2014 at 18:21 #

    Can you give an example of when you would ever use oba?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha September 2, 2014 at 18:49 #

      Hi Gail, when speaking, almost never. But you’ll hear it being used during TV interviews, in most Sinhala songs, in poems, basically things related to Sinhala literature. When speaking, you could in *some* instances use “o∙bȧ thu∙maa (for a man) or o∙bȧ thumi∙yȧ (for a woman). You’d use it with authoritative figures (for example, mayors, ministers, etc.)

      • Kevin October 18, 2014 at 02:23 #

        I’m sorry which instances would be the appropriate use for obathumaa and orobathumiya?

        • Dilshan Jayasinha October 18, 2014 at 07:35 #

          Hi again Kevin, as explained in my comment, you’d use that typically with people who have authority (for example, mayors, ministers, etc.).

    • Hugh July 7, 2015 at 00:43 #

      When speaking to monks you would be expected to use the polite oba

      • Dilshan Jayasinha July 14, 2015 at 20:20 #

        Correct, Hugh, thanks. Alternatively, for monks you could use ‘o∙bȧ va∙han∙sé’ or refer to the monk in the 3rd person as ‘swaa∙min va∙han∙sé’. That’s what I usually would do.

  3. sonali October 15, 2014 at 07:59 #

    Hi sir….how r u? thank u so much sir for your posting….as usual its very helpful for me. I work, my post Management Assistant. so, I’ll pass level III Sinhala examination. can you sent sinhala exam pass papers? plz help me sir….

    • Dilshan Jayasinha October 21, 2014 at 19:47 #

      Hi Sonali, happy to hear from you. Unfortunately, I don’t have ANY Sinhala exam past papers. If you look at my About Page, you’ll see that I mentioned I am not a teacher :). I hope you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for from somewhere else. All the best.

  4. Kevin October 18, 2014 at 02:17 #

    Makes my brain hurt but not stopping I’ll get it. Thank you for the help.

  5. Mabs November 14, 2014 at 11:48 #

    Thanks for taking the time to create all this material. I am Sri Lankan but grew up outside the country. I really want to re learn the language. Your work is really helping me. Is there any help I can offer in return.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2014 at 15:48 #

      You’re very welcome Mabs. And thanks for offering your help. Yes, there is something you can do for now. You can keep coming back often to the blog and learning some new Sinhala :)

      Take care

  6. Madhavanji March 10, 2015 at 21:24 #

    Dilshen,

    I started loving you,your country nd de simple easy to learn Sinhala language.
    Only thing I can say to you is:
    ” Isthuthi”
    Regards,
    Madhavanji

    • Dilshan Jayasinha March 12, 2015 at 14:13 #

      You’re very welcome, Madhavanji :)

      • Niranjan September 27, 2015 at 13:33 #

        Dilshan very simple and effective way to bring home the lesson. I hope in a few days time I may be able to make small sentences.

        • Dilshan Jayasinha September 30, 2015 at 20:04 #

          Thanks Niranjan. Great that you like my approach. All the best with the learning.

  7. Patty October 22, 2015 at 16:36 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    Oyaa kohomada? I think the reason I have been apprehensive when speaking (or trying to) in Sinhala is because a lot of words sound different when I hear them than the words I have learnt.
    Mage puthaa enahvaah Sri Lanka Dec eka. That is probably totally wrong. I want to try and impress him.
    Bohoma Isthooti.

    Patty

    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 25, 2015 at 14:18 #

      Hi again Patty, that’s an understandable concern you have. The words I always use on the blog are the ones i think are simple but correct. Your sentence should read “magé putha desaembar vala enava”. Have a great time with him.

  8. Shaurya Chaudhary November 22, 2016 at 05:04 #

    Thank You Dilshan Jayasinha for creating this Blog.
    Really appreciated.

  9. Anna Perera February 17, 2017 at 09:50 #

    Hi Dilshan
    Is there anywhere that you give an equivalent English sound for your phonetics (been looking through your emails/postsnNd can’t find ) ? I know you have audio versions but not for all words as I’d like to be able to try and sound vaguely as though I have correct pronunciation as I learn a new word.

    If not, any chance of a post on this?

    Thanks for your lessons. They are very easy to follow.

  10. Najah November 9, 2017 at 20:58 #

    Hi, I am really interested to know more about the grammar of Sinhala. I am doing a comparative study cross Indo-Aryan languages and I need your help!!
    Does the possessive pronoun inflect for gender, person, and number? and the same for the objective pronoun? if not, would you please explain what are the cases that the pronouns can be inflected ?
    Appreciated,

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