Grammar Lesson #2: Present Tense Verbs – Positive

I told you it was going to get confusing, and oh my goodness it will. Present tense verbs you think would be simple. But they never are. And Telugu is no different. I wish it were like Chinese: no conjugations! Alas…here we go.

Telugu verbs are like romance language verbs; that is, there are formal and informal ways of conjugating them. In English, we don’t have this. We don’t have the formal “you.”

Telugu has the following pronouns:

English Pronoun Telugu Pronoun Pronunciation Verb Ending
Me నేను Neh-nu ను
You (formal)  మిరు Me-ru రు
You (informal)  నీవు Nee-vu వు
He (formal)  అయన Eye-ya-na రు
He (informal)  వాడు Va-do డు
She (formal)  ఆమె Ah-meh రు
She (informal)  ఆమె Ah-meh తు౦ది/దు
We  మేము Meh-moo ము
They  వాళు Va-lu రు

Verb conjugations are all about rules. Once you know the rules, then you can conjugate anything. But figuring out those rules – and all the ones that don’t apply – is the confusing bit.

Now, there is one easy rule to conjugating verbs: the ending. The end of ANY verb will be the last syllable of the pronoun. That is, if you are saying “I eat” then you will use  నేను and the verb will end in ను. Easy, right!  మిరు will end in రు. Exception: 3rd person pronouns. He and She formal, and They will end the same thing: రు. She informal will end in తు౦ది or దు. He informal will end in డు.

BUT, now we get into the complicated rules. There are a couple rules though that makes these otherwise easy things complicated, of course. Hopefully I figure out a way to properly explain it.

The full “to do” “to work” “to see” and not some already modified form or whatever. Maybe it’s my teacher or the stuff I’ve read/had, but this is surprisingly complicated to find. It seems that most verbs end in నట, and the ట gets dropped (replaced with the verb endings listed above).

Rule #2: Add the ా (“aa”) sound before the verb ending. 
Because most of the verbs end in న, this means that it’s going to change to నా.

Rule #3: Anything with an ు (“ew”) sound in the 2nd out of 3rd syllable turns into an ి (“e”) sound, such as దు,డు,or లు  లి,ది,or డి.

  • Exception #1: Second person informal. This does not occur. The ు sound to ి. Instead, it drops the extra sound all together and remains the normal “a” sound (the check mark that is about a lot of telugu syllables).

Rule #4: Anything with య, వు in the last syllable (generally 3 out of 3 syallbles) turns into సా

  • Exception #1: Some వు change to చా, not సా: No, I’m not sure why. No, I’m not sure totally which ones. Right now, I believe that includes ఇవు “to give,” నడువు”to walk,” and వచను “to come” (to come is a whole ‘nother beast actually…)
  • Exception #2: Feminine informal. (Please note: I hate feminine informal. It is the worst verb conjugation. Also, it is used for things. So don’t get me started on the feminist objectives in me using the polite form only). The ా (long “aa”) sound turns into the ి (short “e”) sound instead. So, సా becomes సి. This occurs for any change in the 3rd syllable for the feminine informal.

Rule #5: Anything with డు in the 2nd out of 2 letters changes to సా

Rule #6: Feminine informal (again). The verb conjugation will be “తు౦ది.” But like the “తు” in other verbs, it gets dropped a lot of the time, so basically it’s just ౦ది.

Verb Exceptions #1: చదువు changes to చదివా (చదివి), not సా. 

Imperative Rule #1: Start with the normal verb form. The last letter changes to an “a” sound. I.E. రాయు -> రాయ

Imperative Rule #2: If the last letter is an ు (“ew”) sound, then the letter before it also turns into an “a” sound. I.E.: చదువు -> చదవ౦డి

Imperative Rule #3: Add ౦డి (“andi”) to the end of everything. Ta da! Imperative form!


The problem, as you can probably tell, is keeping all of these rules straight. So, when you go to conjugate a verb you’re like “Wait, where is the ు sound? How does it change…What does the verb end in…” It’s just…it’s difficult right now. hahaha.


5 thoughts on “Grammar Lesson #2: Present Tense Verbs – Positive

  1. I am of Telugu descent and I am trying to learn my mother tongue. Thank you for your helpful blog! Could you post your helpful pronoun table in a format I can download?

    1. I can try! I’m not quite sure how, but I will give it my best shot. You might be able to copy and paste into a Word document and then print out from there?

  2. Hey thanks for your blog. Im an Aussie of Telugu origin. Ive been using your site and its helped me a lot! Im coming to Hyderabad in December so hoping to learn the basics to talk to family members! thanks again! btw enjoyed your reviews of Jordan and Petra. Its amazing isn’t it?

    1. I hope you find it helpful! Hope you have a great time in December and this at least helps some in communicating! And yes, Jordan/Petra were amazing! I’ll go back again someday

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About ambfso

Currently in Portuguese language training. Next post: Sao Paulo, Brazil