Topic 20: Respect levels in Hindi

Context: Rita and Tim meet Mahesh and his small son Pappu.


टिम - महेशजी आप कैसे हैं ?

महेश - मैं ठीक हूँ। रीता जी, आप कैसी हैं ?

रीता - बहुत बढ़िया।

रीता - पप्पू तुम कैसे हो ?

पप्पू - सब ठीक है, रीता आण्टी ।


Tim - How are you Mr Mahesh?

Mahesh - I am well. How are you Ms Rita?

Rita - Very excellent.

Rita - How are you Pappu?

Pappu - Everything's fine aunty Rita


A major difference from English in Hindi is that there are three words for ‘you’. There are actually many levels of respect, ranging from speaking to people of exceptionally exalted status through to addressing people of very low status. The three main levels correspond to the three Hindi words for ‘you’ which are आप, तुम and तू, which we can call formal, informal and intimate levels.

The wrong level of address can be rude or insulting. Don’t address strangers as तू, officials as तुम or children as आप. The safest initial approach is.