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Lesson #125: तो to - So, Then + Comparing

In today’s lesson we’re going to look at a very common little Hindi word, but a word that can often be quite tricky to understand and use correctly. The word is; तो to. Have you ever seen it before? You should have because for a start it came up last lesson! Anyway hopefully by the end of this lesson you should understand this word perfectly so are you ready to get into it? 

तो to has two general uses, so let’s look at them one at a time. I mean, that would be the sensible thing right? Here’s an example sentence demonstrating the first use of तो to. Have a read of it a few times, then after I’ll explain…

तो आप संजय हैं? to aap sanjay hain?
- So, you’re Sanjay?

That was quite straight forward yeah? Can you see what तो to has done to this sentence? That’s right, it’s real easy; starting the sentence with तो to is just like starting an English sentence with ‘so’. And that’s the first use of तो to. Easy hey! Let’s look at a few more examples…

तो आप शादी शुदा हैं? to aap shaadee shudaa hain 
- So you’re married then?

There’s a little new vocab in this small sentence; शादी शुदा shaadee shudaa - Married. But can you see what we’ve done by starting with तो toअच्छा acchaa - great! So one more example then…


तो तुम स्कौटलैंड से हो? to tum skautlaind se ho?
- Ah, so you’re from scotland then?

Right ok so have you got that? Starting a sentence or phrase with तो to is just like starting a sentence in English with ‘so’ or ending with ‘then’. That’s the first use of तो to. Are you ready to learn about the second use? It’s a little trickier but we can do it!

When तो to comes after a word or phrase it is used to compare that word to something else in the same context. So what on earth does that mean? Well let’s take a look a few examples to start with….


घर तो बड़ा है लेकिन बग़ीचा बहुत छोटा है 
ghar to baraa hai lekin bageecaa bahut chotaa hai
- The house is big but the garden is very small

So what’s happened here? Well we’ve used तो to after ‘house’ because in this sentence we are comparing the house to something else. As we read the sentence it turns out we’re comparing the house to the garden and we’re comparing them both in the context of size. The तो to simply tells us that we’re going to compare the house to something! Let’s look at another example…

किताब अच्छी तो थी पर काफ़ी महँगी थी
kitaab acchee to thee par kaafee mahangee thee
- The book was good but it was quite expensive

So what’s happened this time? Well we’ve put the तो to after the word अच्छी acchee - good, this time because we’re going to compare the ‘goodness’ of the book. Again, as we read we see that we’re comparing the fact it was good to the fact it was quite expensive.

Can you see from these last two examples that in this use of तो to the placement of the word in the sentence is very important!

Sometimes with this use of तो to we don’t explicitly state what we are comparing the thing to. Which can make it seem a little confusing, trust me it’s not though! Let’s look at a example…

कल तो मैंने गोश्त खाया
kal to mainne gosht khaayaa
- Yesterday I ate meat (but as for today….?)

So can you see that we’ve used तो to after कल kal - yesterday. This tells us that we’re going to compare the fact that something happened yesterday but then didn’t happen on some other day (say for example, today). So as we read the sentence we see that we say ‘I ate meat’. This, combined with what we’ve already seen, tells us that we may have eaten meat yesterday but on another day we didn’t eat meat. 

Can you see the comparison is not explicitly written in the sentence, we must implicitly use what’s given to make an assumption. Are you a confused? Read through the paragraph a few more times to try and help it sink it.

Now remember how we just said that the placement of तो to is important? Let me show you why by looking at another example very similar to the last…

कल मैंने तो गोश्त खाया
kal mainne to gosht khaayaa
- Yesterday I ate meat (but as for someone else….?)

Can you see how this sentence is different to the last? Look carefully. तो to is now after the word मैं main - I. What does this mean? That’s right, this means we’re comparing the fact that I did something and whereas someone else did not. Are you with me? 

If you’re feeling confident you can now head back to Lesson #124 and see if you can find and understand the use of तो to there! 

Phew ok so that’s it, well done if you’ve read all the way down and have understood this lesson! It has been a very long and difficult lesson. Don’t forget you can always leave a question in the comments section just below if you’re still confused about anything at all, I’m always here to help and answer your questions!

We’ll have another lesson on तो to soon - we’ll see a bunch more examples to help it all sink in!

Back to the Intermediate Grammar Section


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