Pushtu language

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Pashto (پښتو)
Spoken in: Afghanistan, Pakistan
Region: Afghanistan: south, east and a few provinces in the north; Pakistan: western provinces
Total speakers: c. 38 million
Ranking: 82 (Northern), 92 (Southern). See [1] (http://www.davidpbrown.co.uk/help/top-100-languages-by-population.html).


Official status
Official language of: Afghanistan
Regulated by:
Language codes
ISO 639-1ps
ISO 639-2pus

Pashto (پښتو; also known as Afghan, Pushto, Pashto, Pashtoe, Pashtu, and Pukhto) is the language spoken by the ethnic Afghan otherwise known as the Pashtun people who inhabit Afghanistan and the western provinces of Pakistan.



The language is believed to have originated in the Kandahar/Helmand areas of Afghanistan. Dari often dominates over Afghan/Pashto in Afghanistan in everyday government use since the capital was moved to Kabul from Kandahar in the 18th century. Pashto is spoken by ca 44% of Afghanistan's population as mother tongue and by ca.80% in all Afghanistan.


Pashto is classified within the Southeastern Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. Other notable related tongues include Ossetic, now spoken in the Caucasus.

It is, along with Afghan Persian or Dari, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, spoken by about 35% of the people.

Geographic distribution

Pashto is spoken by about 12 million people in the south, east and a few northern provinces of Afghanistan and by over 30 million people in the western provinces of Pakistan including the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan. Large communities are also found in Sindh (Karachi, Hyderabad) and in western Punjabi Pakistan. Smaller communities exist in Northern India (Pathankot, Rampur) and northeastern Iran. It is spoken by circa 44% of Afghanistan population who are of the Pashtun tribe, as well as by ethnic Pashtuns who live on the other side of the disputed Durand Line in present day Pakistan (ca. 8%-11% of the population of Pakistan).

Official status

Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. The other is the Afghan Persian language, known as Dari in Afghanistan. It is also an important regional language in Pakistan.


The northern dialect is spoken by about 12,206,000 people, and the southern dialect by about 8,685,000 people as of 1993.


Pashto is a S-O-V language. Adjectives come before nouns. Nouns and adjectives are inflected for gender (Masculine/Feminine), number (Singular/Plural) and case (Direct/Oblique). Direct case is used for subjects and direct objects in the present tense. Oblique case is used after most pre- and post-positions as well as in the past tense as the subject of transitive verbs. There is no definite article, but instead there is extensive use of the demonstratives this/that. The verb system is very intricate with the following: Simple Present, Subjunctive, Simple Past, Past Progressive, Present Perfect,and Past Perfect. In any of the past tenses (Simple Past, Past Progressive, Present Perfect and Past Perfect) Pashto is an ergative language, i.e. transitive verbs in any of the past tenses agree with the object of the sentence.


It has many Arabic and Persian words incorporated in it.

Writing system

From the time of Islam's rise in Central Asia, Pashto has used a modified version of Perso-Arabic script. In recent years, however, because of the Internet, it has become increasingly popular to write Pashto in the Latin script. Pashto has several letters which do not appear in any other Perso-Arabic script which represent the retroflex versions of the consonants t,d,r,n. The letters are written like the standard Arabic ta', dal, ra', and nun with a "pandak" attached underneath which looks like a small circle. They also have the letters ge and xin (the initial sound of which is like the German ch found in the word "ich") which look like a ra' and sin respectively with a dot above and beneath. Pashto also has the extra letters that Persian has added to the Arabic alphabet. See http://www.khpalapashtu.com/sitee/pashtula/pasalph.htm to view the entire alphabet.


Examples of intransitive sentence forms using the verb "to go" "tlil":

Command (you masculine-singular):

  • Maktab ta dza! or Maktab ta laarr sha!
  • School to go - Go to school!

Command (you masculine-plural):

  • Maktab ta dzey! or Maktab ta laarr shey!
  • School to go -Go to school!

Simple Present:

  • zuh maktab ta dzum.
  • I school to go - I go to school.


  • zuh ghwaarum che maktab ta laarr shum.
  • I want that to school go (Masculine-I-verb form) - I want to go to school.

Persent Perfect:

  • zuh maktab ta tlilai yum.
  • I school to gone (Masculine verb form) am - I have gone to school.

Simple Past:

  • zuh maktab ta wolaarrum.
  • I school to went - I went to school.

Past Perfect:

  • zuh maktab ta tlilai wum.
  • I school to gone (Masculine verb form) was - I had gone to school.

Past Progressive:

  • zuh maktab ta tlilum.
  • I school to was going - I was going to school or I used to go to school

Examples of transative sentence forms using the verb "to eat" "khwarril":

Command (You singular):

  • Paneer wokhuurra!
  • cheese eat - Eat the cheese!
  • Paneer muhkhuurra!
  • cheese no-eat - Don't eat the cheese!

Command (You plural):

  • Paneer wokhuurrey!
  • cheese eat - Eat the cheese!
  • Paneer muhkhuurrey!
  • cheese no-eat - Don't eat the cheese!

Simple Present:

  • zuh paneer khuurrum.
  • I cheese eat - I eat cheese.


  • zuh ghwaarum che paneer wokhuurrum.
  • I want that cheese eat (I-verb form) - I want to eat cheese.

Present Perfect:

  • maa paneer khwarrilai dai.
  • me (I-oblique) cheese eaten (masculine-singular verb form) is - I have eaten cheese.

Simple Past:

  • maa paneer wokhorro.
  • me (I-oblique) cheese ate - I ate cheese

Past Perfect:

  • maa paneer khwarrilai wo.
  • me (I-oblique) cheese eaten (masculine-singular verb form) was - I had eaten cheese.

Past Progressive:

  • maa paneer khwarruh.
  • me (I oblique) cheese was eating (masculine-singular verb form) - I was eating cheese or I used to eat cheese.

External links


da:Pashto de:Paschtunische Sprache fa:پشتو fr:Pashto hi:पश्तो id:Bahasa Pashtun nl:Pasjtoe pl:Język paszto ps:پښتو th:ภาษาพาชตู zh:普什图语


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