Marathi language

Marathi (English: /məˈrɑːti/;[8] मराठी Marāṭhī; Marathi: [məˈɾaʈʰi] (listen)) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken predominantly by around 83.1 million Marathi people of Maharashtra, India. It is the official language and co-official language in the Maharashtra and Goa states of Western India, respectively, and is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. At 83.1 million speakers in 2019, Marathi ranks 10th in the list of most spoken languages in the world. Marathi has the third largest number of native speakers in India, after Hindi and Bengali.[9] The language has some of the oldest literature of all modern Indian languages, dating back to around 600 AD.[10] The major dialects of Marathi are Standard Marathi and the Varhadi dialect.[11] Koli and Malvani Konkani have been heavily influenced by Marathi varieties.

"Marathi" in Devanagari script
Native toIndia
Native speakers
83 million (2011)[1]
L2 speakers: 12 million[1]
Early forms
Devanagari (Balbodh)[2]
Devanagari Braille
Modi (historical/traditional)[3]
Indian Signing System
Official status
Official language in
 IndiaMaharashtra, Goa, Daman and Diu,[4] and Dadra and Nagar Haveli[5]
Regulated byMaharashtra Sahitya Parishad & various other institutions
Language codes
ISO 639-1mr
ISO 639-2mar
ISO 639-3Either:
mar  Modern Marathi
omr  Old Marathi
omr Old Marathi
Glottologmara1378  Modern Marathi[6]
oldm1244  Old Marathi[7]

Marathi distinguishes inclusive and exclusive forms of 'we' and possesses a three-way gender system that features the neuter in addition to the masculine and the feminine. In its phonology, it contrasts apico-alveolar with alveopalatal affricates and alveolar with retroflex laterals ([l] and [ɭ] (Marathi letters and respectively).[12]

Geographic distribution

Marathi is primarily spoken in Maharashtra (India) and parts of neighbouring states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka (particularly the bordering districts of Belgaum, Bidar, Gulbarga and Uttara Kannada), Telangana, union-territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The former Maratha ruled cities of Baroda, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Tanjore have had sizable Marathi speaking populations for centuries. Marathi is also spoken by Maharashtrian migrants to other parts of India and overseas.[13]

There were 83 million native Marathi speakers in India, according to the 2011 census, making it the third most spoken native language after Hindi and Bengali. Native Marathi speakers form 6.86% of India's population. Native speakers of Marathi formed 68.93% of the population in Maharashtra, 10.89% in Goa, 7.01% in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, 4.53% in Daman and Diu, 3.38% in Karnataka, 1.7% in Madhya Pradesh and 1.52% in Gujarat.[9]


Marathi is the official language of Maharashtra and co-official language in the union territories of Daman and Diu[4] and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.[5] In Goa, Konkani is the sole official language; however, Marathi may also be used for some official purposes in some case. Marathi is included among the languages which stand a part of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, thus granting it the status of a "scheduled language".[14] The Government of Maharashtra has submitted an application to the Ministry of Culture to grant classical language status to Marathi.[15]

The contemporary grammatical rules described by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and endorsed by the Government of Maharashtra are supposed to take precedence in standard written Marathi. Traditions of Marathi Linguistics and the above-mentioned rules give special status to tatsamas, words adapted from Sanskrit. This special status expects the rules for tatsamas to be followed as in Sanskrit. This practice provides Marathi with a large corpus of Sanskrit words to cope with demands of new technical words whenever needed.

In addition to all universities in Maharashtra, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in Vadodara,[17] Osmania University in Hyderabad,[18] Karnataka University in Dharwad,[19] Gulbarga University in Kalaburagi,[20] Devi Ahilya University in Indore[21] and Goa University in Goa[22] have special departments for higher studies in Marathi linguistics. Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) has announced plans to establish a special department for Marathi.[23]

Marathi Day is celebrated on 27 February, the birthday of the poet Kusumagraj (Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar).[24]


Indian languages, including Marathi, that belong to the Indo-Aryan language family are derived from early forms of Prakrit. Marathi is one of several languages that further descend from Maharashtri Prakrit. Further change led to the Apabhraṃśa languages like Old Marathi, however, this is challenged by Bloch (1970), who states that Apabhraṃśa was formed after Marathi had already separated from the Middle Indian dialect.[25]

The earliest example of Maharashtri as a separate language dates to approximately 3rd century BCE: a stone inscription found in a cave at Naneghat, Junnar in Pune district had been written in Maharashtri using Brahmi script. A committee appointed by the Maharashtra State Government to get the Classical status for Marathi has claimed that Marathi existed at least 2300 years ago alongside Sanskrit as a sister language.[26] Marathi, a derivative of Maharashtri, is probably first attested in a 739 CE copper-plate inscription found in Satara. Several inscriptions dated to the second half of the 11th century feature Marathi, which is usually appended to Sanskrit or Kannada in these inscriptions.[27] The earliest Marathi-only inscriptions are the ones issued during the Shilahara rule, including a c. 1012 CE stone inscription from Akshi taluka of Raigad district, and a 1060 or 1086 CE copper-plate inscription from Dive that records a land grant (agrahara) to a Brahmin.[28] A 2-line 1118 CE Marathi inscription at Shravanabelagola records a grant by the Hoysalas. These inscriptions suggest that Marathi was a standard written language by the 12th century. However, there is no record of any literature produced in Marathi until the late 13th century.[29]

Yadava period

After 1187 CE, the use of Marathi grew substantially in the inscriptions of the Seuna (Yadava) kings, who earlier used Kannada and Sanskrit in their inscriptions.[28] Marathi became the dominant language of epigraphy during the last half century of the dynasty's rule (14th century), and may have been a result of the Yadava attempts to connect with their Marathi-speaking subjects and to distinguish themselves from the Kannada-speaking Hoysalas.[27][30]

Further growth and usage of the language was because of two religious sects – the Mahanubhava and Varkari panthans – who adopted Marathi as the medium for preaching their doctrines of devotion. Marathi was used in court life by the time of the Seuna kings. During the reign of the last three Seuna kings, a great deal of literature in verse and prose, on astrology, medicine, Puranas, Vedanta, kings and courtiers were created. Nalopakhyan, Rukmini swayamvar and Shripati's Jyotishratnamala (1039) are a few examples.

The oldest book in prose form in Marathi, Vivēkasindhu (विवेकसिंधु), was written by Mukundaraja, a Nath yogi and arch-poet of Marathi. Mukundaraja bases his exposition of the basic tenets of the Hindu philosophy and the yoga marga on the utterances or teachings of Shankaracharya. Mukundaraja's other work, Paramamrta, is considered the first systematic attempt to explain the Vedanta in the Marathi language

Notable examples of Marathi prose are "Līḷācarītra" (लीळाचरीत्र), events and anecdotes from the miracle-filled the life of Chakradhar Swami of the Mahanubhava sect compiled by his close disciple, Mahimbhatta, in 1238. The Līḷācarītra is thought to be the first biography written in the Marathi language. Mahimbhatta's second important literary work is the Shri Govindaprabhucharitra or Rudhipurcharitra, a biography of Shri Chakradhar Swami's guru, Shri Govind Prabhu. This was probably written in 1288. The Mahanubhava sect made Marathi a vehicle for the propagation of religion and culture. Mahanubhava literature generally comprises works that describe the incarnations of gods, the history of the sect, commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, poetical works narrating the stories of the life of Krishna and grammatical and etymological works that are deemed useful to explain the philosophy of sect.

Medieval and Deccan Sultanate period

The 13th-century varkari saint Dnyaneshwar (1275–1296) wrote a treatise in Marathi on Bhagawat Gita popularly called Dnyaneshwari and Amritanubhava. His contemporary, Namdev, composed verses or abhang in Marathi as well as Hindi.

Mukund Raj was a poet who lived in the 13th century and is said to be the first poet who composed in Marathi.[31] He is known for the Viveka-Siddhi and Parammrita which are metaphysical, pantheistic works connected with orthodox Vedantism.

The 16th century saint-poet Eknath (1528–1599) is well known for composing the Eknāthī Bhāgavat, a commentary on Bhagavat Purana and the devotional songs called Bharud.[32] Mukteshwar translated the Mahabharata into Marathi; Tukaram (1608–49) transformed Marathi into a rich literary language. His poetry contained his inspirations. Tukaram wrote over 3000 abhangs or devotional songs.[33]

Marathi was widely used during the Sultanate period. Although the rulers were Muslims, the local feudal landlords and the revenue collectors were Hindus and so was the majority of the population. To simplify administration and revenue collection, the sultans promoted use of Marathi in official documents. However, the Marathi language from the era is heavily persianised in its vocabulary.[34] The Persian influence continues to this day with many Persian derived words used in every day speech such as bāg (Garden), kārkhānā (factory), shahar (city), bāzār (market), dukān (shop), hushār (clever), kāḡaḏ (paper), khurchi (chair), jamin (land), jāhirāt (advertisement), and hazār (thousand)[35] Marathi also became language of administration during the Ahmadnagar Sultanate.[36] Adilshahi of Bijapur also used Marathi for administration and record keeping.[37]

Maratha Empire

Marathi gained prominence with the rise of the Maratha Empire beginning with the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (ruled 1674–1680). Under Shivaji, the language used in administrative documents became less persianised. Whereas in 1630, 80% of the vocabulary was Persian, it dropped to 37% by 1677[38] Samarth Ramdas was a contemporary of Shivaji. He advocated the unity of Marathas to propagate Maharashtra dharma.[33] Unlike varkari saints, his writing has a strong militant expression to it. Subsequent Maratha rulers extended the empire northwards to Attock, eastwards to Odisha, and southwards to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. These excursions by the Marathas helped to spread Marathi over broader geographical regions. This period also saw the use of Marathi in transactions involving land and other business. Documents from this period, therefore, give a better picture of the life of common people. There are a lot of Bakharis written in Marathi and Modi script from this period. But by the late 18th century, the Maratha Empire's influence over a large part of the country was on the decline.

In the 18th century during Peshwa rule, some well-known works such as Yatharthadeepika by Vaman Pandit, Naladamayanti Swayamvara by Raghunath Pandit, Pandava Pratap, Harivijay, Ramvijay by Shridhar Pandit and Mahabharata by Moropant were produced. Krishnadayarnava and Sridhar were poets during the Peshwa period. New literary forms were successfully experimented with during the period and classical styles were revived, especially the Mahakavya and Prabandha forms. The most important hagiographies of Varkari Bhakti saints was written by Mahipati in the 18th Century.[39][33] Other well known literary scholars of the 17th century were Mukteshwar and Shridhar.[40] Mukteshwar was the grandson of Eknath and is the most distinguished poet in the Ovi meter. He is most known for translating the Mahabharata and the Ramayana in Marathi but only a part of the Mahabharata translation is available and the entire Ramayana translation is lost. Shridhar Kulkarni came from the Pandharpur area and his works are said to have superseded the Sanskrit epics to a certain extent. This period also saw the development of Powada (ballads sung in honor of warriors), and Lavani (romantic songs presented with dance and instruments like tabla). Major poet composers of Powada and Lavani songs of the 17th and the 18th century were Anant Phandi, Ram Joshi and Honaji Bala.[40]

British colonial period

The British colonial period starting in early 1800s saw standardisation of Marathi grammar through the efforts of the Christian missionary William Carey. Carey's dictionary had fewer entries and Marathi words were in Devanagari. Translations of the Bible were first books to be printed in Marathi.These translations by William Carey, the American Marathi mission and the Scottish missionaries led to the development of a peculiar pidginized Marathi called the "Missionary Marathi in early 1800s[41] The most comprehensive Marathi-English dictionary was compiled by Captain James Thomas Molesworth and Major Thomas Candy in 1831. The book is still in print nearly two centuries after its publication.[42] The colonial authorities also worked on standardizing Marathi under the leadership of James Thomas Molesworth and Candy. They used Brahmins of Pune for this task and adopted the Sanskrit dominated dialect spoken by the elite in the city as the standard dialect for Marathi.[43][44][45][46]

The first Marathi translation of the New Testament was published in 1811 by the Serampore press of William Carey.[47] The first Marathi newspaper called Durpan was started by Balshastri Jambhekar in 1832.[48] Newspapers provided a platform for sharing literary views, and many books on social reforms were written. First Marathi periodical Dirghadarshan was started in 1840. The Marathi language flourished, as Marathi drama gained popularity. Musicals known as Sangeet Natak also evolved . Keshavasut, the father of modern Marathi poetry published his first poem in 1885. The late-19th century in Maharashtra saw the rise of essayist Vishnushastri Chiplunkar with his periodical, Nibandhmala that had essays that criticized social reformers like Phule and Gopal Hari Deshmukh. He also founded the popular Marathi periodical of that era called Kesari in 1881.[49] Later under the editorship of Lokmanya Tilak, the newspaper was instrumental in spreading Tilak's nationalist and social views.[50][51][52] Tilak was also opposed to intercaste marriage, particularly the match where an upper caste woman married a lower caste man.[52] Phule and Deshmukh also started their own periodicals, Deenbandhu and Prabhakar, that criticised the prevailing Hindu culture of the day.[53] The 19th century and early 20th century saw several books published on Marathi grammar. Notable grammarians of this period were Tarkhadkar, A.K.Kher, Moro Keshav Damle, and R.Joshi[54]

The first half of the 20th century was marked by new enthusiasm in literary pursuits, and socio-political activism helped achieve major milestones in Marathi literature, drama, music and film.. Modern Marathi prose flourished: for example, N.C.Kelkar's biographical writings, novels of Hari Narayan Apte, Narayan Sitaram Phadke and V. S. Khandekar, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's nationalist literature and plays of Mama Varerkar and Kirloskar.

Marathi since Indian independence

After Indian independence, Marathi was accorded the status of a scheduled language on the national level. In 1956, the then Bombay state was reorganized which brought most Marathi and Gujarati speaking areas under one state. Further re-organization of the Bombay state on 1 May 1960, created the Marathi speaking Maharashtra and Gujarati speaking Gujarat state respectively. With state and cultural protection, Marathi made great strides by the 1990s. A literary event called Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Literature Meet) is held every year. In addition, the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Theatre Convention) is also held annually. Both events are very popular among Marathi speakers.

Notable works in Marathi in the latter half of 20th century include Khandekar's Yayati, which won him the Jnanpith Award. Also Vijay Tendulkar's plays in Marathi have earned him a reputation beyond Maharashtra. P.L.Deshpande(PuLa), Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar, P.K.Atre & Prabodhankar Thackeray, were also known for their writings in Marathi in the field of drama, comedy and social commentary[55]

In 1958 the term "Dalit literature" was used for the first time, when the first conference of Maharashtra Dalit Sahitya Sangha (Maharashtra Dalit Literature Society) was held at Mumbai, a movement inspired by 19th century social reformer, Jyotiba Phule and eminent dalit leader, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.[56] Baburao Bagul (1930–2008) was a pioneer of Dalit writings in Marathi.[57] His first collection of stories, Jevha Mi Jat Chorali (जेव्हा मी जात चोरली) (When I Concealed My Caste), published in 1963, created a stir in Marathi literature with its passionate depiction of a cruel society and thus brought in new momentum to Dalit literature in Marathi.[58][59] Gradually with other writers like, Namdeo Dhasal (who founded Dalit Panther), these Dalit writings paved way for the strengthening of Dalit movement.[60] Notable Dalit authors writing in Marathi include Arun Kamble, Shantabai Kamble, Raja Dhale, Namdev Dhasal, Daya Pawar, Annabhau Sathe, Laxman Mane, Laxman Gaikwad, Sharankumar Limbale, Bhau Panchbhai, Kishor Shantabai Kale, Narendra Jadhav, Keshav Meshram, Urmila Pawar, Vinay Dharwadkar, Gangadhar Pantawane, Kumud Pawde and Jyoti Lanjewar.[61][62][63][64]

In recent decades there has been a trend among Marathi speaking parents of all social classes in major urban areas of sending their children to English medium schools. There is some concern, though without foundation, that this may lead to the marginalization of the language.[65]


Standard Marathi is based on dialects used by academics and the print media.

Indic scholars distinguish 42 dialects of spoken Marathi. Dialects bordering other major language areas have many properties in common with those languages, further differentiating them from standard spoken Marathi. The bulk of the variation within these dialects is primarily lexical and phonological (e.g. accent placement and pronunciation). Although the number of dialects is considerable, the degree of intelligibility within these dialects is relatively high.[66]

Zadi Boli

Zadi Boli or Zhadiboli (झाडीबोली) is spoken in Zadipranta (a forest rich region) of far eastern Maharashtra or eastern Vidarbha or western-central Gondwana comprising Gondia, Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and some parts of Nagpur of Maharashtra.

Zadi Boli Sahitya Mandal and many literary figures are working for the conservation of this important and distinct dialect of Marathi.

Southern Indian Marathi

Thanjavur Marathi, Namadeva Shimpi Marathi, Arey Marathi and Bhavsar Marathi are some of the dialects of Marathi spoken by many descendants of Maharashtrians who migrated to the Southern India.

These dialects retain the 17th-century basic form of Marathi and have been considerably influenced by the Dravidian languages after the migration. These dialects have speakers in various parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.


Varhadi (Varhādi) (वऱ्हाडी) or Vaidarbhi (वैदर्भी) is spoken in the Western Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In Marathi, the retroflex lateral approximant [ɭ] is common, while in the Varhadii dialect, it corresponds to the palatal approximant y (IPA: [j]), making this dialect quite distinct. Such phonetic shifts are common in spoken Marathi and, as such, the spoken dialects vary from one region of Maharashtra to another.


Other languages and dialects spoken in Maharashtra include Maharashtrian Konkani, Koli, Malvani, Agri, Andh, Warli, Dangi, Khandeshi, Ahirani, Kokna, Vadvali, Samavedi, Marathwadi and Deshi.


The phoneme inventory of Marathi is similar to that of many other Indo-Aryan languages. An IPA chart of all contrastive sounds in Marathi is provided below.

  Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex (Alveolo-)
Velar Glottal
Nasal plain m n ɳ (ɲ) (ŋ)
murmured ɳʱ
Stop voiceless p t t͡s ʈ t͡ɕ~t͡ʃ k
aspirated ~f ʈʰ t͡ɕʰ~t͡ʃʰ
voiced b d d͡z~z ɖ d͡ʑ~d͡ʒ ɡ
murmured d͡zʱ~ ɖʱ d͡ʑʱ~d͡ʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative s ʂ ɕ~ʃ h~ɦ
Approximant plain ʋ l ɭ j
murmured ʋʱ ()[68]
Flap/Trill plain ɾ ɺ̢[69]
murmured ɾʱ

Older aspirated *tsʰ, dzʱ have lost their onset, with *tsʰ merging with /s/ and *dzʱ being typically realised as an aspirated fricative, [zʱ]. This /ts, dz, zʱ/ series is not distinguished in writing from /tʃ, tʃʰ, dʒ, dʒʱ/.

High i u
Mid eəo
Low  a 

There are two more vowels in Marathi to denote the pronunciations of English words such as of a in act and a in all. These are written as and . The IPA signs for these are [æ] and [ɒ], respectively. Maharashtri Prakrit, the ancestor of modern Marathi, is a particularly interesting case. Maharashtri was often used for poetry and as such, diverged from proper Sanskrit grammar mainly to fit the language to the meter of different styles of poetry. The new grammar stuck, which led to the unique flexibility of vowels lengths – amongst other anomalies – in Marathi. Marathi retains the original Sanskrit pronunciation of certain letters such as the anusvāra (for instance, saṃhar, compared to sanhar in Hindi). Moreover, Marathi preserves certain Sanskrit patterns of pronunciation, as in the words purṇa and rāma compared to purṇ and rām in Hindi.


Kadamba alphabet and its variants has been historically used to write Marathi in the form of inscriptions on stones and copper plates.[70] The Marathi version of Devanagari, called Balbodh, is similar to the Hindi Devanagari alphabet except for its use as words in Marathi traditionally pronounce schwa making its written form differ even from other Marathi words. For example, the word 'रंग' (colour) is pronounced as 'ranga' in Marathi & 'rang' in other languages using Devanagari despite same spelling, 'खरं' (true) despite the anuswara is pronounced as 'Khara' as the Anusara in this case is used to avoid schwa deletion in pronunciation since most other languages using Devanagari show schwa deletion in pronunciation despite the presence of schwa in the written spelling. From the 13th century until the beginning of British rule in 19th century, Marathi was written in the Modi script for administrative purposes but in Devnagari for literature. Since 1950 it has been written in the Balbodh style of Devanagari.Except for Father Stephen's Krista Purana in the Latin script in the 1600s, Marathi has mainly been printed in Devanagari because William Carey, the pioneer of printing in Indian languages, was only able to print in Devanagari. He later tried printing in Modi but by that time, Balbodh Devanagari had been accepted for printing.[71]


Marathi is usually written in the Balbodh[72][73][74][75] version of Devanagari script, an abugida consisting of 36 consonant letters and 16 initial-vowel letters. It is written from left to right. The Devanagari alphabet used to write Marathi is slightly different from the Devanagari alphabets of Hindi and other languages: there are a couple of additional letters in the Marathi alphabet, and Western punctuation is used.

As with a large part of India, a traditional duality existed in script usage between Devanagari by religiously educated people (most notably Brahmins) and Modi for common usage among administrators, businesspeople, and others. As observed in 1807,[76]

Although in the Mahratta country the Devanagari character is well known to men of education, yet a character is current among the men of business which is much smaller, and varies considerably in form from the Nagari, though the number and power of the letters nearly correspond.


Devanagari अंअः
Transliterated aāiī/eeuū/ooeaioauaṃaḥæɒ
IPA [ə][a]short[i][i]short[u][u][e][əi][o][əu][əm][əɦa][æ][ɒ]

Vowel ligatures with Consonant क/ka



क ख ग घ ङ
च छ ज झ ञ
ट ठ ड ढ ण
त थ द ध न
प फ ब भ म
य र ल व
श ष स
ह ळ
क्ष ज्ञ

ka kha ga gha ṅa

ca cha ja jha ña

ṭa ṭha ḍa ḍha ṇa

ta tha da dha na

pa pha ba bha ma

ya ra la va

śa ṣa sa

ha ḷa

kṣa dña/jña

It is written from left to right. Devanagari used to write Marathi is slightly different than that of Hindi or other languages. It uses additional vowels and consonants that are not found in other languages that also use Devanagari.

The Modi alphabet

From the thirteenth century until 1950, Marathi, especially for business use, was written in the Modi alphabet, a cursive script designed for minimising the lifting of pen from paper while writing.[77]

Consonant clusters in Devanagari

In Devanagari, consonant letters by default come with an inherent schwa. Therefore, तयाचे will be 'təyāche', not 'tyāche'. To form 'tyāche', you will have to write it as त् + याचे, giving त्याचे.

When two or more consecutive consonants are followed by a vowel then a jodakshar (consonant cluster) is formed. Some examples of consonant clusters are shown below:

  • त्याचेtyāche – "his"
  • प्रस्ताprastāva – "proposal"
  • विद्याvidyā – "knowledge"
  • म्याmyān – "Sheath/scabbard"
  • त्वराtvarā – "immediate/Quick"
  • महत्त्वmahatttva – "importance"
  • क्तphakta – "only"
  • बाहुल्याbāhulyā – "dolls"

In writing, Marathi has a few digraphs that are rarely seen in the world's languages, including those denoting the so-called "nasal aspirates" (ṇh, nh, and mh) and liquid aspirates (rh, ṟh, lh, and vh). Some examples are given below.

  • ण्हेरीkaṇherī – "a shrub known for flowers"/ Oleander
  • न्हाणेnhāṇe – "bathing"
  • म्हणूनmhaṇūna – "therefore"
  • ऱ्हाtaṟhā – "different way of behaving"
  • कोल्हाkolhā – "fox"
  • केंव्हाkeṃvhā – "when"


Marathi grammar shares similarities with other modern Indo-Aryan languages. The first modern book exclusively concerning Marathi grammar was printed in 1805 by William Carey.

Marathi employs agglutinative, inflectional and analytical forms.[78] Unlike most other Indo-Aryan languages, Marathi preserves all three grammatical genders from Sanskrit: masculine, feminine and neuter. The primary word order of Marathi is subject–object–verb[79] Marathi follows a split-ergative pattern of verb agreement and case marking: it is ergative in constructions with either perfective transitive verbs or with the obligative ("should", "have to") and it is nominative elsewhere.[80] An unusual feature of Marathi, as compared to other Indo-European languages, is that it displays inclusive and exclusive we also found in Rajasthani and Gujarati and common to the Austronesian and Dravidian languages. Other similarities to Dravidian include the extensive use of participial constructions[78] and also to a certain extent the use of the two anaphoric pronouns swətah and apəṇ.[81] Numerous scholars have noted the existence of Dravidian linguistic patterns in the Marathi language.[82]

Sharing of linguistic resources with other languages

Over a period of many centuries, the Marathi language and people came into contact with many other languages and dialects. The primary influence of Prakrit, Maharashtri, Apabhraṃśa and Sanskrit is understandable. Marathi borrows a lot of its vocabulary from Sanskrit.[83]

Marathi has also shared directions, vocabulary, and grammar with languages such as Indian Dravidian languages,[83] and foreign languages such as Persian,[35] Arabic, English and a little from Portuguese.[83]

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a noted Hindutva ideologue, writer, and poet, contributed to the Marathi language by coining new Marathi equivalents for words from other languages, mostly English. Prior to these Marathi equivalents, words from other languages were widely used, which was unacceptable to Savarkar. He opined that foreign words polluted the Marathi language and also made original Marathi words with the same meanings obsolete. The following are some of the words coined and popularized by him:

Morphology and etymology

Spoken Marathi contains a high number of Sanskrit-derived (tatsama) words. Such words are for example nantar (from nantara or after), purṇa (purṇa or complete, full, or full measure of something), ola (ola or damp), karaṇ (karaṇa or cause), puṣkaḷ (puṣkala or much, many), satat (satata or always), vichitra (vichitra or strange), svatah (svatah or himself/herself), prayatna (prayatna or effort, attempt), bhīti (from bhīti, or fear) and bhāṇḍa (bhāṇḍa or vessel for cooking or storing food). Other words ("tadbhavas") have undergone phonological changes from their Sanskrit roots, for example dār (dwāra or door), ghar (gṛha or house), vāgh (vyāghra or tiger), paḷaṇe (palāyate or to run away), kiti (kati or how many) have undergone more modification. Examples of words borrowed from other Indian and foreign languages include:

  • Aḍakittā "nutcracker" directly borrowed from Kannada
  • Akka "sister" borrowed from Tamil
  • Hajērī Attendance from Haziri Urdu
  • Jāhirāta "advertisement" is derived from Arabic zaahiraat
  • Marjī "wish" is derived from Persian "marzi"
  • Shiphārasa "recommendation" is derived from Persian sefaresh

A lot of English words are commonly used in conversation and are considered to be assimilated into the Marathi vocabulary. These include "pen" (native Marathi lekhaṇii) and "shirt" (sadaraa).


Marathi uses many morphological processes to join words together, forming compounds. For example, ati + uttam gives the word atyuttam, miith-bhaakar ("salt-bread"), udyog-patii ("businessman"), ashṭa-bhujaa ("eight-hands", name of a Hindu goddess).


Like many other languages, Marathi uses distinct names for the numbers 1 to 20 and each multiple of 10, and composite ones for those greater than 20.

As with other Indic languages, there are distinct names for the fractions 14, 12, and 34. They are paava, ardhaa, and pauṇa, respectively. For most fractions greater than 1, the prefixes savvaa-, saaḍe-, paavaṇe- are used. There are special names for 32 (diiḍ) ,52 (aḍich), and 72 (aut).

Powers of ten are denoted by separate specific words as depicted in below table.

Number power to 10Marathi Number name[84][85]In Devanagari
100Ek, Ekakएक/एकक
101dahaa, dashakदहा/दशक
102Shambhar, Shatakशंभर/शतक
103Hazaar (Sahasra, Ayut)सहस्र/हजार
104Daha Hazaar (dash-sahasra)दशसहस्र/दशहजार
105Laakh (laksha)लाख/लक्ष
106DahaaLaakh (Dasha-Laksha)दशलक्ष
107Koti (Karoda)कोटी
109Abja (Arbud, Arab)अब्ज
1012Kharv (Kharab)खर्व
1013Nikharv (Neela)निखर्व
1015Mahaapadm (padma)महापद्म
1017Shanku (shankha)शंकू
1019jaladhi (samudra)जलधी

A positive integer is read by breaking it up from the tens digit leftwards, into parts each containing two digits, the only exception being the hundreds place containing only one digit instead of two. For example, 1,234,567 is written as 12,34,567 and read as 12 lakh 34 Hazara 5 she 67.

Every two-digit number after 18 (11 to 18 are predefined) is read backward. For example, 21 is read एक-वीस (1-twenty). Also, a two digit number that ends with a 9 is considered to be the next tens place minus one. For example, 29 is एकुणतीस/एकोणतीस (एक-उणे-तीस) (thirty minus one). Two digit numbers used before Hazara, etc. are written in the same way.

Marathi on computers and the Internet

Shrilipee, Shivaji, kothare 2,4,6, Kiran fonts KF-Kiran[86] and many more (about 48) are clip fonts that were used prior to the introduction of Unicode standard for Devanagari script. Clip fonts are in vogue on PCs even today since most of the computers in use are working with English Keyboard. Even today a large number of printed publications of books, newspapers and magazines are prepared using these ASCII based fonts. However, clip fonts cannot be used on internet since those did not have unicode compatibility.

Earlier Marathi suffered from weak support by computer operating systems and Internet services, as have other Indian languages. But recently, with the introduction of language localization projects and new technologies, various software and Internet applications have been introduced. Various Marathi typing software is widely used and display interface packages are now available on Windows, Linux and macOS. Many Marathi websites, including Marathi newspapers, have become popular especially with Maharashtrians outside India. Online projects such as the Marathi language Wikipedia, with 36,000+ articles, the Marathi blogroll, and Marathi blogs have gained immense popularity.[87]

Marathi Language Day

Marathi Language Day (मराठी दिन/मराठी दिवस (transl.Marathi Dina/Marathi Diwasa) is celebrated on 27 February every year across the Indian states of Maharashtra and Goa. This day is regulated by the State Government. It is celebrated on the Birthday of eminent Marathi Poet Vi. Va. Shirwadkar, popularly known as Kusumagraj.[88][89]

Essay competitions and seminars are arranged in Schools and Colleges. Government officials are asked to conduct various events.[90]

Marathi organisations

Many government and semi-government organizations exist which work for the regulation, promotion, and enrichment of the Marathi language. These are either initiated or funded by the government of Maharashtra. A few Marathi organizations are given below:[91]

Outside Maharashtra state

  • Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Mandal, Jabalpur[92]
  • Andhra Pradesh Marathi Sahitya Parishad, Hyderabad
  • Marathi Granth Sangrahalay, Hyderabad
  • Vivek Vardhini Shikshan Sanstha, Hyderabad
  • Maharashtra Mandal, Hyderabad
  • Vedic Dharma Prakashika High School, Hyderabad
  • Gomantak Marathi Academy, Goa[93]
  • Gomantak Sahitya Sevak mandal, Panaji, Goa[94]
  • Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Parishad, Jabalpur
  • Marathi Sahitya Parishad, Karnataka
  • Karnataka Sahitya Parishad, Gulbarga[94]
  • Chhattisgarh Marathi Sahitya Parishad, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh[94]
  • Madhya Pradesh Marathi Sahitya Parishad, Bhopal[94]
  • Vadodara (Badode Sansthan-Gaikwad State), Gujarat Rajya, Bharat
  • Shri Maharashtra Sahitya Sabha, Indore
  • Sanand Nyas, Indore
  • Marathi Samaj, Indore
  • Maharashtra Rangayan, Delhi
  • Brihanna Maharashtra Mandal, an umbrella body of all Marathis who stay outside Maharashtra
  • Marathi Association Sydney Incorporated, Sydney, Australia[95]
  • Maharashtra Mandal, London[96]
  • Marathi Bhashik Mandal, Toronto[97]

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