Digital Dictionaries of South Asia A Digital Pashto-English Dictionary with Audio
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The Entries
Script and Transcription
Differences Among Pashto Dictionaries
Grammatical Sketch


abbrev. abbreviation
adj adjective
adv. adverb
alt. alternate
cmb. combined form
conj. conjunction
dir. direct
e.g. for example
esp. especially
Eng. English
f(em). fem.
fig. figuratively
indir. indirect (construction)
interj. interjection
intr. intransitive
lit. literally
n. noun
num. numeral
m(asc.) masculine
obl. oblique
part. particle
pers. person(al)
phr. phrase
pl. plural
poet. poetic
post. postposition
prep. preposition
pres. present
pron. pronoun
s.o. someone something
s(in)g. singular
sub. substantive
suff. suffix
s.wh. somewhere
tr. transitive
v. verb
v.i. intransitive verb
v.t. transitive verb
voc. vocative
~ see "Entries" below


The Pashto script is based on the Arabic script with certain additions to fit Pashto specific phonology. Authentic documents using Pashto script date to the late sixteenth century; the historical development of its consonants have been described by MacKenzie[1]. The various romanized spellings of the language's name provide a convenient illustration of some basic dialect differences;[2] a survey in Pakistan describes some variations in lexicon as well as pronunciation within a single country.[3] Differences in script and spellings have been a conference topic for representatives from both Afghanistan and Pakistan, with agreements to differ made in some particulars.[4] Differences in script are indicated in the Table of Script and Transcription below. Spelling variations for particular words are included as separate entries, and are usually noted as alternates (alt.) with one or two word definition; the fuller entries are usually those with the most frequently occurring spellings.

The audio portion of this dictionary includes sound files for speakers of two Pashto dialects of Pakistan, Yusufzai [to be linked to bio-data sound file] and Khattak [to be linked to bio-data sound file]. The contrasting pronunciations of the consonant written as ښ easily identifies the dialects as "hard" or "soft", respectively. The notes following the Table of Script and Transcription indicate some variations in pronunciations; the entries with audio files, indicated by underlining, are the best source for illustrating the variation in pronunciation for two dialects. Differences in morphology are included in the Grammatical Sketch below.

Wilma L. Heston
April 2005

1 D.N. MacKenzie, "The Development of the Pashto Script" pp. 137-43 in: Akiner, Shirin (ed.); Sims-Williams, Nicholas (ed.); Languages and Scripts of Central Asia. London, England: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; 1997

2 Henderson, Michael M. T., "Four Varieties of Pashto" pp. 595-7 in Journal of the American Oriental Society 103:2 (1983)

3 Hallberg, Daniel G., Pashto, Waneci, Ormuri. Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan, Vol. 4. Islamabad, Pakistan: National Institute of Pakistan Studies; England: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1992

4 Raj Wali Shah Kattak documents seventeen points of discussion at a Bara Guli conference in Da Pushto nawe imla (Pashto Academy, Peshawar, Peshawar University, 1991)


The entries of this dictionary begin with a headword that is underlined if it has an associated sound file. The word order follows the alphabetical order indicated in table of Script and Transcription.

The headword is followed by the pronunciation in romanized phonetic format, as indicated below in Script and Transcriptions format; stress is indicated by a vertical mark, ˈ preceding the stressed syllable. Certain conventions have been followed; for example, the final vowel of infinitives is always written as -ə-. In general, "inelegant" pronunciations, such as the use of p for f, are not so written in the pronunciation [get example to cite] unless they have occurred in a printed form attested in the textbase; they can, however, be heard in the associated sound files. However, if an alternate pronunciation is found as alternate spellings, it is included as a separate headword. The splitting of words into additional syllables is included as a second pronunciation when it occurs in the sound files; this is not infrequent in borrowed words.

The part of speech defines the form of the headword using the abbreviations listed above. Nouns and adjectives are cited in the direct singular case unless otherwise noted. When a noun can be used in either gender, both may be cited. Adjectives are cited in the masculine singular unless otherwise noted. The declensions of nouns and adjectives are outlined in the Grammatical Sketch below. Verbs are usually cited in the infinitive form and are specified as transitive or intransitive; the conjugations are illustrated in the Grammatical Sketch below and verb stems not easily derivable from the infinitive are listed in the table of "Irregular Verbs".

The definitions include glosses to the headword and a varying number of examples of usage in phrases and sentences. To shorten the examples, the symbol ~ is sometimes substituted for the headword, as, for example, in the constructions with a verb or noun plus كول, "to do" or كیدل "to become". Fairly similar sentences are sometimes included when the Yusufzai and the Khattak speakers differed; certain systematic dialect differences in the use of pronouns and copula are noted in the Dialects discussion below.


The distinctive Pashto consonant, ښ can be used to distinguish a major grouping of dialects between "hard" and "soft"; the pronunciation of ښ shows up in the ways that the language's name,پښتو, is romanized: Pakhto and Pashto, for the "hard" and "soft" dialects respectively. The Yusufzai dialect is classed as a "hard" dialect and Khattak as a "soft" dialect. Other consonant differences are discussed in the notes to the table of Scripts and Transcription below.

The pronunciation of vowels also varies by dialect, but this is less often discussed in the context of dialects; these differences sometimes appear in spelling variations [to be continued, with examples from Y sound files of lengthened –a-, and X sound files of lengthened, wa- and aw-, etc. ]

These recordings also illustrate differences in the copula [refer to Grammar Sketch] that, if written in standard Pashto orthography, would, for example, change a masculine to a feminine. Since these appear when reading a text in standard orthography, the sentence to which the audio file is related has not been rewritten.

The uses of pronouns suggest an absence of one category in some dialects [see Pronouns below], as well as differences that are noted in the Grammatical Sketch. The use of pre- and post-positions also show differences between the two speakers; where there are audio files of sentences where the pronoun or pre- and post-position usages are differ between the two speakers, the entries have include a separate Pashto sentence for each audio file.


Pak. Afgh. Pronunciation Notes
آ آ ā- 1
ا ا -ā(-), a-, i-, u- 2
ب ب b
پ پ p
ت ت t
ټ ټ retroflex
ث ث s
ج ج j
ځ ځ ʣ 3
چ چ č as "ch" in "church
څ څ ʦ 4
ح ح h
خ خ x as "ch" in German "nacht" or Scottish "loch
د د d
ډ ډ retroflex
ذ ذ z
ر ر r
ړ ړ retroflex
ز ز z
ژ ژ ž as "z" in "azure"
ږ ږ ġ 4
س س s
ش ش š as "sh" in "shine"
ښ ښ 5
ص ص s
ض ض z
ط ط t
ظ ظ z
ع ع ` a glottal stop rarely pronounced
غ غ γ like a French "r" in "parisien"
ف ف f f, also p
ق ق q q, often as "k"
ك ك k
ګ g
گ g
ل ل l
م م m
ن ن n
نړ retroflex "n"
ڼ retroflex "n"
ه ه h; in final position, -a
و و w, ū, o
ې e
ی - ī
ی - ī, -ay
ے -ay, -e
ۀ ۀ
ئ -əy
ۍ -əy

[Notes to be added, but in text form, not Excel]


Abbreviations used for the dictionaries on the following pages are cited here with Library of Congress (LC) call numbers and romanization of titles and authors’ names but without diacritics:

Asl.: Aslanov, M.G. Pushtu-russkii slovar’: 50,000 slov. Moscow, 1985 [PK6793 .A53 1985] (Pashto-Russian)

Bell: Bellew, Henry Walter. A dictionary of the Pukkhto or Pukshto Language. Karachi 1980. Reprint of the 1901 ed. published by Rai Saheb M. Gulab Singh, Lahore. [PK6791] (Pashto-English)

QM: Qalandar Mohmand and Farid Sahar’i: Daryab: Pushto lughat Peshawar: [PK6789 .M66 1994] (Pashto-Pashto)

PF: Kabir, Habib, and Akbar, Wardag. Dictionnaire Pashto-Francais. Langues Mondes, l’asiatheque. 1999. (Pashto-French)

PQ: Pashto Qamus Pushto Tolana (2 vol.) [PK6793 .P8] (Pashto-Persian)

PF: Habib Kabir and Akbar Wardag. Dictionnaire pashto-français. Langues & Mondes-L’asiatháeque. 1999. [ Paris] [PK 6793 F7 K33 1999] (Pashto-French).

PPTQ: Pushto-Pushto tashrihi qamus. da ‘Ulumo Akademi. (4 vol.) PK6789 .P84 1979 (Pashto-Pashto)

PZh: Pushto zhabah Purdil Khan Khattak, Maulvi Muhammad Ishaq, and others. Peshawar. [PK6789 .K47 1970] (multiple volumes (12?)) (Pashto-Pashto)

R&R: M. H. Rahimi and M. S. Rohi. Pushto-Inglisi Qamus (English title: Pashto-English Dictionary. Institute of Language & Literature, The Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan. Kabul, 1979. PK6791.R25 1979. (Pashto-English)

Rav.: Raverty, H. G. A dictionary of the Puk'hto, Pus'hto, or Language of the Afghans; with remarks on the originality of the language, and its affinity to the Semitic and other Oriental tongues, etc., etc. 1860: PK6791 R3 (various reprints). (Pashto-English)

T&R: Habibullah Tegey and Barbara Robson. Pashto-English Glossary for the CAL Pashto Materials. ERIC – ED 364 083. (Pashto-English) 1993.

ALA-LC: ALA-LC Romanization Tables: Transliteration Schemes for Non-Roman Scripts. 1997. Z663.72 .A4 1997. The romanization table for Pashto is available as in PDF format at the LC Web site. Note that the LC spelling is Pushto, rather than Pashto. The ALA-LC romanization distinguishes between some letters that have the same sound in Pashto (e.g., س and ص). It also transliterates final - ہ as –ah (e.g., zhabah for ژبه).

Consonants with romanized transcriptions when available
[vowels in brackets are in final position]

  Pashto-Pashto   Pashto-English    
PZh QM PPTQ T&R R&R Rav. Bell. WLH ALA- PF Asl. PQ
1970-90+ 1994 1979 1993 1979 1860; 1867 P on-line LC 1999 1966
1867 1901
ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ ټ
چ چ چ چ چ چ چ چ چ چ چ چ
č ch č c̱ẖ c̱ẖ č ch č ч
څ څ څ څ څ څ څ څ څ څ څ څ
c ts c ṯs̱ ṯs̱ ʦ c ц
ځ ځ ځ ځ ځ څ څ ځ ځ ځ ځ ځ
j dz j ḏẕ ḏẕ ʣ ż j дз
خ خ خ خ خ خ خ خ خ خ خ خ
x kh x ḵẖ kh x kh x x
ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ ډ
ḏḏ д
ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ ړ
ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ ږ
g j̱ẕ g. ġ ẓh
ش ش ش ش ش ش ش ش ش ش ش ش
š š š s̱ẖ s̱ẖ š sh š ш
ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ ښ
x ḵ́ẖ, ś̱ḵẖ ḵḵẖ ṣh
غ غ غ غ غ غ غ غ غ غ غ غ
ğ gh ğ g̱ẖ g̱ẖ γ gh γ ғ
ګ ګ گ گ گ ګ ګ ګ ګ گ گ ګ
g g g g g g g g г
نړ ڼ ڼ ڼ ڼ نړ نړ, ڼ نړ, ڼ ڼ ڼ ڼ ڼ
ṟṟṉ ṉṟ
[fem.sing.] ۍ ۍ ۍ ِٴي ٴي ﺉ, ۍ ۍ ۍ ۍ
-əy -əy -əy -a’ī -a-ī -əy -ạy -əy -әй
[masc.sing.] ے ے ی ی ی ي ي ے ے ی ی ی
-ay -ay -ay -aey -ai -ay -e -ay -ай
[fem. pl.] ے ې ې ې ې ي ي ے ے ې ې ې
-e -e -e -ey -e -e -e -e -e
[masc. sing] ۀ ۀ ه ۀ ۀ ه ه ۀ ۀ ۀ ه
-ah -ah -ạh

ږ written with upper dot as in ze
څ څ distinguished in transcription but not in Pashto script.
ts ts
څ څ
dz dz
Asl. underlined letters have dots beneath in the printed text.


Nouns s

Nouns are usually declined as either masculine or feminine; a few nouns can be declined as either masculine or feminine.

1. nouns ending with a consonant or a stressed vowel
1.a. most animates

sing. pl.
dir. اوښ اوښان "camel"
ūẋ ūẋ-'ān
obl. اوښ اوښانو ٫ اوښو
ūẋ "ūẋ-'ān-o, 'ūẋ-o"
prep./voc. اوښه اوښانو ٫ اوښو
'ūẋ-a "ūẋ-'ān-o, 'ūẋ-o"

1.b. most inanimates
1.c. fruit
1.d. collectives
1.e exceptions with internal vowel changes
2.a. nouns ending with a dipthong
3. irregular formations

1.a. nouns ending with the fem. dipthong
2.a. nouns ending with –a, certain compounds
2.b. nouns ending with –I
2.c. nouns ending with –A
2.d. nouns ending with an unstressed –e
3. nouns ending with a consonant:
4. irregular formations:

1. adjectives ending with a consonant without internal vowel changes

Masc. Fem.
sing. pl. sing. pl.
dir. سم سم سمه سمے "straight"
sam sam 'sa-ma 'sa-me
obl. سم سمو سمے سمو
sam 'sa-mo 'sa-me 'sa-me
prep./voc. سمه سمو سمے سمو
'sa-me 'sa-mo 'sa-me 'sa-mo

2. adjectives ending with a consonant with internal vowel changes
2.a long vowel:

Masc. Fem.
sing. pl. sing. pl.
dir. "thin"

2.b. short vowel:
3. adjectives ending with a stressed dipthong
4. adjectives ending with an unstressed dipthong
5. adjectives ending in simple vowels are usually invariant;


[sub-category] Demonstrative Adjectives
[sub-category] Demonstrative Pronouns

Personal Pronouns

Interrogatives and Indefinites

[a table of Irregular Verbs to be included]

Relative Clauses

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