The Nepali alphabet is the fundamental building block for the Nepali Language. It consists of 36 consonants, 13 vowels, 13 vowel signs, and additional characters. The combination of these elements, forms “Baarhakhari,” which, when further combined, shapes Nepali words and the language itself.
Here is an example of a Nepali word:
Word: नमस्ते (Namaste)
- Consonants: न (Na), म (Ma), स (Sa), त (Ta)
- Vowels: अ (a, inherent vowel), ए (e)
- Vowel Signs: े (e)
In this example, the word “नमस्ते” (Namaste) is a common Nepali greeting that is also widely recognized in various South Asian cultures. It combines consonants, vowels, and vowel signs to create a meaningful expression.
The Nepali alphabet is derived from the Devanagari script same as Hindi and Marathi and learning the Nepali alphabet is a great way to learn the Nepali language and culture.
Table of Contents
Nepali Alphabet Chart
Nepali Vowels (Swar)/Independent Vowels
Nepali vowels, also known as “Swar (स्वर)” or Independent vowels are written before the consonants. This is because the vowels are considered to be more important than the consonants in the Devanagari script. The vowels determine the sound of the consonant, and the consonants are simply modifiers of the vowel sound.
Nepali vowels have 13 basic vowels that can stand alone at the beginning of a syllable. They are:
|Nepali Vowels||Pronunciation||Typing guidance|
Nepali Vowel Signs (Matras)/Dependent Vowel
Nepali vowel signs also known as Dependent vowels are the vowels that are attached to consonants. They are written as diacritics above or below the consonant. The following are the dependent vowels:
|Vowel Sign||Pronunciation||Typing guidance|
|ा||aa (Aakar)||Type a after the consonant|
|ि||ee (Hraswa ekaar)||Type i after the consonant|
|ी||ii (Dirgha ekaar)||Type ii after the consonant|
|ु||oo (Hraswa ukaar)||Type u after the consonant|
|ू||uu (Dirgha ukaar)||Type uu after the consonant|
|े||eh (Ehkaar)||Type e after the consonant|
|ै||ai (Aikaar)||Type ai after the consonant|
|ो||oh (Okaar)||Type o after the consonant|
|ौ||au (Aukaar)||Type au after the consonant|
|◌ं||am (Anusvara)||Type am after the consonant|
|:||ah (Visarga)||Type :|
|ृ||ri (Rikar)||Type r after the consonant|
The Nepali alphabet also includes special characters that convey specific sounds and meanings:
|◌ँ||Chandrabindu||Type n after the consonant|
|।||Full stop/Purnabiram||Type .|
|卐||Swastika||N/A *Copy this sign from here|
Nepali Consonants (Vyanjan)
Consonants are the basic building blocks of the Nepali alphabet. They represent the primary sounds used in forming words. Consonants in the Nepali alphabet are organized based on their place and manner of articulation. There are five main categories of consonants:
Kanthya Consonants (क, ख, ग, घ, ङ)
Kanthya consonants are produced by bringing the back of the tongue in contact with the soft part of the palate near the throat. They have a deep and resonant quality to their sound. The sounds “ka” (क), “kha” (ख), “ga” (ग), “gha” (घ), and “nga” (ङ) belong to this category.
Murdhanya (च, छ, ज, झ, ट, ठ, ड, ढ, न, र, ल, स)
Murdhanya consonants are known as palatal, cerebral, and dental consonants. They are produced by the tongue against various parts of the mouth. Palatal consonants are articulated near the hard palate, cerebral consonants use the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth, and dental consonants involve contact with the upper front teeth. Examples include “cha” (च), “chha” (छ), “jha” (झ), “ta” (ट), “tha” (ठ), “da” (ड), “dha” (ढ), “na” (न), “ra” (र), “la” (ल), and “sa” (स).
Osthya Consonants (प, फ, ब, भ, म, व)
Osthya consonants involve the lips in their production. There are both voiced and unvoiced sounds in this category. The sounds “pa” (प), “pha” (फ), “ba” (ब), “bha” (भ), “ma” (म), and “va” (व) belong to this group.
Talabya Consonant (य)
Talabya consonants are produced by raising the middle part of the tongue towards the hard palate. The sound “ya” (य) belongs to this category.
Atikanthya Consonant (ह)
Atikanthya consonants involve a strong exhalation of air, producing a breathy sound. The sound “ha” (ह) belongs to this category.
Other Remaining Consonant (ञ, ण, श, ष, त्र, ज्ञ)
In Nepali, the consonants ञ (ñ) and ण (ṇ) are both pronounced as “न.”
Similarly, श (ś) and ष (ṣ) are both pronounced as “स.”
क्ष (kṣhya) is pronounced as a combination of “छ” and “य.”
त्र (tra) is pronounced as a combination of “त” and “र.”
Lastly, ज्ञ (gya) is pronounced as a combination of “ग” and “य.”
These consonants are not included in the main categories due to their similarities in sound to the ones mentioned above. It’s important to recognize these distinctions for accurate pronunciation and understanding in Nepali.
The Baahrakhari system is a unique feature of the Nepali script that combines consonants and vowel signs to form complete syllables. This system allows for the creation of various sounds and is crucial for accurately representing the Nepali language.
Here’s an example of how the Baahrakhari system is structured for some Nepali consonants:
|Consonant||Vowel||Consonant + Vowel Combination|
|क||अ (a)||क (ka)|
|आ (aa)||का (kaa)|
|इ (i)||कि (ki)|
|ई (ee)||की (kee)|
|उ (u)||कु (ku)|
|ऊ (oo)||कू (koo)|
|ए (e)||के (ke)|
|ऐ (ai)||कै (kai)|
|ओ (o)||को (ko)|
|औ (au)||कौ (kau)|
|अं (aM)||कं (kaM)|
|अ: (ahm)||क: (k:)|
|ऋ (ri)||कृ (kri)|
And that’s the Nepali alphabet, covered!
Now you know the Vowels (Swar), Vowel Signs (Matra), Consonants (Vyanjan), and Baahrakhari of the Nepali alphabet. You’re practically a master of Nepali letters and sounds. But, of course, that’s only the beginning.