Gurmukhi Script

From Wikipedia:

The Gurmukhi alphabet contains thirty-five letters. The first three are distinct because they form the basis for vowels and are not consonants, and except for æṛa are never used on their own. See the section on vowels for further details.

The pronunciation of ਵ will vary between v and w depending on the word.ਙ |ŋɑŋːɑ̃ | and ਞ |ɲəɲːɑ̃ | are rarely used. They cannot begin a syllable or be placed between two consonants, and occur most often as an allophone of n before specific consonant phonemes.

  • à – grave accent = tonal consonant.
  • To differentiate between consonants, the Punjabi tonal consonants kà, chà, ṭà, tà, and pà are often transliterated in the way of the Hindi voiced aspirate consonants gha, jha, ḍha, dha, and bha respectively, although Punjabi does not have these sounds.
  • Tones in Punjabi can be either rising or falling; in the pronunciation of Gurmukhi letters they are falling, hence the grave accent as opposed to the acute.

In addition to these, there are six consonants created by placing a dot (bindi) at the foot (pair) of the consonant (these are not present in Sri Guru Granth Sahib). These are used most often for loanwords, though not exclusively:

Name Pron.(IPA)
ਸ਼ səsːɑ pɛɾ bɪnd̪i ʃə
ਖ਼ kʰəkʰːɑ pɛɾ bɪnd̪i
ਗ਼ gəgːɑ pɛɾ bɪnd̪i ɣə
ਜ਼ d͡ʒəd͡ʒːɑ pɛɾ bɪnd̪i
ਫ਼ pʰəpʰːɑ pɛɾ bɪnd̪i
ਲ਼ ləlːɑ pɛɾ bɪnd̪i ɭə

|ləlːɑ pɛɾ bɪnd̪i| was only recently added to the Gurmukhi alphabet. Some sources may not consider it a separate letter.

“Subjoined” letters

Three “subscript” letters are utilised in Gurmukhi: forms of ਹ(h), ਰ(r), and ਵ(v). ਰ(r) and ਵ(v) are used to make consonant clusters and behave similarly; subjoined ਹ(h) raises tone.

  • Subjoined ਰ(r): For example, the letter ਪ(p) with a regular ਰ(r) following it would yield the word ਪਰ pər (“but”), but with a subjoined ਰ would appear as ਪ੍ਰ- (prə-), resulting in a consonant cluster, as in the word ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧ (prəbə́nd̪, “management, government”)
  • Subjoined ਵ(v): somewhat less common in modern usage. For example, ਸ followed by a regular ਵ would yield ਸਵ– (səv-) as in the word ਸਵੇਰ (səvēr, “morning”), but with a subjoined ਵ would produce ਸ੍ਵ (svə-) as in the word ਸ੍ਵਰਗ (svərəg, “heaven”)
  • Subjoined ਹ(h): behaves the same way as the regular ਹ(h) in non-word-initial positions. The regular ਹ(h) is pronounced at the beginning of words but not in other positions, where it instead raises the tone. The difference in usage is that the regular ਹ is used after vowels and the subscript version when there is no vowel, and is attached to consonants.
    • For example: the regular ਹ is used after vowels as in ਮੀਹ (transliterated as mih, to show tonality, mī́, “rain”). The subjoined ਹ(h) acts the same way but instead is used under consonants: ਚ(ch) followed by ੜ(ṛ) yields ਚੜ (chəṛ), but not until the rising tone is introduced via a subscript ਹ(h) does it properly spell the word ਚੜ੍ਹ (chə́ṛ, “climb”).


Gurmukhi is similar to Brahmi scripts in that all consonants are followed by an inherent ‘a’ sound (unless at the end of a word when the ‘a’ is usually dropped). This inherent vowel sound can be changed by using dependent vowel signs which attach to a bearing consonant. In some cases, dependent vowel signs cannot be used – at the beginning of a word or syllable for instance – and so an independent vowel character is used instead.

Independent vowels are constructed using three bearer characters: Ura (ੳ), Aira (ਅ) and Iri (ੲ). With the exception of Aira (which represents the vowel ‘a’) they are never used without additional vowel signs.

Vowel Transcription IPA Closest English equivalent
Ind. Dep. with /k/ Name Usage
(none) Muktā a [ə] like a in about
ਕਾ Kannā ā [ɑ] , [ä] like a in car
ਿ ਕਿ Sihārī i [ɪ] like i in it
ਕੀ Bihārī ī [i] like i in litre
ਕੁ Onkaṛ u [ʊ] like u in put
ਕੂ Dulankaṛ ū [u] like oo as in food
ਕੇ Lāvā̃ ē [e] like e in Chile
ਕੈ Dulāvā̃ e [ɛ] like e in sell
ਕੋ Hōṛā ō [o] like o in Spanish amor
ਕੌ Kanōṛā o [ɔ] like o in off

Dotted circles represent the bearer consonant. Vowels are always pronounced after the consonant they are attached to. Thus, Sihari is always written to the left, but pronounced after the character on the right.

Vowel examples

Word IPA Meaning
ਆਲੂ [ɑlu] potato
ਦਿਲ [d̪ɪl] heart
ਗਾਂ [gɑ̃] cow

Nasalisation: tippi and bindi

Ṭippi ( ੰ ) and bindi ( ਂ ) are used for producing a nasal phoneme depending on the following obstruent or a nasal vowel at the end of a word. All short vowels utilise ṭippi and all long vowels are paired with bindi except for Dulankar ( ੂ ) which uses ṭippi instead . Older texts may not follow these conventions.

The aforementioned bindi ( ਂ ) is also used for nasalisation.

Gemination: addak

The use of addak ( ੱ ) indicates that the following consonant is geminate. This means that the subsequent consonant is doubled or reinforced.


The halant (੍) character is not used when writing Punjabi in Gurmukhi. However, it may occasionally be used in Sanskritised text or in dictionaries for extra phonetic information. When it is used, it represents the suppression of the inherent vowel.

The effect of this is shown below:

ਕ – kə
ਕ੍ – k


The visarg symbol (ਃ U+0A03) is used very occasionally in Gurmukhi. It can either represent an abbreviation (like period is used in English) or it can act like a SanskritVisarga where a voiceless ‘h’ sound is pronounced after the vowel.


The udaat symbol (ੑ U+0A51) occurs in older texts and indicates a high tone.


Gurmukhi has its own set of numerals that behave exactly as Hindu-Arabic numerals do. These are used extensively in older texts. In modern contexts, they have been replaced by standard Latin numerals.

Numeral Name Number
ਸਿਫ਼ਰ [sɪfəɾ] zero
ਇੱਕ [ɪkː] one
ਦੋ [d̪oː] two
ਤਿੰਨ [t̪ɪnː] three
ਚਾਰ [tʃɑːɾ] four
ਪੰਜ [pəndʒ] five
ਛੇ [tʃʰeː] six
ਸੱਤ [sət̪ː] seven
ਅੱਠ [əʈʰː eight
ਨੌਂ [nɔ̃] nine
੧੦ ਦਸ [d̪əs] ten

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  1. Hello I am looking for the correct Gurmuki translation for a few things:

    Sat Nam
    Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
    Shakti Vedya Kaur

    If someone could help that would be greatly appreciated!

    • OngKar Kaur Khalsa says:

      To clarify, are you looking for how to write these words in Gurmukhi or are you looking for the meaning? Blessings to You!

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