A Grammar of the Pukkhto or Pukshto Language


Henry Walter Bellew (1834–92) was a surgeon and medical officer in the Indian Army who over the course of a long career undertook a number of political missions in Afghanistan and wrote several books on Indian and Afghan subjects. His A Grammar of the Pukkhto or Pukshto Language is a Pushto textbook written during his service in Peshawar. It was intended for use by British-Indian administrators in the North-West Frontier of British India (present-day Pakistan). As such, the work assumes that the student is already acquainted with Hindustani (Urdu). Bellew partly based his book on earlier works, including A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Pooshtoo Language (1854) by Sir John L. Vaughan and A Grammar of the Pukhto, Pushto or Language of the Afghans (1855) by Henry G. Raverty. Bellew arranged his work according to the scheme used by Duncan Forbes in his A Grammar of the Hindustani Language (1846). Consisting of five sections and numerous exercises, the book begins with a general background on the characteristics of the Pushto language and its alphabet, before delving into phonetics, grammatical constructions, vocabulary, and short dialogues. It ends with “familiar conversations” —dialogues that emulate everyday situations and that are meant to be of practical utility. In his discussion of the general characteristics of Pushto, Bellew suggests that the language was more influenced by Hindustani and Persian than by Arabic and that it assumed its present form before the arrival of Arabic with the Muslim conquest. The book was first published in 1867.

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Publication Information

Saeed Book Bank, Peshawar

Title in Original Language

A grammar of the Pukkhto or Pukshto language, on a new and improved system, combining brevity with practical utility, and including exercises and dialogues, intended to facilitate the acquisition of the colloquial

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Physical Description

155 pages


  1. D’A. Power, revised by James Falkner, “Bellew, Henry Walter (1834‒1892),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: October 25, 2016