Main difference between shayari and ghazal, nazm & sher

Do you know, most of the people even many writers don’t know the exact meaning and difference between terms like ghazal and nazm, shayari, kavita, poetry etc.

Whether you are a poetry lover or youself a poet, you will lose respect in your circuit if you will wrongly use these closely related terms.

Here, I will explain to you in simple ways the differences and similarities between some commonly misunderstood words related to poetry or shayari like ghazal and nazm.


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What is the difference between Shayari and Ghazal ?

Ghazal is shayari but shayari is not ghazal

Confused ? To understand these kind of terms easily, basic idea of three terms shayari, kavita and poetry is must required. So here we go,

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What is the difference between shayari, kavita and poetry ?

Most of us misunderstood that shayari is different from kavita and there is a difference between shayari and poetry but no, all the three are same.

The only difference is of language. In english we call it poetry, in hindi it’s kavita and in urdu we call it poetry. So they are the words with the same meaning but from three different languages.

Each language has her own various forms of poetry or shayari. Just like dance or music.
Popular forms of English poetry : Blank Verse, Sonets, Free Verse, Haiku, Villanelle
Popular forms of Urdu Poetry : Ghazal, Nazm, Rubaii, Marsiya, Qasida

Popular forms of Hindi Poetry : Geet, Doha, Chaupayee, Muktak, Ras, Bhajan

And now, it will be very easy for you to understand,

What is the difference between shayari and ghazal.

so ghazal is one of the form of urdu shayari just like it’s other forms nazm, mersiya, rubaii etc.

It’s like a big tree whose name is shayari and it has number of branches with different names like ghazal, nazm etc.

Now I hope the main concept is clear so we can go ahead with other common mistakes people generally makes when they don’t know the

– Difference between ghazal and nazm

– Difference between shayari and sher

– Difference between quotes, two liners and shayari

What is the difference between ghazal and nazm ?

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To better understand what makes ghazal different from nazm let’s see,

What is ghazal : It’s form of urdu poetry which consists of couplets. In hindi and urdu couplets are called sher. This couplets are independent indivisual units, it means two different couplet from the same ghazal can be on different topics or emotions.

Ghazals are written mainly in 18 meters which is called bahr in urdu and chhand in hindi. All the couplets should be in the same meter.

Radeef, qafiya and meter forms the outer structure of ghazal.

Best poets to read for urdu ghazal : Mirza Ghalib, Meer Taqi Meer, Jaun Elia, Tehzeeb Hafi

What is nazm : This is a form which generally used when a poet wants to write on specific topic in a elaborating manner. Also in nazm, it’s radeef, qafiya and meter which forms its structure

Best poets to read for urdu nazm : Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Iqbal, Majaz, Josh Malihabadi

So whats makes them unique ? Let’s see

Major points which seperates ghazal and nazm are :

Topic of poem : each and every couplets / sher of ghazal can be on different topics and themes while on the other hand in nazm topic can not be cahnged

Meter of poem : Ghazal has only 18 conventional meters while nazm can be in any self created meter or in 18 meters of ghazal. In Both meter remains same through out.

Radeef and Qafiya : In ghazal they remain same but in case of nazm it can be taken as per poet’s convinience


Radeef and Qaafiya in ghazal

Have taken two sher of my ghazal as a example,

बहुत उदास होक़े फिर शराब ढूंढता रहा
शबे फ़िराक़ मैं तिरा जवाब ढूंढता रहा

पूरी किताब माजीकी भरी पड़ी थी कांटो से
यहाँ फ़िज़ूल ही तिरे दिए गुलाब ढूंढता रहा

Here, Sharab, jawab and gulab are the qaafiya which rhymes with each other

while dhundhta raha is a radeef which will be remain same at the end of couplet.


What is the Difference between shayari and sher ?

Nowadays many people thinks, if stanza is of four lines then it is shayari and if it is of a two lines then it is sher. Some people also calls it a two liner or even quote. But No, that’s not what it is.

Sher and shayari co-relates in this way,

Sher is a unit of ghazal and ghazal is a form of poetry

As i earlier gives you example of a tree whose name is poetry which has branches called nazm, geet, ghazal etc. As per that sher or couplets are sub-branches of that tree.


Are quotes, two liners and couplets (sher) are the same thing ?

No, Not at all. As said earlier, sher or couplets are written in meter while quotes and two liners are just thoughts. If a written piece doesnot follow the meter of poetry or is not in smooth flow then it can not be called poetry or shayari

– Also some things to know is there is no difference between shayari and song, song writting is also a part of shayari. Regardless of whether they are bollywood or punjabi, all the good songs do follow the specific tune and flow.

– Naturewise songs are somewhat similar to nazm. But it is not necessary in all the cases that songs stay on only one tune. There is possibility of song being in more than one tune.

So this was the theory now let’s understand this by some of the examples


To conclude I’ll say, yes there are . . .

Differences between terms like shayari, ghazal, nazm, sher

This was just a brief over view of very broad topic. But I hope i have managed to help you better understand these elements of poetry.

If you have any other doubts or more questions, feel free to comment, I’ll help you with those too.

You can read good hindi poems on

New Shayari on Unique Topics in Hindi

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