This is a list of some of the grammatical terms you’ll probably encounter in this course. I highly recommend Steve Collins’ Appendix of English Grammatical Terms in his Pali Grammar.
These are general terms which apply to various aspects of Sanskrit grammar.
aṅgam = base
That to which an affix is added. A base can be nominal (see nominal stem) or verbal. This is a synonym of prakr̥tiḥ.
bahuvacanam = plural
dvivacanam = dual
nipātaḥ = particle
prakr̥tiḥ = base
That to which an affix is added. A base can be nominal (see nominal stem) or verbal. This is a synonym of aṅgam.
pratyayaḥ = affix
That which is added to base. Typically an affix follows its base, and hence it can be described as a suffix.
samānādhikaraṇaḥ = coreferential
Literally “having the same substrate.” Two linguistic forms are coreferential if they identify the same entity. See also non-coreferential.
saṅkhyā = number
vyadhikaraṇaḥ = non-coreferential
The opposite of coreferential.
ēkavacanam = singular
aC = vowel
Pāṇini’s abbreviation for vowels.
aghōṣaḥ = voiceless
A phoneme that is pronounced without voicing. This includes half of the stop consonants, and all of the sibilants.
alpaprāṇaḥ = unaspirated
Literally “with small aspiration.” Half of the stop consonants are unaspirated.
antaḥsthaḥ = semivowel
Literally “standing between [vowels and consonants].” A sound that has the articulatory features of a vowel but does not stand in the nucleus of a syllable. See also: yaṆ.
anudāttaḥ = unaccented
In the Indian tradition, any vowel in a word that is not associated with either a rising pitch accent (udātta) or a rising and falling accent (svaritaḥ); in modern terms, the entire syllable is probably to be described as unaccented.
ghōṣavān = voiced
A phoneme that is pronounced with voicing. This includes all vowels, all semivowels, all nasals, and half of the stop consonants, as well as h.
ghōṣaḥ = voicing
Vibration of the vocal cords, which is either present (voiced) or absent (unvoiced) in a phoneme.
haL = consonant
Pāṇini’s abbreviation for a consonant.
mahāprāṇaḥ = aspirated
Literally “with large aspiration.” Half of the stop consonants are aspirated.
prāṇaḥ = aspiration
An exhalation of breath that accompanies the pronunciation of sound. Stop consonants are either unaspirated or aspirated.
sparśaḥ = stop
Also called “occlusive.” A sound wherein the flow of air is completely occluded by the organs of articulation. All stops are consonants.
svaraḥ = accent
Sanskrit words generally have one syllable of accentual prominence, which is linked in the Indian grammatical tradition to a vowel. The accented vowel, which has a high pitch in the R̥gvēdic recitation tradition, is called udātta; unaccented vowels are called anudatta. See also svarita.
svaraḥ = vowel
A sound that is pronounced with a completely unobstructed flow of air, which can form the nuclear of a syllable. See also: a-C.
svaritaḥ = circumflex
An accent that results from the combination of an accented and unaccented vowel in sandhi. It is usually pronounced with a rising and falling tone.
udāttaḥ = accented
In the Indian tradition, the vowel with which a rising pitch accent is associated; in modern terms, the entire syllable is probably to be described as accented.
visargaḥ = visarga
A voiceless, placeless, aspiration, written ḥ, which is of the allophones of s and r at the end of a word. Also called visarjanīyaḥ. See also: upadhmānīyaḥ and jihvāmūlīyaḥ.
vyañjanaḥ = consonant
A sound that cannot form the nucleus of syllable, and therefore requires the accompaniment of a vowel in order to be produced. Hence the name: “that which manifests [a vowel sound].” See also: haL.
yaṆ = semivowel
Pāṇini’s abbreviation for a semivowel.
Nominal forms are typically called nāmāni, or, following Pāṇini’s terminology, sU-P, “[forms that terminate in one of] the declensional endings.” This section will also cover most indeclinables (avyayāni).
avyayam = indeclinable
caturthī (vibhaktiḥ) = dative case
dvitīyā (vibhaktiḥ) = accusative case
ghi = i- or u-stem
Pāṇini’s technical term for a nominal stem ending in a short i or u, which triggers special endings.
iṣṭhaN = superlative
The suffix iṣṭha-, used to form the superlative grade of certain adjectives (see also tamaP).
kr̥t (pratyayaḥ) = primary derivational suffix
A suffix added to a verbal root to form a nominal stem.
matUP = Possessive suffix
The general name for nominal suffixes that indicate the possessor of the base noun. These suffixes include mat, vat, in, and so on.
nadī = ī- and ū-stems
A technical term used by Pāṇini for nominal stem that ends in ī or ū, as well as some case-forms of feminine stems in i or u. This class largely coincides with feminine stems built using feminine suffixes, and hence it can be characterized as a set of ‘derivative’ stems. Membership in this class of stems triggers special endings.
napuṁsakam = neuter
pañcamī (vibhaktiḥ) = ablative case
prathamā (vibhaktiḥ) = nominative case
prātipadikam = nominal stem
puṁs = masculine
suP = noun
Literally, “[that which terminates in] one of the declensional endings.”
saptamī (vibhaktiḥ) = locative case
sarvanāma = pronoun
saṁbuddhiḥ = vocative
saṁbōdhanam = vocative
strī = feminine
strīpratyayaḥ = feminine suffix
Any one of a number of suffixes added onto nominal stems (taddhitāḥ) which primary serve to form a feminine stem.
taddhitaḥ (pratyayaḥ) = secondary derivational suffix
A suffix added to an existing nominal stem that forms a new nominal stem.
tamaP = comparative
The suffix tama-, used to form the superlative grade of adjectives (see also iṣṭhaN).
taraP = comparative
The suffix tara-, used to form the comparative grade of adjectives (see also īyas).
tr̥tīyā (vibhaktiḥ) = instrumental case
vibhaktiḥ = case suffix
An inflectional ending used in nominal forms (thus also called a declensional ending) which primarily expresses the grammatical category of case.
ṣaṣṭhī (vibhaktiḥ) = genitive case
Verbal forms are typically called ākhyātāni, or, following Pāṇini’s terminology, ti-Ṅ, “[forms that terminate in one of] the finite verbal endings. The category of verbal forms is, however, larger than that of finite verbal forms. This section will therefore also include primary verbal derivatives that are, despite being non-finite, often used as the verbal predicate of a sentence.
Kta = past absolutive participle
A verbal adjective formed by the affixation of tá to a verbal root in the zero grade. The alignment pattern of this participle is absolutive: generally, it describes the agent of an intransitive verb, or the patient of a transitive verb. It can be used either attributively or predicately.
KtavatU = past active participle
A verbal adjective formed by the affixation of távat to a verbal root in the zero grade. This form always refers to the agent of a transitive verb, hence it is active. It can be used either attributively or predicately.
Ktvā = converb
The suffix tvā added to the verbal root. The main form of the converb. See also LyaP.
KvasU = perfect active participle
The suffix vas, used to form the perfect active participle.
LyaP = converb
The suffix ya added to the verbal root, which is the form of the converb used when the verb has a prefix. See also Ktvā.
dhātuḥ = verbal root
kr̥tyaḥ = potential absolutive participle
A verbal adjective formed by the affixation of one of a number of suffixes, all of which express the notion of futurity, potentiality, or obligation. These suffixes all take absolutive alignment: that is, they describe the agent of an intransitive verb, or the patient of a transitive verb. They can be used either attributively or predicately. Some examples of such suffixes include: anīyaR, ṆyaT and yaT, KyaP, tavya and tavyaT.
lakāraḥ = tense-aspect-mood
Pāṇini uses forms beginning with the sound l to represent conjugational systems, which we would call combinations of tense, mood, and aspect (or TAM). The TAM systems that Pāṇini defines are: laṭ, laṅ, luṅ, liṭ, lōṭ, lr̥ṭ, liṅ, lēṭ, luṭ, and lr̥ṅ.
laṅ = imperfect indicative
The lakāraḥ for the imperfect indicative. It refers to time in the recent past.
laṭ = present indicative
The lakāraḥ for the present indicative. It refers to present time.
liṅ = present optative
The lakāraḥ for the optative, which is almost always formed from the present stem in classical Sanskrit. It is the primary irrealis form, with the senses of obligation, permission, potentiality, and counterfactuality.
liṭ = perfect indicative
The lakāraḥ for the perfect indicative. It refers to time in the past, usually in the distant past, beyond the speaker’s own experience.
luṅ = aorist indicative
The lakāraḥ for the aorist indicative. It refers to time in the past, without further specification.
madhyamapuruṣaḥ = second person
niṣṭhā = past participles
A term that covers both Kta and KtavatU.
nāmadhātuḥ = denominative
prathamapuruṣaḥ = third person
tiṄ = finite verb
A form that terminates in a finite verbal ending, which expresses the categories of tense and mood (combined into one of the lakārāḥ) as well as person and number.
tumUN = infinitive
upasargaḥ = preverb
uttamapuruṣaḥ = first person
vikaraṇaḥ = present stem formant
yaK = present passive
The suffix ya, added to the verbal root to form a present stem that is always used passively.
ŚatR̥ = present parasmaipadam participles
The suffix at, used to form parasmaipadam participles to verbs, using the present stem. See also ŚānaC.
ŚānaC = present ātmanēpadam participles
The suffix (m)āna, used to form ātmanēpadam participles to verbs, using the present stem. See also ŚatR̥.
ṆiC = causative
Compounds refer to two nominal forms (suP) combined into a single form.
bahuvrīhiḥ = exocentric compound
dvandvaḥ = copulative compound
karmadhārayaḥ = coreferential endocentric compound
tatpuruṣaḥ = endocentric compound
upapadatatpuruṣaḥ = subordinate-word endocentric compound
vibhaktitatpuruṣaḥ = case-relation endocentric compound
akarmakaḥ = intransitive
Describes a verbal root that takes a single core argument, which is generally called the agent, although the agent may often be better characterized as an ‘experiencer’ or ‘undergoer.’ Such verbs cannot take an accusative object.
dvikarmakaḥ = ditransitive
Describes a verbal root that can take three core arguments: one agent and two patients.
karaṇam = instrument
One of the participant roles: the one by means of which the action of the verb is brought about.
karma = patient
One of the participant roles: the one which is most affected by the action of the verb.
karmaṇi prayōgaḥ = patientive construction
A construction wherein the verbal predicate (whether represented by a finite verb or not) expresses the patient of the verbal action.
kartari prayōgaḥ = agentive construction
A construction wherein the verbal predicate (whether represented by a finite verb or not) expresses the agent of the verbal action.
kartr̥ = agent
One of the participant roles: the one which carries out the action of the verb.
kārakam = participant role
Every action involves a number of participants which are spoken of in terms of these abstract semantic categories: they include agent, patient, instrument, recipient, etc. These abstract categories are mapped onto nominal and verbal forms morphologically and syntactically.
prayōjakakartr̥ = impelling agent
In a causative construction, the agent who causes the impelled agent to perform the verbal action.
prayōjyakakartr̥ = impelled agent
In a causative construction, the agent who is caused to perform the verbal action by the impelling agent.
sakarmakaḥ = transitive
Describes a verbal root which can take a patient as one of its core arguments, either as the accusative object in the agentive construction or as the nominative subject in the patentive construction.
saṁpradānam = recipient
One of the participant roles: the one which is receives or benefits from the action of the verb.