vyākaraṇam

Grammar

I have put together a grammar of Sanskrit, organized by topic, for use in this course. It is called Adhyayanavidhiḥ, which means “a way of studying” (and also the term for the “injunction to study” found in the Upaniṣads). The grammar can be accessed in HTML form, through the table of contents below, as well as in PDF form (with Sanskrit words in Roman transliteration and Dēvanāgarī). Note that the PDF is only current as of the date shown on the first page; I will be adding to the grammar periodically, so check back for updates.

There is also a glossary of grammatical terms at the bottom of this page.

Table of Contents

Grammatical Terms

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.

General

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 they identify the same entity. See also non-coreferential.

saṅkhyā = number

vyadhikaraṇaḥ = non-coreferential

The opposite of coreferential.

ēkavacanam = singular

Phonology

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: ya.

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 , 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.

ya = semivowel

Pāṇini’s abbreviation for a semivowel.

Nouns

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/u-stem

Pāṇini’s technical term for a nominal stem ending in a short i or u, which triggers special endings.

nadī = derivative ī/ū-stem

Pāṇini’s technical term for a nominal stem ending in a long ī or ū, which are all feminine and almost always polysyllabic. 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.

pañcamī (vibhaktiḥ) = ablative case

prathamā (vibhaktiḥ) = nominative case

prātipadikam = nominal stem

suP = noun

Literally, “[that which terminates in] one of the declensional endings.”

saptamī (vibhaktiḥ) = locative case

saṁbuddhiḥ = vocative

saṁbōdhanam = vocative

strīpratyayaḥ = feminine suffix

Any one of a number of suffixes added onto nominal stems (taddhitāḥ) which primary serve to form a feminine stem.

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.

ṣaṣthī (vibhaktiḥ) = genitive case

Verbs

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 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.

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

prathamapuruṣaḥ = third person

ti = 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.

upasargaḥ = preverb

uttamapuruṣaḥ = first person

vikaraṇaḥ = present stem formant

Compounds

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

vibhaktipuruṣaḥ = case-relation endocentric compound

Syntax

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 = impeled 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.