Indian grammarians generally considered most forms that were not verbs to be nouns. Yāska thus recognizes four categories of words: nominals nā́ma, verbs ākhyātam, preverbs upasargáḥ, and indeclinables nipātáḥ. Thus what we call nouns, pronouns, adjectives (including participles) and most adverbs were grouped under the class of “nominals.” And for good reason: they all take certain types of suffixes, which we will “nominal suffixes,” that express relations particular to this class of words.
Semantically, nominals tend to refer to what Indian grammarians have called “existing things” sattvam in contrast to verbs, which refer to “processes” bhāvaḥ. The distinction is very weak; generally, whatever can be said with nominals, can also be said with verbs, and vice versa.
In morphological terms, there is no distinction between adjectives and nouns in Sanskrit. Semantically, of course, adjectives qualify a noun, or as some authors say, express a quality. And syntactically, adjectives agree with their head noun in gender, number, and case. This typically means that adjectives are formed in all three genders, whereas nouns are limited to a single gender. The categories they reflect, however, and the morphemes by which those categories are expressed, are exactly the same as for nouns. Thus there is no formal difference between adjectives used attributively, that is, to qualify another noun (e.g., prasannaḥ puruṣaḥ, “a calm man”) and adjectives used substantively (e.g., prasannaḥ, “the calm [one]”).
Every nominal consists of two parts. The first is a stem or prātipadikam. This was defined by Pāṇini as “something that has meaning that is not a verbal root or an affix” (arthavad adhātur apratyayaḥ prātipadikam, Aṣṭādhyāyī 1.2.45). The second, called pratyayaḥ in Sanskrit, can be called an affix (the most general term for a morpheme added to another), a suffix (a term for a morpheme added after another), or an ending (since these affixes always come at the end of a word). Sanskrit stems are usually classified according to their final sound, since the precise form of the suffix that follows will generally depend on the final sound of the stem. Hence we talk about stems that end in vowels, including stems in -a (akārāntāni or adantāni), stems in -ā (ākārāntāni or ādantāni) and so on, and those that end in consonants, including stems in -n (nakārāntāni or nantāni), stems in -t (takārāntāni or tantāni), and so on.
Sanskrit stems are classified as changeable or unchangeable by European grammars. Changeable stems are those that change when certain suffixes are added; unchangeable stems remain the same throughout their paradigm. Indian grammars made no such distinction, since they were not based on the concept of a “paradigm.”
Note that the stem and the ending often coalesce into a single form, especially in those cases when the stem ends in a vowel and the ending begins with a vowel.
Since Sanskrit is an inflectional language, a single ending will express a number of different grammatical categories. In the case of nominals, an ending expresses three principal categories: gender, number, and case.
All Sanskrit nouns are either masculine puṁliṅgam, feminine strīliṅgam or neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam. These grammatical genders usually correspond to the conventionally-accepted gender of the objects referred to, provided that they have such a gender. Thus men are typically referred to in the masculine, and women in the feminine. A great deal of gender assignment, however, is based on conventions that have little to no basis in biology. A noun’s gender cannot be predicted from its meaning. Thus the gender of every noun must be learned as part of the word itself.
The nouns of certain semantic classes do, however, tend to agree in their gender.
|Rivers||Feminine||Gaṅgā, Śatadru, Vipāṭ|
|Trees||Masculine||Aśoka, Saptacchada, Palāśa|
In addition, the conventional gender of several inanimate objects is reaffirmed constantly through poetry. Thus no reader of Sanskrit poetry can forget that the sun and the moon are masculine, or that the night and the earth are feminine.
A particularity of the neuter gender, in Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages, is that neuter words never make a distinction between the nominative and accusative. Thus the form is identical regardless of whether the word is used as the subject or object of a verb.
This is probably an effect of ergative alignment in Indo-European syntax, where neuter nouns could serve as the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb, but probably not as the subject of a transitive verb.
Sanskrit distinguishes between the singular ēkavacanam, dual dvivacanam, and plural bahuvacanam in both nominal and verbal forms. These categories almost always correspond to the “real” number of the objects referred to, although there are a few cases of the number being specified lexically (i.e. singulare tantum or plurale tantum nouns).
Sanskrit uses the dual consistently whenever two people, or two objects, are under discussion, whereas all European languages use the plural. Hence one should get used to seeing forms such as akṣī “two eyes,” nāsē “two nostrils,” hastau “two hands,” pādau “two feet,” and so on.
Case refers to the relation of a noun to other forms in a sentence. Sanskrit, as an Indo-European language, uses case to express both core grammatical relations, such as whether a noun is the subject, object, or indirect object of a verb, as well as a variety of other relations involving time, space, or appurtenance. In Sanskrit, the cases are referred to by number, from one to seven. Here I give only the basic uses of each case. For further case usages, see the section on case usage in the syntax chpater.
|1||prathamā́||Nominative||Agrees with the subject argument of a verb and the subject and predicate of a nominal sentence.|
|2||dvitī́yā||Accusative||Agrees with the direct object of the verb; also used for duration of time and extent of space, and as the complement of some adpositions.|
|3||tr̥tī́yā||Instrumental||Expresses instrumentality, agency, and accompaniment, either on its own or with an adposition.|
|4||caturthī́||Dative||Agrees with the indirect object of the verb; also used to express purpose.|
|5||pañcamī́||Ablative||Expresses a cause, or movement away from. Also used as the complement of some adpositions. Agrees with the object of certain verbs of fearing.|
|6||ṣaṣṭhī́||Genitive||This is an adnominal case, and hence expresses some relation between nominals. It is often used to express possession. Agrees with the object in certain verbs of hearing and cognition.|
|7||saptamī́||Locative||Expresses presence or location in a place, occasions (including time), as well as reference.|
In addition, Sanskrit has a vocative sambṓdhanam, which is used for direct address, but this form is identical to the nominative, except the singular of stems ending in vowels.
Technically, vibháktiḥ refers not to case on its own, but the declensional ending as a whole, which expresses case in addition to gender and number.
Pāṇini teaches the following endings in Aṣṭādhyāyī 4.1.2. These are not all of the forms of the nominal endings, but rather the “basic” forms from which Pāṇini derives all of the others. It is, however, useful to present them here, since these forms occur (sometimes with additional augments) in most of the remaining nominal endings, and since they coincide with the system of nominal endings that can be reconstructed for Indo-European.
The capitalized letters in this chart are not actually part of the endings, but anubandhas or “diacritics” that convey information about further changes that these endings are either subject to, or induce in the stem to which they are added.
For reasons that are not quite clear, some of the nominal endings were accented in Indo-European, and others were not. This has produced a pattern of “accent mobility” in Sanskrit and other Indo-European languages, where the accent—and with it, the form of the stem—varies with the ending.
In Sanskrit, this pattern is manifested in the distinction between “strong” and “weak” cases. “Strong” cases are the nominative and accusative singular, the nominative and accusative dual, and the nominative plural (the Sanskrit term for these cases is sarvanāmasthānam). All others are weak. Cases in which the ending begins with a consonant—the instrumental, dative, and ablative of the dual and plural, which are collectively referred to as pada-endings—are sometimes called “middle” cases, but they pattern with weak cases. These cases are so called because when the grade of the vowel alternates throughout the paradigm, the “strong” cases assign a full-grade vowel to the stem, and the “weak” cases assign it to an affix (either a stem-forming suffix or the declensional ending). (See the discussion of vowel gradation above.)
The ending of the nominative was never accented. In masculine nouns, and in feminine nouns that end in either a consonant or a short vowel, the ending of the singular was -s in Indo-European, and that of the plural was -es. Most feminine nouns that end in a long vowel (-ā, -ī, and -ū) do not add an ending in the nominative singular, since they are formed with a suffix that does not take this ending; feminine nouns like śrī- and lakṣmī- which are not formed with a suffix, however, take the ending -s. In the plural, the endings that can be added are -s, -as, and -ās. As noted above, neuter nouns do not have a distinctive nominative ending. Most neuters use the bare stem for the nominative and accusative; those ending in -a use the accusative ending -m. The nominative-accusative plural of neuters has been reshaped, but it generally ends in -i (deriving from h₂).
The inherited ending of the accusative singular was -m, which was realized as -m after vowels and -am after consonants. The accusative plural ending was -n̥s (probably from -m-s, i.e., the addition of the pluralizer -s onto the accusative ending -m) in Indo-European, which resulted in -ns after vowels and -as after consonants. In the ending -ns, in turn, the -n- was generally lost and resulted in compensatory lengthening of the previous vowel.
In Indo–European this was -éh₁ in the singular, which resulted in Sanskrit -ā. The ending is accented and hence the instrumental singular is a “weak” case. The ending often combined with other forms to produce the variety of instrumental endings we observe. In the plural, the most common ending is -bhis, which is likely an Indo-European inheritance (cf. Greek -φι).
In the singular, this case ended in -éi in Indo-European, which became -ē in Sanskrit. For the plural form -bhyaḥ, compare Latin -bus, probably from -bhos.
The ablative and genitive endings of the singular are identical, both being -aḥ, which derives historically from both -és and -os. The genitive ending -s, accompanied by guṇáḥ of the suffix, is simply another form of the same ending, but one in which the accent was on the suffix (which typically stands in the guṇáḥ grade, as in mátēḥ from mn̥-téi-s), rather than on the ending (as was the case with, e.g., dhiyáḥ from dhiH-és) or on the root (as was the case with nā́mnaḥ from h₃nómh₁-n-os). For the ablative plural, which is always identical to the dative plural, see above.
For the singular, see above. The plural is -ām, which is sometimes scanned as two syllables in the Avesta and the R̥gvēda, and therefore points to an original ending -oHom.
The general ending of the locative in the singular is -i, which is usually accented, but the locative in -i probably developed out of an older form—which still survives in a few Sanskrit words—wherein the locative case has no ending at all, but is rather represented by a full grade of the nominal suffix (cf. akṣán), or in the case of i- and u-stem nouns, the lengthened grade (vŕ̥ddhiḥ). To the unaccented locative, a deictic particle -i was added, which then “stole” the accent from the suffix and resulted in zero grade, rather than full grade, of the suffix (cf. rā́jñi). In the plural, the ending is -su, with which Greek -σι may be compared.
The vocative is only distinct from the nominative in the singular. In the singular, the accent is always on the first syllable. In the case of stems ending in a vowel, the stem is used on its own, without an ending. Stems ending in i and u ghi have guṇáḥ of the final vowel. Stems ending in ā have a vocative ending -ē. Stems ending in other long vowels (ī and ū) shorten it in the vocative.
In addition to the above cases, there is another form (called tasI or tasIL by Pāṇini) that consists of the ending -tas added onto a nominal stem. In many cases, these forms have the sense of the ablative, that is, they are used in expressions of comparison (e.g., vr̥kṣata unnatataraḥ ‘taller than a tree’), but they may also be used in a locative sense (e.g., āditaḥ ‘at the beginning,’) or in an instrumental/predicative sense.
In these nouns, the stem prātipadikam is identical to a root; there are no additional suffixes that intervene between the root and the endings.
In the following example, the stem is diś- f. “direction,” formed from the verbal root √diś “direct” without any suffix.
Stems ending in vowels, while they mostly do not exhibit gradation between different cases, have pecularities of their own. In some cases, they take special endings, some of which include a recurring augment āgamaḥ.
Stems ending in -a are the most numerous class of nominal stems in the Sanskrit language.
There is no pattern of vowel gradation in this declension: the stem maintains its form throughout the paradigm. It has a number of features that distinguish it from the common set of endings introduced above. One of them is the extension of the stem from -a- into -ē- by means of the addition of an augment -i- in certain cases.
- dēvḗna (inst.sg./tr̥tīyaika.): The regular instrumental singular ending Ṭā is replaced by na after the modified stem in -ē-. Note that the n of this ending is subject to retroflexion by the RUKI rule.
- dēvā́ya (dat.sg./caturthyēka.): The regular dative singular ending -ē (Ṅē) is added to the stem and suffixed with an augment a:
- dēvá- + ē → dēvái-
- dēvái- + a → dēvā́ya
- dēvā́t (abl.sg./pañcamyēka.): The regular ablative singular ending -as (ṄasI) is replaced by āt. This is an old feature of Indo-European thematic (e/o-stem) nouns; compare Old Latin camp-ōd.
- dēvásya (gen.sg./ṣaṣṭhyēka.): The genitive singular ending -as (Ṅas) is replaced by sya, which again is an old feature of Indo-European thematic nouns; compare Homeric Greek πολέμ-οιο ← -ohyo ← -osyo.
- dēvḗ (loc.sg./saptamyēka.): The locative singular ending -i (Ṅi) is simply added to the stem, and the combination a-i results in the vowel ē. (Compare, e.g., οἴκοι.)
- dḗva (voc.sg./sambōdhanaika.): The vocative is merely the stem, with the accent retracted to the first syllable.
- dēvā́bhyām, dēvḗbhyaḥ, dēvḗṣu (inst.-dat.-abl.du./tr̥tīyācaturthīpañcamīdvi., dat.-abl.pl./caturthīpañcamībahu., loc.pl./saptamībahu.): The so-called pada-endings, which begin with a consonant, are added to the extended stem in ē. This includes the dative-ablative ending of the plural, and the locative ending of the plural. The instrumental-dative-ablative of the dual uses a stem in long ā rather than ē. Note that the ending -su of the locative plural is always retroflexed as a result of the preceding vowel ē due to the RUKI rule.
- dēvā́ḥ (nom.pl./prathamābahu.): Historically, this ending can be analyzed simply as -as (Jas, -es) added onto the stem in -a- (-e-). Pāṇini has a rule that lengthens the stem vowel before the ending -as (Jas) Aṣṭādhyāyī 6.1.102:
- dēvá- + -as → dēvā́-s
- dēvā́n (acc.pl./dvitīyābahu.): The accusative plural ending -as (Śas) historically represents -ns, probably a combination of the accusative suffix -m and the plural suffix -s. When this ending followed a consonant, the n was pronounced as a vowel, and developed into a in Sanskrit. When it followed a vowel, it was pronounced as a consonant, yielding the ending -ns. Subsequently the s was lost, with compensatory lengthening of the previous vowel, resulting in the accusative plural ending that is common to
vowel-stem nouns in Sanskrit: -s with a lengthening of the vowel of the stem, as taught by Pāṇini Aṣṭādhyāyī 6.1.103:
- dēvá- + -as → dēvā́n
- dēvaíḥ (instr.pl./tr̥tīyābahu.): The ending is not bhiḥ but -aiḥ.
The neuter of the a-stem declension is almost identical to that of the masculine, with one signal difference: as with all neuters, there is no distinction between the nominative and accusative.
- yajñám (nom.-acc.sg./prathamādvitīyaika.): The accusative ending -am is used for the nominative and accusative singular.
- yajñḗ (nom.-acc.du./prathamādvitīyādvi.): The ending -i is added to the stem, resulting in the ending -ē, which is not subject to sandhi (Aṣṭādhyāyī 1.1.11). The reason is perhaps that this i historically derives from a laryngeal, namely h₁.
- yajñā́ni (nom.-acc.pl./prathamādvitīyābahu.): The original ending of the neuter plural was -h₂, which either lengthened a preceding vowel or, if it came after a consonant, developed into -i (Śi). Thus the more common ending of the a-stem neuter nominative-accusative plural in the Vedas is -ā. Already in the Vedic period, however, this ending started to be replaced by an ending in -āni, which shows the influence of the declensional pattern of stems in -n.
Stems ending in the short vowels i and u behave similarly, in terms of the changes that the stem undergoes before the endings. All masculine and neuter stems in -i and -u belong to a class of stems that Pāṇini calls ghi Aṣṭādhyāyī 1.4.7, which triggers some special rules. In addition, feminine stems in -i can be considered to belong to the ghi class, or alternatively they can be considered to belong to a larger class of feminine stems called nadī, which includes most feminine stems in ī and ū (the so-called “derivative” stems).
For the declension of the words páti- and sákhi-, see below.
One particularity of the nouns ending in -i and -u is the alternation between the grades of the final vowel of the stem and the ending, evident in the following forms:
- agnḗḥ पञ्चमीषष्ठ्यौ एक॰: The regular ablative and genitive singular endings ṄasI and Ṅas trigger guṇa of the final vowel of the stem. The “full-grade” form of the stem vowel, -ē, is then followed by the “zero-grade” from of the case suffix, -s.
- agnaú सप्तमी एक॰: The regular locative singular ending Ṅi is replaced by vŕ̥ddhiḥ of the stem vowel in stems ending in -i and -u (7.3.119).
- ágnē संबोधनम् एक॰: The vocative ends in guṇa of the stem vowel (7.3.108).
- agnáyaḥ प्रथमा बहु॰: The nominative plural ending Jas triggers guṇa of the final vowel of the stem:
- agní + Jas → agnḗ + Jas → agnḗ + as → agnáyaḥ
- agnī́n द्वितीया बहु॰: The accusative plural ending Śas does not trigger guṇa of the final stem (because of the marker Ś). Rather, it triggers the long form of the stem vowel, in this case -ī, after which the ending is not -as but -n (6.1.103). As noted above, -as and -n are historically equivalent: the accusative plural ending was *-ns, where the n was pronounced as a vowel (conventionally written -n̥ among Indo-Europeanists) after a stem-final consonant and as a consonant after a stem-final vowel. The ending -ins was then changed to -īn by a process of “compensatory lengthening.”
There is also some influence from the declension of n-stem nouns. This arises from the face that the n could function as a “hiatus-breaker” between a stem that ended in a vowel and a case suffix that began with a vowel. This influence is limited to the instrumental singular ending in the masculine declension, but in the neuter declension (see below) it is more widespread.
- agnínā तृतीया एक॰: The regular instrumental singular ending Ṭā is replaced by āṄ.
Finally, of course, all stems that end in ruki sounds—including -i -ī, -u, and -ū—trigger retroflexion of a following s, which occurs in the locative plural ending:
- agníṣu सप्तमी बहु॰ = agní + suP.
Neuter stems ending in i characteristically exhibit the consonant n between the stem and endings beginning with a vowel. Thus, before these endings, they behave as if their stem does not end in -i but in -in.
However, neuter adjectives ending in i may optionally take endings identical to masculine adjectives ending in i in all of the above forms, apart from those of nominative-accusative Aṣṭādhyāyī 7.1.74. Thus we have:
- śucayē and śucinē (४॰ एक॰)
- śucēḥ and śucinaḥ (५-६॰ एक॰)
- śucau and śucini (७॰ एक॰)
- śucyōḥ and śucinōḥ (६-७॰ द्वि॰)
Because the feminine stems in -i optionally belong to the nadī class of stems, they are subject to a number of special rules. In particular, in the dative, ablative–genitive, and locative cases of the singular, they can take either the same endings as masculine and neuter stems in -i, that is, the endings triggered by membership in the class ghi (listed first in the table above), or the “augmented” endings of feminine stems (-ai, -āḥ, -ām) triggered by membership in the class nadī; see the section on ī-stem nouns below.
The inflection of a few words with a stem in i is somewhat irregular. Notes on the inflection of páti- and sákhi- follow.
The stem páti- differs from most of the other nominal stems in i in that the endings of the “weak” cases are generally added directly onto the stem, with the vowel in its “basic” or zero-grade form. Contrast:
- agní-n-ā with páti-ā → pátyā (३॰ एक॰)
- agnáy-ē with páti-ē → pátyē (४॰ एक॰)
- agnḗ-ḥ with pati-uḥ → pátyuḥ (५-६॰ एक॰)
- Note that this form takes an irregular ending, identical with the ablative-genitive ending of stems ending in r̥. That ending is underlyingly -r̥-s.
The stem sákhi- is similar to páti- in that the endings of most of the “weak” cases are added directly to the stem in its “basic” (i.e., zero-grade) form (with the exception of the locative singular, which is exactly the same as the ghi declension). It differs from páti-, however, in that the endings of the “strong” cases induce a lengthened grade (vŕ̥ddhiḥ) of the stem-final vowel.
The stems ending in -u belong to the ghi class, together with those ending in -i, and hence they share many features of their declension. One again, the neuters show relatively more influence from the declension of n-stem nouns, while feminines have the option of being declined according to the ghi rules or according to the nadī rules.
The principal difference between the neuters and the masculines in the u-stem declension, exactly as in the i-stem declension, is that the neuters exhibit more of an influence from the declension of n-stem nouns. That is to say, before all of the case suffixes that begin with a vowel, these forms are declined as if their stem is not -u but -un.
However, as with neuter adjectives in i, neuter adjectives in u can take endings identical to masculine adjectives ending in u in all of the above forms, apart from those of nominative-accusative:
- mr̥davē and mr̥dunē (४॰ एक॰)
- mr̥dōḥ and mr̥dunaḥ (५-६॰ एक॰)
- mr̥dau and mr̥duni (७॰ एक॰)
- mr̥dvōḥ and mr̥dunōḥ (६-७॰ द्वि॰)
All stems ending in ā are feminine. This class includes all of the words formed with the feminine stem forming suffix ā, and hence it includes many nominal stems that correspond to a masculine/neuter stem ending in a.
One particularity of the ā-stem declension is the appearance of an augment yā (technically called yāṬ by Pāṇini) between the stem and some endings, namely those of the dative, ablative, genitive, and locative singular (i.e., those endings that Pāṇini teaches with the anubandha Ṅ, viz.Ṅē, ṄasI, Ṅas and Ṅi). See Aṣṭādhyāyī 7.1.113
This declension corresponds closely to Latin nouns like mensa and Greek nouns like χώρα. Historically, the augment yā appears to be due to the influence of feminine nominals ending in -ī, where yā (-yeh₂) is one possible form the stem-forming suffix -ī (-ih₂-).
All of these stems are feminine, and many are formed with a suffix ṄīP that produces feminine adjectives.
There is an important distinction between one class of feminine stems in -ī, mostly underived stems, and another that is mostly made of derived nominal stems (see feminine stem forming suffixes), which Pāṇini calls nadī. The underived class takes the default nominal endings, and has been exemplified above with the noun dhī́-. The derived class is inflected as follows:
One particularity of the declension of nouns of the nadī class is that they take the augment āṬ between the stem prātipadikam and certain declensional endings, namely, those that Pāṇini teaches with the anubandha Ṅ (Ṅē, ṄasI, Ṅas, and Ṅi); see Aṣṭādhyāyī 7.3.112.
Here we may also refer to the declension of the word strī́- “woman,” but which has aspects of the declension of both underived and derived stems: like radical stems in ī, its stem becomes iy- before endings that begin with a vowel (optionally so in the accusative singular and plural), but like derivative stems in ī, it takes the augment āṬ before case-suffixes marked with a Ṅ. Hence its paradigm is as follows:
|dvitīyā||stríyam, strī́m||stríyau||stríyaḥ, strī́ḥ|
Most stems ending in -ū belong to the nadī class, and hence their declension is almost identical to that of stems ending in -ī like dēvī́- and nadī́-. The only difference is that whereas ī-stems form the nominative singular without a suffix, ū-stems form the nominative singular with the default suffix sU (i.e., ḥ).
All nominal stems belonging to this class are feminine.
These stems generally fall into one of two semantic categories: (1) nouns which express relations (such as mother, father, sister, brother, etc.), and (2) adjectives which express the agent of a verb, as well as a handful of other words. Nominal forms of the second type are used in the so-called periphrastic future luṭ.
In morphological terms, however, there is a distinction between (1) nouns which take the full grade guṇáḥ of the stem-final vowel in the strong cases; and (2) nouns which take the lengthened grade vŕ̥ddhiḥ of the stem-final vowel in the strong cases. All agent nouns belong to the second category. Most nouns of relationship belong to the first category, with the exception of náptr̥- “grandson” and svásr̥- “sister,” and the word stŕ̥- “star.”
Paradigms of the first class of nominal stems ending in r̥, i.e., those which take a full grade vowel of the stem in the strong cases, are presented first.
Paradigms of the second class of nominal stems ending in r̥, which take the lengthened grade in the strong cases, follow:
The neuter has the same peculiarities as nominal stems ending in i and u, namely:
- it inserts the letter n between the stem and declensional endings that begin with a vowel;
- outside of the nominative-accusative, it may take the properly neuter endings, or it make take the same endings as the masculine-feminine.
A number of nouns have a stem that ends in a diphthong (ō, ai, or au; no stems in ē are found). The main distinction is between stems that show vowel gradation in the root syllable, like gō- m.f. “cow” and dyau- m. “sky,” and those that do not, like rai- f. “wealth” and nau- f. “boat.”
Non-gradational stems like nau- are straightforward, in that they take the regular endings, with the sandhi variants nau- before consonants and nāv- before vowels.
The word rai- is somewhat different from nau because the stem forms are not rai- and rāy- but rā- and rāy-. This is because the y is not actually part of the radical syllable, but is a glide inserted between the root syllable and the ending when the latter begins with a vowel. The inherited form of this word was reh₁-, and hence the stem ended synchronically in a consonant, which was replaced by the glide y in Sanskrit (compare Latin rēs).
Stems that feature vowel gradation typically show the full or lengthened grade in the “strong” forms (nominative-accusative singular and dual, and nominative plural), and elsewhere have weaker forms. In the case of gō, the strong form is gau- (gʷōw-, or perhaps gʷeh₃w-), and the weak form is gō- (before consonants) and gav- (before vowels), i.e., gʷow-. In the case of dyau-, the strong forms are made with dyau- (dyēw-), and the weak forms are made with dyu- (before consonants) and div- (before vowels), i.e., diw- or dyu-. The accusative singular in both cases is formed by omitting the final glide of the radical syllable before the m of the ending.
|dvitīyā||dívam, dyā́m||dyā́vau||dyū́n, diváḥ|
This noun has been split into two by later Sanskrit grammarians (who are followed by the less empirically-minded European grammarians), viz. div- (providing the weak forms in the paradigm above) and dyō- (providing the strong forms). This is purely for derivational reasons, since they clearly constitute a single paradigm. Uncertainties of vowel gradation led to the use of multiple forms in certain cases, as noted above. The word is cognate with Greek Ζεύς and Latin Iu-ppiter.
Although some stems ending in a vowel are “changeable,” in that the endings of different cases are affixed to different grades of the stem-final vowel, they are usually considered to be “unchangeable.” In contrast, many stems ending in a consonant are more clearly “changeable,” in that the endings are affixed to different forms of the stem.
We can thus distinguish between “strong” and “weak” versions of the stem before certain endings, and in some cases, between “strong,” “middle,” and “weak” versions of the stem.
The “strong” version of the stem occurs before the inflectional endings that Pāṇini calls sarvanāmasthānam. These are the nominative and accusative singular, the nominative and accusative dual, and the nominative plural (i.e., the endings comprised in Pāṇini’s abbreviation suṬ).
The “weak” version of the stem occurs before all of the other inflectional endings. But there is often a distinction between the “weak” form of the stem before inflectional endings beginning with consonant—the so-called “word” or padam endings—and the “weak” form before those endings beginning with a vowel. Sometimes grammars refer to the form of the stem before consonant-initial endings as the “middle” form of the stem, and reserve the term “weak” for the form of the stem before vowel-initial endings.
|१॰ एक॰||१॰ द्वि॰||१॰ बहु॰|
|२॰ एक॰||२॰ द्वि॰||२॰ बहु॰|
|३॰ एक॰||३॰ द्वि॰||३॰ बहु॰|
|४॰ एक॰||४॰ द्वि॰||४॰ बहु॰|
|५॰ एक॰||५॰ द्वि॰||५॰ बहु॰|
|६॰ एक॰||६॰ द्वि॰||६॰ बहु॰|
|७॰ एक॰||७॰ द्वि॰||७॰ बहु॰|
The stems that end in -s (or -ṣ) fall into three categories:
- neuter nouns, which are usually primary derivatives of verbs (representing nomina concreta), such as mánas- “mind,” havíṣ- “oblation,” and ā́yuṣ- “life.”
- comparative adjectives, which are formed with the suffix -yas-;
- perfect participles, which are formed with the suffix -vāṁs-/-vat-/-uṣ-
These three types will be presented in turn.
In the case of neuter nouns, the stem does not change with the endings.
An apparent exception is the nominative-accusative plural, in which the final vowel of the stem is lengthened and nasalized before the ending -i. However, Pāṇini considers this to be a general effect that the neuter nominative-accusative ending (which he calls Śi) has on a preceding stem.
The declension of stems in -iṣ (e.g., havíḥ) and -uṣ (e.g., ā́yuḥ) is entirely parallel, except, of course, with the transformation of the stem-final s to ṣ before endings beginning with a vowel.
These nouns may occur as the final member of an adjectival (i.e., bahuvrīhiḥ) compound. When they agree with a masculine or feminine noun, they are inflected in the same way as in the neuter, except in the nominative and accusative cases, as shown below.
The next major class of nominal stems ending in -s is represented by comparative adjectives, which are formed with the suffix -yas- (Pāṇini’s īyasUN). In the neuter, the stem ends in -yas- throughout (except in the nominative-accusative plural, where, as usual, the case-ending Śi causes lengthening and nasalization of the preceding vowel). In the masculine, the stem ends in -yāṁs- in the “strong” cases (sarvanāmasthānam) and -yas- in the “weak” cases. The corresponding feminine is formed by adding the suffix ī (ṄīP) to the version of the stem ending in -yas-.
|prathamā||śrḗyān / śrḗyaḥ||śrḗyāṁsau / śrḗyasī||śrḗyāṁsaḥ / śrḗyāṁsi|
|dvitīyā||śrḗyāṁsam / śrḗyaḥ||śrḗyāṁsau / śrḗyasī||śrḗyasaḥ / śrḗyāṁsi|
|sambṓdhanam||śrḗyan / śrḗyaḥ||śrḗyāṁsau / śrḗyasī||śrḗyāṁsaḥ / śrḗyāṁsi|
Finally, the participle of the perfect stem, which Pāṇini called KvasU. The suffix has different forms, but in this case the differences are quite radical:
- In the neuter, the “underlying” form of the stem can be thought of as -vas- in the strong cases (sarvanāmasthānam) and the weak cases beginning with a consonant (the so-called “pada endings” or “middle cases”), and as -uṣ- in the remaining weak cases (i.e., those beginning with a consonant). Thus we can distinguishing between a full-grade suffix in the “strong” and “middle” cases, and a zero-grade suffix in the “weak” cases. The full-grade form, however, has been replaced with -vat- in all cases apart from the nominative-accusative plural.
- In the masculine, before the the “strong” cases (sarvanāmasthānam), the form of the stem is -vāṁs-, and among the remaining cases, it takes the form -vad- before the “middle” cases (i.e., those beginning with a consonant) and -uṣ- before the “weak” cases (i.e., those beginning with a vowel), just as in the neuter.
Here is the neuter inflection of such a stem:
|prathamā||cakr̥vā́n, cakr̥vát||cakr̥vā́ṁsau, cakrúṣī||cakr̥vā́ṁsaḥ, cakr̥vā́ṁsi|
|dvitīyā||cakr̥vā́ṁsam, cakr̥vát||cakr̥vā́ṁsau, cakrúṣī||cakrúṣaḥ, cakr̥vā́ṁsi|
|sambṓdhanam||cakr̥ván, cakr̥vat||cakr̥vā́ṁsau, cakrúṣī||cakr̥vā́ṁsaḥ, cakr̥vā́ṁsi|
The noun puṁs- m. “human, man” is similar to perfect participles:
The stems that end in -n include:
- masculine and neuter stems derived with the suffixes -an, -man, or -van;
- adjectival stems (in the masculine and neuter) derived with the suffix -in.
Stems that end in -n generally have three forms:
- the strong form of the stem, which occurs before the so-called “strong” (sarvanāmasthānam) case endings;
- the weak form of the stem, which occurs before the other case endings, with the following distinction sometimes being applicable:
- the middle cases are those in which the case-suffix begins with a consonant, and
- the weakest cases are those in which the case-suffix begins with a vowel.
As noted above, these different forms of the stem are conditioned by the accentual properties of the endings. In general, the final syllable of the stem will stand in the full grade form in its “strong” form, i.e., before the unaccented endings of the nominative and accusative singular, nominative and accusative dual, and nominative plural (also accusative plural for the neuter), whereas it will stand in the zero grade form before the other endings.
We will begin by considering the paradigms of masculine and neuter stems in -an, including those formed with the suffixes -man and -van. All of these stems share the same endings; they differ merely in the gradation of the stem before those endings. The endings are the standard endings taught in Aṣṭādhyāyī 4.1.2 and discussed above.
- The strong form of the stem is rā́jān-, with a lengthened grade of the stem-final syllable. (See below for a historical explanation of this form.)
- The weak form of the stem—that is, the form before accented declensional endings that begin with a vowel—is rā́jñ-, which represents the zero grade of the stem-final syllable. The n is palatalized by its contact with the palatal consonant j.
- The middle form of the stem—that is, the form before accented declensional endings that begin with a consonant—is rā́ja-, which similarly represents the zero grade of the stem-final syllable. The final a in this case is a reflex of a historical vocalic -n̥- (see below).
- Finally, the nominative singular is rā́jā, rather than ** rā́jān (which is what we would expect from rā́jān + sU).
The suffix of masculine nouns of this class was historically -on- in the full grade and -n- in the zero grade, which had both vocalic (-n̥-) and consonantal (-n-) forms depending on whether the declensional suffix that followed began with a consonant or vowel, respectively.
The lengthened grade of the “strong” stem is because of Brugmann’s Law, according to which an o in an open syllable (i.e., an o followed by one consonant and then a vowel within the same word) was lengthened in Proto-Indo-Iranian. Hence:
Like rā́ja- is inflected ātmá-, with one major difference: whereas, in the paradigm of rā́ja-, the a between the radical element rāj and the -n of the stem-final syllable is generally lost in the weak cases, in the paradigm of ātmá-, the a is retained in all of the weak cases, because otherwise we would have an inadmissible sequence of consonants (*āt-m-n-).
|sambṓdhanam||nā́man, nā́ma||nā́mnī, nā́manī||nā́māni|
A class of neuter nouns exemplified by akṣi- n. “eye” has two stems, one ending in -i used in the strong cases, and one ending in -n used in the weak cases. The nouns inflected this way are ákṣi-/akṣán- “eye,” ásthi-/asthán- “bone,” dádhi-/dadhán- “curds,” and sákthi-/sakthán- “thigh.”
Stems that end in -t include various classes of nouns and adjectives in Sanskrit, including root nouns, present participles, and possessive adjectives formed with the suffixes matUP and vatUP.
Stems that end in -d are much rarer, but they can be considered under the same heading.
The category of root nouns includes some archaic nouns that differentiate between a strong and a weak stem, like pád- “foot,” as well as many nouns that use a single stem throughout, such as suhr̥d- “friend.”
Exactly parallel to stems ending in -d with an unchanging stem are stems ending in -t with an unchanging stem. These include many upapada-tatpuruṣaḥ compounds, which, when the suffix KviP is used, insert the augment tuK at the end of a light verbal root. As an example, consult bhūbhr̥t- m. ‘mountain’ (from bhr̥ ‘lift, bear’ with bhū- ‘the earth’).
Most of the other stems in -t are formed using a suffix that exhibits vowel-gradation. The strong stem will usually end in -ant, and the weak stem in -at.
For stems derived using the possessive suffixes matUP and vatUP, the declension is as follows:
|prathamā||dhanavān, dhanavat||dhanavantau, dhanavatī||dhanavantaḥ, dhanavanti|
|dvitīyā||dhanavantam, dhanavat||dhanavantau, dhanavatī||dhanavataḥ, dhanavanti|
|sambṓdhanam||dhanavan, dhanavat||dhanavantau, dhanavatī||dhanavantaḥ, dhanavanti|
Note that the nominative singular masculine of stems formed with the suffixes matUP and vatUP, as well as of other stems such as bhávat- “you,” has a long vowel, in contrast to the declension of present participles.
The other main class of stems ending in -t are present participles, that is, verbal adjectives formed from the present stem. In the parasmaipadám, such adjectives are formed with a suffix that Pāṇini calls ŚatR̥. (In the ātmanēpadám, they are formed with a different suffix, ŚānaC, and such forms are inflected like regular a-stem nominals.) This suffix ŚatR̥ forms nominal stems whose inflection is almost identical to the inflection of stems formed with matUP and vatUP. The difference is in the nominative singular of the masculine, where the ending, as shown below, is not -ān but -an.
|prathamā||spr̥ṣan, spr̥ṣat||spr̥ṣantau, spr̥ṣantī||spr̥ṣantaḥ, spr̥ṣanti|
|dvitīyā||spr̥ṣantam, spr̥ṣant||spr̥ṣantau, spr̥ṣantī||spr̥ṣataḥ, spr̥ṣanti|
|sambṓdhanam||spr̥ṣan, spr̥ṣat||spr̥ṣantau, spr̥ṣantī||spr̥ṣantaḥ, spr̥ṣanti|
One exception to this general pattern is furnished by participles of verbs belonging to the third, or reduplicating, class. In these words, the weak stem is used throughout the paradigm, even in the strong cases (apart from the nominative-accusative-vocative of the neuter plural, where the strong form of the stem may optionally be used).
|prathamā||dádat||dádatau, dádatī||dádataḥ, dádati/dádanti|
|dvitīyā||dádatam, dádat||dádatau, dádatī||dádataḥ, dádati/dádanti|
|sambṓdhanam||dádat||dádantau, dádatī||dádataḥ, dádanti/dádati|
The noun páth- m. “path” synchronically ends in th, but historically ended in a laryngeal consonant (h₂), which resulted in a pattern of vowel gradation that looks rather irregular:
|prathamā||pánthāḥ||pánthānau||pánthānaḥ (RV pánthāḥ)|
|dvitīyā||pánthānam (RV pánthām)||pánthānau||patháḥ|
At the end of a compound, the stem is patha-.
The pattern of this noun is actually very straightforward from a historical perspective. The stem can be considered a combination of the elements pent-eh₂-. In the strong cases both elements received the full grade. In the weak cases neither element of the stem received the full grade, and instead the accent and full-grade vowel appeared on the ending (e.g., pnt-h₂-eh₁ for pathā́).
This category, once again, includes stems that exhibit gradation and stems that do not. We will begin with the latter category, which is quite straightforward. In nominal declension, palatals generally become velars in internal sandhi:
Similarly inflected are stems that end in the word -dr̥ś-, including adjectives of comparison, tādr̥ś- ‘like that,’ īdr̥ś- ‘like this.’
The relatively common set of nominal derivatives formed from the root añc ‘turn’ have an idiosynctatic declension that reflects both (a) the erstwhile presence of a laryngeal at the beginning of the root, and (b) the general pattern of vowel gradation, with full grade of the root in the strong forms, and zero grade in the weak forms.
|prathamā||prā́ṅ, prā́k||prā́ñcau, prā́cī||prā́ñcaḥ, prā́ñci|
|dvitīyā||prā́ñcam, prā́k||prā́ñcau, prā́cī||prā́caḥ, prā́ñci|
|sambṓdhanam||prā́ṅ, prā́k||prā́ñcau, prā́cī||prā́ñcaḥ, prā́ñci|
Similar are víṣvañc- ‘going apart,’ ápāñc- ‘going away,’ ávāñc- ‘turned down,’ arvā́ñc- ‘turned towards,’ adharā́ñc- ‘turned down.’
The stem pratyáñc- shows some different vowel alternation:
|prathamā||pratyáṅ, pratyák||pratyáñcau, pratīcī́||pratyáñcaḥ, pratyáñci|
|dvitīyā||pratyáñcam, pratyák||pratyáñcau, pratīcī́||pratīcáḥ, pratyáñci|
|sambṓdhanam||pratyáṅ, pratyák||pratyáñcau, pratīcī́||pratyáñcaḥ, pratyáñci|
Similarly inflected are nyàñc- ‘turned down,’ údañc- ‘turned up,’ and samyáñc- ‘turned correctly’ (the i in this stem is unetymological, presumably after the analogy of nyañc- and pratyañc-).
The stem tiryáñc- ‘horizontal’ is somewhat irregular, probably deriving from a conflation of tirás- with other forms ending in añc-. Its weak stem is tiráśc-.
The strong form of the root in these stems was originally Henḱ, which often constituted a separate syllable after the prefix (i.e., pra-áñcam, prati-áñcam). The weak form was originally Hḱ, without the nasal, which resulted in (a) the lengthening of a preceding vowel (hence prāc-, pratīc-), in case the preceding sound was a vowel, or (b) the insertion of the vowel -ī-, in case the preceding sound was a consonant. These are the standard effects of Indo-European laryngeals in Sanskrit.
Pronouns are nominal forms whose occasion for use pravr̥ttinimittam is to refer to something that has either already been mentioned in a given discursive context (a referent) or which can be assumed or implied by the same discursive context. For this reason they are often said to “stand in place of” (pro-) something that would otherwise be expressed by a nominal form. There are, however, several types of pronouns, in Sanskrit as in English, each of which have different functions within a sentence. This section will be primarily concerned with the forms of these pronouns, although notes on their meaning and usage will follow.
The Sanskrit term for a pronoun is sarvanāmá. This stands for a list of pronominal stems which take special endings, namely (Vasu on Aṣṭādhyāyī 1.1.27):
- sárva- “every, all” (Gr. ὅλος, from solwo-);
- víśva- “whole, all”;
- ubhá- “both”;
- ubháya- “both”;
- words formed with the affix Ḍatara, as in katará- “which” (of two);
- words formed with the affix Ḍatama, as in katamá- “which” (of more than two);
- anyá- “other, different”;
- anyatará- “the other” (of two);
- ítara- “other, different” (also formed using the contrastive affix -tara-);
- tvad- and tva- “one, several” (only in Vedic texts);
- nḗma- “one, the other, half”;
- samá- “any, every” (Gr. ἁμός, Eng. some);
- simá- “all, every”;
- tyád (i.e., the forms associated with this neuter nom.-acc. sg. form, of which the masc. nom. sg. is syáḥ and the fem. nom. sg. is syā́) “that,” a rare demonstrative;
- tád (i.e., the forms associated with this neuter nom.-acc. sg. form, of which the masc. nom. sg. is sáḥ and the fem. nom. sg. is sā́) “that,” the basic demonstrative;
- yád (i.e., the forms associated with this neuter nom.-acc. sg. form, of which the masc. nom. sg. is yáḥ and the fem. nom. sg. is yā́) “which,” the relative;
- ētád (i.e., the forms associated with this neuter nom.-acc. sg. form, of which the masc. nom. sg. is ēṣáḥ and the fem. nom. sg. is ēṣā́) “this,” the proximate demonstrative;
- idám (i.e., the forms associated with this neuter nom.-acc. sg. form, of which the masc. nom. sg. is ayám and the fem. nom. sg. is iyám), “this,” another proximate demonstrative;
- adás (i.e., the forms associated with this neuter nom.-acc. sg. form, of which the masc.-fem. nom. sg. is asaú), “that,” a distal demonstrative;
- ḗka- “one, a single”;
- dví- “two”;
- yuṣmád “you” (see below);
- asmád “we” (see below);
- the personal pronoun bhavat-, which Pāṇini teaches as bhavatU “you”;
- kím (i.e., the forms associated with this neuter nom.-acc. sg. form, of which the masc. nom. sg. is káḥ and the fem. nom. sg. is kā́) “what?”, the interrogative pronoun.
The special endings that are added to most sarvanāmá except for the personal pronouns are:
- the ending -ē rather than -āḥ (Śī rather than Jas) in the masc.nom.pl./puṁ.prathamābahu.;
- the use of the augment -sma- in several cases of the masculine and neuter singular, namely:
- -smai (sma + Ṅē) instead of -āya in the masc.-neut.dat.sg./puṁ.napuṁ.cathurtyēka., according to Aṣṭādhyāyī 7.1.14;
- -smāt (sma + ṄasI) instead of -āt in the masc.-neut.abl.sg./puṁ.napuṁ.pañcamyēka., according to Aṣṭādhyāyī 7.1.15;
- -smin (sma + Ṅi) instead of -ēin the masc.-neut.loc.sg./puṁ.napuṁ.saptamyēka., according to Aṣṭādhyāyī 7.1.15.
- the use of the augment -syā- in several cases of the feminine singular, namely:
- -syai (syā + Ṅē) instead of -āyai in the fem.dat.sg./strī.caturthyēka.
- -syāḥ (syā + Ṅas(I)) instead of -āyāḥ in the fem.abl.-gen..sg./strī.pañcamīṣaṣṭhyēka.;
- -syām (syā + Ṅi) instead of -āyām in the fem.loc..sg./strī.saptamyēka..
Sanskrit is a pro-drop language, meaning that pronouns (and above all subject pronouns) can be dropped if their meaning is expressed elsewhere in the sentence (for instance through person marking on the verb) or if they can be inferred from context. Thus it is usually sufficient to use a verb without a subject pronoun in the first and second person: karōmi means “I do,” whereas ahaṁ karōmi implies that the fact that I am doing the action — as opposed to anyone else — is somehow relevant (“it is I who do it,” “I am the one who does it,” “as for me, I do it”). Of course non-subject pronouns cannot be dropped as easily because non-subject arguments are not marked on the verb.
The first and second pronouns have no gender. They can be used in agreement with any gender: kas tvam “who are you (masc.)?” or kā tvam “who are you (fem.)?”. In the accusative, dative, and genitive case, all three numbers of both pronouns have alternative enclitic forms that can only be used after another word (enclitics cannot occur first within a sentence). There is no difference in meaning between the enclitic and non-enclitic forms.
A note on number: the plural is often used for the singular and dual in the first person (Aṣṭādhyāyī 1.2.59); in the second person, the pronoun bhavat- is often used, with third person verb agreement, much like Italian Lei or Spanish usted.
Sanskrit grammarians refer to these forms as asmad (first person plural), mad (first person singular), yuṣmad (second person plural), tvad (second person singular). These are also the forms used in compounds.
|dvitīyā||mā́m, mā||āvā́m||asmā́n, naḥ|
|caturthī||máhyam, mē||āvā́bhyām||asmábhyam, naḥ|
|ṣaṣṭhī||máma, mē||āváyōḥ||asmā́kam, naḥ|
The paradigm of the pronouns of the first person uttamapuruṣaḥ employs several different stems:
- ah-ám ← h₁eǵ-h₂óm (Avestan azəm, Greek ἐγώ, Latin egō, Old English iċ).
- má- ← mé- (Avestan mąm, mōi, mē; Greek μέ and μοι, Latin me, mī, mihi, and Old English meċ, mē).
- āvá-; origin unclear.
- vay- ← wei- (Avestan vaə̄m, Gothic weis, German wir, Old English wē)
- asmá- ← n̥s-mé (e.g. Greek ἡμεῖς ← n̥smé-es, Homeric ἄμμε ← n̥smé, German uns, Old English ūs)
- naḥ ← nos (Latin nōs). It seems likely that the enclitic pronoun of the plural is a full-grade form (nos) of what appears in the non-enclitic pronouns in the zero-grade form (n̥s).
|dvitīyā||tvā́m, tvā||yuvā́m||yuṣmā́n, vaḥ|
|caturthī||túbhyam, tē||yuvā́bhyām||yuṣmábhyam, vaḥ|
|ṣaṣṭhī||táva, tē||yuváyōḥ||yuṣmā́kam, vaḥ|
The paradigm of the pronouns of the second person madhyamapuruṣaḥ employs several different stems.
- tu- ← tu (Latin tu, tibi, Old English þū)
- tē from toi (Greek τοι)
- yu-v-; origin unclear.
- yu-ṣ-ma- from yus-mé- (Greek ὑμεῖς ← yusmé-es, Homeric ὔμμε ← yusmé; Old English ēow)
- vaḥ from wos (Latin vōs). As in the case of the first person, it seems likely that the enclitic pronoun of the plural is a full-grade form (vos) of what appears in the non-enclitic pronouns in the zero-grade form (us).
The pronominal stems in tá-, yá- and ká- form a closely-related series. The tá- forms are demonstrative pronouns (which often function as “correlative” pronouns to relative clauses), the yá- forms are relative pronouns, and the ká- forms are interrogative pronouns. These three stems are inflected in entirely the same way. For more on relative clauses, see below.
Most Indian grammarians, including Pāṇini, teach the neuter nominative-accusative singular (napuṁ.prathamādvitīyaika.) as the “basic” stem of these forms, because the paradigms of tá- and yá- share the idiosyncracy that the nominative-accusative singular of the neuter is a special form that ends in -d, rather than in -m, as neuters of a-stem forms commonly do.
The forms of tá- function as the primary demonstrative pronoun and adjective in Sanskrit. They are used where English uses the demonstrative “that,” but also equivalently to the third-person pronoun (he/she/it) in English, and in some cases equivalently to the definite article (the) in English. The unifying feature appears to be the identifiability of the referent of the demonstrative.
The pronoun tá- or tát is paradigmatic of the pronominal declension in Sanskrit. Please look there for comments about the special form of the endings of this class of words.
|prathamā||sáḥ / tát||taú / tḗ||tḗ / tā́ni|
|dvitīyā||tám / tát||taú / tḗ||tā́n / tā́ni|
Many of these forms have cognates in other Indo-European languages. For instance:
- tát: Latin is-tod (later is-tud), neut. “that”; Greek τό (n.) “that”; from tót.
- sá: Greek ὁ (m.); from só (the form without a final s appears to be original, which may account for the irregular sandhi of this word).
- sā́: Greek ἡ (f.); from seh₂.
- tásya: Greek τοῖο; from tósyo.
- tám: Greek τόν; from tóm.
- tā́m: Greek τήν; from téh₂m.
Note that the pronoun ētá- (ētád) is declined in exactly the same way as tá-, being a compound of tá- and the deictic particle ē (a full-grade form of the deictic particle i, which is sometimes called the hic et nunc or “here and now” particle in Indo-European studies). Compare forms like i-dānim and i-ha.
|prathamā||yáḥ / yát||yaú / yḗ||yḗ / yā́ni|
|dvitīyā||yám / yát||yaú / yḗ||yā́n / yā́ni|
|prathamā||káḥ / kím||kaú / kḗ||kḗ / kā́ni|
|dvitīyā||kám / kím||kaú / kḗ||kā́n / kā́ni|
Note that there are two stems in use for the neuter forms of this pronoun. One of them is kí-, which derives from the same i-stem form we see in Latin quid and Greek τί. The other is ká-, which is historically a thematic stem (ending in either e or o in Indo-European). We only see the i-stem form in the neuter singular form kim, which is analogically reconstructed from cit.
Historically, we would expect the labiovelar of the inherited form kʷíd to be palatalized by the following high vowel. And in fact this is what happens: the particle cit is the direct continuation of the Indo-European form. However, the velar has been restored throughout the paradigm of the pronoun ká-/kí-, on analogy with unpalatalized forms like kḗ (from kʷói). When there was variation within a paradigm between velar and palatal stops, introduced by sound changes in Indo-Iranian, Sanskrit typically flattens the variation in favor of the velar stops.
This is a demonstrative stem which, like all such stems in Sanskrit, can be used either as an adjective, qualifying another noun (e.g., ayaṁ rājā na jānāti, “this king doesn’t know”) or as a pronoun, replacing another noun (e.g., ayaṁ na jānāti, “this person doesn’t know”). It has proximal reference purōvartinirdēśaḥ and is therefore used to refer to people and things that are relatively close to the speaker in a particular discursive context.
|prathamā||ayám / idám||imaú / imḗ||imḗ / imā́ni|
|dvitīyā||imám / idám||imaú / imḗ||imā́n / imā́ni|
This pronoun is used with distal reference dūravartinirdēśaḥ, i.e., to refer to something that is relatively distant from the speaker in a particular discursive context.
When two forms are listed in the table, they represent masculine and feminine forms; when three forms are listed, they represent masculine, neuter, and feminine forms.
|prathamā||asaú / adáḥ / asaú||amū́||amī́ / amū́ni / amū́ḥ|
|dvitīyā||amúm / adáḥ / amū́m||amū́||amū́n / amū́ni / amū́ḥ|
|tr̥tīyā||amúnā / amúyā||amū́bhyām||amī́bhiḥ / amū́bhiḥ|
|caturthī||amúṣmai / amúṣyai||amū́bhyām||amī́bhyaḥ / amū́bhyaḥ|
|pañcamī||amúsmāt / amúṣyāḥ||amū́bhyām||amī́bhyaḥ / amū́bhyaḥ|
|ṣaṣṭhī||amúṣya / amúṣyāḥ||amúyōḥ||amī́ṣām / amū́ṣām|
|saptamī||amúṣmin / amúṣyām||amúyōḥ||amī́ṣu / amū́ṣu|
The dual nominative-accusative forms of adáḥ are pragr̥hyam, that is, their final vowels are not subject to sandhi (see Aṣṭādhyāyī 1.1.12). Hence: amī atra, amū atra, etc.
The Sanskrit name for a number is saṁkhyā́. Sanskrit has cardinal numbers, which answer the question how many, and ordinal numbers, which answer the question in what order.
First the stems of the numbers from one to nineteen:
The numbers from one to four are inflected for gender, number, and case. They are generally used as adjectives, i.e., to qualify another nominal, although in many cases that nominal may be understood from context and thus omitted. Hence dvāv āgatau “two came,” in the masculine, can easily be understood to refer to two men.
The numeral ḗka- is inflected as a pronoun. It can also be used in the plural (not given here) to mean “some” or “a few.”
The cardinal numeral “2” also distinguishes gender in the nominative-accusative. It is inflected exclusively in the dual.
The number “three”:
The numbers from five to nineteen are inflected for case and number (which will always be plural), but not gender. In the nominative and accusative, the bare stem is used, without the usual declensional endings. These numbers, too, are used as adjectives.
saptá- “7,” náva- “9,” and dáśa- “10,” as well as the numbers from 11 to 19 (which end in dáśa-), are inflected in the same way as páñca-.
The Proto-Indo-European reconstructions of these numbers are:
The numbers from twenty onwards are nouns, and construed with what they modify on the genitive (e.g. dāsīnāṁ śatam “a hundred slaves”) or used in apposition to what they modify (e.g., dāsyaḥ śatam id.). Most of the tens are feminine; the numbers 100 and 1000 are neuter.
The ordinals are adjectives that describe the order of something in a series. They are generally formed from the cardinal numbers (the exception being “first” or prathamá-) by means of various suffixes, such as thá, má, tamá, and tī́ya/ī́ya. The feminine stem of all of the ordinal numbers is formed with ī, except prathamā́-, dvitī́yā-, tr̥tī́yā-, túryā- and turī́yā-.
|4th||caturthá-, caturthī́- [also túrya-, túryā- and turī́ya-, turī́yā-]|
The ordinals from 11th to 19th are formed like ēkādaśá-, ēkādaśī́-.
The numbers between the tens are formed as simple compounds of the “ones” place and the ordinal stem for the “tens” place (e.g., ēkāviṁśá-, dvātriṁśá-, catuścatvāriṁśá-, etc.). The numbers after 100 and 1000 are formed with the stem śatá-, śatī́- and sahasrá-, sahasrī́-, rather than from the longer ordinal stem (e.g., ēkaśatá-, etc.).
Adjectives, as noted above, are morphologically identical to nouns. In syntactic terms, an adjective is defined by its agreement in gender, number, and case with a noun, to which it serves as a modifier or, as the Indian grammarians say, a qualifier viśēṣaṇam. Adjectives are sometimes called guṇavacanāni, “words expressive of qualities.”
Because it is declined in all three genders, the stem prātipadikam of an adjective may change. Thus, for example, when a masculine or neuter noun is described as “blue,” the a-stem form nīla- is used, whereas when a feminine noun is described as “blue,” the ā-stem noun nīlā- is used. The feminine form can often be considered a derivative of the masculine-neuter form, which is therefore considered to be the “basic” stem for the purposes of adjective formation. Thus Pāṇini teaches the feminine forms of many adjectives with the suffixes ṬāP, ṆīP, ṄīṢ, ḌāP, and so on. In learning an adjectival formation, one should also learn which feminine stem is used with it.
Here are a few examples of adjectival stems:
|“carrying a staff”||daṇḍin-||daṇḍin-||daṇḍinī-||ṄīP|
|“of the Kosalas”||kausalya-||kausalya-||kausalyā-||CāP|
One particularity of adjectives is that they can take particular suffixes that express grades of comparison. These suffixes are similar to (and indeed etymologically related to) the English comparative suffix -er and superlative suffix -est, as in redder and reddest.
The most general set of suffixes, which can be used with any adjectival stem, are taraP, which expresses the comparative degree, and tamaP, which expresses the superlative degree (5.3.55–57). They are added to the basic stem, that is, the masculine-neuter form of the adjectival stem, in the weak form (i.e., the form that occurs before endings beginning with a consonant, like bhis) if the stem alternates between strong and weak forms. For the comparative degree, the masculine and neuter form is -tara-, and their feminine form is -tarā-; for the superlative degree, the masculine and neuter form is -tama-, and the feminine form is -tamā-.
|Positive degree||Comparative degree||Superlative degree|
|prā́k||“eastern”||prā́ktaram||“more eastern”||prā́ktamam||“most eastern”|
|vidvā́n||“knowing”||vidváttaraḥ||“more knowing”||vidváttamaḥ||“most knowing”|
Pāṇini allows these suffixes to be affixed directly to inflected expressions of time in the locative, e.g., pūrvāhṇē “in the forenoon” → pūrvāhṇētarē “earlier in the forenoon” Aṣṭādhyāyī 6.3.17. In the form -tarām and -tamām, they can also be added to indeclinable adverbs and even to finite verbs Aṣṭādhyāyī 5.3.56. Of these forms, only adverbs like natarām “how much less” are common.
The suffixes īyasUN and iṣṭhaN constitute another set, which however can only be used after a small set of adjectives. In contrast to taraP and tamaP, which can be considered “derivational” suffixes to the extent that they are added onto already-existing nominal forms, īyasUN and iṣṭhaN are added directly onto roots. Hence they alternative with the suffixes of the positive degree rather than being added onto them. Another particularity of these suffixes is that the root takes the full grade; thus these forms contrast with the positive degree, where the root very often is in the zero grade. For the declension of stems in -yas- see above.
It is less common to speak of roots in the case of adjectives than in the case of verbs. Sometimes (e.g., kṣiprá-) the adjectival root corresponds in form and meaning to a verbal root (kṣip). But most adjectives can be considered to be formed by derivation from an abstract root form. The systems of adjective formation in Proto-Indo-European were studied by Willem Caland and are therefore known as Caland systems.
Generally the suffixes īyas and iṣṭha are added after the final consonant of an adjectival stem (thus replacing a final vowel), e.g., pāpáḥ “bad,” pā́pīyān “worse,” pā́piṣṭhaḥ “worst.” But in the following forms the adjective takes a different form in the positive degree than it does in the comparative and superlative degree (in some cases being given by suppletion). All forms are given in the neuter nominative singular.
|Positive degree||Comparative degree||Superlative degree|
|tr̥prám||“satisfied”||trápīyaḥ||“more satisfied”||trápiṣṭham||“most satisfied”|
|párivr̥ḍham||“exalted”||párivraḍhīyaḥ||“more exalted”||párivraḍhiṣṭham||“most exalted”|
|bhr̥śám||“excessive”||bhráśīyaḥ||“more excessive”||bhráśiṣṭham||“most excessive”|
|vŕ̥ndārakam||“beautiful”||vŕ̥ndīyaḥ||“more beautiful”||vŕ̥ndiṣṭham||“most beautiful”|
Adverbs are words that directly modify either a verb or an adjective. They are considered to be indeclinable avyayam because they do not change their form to agree with anything else in gender, number, person or case. However, do not make the mistake of thinking that adverbs have no case-suffixes. Most Sanskrit adverbs are in fact case-forms of nouns or adjectives that are “frozen” in a particular adverbial usage. Others are formed from pronominal bases by the addition of a number of suffixes that form words that are used adverbially (although some words so formed have other uses as well).
Any nominal form (noun or adjective) can be used as an adverb if it is in the accusative singular form, and if it is an adjective, then it will appear in the neuter gender.
Accusatives. As noted above, any accusative (neuter) singular form can be used as an adverb. Here are a few examples formed from nouns:
- ramyam “pleasingly” (ramya- “pleasing”)
- priyam “pleasantly” (priya- “pleasant”)
- tīvram “sharply” (tīvra- “sharp”)
- kr̥cchram “with difficulty” (kr̥cchra- “sharp”)
- ciram “for a long time” (cira- “lasting a long time”)
- mandam “slowly” (manda- “slow”)
- sādaram “carefully” (sādara- “careful, with care”)
- śīghram “quickly” (śīghra- “quick”)
- atyantam “excessively, too much” (atyanta- “excessive”
There are also a few nouns that can be used adverbially in their accusative singular forms:
- sukham “easily, comfortably” (sukha- “comfort, ease, pleasure”)
- kāmam “with pleasure, placiter, volontieri” (kāma- “pleasure”)
Pronominal forms can also be used adverbially in the neuter accusative singular form:
- tat “so,” “for that reason”
- yat “because”
- kim “why?” “how?”
Instrumentals. The following instrumental forms, in some cases “frozen” and not used in any other case, are used as adverbs:
- acirēṇa “soon” (a-cira- “not for a long time”)
- divā “by day” (dyu- or dyau- “day”)
- sahasā “suddenly, violently” (sahas- “force”)
- kṣaṇēna “momentarily” (kṣaṇa- “moment”)
- paramparayā “indirectly” (paramparā- “uninterrupted series”)
- praṇālikayā “indirectly” (praṇālikā- “channel”)
- atiśayēna “excessively” (atiśaya- “excess”)
- uccaiḥ “loudly”
- nīcaiḥ “quietly” (nīca- “low”)
Ablatives. Ablatives are not very often used adverbially, but here are a few adverbial forms that are in original frozen ablatives:
- paścāt “afterwards”
- samantāt “entirely, on all sides”
- akasmāt “suddenly”
- sākṣāt “directly”
- balāt “by force”
Locatives. Locatives (and genitives) are the case-forms least likely to form adverbs, but a few are quotable:
- sapadi “immediately
A number of suffixes are used to form adverbs from nominal, and especially pronominal, stems. The pronominal stems commonly encountered in these adverbial forms are:
- ta- (from tat “that”; note that ētat does not form adverbs!)
- a- (from idam “this”)
- amu- (from adaḥ “that”)
- sarva- “all, every”
- ēka- “one”
- anya- “other”
-tra — local adverbs. These forms are generally used adverbially, but they can sometimes be used in place of locative case forms, and hence to qualify another locative case form (e.g., tatra vanē = tasmin vanē “in that forest”).
- yatra “where...” (relative)
- tatra “there”
- atra “here”
- kutra “where?”
- paratra “in another place”
- amutra “over there”
- sarvatra “everywhere”
- ubhayatra “in both cases”
- ēkatra “in one case”
-śaḥ — distributive adverbs.
- ēkaśaḥ “one by one”
- śataśaḥ “by the hundreds”
- gaṇaśaḥ “in crowds”
-dhā — multiplicative adverbs. Translatable as “in x ways,” where x most commonly refers to a quantity:
- bahudhā “in many ways
- ēkadhā “in a single way
- dvidhā “in two ways”
-thā — adverbs of manner.
- yathā “in which way...” or “as”
- tathā “in such a way”
- anyathā “otherwise”
- itarathā “otherwise”
- sarvathā “in every way”
- ubhayathā “in both ways”
This suffix -thā also has a variant -tham found in a few forms:
- ittham “in this way”
- katham “how?”
-dā — temporal adverbs.
- yadā “when...” (relative)
- tadā “at that time”
- kadā “when?”
- sadā “always”
- ēkadā “at one time”
- sarvadā “at all times”
- anyadā “at another time” (often: “one day...”)
In this group we can probably also put idānīm “now” (idā-nīm).
-tāt — local adverbs, usually (but not always) after stems in s:
- purastāt “in front”
- adhastāt “below”
- upariṣṭāt “above”
- parastāt “after”
-āt — resultative adverbs.
- bhasmāt “to ashes”
Another way of forming adverbs — more common in the Middle Indic languages than in Sanskrit, however — is to use the quotative particle iti after an imitative sound. They probably have the sense of “as soon as you can say...” or “like this” (accompanied by snapping the fingers). The most common of these forms is:
- jhaṭiti “immediately”
The suffix -taḥ (called tasI or tasIL by Pāṇini) has a variety of different functions, but it is most convenient to discuss it in connection with adverb formation. In general it is taught as an optional replacement for the ablative ending (ṄasI), and this is perhaps its most common use, with both nominal and pronominal stems:
- grāmataḥ = grāmāt “from the village”
- grāmataḥ = grāmāt “from the village”
- yataḥ ... tataḥ = yasmāt ... tasmāt “because... for that reason” (ablative of cause)
- itaḥ “from this,” “because of this”
- kutaḥ “from what?” “why?”
- rāmataḥ paṭutaraḥ “cleverer than Rāma” (ablative of comparison)
- sarvataḥ “from all sides”
But it can also have a much wider range of adverbial usages, some of which are exemplified below:
- agrataḥ “in front”
- antataḥ “finally, at the end”
- guṇataḥ “in terms of qualities, with reference to qualities”
- vastutaḥ “in reality, really”
- itastataḥ “this way and that, here and there”
- abhitaḥ “nearby”
- paritaḥ “all around”
- samantataḥ “on all sides”