dvitīyō ’dhyāyaḥ
Chapter 2


Nominal Morphology

§8. Nominals.

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]”).

§8.1.Stems and ending

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.

§8.2.Gender liṅgam

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.

Class Gender Example
Rivers Feminine Gaṅgā, Śatadru, Vipāṭ
Mountains Masculine Himālaya, Malaya
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.

§8.3.Number saṁkhyā́

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.

§8.4.Case vibháktiḥ

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.

Number Sanskrit English Functions
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.

§9. Endings.

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.

ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā́ sU au Jas
dvitī́yā am auṬ Śas
tr̥tī́yā Ṭā bhyām bhis
caturthī́ Ṅē bhyām bhyas
pañcamī́ ṄasI bhyām bhyas
ṣaṣṭhī́ Ṅas ōs ām
saptamī́ Ṅi ōs suP

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.

§9.1.Accent; “strong” and “weak” cases

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.)

§9.2.First or nominative case prathamā́ vibháktiḥ

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 (, , and ) 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).

§9.3.Second or accusative case dvitī́yā vibháktiḥ

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.

§9.4.Third or instrumental case tr̥tī́yā vibháktiḥ

In Indo–European this was -éh₁ in the singular, which resulted in Sanskrit . 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).

§9.5.Fourth or dative case caturthī́ vibháktiḥ

In the singular, this case ended in -éi in Indo-European, which became in Sanskrit. For the plural form -bhyaḥ, compare Latin -bus, probably from -bhos.

§9.6.Fifth or ablative case pañcamī́ vibháktiḥ

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.

§9.7.Sixth or genitive case ṣaṣṭhī́ vibháktiḥ

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.

§9.8.Seventh or locative case saptamī́ vibháktiḥ

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.

§9.9.The vocative sambṓdhanam

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 . Stems ending in other long vowels (ī and ū) shorten it in the vocative.

§9.10.The suffix tasI

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.

§10. Root nouns.

In these nouns, the stem prātipadikam is identical to a root; there are no additional suffixes that intervene between the root and the endings.

ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dhī́-s dhī́ḥ dhī́-au dhíyau dhī́-aḥ dhíyaḥ
dvitīyā dhī́-am dhíyam dhī́-au dhíyau dhī́-aḥ dhíyaḥ
tr̥tīyā dhī́-ā́ dhiyā́ dhī́-bhyā́m dhī́bhyā́m dhī́-bhiḥ dhībhíḥ
caturthī dhī́-ḗ dhiyḗ dhī́-bhyā́m dhī́bhyā́m dhī́-bhyaḥ dhībhyáḥ
pañcamī dhī́-áḥ dhiyáḥ dhī́-bhyā́m dhī́bhyā́m dhī́-bhyaḥ dhībhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī dhī́-áḥ dhiyáḥ dhī́-ṓḥ dhiyṓḥ dhī́-ā́m dhiyā́m
saptamī dhī́-í dhiyí dhī́-ṓḥ dhiyṓḥ dhī́-su dhīṣú

In the following example, the stem is diś- f. “direction,” formed from the verbal root √diś “direct” without any suffix.

ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā diś-s dik diś-au diśau diś-aḥ diśaḥ
dvitīyā diś-am diśam diś-au diśau diś-aḥ diśaḥ
tr̥tīyā diś-ā diśā diś-bhyām digbhyām diś-bhiḥ digbhiḥ
caturthī diś-ē diśē diś-bhyām digbhyām diś-bhyaḥ digbhyaḥ
pañcamī diś-aḥ diśaḥ diś-bhyām digbhyām diś-bhyaḥ digbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī diś-aḥ diśaḥ diś-ōḥ diśōḥ diś-ām diśām
saptamī diś-i diśi diś-ōḥ diśōḥ diś-su dikṣu
§11. Stems ending in vowels.

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.

§11.1.Stems ending in -a akārāntāni

Stems ending in -a are the most numerous class of nominal stems in the Sanskrit language.

Masculine puṁliṅgam: dēvá- “god”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dēváḥ dēvaú dēvā́ḥ
dvitīyā dēvám dēvaú dēvā́n
tr̥tīyā dēvḗna dēvā́bhyām dēvaíḥ
caturthī dēvā́ya dēvā́bhyām dēvḗbhyaḥ
pañcamī dēvā́t dēvā́bhyām dēvḗbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī dēvásya dēváyōḥ dēvā́nām
saptamī dēvḗ dēváyōḥ dēvḗṣu
sambṓdhanam dḗva dēvaú dēvā́ḥ

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 (Ṅē) is added to the stem and suffixed with an augment a:
    1. dēvá- + ēdēvái-
    2. dēvái- + adēvā́ya
  • 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:
    1. dēvá- + -asdēvā́-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:
    1. dēvá- + -asdēvā́n
  • dēvaíḥ (instr.pl./tr̥tīyābahu.): The ending is not bhiḥ but -aiḥ.
Neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: yajñá- “sacrifice”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā́ yajñám yajñḗ yajñā́ni
tr̥tī́yā yajñḗna yajñā́bhyām yajñaíḥ
caturthī́ yajñā́ya yajñā́bhyām yajñḗbhyaḥ
pañcamī́ yajñā́t yajñā́bhyām yajñḗbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī́ yajñásya yajñáyōḥ yajñā́nām
saptamī́ yajñḗ yajñáyōḥ yajñḗṣu

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 , 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 . 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.
§11.2.Stems ending in -i ikārāntāni

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.

Masculine puṁliṅgam: agní- “fire”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā agníḥ agnī́ agnáyaḥ
dvitīyā agním agnī́ agnī́n
tr̥tīyā agnínā agníbhyām agníbhiḥ
caturthī agnáyē agníbhyām agníbhyaḥ
pañcamī agnḗḥ agníbhyām agníbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī agnḗḥ agnyṓḥ agnī́nām
saptamī agnaú agnyṓḥ agníṣu
saṁbōdhanē ágnē agnī́ agnáyaḥ

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, , 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 + Jasagnḗ + Jasagnḗ + asagnáyaḥ
  • 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 , 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 , -u, and —trigger retroflexion of a following s, which occurs in the locative plural ending:

  • agníṣu सप्तमी बहु॰ = agní + suP.
Neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: vā́ri- “water”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā vā́ri vā́riṇī vā́rīṇi
tr̥tīyā vā́riṇā vā́ribhyām vā́ribhiḥ
caturthī vā́riṇē vā́ribhyām vā́ribhyaḥ
pañcamī vā́riṇaḥ vā́ribhyām vā́ribhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī vā́riṇaḥ vā́riṇōḥ vā́rīṇām
saptamī vā́riṇi vā́riṇōḥ vā́riṣu

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॰)
Feminine strīliṅgam: gáti- “going”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā́ gátiḥ gátī gátayaḥ
dvitīyā gátim gátī gátīḥ
tr̥tīyā gátyā gatíbhyām gátibhiḥ
caturthī gátayē, gátyai gatíbhyām gátibhyaḥ
pañcamī gátēḥ, gátyāḥ gatíbhyām gátibhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī gátēḥ, gátyāḥ gátyōḥ gátīnām
saptamī gátau, gátyām gátyōḥ gátiṣu

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.

páti- “lord, husband”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā pátiḥ pátyau pátayaḥ
dvitīyā pátim pátyau pátīn
tr̥tīyā pátyā pátibhyām pátibhiḥ
caturthī pátyē pátibhyām pátibhyaḥ
pañcamī pátyuḥ pátibhyām pátibhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī pátyuḥ pátyōḥ pátīnām
saptamī pátyau pátyōḥ pátiṣu
sambṓdhanam pátē pátyau pátayaḥ

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-āpátyā (३॰ एक॰)
  • agnáy-ē with páti-ēpátyē (४॰ एक॰)
  • agnḗ-ḥ with pati-uḥpátyuḥ (५-६॰ एक॰)
    • Note that this form takes an irregular ending, identical with the ablative-genitive ending of stems ending in . That ending is underlyingly -r̥-s.
sákhi- “friend”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā sákhā sákhāyau sákhāyaḥ
dvitīyā sákhāyam sákhāyau sákhīn
tr̥tīyā sákhyā sákhibhyām sákhibhiḥ
caturthī sákhyē sákhibhyām sákhibhyaḥ
pañcamī sákhyuḥ sákhibhyām sákhibhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī sákhyuḥ sákhyōḥ sákhīnām
saptamī sákhē sákhyōḥ sákhiṣu
sambṓdhanam sákhē sákhyau sákhāyaḥ

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.

§11.3.Stems ending in -u ukārāntāni

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.

Masculine puṁliṅgam: gurú- “teacher”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā gurúḥ gurū́ gurávaḥ
dvitīyā gurúm gurū́ gurū́n
tr̥tīyā gurúṇā gurúbhyām gurúbhiḥ
caturthī gurávē gurúbhyām gurúbhyaḥ
pañcamī gurṓḥ gurúbhyām gurúbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī gurṓḥ gurvṑḥ gurū́nām
saptamī guraú gurvṑḥ gurúṣu
sambṓdhanam gúrō gurvaù gurávaḥ
Neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: mádhu- “honey”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
tr̥tīyā mádhunā mádhubhyām mádhubhiḥ
caturthī mádhunē mádhubhyām mádhubhyaḥ
pañcamī mádhunaḥ mádhubhyām mádhubhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī mádhunaḥ mádhunōḥ mádhūnām
saptamī mádhuni mádhunōḥ mádhuṣu

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॰)
Feminine strīliṅgam: dhēnú- “cow”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dhēnúḥ dhēnū́ dhēnávaḥ
dvitīyā dhēnúm dhēnū́ dhēnū́n
tr̥tīyā dhēnvā́ dhēnúbhyām dhēnúbhiḥ
caturthī dhēnávē, dhēnvaí dhēnúbhyām dhenúbhyaḥ
pañcamī dhēnṓḥ, dhēnvā́ḥ dhēnúbhyām dhenúbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī dhēnṓḥ, dhēnvā́ḥ dhēnvṓḥ dhēnū́nām
saptamī dhēnaú, dhēnvā́m dhēnvṓḥ dhēnúṣu
sambṓdhanam dhḗnō dhēnū́ dhēnávaḥ
§11.4.Stems ending in ākārāntāni

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.

Feminine strīliṅgam: sḗnā- “army”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā sḗnā sḗnē sḗnāḥ
dvitī́yā sḗnām sḗnē sḗnāḥ
tr̥tī́yā sḗnayā sḗnābhyām sḗnābhiḥ
caturthī́ sḗnāyai sḗnābhyām sḗnābhyaḥ
pañcamī́ sḗnāyāḥ sḗnābhyām sḗnābhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī́ sḗnāyāḥ sḗnayōḥ sḗnānām
saptamī́ sḗnāyām sḗnayōḥ sḗnāsu
sambṓdhanam sḗnē sḗnē sḗnāḥ

One particularity of the ā-stem declension is the appearance of an augment (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 , 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 appears to be due to the influence of feminine nominals ending in , where (-yeh₂) is one possible form the stem-forming suffix (-ih₂-).

§11.5.Stems ending in īkārāntāni

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 , 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:

Feminine strīliṅgam: nadī́- “river”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā nadī́ nadyaù nadyàḥ
dvitīyā nadī́m nadyaù nadī́ḥ
tr̥tīyā nadyā́ nadī́bhyām nadī́bhiḥ
caturthī nadyaí nadī́bhyām nadī́bhyaḥ
pañcamī nadyā́ḥ nadī́bhyām nadī́bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī nadyā́ḥ nadyṓḥ nadī́nām
saptamī nadyā́m nadyṓḥ nadī́ṣu
sambṓdhanam nádi nadyaù nadyàḥ

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 (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 . Hence its paradigm is as follows:

Feminine strīliṅgam: strī́- “woman”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā strī́ stríyau stríyaḥ
dvitīyā stríyam, strī́m stríyau stríyaḥ, strī́ḥ
tr̥tīyā striyā́ strībhyā́m strībhíḥ
caturthī striyaí strībhyā́m strībhyáḥ
pañcamī striyā́ḥ strībhyā́m strībhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī striyā́ḥ striyṓḥ strīṇā́m
saptamī striyā́m striyṓḥ strīṣú
sambṓdhanam strí stríyau stríyaḥ
§11.6.Stems ending in ūkārāntāni

Most stems ending in belong to the nadī class, and hence their declension is almost identical to that of stems ending in 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., ).

All nominal stems belonging to this class are feminine.

Feminine strīliṅgam: vadhū́- “young woman”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā́ vadhū́ḥ vadhvaù vadhvàḥ
dvitī́yā vadhū́m vadhvaù vadhū́ḥ
tr̥tī́yā vadhvā́ vadhū́bhyām vadhū́bhiḥ
caturthī́ vadhvaí vadhū́bhyām vadhū́bhyaḥ
pañcamī́ vadhvā́ḥ vadhū́bhyām vadhū́bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī́ vadhvā́ḥ vadhvṓḥ vadhū́nām
saptamī́ vadhvā́m vadhvṓḥ vadhū́ṣu
sambṓdhanam vádhu vadhvaù vadhvàḥ
§11.7.Stems ending in -r̥ r̥kārāntāni

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 , i.e., those which take a full grade vowel of the stem in the strong cases, are presented first.

Masculine puṁliṅgam: pitŕ̥- “father”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā pitā́ pitárau pitáraḥ
dvitīyā pitáram pitárau pitr̥̄́n
tr̥tīyā pitrā́ pitŕ̥bhyām pitŕ̥bhiḥ
caturthī pitrḗ pitŕ̥bhyām pitŕ̥bhyaḥ
pañcamī pitúḥ pitŕ̥bhyām pitŕ̥bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī pitúḥ pitrṓḥ pitr̥̄ṇā́m
saptamī pitári pitrṓḥ pitŕ̥ṣu
sambṓdhanam pítar pitárau pitáraḥ
Feminine strīliṅgam: mātŕ̥- “mother”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā mātā́ mātárau mātáraḥ
dvitīyā mātáram mātárau mātr̥̄́ḥ
tr̥tīyā mātrā́ mātŕ̥bhyām mātŕ̥bhiḥ
caturthī mātrḗ mātŕ̥bhyām mātŕ̥bhyaḥ
pañcamī mātúḥ mātŕ̥bhyām mātŕ̥bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī mātúḥ mātrṓḥ mātr̥̄ṇā́m
saptamī mātári mātrṓḥ mātŕ̥ṣu
sambṓdhanam mā́tar mātárau mātáraḥ

Paradigms of the second class of nominal stems ending in , which take the lengthened grade in the strong cases, follow:

Masculine puṁliṅgam: dātŕ̥- “giver”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dātā́ dātā́rau dātā́raḥ
dvitīyā dātā́ram dātā́rau dātr̥̄́n
tr̥tīyā dātrā́ dātŕ̥bhyām dātŕ̥bhiḥ
caturthī dātrḗ dātŕ̥bhyām dātŕ̥bhyaḥ
pañcamī dātúḥ dātŕ̥bhyām dātŕ̥bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī dātúḥ dātrṓḥ dātr̥̄ṇā́m
saptamī dātári dātrṓḥ dātŕ̥ṣu
sambṓdhanam dā́tar dātā́rau dātā́raḥ
Feminine strīliṅgam: svásr̥- “sister”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā svásā svásārau svásāraḥ
dvitīyā svásāram svásārau svásr̥̄ḥ
tr̥tīyā svásrā svásr̥bhyām svásr̥bhiḥ
caturthī svásrē svásr̥bhyām svásr̥bhyaḥ
pañcamī svásuḥ svásr̥bhyām svásr̥bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī svásuḥ svásrōḥ svásr̥̄ṇām
saptamī svásari svásrōḥ svásr̥ṣu
sambṓdhanam svásar svásārau svásāraḥ
Neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: dātŕ̥- “giver”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dātŕ̥ dātŕ̥ṇī dātr̥̄́ṇi
dvitīyā dātŕ̥ dātŕ̥ṇī dātr̥̄́ṇi
tr̥tīyā dātŕ̥ṇā, dātrā́ dātŕ̥bhyām dātŕ̥bhiḥ
caturthī dātŕ̥ṇē, dātrḗ dātŕ̥bhyām dātŕ̥bhyaḥ
pañcamī dātŕ̥ṇaḥ, dātúḥ dātŕ̥bhyām dātŕ̥bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī dātŕ̥ṇaḥ, dātúḥ dātrṓḥ dātr̥̄ṇā́m
saptamī dātŕ̥ṇi, dātári dātrṓḥ dātŕ̥ṣu
sambṓdhanam dā́tr̥, dā́tar dātárau dātā́raḥ

The neuter has the same peculiarities as nominal stems ending in i and u, namely:

  1. it inserts the letter n between the stem and declensional endings that begin with a vowel;
  2. outside of the nominative-accusative, it may take the properly neuter endings, or it make take the same endings as the masculine-feminine.
§11.8.Stems ending in diphthongs

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.

nau- f. “boat”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā naúḥ nā́vau nā́vaḥ
dvitīyā nā́vam nā́vau nā́vaḥ
tr̥tīyā nāvā́ naubhyā́m naubhíḥ
caturthī nāvḗ naubhyā́m naubhyáḥ
pañcamī nāváḥ naubhyā́m naubhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī nāváḥ nāvṓḥ nāvā́m
saptamī nāví nāvṓḥ nauṣú
sambṓdhanam naùḥ nā́vau nā́vaḥ
rai- f. “wealth”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā rā́ḥ rā́yau rā́yaḥ
dvitīyā rā́yam rā́yau rāyáḥ
tr̥tīyā rāyā́ rābhyā́m rābhíḥ
caturthī rāyḗ rābhyā́m rābhyáḥ
pañcamī rāyáḥ rābhyā́m rābhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī rāyáḥ rāyṓḥ rāyā́m
saptamī rāyí rāyṓḥ rāsú
sambṓdhanam rā́ḥ rā́yau rā́yaḥ

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 , 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.

dyau- m. “heaven”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dyaúḥ dyā́vau dyā́vaḥ, dívaḥ
dvitīyā dívam, dyā́m dyā́vau dyū́n, diváḥ
tr̥tīyā divā́ dyúbhyām dyúbhiḥ
caturthī divḗ dyúbhyām dyúbhyaḥ
pañcamī diváḥ dyúbhyām dyúbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī diváḥ divṓḥ divā́m
saptamī diví divṓḥ dyúṣu
sambṓdhanam dyaùḥ dyā́vau dyā́vaḥ

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.

gō- mf. “cow”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā gaúḥ gā́vau gā́vaḥ
dvitīyā gā́m gā́vau gā́ḥ
tr̥tīyā gávā gṓbhyām gṓbhiḥ
caturthī gávē gṓbhyām gṓbhyaḥ
pañcamī gṓḥ gṓbhyām gṓbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī gṓḥ gávōḥ gávām
saptamī gávi gávōḥ gṓṣu
sambṓdhanam gaùḥ gā́vau gā́vaḥ
§12. Stems ending in consonants halantāni.

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॰
§12.1.Stems ending in -s

The stems that end in -s (or -ṣ) fall into three categories:

  1. neuter nouns, which are usually primary derivatives of verbs (representing nomina concreta), such as mánas- “mind,” havíṣ- “oblation,” and ā́yuṣ- “life.”
  2. comparative adjectives, which are formed with the suffix -yas-;
  3. 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.

Neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: mánas- “mind”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā mánaḥ mánasī mánāṁsi
dvitīyā mánaḥ mánasī mánāṁsi
tr̥tīyā mánasā mánōbhyām mánōbhiḥ
caturthī mánasē mánōbhyām mánōbhyaḥ
pañcamī mánasaḥ mánōbhyām mánōbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī mánasaḥ mánasōḥ mánasām
saptamī mánasi mánasōḥ mánaḥsu
sambṓdhanam mánaḥ mánasī mánāṁsi

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 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.

Masculine puṁliṅgam: sumánas- “happy”:
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā sumánāḥ sumánasau sumánasaḥ
dvitīyā sumánasam sumánasau sumánasaḥ

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-.

Masculine puṁliṅgam and neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: śrḗyas- “better”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā śrḗyān / śrḗyaḥ śrḗyāṁsau / śrḗyasī śrḗyāṁsaḥ / śrḗyāṁsi
dvitīyā śrḗyāṁsam / śrḗyaḥ śrḗyāṁsau / śrḗyasī śrḗyasaḥ / śrḗyāṁsi
tr̥tīyā śrḗyasā śrḗyōbhyām śrḗyōbhiḥ
caturthī śrḗyasē śrḗyōbhyām śrḗyōbhyaḥ
pañcamī śrḗyasaḥ śrḗyōbhyām śrḗyōbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī śrḗyasaḥ śrḗyasōḥ śrḗyasām
saptamī śrḗyasi śrḗyasōḥ śrḗyaḥsu
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:

Masculine puṁliṅgam and euter napuṁsakaliṅgam: cakr̥vás- “having done”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā cakr̥vā́n, cakr̥vát cakr̥vā́ṁsau, cakrúṣī cakr̥vā́ṁsaḥ, cakr̥vā́ṁsi
dvitīyā cakr̥vā́ṁsam, cakr̥vát cakr̥vā́ṁsau, cakrúṣī cakrúṣaḥ, cakr̥vā́ṁsi
tr̥tīyā cakrúṣā cakr̥vádbhyām cakr̥vádbhiḥ
caturthī cakrúṣē cakr̥vádbhyām cakr̥vádbhyaḥ
pañcamī cakrúṣaḥ cakr̥vádbhyām cakr̥vádbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī cakrúṣaḥ cakrúṣōḥ cakrúṣām
saptamī cakrúṣi cakrúṣōḥ cakr̥vátsu
sambṓdhanam cakr̥ván, cakr̥vat cakr̥vā́ṁsau, cakrúṣī cakr̥vā́ṁsaḥ, cakr̥vā́ṁsi

The noun puṁs- m. “human, man” is similar to perfect participles:

Masculine puṁliṅgam: puṁs- “man”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā púmān púmāṁsau púmāṁsaḥ
dvitīyā púmāṁsam púmāṁsau puṁsáḥ
tr̥tīyā puṁsā́ pumbhyā́m pumbhíḥ
caturthī puṁsḗ pumbhyā́m pumbhyáḥ
pañcamī puṁsáḥ pumbhyā́m pumbhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī puṁsáḥ puṁsṓḥ puṁsā́m
saptamī puṁsí puṁsṓḥ puṁsú
sambṓdhanam púman púmāṁsau púmāṁsaḥ
§12.2.Stems ending in -n

The stems that end in -n include:

  1. masculine and neuter stems derived with the suffixes -an, -man, or -van;
  2. 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.

Masculine puṁliṅgam: rā́j- “king”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā rā́jā rā́jānau rā́jānaḥ
dvitīyā rā́jānam rā́jānau rā́jñaḥ
tr̥tīyā rā́jñā rā́jabhyām rā́jabhiḥ
caturthī rā́jñē rā́jabhyām rā́jabhyaḥ
pañcamī rā́jñāḥ rā́jabhyām rā́jabhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī rā́jñaḥ rā́jñōḥ rā́jñām
saptamī rā́jñi, rā́jani rā́jñōḥ rā́jasu
sambṓdhanam rā́jan rā́jānau rā́jānaḥ


  • 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:

PIE Brugmann’s Law Sanskrit
h₁rēǵ-on-m rāȷ́-ān-am rāj-ān-am

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-).

Masculine puṁsakaliṅgam: rā́j- “king”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā ātmā́ ātmā́nau ātmā́naḥ
dvitīyā ātmā́nam ātmā́nau ātmánaḥ
tr̥tīyā ātmánā ātmábhyām ātmábhiḥ
caturthī ātmánē ātmábhyām ātmábhyaḥ
pañcamī ātmánaḥ ātmábhyām ātmábhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī ātmánaḥ ātmánōḥ ātmánām
saptamī ātmáni ātmánōḥ ātmásu
sambṓdhanam ātmán ātmā́nau ātmā́naḥ
Neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: nā́ma- “name”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā nā́ma nā́mnī, nā́manī nā́māni
dvitīyā nā́ma nā́mnī, nā́manī nā́māni
tr̥tīyā nā́mnā nā́mabhyām nā́mabhiḥ
caturthī nā́mnē nā́mabhyām nā́mabhyaḥ
pañcamī nā́mnaḥ nā́mabhyām nā́mabhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī nā́mnaḥ nā́mnōḥ nā́mnām
saptamī nā́mni, nā́mnani nā́mnōḥ nā́masu
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.”

Neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam: akṣi- “eye”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā ákṣi ákṣiṇī ákṣīṇi
dvitīyā ákṣi ákṣiṇī ákṣīṇi
tr̥tīyā akṣṇā́ akṣibhyā́m akṣibhíḥ
caturthī akṣṇḗ akṣibhyā́m akṣibhyáḥ
pañcamī akṣṇáḥ akṣibhyā́m akṣibhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī akṣṇáḥ akṣṇṓḥ akṣṇā́m
saptamī akṣṇí akṣṇṓḥ akṣiṣú
sambṓdhanam ákṣi ákṣiṇī ákṣīṇi
§12.3.Stems ending in -t and -d

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.”

Masculine puṁliṅgaṁ: suhr̥d- “friend”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā suhr̥d suhr̥dau suhr̥daḥ
dvitīyā suhr̥dam suhr̥dau suhr̥daḥ
tr̥tīyā suhr̥dā suhr̥dbhyām suhr̥dbhiḥ
caturthī suhr̥dē suhr̥dbhyām suhr̥dbhyaḥ
pañcamī suhr̥daḥ suhr̥dbhyām suhr̥dbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī suhr̥daḥ suhr̥dōḥ suhr̥dām
saptamī suhr̥di suhr̥dōḥ suhr̥tsu
sambṓdhanam suhr̥t suhr̥dau suhr̥daḥ

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’).

Masculine puṁliṅgaṁ: bhūbhr̥t- “earth-bearer”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā bhūbhr̥t bhūbhr̥tau bhūbhr̥taḥ
dvitīyā bhūbhr̥tam bhūbhr̥tau bhūbhr̥taḥ
tr̥tīyā bhūbhr̥tāb bhūbhr̥dbhyām bhūbhr̥dbhiḥ
caturthī bhūbhr̥tē bhūbhr̥dbhyām bhūbhr̥dbhyaḥ
pañcamī bhūbhr̥taḥ bhūbhr̥dbhyām bhūbhr̥dbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī bhūbhr̥taḥ bhūbhr̥tōḥ bhūbhr̥tām
saptamī bhūbhr̥ti bhūbhr̥tōḥ bhūbhr̥tsu
sambṓdhanam bhūbhr̥t bhūbhr̥tau bhūbhr̥tau

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:

Masculine/Neuter puṁliṅgaṁ napuṁsakaliṅgaṁ ca: dhanavat- “wealthy”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dhanavān, dhanavat dhanavantau, dhanavatī dhanavantaḥ, dhanavanti
dvitīyā dhanavantam, dhanavat dhanavantau, dhanavatī dhanavataḥ, dhanavanti
tr̥tīyā dhanavatā dhanavadbhyām dhanavadbhiḥ
caturthī dhanavatē dhanavadbhyām dhanavadbhyaḥ
pañcamī dhanavataḥ dhanavadbhyām dhanavadbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī dhanavataḥ dhanavatōḥ dhanavatām
saptamī dhanavati dhanavatōḥ dhanavatsu
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.

Masculine/Neuter puṁliṅgaṁ napuṁsakaliṅgaṁ ca: spr̥śat- “touching”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā spr̥ṣan, spr̥ṣat spr̥ṣantau, spr̥ṣantī spr̥ṣantaḥ, spr̥ṣanti
dvitīyā spr̥ṣantam, spr̥ṣant spr̥ṣantau, spr̥ṣantī spr̥ṣataḥ, spr̥ṣanti
tr̥tīyā spr̥ṣatā spr̥ṣadbhyām spr̥ṣadbhiḥ
caturthī spr̥ṣatē spr̥ṣadbhyām spr̥ṣadbhyaḥ
pañcamī spr̥ṣataḥ spr̥ṣadbhyām spr̥ṣadbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī spr̥ṣataḥ spr̥ṣatōḥ spr̥ṣatām
saptamī spr̥ṣati spr̥ṣatōḥ spr̥ṣatsu
sambṓdhanam spr̥ṣan, spr̥ṣat spr̥ṣantau, spr̥ṣantī spr̥ṣantaḥ, spr̥ṣanti
Be careful not to confuse forms of the participle with homophonous forms of the finite verb, such as spr̥ṣati and 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).

Masculine/Neuter puṁliṅgaṁ napuṁsakaliṅgaṁ ca: dádat- “giving”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dádat dádatau, dádatī dádataḥ, dádati/dádanti
dvitīyā dádatam, dádat dádatau, dádatī dádataḥ, dádati/dádanti
tr̥tīyā dádatā dádadbhyām dádadbhiḥ
caturthī dádatē dádadbhyām dádadbhyaḥ
pañcamī dádataḥ dádadbhyām dádadbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī dádataḥ dádatōḥ dádatām
saptamī dádati dádatōḥ dádatsu
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:

Masculine puṁliṅgam: páth- “path”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā pánthāḥ pánthānau pánthānaḥ (RV pánthāḥ)
dvitīyā pánthānam (RV pánthām) pánthānau patháḥ
tr̥tīyā pathā́ pathíbhyām pathíbhiḥ
caturthī pathḗ pathíbhyām pathíbhyaḥ
pañcamī patháḥ pathíbhyām pathíbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī patháḥ pathóḥ pathā́m
saptamī pathí pathóḥ pathíṣu
sambṓdhanam pánthāḥ pánthānau pánthānaḥ

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).

§12.4.Stems ending in palatals

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:

Feminine strīliṅgam: diś- “direction”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā dik diśau diśaḥ
dvitīyā diśam diśau diśaḥ
tr̥tīyā diśā digbhyām digbhiḥ
caturthī diśē digbhyām digbhyaḥ
pañcamī diśaḥ digbhyām digbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī diśaḥ diśōḥ diśām
saptamī diśi diśōḥ dikṣu
sambṓdhanam dik diśau diśaḥ

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.

Masculine/neuter puṁliṅgaṁ napuṁsakaliṅgaṁ ca: prā́ñc- “forward, east”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā prā́ṅ, prā́k prā́ñcau, prā́cī prā́ñcaḥ, prā́ñci
dvitīyā prā́ñcam, prā́k prā́ñcau, prā́cī prā́caḥ, prā́ñci
tr̥tīyā prā́cā prā́gbhyām prā́gbhiḥ
caturthī prā́cē prā́gbhyām prā́gbhyaḥ
pañcamī prā́caḥ prā́gbhyām prā́gbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī prā́caḥ prā́cōḥ prā́cām
saptamī prā́ci prā́cōḥ prā́kṣu
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:

Masculine/neuter puṁliṅgaṁ napuṁsakaliṅgaṁ ca: pratyáñc- “opposite, west”
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā pratyáṅ, pratyák pratyáñcau, pratīcī́ pratyáñcaḥ, pratyáñci
dvitīyā pratyáñcam, pratyák pratyáñcau, pratīcī́ pratīcáḥ, pratyáñci
tr̥tīyā pratīcā́ pratyágbhyām pratyágbhiḥ
caturthī pratīcḗ pratyágbhyām pratyágbyaḥ
pañcamī pratīcáḥ pratyágbhyām pratyágbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī pratīcáḥ pratīcṓḥ pratīcā́m
saptamī pratīcí pratīcṓḥ pratīkṣú
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 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 in 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..
§13.1.Personal pronouns

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.

The first person uttamapuruṣaḥ
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā ahám āvā́m vayám
dvitīyā mā́m, mā āvā́m asmā́n, naḥ
tr̥tīyā máyā āvā́bhyām asmā́bhiḥ
caturthī máhyam, mē āvā́bhyām asmábhyam, naḥ
pañcamī mát āvā́bhyām asmát
ṣaṣṭhī máma, mē āváyōḥ asmā́kam, naḥ
saptamī máyi āváyōḥ asmā́su

The paradigm of the pronouns of the first person uttamapuruṣaḥ employs several different stems:

  1. ah-ámh₁eǵ-h₂óm (Avestan azəm, Greek ἐγώ, Latin egō, Old English ).
  2. má-mé- (Avestan mąm, mōi, ; Greek μέ and μοι, Latin me, , mihi, and Old English meċ, ).
  3. āvá-; origin unclear.
  4. vay-wei- (Avestan vaə̄m, Gothic weis, German wir, Old English )
  5. asmá-n̥s-mé (e.g. Greek ἡμεῖςn̥smé-es, Homeric ἄμμεn̥smé, German uns, Old English ūs)
  6. naḥnos (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).
The second person madhyamapuruṣaḥ
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā tvám yuvā́m yūyám
dvitīyā tvā́m, tvā yuvā́m yuṣmā́n, vaḥ
tr̥tīyā tváyā yuvā́bhyām yuṣmā́bhiḥ
caturthī túbhyam, tē yuvā́bhyām yuṣmábhyam, vaḥ
pañcamī tvát yuvā́bhyām yuṣmát
ṣaṣṭhī táva, tē yuváyōḥ yuṣmā́kam, vaḥ
saptamī tváyi yuváyōḥ yuṣmā́su

The paradigm of the pronouns of the second person madhyamapuruṣaḥ employs several different stems.

  1. tu-tu (Latin tu, tibi, Old English þū)
  2. from toi (Greek τοι)
  3. yu-v-; origin unclear.
  4. yu-ṣ-ma- from yus-mé- (Greek ὑμεῖςyusmé-es, Homeric ὔμμεyusmé; Old English ēow)
  5. 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).
§13.2.The tá-/yá-/ká- series

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.

tát, masculine puṁliṅgam and neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā sáḥ / tát taú / tḗ tḗ / tā́ni
dvitīyā tám / tát taú / tḗ tā́n / tā́ni
tr̥tīyā tḗna tā́bhyām taíḥ
caturthī tásmai tā́bhyām tḗbhyaḥ
pañcamī tásmāt tā́bhyām tḗbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī tásya táyōḥ tḗṣām
saptamī tásmin táyōḥ tḗṣu
tát, feminine strīliṅgam
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā sā́ tḗ tā́ḥ
dvitīyā tā́m tḗ tā́ḥ
tr̥tīyā táyā tā́bhyām tā́bhiḥ
caturthī tásyai tā́bhyām tā́bhyaḥ
pañcamī tásyāḥ tā́bhyām tā́bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī tásyāḥ tā́yōḥ tā́sām
saptamī tásyām tā́yōḥ tā́su

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.
  • : Greek (m.); from (the form without a final s appears to be original, which may account for the irregular sandhi of this word).
  • sā́: Greek (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.

yát, masculine puṁliṅgam and neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā yáḥ / yát yaú / yḗ yḗ / yā́ni
dvitīyā yám / yát yaú / yḗ yā́n / yā́ni
tr̥tīyā yḗna yā́bhyām yaíḥ
caturthī yásmai yā́bhyām yḗbhyaḥ
pañcamī yásmāt yā́bhyām yḗbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī yásya yáyōḥ yḗṣām
saptamī yásmin yáyōḥ yḗṣu
yát, feminine strīliṅgam
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā yā́ yḗ yā́ḥ
dvitīyā yā́m yḗ yā́ḥ
tr̥tīyā yáyā yā́bhyām yā́bhiḥ
caturthī yásyai yā́bhyām yā́bhyaḥ
pañcamī yásyāḥ yā́bhyām yā́bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī yásyāḥ yā́yōḥ yā́sām
saptamī yásyām yā́yōḥ yā́su
kím, masculine puṁliṅgam and neuter napuṁsakaliṅgam
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā káḥ / kím kaú / kḗ kḗ / kā́ni
dvitīyā kám / kím kaú / kḗ kā́n / kā́ni
tr̥tīyā kḗna kā́bhyām kaíḥ
caturthī kásmai kā́bhyām kḗbhyaḥ
pañcamī kásmāt kā́bhyām kḗbhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī kásya káyōḥ kḗṣām
saptamī kásmin káyōḥ kḗṣu

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.

kím, feminine strīliṅgam
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā kā́ kḗ kā́ḥ
dvitīyā kā́m kḗ kā́ḥ
tr̥tīyā káyā kā́bhyām kā́bhiḥ
caturthī kásyai kā́bhyām kā́bhyaḥ
pañcamī kásyāḥ kā́bhyām kā́bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī kásyāḥ kā́yōḥ kā́sām
saptamī kásyām kā́yōḥ kā́su
§13.3.The demonstrative stem idám

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.

For the accent, see .

Masculine and neuter puṁliṅgam napuṁsakaliṅgaṁ ca
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā ayám / idám imaú / imḗ imḗ / imā́ni
dvitīyā imám / idám imaú / imḗ imā́n / imā́ni
tr̥tīyā anḗna ābhyā́m ēbhíḥ
caturthī asmaí ābhyā́m ēbhyáḥ
pañcamī asmā́t ābhyā́m ēbhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī asyá anáyōḥ ēṣā́m
saptamī asmín anáyōḥ ḗṣu
Feminine strīliṅgam
ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
prathamā iyám imḗ imā́ḥ
dvitīyā imā́m imḗ imā́ḥ
tr̥tīyā anáyā ābhyā́m ābhíḥ
caturthī asyaí ābhyā́m ābhyáḥ
pañcamī asyā́ḥ ābhyā́m ābhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī asyā́ḥ anáyōḥ āsā́m
saptamī asyā́m anáyōḥ āsú
§13.4.The demonstrative stem adás

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.

ēkavacanē dvivacanē bahuvacanē
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.

§14. Numerals.

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.

§14.1.Cardinal numbers

First the stems of the numbers from one to nineteen:

Number Stem
1 ḗka-
2 dvá-
3 trí-
4 catúr-
5 páñca-
6 ṣáṭ-
7 saptá-
8 aṣṭá-
9 náva-
10 dáśa-
11 ḗkādaśa-
12 dvā́daśa-
13 tráyōdaśa-
14 cáturdaśa-
15 páñcadaśa-
16 ṣṓḍaśa-
17 saptádaśa-
18 aṣṭā́daśa-
19 návadaśa-

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.”

vibháktiḥ puṁliṅgam napuṁsakaliṅgam strīliṅgam
prathamā ḗkaḥ ḗkam ḗkā
dvitīyā ḗkam ḗkām
tr̥tīyā ḗkēna ḗkayā
caturthī ḗkasmai ḗkasyai
pañcamī ḗkasmāt ḗkasyāḥ
ṣaṣṭhī ḗkasya ḗkasyāḥ
saptamī ḗkasmin ḗkasyām

The cardinal numeral “2” also distinguishes gender in the nominative-accusative. It is inflected exclusively in the dual.

vibháktiḥ puṁliṅgam napuṁsakaliṅgam strīliṅgam
prathamīdvitīyē dváu dvḗ
tr̥tīyācaturthīpañcamyah dvā́bhyām
ṣaṣṭhīsaptamyau dváyōḥ

The number “three”:

vibháktiḥ puṁliṅgam napuṁsakaliṅgam strīliṅgam
prathamā tráyaḥ trī́ṇi tisráḥ
dvitīyā trī́n
tr̥tīyā tribhíḥ tisŕ̥bhiḥ
caturthīpañcamyau tribhyáḥ tisŕ̥bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī trayāṇā́m tisr̥ṇā́m
saptamī triṣú tisŕ̥ṣu
vibháktiḥ puṁliṅgam napuṁsakaliṅgam strīliṅgam
prathamā catvā́raḥ catvā́ri cátasraḥ
dvitīyā catúraḥ
tr̥tīyā catúrbhiḥ catasŕ̥bhiḥ
cathurthīpañcamyau catúrbhyaḥ catasŕ̥bhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī caturṇā́m catasr̥ṇā́m
saptamī catúrṣu catasŕ̥ṣu

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.

vibháktiḥ rūpam
prathamādvitīyē páñca
tr̥tīyā pañcábhiḥ
caturthīpañcamyau pañcábhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī pañcānā́m
saptamī pañcásu

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-.

vibháktiḥ rūpam
prathamādvitīyē ṣáṭ
tr̥tīyā ṣaḍbhíḥ
cathurthīpañcamyau ṣaḍbhyáḥ
ṣaṣṭhī ṣaṇṇā́m
saptamī ṣaṭsú
vibháktiḥ rūpam
prathamādvitīyē saptá
tr̥tīyā saptábhiḥ
cathurthīpañcamyau saptábhyaḥ
ṣaṣṭhī saptānā́m
saptamī saptásu
vibháktiḥ rūpam
prathamādvitīyē aṣṭáu, aṣṭá
tr̥tīyā aṣṭābhíḥ, aṣṭábhiḥ
caturthīpañcamyau aṣṭābhyáḥ, aṣṭábhyaḥ
ṣaṣthī aṣṭānā́m
saptamī aṣṭāsú, aṣṭásu
vibháktiḥ rūpam
prathamādvitīyē náva
tr̥tīyā navábhiḥ
caturthīpañcamyau navábhyaḥ
ṣaṣthī navānā́m
saptamī navásu
vibháktiḥ rūpam
prathamādvitīyē dáśa
tr̥tīyā daśábhiḥ
caturthīpañcamyau daśábhyaḥ
ṣaṣthī daśānā́m
saptamī daśásu

The Proto-Indo-European reconstructions of these numbers are:

1 ói-
2 dwó-
3 trí-
4 kʷetwór-
5 pénkʷe-
6 sweḱ (?)
7 septḿ-
8 oḱtó-
9 néwo-
10 deḱm-

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.

Number Stem Gender
20 viṁśatí- f.
30 triṁśát- f.
40 catvāriṁśát- f.
50 pañcāśát- f.
60 ṣaṣṭí- f.
70 saptatí- f.
80 aśītí- f.
90 navatí- f.
100 śatá- n.
1000 sahásra- n.

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, , tamá, and tī́ya/ī́ya. The feminine stem of all of the ordinal numbers is formed with ī, except prathamā́-, dvitī́yā-, tr̥tī́yā-, túryā- and turī́yā-.

Number Stems
1st prathamá-, prathamā́-
2nd dvitī́ya-, dvitī́yā-
3rd tr̥tī́ya-, tr̥tī́yā-
4th caturthá-, caturthī́- [also túrya-, túryā- and turī́ya-, turī́yā-]
5th pañcamá-, pañcamī́-
6th ṣaṣṭhá-, ṣaṣṭhī́-
7th saptamá-, saptamī́-
8th aṣṭamá-, aṣṭamī́-
9th navamá-, navamī́-
10th daśamá-, daśamī́-
11th ēkādaśá-, ēkādaśī́-

The ordinals from 11th to 19th are formed like ēkādaśá-, ēkādaśī́-.

Number Stems
20th viṁśá-, viṁśī́-
30th triṁśá-, triṁśī́-
40th catvāriṁśá-, catvāriṁśī́-
50th pañcāśá-, pañcāśī́-
60th ṣaṣṭá-, ṣaṣṭī́-
70th saptatá-, saptatī́-
80th aśītá-, aśītī́-
90th navatá-, navatī́-
100th śatatamá-, śatatamī́-
1000th sahasratamá-, sahasratamī́-

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.).

§14.3.The bhūtasaṁkhyā system
§15. Adjectives.

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:

Meaning puṁliṅgam napuṁsakaliṅgam strīliṅgam Suffix
“red” lōha- lōha- lōhā- ṬāP
“confused” mugdha- mugdha- mugdhā- ṬāP
“doer” kartr̥- kartr̥- kartrī- ṄīP
“learned” vidvant- vidvat- viduṣī- ṄīP
“short” laghu- laghu- laghvī- ṄīP
“sacrificing” pacant- pacat- pacantī- ṄīP
“great” mahant- mahat- mahatī- ṄīP
“carrying a staff” daṇḍin- daṇḍin- daṇḍinī- ṄīP
“of the Kosalas” kausalya- kausalya- kausalyā- CāP
§15.1.Comparison of adjectives

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-.

Comparison with taraP and tamaP
Positive degree Comparative degree Superlative degree
laghú “light” laghutáram “lighter” laghutámam “lighest”
gurú “heavy” gurutáram “heavier” gurutámam “heaviest”
mr̥dú “soft” mr̥dutáram “softer” mr̥dutámam “softest”
sthūlám “thick” sthūlátaram “thicker” sthūlátamam “thickest”
prā́k “eastern” prā́ktaram “more eastern” prā́ktamam “most eastern”
dhanī́ “wealthy” dhanítaraḥ “wealthier” dhanítamaḥ “wealthiest”
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.

Comparison with īyasUN and iṣṭhaN
Positive degree Comparative degree Superlative degree
antikám “close” nḗdīyaḥ “closer” nḗdiṣṭham “closest”
álpam “small” kánīyaḥ “smaller” kániṣṭham “smallest”
álpīyaḥ álpiṣṭham
urú “wide” várīyaḥ “wider” váriṣṭham “widest”
r̥jú “straight” ŕ̥jīyaḥ “straighter” ŕ̥jiṣṭham “straightest”
rájīyaḥ rájiṣṭhaḥ
kr̥śám “lean” kráśīyaḥ “leaner” kráśiṣṭham “leanest”
kṣiprám “swift” kṣḗpīyaḥ “swifter” kṣḗpiṣṭham “swiftest”
kṣudrám “mean” kṣṓdīyaḥ “meaner” kṣṓdiṣṭham “meanest”
gurú “heavy” gárīyaḥ “heavier” gáriṣṭham “heaviest”
tr̥prám “satisfied” trápīyaḥ “more satisfied” trápiṣṭham “most satisfied”
dīrghám “long” drā́ghīyaḥ “longer” drā́ghiṣṭham “longest”
dūrám “far” dávīyaḥ “farther” dáviṣṭham “farthest”
dr̥ḍhám “firm” dráḍhīyaḥ “firmer” dráḍhiṣṭham “firmest”
párivr̥ḍham “exalted” párivraḍhīyaḥ “more exalted” párivraḍhiṣṭham “most exalted”
pr̥thú “broad” práthīyaḥ “broader” práthiṣṭham “broadest”
práśasyam “praiseworthy” śrḗyaḥ “better” śrḗṣṭham “best”
jyā́yaḥ jyḗṣṭham
priyám “dear” prḗyaḥ “dearer” prḗṣṭham “dearest”
bahú “much” bhū́yaḥ “more” bhū́yiṣṭham “most”
bahulám “thick” báṁhīyaḥ “thicker” báṁhiṣṭham “thickest”
bhr̥śám “excessive” bhráśīyaḥ “more excessive” bhráśiṣṭham “most excessive”
mr̥dú “soft” mrádīyaḥ “softer” mrádiṣṭham “softest”
yúvan “young” yávīyaḥ “younger” yáviṣṭham “youngest”
kánīyaḥ kániṣṭham
bāḍhám “firm” sā́dhīyaḥ “firmer” sā́dhiṣṭham “firmest”
vr̥ddhám “old” várṣīyaḥ “older” várṣiṣṭham “oldest”
jyā́yaḥ jyḗṣṭham
vŕ̥ndārakam “beautiful” vŕ̥ndīyaḥ “more beautiful” vŕ̥ndiṣṭham “most beautiful”
sthirám “firm” sthḗyaḥ “firmer” stḗṣṭham “firmest”
sthūlám “thick” sthávīyaḥ “thicker” stháviṣṭham “thickest”
sphirám “thick” sphḗyaḥ “thicker” sphḗṣṭham “thickest”
hrasvám “short” hrásīyaḥ “shorter” hrásiṣṭham “shortest”
§16. Adverbs.

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).

§16.1.Regular case-forms used adverbially

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
§16.2.Special adverbial forms

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”
§16.3.The suffix tasI

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”