Vedic Sanskrit grammar

Vedic Sanskrit is the Indo-Aryan language used in the religious hymns known as the Vedas, composed from the early-to-mid 2nd millennium through to the mid 1st millennium, BCE. It was a spoken language during that period. Its grammar differs in certain respects from the grammar of the later Classical Sanskrit.

Grammar[edit]

Ancient Sanskrit on hemp-based paper. Hemp fiber was commonly used in the production of paper from 200 BCE to the late 1800s.

Compared with Classical Sanskrit, Vedic had a subjunctive mood absent in Pāṇini's grammar and generally believed to have disappeared by then at least in common sentence constructions. All tenses could be conjugated in the subjunctive and optative moods, in contrast to Classical Sanskrit, with no subjunctive and only a present optative. However, the old first-person subjunctive forms were used to complete the Classical Sanskrit imperative. The three synthetic past tenses (imperfect, perfect and aorist) were still clearly distinguished semantically in (at least the earliest) Vedic. A fifth mood, the injunctive, also existed.

Long-i stems differentiate the Devi and Vrkis feminines, a difference lost in Classical Sanskrit.

  • The subjunctive mood of Vedic was also lost in Classical Sanskrit. Also, there was no fixed rule about the use of various tenses (luṇ, laṇ and liṭ).
  • There were more than 12 ways of forming infinitives in Vedic, of which Classical Sanskrit retained only one form.
  • Nominal declinations and verbal conjugation also changed pronunciation, although the spelling was mostly retained in Classical Sanskrit. E.g., along with the Classical Sanskrit's declension of deva- as devaḥdevaudevāḥ, Vedic additionally allowed the forms daivaḥdaivādaivāsaḥ. Similarly Vedic has declined forms such as asmai, tvai, yuṣmai, tvā, etc. for the first and second person pronouns, not found in Classical Sanskrit. The obvious reason is the attempt of Classical Sanskrit to regularize and standardize its grammar, which simultaneously led to a purge of older Proto-Indo-European forms.
  • To emphasize that Proto-Indo-European and its immediate daughters were essentially end-inflected languages, both Proto-Indo-European and Vedic had independent prefix-morphemes. Such prefixes (especially for verbs) could come anywhere in the sentence, but in Classical Sanskrit, it became mandatory to attach them immediately before the verb.

Morphology[edit]

Nouns[edit]

Vedic is a highly inflected language with three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and three numbers (singular, plural, dual). It has eight cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, and locative.

In this article nouns are divided into five declensions. The declension which a noun belongs to is determined largely by form.

The basic declension suffix scheme for nouns and adjectives[edit]

The basic scheme is given in the table below — valid for almost all nouns and adjectives. However, according to the gender and the ending consonant/vowel of the uninflected word-stem, there are predetermined rules of compulsory sandhi which would then give the final inflected word.[1]

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative -ः (-Ø)
-ḥ (-Ø)
-ौ (-ी)
-āu (-ī)
-ाः (-ि)
-aḥ (-i)
Vocative
Accusative -म (-Ø)
-m (-Ø)
Instrumental -ा
-भ्याम्
-bhyām
-भिः
-bhiḥ
Dative -े
-ai
-भयः
-bhyaḥ
Ablative -ः
-aḥ
Genitive -ोः
-auḥ
-ाम्
-ām
Locative -ि
-i
-ोः
-auḥ
-सु
-su

a-stems[edit]

A-stems ([a] and [ɑː]) (also known as thematic stems) comprise the largest class of nouns. As a rule, nouns belonging to this class, with the uninflected stem ending in short-a ([a]), are either masculine or neuter. Nouns ending in long-ā ([ɑː]) are almost always feminine. A-stem adjectives take the masculine and neuter in short-a ([a]), and feminine in long-ā ([ɑː]) in their stems. This class is so big because it also comprises the Proto-Indo-European o-stems.

Masculine (वीर vīrá 'man, hero') Neuter (हव्य​ havyá 'sacrificial oblation') Feminine (इऌा íḷā 'refreshing draught, libation')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative वीरः
vīráḥ
वीरौ
vīrā́ú
वीराः
vīrā́ḥ (°ā́saḥ)
हव्यम्
havyám
हव्यो
havyáu
हव्या, हव्यानि
havyā́, havyā́ni
इऌा
íḷā
इऌे
íḷai
इऌाः
ílāḥ
Vocative वीर​
vī́ra
हव्य​
hávya
हव्ये
hávyai
इऌे
íḷai
Accusative वीरम्
vīrám
वीरान्
vīrā́n
हव्यम्
havyám
इऌाम्
íḷām
Instrumental विरेण, विरा
vīráiṇa, vīrā́
विराभ्याम्
vīrā́bhyām
वीरैः, वीरेभिः
vīrāíḥ, vīráibhiḥ
हव्येन, हव्या
havyáina, havyā́
हव्याभ्याम्
havyā́bhyām
हव्यैः, हव्येभिः
havyāíḥ, havyáibhiḥ
इऌा, इऌया
íḷā, íḷayā
इऌाभ्याम्
íḷābhyām
इऌाभिः
íḷābhiḥ
Dative वीराय​
vīrā́ya
वीरेभ्यः
vīráibhyaḥ
हव्याय​
havyā́ya
हव्येभ्यः
havyáibhyaḥ
इऌयै
íḷāyai
इऌाभ्यः
íḷābhyaḥ
Ablative वीरात्
vīrā́t
हवयात्
havyā́t
इऌायाः
íḷāyāḥ
Genitive वारस्य​
vīrásya
वारयोः
vīráyauḥ
वाराणाम्
vīrā́ṇām
हव्यस्य​
havyásya
हव्ययोः
havyáyauḥ
हव्यानाम्
havyā́nām
इऌयोः
íḷayauḥ
इऌानाम्
íḷānām
Locative वीरे
vīrái
वीरेषु
vīráiṣu
हव्ये
havyái
हव्येषु
havyáiṣu
इऌायाम्
íḷāyām
इऌाषु
íḷāṣu

i- and u-stems[edit]

i-stems
Masc. (पति
pati 'host, husband')
Neuter (वारि
vāri 'water')
Fem. (मति
mati 'thought')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative पतिस्
patis
पती
patī
पतयस्
patayas
वारि
vāri
वारिणी
vāriṇī
मतिस्
matis
मती
matī
मतयस्
matayas
Vocative पते
patai
वारि, वारे
vāri, vārai
मते
matai
Accusative पतिम्
patim
पती
patī
पतीन्
patīn
वारि
vāri
मतिम्
matim
मतीस्
matīs
Instrumental पतिना
patinā
पतिभ्यम्
patibhyām
पतिभिस्
patibhis
वारिणा
vāriṇā
वारिभ्याम्
vāribhyām
वारिभिस्
vāribhis
मत्या
matyā
मतिभ्याम्
matibhyām
मतिभिस्
matibhis
Dative पतये
patayai
पतिभ्यस्
patibhyas
वारिणे
vāriṇai
वारिभ्यस्
vāribhyas
मत्यै
matyāi
मतिभ्यस्
matibhyas
Ablative पतेस्
patais
वारिणस्
vāriṇas
मत्यास्
matyās
Genitive पत्योस्
patyaus
पतीनाम्
patīnām
वारिणोस्
vāriṇaus
वारिणाम्
vāriṇām
मत्योस्
matyaus
मतीनाम्
matīnām
Locative पतौ
patāu
पतिषुpatiṣu वारिणी
vāriṇi
वारिषु
vāriṣu
मत्याम्
matyām
मतिषु
matiṣu
u-stems
Masc. (वायु vāyu 'wind') Neuter (मधु madhu 'honey') Fem. (शत्रु śatru 'she-enemy')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative वायुस्
vāyus
वायू
vāyū
वायवस्
vāyavas
मधु
madhu
मधुनी
madhunī
शत्रुस्
śatrus
शत्रू
śatrū
शत्रवस्
śatravas
Vocative वायो
vāyau
शत्रो
śatrau
Accusative वायुम्
vāyum
वायुन्
vāyūn
शत्रुन्
śatrum
शत्रूस्
śatrūs
Instrumental वायुणा
vāyuṇā
वायुभ्याम्
vāyubhyām
वायुभिस्
vāyubhis
मधुना
madhunā
मधुभ्याम्
madhubhyām
मधुभिस्
madhubhis
शत्र्वा
śatrvā
शत्रुभ्याम्
śatrubhyām
शत्रुभिस्
śatrubhis
Dative वायवे
vāyavai
वायुभ्यस्
vāyubhyas
मधुनै
madhunai
मधुभ्यस्
madhubhyas
शर्त्र्वै
śatrvāi
शत्रुभ्यस्
śatrubhyas
Ablative वायोस्
vāyaus
मधुनस्
madhunas
शत्र्वास्
śatrvās
शत्रुभ्यस्
śatrubhyas
Genitive वाय्वोस्
vāyvaus
वायूनाम्
vāyūnām
मधुनोस्
madhunaus
मधूनाम्
madhūnām
शत्र्वोस्
śatrvaus
शत्रूणाम्
śatrūṇām
Locative वायौ
vāyāu
vāyuṣu मधुनि
madhuni
madhuṣu शत्र्वाम्
śatrvām
शत्रुषु
śatruṣu

ī- and ū -stems[edit]

Ī- and ū -stems are only feminine.

ī-stems (पत्नी patnī 'hostess, wife') ū-stems (वधू vadhū 'bride')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative पत्नी
patnī
पत्न्यौ
patnyāu
पत्न्यस्
patnyas
वधूस्
vadhūs
वधवौ
vadhvāu
वध्वस्
vadhvas
Vocative पत्नि
patni
वधु
vadhu
Accusative पत्नीम्
patnīm
पत्नीस्
patnīs
वधूम्
vadhūm
वधूस्
vadhūs
Instrumental पत्न्या
patnyā
पत्नीब्याम्
patnībhyām
पत्नीभिस्
patnībhis
वध्वा
vadhvā
वधूभ्याम्
vadhūbhyām
वधूभिस्
vadhūbhis
Dative पत्न्यै
patnyāi
पत्नीब्यस्
patnībhyas
वध्वै
vadhvāi
वधूब्यस्
vadhūbhyas
Ablative पत्न्यास्
patnyās
वध्वास्
vadhvās
Genitive पत्न्योस्
patnyaus
पत्नीनाम्
patnīnām
वध्वोस्
vadhvaus
वधूनाम्
vadhūnām
Locative पत्न्याम्
patnyām
पत्नीषु
patnīṣu
वध्वाम्
vadhvām
वधूषु
vadhūṣu

and -stems[edit]

-stems are predominantly agental derivatives like neut. dātṛ 'giver', though also include kinship terms like masc. pitṛ 'father', naptṛ 'nephew', bhrātṛ" 'brother' and fem. mātṝ 'mother', duhitṝ 'daughter' and svasṝ 'sister'.

Masculine (पितृ​ pitṛ 'father') Neuter (दातृ dātṛ 'giver') Feminine (मातृ mātṝ 'mother')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative पित
pita
पितरौ
pitarāu
पितरस्
pitaras
दातृ
dātṛ
दातृणी
dātṛṇī
माता
mātā
मातारौ
mātārāu
मातारस्
mātāras
Vocative पितर्
pítar
मातार्
mātār
Accusative पितरम्
pitaram
पितॄन्
pitṝn
मातारम्
mātāram
मातॄस्
mātṝs
Instrumental पित्रा
pitrā
पितॄभ्याम्
pitṛbhyām
पितृभिस्
pitṛbhis
दातृण​
dātṛṇā
दातृर्भ्याम्
dātṛbhyām
दातृभिस्
dātṛbhis
मातारा
mātārā
मातॄभ्याम्
mātṝbhyām
मातॄभिस्
mātṝbhis
Dative पित्रे
pitrai
पितृभ्यस्
pitṛbhyas
दातृणे
dātṛṇai
दातृभ्यस्
dātṛbhyas
मातारै
mātārai
मातृभ्यस्
mātṝbhyas
Ablative पितुर्, पित्रस्
pitur, pitras
दातृणस्
dātṛṇas
मातारस्
mātāras
Genitive पित्रोस्
pitraus
पितॄणाम्
pitṝṇām
दातृणोस्
dātṛṇaus
दातृणाम्
dātṝṇām
मातरोस्
mātaraus
मातॄणाम्
mātṝṇām
Locative पितरि
pitari
पितृषु
pitṛṣu
दातृणि
dātṛṇi
दातृषु
dātṛṣu
माताराम्
mātārām
मातॄषु
mātṝṣu

Monosyllabic stems[edit]

Long vowel stems
ā-stems (जा 'prodigy') ī-stems (स्त्री strī 'woman, wife') ū-stems (भू bhū 'earth')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative जास्
jās
जौ
jāu
जास्
jās
स्त्रीस्
strīs
स्त्रियौ
striyāu
स्त्रियस्
striyas
भूस्
bhūs
भुवौ
bhuvāu
भुवस्
bhuvas
Vocative
Accusative जाम्
jām
जास्, जस्
jās, jas
स्त्रियम्
striyam
भुवम्
bhuvam
Instrumental जाम्
जाभ्याम्
jābhyām
जाभिस्
jābhis
स्त्रिय
striyā
स्त्रीभ्याम्
strībhyām
स्त्रीभिस्
strībhis
भुवा
bhuvā
भूब्याम्
bhūbhyām
भूभिस्
bhūbhis
Dative जे
jai
जाभ्यस्
jābhyas
स्त्रिये, स्त्रियै
striyai, striyāi
स्त्रीभ्यस्
strībhyas
भुवे, भुवै
bhuvai, bhuvāi
भूभ्यस्
bhūbhyas
Ablative जस्
jas
स्त्रियस्, स्त्रियास्
striyas, striyās
भुवस्, भुवास्
bhuvas, bhuvās
Genitive जौस्
jaus
जानाम्, जाम्
jānām, jām
स्त्रियौस्
striyaus
स्त्रियाम्, स्त्रीनाम्
striyām, strīnām
भुवौस्
bhuvaus
भुवाम्, भूनाम्
bhuvām, bhūnām
Locative जि, जाम्
ji, jām
जासु
jāsu
स्त्रियि, स्त्रियाम्
striyi, striyām
स्त्रीषु
strīṣu
भुवि, भुवाम्
bhuvi, bhuvām
भूषु
bhūṣu
Diphthong stems
āu-stems (नौ nāu 'ship, boat') au-stems (गो gau 'cow, bull')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative नौस्
nāus
नावौ
nāvāu
नावस्
nāvas
गौस्
gāus
गावौ
gāvāu
गावस्
gāvas
Vocative
Accusative नावम्
nāvam
नावस्
nāvas
गावम्, गाम्
gāvam, gām
गावस्, गास्
gāvas, gās
Instrumental नावा
nāvā
नौभ्याम्
nāubhyām
नौभिस्
nāubhis
गवा
gavā
गोभ्याम्
gaubhyām
गोभिस्
gaubhis
Dative नवै
nāvai
नौभ्यस्
nāubhyas
गवै
gavai
गोभ्यस्
gaubhyas
Ablative नावस्
nāvas
गवस्, गोस्
gavas, gaus
Genitive नवोस्
nāvaus
नावाम्
nāvām
गवोस्
gavaus
गवाम्
gavām
Locative नावि, नावाम्
nāvi, nāvām
नौषु
nāuṣu
गवि, गवाम्
gavi, gavām
गोषु
gauṣu

Compounds[edit]

One other notable feature of the nominal system is the very common use of nominal compounds, which may be huge (10+ words) as in some modern languages such as German. Nominal compounds occur with various structures, however morphologically speaking they are essentially the same. Each noun (or adjective) is in its (weak) stem form, with only the final element receiving case inflection. Some examples of nominal compounds include:

Dvandva द्वन्द्व​ (co-ordinative)
These consist of two or more noun stems, connected in sense with 'and'. There are mainly two kinds of dvandva द्वन्द्व​ constructions in Sanskrit. The first is called itaraitara dvandva इतरेतर द्वन्द्व, an enumerative compound word, the meaning of which refers to all its constituent members. The resultant compound word is in the dual or plural number and takes the gender of the final member in the compound construction. e.g. rāma-lakṣmaṇāu रामलक्ष्मणौ – Rama and Lakshmana, or rāma-lakṣmaṇa-bharata-śatrughnāh रामलक्ष्मणभरतशत्रुघ्नाह् – Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. The second kind is called samāhāra dvandva समार द्वन्द्व​, a collective compound word, the meaning of which refers to the collection of its constituent members. The resultant compound word is in the singular number and is always neuter in gender. e.g. pāṇipādam पाणिपादम् – limbs, literally hands and feet, from pāṇi पाणि 'hand' and pāda पाद​ 'foot'. According to some grammarians, there is a third kind of dvandva, called aikaśaiṣa dvandva एकशेष द्वन्द्व or residual compound, which takes the dual (or plural) form of only its final constituent member, e.g. pitarau for mātā + pitā, mother + father, i.e. parents. According to other grammarians, however, the aikaśaiṣa एकशेष is not properly a compound at all.
Bahuvrīhi बहुव्रीहि (possessive)
Bahuvrīhi बहुव्रीहि, or "much-rice", denotes a rich person—one who has much rice. Bahuvrīhi compounds refer (by example) to a compound noun with no head -- a compound noun that refers to a thing which is itself not part of the compound. For example, "low-life" and "block-head" are bahuvrihi compounds, since a low-life is not a kind of life, and a block-head is not a kind of head. (And a much-rice is not a kind of rice.) Compare with more common, headed, compound nouns like "fly-ball" (a kind of ball) or "alley cat" (a kind of cat). Bahurvrīhis can often be translated by "possessing..." or "-ed"; for example, "possessing much rice", or "much riced".
Tatpuruṣa तत्पुरुष (determinative)
There are many tatpuruṣas (one for each of the nominal cases, and a few others besides); in a tatpuruṣa, the first component is in a case relationship with another. For example, a doghouse is a dative compound, a house for a dog. It would be called a "caturthitatpuruṣa" चतुर्थितत्पुरुष​ (caturthi चतुर्थि refers to the fourth case—that is, the dative). Incidentally, "tatpuruṣa" is a tatpuruṣa तत्पुरुष ("his man"—meaning someone's agent), while "caturthitatpuruṣa" चतुर्थितत्पुरुष is a karmadhārya, being both dative, and a tatpuruṣa. An easy way to understand it is to look at English examples of tatpuruṣas: "battlefield", where there is a genitive relationship between "field" and "battle", "a field of battle"; other examples include instrumental relationships ("thunderstruck") and locative relationships ("towndwelling").
Karmadhāraya कर्मधारय​ (descriptive)
The relation of the first member to the last is appositional, attributive or adverbial, e. g. uluka-yatu उलुकयतु (owl+demon) is a demon in the shape of an owl.
Amraiḍita अम्रेडित​ (iterative)
Repetition of a word expresses repetitiveness, e. g. dinai dinai दिनेदिने 'day by day', 'day after day', 'daily'.
Dvigu द्विगु
Dvigu is a subtype of tatpuruṣa in which the modifying member is a number. Dvigu (lit., "[a] two-cow [person]"; i.e., one who has two cows) itself is a compound : द्वो+गवौ dvau+gāvau.

Personal pronouns and determiners[edit]

The first and second person pronouns are declined for the most part alike, having by analogy assimilated themselves with one another.

Note: Where two forms are given, the second is enclitic and an alternative form. Ablatives in singular and plural may be extended by the syllable -tas; thus mat or mattas, asmat or asmattas.

First Person Second Person Third Person
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular
Nominative अहम्
aham
आवाम्
āvām
वयम्
vayam (asmās)
त्वम्
tvam
युवाम्
yuvām
तूयम्, युष्मास्
yūyam, (yuṣmās)
स्वम्
svam
Accusative माम्, मा
mām, mā
आवाम्, नौ
āvām, nāu
अस्मान्, नस्
asmān, nas
त्वाम्, त्वा
tvām, tvā
युवाम्, वाम्
yuvām, vām
युष्मान्, वस्
yuṣmān, vas
स्वाम्, स्वा
svām, svā
Instrumental मया
mayā
आवाभ्याम्
āvābhyām
अस्माभिस्
asmābhis
त्वया
tvayā
युवाभ्याम्
yuvābhyām
युष्माभिस्
yuṣmābhis
स्वया
svayā
Dative मह्यम्, मे
mahyam, mai
आवाभ्याम्, नौ
āvābhyām, nāu
अस्मभ्यम्, (अस्मभ्यस्), नस्
asmabhyam, (asmabhyas), nas
तुभ्यम्, ते
tubhyam, tai
युवाभ्याम्, वाम्
yuvābhyām, vām
युष्मभ्यम्, (युष्मभ्यस्), वस्
yuṣmabhyam, (yuṣmabhyas), vas
सुभ्यम्, से
subhyam, sai
Ablative मत्
mat
आवाभ्याम्
āvābhyām
अस्मत्, (अस्मभ्यस्)
asmat, (asmabhyas)
मत्
tvat
युवाभ्याम्
yuvābhyām
युष्मत्, (युष्मभ्यस्)
yuṣmat, (yuṣmabhyas)
स्वत्
svat
Genitive मम​, मे
mama, mai
आवयोस्, नौ
āvayaus, nāu
अस्माकम्, नस्
asmākam, nas
तव​, ते
tava, tai
युवयोस्, वाम्
yuvayaus, vām
युष्माकम्, वस्
yuṣmākam, vas
सव​, से
sava, sai
Locative मयि
mayi
आवयोस्
āvayaus
अस्मासु
asmāsu
त्वयि
tvayi
युवयोस्
yuvayaus
युष्मासु
yuṣmāsu
स्वयि
svayi

The demonstrative ta, declined below, also functions as the third person pronoun.

Masculine Neuter Feminine
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative
tas, sas

tāu

tai

tat

tai

tāni

tā, sā

tai

tās
Accusative
tam

tāu

tān

tat

tai

tāni

tām

tai

tās
Instrumental
taina

tābhyām

taibhis, tāis

taina

tābhyām

taibhis, tāis

tayā

tābhyām

tābhis
Dative
tasmāi

tābhyām

taibhyas

tasmāi

tābhyām

taibhyas

tasyāi

tābhyām

tābhyas
Ablative
tasmāt

tābhyām

taibhyas

tasmāt

tābhyām

taibhyas

tasyās

tābhyām

tābhyas
Genitive
tasya(s)

tayaus

taiṣām

tasya(s)

tayaus

taiṣām

tasyās

tayaus

tāsām
Locative
tasmin

tayaus

taiṣu

tasmin

tayaus

taiṣu

tasyām

tayaus

tāsu

Interrogative pronoun ka 'what' is declined in the same way, except neuter Sg.Nom./Acc. having kim (also kam, kad) form.

Numerals[edit]

Cardinal numbers[edit]

The cardinal numbers from one to ten are:

  1. aika
  2. d(u)vāu
  3. tri
  4. catur
  5. pañca
  6. ṣaṣ
  7. sapta
  8. aṣṭāu
  9. nava
  10. daśa

All numbers are declinable. Aika is declined like a pronominal adjective, though the dual form does not occur. D(u)vāu appears only in the dual. Tri, catur and ṣaṣ are declined irregularly. The numbers from 5 to 19 do not have any difference in genders.

Two Three Four Six
Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine Masculine Neuter Feminine M.N.F.
Nominative dvāu dvai dvai trayas trīṇi tisrás catvā́ras catvā́ri catasras ṣaṭ
Accusative dvāu dvai dvai trīn trīṇi tisrás catúras catvā́ri catasras ṣaṭ
Instrumental dvābhyām dvābhyām dvābhyām tribhís tribhís tisṛ́bhis catúrbhis catúrbhis catasṛ́bhis ṣaḍbhis
Dative dvābhyām dvābhyām dvābhyām tribhyás tribhyás tisṛ́bhyas catúrbhyas catúrbhyas catasṛ́bhyas ṣaḍbhyas
Ablative dvābhyām dvābhyām dvābhyām tribhyás tribhyás tisṛ́bhyas catúrbhyas catúrbhyas catasṛ́bhyas ṣaḍbhyas
Genitive dvayaus dvayaus dvayaus triyāṇā́m triyāṇā́m tisṛṇā́m caturṇā́m caturṇā́m catasṛṇā́m ṣaṇṇām
Locative dvayaus dvayaus dvayaus triṣú triṣú tisṛ́ṣu catúrṣu catúrṣu catasṛ́ṣu ṣaṭsu

The numbers from 11 to 19 are:

aikādaśam, dvādaśam, trayaudaśam, caturdaśam, pañcadaśam, ṣauḍaśam, saptadaśam, aṣṭādaśam, navadaśam.

The tens from 20 to 90 are:

(d)viṃśati, triṃśat, catvāriṃśat, pañcāśat, ṣaṣṭi, saptati, aśīti, navati.

The joint numbers:

21 - aikaviṃśati, 22 - dvāviṃśati, 23 - trayauviṃśati, ..., 26 - ṣaḍviṃśati, ..., but 82 - dvāśīti, 83 - trayāśīti, 88 - aṣṭāśīti.

The hundreds are:

śatam, dvai śatai, trīṇi śatāni / tri śatam, etc.

1000 - sahasra.

Ordinal numbers[edit]

The ordinal numbers from one to ten are:

  1. prathamas, -ā
  2. dvitīyas, -ā
  3. tṛtīyas, -ā
  4. caturthas, -ī
  5. pañcamas, -ī
  6. ṣaṣṭhas, -ī
  7. saptamas, -ī
  8. aṣṭamas, -ī
  9. navamas, -ī
  10. daśamas, -ī

Other numbers:

11. - aikādaśas, ... 20. - viṃśatitamas (viṃśas), 30. - triṃśattamas (triṃśas), 40. - catvāriṃśattamas, 50. - pañcāśattamas, 60. - ṣaṣtitamas, 70. - saptatitamas, 80. - aśītitamas, 90. - navatitamas, 100. - śatatamas, 1000. - sahasratamas.

Verbs[edit]

Classification of verbs[edit]

Sanskrit has ten classes of verbs divided into two broad groups: athematic and thematic. The thematic verbs are so called because an a, called the theme vowel, is inserted between the stem and the ending. This serves to make the thematic verbs generally more regular. Exponents used in verb conjugation include prefixes, suffixes, infixes, and reduplication. Every root has (not necessarily all distinct) zero, guṇa, and vṛddhi grades. If V is the vowel of the zero grade, the guṇa-grade vowel is traditionally thought of as a + V, and the vṛddhi-grade vowel as ā + V.

Grades
Vowel (zero) grade a, - i, ī u, ū ,
Short diphthong (Guṇa) grade a, ai ai au ar al
Long diphthong (Vṛddhi) grade ā, āi āi āu ār āl

Tense systems[edit]

The verbs tenses (a very inexact application of the word, since more distinctions than simply tense are expressed) are organized into four 'systems' (as well as gerunds and infinitives, and such creatures as intensives/frequentatives, desideratives, causatives, and benedictives derived from more basic forms) based on the different stem forms (derived from verbal roots) used in conjugation. There are four tense systems:

Present system[edit]

The present system includes the present tense, the imperfect, and the optative and imperative moods, as well as some of the remnant forms of the old subjunctive. The tense stem of the present system is formed in various ways. The numbers are the native grammarians' numbers for these classes.

For thematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:

  • 1. Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with guṇa strengthening, for example, bháva- from bhū 'be', bhara- from bhṛ (guṇa form bhar-) 'bring'.
  • 6. Suffixation of the thematic vowel a with a shift of accent to this vowel, for example tudá- from tud 'thrust'.
  • 4. Suffixation of ya, for example dī́ vya- from div 'play', paśya- from 'see'.

For athematic verbs, the present tense stem may be formed through:

  • 2. No modification at all, for example ad- from ad 'eat'.
  • 3. Reduplication prefixed to the root, for example juhu- from hu 'sacrifice', dadhā- from dhā 'put'.
  • 7. Infixion of or n before the final root consonant (with appropriate sandhi changes), for example rundh- or ruṇadh- from rudh 'obstruct', yunaj- from yuj 'join' (yunakti 'he joins').
  • 5. Suffixation of nu (guṇa form náu), for example sunu- from su 'press out', stṛnau- from stṛ 'strew' (stṛnumas 'we strew', stṛnvanti 'they strew').
  • 8. Suffixation of u (guṇa form au), for example tanu- from tan 'stretch'. For modern linguistic purposes it is better treated as a subclass of the 5th. tanu- derives from tnnu-, which is zero-grade for *tannu-, because in the Proto-Indo-European language [m] and [n] could be vowels (i.e. [am], [an]), which in Sanskrit (and Greek) change to [a]. Most members of the 8th class arose this way; kar- 'make, do' was 5th class in Vedic (krnauti 'he makes'), but shifted to the 8th class in Classical Sanskrit (karauti 'he makes')
  • 9. Suffixation of (zero-grade or n), for example krīṇa- or krīṇī- from krī 'buy', pūna- from 'clean'.
  • 10. This class described by native grammarians refers to a process which is derivational in nature, and thus not a true tense-stem formation. It is formed by suffixation of ya with guṇa or vṛddhi strengthening and lengthening of the root's last vowel, for example bhāvaya- (< bāu-a-ya-) from bhū 'be', pūjaya- from pūj 'honour', cauraya- from cur (guṇa form caur-) 'steal', dāvaya- from du (vṛddhi form dāv-) 'burn'.

The present system also differentiates strong and weak forms of the verb. The strong/weak opposition manifests itself differently depending on the class:

  • The root and reduplicating classes (2 & 3) are not modified in the weak forms, and receive guṇa in the strong forms.
  • The nasal class (7) is not modified in the weak form, extends the nasal to in the strong form.
  • The nu-class (5) has nu in the weak form and náu in the strong form.
  • The nā-class (9) has in the weak form and nā́ in the strong form. disappears before vocalic endings.
Perfect system[edit]

The perfect is only used in the indicative. The stem is formed with reduplication as with the present system.

The perfect system also produces separate "strong" and "weak" forms of the verb — the strong form is used with the singular active, and the weak form with the rest.

The perfect in the Sanskrit can be in form of the simple perfect and the periphrastic perfect. The only perfect is in the indicative. The simple perfect is the most common form and can be made from most of the roots. The simple perfect stem is made by reduplication and if necessary by stem lengthening. The conjugated form takes special perfect endings. The periphrastic perfect is used with causative, desiderative, denominative and roots with prosodic long anlauted vowel (except a/ā). Only few roots can form both the simple and the periphrastic perfect. These are bhṛ 'carry', uṣ 'burn', vid 'know', bhi 'to be afraid', hu 'sacrifice'.

Aorist system[edit]

The aorist system includes aorist proper (with past indicative meaning, e.g. abhūs 'you were') and some of the forms of the ancient injunctive (used almost exclusively with in prohibitions, e.g. mā bhūs 'don't be'). The principal distinction of the two is presence/absence of an augment – a- prefixed to the stem.

The aorist system stem actually has three different formations: the simple aorist, the reduplicating aorist (semantically related to the causative verb), and the sibilant aorist. The simple aorist is taken directly from the root stem (e.g. bhū-: a-bhū-t 'he was'). The reduplicating aorist involves reduplication as well as vowel reduction of the stem. The sibilant aorist is formed with the suffixation of s to the stem. The sibilant aorist by itself has four formations:

  • athematic s-aorist
  • athematic iṣ-aorist
  • athematic siṣ-aorist
  • thematic s-aorist
Future system[edit]

The future system is formed with the suffixation of -sya- or -iṣya- and guṇa, both in the simple future and conditional. There exists also so called periphrastic future, which is made by adding suffix tṝ to the stem and the short as 'to be' form.

Conjugation[edit]

Each verb has a grammatical voice, whether active, passive or middle. There is also an impersonal voice, which can be described as the passive voice of intransitive verbs. Sanskrit verbs have an indicative, an optative and an imperative mood. Older forms of the language had a subjunctive, though this had fallen out of use by the time of Classical Sanskrit.

Basic conjugational endings[edit]

Conjugational endings in Vedic convey person, number, and voice. Different forms of the endings are used depending on what tense stem and mood they are attached to. Verb stems or the endings themselves may be changed or obscured by sandhi.

Person Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Primary 1. -mi -vás -más -ái -váhai -máhai
2. -si -thás -thá -sái -ā́ thai, -áithai -dhvái
3. -ti -tás -ánti, -áti -tái -ā́ tai, -áitai -ántai, -átai
Secondary 1. -am -vá -má -í, -á, - ái -váhi -máhi
2. -s -tám -tá -thā́ s -ā́ thām, -áithām -dhvám
3. -t -tā́ m -án, -ús -tá -ā́ tām, -áitām -ánta, -áta, -rán
Perfect 1. -a -vá -má -ái -váhai -máhai
2. -tha -áthus -sái -ā́ thai, -áithai -dhvái
3. -a -átus -ús -ái -ā́ tai, -áitai -rái
Imperative 1. -āni -va -ma -āi -vahāi -mahāi
2. -dhí, -hí, – -tám -tá -svá -ā́ thām, -áithām -dhvám
3. -tu -tā́ m -ántu, -átu -tā́ m -ā́ tām, - áitām -ántām, -átām
Subjunctive 1. -ā, -āni -vá -má -āi -váhāi -máhāi, -máhai
2. -si, -s -thás -thá -sāi, -sái -ā́ithai -dhvā́i
3. -ti, -t -tás -(á)n -tāi, -tái -ā́itai -ántai, -ánta

Primary endings are used with present indicative and future forms. Secondary endings are used with the imperfect, conditional, aorist, and optative. Perfect, imperative and subjunctive endings are used with the perfect, imperative and subjunctive respectively.

In present and imperfect indicative singular active forms have the accent on the stem and take strong forms, while the other forms have the accent on the endings and take weak forms.

In imperative accent is variable and affects vowel quality. Forms which are end-accented trigger guṇa strengthening, and those with stem accent do not have the vowel affected.

The Passive voice forms for all tenses and moods are made by adding -ya- to the zero-grade stem and then adding the middle voice ending of appropriate tense and mood.

The Causative is made by adding the suffix aya to the vṛddhi form. For example, karauti 'he does/makes', and kārayati 'he lets do/make'.

The Desiderative is made by reduplication of the root and the suffix sa. For example, karauti 'he does, makes', and cikīrṣati 'he wishes to do/make'. It can be also combined with causative, e.g. kārayati 'he lets do' and cikārayiṣati 'he wishes to let to do'.

The Intensive (or sometimes called Frequentative) describes a repeated or particularly intensive activity. With verbs of the movement it means "back and forth". The intensive is formed by reduplication of the root and the suffix ya with middle endings for thematic stems, and without suffix and active endings for athematic stems. For example, bhramati 'it curves around', and baṃbhramyatai 'it curves cross and crosswise around'.

Examples of conjugation[edit]
bhū - 'to be'

The present indicative takes primary endings.

Present, Indicative
Person Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. bhavāmi bhavāvas(i) bhavāmas(i) bhav(ām)ai bhavāvahai bhavāmahai
2. bhavasi bhavathas bhavatha bhavasai bhavaithai bhavadhvai
3. bhavati bhavatas bhavanti bhavatai bhavaitai bhavantai

The imperfect takes secondary endings and adds augment a- before stem.

Imperfect, Indicative
Person Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. ábhavam ábhavāva ábhavāma ábhav(ām)ai ábhavāvahi ábhavāmahi
2. ábhavas ábhavatam ábhavata ábhavathās ábhavaithām ábhavadhvam
3. ábhavat ábhavatām ábhavan ábhavata ábhavaitām ábhavanta

The aorist takes secondary endings.

Aorist stems
Simple aorist Benedictive / Precative Injunctive / Prohibitive
abhū- bhūyā- (mā) bhū-

The perfect takes perfect endings.

Perfect
Person Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. babhūva babhūviva babhūvima babhūvai babhūvivahai babhūvimahai
2. babhū(vi)tha babhūthus babhūva babhūsai babhūvaithai babhūvadhvai
3. babhūva babhūtus babhūvus babhūvai babhūvaitai babhūrai

The optative takes secondary endings. -ya- is added to the stem both in the active and the middle. In some forms the cluster ya is dropped out.

Optative
Person Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. bhavaiyām bhavai(yā)va bhavai(yā)ma bhavaiya(m) bhavai(yā)vahi bhavai(yā)mahi
2. bhavai(ya)s bhavai(ya)tam bhavai(ya)ta bhavai(ya)thās bhavaiyāthām bhavai(ya)dhvam
3. bhavai(yā)t bhavai(ya)tām bhavaiyus bhavai(ya)ta bhavaiyātām bhavairan

The imperative takes imperative endings.

Imperative
Person Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. bhavāni, bhava bhavāva bhavāma bhav(ām)āi bhavāvahāi bhavāmahāi
2. bhava(hi), bhavatāt bhavatam bhavata bhavasva(m) bhavaithām bhavadhvam
3. bhavatu bhavatām bhavantu bhavatām bhavaitām bhavantām

The subjunctive takes subjunctive endings.

Subjunctive
Person Active Middle
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. bhavā(ni) bhavāva bhavāma bhav(ām)āi bhavāvahāi bhavāmahāi
2. bhavas(i) bhavāthas bhavātha bhavāsāi bhavāithai bhavadhvāi
3. bhavat(i) bhavātas bhavān bhavātāi bhavāitai bhavanta(i)

The future takes primary endings. -iṣya- is added to the stem, both in the active and the middle/passive.

Future, Indicative
Person Active Middle/Passive
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. bhaviṣyāmi bhaviṣyāva bhaviṣyāma bhaviṣy(ām)ai bhaviṣyāvahai bhaviṣyāmahai
2. bhaviṣyasi bhaviṣyathas bhaviṣyatha bhaviṣyasai bhaviṣyaithai bhaviṣyadhvai
3. bhaviṣyati bhaviṣyatas bhaviṣyanti bhaviṣyatai bhaviṣyaitai bhaviṣyantai

The second or periphrastic future is made by adding suffix tṝ to the stem and the short as 'to be' form, except 3rd person, both singular and plural, having feminine -stem nominative endings, e.g., bhavi- + + asmi = bhavitāsmi, but bhavi- + tā/tārāu/tāras = bhavitā/bhavitārāu/bhavitāras. The passive forms are identical to the middle forms.

Periphrastic future
Person Active Middle/Passive
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. bhavitāsmi bhavitāsvas bhavitāsmas bhavitāsmai bhavitāsvahai bhavitāsmahai
2. bhavitāsi bhavitāsthas bhavitāstha bhavitāsai bhavitāsāthai bhavitā(sa)dhvai
3. bhavitā bhavitārāu bhavitāras bhavitā bhavitārāu bhavitāras

The conditional takes secondary endings. -iṣya- is added to the stem, both in the active and the middle/passive.

Conditional
Person Active Middle/Passive
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. ábhaviṣyam ábhaviṣyāva ábhaviṣyāma ábhaviṣy(ām)ai ábhaviṣyāvahi ábhaviṣyāmahi
2. ábhaviṣyas ábhaviṣyatam ábhaviṣyata ábhaviṣyathās ábhaviṣyaithām ábhaviṣyadhvam
3. ábhaviṣyat ábhaviṣyatām ábhaviṣyan ábhaviṣyata ábhaviṣyaitām ábhaviṣyanta

The following stems can take all endings.

Other stems
Passive Causative Desiderative Intensive
bhūya- bhāvaya- bubhūṣa- baubhavī-
Participles
Present participle Past participle Future participle Gerund Perfect participle
Active Middle Passive Active Passive Active Passive Passive Active Middle
bhava(n)tas, -ī bhavāmānas, -ā bhūyamānas, -ā bhūtava(n)tas, -ī bhūtas, -ā bhaviṣya(n)tas, -ī bhavitavyas, -ā bhāvyas, -ā babhūvas, babhūṣī babhūvānas, -ā
Undeclinable forms
Infinitive Absolutive
bhūtum, bhavitum bhūtvā, -bhūya
as - 'to be'

The as 'to be' has the long and the short form. The long form is very rarely used.

Present, Indicative
Person Active Middle
Long form Short form Long form Short form
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. asāmi asāvas asāmas asmi svas smas as(ām)ai asāvahai asāmahai hai svahai smahai
2. asasi asathas asatha asi sthas stha asasai asāthai asadhvai sai sāthai dhvai
3. asati asatas asanti asti stas santi asatai asātai asantai stai sātai santai
Imperfect, Indicative
Person Active Middle
Long form Short form Long form Short form
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
1. āsam asāva āsāma āsam asva āsma āsāmai āsāvahi āsāmahi āsmai āsvahi āsmahi
2. āsīs āsatam āsata āsīs āstam āsta āsathās āsaihām āsadhvam āsthās āsaithām āsadhvam
3. āsīt āsatām āsan āsīt āstām āsan āsata āsaitām āsanta āsta āsaitām āsanta

Syntax[edit]

Because of Vedic's complex declension system the word order is free (with tendency toward SOV).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ MacDonell, Arthur Anthony (1916). A Vedic Grammar for Students. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. p. 48.
  • Ernst Wilhelm Oskar Windisch, Berthold Delbrück, Die altindische Wortfolge aus dem Catagathabrahmana [1]
  • Arthur Anthony Macdonell, Vedic Grammar (1910)
  • Arthur Anthony MacDonell, A Vedic Grammar for Students. Bombay, Oxford University Press. (1916/1975)
  • Bruno Lindner, 'Altindische Nominalbildung: Nach den S̆amhitas dargestellt (1878) [2]
  • Michael Witzel, Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, 1989, 97–265.
  • Müller M., Sanskrit Grammatik, Leipzig (1868)
  • Renou L., Grammaire de la langue védique, Paris (1952)
  • William Dwight Whitney, Sanskrit Grammar. 5th edn. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. (1924) [1st ed. 1879]

External links[edit]

Grammars[edit]

Morphology[edit]