Vedic Sanskrit grammar

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Vedic Sanskrit grammar is the oldest attested full case and tense system grammar of a language from the Indo-European language family.
Comparing with Classical Sanskrit, Vedic Sanskrit had a subjunctive absent in Panini'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 inflection and the Vrkis inflection, a difference lost in Classical Sanskrit.

  • The subjunctive mood of Vedic Sanskrit 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 Sanskrit, 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 devasdevaudevās, Vedic Sanskrit additionally allowed the forms daivasdaivādaivāsas. Similarly Vedic Sanskrit has declined forms such as asmai, tvai, yuṣmai, tvā, etc. for the 1st and 2nd 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 Old 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 Sanskrit 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.


  • 1 Phonology
  • 2 Morphology
    • 2.1 Nouns
      • 2.1.1 The basic declension suffix scheme for nouns and adjectives
      • 2.1.2 a-stems
      • 2.1.3 i- and u-stems
      • 2.1.4 ī- and ū -stems
      • 2.1.5 ṛ and ṝ-stems
      • 2.1.6 Monosyllabic stems
    • 2.2 Compounds
    • 2.3 Personal Pronouns and Determiners
    • 2.4 Numerals
      • 2.4.1 Cardinal numbers
      • 2.4.2 Ordinal numbers
    • 2.5 Verbs
      • 2.5.1 Classification of verbs
      • 2.5.2 Tense systems
        • Present system
        • Perfect system
        • Aorist system
        • Future system
      • 2.5.3 Conjugation
        • Basic conjugational endings
        • Examples of conjugation
  • 3 Syntax
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links
    • 6.1 Grammars
    • 6.2 Phonology
    • 6.3 Morphology


Vedic Sanskrit differs from Classical Sanskrit to an extent comparable to the difference between Homeric Greek and Classical Greek. Tiwari ([1955] 2005) lists the following principal differences between the two:

  • Vedic Sanskrit had a voiceless bilabial fricative ([ɸ], called upadhmānīya) and a voiceless velar fricative ([x], called jihvāmūlīya)—which used to occur when the breath visarga (अः) appeared before voiceless labial and velar consonants respectively. Both of them were lost in Classical Sanskrit to give way to the simple visarga - upadhmaniya occurs before p and ph, jihvamuliya before k and kh.
  • Vedic Sanskrit had a retroflex lateral approximant ([ ɭ ]) as well as its aspirated counterpart [ɭʰ] (ळ्ह), which were lost in Classical Sanskrit, to be replaced with the corresponding plosives [ɖ] (ड) and [ɖʱ] (ढ). (Varies by region; vedic pronunciations are still in common use in some regions, e.g. southern India, including Maharashtra.)
    Vedic also had a separate symbol for retroflex l, an intervocalic allophone of , transliterated as or ḷh. In order to disambiguate vocalic l from retroflex l, vocalic l is sometimes transliterated with a ring below the letter, ; when this is done, vocalic r is also represented with a ring, , for consistency (c.f. ISO 15919).
  • The pronunciations of syllabic [ɻ̩] (ऋ), [l̩] (लृ) and their long counterparts no longer retained their pure pronunciations, but had started to be pronounced as short and long [ɻi] (रि) and [li] (ल्रि). (Varies by region; vedic pronunciations are still in common use in some regions, e.g. southern India, including Maharashtra)
  • The vowels e (ए) and o (ओ) were actually realized in Vedic Sanskrit as diphthongs [ai] and [au], but they became pure monophthongs [eː] and [oː] in Classical Sanskrit. In this article these diphthongs are written in the original pronunciation, i. e., ai and au.
  • The vowels ai (ऐ) and au (औ) were actually realized in Vedic Sanskrit as long diphthongs [aːi] (आइ) and [aːu] (आउ), but they became short diphthongs [ai] (अइ) and [au] (अउ) in Classical Sanskrit. In this article these diphthongs are written in the original pronunciation, i. e., āi and āu.
  • The Prātishākhyas claim that the dental consonants were articulated from the root of the teeth (dantamūlīya), but they became pure dentals later. This included the [r], which later became retroflex.
  • Vedic Sanskrit had a pitch accent which could even change the meaning of the words, and was still in use in Panini's time, as we can infer by his use of devices to indicate its position. At some latter time, this was replaced by a stress accent limited to the second to fourth syllables from the end. Today, the pitch accent can be heard only in the traditional Vedic chantings.
    Since a small number of words in the late pronunciation of Vedic carry the so-called "independent svarita" on a short vowel, one can argue that late Vedic was marginally a tonal language. Note however that in the metrically restored versions of the Rig Veda almost all of the syllables carrying an independent svarita must revert to a sequence of two syllables, the first of which carries an udātta and the second a (so called) dependent svarita. Early Vedic was thus definitely not a tone language but a pitch accent language. See Vedic accent.
    Pitch accent was not restricted to Vedic: early Sanskrit grammarian Panini gives (1) accent rules for the spoken language of his (post-Vedic) time and (2) the differences of Vedic accent. We have, however, no extant post-Vedic text with accents.
  • The pluti vowels (trimoraic vowels) were on the verge of becoming phonological during middle Vedic, but disappeared again.
  • Vedic Sanskrit often allowed two like vowels to come together without merger during Sandhi.



Vedic Sanskrit 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

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. The parentheses give the case-terminations for the neuter gender, the rest are for masculine and feminine gender. When two or three forms are given, the first is masculine (and neuter), but the second and third - feminine.

Nominative-s (-m)-āu, -ī, -ū ( -nī)-as ( -ni)
Vocative-s (-)-āu, -ī, -ū (-nī)-as ( -ni)
Accusative-am (-m)-āu, -ī, -ū (-nī)-n, -as ( -ni)
Instrumental-nā, -yā-bhyām-bhis
Locative-i, -ām-aus-su


A-stems ([a] and [ɑː]) 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 (vīra 'man, husband')Neuter (dina 'day')Feminine (bhāryā 'woman, wife')

 i- and u-stems

Masc. (pati 'host, husband')Neuter (vāri 'water')Fem. (mati 'thought')
Vocativepatai!patī!patayas!vāri, vārai!vāriī!vārīi!matai!matī!matayas!
Masc. (vāyu 'wind')Neuter (madhu 'honey')Fem. (śatru 'she-enemy')

 ī- and ū -stems

Ī- and ū -stems are only feminine.

ī-stems (patnī 'hostess, wife')ū-stems (vadhū 'bride')

See also Devi inflection, Vrkis inflection.

  and -stems

-stems are predominantly agental derivatives like neut. dāt 'giver', though also include kinship terms like masc. pit 'father', napt 'nephew', and fem. māt 'mother', duhit 'daughter' and svas 'sister'.

Masculine (pit 'father')Neuter (dāt 'giver')Feminine (māt 'mother')
Ablativepitur, pitraspitbhyāmpitbhyasdātṛṇasdātbhyāmdātbhyasmātārasmātbhyāmmātbhyas
Genitivepitur, pitraspitrauspitṝṇāmdātṛṇasdātṛṇausdātṝṇāmmātārasmātarausmātṝṇām

 Monosyllabic stems

Long vowel stems
ā-stems ( 'prodigy')ī-stems (strī 'woman, wife')ū-stems (bhū 'earth')
Accusativejāmjāujās, jasstriyamstriyāustriyasbhuvambhuvāubhuvas
Dativejaijābhyāmjābhyasstriyai, striyāistrībhyāmstrībhyasbhuvai, bhuvāibhūbhyāmbhūbhyas
Ablativejasjābhyāmjābhyasstriyas, striyāsstrībhyāmstrībhyasbhuvas, bhuvāsbhūbhyāmbhūbhyas
Genitivejasjausjānām, jāmstriyas, striyāsstriyausstriyām, strīnāmbhuvas, bhuvāsbhuvausbhuvām, bhūnām
Locativeji, jāmjausjāsustriyi, striyāmstriyausstrīubhuvi, bhuvāmbhuvausbhūu
Diphthong stems
āu-stems (nāu 'ship, boat')au-stems (gau 'cow, bull')
Accusativenāvamnāvāunāvasgavam, gāmgavāugavas, gās
Ablativenāvasnāubhyāmnāubhyasgavas, gausgaubhyāmgaubhyas
Genitivenāvasnāvausnāvāmgavas, gausgavausgavām
Locativenāvi, nāvāmnāvausnāuugavi, gavāmgavausgauu


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 (co-ordinative)
These consist of two or more noun stems, connected in sense with 'and'. There are mainly two kinds of dvandva constructions in Sanskrit. The first is called itaraitara dvandva, 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 – Rama and Lakshmana, or rāma-lakṣmaṇa-bharata-śatrughnāh – Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. The second kind is called samāhāra dvandva, 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 – limbs, literally hands and feet, from pāṇi 'hand' and pāda 'foot'. According to some grammarians, there is a third kind of dvandva, called aikaśaiṣa dvandva 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 is not properly a compound at all.
Bahuvrīhi (possessive)
Bahuvrīhi, 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".
Tatpurua (determinative)
There are many tatpuruas (one for each of the nominal cases, and a few others besides); in a tatpurua, 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 "caturtitatpurua" (caturti refers to the fourth case—that is, the dative). Incidentally, "tatpurua" is a tatpurua ("this man"—meaning someone's agent), while "caturtitatpurua" is a karmadhārya, being both dative, and a tatpurua. An easy way to understand it is to look at English examples of tatpuruas: "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 (descriptive)
The relation of the first member to the last is appositional, attributive or adverbial, e. g. uluka-yatu (owl+demon) is a demon in the shape of an owl.
Amraiita (iterative)
Repetition of a word expresses repetitiveness, e. g. dinai dinai 'day by day', 'day after day', 'daily'.

 Personal Pronouns and Determiners

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 PersonSecond PersonThird Person
Nominativeahamāvāmvayam (asmās)tvamyuvāmyūyam (yumās)svam
Accusativemām, māāvām, nāuasmān, nastvām, tvāyuvām, vāmyumān, vassvām, svā
Dativemahyam, maiāvābhyām, nāuasmabhyam (-s), nastubhyam, taiyuvābhyām, vāmyumabhyam (-s), vassubhyam, sai
Ablativematāvābhyāmasmat (asmabhyas)tvatyuvābhyāmyumat (yumabhyas)svat
Genitivemama, maiāvayaus, nāuasmākam, nastava, taiyuvayaus, vāmyumākam, vassava, sai

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

Nominativetas, sastāutaitattaitānitā, sātaitās
Instrumentaltainatābhyāmtaibhis, tāistainatābhyāmtaibhis, tāistayātābhyāmtābhis

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


 Cardinal numbers

The cardinal numbers from one to ten are:

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

The all numbers are declinable. Aika is declined like a pronominal adjective, though the dual form does not occur. D(u)vau 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.

Nominativetrayastrīitisráscatvā́ rascatvā́ ricatasrasṣaṭ
Accusativetrīntrīitisráscatúrascatvā́ ricatasrasṣaṭ
Locativetriútriútisṛ́ ṣucatúrucatúrucatasṛ́ ṣuṣaṭsu

The numbers from 11 to 19 are:

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

The tens from 20 to 90 are:

(d)viśati, triśat, catvāriśat, pañcāśat, ṣaṣṭi, saptati, aśīti, navati.

The joint numbers:

21 - aikaviśati, 22 - dvāviśati, 23 - trayauviśati, ..., 26 - ṣaḍviśati, ..., but 82 - dvāśīti, 83 - trayāśīti, 88 - aṣṭāśīti.

The hundreds are:

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

1000 - sahasra.

 Ordinal numbers

The ordinal numbers from one to ten are:

  1. prathamas, -ā
  2. dvitīyas, -ā
  3. ttīyas, -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. - viśatitamas (viśas), 30. - triśattamas (triśas), 40. - catvāriśattamas, 50. - pañcāśattamas, 60. - ṣaṣtitamas, 70. - saptatitamas, 80. - aśītitamas, 90. - navatitamas, 100. - śatatamas, 1000. - sahasratamas.


 Classification of verbs

Sanskrit has ten classes of verbs divided into in 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, gua, and vddhi grades. If V is the vowel of the zero grade, the gua-grade vowel is traditionally thought of as a + V, and the vddhi-grade vowel as ā + V.

Vowel (zero) gradea, -i, īu, ū,
Short diphthong (Gua) gradea, aiaiauaral
Long diphthong (Vddhi) gradeā, āiāiāuārāl

 Tense systems

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 (Present, Imperfect, Imperative, Optative)
  • Perfect
  • Aorist
  • Future (Future, Conditional)
 Present system

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 gua strengthening, for example, bháva- from bhū 'be', bhara- from bhṛ (gua 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'. Actually these are shortened forms of 1. class (without gua), e.g. adti < adati, asmi < asāmi.
  • 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 ruadh- from rudh 'obstruct', yunaj- from yuj 'join' (yunakti 'he joins').
  • 5. Suffixation of nu (gua form náu), for example sunu- from su 'press out', stṛnau- from stṛ 'strew' (stṛnumaḥ 'we strew', stṛnvanti 'they strew').
  • 8. Suffixation of u (gua 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 Sanskrit (krnauti 'he makes'), but shifted to the 8th class in Classical Sanskrit (karauti 'he makes')
  • 9. Suffixation of (zero-grade or n), for example krīa- or krīī- 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 gua or vddhi 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 (gua form caur-) 'steal', dāvaya- from du (vddhi 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

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

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 i-aorist
  • athematic si-aorist
  • thematic s-aorist
 Future system

The future system is formed with the suffixation of -sya- or -iya- and gua, both in the simple future and conditional. There exists also so called periphrastic future, which is made by adding suffix t to the stem and the short as 'to be' form.


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

Conjugational endings in Vedic Sanskrit 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.

2.-si-thás-thá-sái-ā́ thai, -áithai-dhvái
3.-ti-tás-ánti, -áti-tái-ā́ tai, -áitai-ántai, -átai
Secondary1.-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
2.-tha-áthus-sái-ā́ thai, -áithai-dhvái
3.-a-átus-ús-ái-ā́ tai, -áitai-rái
2.-dhí, -hí, –-tám-tá-svá-ā́ thām, -áithām-dhvám
3.-tu-tā́ m-ántu, -átu-tā́ m-ā́ tām, - áitām-ántām, -átām
Subjunctive1.-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 gua 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 vddhi 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
bhū - 'to be'

The present indicative takes primary endings.

Present, Indicative

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

Imperfect, Indicative

The aorist takes secondary endings.

Aorist stems
Simple aoristBenedictive / PrecativeInjunctive / Prohibitive
abhū-bhūyā-(mā) bhū-

The perfect takes perfect endings.


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.


The imperative takes imperative endings.

1.bhavāni, bhavabhavāvabhavāmabhav(ām)āibhavāvahāibhavāmahāi
2.bhava(hi), bhavatātbhavatambhavatabhavasva(m)bhavaithāmbhavadhvam

The subjunctive takes subjunctive endings.


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

Future, Indicative

The second or periphrastic future is made by adding suffix t 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

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


The following stems can take all endings.

Other stems
Present participlePast participleFuture participleGerundPerfect participle
bhava(n)tas, -ībhavāmānas, -ābhūyamānas, -ābhūtava(n)tas, -ībhūtas, -ābhaviya(n)tas, -ībhavitavyas, -ābhāvyas, -ābabhūvas, babhūṣībabhūvānas, -ā
Undeclinable forms
bhūtum, bhavitumbhūtvā, -bhūya
as - 'to be'

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

Present, Indicative
Long formShort formLong formShort form
Imperfect, Indicative
Long formShort formLong formShort form


  1. Sanskrit
  2. International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration
  3. Sanskrit literature
  4. International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration
  5. Wikipedia:IPA for Sanskrit
  6. SanskritOCR
  7. Vedas
  8. Sanskrit
  9. Termination of spoken Sanskrit
  10. Sanskrit in the West
  11. Sanskrit revival
  12. Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit
  13. Visarga
  14. Sanskrit compounds
  15. Sanskrit drama
  16. Sanskrit grammar
  17. Sanskrit verbs
  18. Sanskrit nouns
  19. Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University
  20. Rajasthan Sanskrit University
  21. List of educational institutions which have Sanskrit phrases as their mottos
  22. Vedic Sanskrit grammar
  23. Tatsama
  24. Sanskrit prosody


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