|Era||7th–11th centuries, after which it became Classical Tibetan|
|Writing system||Tibetan script|
In 816CE, during the reign of King Tride Songtsen, literary Tibetan underwent a thorough reform aimed at standardizing the language and vocabulary of the translations being made from Indian texts, and this resulted in what we now call Classical Tibetan.
Old Tibetan is characterised by many features that are lost in Classical Tibetan, including my- rather than m- before the vowels -i- and -e-, the cluster sts- which simplifies to s- in Classical Tibetan, and a reverse form of the "i" vowel letter (gi-gu).
- absolutive (unmarked morphologically)
- genitive (གི་ -gi, གྱི་ -gyi, ཀྱི་ -kyi, འི་ - 'i, ཡི་ -yi)
- agentive (གིས་ -gis, གྱིས་ -gyis, ཀྱིས་ -kyis, ས་ -s, ཡིས་ -yis)
- locative (ན་ -na)
- allative (ལ་ -la)
- terminative (རུ་ -ru, སུ་ -su, ཏུ་ -tu, དུ་ -du, ར་ -r)
- comitative (དང་ -dang)
- ablative (ནས་ -nas)
- elative (ལས་ -las)
- comparative (བས་ -bas)
However, whereas the locative, allative, and terminative gradually fall together in Classical Tibetan (and referred to the indigenous grammatical tradition as the la don bdun), in Old Tibetan these three cases are clearly distinct.
Traditional Tibetan grammarians do not distinguish case markers in this manner, but rather distribute these case morphemes (excluding -dang and -bas) into the eight cases of Sanskrit.
Old Tibetan has three first person singular pronouns ང་ nga, བདག་ bdag, and ཁོ་བོ་ kho-bo, and three first person plural pronouns ངེད་ nged, བདག་ཅག་ bdag-cag, and འོ་སྐོལ་ 'o-skol. The second person pronouns include two singulars ཁྱོད་ khyod and ཁྱོ(ན)་འདའ་ khyo(n)-'da' and a plural ཁྱེད་ khyed.
- Hill, Nathan W. (2010a), "Overview of Old Tibetan synchronic phonology", Transactions of the Philological Society 108 (2): 110–125, doi:10.1111/j.1467-968X.2010.01234.x.
- —— (2010b), "Personal pronouns in Old Tibetan", Journal Asiatique 298 (2): 549–571.
- —— (2011), "The allative, locative, and terminative cases (la-don) in the Old Tibetan Annals", New Studies in the Old Tibetan Documents: Philology, History and Religion, Old Tibetan Documents Online Monograph Series 3, Tokyo: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, pp. 3–38.
- —— (2012), "Tibetan -las, -nas, and -bas", Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale 41 (1): 3–38.
- Hodge, Stephen (1993), An Introduction to Classical Tibetan (Revised ed.), Warminster: Aris & Phillips, ISBN 978-0-85668-548-4.