Proto-Indo-European particles

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The particles of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) have been reconstructed by modern linguists based on similarities found across all Indo-European languages. The following article lists and discusses their hypothesized forms.


Adverbs used as adpositions[edit]

Many particles could be used both as adverbs and postpositions. This is similar to modern languages; compare English He is above in the attic (adverb) and The bird is above the house (preposition). The postpositions became prepositions in the daughter languages except Anatolian, Germanic, Indo-Iranian and Sabellic; Latin and Greek preserve postpositions vestigially.[1]

Reflexes, or descendants of the PIE reconstructed forms in its daughter languages, include the following.

Particle Meaning Reflexes
*h₂epo / h₂po / apo from Ved. ápa "away, forth", Gk. apó, Lat. ab "from", Alb. pa "without", Eng. of, off[2]
*h₂ed to, by, at Lat. ad, Osc. adpúd, Umb. ař, Goth. at, ON at, Eng. æt/at, Gm. az/--, Ir. ad/do, Welsh add-, at, Gaul. ad, Phryg. addaket, XMK addai[3]
*h₂eti from, back, again OCS OCS отъ Ir. aith-, Welsh ad- "re-", Toch. A atas, Toch. B ate "away", Gk. atar "however"
*h₂en / *h₂enh₃ / *h₂neh₃ on, upon Av. ana, Gk. ano, Lat. in (in some cases), ON á, Goth. ana, Eng. an/on, Gm. ?/an, Lith. ant[citation needed]
*h₂enti against, at the end, in front of, before Gk. anti, Lat. ante, Hitt. hantezzi "first"
*h₂eu off, away, too much, very Ved. ava, Lith. nuo, Eng. of, off[3]
*h₂n̥-bʰi / *h₂m̥-bʰi around[4] (→ both) Ved. abhi, Av. aiwito, aibi, Pers. abiy/?, Gk. amphi, ON um, Eng. bi/by; ymbi/umbe (obsolete), Gm. umbi/um; ?/bei, Gaul. ambi, Ir. imb/um, Welsh am, Toch. āmpi/?, Alb. mbi, Lith. abu, OCS oba, Russ. ob "about", oba "both"[3]
*bʰeǵʰ without OCS без, OPruss. bhe, Ved. bahis "from outwards"[3]
*de, *do to Gk. -de, Eng. to, Gm. zu, Lith. da-, OCS do, PER tâ, Welsh i, Ir. do
*h₁eǵʰs out Lat. ex, Gk. ἐκ (ek)/ἐξ (eks), Gaul. ex-, Ir. ass/as; acht/; echtar, Russ. из (iz), Alb. jashtë, Oscan eh-, Umbrian ehe-, Lith. iš, Ltv. iz, OPruss. is, Welsh ech-[3]
*h₁eǵʰs-tos outside Gk. ektos[3]
*h₁eǵʰs-tro- / *h₁eǵʰs-ter extra Lat. extra,[3] Welsh eithr "except, besides"
*h₁en in Gk. en, Lat. in, Eng. in/in, Gm. in/in, īn/ein-, Ir. i, Welsh yn, Arm. i, Alb. në, OPruss. en, OCS vŭ(n)-,[2]

Luw. anda, Carian nt_a, Goth. in, ON í, Ir. in/i, Lith. į, Ltv. iekšā[citation needed]

*h₁en-ter within, inside Ved. antár "between", Lat. inter "between, among", Gm. untar/unter "between, among" (see also *n̥dʰ-er below), Ir. eter/idir "between", Cornish ynter, Alb. ndër "between, in",[2] Pers. ændær "inside", SCr. unutar "within"
*h₁eti beyond, over (about quantity), besides Lat. et, etiam, Gk. ἔτι, οὐκέτι, Ved. अति (ati), Av. aiti, OPruss. et-, at- , Eng. ed-, edgrow, Gaul. eti, t-ic
*h₁opi / h₁epi near, at, upon, by Ved. ápi "by, on", Gk. epí "on", Lat. ob "on", Arm. ew "and",[2]

Av. aipi, Lith. api-, apie, Alb. afër "near" [3]

*h₁neu without Khot. anau "without" Osset. aenae Gk. aneu
*km̥-th₂ / *km̥-ti by, along Hitt. katta "with", Gaul. kanta "with", Gk. katá "down"[2][3] Welsh gan
*kom with Lat. cum, Ir. co/?,[2] Welsh cyf-
*medʰi in the middle Pers., miyan Av. madiiana, Khot. mayana-, Ved. madhyama Lat. medius OPruss. median Goth. miduma "the middle" OCS meždu,[3] Welsh y mewn
*n̥dʰ-eri under Ved. adhás, Av. aδairi, Lat. īnfr-ā, Eng. under/under, Arm. ənd,[2]

Pers. ?/zēr, ON und, Goth. undar, Gm. untar/unter, Arm. ĕndhup/ĕnthub[citation needed]

*ni down, under Ved. ní, Eng. ne-ther, Arm. ni, OCS ni-zŭ[2]
*nu now Hitt. nu, Luw. nanun, Ved. nū, OPers. nūra/?, Pers. æknun/konun/?, Gk. nun, Lat. nunc, ON nū, Goth. nu, Eng. nū/now, Gm. nu/nun, Toch. nuṃ/nano, Lith. nū, Ltv. nu, OPruss. teinu, OCS nu, Alb. tani, Arb. naní[citation needed] (but see the list of conjunctions below)
*h₃ebʰi, h₃bʰi towards, into, at OCS объ[3]
*pe with, together Hitt. pe-[citation needed]
*per(i) around, through Ved. pári "around, forth", Gk. perí "around", Lat. per "through", OPruss. per, Alb. për,[2] Russ. pere- "through, over"
*per / *pero / *prō before, forth, in front of, ahead of Hitt. per, Ved. prā, Lat. per, prō, Eng. for/fore-, Gm. ?/vor, Welsh rhy, rhag, er, Lith. per, pro[citation needed], Alb. para, Pers. pær-/pæri-/par-, Russ. pered
*pos after Ved. pascat, Lat. post, Lith. paskui[5]
*r̥ / *rō / *rō-dʰi for (enclitic), for the purpose of Ved. [citation needed] OCS ради
*trh₂os through Ved. tiras, Lat. trāns, Eng. through, OIr. tar,[5] Welsh tra
*uper above Ved. upári, Gk. hupér, Lat. s-uper, Eng. over, Ir. for/fara, Welsh gor-, gwar- Arm. (i) ver "up"[2]

Alb. sipër

*up / *upo under, below Ved. úpa "up to", Gk. hupó "below", Lat. s-ub, Ir. fo/faoi,[2] Welsh go-, gwa-

Hitt. upzi, Av. upa, Pers. upa/?, Umb. sub, Osc. sup, ON upp, Goth. iup, Eng. upp/up, Gm. uf/auf, Welsh go, Gaul. voretus, Toch. ?/spe, Lith. po[citation needed]

Untranslated reflexes have the same meaning as the PIE word.

In the following languages, two reflexes separated by a slash mean:


Two negators can be reconstructed, *ne and *, the latter only used for negative commands. The so-called privative prefix *n̥- is likely the zero grade of *ne.

Particle Meaning Reflexes
*ne sentence negator Ved. ná, Lat. nē/ne-, Eng. ne/no, Gm. ne/nein, Lith. nè, OCS ne,[6]

Hitt. natta, Luw. ni-, Lyc. ni-, Lyd. ni-, Av. na, Pers. na/?, Gk. ne-, Osc. ne, Umb. an-, ON né, Goth. ni, Ir. ní/ní, Welsh ni, Arm. an-, Toch. an-/en-, Ltv. ne, OPruss. ne, Pol. nie, Russ. ne, net, Alb. nuk[citation needed]

*n̥- privative prefix Hitt. am-, Ved. a(n)-, Gk. a(n)-, Lat. in-, Alb. e-, Eng. un-,[6] Gm. un-
*mā negator for commands Ved. mā, Per ma-, Gk. mē (Doric mā)[6]

Alb. mos

Adverbs derived from adjectives[edit]

Adverbs derived from adjectives (like English bold-ly, beautiful-ly) arguably cannot be classified as particles. In Proto-Indo-European, these are simply case forms of adjectives and thus better classified as nouns. An example is *meǵh₂ "greatly", a nominative-accusative singular.[7]


The following conjunctions can be reconstructed:[8]

Particle Meaning Reflexes
*kʷe and, word or phrase connector Hitt. -ku, Ved. ca, Av. ca, Gk. te, Lat. -que, Celtib. kue, Per ke
*wē or, word or phrase disjunctor Ved. vā, Gk. -(w)ē, Lat. -ve
*de and, sentence connector Gk. dé, Alb. dhe, Russ. da "and"
*nu and, sentence connector Hitt. nu, Ved. nú, Gk. nú, Toch. ?/nu, Ir. no-/?, OCS(but see the adverbs above)

Placed after the joined word, as in Latin Senatus populus-que Romanus ("Senate and people of Rome"), -que joining senatus and populus.


There is only one PIE interjection which can be securely reconstructed, the second is tentative:[8]

Particle Meaning Reflexes
*wai! expression of woe or agony Hitt. uwai, Lat. vae, Welsh gwae, Breton gwa, Eng. woe, ON. vei,[9] Pers. vai, Kurd. wai, Ved. uvē, Gk. aī, aī aī (woe!, alas!), Ltv. ai, vai
*ō! / *eh₃! (?) oh! Gk. ō,[10] Lat. ō,[11] Eng. oh!, Gm. oh!, Russ. o!,[12] Pers. e!



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  • Petschenig, M (1994), Der kleine Stowasser (in German), Vienna: Oldenbourg Schulbuchverlag, ISBN 3-486-13405-1 
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