Sanskrit nouns

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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.[1]

Nouns are grouped into "declensions", which are sets of nouns that form their cases in a similar manner. In this article they are divided into five declensions. The declension to which a noun belongs is determined largely by form.

Cases[edit]

Sanskrit nouns have eight cases: nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative, and vocative.[2] Of these eight cases, Pāṇini identified six as kārakas, or accessories to a verb. The six kārakas are the nominative, accusative, dative, instrumental, locative, and ablative cases.[3] He defined them as follows (Ashtādhyāyi, I.4.24-54):

  1. Apādāna (lit. 'take off'): "(that which is) firm when departure (takes place)." This is the equivalent of the ablative case, which signifies a stationary object from which movement proceeds.
  2. Sampradāna ('bestowal'): "he whom one aims at with the object". This is equivalent to the dative case, which signifies a recipient in an act of giving or similar acts.
  3. Karaṇa ("instrument") "that which effects most." This is equivalent to the instrumental case.
  4. Adhikaraṇa ('location'): or "substratum." This is equivalent to the locative case.
  5. Karman ('deed'/'object'): "what the agent seeks most to attain". This is equivalent to the accusative case.
  6. Kartā ('agent'): "he/that which is independent in action". This is equivalent to the nominative case. (On the basis of Scharfe, Hartmut (1977). Grammatical literature. History of Indian literature. 5. Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz. p. 94. ISBN 978-3447017060. )

Pāṇini failed to identify the genitive (Sambandha) and vocative (sambuddha) as cases.[4]

Basic noun and adjective declension[edit]

The basic scheme of suffixation is given in the table below and applies to many nouns and adjectives. However, according to the gender and the final consonant or vowel of the uninflected word-stem, there are sandhi rules dictating the form of the inflected word.[5]

Singular Dual Plural
Masc./Fem Neu. Masc./Fem Neu. Masc./Fem Neu.
Nominative Ø au ī aḥ i
Accusative am
Instrumental ā bhyām bhiḥ
Dative e bhyaḥ
Ablative aḥ
Genitive oḥ ām
Locative i su

a-stems[edit]

A-stems (/ə/ or /aː/) comprise the largest class of nouns. As a rule, nouns belonging to this class, with the uninflected stem ending in short-a (/ə/), are either masculine or neuter. Nouns ending in long-A (/aː/) are almost always feminine. A-stem adjectives take the masculine and neuter in short-a (/ə/), and feminine in long-A (/aː/) in their stems. This class is so big because it also comprises the Proto-Indo-European o-stems. [Inflection marks over the vowels as in ā́ should all be removed by someone who has the time to do it. This is not standard.]

Masculine (kāma- 'desire') Neuter (āsya- 'mouth') Feminine (kānta- 'beloved')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative kāmas kāmau kāmās āsyam āsye āsyāni kāntā kānte kāntās
Accusative kāmam kāmau kāmān āsyam āsye āsyāni kāntām kānte kāntās
Instrumental kāmena kāmābhyām kāmais āsyena āsyābhyām āsyais kāntayā kāntābhyām kāntābhis
Dative kāmāya kāmābhyām kāmebhyas āsyāya āsyābhyām āsyebhyas kāntāyai kāntābhyām kāntābhyas
Ablative kāmāt kāmābhyām kāmebhyas āsyāt āsyābhyām āsyebhyas kāntāyās kāntābhyām kāntābhyas
Genitive kāmasya kāmayos kāmānām āsyasya āsyayos āsyānām kāntāyās kāntayos kāntānām
Locative kāme kāmayos kāmeṣu āsye āsyayos āsyeṣu kāntāyām kāntayos kāntāsu
Vocative kāma kāmau kāmās āsya āsye āsyāni kānte kānte kāntās

i- and u-stems[edit]

This class contain nouns of all three genders, but its most defining features are best preserved in the masculine forms. Feminine nouns may borrow part of their singular endings from the and classes, and neuters regularly use a derived consonant stem in -in or -un. They are considered part of this class by traditional grammars for etymological reasons, as well as the fact that adjectives in -i and -u complete their paradigms suppletively for the three genders with these forms.

i-stems
Masculine (agní- 'fire') Feminine (gáti- 'gait') Neuter (vā́ri- 'water')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative agnís agnī́ agnáyas gátis gátī gátayas vā́ri vā́riṇī vā́rīṇi
Accusative agním agnī́ agnī́n gátim gátī gátīs vā́ri vā́riṇī vā́rīṇi
Instrumental agnínā agníbhyām agníbhis gátyā gátibhyām gátibhis vā́riṇā vā́ribhyām vā́ribhis
Dative agnáye agníbhyām agníbhyas gátaye, gátyāi gátibhyām gátibhyas vā́riṇe vā́ribhyām vā́ribhyas
Ablative agnés agníbhyām agníbhyas gátes, gátyās gátibhyām gátibhyas vā́riṇas vā́ribhyām vā́ribhyas
Genitive agnés agnyós agnīnā́m gátes, gátyās gátyos gátīnām vā́riṇas vā́riṇos vā́riṇām
Locative agnāú agnyós agníṣu gátāu, gátyām gátyos gátiṣu vā́riṇi vā́riṇos vā́riṣu
Vocative ágne agnī́ agnáyas gáte gátī gátayas vā́ri, vā́re vā́riṇī vā́rīṇi
u-stems
Masculine (śátru- 'enemy') Feminine (dhenú- 'cow') Neuter (mádhu- 'honey')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative śátrus śátrū śátravas dhenús dhenū́ dhenávas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Accusative śátrum śátrū śátrūn dhenúm dhenū́ dhenū́s mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Instrumental śátruṇā śátrubhyām śátrubhis dhenvā́ dhenúbhyām dhenúbhis mádhunā mádhubhyām mádhubhis
Dative śátrave śátrubhyām śátrubhyas dhenáve, dhenvāí dhenúbhyām dhenúbhyas mádhune mádhubhyām mádhubhyas
Ablative śátros śátrubhyām śátrubhyas dhenós, dhenvā́s dhenúbhyām dhenúbhyas mádhunas mádhubhyām mádhubhyas
Genitive śátros śátrvos śátrūṇām dhenós, dhenvā́s dhenvós dhenūnā́m mádhunas mádhunos mádhūnām
Locative śátrāu śátrvos śátruṣu dhenāú, dhenvā́m dhenvós dhenúṣu mádhuni mádhunos mádhuṣu
Vocative śátro śátrū śátravas dhéno dhenū́ dhenávas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni

Long-vowel stems[edit]

These nouns, mostly feminine, have stems in -ā, -ī, -ū and genitive singular in ās. The -ī and -ū classes decline identically, while the class have different dual and vocative forms, as well as inserts either -āy- or -ay- before oblique case endings beginning with vowels.

ā-stems (kāntā 'beloved') ī-stems (patnī 'hostess, wife') ū-stems (vadhū 'bride')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative kāntā kānte kāntās patnī patnyau patnyas vadhūs vadhvau vadhvas
Accusative kāntām kānte kāntās patnīm patnyau patnīs vadhūm vadhvau vadhūs
Instrumental kāntayā kāntābhyām kāntābhis patnyā patnībhyām patnībhis vadhvā vadhūbhyām vadhūbhis
Dative kāntāyai kāntābhyām kāntābhyas patnyai patnībhyām patnībhyas vadhvai vadhūbhyām vadhūbhyas
Ablative kāntāyās kāntābhyām kāntābhyas patnyās patnībhyām patnībhyas vadhvās vadhūbhyām vadhūbhyas
Genitive kāntāyās kāntayos kāntānām patnyās patnyos patnīnām vadhvās vadhvos vadhūnām
Locative kāntāyām kāntayos kāntāsu patnyām patnyos patnīṣu vadhvām vadhvos vadhūṣu
Vocative kānte kānte kāntās patni patnyau patnyas vadhu vadhvau vadhvas

Many one-syllable root nouns in long vowels are inflected in principle as consonant stems, but the feminine ones may also use the longer singular endings of the class proper, in a similar way short -i and -u stem feminines do.

ā-stems (jā- 'progeny') ī-stems (dhī- 'thought') ū-stems (bhū- 'earth')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative jā́s jāú jā́s dhī́s dhíyāu dhíyas bhū́s bhúvāu bhúvas
Accusative jā́m jāú jā́s, jás dhíyam dhíyāu dhíyas bhúvam bhúvāu bhúvas
Instrumental jā́ jā́bhyām jā́bhis dhiyā́ dhībhyā́m dhībhís bhuvā́ bhūbhyā́m bhūbhís
Dative jā́bhyām jā́bhyas dhiyé, dhiyāí dhībhyā́m dhībhyás bhuvé, bhuvāí bhūbhyā́m bhūbhyás
Ablative jás jā́bhyām jā́bhyas dhiyás, dhiyā́s dhībhyā́m dhībhyás bhuvás, bhuvā́s bhūbhyā́m bhūbhyás
Genitive jás jós jā́nām, jā́m dhiyás, dhiyā́s dhiyós dhiyā́m, dhīnā́m bhuvás, bhuvā́s bhuvós bhuvā́m, bhūnā́m
Locative jós jā́su dhiyí, dhiyā́m dhiyós dhīṣú bhuví, bhuvā́m bhuvós bhūṣú
Vocative jā́s jāú jā́s dhī́s dhiyāu dhíyas bhū́s bhuvāu bhúvas

ṛ-stems[edit]

ṛ-stems are predominantly agental derivatives like dātṛ 'giver', though also include kinship terms like pitṛ 'father', mātṛ 'mother', and svasṛ 'sister'. The neuter equivalents of derivative agental nouns once again form secondary stems in -n, as in the -i and -u classes.

Masculine (pitṛ 'father') Neuter (dātṛ 'giver') Feminine (mātṛ 'mother')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative pitā pitarau pitaras dātṛ dātṛṇī dātṝṇi mātā mātārau mātāras
Accusative pitaram pitarau pitṝn dātṛ dātṛṇī dātṝṇi mātāram mātārau mātṝs
Instrumental pitrā pitṛbhyām pitṛbhis dātṛṇā dātṛbhyām dātṛbhis mātārā, mātrā mātṛbhyām mātṛbhis
Dative pitre pitṛbhyām pitṛbhyas dātṛṇe dātṛbhyām dātṛbhyas mātāre, mātre mātṛbhyām mātṛbhyas
Ablative pitur, pitras pitṛbhyām pitṛbhyas dātṛṇas dātṛbhyām dātṛbhyas mātāras, mātur mātṛbhyām mātṛbhyas
Genitive pitur, pitras pitros pitṝṇām dātṛṇas dātṛṇos dātṝṇām mātāras, mātur mātaros, mātros mātṝṇām
Locative pitari pitros pitṛṣu dātṛṇi dātṛṇos dātṛṣu mātārām, mātari mātaros, mātros mātṛṣu
Vocative pítar pitarau pitaras dātṛ dātṛṇī dātṝṇi mātār mātārau mātāras

A single irregular noun, sakhi 'friend', has a stem apparently in -i but declines similarly to this class:

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative sakhā sakhāyau sakhāyas
Accusative sakhāyam sakhāyau sakhīn
Instrumental sakhyā sakhibhyām sakhibhis
Dative sakhye sakhibhyām sakhibhyas
Ablative sakhyur sakhibhyām sakhibhyas
Genitive sakhyur sakhyos sakhīnām
Locative sakhyau, sakhayi sakhyos sakhiṣu
Vocative sakhe sakhāyau sakhāyas

Consonant stems[edit]

Consonant stem nouns may have up to 3 different stems, as well as two special forms.

  1. A special lengthened form for the masculine/feminine nominative singular
  2. A special lengthened and/or nasalized form for the neuter nom/acc. plural
  3. A strong stem, referred to by traditional grammars as aṅga, used for mas/fem. sing. acc, dual nom/acc and plur. nom.
  4. A medium stem pada, used with oblique cases with consonant endings, as well as the neuter nom/acc. sing.
  5. A weak stem bha, used everywhere else.

One or more of these stems may be identical for some words, but this is generally not regularly predictable from either the nominative singular or the citation form stem. The case endings themselves are the regular ones listed in the beginning of the page.

Inflection example of words with only one stem; note that the neuter plural still use the special form.

One-stem types Masculine (marut 'wind') Feminine (naus 'ship') Neuter (manas 'mind')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative marut marutau marutas naus nāvau nāvas manas manasī manāṃsi
Accusative marutam marutau marutas nāvam nāvau nāvas manas manasī manāṃsi
Instrumental marutā marudbhyām marudbhis nāvā naubhyām naubhis manasā manobhyām manobhis
Dative marute marudbhyām marudbhyas nāve naubhyām naubhyas manase manobhyām manobhyas
Ablative marutas marudbhyām marudbhyas nāvas naubhyām naubhyas manasas manobhyām manobhyas
Genitive marutas marutos marutām nāvas nāvos nāvām manasas manasos manasām
Locative maruti marutos marutsu nāvi nāvos nauṣu manasi manasos manaḥsu
Vocative marut marutau marutas naus nāvau nāvas manas manasī manāṃsi

Example of words with different stems:

  1. rājā, rājñas (gen.sg. or bha), rājānas (nom.pl. or aṅga), rājabhis (inst. plur. or pada)
  2. dyaus, divas (gen.sg. or bha), divas (nom.pl. or aṅga), dyubhis (inst.plur. or pada)
  3. karma (nom.sg. or pada), karmaṇas (gen.sg. or bha), karmāṇi (special neuter nom.plur., here coinciding with the aṅga form of rājā above)
Multiple-stem types Masculine (rājā 'king') Feminine (dyaus 'heaven') Neuter (karma 'deed')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative rājā rājānau rājānas dyaus divau divas karma karmaṇī karmāṇi
Accusative rājānam rājānau rājñas divam divau divas karma karmaṇī karmāṇi
Instrumental rājñā rājabhyām rājabhis divā dyubhyām dyubhis karmaṇā karmabhyām karmabhis
Dative rājñe rājabhyām rājabhyas dive dyubhyām dyubhyas karmaṇe karmabhyām karmabhyas
Ablative rājñas rājabhyām rājabhyas divas dyubhyām dyubhyas karmaṇas karmabhyām karmabhyas
Genitive rājñas rājños rājñām divas divos divām karmaṇas karmaṇos manasām
Locative rājñi rājños rājasu divi divos dyuṣu karmaṇi karmaṇos rājasu
Vocative rājan rājānau rājānas dyaus divau divas karma karmaṇī karmāṇi

The masculine vocative can be a somewhat peculiar case. For the most part, if either the masc.nom.sing. or the aṅga stem ends with -n or some consonant cluster thereof, the vocative is this stem with a short vowel immediately before the -n; and in most other nouns it is identical to the nom.sing. As an example of exception, the word cited as pathin "path" has the forms panthās, pathas, panthānas, pathibhis but vocative panthās instead of the expected panthan; a different consonant ending in the nom.sing. has taken precedence when it is not a cluster starting with n.

Adjectives[edit]

a-stem adjectives[edit]

This large class uses the -as, -am inflection for the masculine and neuter, and either ā or ī for the feminine depending on the word.

Kāntas, -ā, -am mentioned above is one of such adjectives that use ā for feminine; others, such as sundaras, -ī, -am, use ī in its place.

Pure i- and u-stem adjectives[edit]

This class consists of a number of primary adjectives such as bahus, -us, -u "many" and śucis, -is, -i "pure", as well as ones adapted from nouns like bahuvrīhis. They are inflected like the i- and u-stem nouns described above; occasionally the feminine u may gain an additional ī and become .

Nouns originally in long -ī, -ū , when used as adjectives, tend to simply extend the feminine forms to masculine. In the neuter however, it is substituted with the same short -i(n), -u(n).

Pure consonant stem adjectives[edit]

The majority of this class is adapted from simple consonant stem nouns. Masculine and feminine genders share the same forms, and the neuter may take a strengthened plural form by analogy, or sometimes not use it. The oblique cases are the same for all genders.

vedhās, -ās, -as "virtuous" Mas/Fem (plural vedhasas ) Neuter (plural vedhāṃsi)
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative vedhās vedhasau vedhasas vedhas vedhasī vedhāṃsi
Accusative vedhasam vedhasau vedhasas vedhas vedhasī vedhāṃsi
Vocative vedhas vedhasau vedhasas vedhas vedhasī vedhāṃsi

The neuter noun āyus, -ṣas, -ūṃṣi "life, vitality" and the feminine verbal root-noun vṛt, vṛtas "turn, fold", when adopted as adjectives such as in the compounds dīrghāyus "longlived" and trivṛt "threefold", employ analogously the following adaptations:

Mas/Fem (plural āyuṣas ) Neuter (plural āyūṃṣi)
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative āyus āyuṣau āyuṣas āyus āyusī āyūṃṣi
Accusative āyuṣam āyuṣau āyuṣas āyus āyusī āyūṃṣi
Mas/Fem (plural vṛtas ) Neuter (plural vṛnti, vṛti)
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative vṛt vṛtau vṛtas vṛt vṛtī vṛnti, vṛti
Accusative vṛtam vṛtau vṛtas vṛt vṛtī vṛnti, vṛti

Consonant and ī-stem adjectives[edit]

These adjectives use consonant stem forms for the masculine and neuter genders, and a secondary ī-suffix for the feminine.

The masculine exhibits the singular special form mahān and the aṅga form mahāntas; the feminine builds on the bha form mahatī; and the neuter cites the pada form mahat.

mahat "large, great" Masculine (mahān, mahāntas) Feminine (mahatī) Neuter (mahat)
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative mahān mahāntau mahāntas mahatī mahatyau mahatyas mahat mahatī mahānti
Accusative mahāntam mahāntau mahatas mahatīm mahatyau mahatīs mahat mahatī mahānti
Instrumental mahatā mahadbhyām mahadbhis mahatyā mahatībhyām mahatībhis mahatā mahadbhyām mahadbhis
Dative mahate mahadbhyām mahadbhyas mahatyai mahatībhyām mahatībhyas mahate mahadbhyām mahadbhyas
Ablative mahatas mahadbhyām mahadbhyas mahatyās mahatībhyām mahatībhyas mahatas mahadbhyām mahadbhyas
Genitive mahatas mahatos mahatām mahatyās mahatyos mahatīnām mahatas mahatos mahatām
Locative mahati mahatos mahatsu mahatyām mahatyos mahatīṣu mahati mahatos mahatsu
Vocative mahan, mahān mahāntau mahāntas mahati mahatyau mahatyas mahat mahatī mahānti

In present participles of the thematic verb classes, the feminine ī-suffix along with the homophonic neuter dual is attached to the aṅga stem in -nt. In the athematic classes, it may be attached to either; in the reduplicated athematic class no aṅga-based forms are used at all, so it is again attached to the -t stem.


Numerals[edit]

The numbers from one to ten are:

  1. éka (एक)
  2. dvá (द्व)
  3. trí (त्रि)
  4. catúr (चतुर्)
  5. páñcha (पञ्च)
  6. ṣáṣ (षष्)
  7. saptá, sápta (सप्त)
  8. aṣṭhá, áṣṭha (अष्ट)
  9. náva (नव)
  10. dáśa (दश)

The numbers one through four are declined. Éka is declined like a pronominal adjective, though the dual form does not occur. Dvá appears only in the dual. Trí and catúr are declined irregularly.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ W. D. Whitney, Sanskrit Grammar: Including both the Classical Language and the Older Dialects
  2. ^ W. D. Whitney, Sanskrit Grammar: Including both the Classical Language and the Older Dialects
  3. ^ "CSI: Man3". Chass.utoronto.ca. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  4. ^ S.C. Vasu, The Astadhyayi of Pāṇini
  5. ^ MacDonell, III.71, p. 33.

References[edit]