Tipitaka Network :: Pāḷi Synthesis
Unicode | Velthuis
More Pāli | News
Vesak's Greetings
Andy's Pāli Page
A pioneer online Pāli resource
.:on the shelves:.
.:in the solutions:.
The Pali Collective
Oops! RSS input from Yahoo! Groups is currently not available.
Developed and supported by PaliLogix.
For free distribution, as a gift of Dhamma.

Introduction to Pali (1991)

Lesson 5 (sample text)

Pronouns: Personal and Demonstrative

The personal pronouns are inflected as follows:-

First Person

Singular Plural
Nom. aha.m "I" maya.m "we"
Acc. ma.m "me" amhe "us"

Second Person

Singular Plural
Nom. tva.m "thou" "you" tumhe "you"
Acc. ta.m (or tva.m) "thee", "you"

Third Person

Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Masculine Feminine
Nom. so (sometimes sa) "he" saa "she" te taa
Acc. ta.m "him" ta.m "her"

Although the person is expressed by the inflection of the verb, the pronouns of the first and second persons are frequently used, giving a slight emphasis to the subject. The third person pronoun is less often used in this way. The third personal pronoun is used also as a demonstrative, meaning "that", "it", in three genders. It is generally used as what is known as an "anaphoric" pronoun, that is to say it refers back to someone or something previously mentioned in a narrative. As opposed to the use in conversation and other direct speech of "pronouns of presence" referring to someone or something present ("this man says", "in that jar"), ta(d) is thus called a "pronoun of absence" because it is most often used to speak of someone or something in a story and therefore not present to the listeners. It may serve to connect the sentences of a narrative into a continuous paragraph or longer section. It is used also as an emphatic pronoun (in combination with another pronoun or occasionally with 1st person verb in sense of emphatic 1st person), for example in the expression so'ha.m "I" (literally "that I"). In combination with a noun it is again emphatic and may sometimes be translated "the". The masculine and feminine demonstrative (anaphoric) pronouns are as above, the neuter inflections are:-

Singular Plural
Nom. and Acc. ta.m or tad taani

Another form of the demonstrative pronoun is used to denote a present object or person, corresponding roughly to the English "he", "she", "it", and "this" (also to "that" when the object is pointed at, i.e. present). It may be called a "deictic" pronoun, pointing to someone or something present to the hearers in direct speech. The inflections are the same, with the prefix e :-

Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nom. eso (sometimes esa) esaa eta.m or etad ete etaa etaani
Acc. eta.m eta.m

Another demonstrative pronoun, also "deictic" or "present" and translatable "he", "she", "it", or "this" and so hardly distinguishable in meaning from eta(d), is inflected as follows:-

Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nom. aya.m ida.m ime imaa imaani
Acc. ima.m

There being no "definite article" in Pali the demonstrative pronouns are sometimes used where English would use the definite article, and may sometimes be translated "the" rather than "he", "that", "this", etc.

Demonstrative pronouns must agree in number and gender with the nouns to which they refer.

The Verb as

The verb as, "to be", asserts with emphasis the existence of something or somebody. (On the other hand hoti is not emphatic and is used also to state attributes: the minister is a priest, etc., and of something which happens or "becomes": a man is/becomes pleased, etc. The usual and more emphatic verb for "becomes", "comes into existence", however, is uppajjati - third conjugation.). The verb as is very irregular; the present tense is as follows:-

Singular Plural
3rd person atthi santi
2nd person asi attha
1st person asmi or amhi amha (sometimes amhaa)

Frequently as is used, unlike other verbs, at the beginning of a statement: "There is..." The meaning is emphatic assertion of what is stated.


There are two main negative indeclinables, na and maa. The first is the usual negative "not", placed in front of the word or phrase negated, or at the beginning of a negative sentence:-

tva.m na passasi, "you do not see"

The vowel of na is often elided when the word following it begins with a vowel:-

n'atthi, "it is not", "it doesn't exist"

The second negative is used for prohibitions or negative injunctions or wishes, usually with the second person of the aorist tense, which loses its time reference and applies to the present or future (sometimes a verb otherwise augmented appears without the augment in this construction):-

maa paridevesi, "don't grieve"

More rarely maa appears, sometimes with the particle eva, or h'eva, with the third person of the verb:-

maa h'eva raajaa kaalam akaasi, "may the king not die" (maa h'eva means "don't" or simply "not").

maa with the third person appears regularly in polite address.

A double negation is equivalent to a strong affirmation:-

maa h'eva kho kumaaro na rajja.m kaaresi, "don't let the prince not rule (kaaresi: aorist 3rd singular) the kingdom (rajja.m)", i.e. let him rule, he must rule.

Aorist of vac

The aorist of the verb vac, to say, is very irregular:-

Singular Plural
3rd person avoca avocu.m
2nd person avoca (also avaca) avocuttha (also avacuttha)
1st person avoca.m avocumha (or -umhaa)

Vocative Case

The vocative case, or "nominative of address", of masculine nouns in a has in the singular merely the uninflected stem: deva, "O king". The plural is the same as the nominative plural. The vocative is used "enclitically", i.e. it does not stand at the beginning of a sentence.


Verb of the first conjugation:-


Masculine nouns in a:-