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Introduction to Pali (1991)

Lesson 18 (sample text)

Declension of Masculine and Neuter Nouns in -i and -in

A few nouns in all genders have stems in i. The masculines and neuters are inflected as follows:-

Masculine - paa.ni, "hand" Neuter - akkhi, "eye"
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nom. paa.ni paa.nayo or paa.nii for both cases akkhi or akkhi.m for both cases akkhiini or akkhii for both cases
Acc. paa.ni.m
Inst. paa.ninaa paa.niihi Rest as masculine.
Dat. paa.nino paa.niina.m
Abl. paa.ninaa, paa.nito paa.niihi
Gen. paa.nino, paa.nissa paa.niina.m
Loc. paa.nismi.m paa.niisu

(the vocative is the same as the nominative) (the stem vowel may be long or short in the instrumental to locative plural).

The extremely rare adjectives in i follow the same declension.

The suffix in added to noun stems in place of the stem vowel forms possessive adjectives or (more rarely) nouns specialized from them. Thus from sa~n~naa, perception, is formed a stem sa~n~nin "having perception", "sentient", inflected as follows:-

Singular Plural
Nominative sa~n~nii sa~n~nino note that these cases coincide with the i declension except for the locative singular form.
Accusative sa~n~nina.m
Instrumental sa~n~ninaa sa~n~niihi
Dative sa~n~nino sa~n~niina.m
Ablative sa~n~ninaa sa~n~niihi
Genitive sa~n~nino sa~n~niina.m
Locative sa~n~nini sa~n~niisu

The feminine stem is formed by adding ii (as sa~n~ninii), it is inflected in the same way as other feminines in ii.

These possessives appear frequently as final members of compounds.

The above declensions have also forms borrowed from the pronominal declension for the ablative and locative singular:-

Ablative: paa.nismaa, paa.nimhaa; sa~n~nismaa, sa~n~nimhaa
Locative: paa.nismi.m, paa.nimhi; sa~n~nismi.m, sa~n~nimhi
(the only forms used)

Second Conjugation

Verbs of the second conjugation (rudhaadi ga.na) form present stems by strengthening the root with a nasal and adding the stem vowel a. The nasal is inserted between the root vowel and the following consonant, and is articulated in the same place as that consonant or is the pure nasal if the consonant is s. The personal endings are the same as for the first conjugation. From the root bhuj, "to eat":-

Singular Plural
3rd person bhu~njati bhu~njanti
2nd person bhu~njasi bhu~njatha
1st person bhu~njaami bhu~njaama

Similarly conjugated are:-

Other tenses:-


Comparison is effected by the use of certain suffixes added to the stems of adjectives (and occasionally of indeclinables). The usual suffix is tara, and its meaning includes both the "comparative" and the "superlative" according to the context. The suffix can be added direct to any stem ending in a vowel. Consonant stems may be used by first adding a. Comparative adjectives in tara are inflected like other adjectives in a (fem. aa).


Comparatives are constructed with the ablative of the word denoting that with which comparison is made: imamhaa... phala.m... pa.niitatara.m, "a fruit more delightful than this". The indeclinable ito, "from this", "than this", is sometimes used in comparisons. When the meaning is superlative, the ablative (= "from", "than") is replaced by the genitive (= partitive genitive, the meaning being "best of", "best among"): nesa.m...dassaniiyataro, "the most beautiful among them".

Some comparatives use other suffixes. Whereas tara is added to any stem, two special suffixes, one usually comparative and the other usually superlative, are used when the derivation is made directly from a root. They are (ii)(y)ya (comparative) and i.t.tha (superlative), inflected as adjectives in a (fem. aa). Only a few of these are commonly used:-

Some of these are used in certain forms as indeclinables (adverbs): bhiyyo, "more"; seyyo, "better".

A superlative suffix tama is rarely seen except in the pronoun katama, "which one?" (used in plural also). The sense is "which of these things?", or "which of all possible things (indefinite)?".

Ordinal Numerals

The first six ordinal numerals are as follows:-

They are declined like adjectives in a, the feminine being usually in aa except in the case of pa~ncamii (catutthii and cha.t.thii are occasionally used also).