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A Practical Grammar of the Pāli Language
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
For free distribution, as a gift of Dhamma.

A Practical Grammar of the Paali Language

Chapter II

Sandhi (Euphony)

14. Sandhi (union) is that part of the grammar which treats of the euphonic changes that occur when one word is joined to another.

15. Generally these changes occur

(a) When a word ending in a vowel is joined to a word beginning with a vowel.

(b) When a word ending in a vowel, is joined to another word beginning with a consonant.

(c) When a word ending in niggahiita (.m) is followed by a word beginning either with a vowel or with a consonant.

16. From the above it will be seen that sandhi is of three kinds:

(I) Vowel-sandhi, (II) Mixed sandhi and (III) Niggahiita-sandhi.

Remarks. It is not absolutely necessary that the student should master thoroughly the rules of sandhi before beginning the study of the other chapters; but he should read them once carefully, and always refer to them whenever in the course of his reading he finds forms and combinations that puzzle him.

I. Vowel-Sandhi

17. A vowel before another vowel is elided.

Elision of a, yassa + indriyaani = yassindriyaani.
ajja + uposatho = ajjuposatho.
Elision of aa, maa + aavuso evaruupa.m akaasi = maavuso, etc.
tadaa + u.t.thahi = tadu.t.thahi.
Elision of i, udadhi + uumiyo = udadhuumiyo.
aggi + aahito = aggaahito.
Elision of ii, bhikkhunii + ovaado = bhikkhunovaado.
migii + iva = migiva.
Elision of u, dhaatu + aayatanaani = dhaataayatanaani.
dhaatu + indriyaani = dhaatindriyaani.
Elision of uu, jambuu + aadiini = jambaadiini.
jambuu + iirita vaatena = jambiirita vaatena.
Elision of e, laddho me + okaaso = laddho m'okaaso.
gaathaa me + udiiritaa = gaathaa m'udiiritaa.
Elision of o, eso + aavuso aayasmaa = es'aavuso aayasmaa.

Remarks. When ii is followed by a vowel it is very seldom elided: in the expression tu.nhassa, however, we have an example of its elision; tu.nhassa = tu.nhii + assa; tu.nhii ahesu.m, remains without change.

18. A vowel coming after another vowel may, if it is dissimilar, be elided.


(i) cakkhu + indriya.m = cakkhundriya.m.
(ii) yassa + idaani = yass'idaani.

19. The first vowel having been elided the following vowel may be lengthened.


(i) tatra + aya.m = tatraaya.m.
(ii) sa + atthika = saatthika.
(iii) kiki + iva = kikiiva.
(iv) kamma + upanissayo = kammuupanissayo.

(Note: A short vowel, a, i, u, is lengthened by putting a "-" (Dash) over it).

20. Sometimes the second vowel having been elided, the preceding vowel is lengthened.


(i) vi + atimaanenti = viitimaanenti.
(ii) ki.msu + idha vitta.m = ki.msuudha vitta.m.

21. Generally:

(i) a or aa + i or ii = e.
(ii) a or aa + u or uu = o.


I. a or aa + i or ii

(i) upa + ikkhati = upekkhati.
(ii) jina + iiritanayo = jineritanayo.
(iii) ava + ecca = avecca.
(iv) bandhussa + iva = bandhusseva.


(a) iti preceded by a becomes aati, as:
(i) tassa + iti = tassaati.
(ii) tissa + iti = tissaati.

(b) i may be elided after a; as:
(i) pana + ime = pana'me.
(ii) tena + ime = tena'me.

(c) Sometimes aa + i becomes i; as:
seyyathaa + ida.m = seyyathida.m.

II. a or aa + u or uu

(i) canda + udayo = candodayo.
(ii) na + upeti = nopeti.
(iii) udaka + uumi = udakomi.
(iv) yathaa + udaka = yathodaka.

22. When two vowels of the same organ meet, the result is generally long: that is,

a + a = aa, a + aa = aa, aa + a = aa, aa + aa = aa.
i + i = ii, i + ii = ii, ii + i = ii, ii + ii = ii.
u + u = uu, u + uu = uu, uu + u = uu, uu + uu = uu.


(i) ~naa.na + aalokena = ~naa.naalokena.
(ii) demi + iti = demiiti.

23. i and u may, before verbs beginning with a vowel, remain unchanged.


(i) gaathaahi ajjhabhaasi.
(ii) adhivaasesi aviha~n~namaano.
(iii) satthu adaasi.

24. A final vowel may remain unchanged before any other vowel when not followed by iti, in the following cases:

(a) In nouns in the vocative case: kassappa eta.m.

(b) In a word ending in a long vowel if it does not form a compound with the following word: bhagavaa u.t.thaayaasanaa.

(c) After particles, vowels remain unchanged.


(i) atho + anto ca = atho anto ca.
(ii) atha kho + aayasmaa = atha kho aayasmaa.
(iii) no + atikkamo = no atikkamo.

Remarks. The particles, called nipaata, are indeclinable; they are rather numerous. The following are a few of them and the most common: atho, atha, yeva, adho, yathaa, tathaa, taava, yaava, eva, ivaa, va, re, are, ca, hi, tu, kacci, kho, khalu, kira, pana, ce, nanu, nuuna, naama, etc., etc.1

1 There are two kinds of indeclinable words: the nipaata or adverbs and the upasagga, or prepositions. The latter number only 20: aa, u, ati, pati, pa, pari, ava, paraa, adhi, abhi, anu, upa, apa, api, sa.m, vi, ni, nii, su, du, (saddaniiti: catupadavibhaaga). All the other indeclinables are of course nipaata.

Note. Final vowels before particles beginning with a, i, e, as: atha, iva, eva, follow the rules of sandhi, as;
(i) itthii + iti = itthiiti.
(ii) sabbe + eva = sabbe'va.
(iii) so + eva = sveva.
(iv) na + ettha = n'ettha.

(d) i and u before a verb may remain unchanged: (see 23)

25. The vowel e, when followed by a long dissimilar vowel and also when followed by a short dissimilar vowel followed by a conjunct consonant, may be elided.


(i) me + aasi = m'aasi.
(ii) sace + assa = sac'assa.

26. After o, a vowel is usually elided.


(i) yo + aha.m = yo'ha.m.
(ii) cattaaro + ime = cattaaro'me.

Transformation of Vowels into Semi-vowels

27. The vowels i, u, e, o, when followed by another vowel may be transformed into their semi-vowels

(i) The semi-vowel of i, and e, is y.
(ii) The semi-vowel of u and o, is v.

(a) Final i, before a dissimilar vowel is changed to y.


(i) vi + aakaasi = vyaakaasi.
(ii) vitti + anubhuyyate = vittyanubhuyyate.
(iii) daasi + aha.m = daasyaaha.m.

Remarks. iti + eva = itveva.

(b) In such words as: me, te, ke, ye, etc., e is changed to y, and, if the a following e stands before a single consonant it is lengthened to aa.


(i) me + aha.m = myaaha.m.
(ii) me + aya.m = myaaya.m.
(iii) te + aya.m = tyaaya.m.
(iv) te + aha.m = tyaaha.m.
(v) ke + assa = kyassa (34).


(a) Final e may be elided before a long vowel: me + aasi = m'aasi.
(b) Final e may be elided before a short vowel followed by a double consonant: sace + assa = sac'assa.
(c) Final e sometimes elides a following vowel:
        (i) te + ime = te'me.
        (ii) sace + ajja = sace'jja.
(d) Final e + a may give aa: sace + aya.m = sacaaya.m.

(c) When u is followed by a dissimilar vowel, it is changed to v.


(i) anu + eti = anveti.
(ii) dhaatu + anta = dhaatvanta.
(iii) dhaatu + attha = dhaatvattha.
(iv) bahu + aabaadho = bahvaabaadho.
(v) su + aagata.m = svaagata.m.
(vi) anu + a.d.dhamaasa.m = anva.d.dhamaasa.m.


(a) Final u may be elided before a dissimilar vowel: sametu + aayasmaa = samet'aayasmaa.
(b) Not seldom, u + i gives uu: saadhu + iti = saadhuuti.

(d) Final o, may be changed to v before a dissimilar vowel.


(i) ko + attho = kvattho.
(ii) agamaa nu kho + idha = agamaa nu khvidha.
(iii) yato + adhikara.na.m = yatvadhikara.na.m.
(iv) yo + aya.m = yvaaya.m.


Final o before a long vowel or a short vowel followed by a double consonant, is generally elided:
(i) kuto + ettha = kut'ettha.
(ii) tato + uddha.m = tat'uddha.m.
(iii) tayo + assu = tay'assu.


1. The change of u and o, to v occurs chiefly when u or o, comes after one of the following consonants: k, kh, t, th, d, na, y, s and h (saddaniiti, part III sandhisuttamaalaa).

2. Sometimes, after i or ii, y is inserted before a word beginning with a vowel, to avoid hiatus:
(i) aggi + aagaare = aggiyaagaare.
(ii) sattamii + atthe = sattamiiyatthe.

3. Similarly, to avoid a hiatus, a v is inserted between final u and another vowel:
(i) du + a`ngika.m = duva`ngika.m.
(ii) bhikkhu + aasane = bhikkhuvaasane. (See below Consonantal Insertions.)

Consonantal Insertions

28. (a) Not seldom, to avoid a hiatus, a consonant is inserted between two vowels.

(b) The consonants thus inserted are: y, v, m, d, n, t, r, l(= .l), and h. (Saddaniitii gives also, h.)

(c) Of these, the most frequently used are: d, r, m, y and v.

Remarks. Some of these consonants are mere revivals from the older language, as in: puna + eva = punareva. Here, the r is simply revived.

Examples of Insertion of Consonants

Insertion of y:
(i) na + imassa = nayimassa.
(ii) maa + evam = maayeva.m.
(iii) santi + eva = santiyeva.

Insertion of v:
(i) bhuu + aadaaya = bhuuvaadaaya.
(ii) migii bhantaa + udikkhati = migii bhantaa vudikkhati.
(iii) pa + uccati = pavuccati.

Insertion of m:
(i) idha + aahu = idhamaahu.
(ii) lahu + essati = lahumessati.
(iii) bhaayati + eva = bhaayatimeva.

Insertion of d:
(i) saki + eva = sakideva.
(ii) taava + eva = taavadeva.
(iii) sammaa + a~n~naa = sammaada~n~naa.

Remarks. The insertion of d, is constant after the particle u, and very frequent after: saki.m, kenaci, ki~nci, kinni~nci, koci, sammaa, yaava, taava, puna; as well as after the bases of pronouns such as: ya, ta, sa etc.2, as:
u + aggo = udaggo;
u + apaadi = udapaadi;
kenaci + eva = kenacideva;
yaava + attha.m = yaavadattha.m;
puna + eva = punadeva;
ta + attha.m = tadattha.m;
ta + antaro = tadantaro;
eta + attha.m = etadattha.m.

Insertion of n:
(i) ito + aayati = itonaayati.
(ii) cira.m + aayati = cira.m naayati or cirannaayati (30).

Insertion of t:
(i) yasmaa + iha = yasmaatiha.
(ii) ajja + agge = ajjatagge.

Remarks. The insertion of t, mostly takes place after the words: yaava, taava, ajja, before iha and agga.

Insertion of r:
(i) ni + antara.m = nirantara.m.
(ii) ni + oja.m = niroja.m.
(iii) du + atikkamo = duratikkamo.
(iv) du + aajaano = duraajaano.
(v) paatu + ahosi = paaturahosi.
(vi) catu + aarakkhaa = caturaarakkhaa.

2 mahaaruupasiddhi (sandhi). It must, however, be remarked that the d is, in most words, a survivance from the older language; Sansk, has invariably preserved it. Thus u, of the native Paali grammarians is but the Sansk: ud; so ...ci, ...cid. etc.


1. Between tathaa eva and yathaa eva, ri is often inserted; the aa preceding is shortened and the e of eva elided: tathariva, yathariva.

2. This consonant r, is generally inserted after: the particles: ni, du, paatu, puna, dhi, paata, catu, and a few others. In most cases it is simply revived.

Insertion of l = .l:
(i) cha + a`ngaam = cha.la`nga.m.
(ii) cha + a.msa = cha.la.msa.

Remarks. l = .l is generally inserted after cha (six).

Insertion of h:
(i) su + ujuca = suhujuca.
(ii) su + u.t.thita.m = suhu.t.thita.m.

II. Consonantal Sandhi

29. Consonantal sandhi occurs when a word ending in a vowel is followed by a word beginning with a consonant.

30. In the majority of cases, Consonantal sandhi is resorted to, to meet the exigencies of metres but not always.

31. Before a consonant, a long vowel may be shortened:
(i) yathaa + bhaavi + gu.nena = yathabhaavigu.nena.
(ii) yi.t.tha.m vaa huta.m vaa loke = yi.t.tha.m va huta.m va loke.

32. A vowel, before a consonant, if short, may be lengthened:
(i) eva.m gaame muni care = eva.m gaame muni care.
(ii) du + rakkha.m = duurakkha.m.
(iii) su + rakkha.m = suurakkha.m.

33. A consonant following a word or a particle ending in a vowel, is generally reduplicated.


(i) idha + pamaado = idhappamaado.
(ii) su + pa.t.thito = suppa.t.thito.
(iii) vi + payutto = vippayutto.
(iv) a + pativattiyo = appativattiyo.
(v) pa + kamo = pakkamo.
(vi) yathaa + kama.m = yathakkama.m. (34)
(vii) anu + gaho = anuggaho.
(viii) vi + jotati = vijjotati.
(ix) kata + ~nuu = kata~n~nuu.
(x) du + labho = dullabho.
(xi) du + siilo = dussiilo.


1. v, after a vowel becomes bb:
(i) ni + vaana.m = nibbaana.m.
(ii) ni + vaayati = nibbaayati.
(iii) du + vinicchayo = dubbinicchayo.

2. Reduplication of the consonants takes place generally after the prefixes: u, upa, pari, ati, pa, a, anu, etc.

3. The constant rule in reduplication is that an aspirate is reduplicated by an unaspirate, and an unaspirate by an unaspirate. That is to say, an unaspirate is reduplicated by itself.

34. The vowel preceding a conjunct consonant being prosodically long, the naturally long vowels: aa, ii, uu, are not allowed to stand before a double consonant.

35. When, according to para (33), a consonant is reduplicated after a particle ending in a long vowel, this vowel is shortened:
(i) aa + kamati = akkamati.
(ii) paraa + kamo = parakkamo.


There are, however, a few exceptions to paras 34, 35. The following are the most common examples:
(i) na + a~n~na = naa~n~na.
(ii) na + assa = naassa.
(iii) na + assu = naassu.
(iv) kasmaa + assa = kasmaassa.
(v) tatra + assa = tatraassa.
(vi) sa + antevaasiko = saantevaasiko.
(vii) sa + atthi = saatthi.
(viii) vedanaa + khandho = vedanaakkhandho, etc.

36. (a) Before a consonant, the o in so, eso, may be changed to a:
(i) eso dhammo or esa dhammo.
(ii) so muni or sa muni.

(b) Sometimes, this change occurs even before a vowel, thus creating a hiatus, which is allowed to remain: so attho or sa attho.

(c) The same change (of o to a), occurs also, but not so frequently, in: ayo (iron), mano (the mind), tamo (darkness), paro (other), tapo (penance, mortification) and a few others: ayopatta.m or ayapatta.m, etc.

III. Niggahiita Sandhi

37. Niggahiita sandhi takes place when a word ending in .m (niggahiita) is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, or with a consonant.

38. Niggahiita when followed by a consonant, may, remain unchanged.


(i) ta.m dhamma.m kata.m.
(ii) ta.m kha.na.m.
(iii) ta.m patto.

39. Niggahiita, followed by a consonant, may be transformed to the nasal of the class to which that consonant belongs.


(i) ra.na.m + jaho = rana~njaho.
(ii) ta.nha.m + karo = ta.nha`nkaro.
(iii) sa.m + .thito = sa.n.thito.
(iv) juti.m + dharo = jutindharo.
(v) sa.m + mato = sammato.
(vi) eva.m + kho = eva`n kho.
(vii) dhamma.m + ca = dhamma~nca.
(viii) ta.m + niccuta.m = tanniccuta.m.

Remarks. Before initial l, the niggahita of sa.m and pu.m is changed to l:
(i) sa.m + lakkha.naa = sallakkha.naa.
(ii) pa.ti sa.m liino = pa.tisalliino.
(iii) sa.m + lekko = sallekho.
(iv) pu.m + li`nga.m = pulli`nga.m.

40. Niggahiita, followed by e or h is changed to ~n~n and ~nh respectively.
(i) ta.m + eva = ta~n~neva.
(ii) paccantara.m + eva = paccantara~n~neva.
(iii) eva.m + hi kho = eva~nhi kho.
(iv) ta.m + hitassa = ta~nhitassa.

41. y following niggahiita, becomes assimilated to it, and both together may become ~n~n:
(i) sa.m + yutta.m = sa~n~nutta.m.
(ii) sa.m + yogo = sa~n~nogo.

Remarks. Not seldom, no coalescence takes place, and both letters remain unchanged: sa.myutta.m; sa.myojana.m.

42. When preceding a vowel, niggahiita becomes m:
(i) ta.m + attha.m = tam attha.m.
(ii) ya.m + aahu = yam aahu.
(iii) ki.m + eta.m = kim eta.m.

Remarks. Rules 39 and 42, are not strictly adhered to in texts edited in Roman characters; in prose above all, niggahiita is allowed to remain unchanged before a vowel or a consonant, even in the middle of a word sometimes; in poetry, the retention of niggahiita or its change to m before a vowel, is regulated by the exigencies of the metres.

43. Sometimes, niggahiita before a vowel, may become d:
(i) eta.m + attho = etadattho.
(ii) eta.m + eva = etadeva.
(iii) eta.m + avoca = etadavoca.
(iv) ya.m + anantara.m = yadanantara.m.
(v) ya.m + ida.m = yadida.m.

Remarks. The change of niggahiita into d is more fictitious than real; in most examples, the d is simply a survivance. (See Insertion of consonants).

44. Niggahiita, before a vowel or a consonant may be elided:
(i) taasa.m + aha.m santike = taasaaha.m santike.
(ii) ariyasaccaana.m + dassana.m = ariyasaccaanadassana.m.
(iii) eta.m buddhaana.m + saasana.m = eta.m buddhaanasaasana.m.

45. A niggahiita may sometimes be inserted before a vowel or a consonant:
(i) ava siro = ava.msiro.
(ii) manopubba gamaa = manopubba`ngamaa.
(iii) cakkhu + udapaadi = cakkhu.m udapaadi.
(iv) yaava c'idha bhikkhave = yaava~nc'idha.

46. After niggahiita, a vowel may be elided:
(i) ki.m + iti = kinti.
(ii) ida.m + api = ida.m pi.
(iii) cakka.m + iva = cakka.m va.
(iv) kali.m + idaani = kali.m 'daani or kalin daani.

Interchange of Letters

47. Not unfrequently an interchange of letters takes place:
(i) dh becomes h; rudhira = ruhira.
(ii) d becomes t; sugado = sugato.
(iii) t becomes .t; pahato = paha.to.
(iv) t becomes d; gantabba = gandabba.
(v) g becomes k; hatthupaga = hatthupaka.
(vi) r becomes l; paripanno = palipanno.
(vii) y becomes j; gavayo = gavajo.
(viii) k becomes y; sake pure = saye pure.
(ix) j becomes y; nija.mputta.m = niya.mputta.m.
(x) t becomes k; niyato = niyako.
(xi) k becomes kh; nikamati = nikhamati.


48. As has already been said a dash (-) indicates a long vowel:
(i) aha.m sakkhii aha.m sakkhii = I am witness!
(ii) pajjalantaani pabbatakuu.taani maalaagu.labhaava.m aapannaani disvaa = seeing the blazing mountain peaks had turned into nosegays.....

49. Crasis, the contraction of two syllables into one, is shown by the circumflex accent (^):
(i) saadhu hoti, lacchasâti. all right! you'll get it.
(ii) ta.m... ga.nhissaamâti. I'll seize him!

Remarks. In most texts, crasis is expressed by a (-) dash, as used for the long vowels.

50. The elision of a vowel is expressed by an apostrophe ('):
(i) eken'uuno = ekena uuno.
(ii) idaan'eva = idaani eva.
(iii) pi'ssa = pi assa.
(iv) tass'ekadivasa.m = tassa ekadivasa.m.