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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
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A Practical Grammar of the Paali Language

Chapter VI*

Formation of Feminine Bases of Nouns and Adjectives

*This chapter has for the most part been adopted from the niruttiidipanii.

168. From what has been already said (116, d) about grammatical gender, it will be easily understood that the gender of substantives will be better learned from the dictionary. The student will already have remarked, however, that:

169. All nouns the stem of which ends in a, and the Nom. sing. in o, are masculine.

Stem Nom. Sing. Masc.
siiha, lion. siiho.
assa, horse. asso.
hattha, the hand. hattho.
daara, wife. daaro.

170. All nouns the stem of which ends in o, and the Nom. sing. in a.m, are neuter.

Stem Nom. Sing. Neut.
citta, the mind. citta.m.
ruupa, an image. ruupa.m.
bhatta, rice. bhatta.m.
hita, benefit. hita.m.
bhaya, fear. bhaya.m.

171. All nouns the stem of which ends in aa, and the Nom. sing. in aa are feminine.

Stem Nom. Sing. Fem.
vaacaa, a word. vaacaa.
naavaa, a boat. naavaa.
saalaa, a hall. saalaa.
gaathaa, a stanza. gaathaa.
puujaa, worship. puujaa.

Remarks. The masculine nouns with stems in aa (128) are very few in number and rarely met with. Although included by all native grammarians, as has already been remarked, in the vowel-declension, they properly belong to the consonantal-declension. For instance, the true stem of saa, a dog is san (Sanskrit ïvan); that of maa, the moon, is mas (Sansk. maas); again, the true stem of ga.n.diivadhanva, Arjuna, is ga.n.diivadhanvan.

172. All nouns whose stem ends in ii and the Nom. sing. also in ii are feminine.

Stem Nom. Sing. Fem.
mahii, the earth. mahii.
siihii, lioness. siihii.
bhisii, a mat. bhisii.
raajinii, a queen. raajinii.
bhuumii, the earth. bhuumii.

173. There are also some masculine nouns whose Nom. sing ends in ii. As a general rule, the masc. nouns of this class are adjectives used substantively; they properly belong to the consonantal-declension, and their stems end in -in.

174. There are no neuter nouns in ii.

175. Nouns the stem of which ends in u, are either masculine, feminine or neuter. The gender is best learned from the dictionary.

176. All pure substantives whose stem ends in uu and the Nom sing, also in uu are feminine.

Stem Nom. Sing. Fem.
camuu, an army. camuu.
paaduu, a shoe. paaduu.
sassuu, mother-in-law. sassuu.
bhuu, the earth. bhuu.
vadhuu, daughter-in-law. vadhuu.

Remarks. This class is not numerous.

177. Masculine nouns the stem of which ends in u and the Nom. sing. in uu, are properly not pure substantives, but adjectives, sometimes used substantively.

Stem Adjective substantival use Nom. Sing. Masc.
abhibhuu, mastering. chief, conqueror. abhibhuu.
vedaguu, knowing the vedas. a sage, a savant. vedaguu.
magga~n~nuu, knowing the Way. a saint. magga~n~nuu.

178. There are no neuter nouns the stem of which ends in uu.

179. The above rules, though meagre, will somewhat help the student to discriminate the gender of nouns.

180. As in other languages, many feminine substantives are derived from the base or stem of masculine substantives by means of certain suffixes.

181. The suffixes used in Paali to form feminine bases are:

  1. aa, ikaa, akaa.
  2. ii, ikinii.
  3. nii, inii.
  4. aa, nii.

182. Feminine Bases of Substantives

183. Many feminine bases are derived from masculine ones ending in a by means of aa and ii.

184. Examples with aa

Remarks. Feminine bases formed with aa, are not very numerous, and most of them can also be formed with ii or inii, or ikaa.

Masc. base Fem. base
maanusa a man. maanusaa, a woman.
assa, a horse. assaa, a mare.
kumbhakaara, a potter. kumbhakaaraa, a potter's wife.
ka.tapuutana, a demon. ka.tapuutanaa, a she-demon.
vallabha, a favourite. vallabhaa, a favourite woman.

185. Examples with ii

Remarks. Feminine bases derived from the masculine by means of ii are very numerous.

Masc. base Fem. base
siiha, lion. siihii, lioness.
miga, deer. migii, doe.
kumaara, boy, prince. kumaarii, girl, princess.
maa.nava, a young man. maa.navii, a young woman.
saama.nera, a novice. saama.nerii, a novice (fem.)

186. The feminine of many patronymics is also formed by means of ii.

Masc. base Fem. base
kacchaayana. kacchaayanii.
vaase.t.tha. vase.t.thii.
gotama. gotamii.

187. Nouns in ka (mostly adjectives used substantively) form their feminine in ikaa or ikinii.

Masc. base Fem. base
naavika, a boatman. naavikaa, naavikinii.
paribbaajaka, a wandering ascetic. paribbaajikaa, paribbaajikinii.
pa.msukuulika, a monk wearing robes made of picked-up rags. pa.msukuulikinii, pa.msukuulikaa, a nun wearing robes made of picked-up rags.
kumaaraka, a boy. kumaarikaa, a girl.

188. Examples with inii

Masc. base Fem. base
raajaa, king. raajinii, queen.
kumbhakaara, potter. kumbhakaarinii, potter's wife.
miga, deer. miginii, doe.
siiha, lion. siihinii, lioness.
yakkha, an ogre. yakkhinii, an ogress.

189. Examples with nii

Remarks. The suffix nii is used after masculine bases ending in i, ii, and u, uu. The ii and uu of the base are shortened before nii.

Masc. base Fem. base
bhikkhu, Buddhist monk. bhikkhunii, Buddhist nun.
bandhu, a relative. bandhunii, a female relative.
pa.tu, a wise man. pa.tunii, a wise woman.
dhamma~n~nuu, a pious man. dhamma~n~nunii, a pious woman.
da.n.dii, a mendicant. da.n.dinii, a female mendicant.
brahmacaarii, one who lives the higher life. brahmacaarinii, a woman who lives the higher life, a religious student.
hatthi, an elephant. hatthinii, female elephant.

190. Examples with aanii

191. A few nouns form their feminine by means of the suffix aanii.

Masc. base Fem. base
maatula, uncle. maatulaanii, aunt.
vaaru.na. varu.naanii.
khattiya, a nobleman. khattiyaanii, a noblewoman.
aacariya, a teacher. aacariyaanii.
gahapati, householder. gahapataanii, householder's wife.

Remarks. Note that in gahapati, final i is dropped before aanii.

192. Some nouns assume two or more feminine forms.

Masc. base Fem. base
atthakaama, one wishing to be useful. atthakaamaa, atthakaamii, atthakaaminii.
kumbhakaara, potter. kumbhakaaraa, kumbhakaarii, kumbhakaarinii.
yakkha, ogre. yakkhii, yakkhinii.
naaga, snake, elephant. naagii, naaginii.
miga, deer. migii, miginii.
siiha, lion. siihii, siihinii.
byaggha, tiger. byagghii, byagghinii.
kaakaa, a crow. kaakii, kaakinii.
maanusa, a man. maanusaa, maanusii, maanusinii.

193. The suffixes used for the formation of adjectival feminine bases are the same as those given above (181), that is:-

194. Of adjectives the stem of which ends in a, some form their feminine in aa, some in ii.

195. Adjectives ending in i, ii, and u, uu, form their feminine by adding nii (189), before which long ii and uu are shortened. (For examples see Chapter VII. Adjectives.)