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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 XI


529. Under the term "indeclinables" are included all those words which are incapable of any grammatical declension, that is: adverbs, prefixes, propositions, conjunctions and interjections.


530. Adverbs may be divided into three groups:

  1. Derivative adverbs, formed by means of suffixes.
  2. Case-form adverbs.
  3. Pure adverbs.

531. (i) Derivative adverbs

  1. These are formed by the addition to pronominal stems, and to the stems of nouns and adjectives, of certain suffixes.
  2. Under this head come the "Adverbial derivatives from numerals" given in (279), and the "Pronominal derivatives" given in (336). The student ought now to read again these two classes of adverbs.
  3. The suffix to (346), is also added to prepositions, nouns and adjectives, to form a very large class of adverbs; -to is an ablative suffix (120) and therefore the adverbs formed with it have an ablative sense.
    1. From prepositions: abhito, near; parato, further.
    2. From nouns:
      dakkhi.nato, southerly, on the south;
      paaciinato, easterly, on the east;
      pi.t.thito, from the surface, from the back, etc.;
      paarato, from the further shore;
      orato, from the near shore.
    3. From adjectives: sabbato, everywhere.
  4. Suffixes tra and tha (346), showing place, are also used with adjectives: a~n~natha or a~n~natra, elsewhere; sabbatha, everywhere; ubhayattha, in both places.
  5. Suffix daa (345), is likewise used with adjectives and numerals: ekadaa, once; sadaa = sabbadaa, at all times, always.
  6. dhi is used like dhaa (28, 283): sabbadhi, everywhere.
  7. Suffixes so and saa (122, c, d) likewise form adverbs: bahuso, in a great degree; atthaso, according to the sense; balasaa, forcibly.
  8. iti, (347) is extensively used as the particle of quotation; it is often abbreviated to ti (See Syntax).

532. (ii) Case-form adverbs Some cases of pronouns, and adjectives, are used adverbially.

  1. Accusative case. This case is very much used adverbially: ki.m, why?; ta.m, there; ida.m, here; ya.m, because, since; from pronouns.
  2. The Instrumentive. This case also is much used adverbially.
  3. The Dative case. The adverbial use of the dative is restricted to atthaaya, for the sake of, for the purpose of; ciraaya, for a long time; hitaaya, for the benefit of.
  4. The Ablative case, is used frequently in an adverbial sense; especially so is the case with pronouns: kasmaa, why?; yasmaa, because; tasmaa, therefore; pacchaa, behind, after; aaraa, afar off; he.t.thaa, below.
  5. The Genitive case is seldom used adverbially; from pronouns we have: kissa why?; from adjectives: cirassa, long; from nouns: hetussa, causally.
  6. The Locative is very often used adverbially: baahire, outside; duure, far; aviduure, not far; samiipe, santike, near; rahasi, privately, in secret; bhuvi, on earth, on the earth.

(iii) Pure adverbs By these are understood the adverbs which are not obtained by derivation and which are not case-forms; such are:

The above particles are called nipaataa by the grammarians, they number about two hundred.


Verbal prefixes have already been treated of (514).

Inseparable prefixes

  1. a, and before a vowel an, not, without, free from.
    e.g. abhaya, free from fear; abaala, not foolish; apassanto, not seeing; anaaloketva, without looking.
  2. du and before a vowel dur, bad, ill, hard difficult.
    e.g. dubba.n.no (33. Remark), ugly, ill-favoured; dubbiniito, ill conducted; duddamo, difficult to tame; duggo, difficult to pass; dujjano, a bad man; dukkaro, difficult to perform; dujjiiva.m, a hard life.
  3. su has the contrary meaning of du: good, well, easy. It implies excess, facility, excellence.
    e.g. subhaasito, well-spoken; subahu, very much; sudanto, well-tamed; sukaro, easy to perform; sulabho, easy to be obtained.

    Remarks. After du, the initial consonant is generally reduplicated; reduplication seldom takes place after su.

  4. sa, which is used instead of sam, (516), expresses the ideas of "possession, similarity; with, and; like; including."
    e.g. sabhaariya, with (his) wife; salajja, having shame, ashamed; sabhoga, wealthy; savihaarii, living with; sadevaka, including the worlds of gods.

    Remarks. The particle sa is the opposite of particle a, an.


533. It has been seen that verbal prefixes are proper prepositions and are used with nouns as well as verbs.

534. Many adverbs are used with a prepositional force along with nouns. Those of class (ii) case-form adverbs, are seldom used as prepositions, except perhaps those in -to.

535. Prepositions, or words used prepositionally may govern any case, except the Nominative and Vocative.

536. Most of the verbal prefixes require the noun to be in one case or other.

537. The cases mostly used with prepositions or prepositional adverbs are: the Genitive, the Instrumentive and the Accusative. But only a few are used separately from the noun they govern. For examples, see "Syntax of Substantives".


538. Indeclinables distinctly conjunctive are very few. The principal are:

  1. Copulative: ca, and, also, but, even. It is never used as the first word in a sentence; atha, and, then, now; atho, and also then.
  2. Disjunctive: vaa, (never at the start of a sentence) uda, uda vaa, or vaa ... vaa, either or; yadi vaa, whether; yadi vaa ... yadi vaa, whether or; atha vaa, or else, rather; na vaa, or not; tathaa pi, nevertheless.
  3. Conditional: yadi, sace, if; ce (never at the beginning of a sentence) if; yadi eva.m, yajj'eva.m, if so.
  4. Causal: hi, for, because; certainly.


General Remarks. The use of some particles will be given in the chapter on Syntax.