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Dictionary of Grammatical Terms

With Abbreviations[1]



[OED: [f. L. ablāt- ppl. stem of aufer-re to carry away; f. ab off, away + fer-re, pa. pple. lāt-um, to bear.] a. To take away, remove.]
A noun, adjective, pronoun or numeral indicating source, agent or means, (and sometimes time or place) of an act or occurrence.
[CD: ...indicating separation, direction away from, sometimes manner or agency ... the object of certain verbs.

Ablative Absolute

abl abs

[CD:an adverbial phrase syntactically independent from the rest of the sentence and contaiing a noun plus a participle, an adjective, or a noun, both in the ablative case.


(1) The stressed syllable of a word; (2) diacritic.



The case of a noun, adjective, pronoun, participle or numeral that indicates that the word is the object of the sentence.
[CD: ...the direct objective of a verb or the object of certain prepositions.



[CD: Indicating that the subject of the sentence is performing or causing the action expressed by the verb. Used of a verb form or voice.]



Describes, qualifies or modifies a substantive



Modifies a verb or adjective or another adverb.

Adverbial clause: A clause that is used the same way as an adverb.



[OED: One of the past tenses of the Greek verb, which takes its name from its denoting a simple past occurrence, with none of the limitations as to completion, continuance, etc., which belong to the other past tenses. It corresponds to the simple past tense in English, as 'he died.']
A term borrowed from Greek grammar, denoting a tense which expresses action, usually past, where the time is indefinite or unimportant
[CD: A form of a verb that, in the indicative mood, expresses past action.]


[CD: To inflect (a verb) in its forms for distinctions such as number, person, voice, mood, and tense.]



A noun, pronoun, adjective or numeral used as the indirect object of the sentence.
[CD: ...marks the recipient oof action and is used with prepositions or other function words corresponding in meaning to English to and for.]


[CD: ...the inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives in categories such as case, number, and gender.]


[OED: Of a word or term: Having the function of naming, denominating, or describing, as an attribute; characterized by denomination..]


A mark placed over, below, across or on either side of a letter to inciate the correct pronunciation of that letter.



A word with no accent pronounced as combined with the previous accented word.



[CD: Of, relating to, or designating a case that expresses possession, measurement or source]


m, f, nut, an, inan

A classification of words according to gender. Masculine, feminine, neuter, animate or inanimate.


A verbal noun, such as the English form ending in '-ing' when used as a noun, e.g., 'We adminred the choir's singing.


[CD: The system of inflections, syntax, and word formation of a language.] Note: Languages come first, grammar is discovered after in what was created, not the reverse ... until such time as a language has fully matured at which point new words come into being in accordance with the rules of this discovered grammar.


A word with the same spelling and pronunciation as another word of the same language but having a different meaning and derivation.


A word with the same pronunciation as another word of the same language but having a different spelling, meaning and derivation.

Indirect Object

ind. obj.

The substantive indicating the person or object to, toward or for whom or which the action takes place.



The addition of endings to the stem of a word to express certain grammatical relationships and functions and aspects. E.g. First Person Singlular, past, future present...
[CD: a. An alternation of the form of a word by adding affixes, as in English dogs from dog, or by changing the form of a base, as in English spoke from speak, that indicates grammatical features such as number, person, mood, or tense. b. The paradigm of a word. c. A pattern of forming paradigms, such as noun inflection or verb inflection.]



A noun, adjective, pronoun or numeral used to indicate the agent or means through or by which the action is performed.



[CD: Of, relating to, or being an element or construction used to ask a question, e.g.: an interrogative adverb; an interrogative particle.]


A character in an alphabetical system of writing, which represents a phoneme or group of phonemes.



A case used to indicate geographical or other physical location

Locative clause: A clause used to indicate the place in, from or to which an action takes place, originates or is directed.
[CD: Of, relating to, or being a grammatical case in certain inflected languages that indicates place in or on which or time at which, as in Latin domi, 'at home'.]



A noun, pronoun, adjective, etc., used when standing alone and without any syntactical context or relationship, or when used as the subject of a sentence.



Indicates or names a person, being, object, or thing.
Proper noun: the name of one specific entity.



Indicates the differentiation between one object singular, or more than one plural.



Indicates number or quantity and relationship as to number and quantity.
cardinals: how many?
ordinals: which one in sequence?
iteratives: How many times?
multiplicatives: How many fold?
partitives: What fraction?



The smallest meaningful unit of speech consisting of one or morephenomes.



[CD: Of, relating to, or being a mood of verbs in some languages, such as Greek, used to express a wish. Designating a statement using a verb in the subjunctive mood to indicate a wish or desire, e.g., 'Had I the means, I would do it.']


[CD: Of, relatingto, or being a verb form or voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject is theobject of the action or the effect of the verb. For example, in the sentence 'They were impressed by his manner.', 'were impressed' is in the passive voice.]


A form of a verb that in some languages, such as English, can function independently as an adjective, as the past participle: 'baked' in 'We had soome baked beans', and is used with an auxiliary verb to indicate tense, aspect, or voice, as the past participle 'baked' in the passive sentence 'The beans were baked too long'.]

Past Tense, Particle, Participle


Past: A tense indicating that the action took place prior to the utterance.


 1st pers
 2nd pers
 3rd pers

Indicates the distinction between the speaker, listener and subject. The first person refers to the speaker, the second person to the person addressed, and the third person to the person, concept or thing spoken of.
see also: number


A single sound-unit of speech represented by a single character or letter of the alphebet or a group of similar sound units using the same base character where slight differences in the production of the sound is indicated by diacritics.


[CD: An affix, such as 'dis-' in 'disbelieve,' put before a word to produce a derivative word or an inflected form.]

Present Participle

[CD: A participle expressing present action, formed in English by the infinitive plus '-ing' and used to express present action in relation to the tiime indicated by the finite verb inits clause, to form progressive tenses with the auxiliary be. and to function as a verbal adjective.]


[CD: Of, relating to, or functioning as a pronoun. Resembling a pronoun, as by specifying a person, place, or thing, while functioning primarily as another part of speech. 'His' in 'his choice' is a pronominal adjective.]



A word replacing a proper name or a noun, or referring to the person, object, idea, etc. designated by a noun.


(n) ...that part of a derived word which is phonetically and semantically the vehicle of the basic meaning.
[CD: Arising from or going to a root or source; basic ... ]


See the preferred: reflexive.
[CD: designating or expressing a grammatical relation in which a verb's subject and an object in the sentence refer to the same person or thing, serving to indicate that the action of the verb is directed back to the subject. E.g. "Gary hurt himself.", "Jane threw a party for herself."

Reflexive — Reflexive Pronoun — Reflexive Verb

A personal pronoun indicating that the object of the action is identical with the agent.
A verb which indicates an action of which the subject or agent and the object are identical.

Stem; thematic morpheme


The Root of a word plus a morpheme that indicates the inflection of a word.



A noun or other word or group of words used as a noun or instead of a noun, in contradistinction to adjectives.
[CD: 1. Expressing or designating existence; for example, the verb 'to be'. 2. Designating a noun or noun equivalent.]


An affix added to the end of a word or stem, serving to form a new word or functining as an inflectional ending, such as '-ness' in 'gentleness,' '-ing' in 'walking,' or '-s' in 'sits'.


A word with the same meaning as another word of the same language.

Transitive Verb

A verb expressing an action which does not end with or is not confined to the agent; transitive verbs are capable of governing [require for completeness] a direct object.
Example: 'The shelf holds three books and a vase of flowers.'


The representation of a sound, phoneme or word or utterance of one language in the conventional symbols of another language or system of writing.



A case used for the form of direct address.
[CD: Relating to or being a grammatical case used in Latin and certain other languages to indicate the person or thing being addressed.]

Verbal Adjective

An adjective that is derived from a verb and that in some constructions, participial phrases for exampke, preserves the verb's syntactic features, such as transitivity and the capability of taking nominal or verbal complements.


[1]Freely adapted from: A Dictionary of Linguistics by Mario A. Pei and Frank Gaynor; and A Practical Grammar of the Pali Language, by Charles Duroiselle

See also: Abbreviations
University of Ottawa: Hypergrammar



Below is just a dump of Pali technical terms in grammar from the PED:

Ati: (indeclinable) [Sanskrit ati = Greek ἔτι moreover, yet, and; Latin et and, Gothic iϸ; also connected with Greek ατάρ but, Latin at but (= over, outside) Gothic aϸϸan] adverb and preposition of direction (forward motion), in primary meaning "on, and further", then "up to and beyond". I in abstract position adverbially (only as technical term in grammar): in excess, extremely, very (cf. II 3) Ja VI 133 (ati uggata Comentary = accuggata Text), 307 (ati ahitaɱ Comentary = accāhitaɱ Text).

Avayava: [derivation uncertain. Cf. mediaeval Sanskrit avayava] — limb, member, constituent, part Vv-a 53 (sarīra° = gattā). 168, 201, 276; Pv-a 211 (sarīra° = gattā), 251 (mūl° the fibres of the root). As technical term in grammar at Pj II 397.

Āyācana: (neuter) [from āyācati] 1. asking, exhortation, addressing (technical term in grammar in explanation of imperative) Pj II 43, 176, 412.

Karaṇa: [from kr̥, cf. Vedic karaṇa] 3. (absolute)(c) technical term in grammar the instrumental case (with or without °vacana) Pv-a 33; Vv-a 25, 53, 162, 174. °atthe in the sense of, with the meaning of the instrumental case Ja III 98; V 444; Pv-a 35; Vv-a 304; As 48; Kacc 157.

Kāra: [from kār-, cf. Vedic kāra song of praise, which is, however, derived from kr̥ = kir to praise; also Vedic °kāra in brāhma°, from kr̥] (b) as technical term in grammar the item, i.e. particle, letter, sound or word, e.g. ma-kāra the letter "m" Pv-a 52; ca-kāra the particle "ca" Pv-a 15; sa-kāra the sound "sa" Pj II 23.

Kiriya: Kiriyā and Kriyā [abstract from karoti] -pada (technical term in grammar) the verb (i.e. that which supplies the action) Vv-a 315;

Codanā: (feminine) [see codeti] reproof, exhortation D I 230; III 218; A III 352; Vin V 158, 159; Vism 276. — As technical term in grammar in codanatthe nipāto an exhortative particle Ja VI 211 (for iṅgha); Vv-a 237 (the same); Pv-a 88 v.l. (for handa).

Nissakka: [from nis + sakkati = sakk] "going out from," technical term in grammar a name of the ablative case Ja V 498; Vv-a 152, 154, 180, 311; Pv-a 147, 221.

Nerutta: (adjective/noun) [from nirutti] based on etymology; an etymologist or philologist Thig-a 153; Nett 8, 9, 32, 33.

Paccatta -vacana expression of separate relation, i.e. case of reference, or of the direct object, reflexive case, name of the accusative case

Patti2 5. that which obtains (as a rule), occasion, happening, state, place, as grammatical technical term locative pattiyaɱ or pattiyā (—°) in lieu of Pj II 310, 317.

Pada (neuter) [Vedic pad, pād (masculine) foot, and also pāda; pada (neuter) step cf. Greek πώς (πούς) = Latin pes, Gothic fotus = Old High German fuoz = English foot; further Arm. het track, Greek πεδά after, πέδον field, πεζός on foot, etc.; Lithuanian peda track; Anglo-Saxon fetvan = English fetch. — The declention in Pāli is vocalic (a), viz. pada; a trace of the consonant (root) declention is instrumental singular padā (Thag, 457; Snp 768), of consonant (s) declention instrumental padasā with the foot, on foot (D I 107; Ja III 371; Dhp-a I 391). — Gender is neuter, but nominative plural is frequently found as padā, e.g. at Dhp 273; Nett 192 (mūla°)] 4. a word, verse (or a quarter of a verse), stanza, line, sentence S II 36 (ekena padena sabbo attho vutto); S IV 379 = A V 320 (agga°); A II 182 (+ vyañjana and desanā); 189 (attha° text, motto); III 356 (the same); Snp 252 (= dhamma-desanā Pj II 293), 374; Dhp 273; Ja I 72 (atireka-pada-satena); Nett 4 (akkharaɱ padaɱ vyañjanaɱ, cf. nāmādīhi padehi at Pj II 397, which is to be understood as nāma, pada and vyañjana, i.e. word, sentence and letter, cf. Mvy 104, 74-76); Miln 148 (āhacca°); Pj I 169; Pj II 409 (ubhaya°), 444; Vv-a 3, 13; Pv-a 10, 26, 117 (word, term). ablative padaso (adverb) sentence by sentence or word by word Vin IV 14 (dhammaɱ vāceti = anupadaɱ Commentary; cf. Pj I 190 p. °dhamma). At Ps I 2 pada (sentence or division of a sentence) is contrasted with akkhara (word), when it is said that the Majjhima Nikāya consists of 80,523 padas and 740,053 akkharas. -attha meaning of a word Pj I 81, 84; Pj II 91. -ānupubbatā (or °ta) succession of words Nidd I 140 (in explanation of "iti"; cf. Pj II 28); Nidd II §137 (the same.; reading °ka). -uddhāra synopsis of a verse Pj II 237 (atthuddhāra + p.). -ccheda separation of words, parsing Pj II 150. -jāta (neuter) pedal character S I 86. -ṭṭhāna [cf. Sanskrit padasthāna footprint] "proximate cause" (Cpd. 13, 23) Nett 1f., 27f., 40f., 104; Vism 84. -dvaya twofold part (of a phrase), i.e. antecedent and subsequent As 164. -pāripūrī (feminine) expletive particle Nidd II §137; Pj II 28. -pūraṇa filling out a verse; as technical term gramatical expletive particle Pj II 590 (a), 139 (kho), 137 (kho pana), 378 (tato), 536 (pi), 230 (su), 416 (ha), 377 (hi); Pj I 219 (tam), 188 (su); Vv-a 10 (maya). -bhājana dividing of words, i.e. treating each word (of a phrase) separately As 234. Padabhājana The Word Analysis (also translated "Old Commentary", Commentary included in Vin); -bhājaniya division of a phrase As 54. -vaṇṇanā explanation of a pada or single verse Pj II 65, 237; Pj I 125, 132, 228. -viggaha separation of words, resolution of a compound into its components Vv-a 326. -vibhāga separation of words, parsing Pj II 269; Pv-a 34. -saɱsagga contact of words Nidd I 139; Nidd II §137; Pj II 28. -sandhi euphonic combination of words Nidd I 445; Nidd II §137; Pj I 155, 224; Pj II 28, 40, 157 etc.; Pv-a 52.

Syncope. noun. Grammar. the contraction of a word by omitting one or more sounds from the middle, as in the reduction of never to ne'er.

Purisa Vv-a 13 (majjhima°, paṭhama°, as technical terms in grammar?).

Bahu-(b)bīhi technical term in grammer, name of compounds with adjective sense, indicating possession;

Bahu-vacana (technical term in grammar) the plural number Ja IV 173; Pv-a 163;

Yoga-vibhāga dividing (division) of the relation (in grammar: to yoga 2) Pj II 266.

Yojanā (feminine) [Sanskrit yojanā, from yojeti] (grammatical) construction; exegesis, interpretation; meaning Pj I 156, 218, 243; Pj II 20, 90, 122f., 131f., 148, 166, 177, 248, 255, 313; Pv-a 45, 50, 69, 73, 139 (attha°), and passim in commentaries.

Lahukā (adjective) [lahu + ka] 3. (as technical term in grammar) light (of letters or syllables), opposite garuka Sv I 177 (with reference to the tenfold vyañjana of the dhamma).

Liṅga (neuter) [from liṅg; late Vedic and (pre-eminently) Classical Sanskrit liṅga] 3. (in grammar) mark of sex, (characteristic) ending, gender Pj II 397.

Lutta [cf. Epic Sanskrit lupta; past participle of lumpati] broken, cut off; as technical term in grammar "elided" Vv-a 13 (of ca), 111 (of iti), 122 (the same).

Vacana (neuter) [from vac; Vedic vacana]2. (technical term in grammar) what is said with regard to its grammatical, syntactical or semantic relation, way of speech, term, expression, as: āmantana° term of address Pj I 167; Pj II 435; paccatta° expression of seperate relation, i.e. the accusative case Pj II 303; piya° term of endearment Nidd II §130; Pj II 536; puna° repetition Pj II 487; vattamāna° the present tense Pj II 16, 23; visesitabba° qualifying (predicative) expression Vv-a 13; sampadāna° the dative relation Pj II 317. At Pj II 397 (combined with liṅga and other terms) it refers to the "number," i.e. singular and plural.

Vattamāna -°vacana the present tense Pj II 16, 23.

Vikappana (neuter) and °ā (feminine) [from vikappeti] 2. alternative, indecision, indefiniteness (= vikappa), as technical term in grammar applied to particles ca and vā, e.g. Pj II 179 ("ca"); Pj I 166 ("vā").

Viggaha [from vi + gah: see gaṇhati 3] 3. (grammatical technical term) resolution of words into their elements, analysis, separation of words Miln 381; Vv-a 226 (pada°); Pj II 168; Thig-a 202 (pada°).

Vibhatti (feminine) [from vibhajati]2. (technical term in grammar) inflection of nouns and verbs, declensions, conjugation Pj II 397; Vv-a 78, 199. -°lopa omission of inflection Vv-a 174, 192; Pv-a 147.

Vibhāga [from vibhajati, cf. vibhaṅga and vibhajana] distribution, division; detailing, classification Ja IV 361; Vism 494; Vibh-a 83; Thig-a 100; Vv-a 37; Pv-a 122. — pada° division of words Pj II 269; Pv-a 34.

Veyyākaraṇa (masculine neuter) [= vyākaraṇa] 1. (neuter) answer, explanation, exposition D I 46, 51, 105, 223; II 202; A III 125; V 50f.; Snp 352, 510, 1127; Pp 43, 50; Miln 347; Sv I 247. 2. (masculine) one who is expert in explanation or answer, a grammarian D I 88; A III 125; Snp 595; Miln 236; Pj II 447.

Vevacana (neuter) [from vivacana] attribute, epithet; synonym Nett 1f., 24, 53f., 82, 106; Vism 427; Pj II 24, 447. Cf. adhivacana.

Vyattaya [vi + ati + aya] opposition, reversal; in purisa° change of person (grammatical) Pj II 545; vacana° reversal of number (i.e. singular and plural) Sv I 141; Pj II 509.

Vyākaraṇa (neuter) 2. grammar (as one of the 6 aṅgas) Pj II 447; Pv-a 97.

Saṃvacana (neuter) [saṃ + vacana] sentence As 52.

Saṅkhā (feminine) and Saṅkhyā (feminine) [from saṃ + khyā] 3. denomination, definition, word, name (cf. on term K.S. I 321) S III 71f.; IV 376f.; Nidd II §617 (= uddesa gaṇanā paññatti); Dhs 1306; Miln 25. °saṅkhaṃ gacchati to be styled, called or defined; to be put into words D I 199, 201; Vin II 239; M I 190, 487; A I 68, 244 = II 113; Pp 42; Nett 66f.; Vism 212, 225, 235, 294 (khy); Pj II 167 (khy); As 11 (khy). saṅkhaṃ gata (cf. saṅkhāta) is called Sv I 41 (uyyānaṃ Ambalaṭṭhikā t'eva s. g.). saṅkhaṃ na upeti (nopeti) cannot be called by a name, does not count, cannot be defined It 54; Snp 209, 749, 911, 1074; Nidd I 327; Nidd II §617.

Saṅkhepa [saṃ + khepa] 1. abridgment, abstract, condensed account (opposite vitthāra), e.g. Vism 532, 479; Dhp I 125; Pj I 183; As 344; Pj II 150, 160, 314; Vibh-a 47. Cf. ati°.

Sadda [cf. late Vedic śabda; BHS śabda as neuter at Avś I 3] 3. word Vin I 11; It 114; Dhp-a I 15 (itthi°); Vibh-a 387 (in nirutti); Pj II 261, 318, 335. -kovida a grammarian or phonetician Pj II 321; -dhātu element of sound Dhs 707; -naya science of grammar, etymology Pj I 107; -bheda word analysis Vism 519f. -vidū a grammarian Pj II 169; -vedhin shooting by sound Mhv 23, 85; -sattha science of words, grammar Pj II 266; -siddhi analysis or correct formation of a word, grammatical explanation Pj II 304, 551.

Sākkharappabheda [sa3 + akkhara + pabheda] together with the distinction of letters, with the phonology D I 88; A I 163; Snp page 101; Miln 10; Sv I 247 (akkharappabhedo ti sikkhā ca nirutti ca).

Sikkhā (feminine) [Vedic śikṣā] 2. (as one of the 6 Vedāṅgas) phonology or phonetics, combined with nirutti (interpretation, etymology) Sv I 247 = Pj II 447.