Pali Grammatical Terms

This is a slightly revised HTML version of the section "Grammatical Terms" (pp123-134) of A Pali-English Glossary of Buddhist Technical Terms by Ven. Bhikkhu ~Naanamoli (1994, ISBN 9552400864). It is reproduced with kind permission of the publisher Buddhist Publication Society (BPS) for free distribution only. The printed book is available for sale:

You may search for terms according to:

Categories: Organised Listings
Alphabetic Order: Vocabulary


Organised Listings

Parts of speech (padajaati):

Sandhi -- liaison, euphonic junction:

Case-endings (vibhatti):

Words relating to substantives:

Verb (aakhyaata):

Particle (nipaata):

Prefix (upasagga):

ati, adhi, anu, apa, api, abhi, ava (= o), aa, u, upa, du, ni, nii, pa, pati, paaraa, pari, vi, sa.m, su

Compounds (samaasa):

  1. kammadhaaraya -- adjective compound [adj. + subs.]
    (e.g. niluppala.m: the blue waterlily)
  2. digu -- numerical determinative compound [num. + subs.]
    • samaahaara -- collective grammatically singular termination
      (e.g. tiloka.m: the three worlds)
    • asamaahaara -- individual plural termination
      (e.g. pa~ncindriyaani: the five faculties)
  3. tappurisa -- dependent determinative compound [subs. in oblique case + subs. or adj.]
    • dutiyaa-tappurisa [acc. subs. + subs. or adj.]
      (e.g. gaamagato = gaama.m gato: gone to the village)
    • tatiyaa-tappurisa [instr. subs. + subs. or adj.]
      (e.g. buddhadesito = buddhena desito: taught by the Buddha)
    • catutthii-tappurisa [dat. subs. + subs. or adj.]
      (e.g. paasaadadabba.m = paasaadaaya dabba.m: material for the palace)
    • pa~ncamii-tappurisa [abl. of sep. subs. + subs. or adj.]
      (e.g. rukkhapatito = rukkhaa patito: fallen from the tree)
    • cha.t.thii-tappurisa [gen. subs. + subs. or adj.]
      (e.g. jinavacana.m = jinassa vacana.m: the word of the Conqueror)
    • sattamii-tappurisa [loc. subs. + subs. or adj.]
      (e.g. gaamavaasii = gaame vaasii: dweller in a village)
    • alutta-samaasa[inflected subs. + subs. or adj.]
      (e.g. manasikaaro = manasi kaaro: keeping in mind, attention)
    • upapada-tappurisa -- verbal dependent determinative compound [subs. + verbal subs.]
      (e.g. kumbhakaaro = kumbha.m kaaro: pot-maker, potter)
  4. dvanda -- copulative compound [subs. + subs.]
    • samaahaara: with singular termination
      (e.g. hatthassaratha-pattika.m = hatthino ca assaa ca rathaa ca pattikaa ca: elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry)
    • asamaahaara: with plural termination
      (e.g. candasuriyaa = cando ca suriyo ca: the moon and the sun)
  5. avyayiibhaava -- adverbial compound [indecl. adv. + subs.]
    (e.g. upanagara.m = upa + nagara.m: near the town)
  6. bahubbiihi -- relative compound [combination of subs. + subs. used as adj. to qualify another subs.]
    (e.g. lohitamakkhitasiiso (puriso) = (purisassa) lohitena makkhita.m siisa.m (atthi): (a man) whose head is smeared with blood)
  7. missaka-samaasa -- complex compound
    (e.g. suranaramahito = (a) suraa ca naraa ca (dvanda); (b) suranarehi mahito (tappurisa): honoured by gods and men)

Secondary derivatives (taddhita) [subs. (or subs. + suffix) + suffix]:

  1. saama~n~na-taddhita -- general secondary derivative
    • appaccattha -- denoting lineage (suffixes = (.n)a, (.n)aana, (.n)era, (.n)eyya)
    • anekattha -- of various meanings (suffixes = (.n)ika, (.n)a, ima, iya, taa, ka, maya)
    • atthyattha -- denoting endowment, possession (suffixes = ava, ala, ila, ika, ii, vii, ssii, vantu, mantu)
    • sa`nkhyaa -- numerical derivatives [number + suffix] (suffixes = ma, tiya, ttha, ii, ka)
  2. bhaava-taddhita -- gerundial used as abstract subs. [subs. + suffix] (suffixes = taa, tta, ttana, (.n)ya, (.n)a)
  3. avyaya-taddhita -- indeclinable numbers and adverbs
    (e.g. num. + kkhattum (adv.), dhaa, so, thaa, tana)

Primary derivative (kitaka) [verbal root + suffix = substantive]:

  1. kicca -- for formation of passive particles (suffixes = tabba, aniiya, (.n)ya, (.n)iya, tayya, icca)
  2. kita -- for formation of active participles or nouns expressing an active meaning (suffixes = nta, maana, ta, etc.)

Establishment of word-meaning (pada-siddhi, sadda-siddhi):

  1. -- definition by way of instrumental sense
    (e.g. saranti etaayaa ti sati: by this they are mindful, thus it is mindfulness)
  2. kattu-saadhana -- definition by way of agent
    (e.g. saya.m saratii ti sati: this itself is mindful, thus it is mindfulness)
  3. bhaava-saadhana -- definition by way of state
    (e.g. sara.namattam eva esaa ti sati: this is mere being mindful, thus it is mindfulness)




akammaka -- intransitive verb
akkhara -- letter (of alphabet)
accantasa.myoga -- direct governance (of acc. by transitive verb)
ajjatanii -- aorist (tense)
atidesa -- extension of meaning
atiitakaala -- past tense
attanopada -- middle (voice) -- one kind of locative (= container)
anaagatakaala -- future tense
aniyamita -- relative pronoun
aniyamuddesa -- relative clause
anunaasika -- the letter .m, the nasal
anussaara -- the letter .m, the nasal
anekattha -- type of suffix
apaadaana -- function of ablative, i.e. separation
appaccattha -- type of suffix
alutta -- type of compound (see above)
avayava -- constituent of compound
avuddhika -- weak strengthening of root in vowel gradation
avyaya -- indeclinable
avyaya-taddhita -- indeclinable numerals and adverbs
avyayiibhaava -- adverbial compound
asamaahaara -- (compound) with plural termination

aakhyaata -- verb
aadhaara -- locative, support
aalapana -- vocative case

itaritara -- dvanda with plural ending
itthambhuuta-vacana -- ablative of likeness
itthili`nga -- feminine gender

uttama-purisa -- first person
upacaara -- figure of speech, metaphor
upapada-tappurisa -- verbal dependent determinative compound
upayoga-vacana -- accusative case
upasa -- prefixed vowel
upasagga -- prefix, suffix, affix

ekavacana -- singular

okaasa -- locative case

kattaa -- subject of verb
kattukaaraka -- active voice
kattusaadhana -- definition of word by way of agent
kamma -- object of word
kammakaaraka -- passive voice
kammadhaaraya -- adjectival compound -- instrumental case -- definition of word by way of instrumental sense
kaara -- letter or syllable (e.g. makaaro = the letter "ma")
kaaraka -- voice (of verb); syntax
kaarita -- causative
kaala -- tense
kaalaatipatti -- conditional derivative substantive
kicca -- function, kind of verbal noun suffix
kita -- verbal noun suffix
kitaka -- verbal noun suffix
kiriyavisesa -- adverb
kriyaa, kiriya -- adverb, predicate of verb -- conjugation -- strong vowel gradation -- quality noun, adjective

catutthii -- dative case
cha.t.thii -- genitive case

tatiya -- instrumental case
taddhita -- secondary derivative substantive
tappurisa -- dependent determinative compound
tumanta -- infinitive
tumicchattha -- desiderative

digu -- numerical determinative compound
dutiya -- accusative case
dvanda -- copulative compound
dvikammaka -- bitransitive verb
dhaatu -- verbal root or stem
dhaaturuupakasadda -- denominative

napu.msakali`nga -- neuter gender
naama -- noun, substantive
naamaa-naamaa -- noun
niggahiita -- the final letter .m
nipaata -- particle
nibbacana -- derivative form, derivation
niyamita -- demonstrative pronoun (e.g. ta.m)
nissaka-vacana -- ablative of separation
nissita-vacana -- dependent location (cf. Vis.20, VisA.40)

paccatta-vacana -- nominative case
paccaya -- suffix
paccuppanna (kaala) -- present (time)
pa~ncamii -- imperative (mood); ablative of separation (case)
pa.tisedha -- negative (na, no, maa)
pa.thamaa -- nominative case
pada -- word; syllable; phrase; sentence
padaccheda -- contraction, elision of word
padalopa -- elision of word
pada-siddhi -- establishment of word-meaning
parassapada -- active (voice)
pariyaaya -- metaphor
parokkhaa -- perfect tense
puthuvacana -- plural
pubbakiriya -- gerund
purisa -- person
pulli`nga -- masculine gender

bahubbiihi -- relative compound
bahuvacana -- plural
bhavissantii -- future (tense)
bhaava -- state; a kind of verbal noun; abstract noun
bhaava-taddhita -- gerundial
bhaava-napu.msaka -- neuter desiderative abstract noun
bhaava-saadhana -- definition of word by way of state
bhaavena -- locative absolute
bhumma-vacana -- locative case

majjhima-purisa -- second person
missaka-samaasa -- mixed compound
missakiriya -- present participle

ruupa -- form of stem or root

lakaara -- tense (of verb)
li`nga -- gender; word stem -- phonetically distinct sound
vattamaanakaala -- present tense
vaakya -- sentence
vikappa-samaahaara -- dvanda with either sing. or plural ending
vibhatti -- case ending
vibhatti-lopa -- elision of case ending
viyoga -- disjunction (vaa)
visesana -- "distinguishing", i.e. adjective
visesana-parapada -- kammadhaaraya (second member qualifying first)
visesana-pubbapada -- kammadhaaraya (first member qualifying second)
vuddhi -- lengthened vowel gradation
vya~njana -- consonant
vyatireka -- negative

sa.myoga -- conjunction (e.g. ca, pi)
sakammaka -- transitive verb
sa`nkhaa -- number (in word formation)
sa`nkhya-taddhita -- numerical derivative
sattamii -- optative (mood); locative (case)
sadda -- word
sadda-sattha -- grammar
sadda-siddhi -- establishment of word-meaning
sandhi -- liaison
sabba-naama -- pronoun
samaasa -- compound noun
samaahaara -- compound with singular termination
samuccaya -- conjunction (e.g. ca, pi)
sampadaana-vacana -- dative case
sampi.n.dana -- conjunction, abbreviation
sambandha -- construction
sara -- vowel
sasambhaarakathaa -- substitutional location (cf. Vis.20, VisA.40)
saadhana-siddhi -- derivation of word
saama~n~na -- general
saami-vacana -- genitive case

hiiyattanii -- imperfect (tense)