Sanskrit Verbs

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One can learn how to categorise verbs, recognise their forms and many more things.
Verbs in Sanskrit have a root, which is called as a धातुः (Dhātuḥ). Suffixes are added to a root to create a verb. Verbs' forms are influenced by the type of verb, grammatical number (singular, dual and plural) and grammatical person (third person, second person, first person) and their tense.

क्रियापदाः (kriyāpadāḥ) are the verbs in Sanskrit.

There are 10 tenses in Sanskrit (लकाराः): लट् (Present Tense), लिट् (Past Perfect), लुट (First Future), लृट् (Simple Future), लोट् (Imperative Mood), लङ् (Past imperfect), विधिलिङ् (Potential Mood), आशुलिङ् (Benedictive), लुङ् (Aorist) and लृङ् (Conditional). Out of these, only 5 are commonly used: लट् , लृट् , लोट्, लङ् and विधिलिङ्.

There are three grammatical persons: प्रथमपुरुषः (Third Person), मध्यमपुरुषः (Second Person), उत्तमपुरुषः (First Person).

There are three grammatical numbers: एकवचनम् (Singular), द्विवचनम् (Dual) and बहुवचनम् (Plural).

There is a basic root of the verb to which suffixes of tenses (लकार-प्रत्ययाः) are added. Due to this the meaning of the verb becomes clear.

Such suffixes are merged with roots to verbs and these verbs can be used in sentences. The suffix that is added to the root to create a verb must adhere to the grammatical number and grammatical person of the noun/pronoun that is doing the action.

Note: To know which suffix to add to the verb, one must have a clear image of what grammatical person and grammatical number.

  • Types of Verbs

    In Sanskrit, verbs are categorised according to different conditions. Here, the different types of verbs and why they are categorised so is explained.

  • Grammatical Persons

    In Sanskrit, the three grammatical persons are प्रथमपुरुषः (prathamapuruṣaḥ) - (Third Person), मध्यमपुरुषः (madhyamapuruṣaḥ) - (Second Person) and उत्तमपुरुषः (uttamapuruṣaḥ) - (First Person). 

  • Grammatical Numbers

    In Sanskrit, these are known as वचनानि (Vacanāni). Namely, एकवचनम् (Ekavacanam) (Singular), द्विवचनम् (Dvivacanam) (Dual), and बहुवचनम् (Bahuvacanam) (Plural).  

  • Upapada-Vibhaktiḥ

    In Sanskrit, it is written as उपपद-विभक्तिः. A word/verb which requires a specific Kārakam of the word used in accordance with it that cannot change under any circumstances is called an उपपद-विभक्तिः (Upapada-Vibhaktiḥ).

  • Tenses

    In Sanskrit, this is known as लकाराः (Lakārāḥ). There are ten tenses. Each of their meaning is different and unique. Due to this, clear communication of meaning happens.

  • Verb Forms

    In Sanskrit, the forms of verbs are known as धातुरूपाणि (Dhāturūpāṇi). They are influenced by the type of verb, its grammatical number, its grammatical person and the tense.

  • Suffixes

    In Sanskrit, there are many different types of suffixes and one type of suffixes are कृत्-प्रत्ययाः (Kṛt-Pratyayāḥ). Besides the suffixes added to verbs for tenses, these are some suffixes added to the roots of verbs. These suffixes add a bit of meaning to the root. E.g. - गम् + क्त्वा = गत्वा (gam + ktvā = gatvā) This means, "after going".

  • Prefixes

    In Sanskrit, prefixes are known as उपसर्गाः (Upasargāḥ). After a prefix is added to a verb, it meaning is slightly modified, or it can change.

Grammatical Persons

In Sanskrit, these are known as पुरुषाः (puruṣāḥ). There are three grammatical persons and three grammatical numbers. The grammatical persons are only applicable for verbs, whereas, grammatical numbers are applicable to both verbs and words.

The three grammatical persons are प्रथमपुरुषः (prathamapuruṣaḥ) – (Third Person), मध्यमपुरुषः (madhyamapuruṣaḥ) – (Second Person) and उत्तमपुरुषः (uttamapuruṣaḥ) – (First Person).

The three grammatical numbers are एकवचनम् (ekavacanam) (Singular), द्विवचनम् (dvivacanam) (Dual) and बहुवचनम् (bahuvacanam) (Plural).

To create verbs, these two things i.e. grammatical persons and grammatical numbers are needed.

Explanation of the three grammatical persons with grammatical numbers are as given below:

प्रथमपुरुषः (prathamapuruṣaḥ) – (Third Person):
It is used for something which is being talked about or is the topic. It is used for something or someone who is neither the speaker nor the listener.

Example of Third Person and Singular – प्रथमपुरुषः (prathamapuruṣaḥ) and एकवचनम् (ekavacanam)
एकवचनम्- बालकः पठति। (ekavacanam- bālakaḥ paṭhati।).
This sentence means, ‘A boy is reading.’ It is in the third person and is singular. It talks about a single boy and about someone who is neither the speaker nor the listener.

Example of Third Person and Dual – प्रथमपुरुषः (prathamapuruṣaḥ) and बहुवचनम् (bahuvacanam)
द्विवचनम्- बालकौ पठतः। (dvivacanam- bālakau paṭhataḥ।)
This sentence means, ‘Two boys are reading’ It is in the third person and is dual. It talks about two boys who are neither the speaker nor the listener.

Example of Third Person and Plural – प्रथमपुरुषः (prathamapuruṣaḥ) and बहुवचनम् (bahuvacanam)
बहुवचनम्- बालकाः पठन्ति। (bahuvacanam- bālakāḥ paṭhanti।)
This sentence means, ‘Many boys are reading.’ It is in the third person and is plural. It talks about many boys who are neither the speaker nor the listener.

मध्यमपुरुषः (madhyamapuruṣaḥ) – (Second person):
It is used for the person who is the listener or the person with whom you are talking to.

Example of Second Person and Singular i.e. मध्यमपुरुषः (madhyamapuruṣaḥ) and एकवचनम् (ekavacanam)
त्वम् पठसि। (tvam paṭhasi।) – This means, ‘You are reading.’ It is in the second person and is singular. It talks about you (singular) with whom I am talking to.

Example of Second Person and Dual i.e. मध्यमपुरुषः (madhyamapuruṣaḥ) and द्विवचनम् (dvivacanam)
युवाम् पठथः। (yuvām paṭhathaḥ।) – This means, ‘You two are reading.’ It is in the second person and is dual. It talks about you two (dual) with whom I am talking to.

Example of Second Person and Plural i.e. मध्यमपुरुषः (madhyamapuruṣaḥ) and बहुवचनम् (bahuvacanam)
यूयम् पठथ। (yūyam paṭhatha।) – This means, ‘You all are reading.’ It is in the second person and is plural. It talks about you all with whom I am talking to.

उत्तमपुरुषः (uttamapuruṣaḥ) – (First Person):
It is used for the person who is the speaker. It is usually used when one is talking about oneself.

Example of First Person and Singular i.e. उत्तमपुरुषः (uttamapuruṣaḥ) and एकवचनम् (ekavacanam)
अहम् पठामि। (aham paṭhāmi।) – This means, ‘I am reading.’ It is in the first person and is singular. It talks about me (singular), who is the speaker.

Example of First Person and Dual i.e. उत्तमपुरुषः (uttamapuruṣaḥ) and द्विवचनम् (dvivacanam)
आवाम् पठावः। (āvām paṭhāvaḥ।) – This means, ‘We two are reading.’ It is in the first person and is dual. It talks about us both (dual), who are the speakers.

Example of First Person and Plural i.e. उत्तमपुरुषः (uttamapuruṣaḥ) and बहुवचनम् (bahuvacanam)
वयम् पठामः। (vayam paṭhāmaḥ।) – This means, ‘We all are reading.’ It is in the first person and is plural. It talks about us all (plural), who are the speakers.

Grammatical Numbers

In Sanskrit, there are 3 grammatical numbers. They are known as वचनानि (vacanāni).

The वचनानि (vacanāni) are:
एकवचनम् (ekavacanam) (singular),
द्विवचनम् (dvivacanam) (dual) and
बहुवचनम् (bahuvacanam) (pleural).

In both words and verbs, this is applicable e.g.

बालकः पठति। (bālakaḥ paṭhati।)
This means – One boy is reading.

बालकौ पठतः। (bālakau paṭhataḥ।)
This means – Two boys are reading.

बालकाः पठन्ति। (bālakāḥ paṭhanti।)
This means – Many boys are reading.

Note: In Sanskrit, subject-verb agreement is very crucial. It means whatever वचनम् (vacanam) the subject is, the verb must be of that वचनम् (vacanam) and vice versa. If this is not done, the sentence will be grammatically incorrect.

Kṛt-Pratyayāḥ

In Sanskrit, these are known as कृत्-प्रत्ययाः. Some commonly used Kṛt-Pratyayāḥ are:

क्त्वा (ktvā) – When this is added to a verb, it indicates something happening after the completion of the verb. The form of the verb with this suffix always remains unchanged.                                                                                                                 E.g. – पठ् + क्त्वा = पठित्वा (paṭh + ktvā = paṭhitvā). This means. “After reading”.
The word पठित्वा (paṭhitvā) indicates that the particular action is done after reading.
E.g. – बालकः पुस्तकं पठित्वा क्रीडति। (bālakaḥ pustakaṃ paṭhitvā krīḍati।) This means that the boy plays after reading a book.

ल्यप् (lyap) – This is the same as क्त्वा (ktvā), but is used for verbs which have a prefix (उपसर्गः) added to them. The form of the verb with this suffix always remains unchanged.                                                                                                                 E.g. – प्र + नम् + ल्यप् = प्रणम्य​। (pra + nam + lyap = praṇamya​।). Here, the prefix is प्र (pra) and the root is नम् (nam). This means. “After bowing”. The word प्रणम्य (praṇamya) indicates that the particular action is done after bowing.       E.g. – बालिका देवं प्रणम्य विद्यालयं गच्छति। (bālakaḥ pustakaṃ paṭhitvā krīḍati।) This means that the girl goes to school after bowing to God.

तुमुन् (tumun) – This is used to show, “to do”.
E.g. – पठ् + तुमुन् = पठितुम्। (paṭh + tumun = paṭhitum।). This means,”To study”. This shows that a particular action is done to study. The form of the verb with this suffix always remains unchanged.
E.g. – छात्राः पठितुं विद्यालयं गच्छन्ति। (chātrāḥ paṭhituṃ vidyālayaṃ gacchanti।) This means, “The students go to the school to study”.

अनीयर् (anīyar) – This is used in passive voice to show, “Should be done”. E.g. – पच् + अनीयर् = पचनीयम्। (pac + anīyar = pacanīyam।). This means, “Should be cooked”.
E.g. – जनन्या मिष्टान्नं पचनीयम्। (jananyā miṣṭānnaṃ pacanīyam।). This means, Mother should makes sweets”.
Note: The forms of the verbs with this suffix change according to the grammatical gender and grammatical number.
E.g. – मोदकः पचनीयः। (modakaḥ pacanīyaḥ।) It means, “Modak should be made. This is in the masculine gender
रोटिका पचनीया। (roṭikā pacanīyā।) It means, “Flatbread should be made”. This is in the feminine gender.
लड्डुकं पचनीयम्। (laḍḍukaṃ pacanīyam।) It means, “Laddoo should be made”. This is in the neuter gender.

तव्यत् (tavyat) – This is used in passive voice like e.g. “Should be done”. Its meaning and use is completely the same as अनीयर् (anīyar) suffix. 

Given below is a table of some commonly used verbs with their forms when suffixes are added to them.

धातुः

क्त्वा

ल्यप्

तुमुन्

अनीयर्

तव्यत्

कृ

कृत्वा

कर्तुम्

करणीयम्

कर्तव्यम्

गम्

गत्वा

आगत्य

गन्तुम्

गमनीयम्

गन्तव्यम्

लिख्

लिखित्वा

विलिख्य

लेखितुम्

लेखनीयम्

लेखितव्यम्

पठ्

पठित्वा

आपठ्य

पठितुम्

पठनीयम्

पठितव्यम्

नम्

नत्वा

प्रणम्य

नन्तुम्

नमनीयम्

नन्तव्यम्

दृश्

दृष्ट्वा

द्रष्टुम्

दर्शनीयम्

द्रष्टव्यम्