Tag Archives: Plural

Nouns As Objects

We looked at how nouns are inflected when used as the subject of a sentence. Now we’ll learn how they are inflected when used as the object of a sentence.

Let’s remind ourselves of the inflections for “case 1” nouns (subjects) and also show the new inflections for “case 2” nouns (objects). Both are limited to masculine words ending in a – for example गज (gaja) {“elephant”}

गज Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) गजः



Case 2 (object) गजम्



  • You’ll notice that gaja is inflected the same way for use as a subject or object, if there are two elephants (dual).
  • The telltale sign of plurality is the stronger vowel at the end, “ā”. If it’s “-ā” then its a plural subject. If it’s “-ān” it’s a plural object.
  • The telltale sign of the subject case is “ḥ”. If it’s “-āḥ” it’s plural subject. If it’s “aḥ” it’s singular subject.
  • The telltale sign of the object case is the nasal sound “m/n.” You can keep the same rule as above: If there’s a long vowel (“-ām”) before the nasal, it’s a plural object. If there’s a short vowel (“-an”) it’s singular object.

Here are two examples (w/out sandhi)

बालः नरान् तुदति

bālaḥ narān tudati

We know that bāla means child, and it’s masculine, so it means boy. And we know that nara means adult, human, and since it’s masculine, man. And we also know that tuda means “hit/attack.”

So, what does the sentence mean? Boy man attack? Boy attacks man? Man attacks boy? Boys attack men? Etc.

Well, we see tuda is expressed as tudanti, and we know that the -ti ending is 3rd person, singular. Tuda (“hit/attack”) is the action in the sentence, the verb. So whoever is doing the attacking is one person, singular.

Bālaḥ has the “ḥ” at the end, a telltale sign of being a subject. Narān has the nasal sound (“n” in this case) at the end, the telltale sign of being the object. Now we’ve sorted it out! Bālaḥ is the subject, doing tudati to the object: narān. Tudati is singular, so if it applies to bālaḥ, bālaḥ has to be singular too. Sure enough it is. The tell tale sign is the at the “a” before the “ḥ” is not “ā” – that’s how we know it’s singular. Similarly we know narān is plural because the “a” at the end is “ā”.

So: “The boy attacks the men.”

कृष्णः वीरम् पृच्छति

kṛṣṇaḥ vīram pṛcchati

Kṛṣṇa is the person named “Krishna.” We know that he’s the subject of the sentence because of the “ḥ” at the end of kṛṣṇaḥ. And we know there’s just one kṛṣṇa involved (singular) because the vowel before the “ḥ” is short (“a”), not long (“ā”). Vīram means “hero.” It ends in a nasal sound so we know it’s the object of the sentence. The vowel before the final nasal is short, so it’s singular. The verb is pṛcchati (inquire), which (being “-ti”) is third person singular.

So: “Krishna asks the hero.”

What’s an “object” anyway? It’s an entity to which / on which action is performed. “Krishna asks the hero.” The hero is the “object” because he’s the entity to which the action of asking is directed. “The boy attacks the men.” The men are the “object” because they are the entity to which the action of attacking is directed. So consider this example:

अर्जुनः अश्वम् गच्छति

arjunaḥ aśvam gacchati

The “-ḥ” gives away the subject, Arjuna. The nasal (‘-m’) gives away the object, a horse (aśvam, singular because the final vowel is short). The verb is also singular and third person, gacchati – “he goes.” So the object, being the entity to which action is directed, indicates the destination of movement, in this sentence:

“Arjuna goes to the horse.”



Ultra Simple Sanskrit Sentences

The previous posts brought up the point that the endings of Sanskrit words are extremely important, because they tell you who is doing what with the word. The immediately previous post talked about proto-words, and how they become real words – so we got a list of vocabulary by showing several examples of how proto-words become working words. Now lets use that vocabulary to make ultra simple sanskrit sentences, by changing the endings of the word.

All the words we use today will be verbs, action words.

Gai – to sing.

In the previous post we showed how this proto-word becomes gāyati. As it is, that word is itself a sentence! It means “he sings.” Which part of the word means “sings” and which part means “he”? Gāy- means “sing” and -ati is the ending that means “he.” Change -ati to –āmi and the meaning changes from “he” to “I”. So gāyāmi means “I sing.”

Here is a table showing all nine possible endings for a verb (action word). Down the left column are “1st, 2nd, and 3rd person.” 1st person refers to the speaker of the word (“I”, for example). 2nd person refers to the listener (like, “you”). 3rd person refers to someone else besides the speaker or the listener (“he”, for example).

Across the top of the table are three column headings: “singular, dual, plural.” Singular means the  there is only one of whatever person you are talking about (speaker, listener, or someone else). Dual means there are two. Plural means there are more than two. (So Sanskrit has a special feature just for couples and pairs!)

Singular Dual Plural
1st Person -āmi -āvaḥ -āmaḥ
2nd Person -asi -athaḥ -atha
3rd Person -ati -ataḥ -anti

How to memorize this? Two ways: (1) Work with it. Write it down somewhere, etc. (2) Repeat it to yourself in a limerick sort of way. For example, “āmi, asi, ati… āvaḥ, athaḥ, ataḥ… āmaḥ, atha, anti.”

Some hints: A long a (“ā”) is a giveaway that it’s 1st person. A three-letter ending is a giveaway that its singular.


Here are some of the vocabulary words we learned already, used to form different kinds of ultra-simple, one-word sentences.

The dual form is perfect for referring to a couple. For example if I want to express that my wife and I sing, I can simply say gāyāvaḥ – and that gets the job done. Or if a friend and I are singing together, I would use the same word, gāyāvaḥ.

Gai – Sing

Remember, this proto-word becomes gāy- as a verb stem. See the previous post if that confuses you.

I sing
We (two) sing
We sing
You sing
You (two) sing
Ya`ll sing
He/she sings
The two of them sing
They sing

Śuc – Cry

This proto-word becomes śoc- as a verb stem.

I cry
We (two) cry
We cry
You cry
You (two) cry
Ya`ll cry
He/she crys
The two of them cry
They cry

Ji – Win

This proto-word becomes jay- as a verb stem.

I win
We (two) win
We win
You win
You (two) win
Ya`ll win
He/she wins
The two of them win
They win

Smṛ – Remember

This proto-word becomes smar- as a verb stem.

I remember
We (two) remember
We remember
You remember
You (two) remember
Ya`ll remember
He/she remembers
The two of them remember
They remember