The passive voice is used to indicate that the 'patient' is the recipient of the action expressed by the verb root.

The horse was shot

For more info on passive sentences see Pāli Studies: Passive Voice.

The passive verb form is one of a class of are called secondary or derived Verb forms. They are so called because an infix is placed between the root verb and the primary verb endings and this modifies both the meaning of the verb and how it performs syntactically.


See Duroiselle Passives
The passive base is made by adding the infix -ya- as follows:

  • to the root:
  • When the root ends in a vowel, -ya- is added directly, (√bhū → bhūya-);
  • Roots ending -ā, the root vowel frequently changes to i (√dā → diya-);
  • Roots ending -i or u are strengthened before -ya-, -i → -īya-, u → -ūya-
  • Roots ending ī or ū the vowels are often weakened and the -y- doubled (√nī → niyya-);
  • When the root ends in a single consonant, -ya- is generally added directly, and the preceding consonant may be assimilated, as in the table below.
  • When the root ends in a double consonant or a single consonant that does not readily double (generally -r or -h), -īya- is added (note √sar, → sarīya-);.
  • Sometimes, -i/īya- is added to the present stem & stems of the 7th conj. ending -e /-aya drop these endings; (note √gam → gaccha → gacchīya-);

For examples of Assimilation see Duroiselle

When a consonant is joined to y- the following changes take place:

k+y kk g+y gg n+y ññ
kh+y kkh gh+y ggh m+y mm
c+y cc j+y jj l+y ll
ch+y cch jh+y jjh v+y bb
t+y cc d+y jj or dd s+y ss
th+y cch dh+y jjh or ddh h+y yh
p+y pp b+y bb r+y yr
ph+y pph bh+y bbh r+iy yir

Roots beginning with √va- change to √vu- to indicate the passive and this is a way to distinguishing them from future passive participles.

The infix -ya- having been added and the Passive Base obtained, the Personal Endings of either the Active Voice or of the Reflective Voice of any tense must then be added to this base. See Pāli Studies: Secondary Derivatives and see Duroiselle for examples

For instance

Passive stem
Root Passive infix Personal ending
√vac + ya
vucca + ti
vuccati It is spoken
√han + ya + iṃsu (aor.)
haññiṃsu They were killed
bhanda + īya + ti
bhandīyati he is bound