Explan:present participle

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The present participle is a type of verbal adjective; that is a word which functions as an adjective, but is derived from a verbal root.

In Pāli, like English, the present participle (both active & passive) tends towards the expression of unfinished action and so are sometimes aligned with the continuous verb aspect rather than the perfect (completed). When acting as auxiliary verbs in Pāli they specify actions that occur at the same time as the action of the main verb i.e. 'while'.

See also present participle - passive.

Guides differ on their descriptions of the formation of the Present participles. This is mainly due to the differing ways of defining and dividing the root/stem-ending. So the following should be taken with caution.

Derivation[edit | edit source]

Present participles, belong to the present tense system and therefore are formed on the present stem of verbs. The active participle is formed by adding the suffixes –at/-anta.

Guides differ, some give ant/anta; sometime you may see in the guides -ṃ, -aṃ as a suffix but this just reflects the irregular nom. masc. singular ending which appears as -aṃ or -anto.

  • Most verb stem can take both -at- or -anta-.
  • Stems ending in -ṇā, -no, -uṇā, -uṇo (4th Conj.) and -nā (5th Conj.) generally take the termination -anta-.
  • Verbal bases ending in -e (1st Conj. 3rd. Division; 7th. Conj. and causal bases) only take the termination -enta- The alternative -aya base may take either -anta- or -at- forming -ayanta- & -ayat-.

For more examples See Duroiselle $439

Stem   →   Pr. P. Base
jānā   →   jānat, jānanta,
labha   →   labhat, labhanta,
kara   →   karat, karanta
suṇā, suṇo   →   suṇanta, suṇonta
kiṇā   →   kiṇanta.
dese   →   desenta, desayanta, desayat

So we can deduce the following base endings:

-at, -ayat, -ayanta, -anta, -onta, -enta

There is also what is sometimes called the Reflexive or Middle Present participle. Although this maybe separated out as a distinct type, it has lost its reflexive meaning and is used predominantly like the Present participle in active voice. Many grammar guides lump it together with the active affixes.

It is formed by the addition of:

  • –māna- and occasionally -āna- to the present stem or
  • rarely, -āna- directly to the root.
  • Like above, -ayamāna is also possible on Verbal bases ending in -e.


√gam   gacchamāna, gacchāna
√dis   desayamāna, desayāna.
√pac   pacāna

  • Present Participles
    Pali present participle
    • Pali present participles -at
    • Pali noun suffix a-ī
    • Pali noun suffix a-ā
    • Pali present participle -at, -ant forms
    • Pali present participles -māna

With the bases thus formed, they then decline as follows:

  • bases in -at- take special suffixes; (Note: for nom. masc./neut. sgl. -at- becomes -aṃ). Not all cases are available, the -anta- version fills in the gaps.
  • with bases in -anta-, masc. & neut. decline like nouns in -a and feminine in -ī.

Similar to: mahā See Duroiselle $226

  • And -(m)ana then follows the declension of nouns; masc. & neut. in -a, and feminine in -ā.

See See Duroiselle $447:

Pali present participle passive

Secondary Present Participles[edit | edit source]

The present participle can also be formed on the secondary derivative verbal bases to create causative forms and importantly, passive forms.