Welcome to Pali Wiki. This is a collaborative project to produce a free lexicon of all the inflectional word endings used in the Pāli Sutta Piṭaka. That is, the set of patterns according to which Pāli words are declined, conjugated or have their endings altered to show grammatical content.
The aim of this website is to provide a simple look up facility to identify the inflectional affix combinations and therefore aid syntactic analysis when translating romanised Pāli script into the English language.
Endings can be typed in with a preceding hyphen '-' directly to the search box above,
or the catalogs listed below can be searched.
Pāli is a highly inflected language, in which almost every word contains, besides the root/stem conveying the basic meaning, one or more affixes which modify its grammatical function in some way. Nouns are inflected for gender, number, and case; verbal inflections convey information about person, number, tense and mood.
The aim of this website is to provide a simple look up facility to identify the inflectional affix combinations and therefore aid syntactic analysis when translating romanised Pāli script into the English language. Given the inflected Pāli word, one can attempt to dissect the stem from the suffix; and given the suffix figure out the grammatical categories being conveyed.
How to use this site
Inflection is based on a stem to which inflectional suffixes are added. Dictionaries usually list nouns in their stem form and verbs in 3rd person (if you strip off -ti what remains is the verb stem).
- stem form = loka; "the world",
- nominative: loka + o = loko,
- accusative: loka + aṃ = lokaṃ
Finding an Ending
Thus if we take the ending '-aṃ' and enter this into the search box at the very top right of every page:
- The hyphen '-' must be entered too as this indicates an ending
This will take you to a page detailing the all the grammatical categories that the ending '-aṃ' may convey.
Unfortunately, unless you have an exact match, the search facility of the Mediawiki engine is not very deep. An alternative method is to use the catalog pages which list all endings terminating with a certain letter.
For instance if you go to 'All endings terminating in ṃ' you will find '-aṃ' as the second entry. The benefit of this approach is that the catalog pages are alphabetical, so if you are not sure where the suffix endings and the word stem begins then you can work your way up the word testing for suffix matches.
gacchamānaṃ -ṃ -aṃ -naṃ -ānaṃ -mānaṃ
And, you can use your browsers find facility (crtl-F) to search the catalog page.
Understanding the tables
Once you have navigated to the correct suffix page, for instance '-aṃ' you will be faced with a collection of tables. These tables fall under two main types 'Nouns' & 'Verbs' (though not every page contains both):
- Substantive Nouns,
- Nominal Adjectives
- Verbal Adjectives
These headings refer to the Stem of the word you are investigating. It is helpful to use a Pāli dictionary alongside this sites search facility.
For instance try:
- Pali Canon E-Dictionary
- Critical Pāli Dictionary Online - though not complete still a good reference
This will help identify the stem of the word you are investigating. It is important to note the class (noun, verb etc), gender and stem end (-a stem etc). So, using our example above, the stem form is: loka; "the world", and this is a substantive, masculine, -a stem noun.
For information on noun declension refer to the main article: Noun Morphology
Substantive noun tables
Next it is important to identify last letter of the noun stem. loka is termed an -a stem. The left hand column lists all the noun stem endings to which '-aṃ' can be applied. The column headings, are by gender and number i.e. masculine, neuter, feminine x singular & plural.
Substantive Nouns ending -aṃ Stem Masc. Sgl. Neut. Sgl. Fem. Sgl. Masc. Pl. Neut. Pl. Fem. Pl.
- m/n adjective cast as fem.
Thus if we take the -a stem row we can see that the termination '-aṃ' can indicate:
- accusative case for masculine singular -a stem nouns,
- nominative, vocative or accusative for neuter singular -a stem nouns
- accusative if an -a stem adjective has been cast as feminine
- and finally possibly on rare occasions, accusative for masculine plural -a stem nouns
An entry in italics indicates a rare form...
Nominal Adjectives tables
If the stem of the word you are investigating is specifically an adjective then the nominal adjective table is similar to the noun table above but is more accurate.
Nominal Adjectives ending -aṃ Stem Masc. Sgl. Neut. Sgl. Fem. Sgl.
a ( adj)
As an aid, the tables contain links to other guide books; allowing one to cross reference.
In the noun tables:
- the stem row labels are followed by links to the relevant paradigm table in Duroiselle's 'Practical Grammar of the Pāli Language'.
- while the cases are linked to Wijesekera's 'Syntax of the Cases'.
In the verb tables:
- the column headings are linked the relevant section in Duroiselle's 'Practical Grammar of the Pāli Language'.
And in the verbal adjective tables:
- the row labels are linked to further explanatory pages on this site.
Verbs conjugation is quite different from noun declension, so the verb tables have a different layout. Verbs can be conjugated into the following tenses:
And paradigm tables generally follow this pattern (Note: the perfect & imperfect have been ignored). The inflectional affixes are applied to a verbal base, which can be either:
- the present stem (the dictionary listing minus -ti) or
- verbal root (often with some modification)
For more details on Verb conjugation see the main article: Verb Morphology
The column headings indicate the tense classes above while the rows indicate either active or reflexive (sometimes called middle) endings.
Verbs ending -aṃ Voice pres. ind. imperat. Rt/a-aor. i/s-aor. Active
Thus, the termination '-aṃ' may be:
- a Root / a-Aorist active ending in 1st person singular,
Verbal Adjective tables
The Verbal Adjective tables detail participle endings.
- The present participle.
- The past participle.
- The future passive participle (potential participle)
Although based on verbs the participles inflect as adjectives by gender and number i.e. masculine, neuter, feminine x singular & plural.
Verbal Adjectives ending -aṃ type Masc. Sgl. Neut. Sgl. Fem. Sgl. pres. part. act. at/ant
- 7th conj. stems (–e) may add -aya- before endings
Thus, the termination '-aṃ' may be:
- a present participle active, inflected as masculine singular, in nominative or vocative case, or
- a present participle active, inflected as neuter singular, in nominative or vocative case.
For a list of abbreviations used on this site see: Explan:Abbr
Some Pāli words are "indeclinable" meaning they are incapable of taking declension, ie. they do not change form to indicate their grammatical function. These include in Pāli all: adverbs, prefixes, conjunctions and interjections.
Diacritics, or diacritical marks, are those curious glyphs added to a letter.
- ā ī ū ṅ ñ ṇ ṭ ḍ ṇ ḷ ṃ
You will need a unicode font install on your browser otherwise you get nonsense characters displayed. See here for help installing a unicode font
The second problem is how to enter these characters using a standard keyboard into the search box? There are several ways:
- I recommend installing Pāli Keyboard which allow direct input of diacritic characters when using word processors, web browsers etc..
- Cut and paste from the list above;
- Use HTML codes
- ā ā
- ñ ñ
- ī ī
- ḍ ḍ
- ṅ ṇ
- ḷ ḷ
- ṭ ṭ
- ū ū
- ṇ ṇ
- ṃ ṃ
The Niggahīta (ṃ)
A source of variation among texts is the representation of the nasal niggahīta sound (also called anusvāra), which in western script it has been transliterated as η, ṁ or ṃ.
This site uses the ṃ ṃ character.
So you must replace the above characters with 'ṃ' when performing a search.
Sources & Catalogue Coverage
The data in the tables is mainly sourced from Bhikkhu Nyaṇatusita's inflection tables.
The adjective tables have been supplemented with information from Bomhard's 'Introductory Grammar of the Pāḷi Language' 2012.
For more details on sources and coverage see the main article: Coverage of Pali Wiki & Sources
Requesting additions & corrections
Although it is possible to edit a page entry directly, the page code can be complex and may interfere with ongoing editing operations.
Instead please add a comment with your corrections or additions on the Pali Wiki talk page.
Editing conventions on talk pages
Having discussions on a free-form wiki page is different from a typical forum. It helps if everyone follows some simple editing conventions:
- Always sign your name after your comments. Use the four tildes " ˜˜˜˜ " wiki syntax. see Help:Signatures.
- Start a new discussion with a "==level 2 heading==" at the end of any previous discussion. This is a good place to enter the page name / word ending that you are commenting on.
- Indent replies with colons (:) at the beginning of the line or double colon (::) for replies to replies.
If requesting a new entry
New pages can be requested by the above method. Please include:
- the word ending
- any details you know, noun/verb/ gender, number, tense, person etc.
- a reference to where the word can be found in the Pāli Canon. Precedence is given to terms found in the four Nikāyas.
Although any details are useful you don't have to know how a term declines/conjugates in order to register a missing ending.