Sanskrit nouns

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Sanskrit is a highly inflected language with three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and three numbers (singular, plural, dual). It has eight cases: nominative, vocative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, and locative.[1]

Nouns are grouped into "declensions", which are sets of nouns that form their cases in a similar manner. In this article they are divided into five declensions. The declension to which a noun belongs is determined largely by form.


Sanskrit nouns have eight cases: nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative, and vocative.[2] Of these eight cases, Pāṇini identified six as kārakas, or accessories to a verb. The six kārakas are the nominative, accusative, dative, instrumental, locative, and ablative cases.[3] He defined them as follows (Ashtādhyāyi, I.4.24-54):

  1. Apādāna (lit. 'take off'): "(that which is) firm when departure (takes place)." This is the equivalent of the ablative case, which signifies a stationary object from which movement proceeds.
  2. Sampradāna ('bestowal'): "he whom one aims at with the object". This is equivalent to the dative case, which signifies a recipient in an act of giving or similar acts.
  3. Karaṇa ("instrument") "that which effects most." This is equivalent to the instrumental case.
  4. Adhikaraṇa ('location'): or "substratum." This is equivalent to the locative case.
  5. Karman ('deed'/'object'): "what the agent seeks most to attain". This is equivalent to the accusative case.
  6. Kartā ('agent'): "he/that which is independent in action". This is equivalent to the nominative case. (On the basis of Scharfe, 1977: 94)

Pāṇini failed to identify the genitive (Sambandha) and vocative (sambuddha) as cases.[4]

Basic noun and adjective declension

The basic scheme of suffixation is given in the table below and applies to many nouns and adjectives. However, according to the gender and the final consonant or vowel of the uninflected word-stem, there are sandhi rules dictating the form of the inflected word.[5]

Singular Dual Plural
Masc./Fem Neu. Masc./Fem Neu. Masc./Fem Neu.
Nominative Ø au ī aḥ i
Accusative am
Instrumental ā bhyām bhiḥ
Dative e bhyaḥ
Ablative aḥ
Genitive oḥ ām
Locative i su


A-stems (/ə/ or /aː/) comprise the largest class of nouns. As a rule, nouns belonging to this class, with the uninflected stem ending in short-a (/ə/), are either masculine or neuter. Nouns ending in long-A (/aː/) are almost always feminine. A-stem adjectives take the masculine and neuter in short-a (/ə/), and feminine in long-A (/aː/) in their stems. This class is so big because it also comprises the Proto-Indo-European o-stems.

Masculine (kāma-) Neuter (āsya- 'mouth') Feminine (kānta- 'beloved')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative kā́mas kā́mau kā́mās āsyàm āsyè āsyā̀ni kāntā kānte kāntās
Accusative kā́mam kā́mau kā́mān āsyàm āsyè āsyā̀ni kāntām kānte kāntās
Instrumental kā́mena kā́mābhyām kā́mais āsyèna āsyā̀bhyām āsyāìs kāntayā kāntābhyām kāntābhis
Dative kā́māya kā́mābhyām kā́mebhyas āsyā̀ya āsyā̀bhyām āsyèbhyas kāntāyai kāntābhyām kāntābhyas
Ablative kā́māt kā́mābhyām kā́mebhyas āsyā̀t āsyā̀bhyām āsyèbhyas kāntāyās kāntābhyām kāntābhyas
Genitive kā́masya kā́mayos kā́mānām āsyàsya āsyàyos āsyā̀nām kāntāyās kāntayos kāntānām
Locative kā́me kā́mayos kā́meṣu āsyè āsyàyos āsyèṣu kāntāyām kāntayos kāntāsu
Vocative kā́ma kā́mau kā́mās ā́sya āsyè āsyā̀ni kānte kānte kāntās

i- and u-stems

Masculine (agní- 'fire') Feminine (gáti- 'gait') Neuter (vā́ri- 'water')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative agnís agnī́ agnáyas gátis gátī gátayas vā́ri vā́riṇī vā́rīṇi
Accusative agním agnī́ agnī́n gátim gátī gátīs vā́ri vā́riṇī vā́rīṇi
Instrumental agnínā agníbhyām agníbhis gátyā gátibhyām gátibhis vā́riṇā vā́ribhyām vā́ribhis
Dative agnáye agníbhyām agníbhyas gátaye, gátyāi gátibhyām gátibhyas vā́riṇe vā́ribhyām vā́ribhyas
Ablative agnés agníbhyām agníbhyas gátes, gátyās gátibhyām gátibhyas vā́riṇas vā́ribhyām vā́ribhyas
Genitive agnés agnyós agnīnā́m gátes, gátyās gátyos gátīnām vā́riṇas vā́riṇos vā́riṇām
Locative agnāú agnyós agníṣu gátāu, gátyām gátyos gátiṣu vā́riṇi vā́riṇos vā́riṣu
Vocative ágne agnī́ agnáyas gáte gátī gátayas vā́ri, vā́re vā́riṇī vā́rīṇi
Masculine (śátru- 'enemy') Feminine (dhenú- 'cow') Neuter (mádhu- 'honey')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative śátrus śátrū śátravas dhenús dhenū́ dhenávas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Accusative śátrum śátrū śátrūn dhenúm dhenū́ dhenū́s mádhu mádhunī mádhūni
Instrumental śátruṇā śátrubhyām śátrubhis dhenvā́ dhenúbhyām dhenúbhis mádhunā mádhubhyām mádhubhis
Dative śátrave śátrubhyām śátrubhyas dhenáve, dhenvāí dhenúbhyām dhenúbhyas mádhune mádhubhyām mádhubhyas
Ablative śátros śátrubhyām śátrubhyas dhenós, dhenvā́s dhenúbhyām dhenúbhyas mádhunas mádhubhyām mádhubhyas
Genitive śátros śátrvos śátrūṇām dhenós, dhenvā́s dhenvós dhenūnā́m mádhunas mádhunos mádhūnām
Locative śátrāu śátrvos śátruṣu dhenāú, dhenvā́m dhenvós dhenúṣu mádhuni mádhunos mádhuṣu
Vocative śátro śátrū śátravas dhéno dhenū́ dhenávas mádhu mádhunī mádhūni

Long-vowel stems

ā-stems (jā- 'progeny') ī-stems (dhī- 'thought') ū-stems (bhū- 'earth')
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative jā́s jāú jā́s dhī́s dhíyāu dhíyas bhū́s bhúvāu bhúvas
Accusative jā́m jāú jā́s, jás dhíyam dhíyāu dhíyas bhúvam bhúvāu bhúvas
Instrumental jā́ jā́bhyām jā́bhis dhiyā́ dhībhyā́m dhībhís bhuvā́ bhūbhyā́m bhūbhís
Dative jā́bhyām jā́bhyas dhiyé, dhiyāí dhībhyā́m dhībhyás bhuvé, bhuvāí bhūbhyā́m bhūbhyás
Ablative jás jā́bhyām jā́bhyas dhiyás, dhiyā́s dhībhyā́m dhībhyás bhuvás, bhuvā́s bhūbhyā́m bhūbhyás
Genitive jás jós jā́nām, jā́m dhiyás, dhiyā́s dhiyós dhiyā́m, dhīnā́m bhuvás, bhuvā́s bhuvós bhuvā́m, bhūnā́m
Locative jós jā́su dhiyí, dhiyā́m dhiyós dhīṣú bhuví, bhuvā́m bhuvós bhūṣú
Vocative jā́s jāú jā́s dhī́s dhiyāu dhíyas bhū́s bhuvāu bhúvas


ṛ-stems are predominantly agental derivatives like dātṛ 'giver', though also include kinship terms like pitṛ́ 'father', mātṛ́ 'mother', and svásṛ 'sister'.

Singular Dual Plural
Nominative pitā́ pitárāu pitáras
Accusative pitáram pitárāu pitṝ́n
Instrumental pitrā́ pitṛ́bhyām pitṛ́bhis
Dative pitré pitṛ́bhyām pitṛ́bhyas
Ablative pitúr pitṛ́bhyām pitṛ́bhyas
Genitive pitúr pitrós pitṝṇā́m
Locative pitári pitrós pitṛ́ṣu
Vocative pítar pitárāu pitáras


The numbers from one to ten are:

  1. éka (एक)
  2. dvá (द्वि)
  3. trí (त्रि)
  4. chatúra (चतुर्)
  5. páñcha (पञ्च)
  6. ṣáṣ (षष्)
  7. saptá, sápta (सप्त)
  8. aṣṭhá, áṣṭha (अष्ट)
  9. náva (नव)
  10. dáśa (दश)

The numbers one through four are declined. Éka is declined like a pronominal adjective, though the dual form does not occur. Dvá appears only in the dual. Trí and catúr are declined irregularly.

See also


  1. W. D. Whitney, Sanskrit Grammar: Including both the Classical Language and the Older Dialects
  2. W. D. Whitney, Sanskrit Grammar: Including both the Classical Language and the Older Dialects
  3. "CSI: Man3". Retrieved 2008-11-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. S.C. Vasu, The Astadhyayi of Pāṇini
  5. MacDonell, III.71, p. 33.