Lesson 7 – Declension of stems ending in consonants

Declension of stems ending in consonants

aiunA short YouTube version is available here. [Expand to the full article to be able to click on the link]

In lesson 2, we looked at the declension of an “a”ending masculine. The full set of paradigms for nouns/adjectives ending in vowels are given in the reference here. Please refer to this to learn the declensions. The standard declensional endings as defined by the grammarians are given in the reference. You would have noticed that the endings for nouns/adjectives ending in vowels varied somewhat from the standard endings. You also found that the endings for feminine stems are different from those for the masculines.

However, within a paradigm, the stem remained the same. All you needed to do was to add different endings to the same stem.

In this lesson we will look at the declension of stems ending in consonants. Nouns/adjectives ending in consonants are more regular and stick generally to the standard pattern of endings. However, there are many peculiarities associated with the declension of consonant ending stems that it is important for us to notice them.

  1. Stems Ending in consonants normally take the standard case endings observing the rules of internal sandhi.
  2. The declensional forms show variations between stronger and weaker stems. They have either two forms (strong and weak) or three (strong, middle and weakest). This distinction between strong and weak is made by a difference in the quality of the vowel of the stem (long vs short or occasionally strengthening) or presence vs absence of nasal or sometimes by other peculiar means.
  3. Where there is variation, for masculine and feminine words, the nominative singular, the nominative dual, the nominative plural, accusative singular and the accusative dual show the strong stem; the rest show the weak stem. That is, the first five cases going horizontally are strong. The rest are weak.
  4. Among the weak cases, there is either a single form or a two-fold division into the middle (having endings beginning with consonants – instrumental-dative-ablative dual; and instrumental, dative-ablative and locative plural) weakest forms (having endings beginning with a vowels – accusative plural; instrumental, dative, ablative-genitive and locative singular; genitive-locative dual;  and genitive plural).
  5. The above is for masculine and feminine. In neuters, the nominative and accusative cases are identical. The nominative-accusative plural is strong, the others weak. Of the weak, where there is a two-fold division, the nominative-accusative dual belong to the weakest class and the nominative-accusative singular to the middle class. The other cases are like the masculine/feminine above.
  6. The declension of masculine and feminine stems are identical. Many stems form a special feminine derivative ending in ī  ई , normally adding this ī  ई to the weak form of the masculine. In this case it is declined like ī  ई ending feminines.
  7. The masculine and feminine nominative singular adds the standard “s” to the stem. But by rules of word formation, only one consonant is allowed after the final vowel, and this should be one of the permitted finals. Therefore, normally, the added “s” is dropped and the remaining consonant is converted to one of the permitted finals.

As an example, let us take stems ending in अन् (an). These are stems that end in अन् (an), मन् or वन्. When you go through the paradigm you will notice that:

  1. In the strong cases the strong cases the vowel of the ending अ is strengthened to ā  आ
  2. In the weakest cases the vowel of the ending a अ is dropped
  3. In the middle cases, the final n न् is dropped
  4. As peculiarity of this “an” ending, the final n न् of the nominative singular is also lost


Note: For this paradigm, rājan राजन्, the locative singular has also a middle form  rājani राजनि

Now, let us take a neuter stem as an example.


Note 1. Like in the case of “rājan राजन्”, the locative singular has a middle form nāmani नामनि also.

Note 2. The dual cases of the accusative and nominative are the weakest cases. However, this is optional in the case of “an” ending stems (it can be a middle form also)

The reference section gives the paradigms for different consonant ending stems.

To save space, for each stem I have given only the following cases: Nominative Singular, Nominative Plural, Nominative Dual, ,  Instrumental Singular, Instrumental Dual, Locative Plural and Vocative Singular. The other cases can be derived from these cases: The rules for deriving these are given in these tables:



For example, let us take the stem vaṇij   वणिज्.

Let us say you want the genitive plural of this stem. The tables above tell us that to the genitive plural can be derived from the instrumental singular. The instrumental singular of vaṇij   वणिज् is given in the tables as vaṇijā   वणिजा. Therefore the genitive plural is vaṇijām   वणिजाम्.

Let us now derive the dative plural. The dative plural can be derived from the instrumental dual. The instrumental dual is vaṇigbhyām   वणिग्भ्याम्. Therefore the dative plural is vaṇigbhyaḥ  वणिग्भ्यः.

In this fashion you can derive the entire paradigm.

Please study the first few verses of the नळोपाख्यानम् naḷopākhyānam   – The story of Nala – that I have analysed on a first level and uploaded here. This will help you understand how to analyse Sanskrit verses.


Derive the full declensional paradigms of:

  1. ahan
  2. balin
  3. marut
  4. pratyañc
  5. kāmaduh

3 thoughts on “Lesson 7 – Declension of stems ending in consonants

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