Lesson 9 – Pronouns, Relatives and Numerals

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

In this lesson, we will look at pronouns, relatives and numerals.


In Sanskrit, the pronouns have some marked peculiarities of inflection. Please go to the reference section on Pronouns and Pronomial Stems for a full description of the paradigms.

Pronouns and adjectives declined like pronouns are together called sarvanāma  सर्वनाम in Sanskrit.

In the reference you can see the following:

1. Personal pronouns of the first (I/we two/we) and second (you/you two/you all) persons.asmad

yusmadNote that the personal pronouns have no distinction of gender.

The accusative, dative and genitive have briefer forms along with the full forms. These briefer forms are enclitic and should not be used at the beginning of a sentence.

The genitive form for “my book” is mama pustakam (n) , “my son” is mama putraḥ (m). There is no distinction of gender for mama. There are some derivative adjectives like asmadīya, madīya (my, mine etc.) and tvadīya, yuṣmadīya(your yours etc.). These behave like normal adjectives and agree with their objects [asmadīyaḥ  and other other cases (m), asmadīyā and other cases (f) and asmadīyam and other cases (n)].

[Note: mama is equivalent to the Latin meī; asmadīya, madīya are equivalent to Latin meus (m), mea (f), meum (n). While, for possessive uses Latin normally uses the adjectives and not the genitive, in Sanskrit it is more common to use the genitive]

2. The demonstrative pronouns tad (that), etad (this), idam (this or that) and adas (yonder)

These have separate paradigms for the three genders. Please see the reference section for full paradigms.

The demonstrative pronoun tad also serves the purpose of the pronoun of the third person

Note carefully here: When used as a pronoun of the third person, the genitive case need not agree with the object it qualifies. It is based on the subject. However, when used as a demonstrative pronoun, it is an adjective and agrees with its object.  Therefore: “his book” is tasya pustakam, whereas “rama’s that book” is rāmasya tat pustakam

etad is declined identically to tad, but with an added “e” in the beginning (and any phonetic change this brings in)

Note the peculiarity of tad (and etad) with respect to the nominative singular of masculine and feminine – it uses sas and sā instead of tas and tā

3. The interrogative pronouns

They have the root “k   क्”. It is declined like “tad   तद्” above. Masculine kaḥ kau ke   कः कौ के etc., feminine kā ke kāḥ   का के काः etc. and neuter kim ke kāni   किम् के कानि etc. Note that the neuter nominative singular is kim किम्.

4. The relative pronoun and relatives

This, like the interrogative pronoun, is declined like “tad   तद्”. yaḥ yau ye   यः यौ ये; yā ye yāḥ   या ये याः; and yat ye yāni   यत् ये यानि

In English, the relative is inserted into the independent clause. For example, we would say, “He, who comes, is Rama.” However in Sanskrit we would say (without sandhi), yaḥ āgacchati saḥ rāmaḥ (“who comes, he is Rama”).

Note: the case of “who” is determined by its function in the subordinate clause, while the case of “he” is determined by its function in the main clause.

So we can say, for

“I see that boy who goes” we can say either

“yo bālo gacchati, taṃ paśyāmi” (which boy goes, I see him) or

“yo gacchati, taṃ bālaṃ paśyāmi” (who goes, that boy I see);

Another sentence

I see the boy whose book I read

“yasya bālasya pustakaṃ paṭhāmi, taṃ paśyāmi” (which boy’s book I read, I see him)

“yasya pustakaṃ paṭhāmi, taṃ bālaṃ paśyāmi” (whose book I read, that boy I see)

In addition to this adjectival relative, there are many adverbial relatives. They are given below

The use of adverbial relatives in Sanskrit:

  1. An adverbial relative is always accompanied by a adverbial correlative (where….there; if….then etc.)
  2. Their use is very straightforward, unlike the use of ya above.
  3. Some of the common relatives are:
    1. yadi…tadā (if…then)
    2. yadyapi…tathāpi (even if, even though…still)
    3. yadā…tadā (when, if…then)
    4. yatra…tatra (where…there)
    5. yathā…tathā (since…so, therefore)
  4. Sometimes a relative and (sometimes) its correlative are doubled. In this case the meaning is indefinite. Whoever, wherever etc.

5. Adjectives declined pronomially

Some adjectives are declined according to the pronoun declensional paradigm. For example sarva सर्व (all), viśva  विश्व (all), anya  अन्य (another), anyatara  अन्यतर (either of two), itara  इतर (other) etc.

Some of the directional adjectives are also declined pronomially. pūrva para avara dakṣiṇa uttara apara adhara antara  पूर्व पर अवर दक्षिण उत्तर अपर अधर अन्तर – meaning respectively,  eastern, other, western, southern, northern, other, inferior, outer


The ordinal and cardinal numbers are given in the reference.

Usage of cardinal numbers: The numbers 1 to 19 are used adjectivally, agreeing with their noun in case and gender. For example, daśabhir vīraiḥ  दशभिर् वीरैः “with ten heroes”. The numbers above 19 are used as nouns, either taking the numbered noun as a dependent genitive or standing in the singular in apposition with it. For example: dāsīnāṃ śatam  दासीनां शतम् ( “a hundred maids”, literally “a hundred of maids”; or śataṃ dāsīḥ  शतं दासीः (“a hundred maids”)

Note: eka  एक (one) is declined like a pronoun. So is ubhaya  उभय (both)

Please study the first few verses (I have reached upto verse 7)  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


Translate into English

  1. yasmin gr̥he tiṣṭhāmi tam rāmaḥ paśyati  यस्मिन् गृहे तिष्ठामि तम् रामः पश्यति
  2. yasmai pustakam dadāmi sa bāla āgacchati  यस्मै पुस्तकम् ददामि स बाल आगच्छति
  3. vr̥kṣāṇām hari śatam  वृक्षाणाम् हरि शतम्

Construct the above three sentences/phrases differently, but meaning the same

Translate into English

  1. ko’nyo’sti sadr̥śo mayā  कोऽन्योऽस्ति सदृशो मया
  2. kā tvam bāle  का त्वम् बाले

Translate into Sanskrit (in two ways)

  1. The girl I gave the fruit to, is going
  2. I saw the boy with whose pen I write

Translate into Sanskrit

  1. Where he is going there are no trees there
  2. If I see a tiger, then I run

[Note: Refer to a dictionary if there are words you don’t know.]


4 thoughts on “Lesson 9 – Pronouns, Relatives and Numerals

  1. Could you please parse the Gayatri Mantra word for word. And also a quick question : why is the relative pronoun ‘yad’ used in the Gayatri Mantra in the masculine gender and not the neuter gender as are ‘tat varenyam bhargas’.
    Would they not have to be in the same gender and number? Thanks a gazillion in advance!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.