Lesson 12 – Present Participles

After a review of previous lessons (see lesson 11) we are ready to move ahead with newer concepts

Welcome to lesson 12. A 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 present participles (active and middle).

The present participle is equivalent to the English participle “seeing” in “the man seeing the donkey”.

Present Participles

Active: The present active participle of thematic verbs is made by adding “nt  न्त्” to the stem. The stem is formed in the normal fashion as we have learned before for thematic verbs (class 1, 4, 6 and 10). Instead of adding the personal endings to get the conjugation, add “nt  न्त्” to get the present active participle.

For example, the present active participle of  of class 1 (thematic) root √bhū √भू

  • √bhū √भू –> gunated –> bho  भो + a अ –> bhava  भव + nt  न्त् –> bhavant  भवन्त्

[Note 1.  This form can be derived from the third person plural by removing the i  इ; bhavanti  भवन्ति –>  bhavant  भवन्त्]

[Note 2. Many grammarians render the participle as ending in t  त् rather than nt  न्त्. So bhavat  भवत् instead on   bhavant  भवन्त्. The usage remains the same in both. That is, the cases are the same.]

The declensional paradigm of the active participle is given in the reference in “Stems ending in consonants

  • [For masculine it is  bhavan, bhavantau, bhavantaḥ; bhavantam; bhavantau; bhavataḥ; bhavatā etc. भवन्, भवन्तौ, भवन्तः, भवन्तम्, भवन्तौ, भवतः, भवता etc. You will notice that the first five cases going horizontally are strong, the rest are weak;
  • For neuter it is bhavan, bhavantī, bhavanti, bhavan, bhavantī, bhavanti,  bhavatā etc.  भवन्, भवन्ती, भवन्ति, भवन्, भवन्ती, भवन्ति, भवता etc.
  • The feminine is formed by adding an ī  ई to the masculine-neuter form to get bhavantī  भवन्ती. It is then declined like any ī  ई ending feminine]

Middle: The middle participle (of thematic verbs) is formed by adding māna  मान to the stem. For example the middle participle of the verb √labh  √लभ् is formed as:

√labh  √लभ् –> gunated –> labh  लभ् + a अ –> labha लभ + māna  मान –> labhamāna  लभमान

So, the middle participle is labhamāna  लभमान (masculine and neuter) and labhamānā  लभमाना (feminine). They are declined like the “a” ending masculine and neuters and the ā ending feminines.

Use of present participles:

The present participle is equivalent to the English participle “seeing” in “the man seeing the donkey”.

We saw the usage of the present active participle in lesson 4, in the story “The donkey in the tiger skin”

सुचिरं हि चरन्मौनं श्रेयः पश्यत्यबुद्धिमान् suciraṃ hi caranmaunaṃ śreyaḥ paśyatyabuddhimān

We learnt that caran  चरन्  is the nominative singular masculine (present active participle of √car – “to move”) carant (carat) – “moving”

Other examples:

nagaraṃ dhāvan rāmaḥ kr̥ṣṇaṃ tāḍayati  नगरं धावन् रामः कृष्णं ताडयति – Rama, running to the city, beats Krishna.

nagaraṃ dhāvantaṃ  kr̥ṣṇaṃ rāmaḥ tāḍayati  नगरं धावन्तं  कृष्णं रामः ताडयति – Rama beats Krishna running to the city.

  1. In the above two examples you can see the participle being used in the nominative case and the accusative case. In a similar fashion depending on the noun being modified the participle( which is an adjective in use) will also be modified.
  2. It is important to note that like a conjugated verb, the participle is also bound by nouns in cases. Here you see नगरं धावन् nagaraṃ dhāvan and नगरं धावन्तम्  nagaraṃ dhāvantam. The word nagaram  नगरम् is in the accusative case binding to the participle धावन्, धावन्तम् etc. Similarly you could have said nagarāt  नगरात् instead of nagaram  नगरम् to mean “running from the city”.
  3. Like other adjectives, the participle can be used as a noun. For example nagaraṃ dhāvan kr̥ṣṇaṃ tāḍayati  नगरं धावन्  कृष्णं ताडयति – (He, the man), running to the city, beats Krishna or nagaraṃ dhāvantaṃ rāmaḥ tāḍayati  नगरं धावन्तं रामः ताडयति – Rama beats (him, the man) running to the city.

Other usages of the the participle. (All these usages are only different ways of interpreting the participle)

  1. Action happening at the same time as the verb: iti bruvan rāmaḥ kr̥ṣṇaṃ tāḍayati  इति ब्रुवन् रामः कृष्णं ताडयति – Saying thus, Rama beats Krishna.
  2. Cause of an action: kr̥ṣṇaṃ dhāvantaṃ paśyan rāmaḥ taṃ tāḍayati  कृष्णं धावन्तं पश्यन् रामः तं ताडयति – Seeing Krishna running (because Krishna was running) Rama beats him.
  3. The agent of an action: yo dhāvan gacchati sa rāmaḥ  यो धावन् गच्छति स रामः – He who is going running to the city, he (is) Rama
  4. A general saying: dhāvan patati  धावन् पतति – (He who) runs, falls.

The middle participle is used in exactly the same manner as the active participle: pustkaṃ labhamānaḥ rāmaḥ kr̥ṣṇaṃ tāḍayati  पुस्त्कं लभमानः रामः कृष्णं ताडयति ; pustkaṃ labhamānaṃ kr̥ṣṇaṃ rāmaḥ tāḍayati  पुस्त्कं लभमानं कृष्णं रामः ताडयति etc.

Note: The present participle cannot be used as a predicate noun: So you cannot say ahaṃ gacchannasmi  अहं गच्छन्नस्मि for “I am going”

Negation: The action of the present participle can be negated by adding the prefix “a” अ (“an” before vowel).

gr̥ham aviśan rāmo bahistiṣṭhati  गृहम् अविशन् रामो बहिस्तिष्ठति – Rama stands outside without entering the house

You can see that an “a” अ has been added to the present participle विशन् viśan to negate the action.

This is the end of lesson 11.

Please study the first few verses (I have reached up to verse 8)  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. ahamekadā dakṣiṇāraṇye carannapaśyam अहमेकदा दक्षिणारण्ये   चरन्नपश्यम्
  2. hasannapi rājā tāḍayati  हसन्नपि राजा ताडयति
  3. nagarādāgacchantīṃ nārīṃ sa tāḍayati  नगरादागच्छन्तीं नारीं स ताडयति
  4. gacchataḥ pustakaṃ labhamānaḥ sa paṭhati  गच्छतः पुस्तकं लभमानः स पठति (this is tricky)

Translate into Sanskrit

  1. The king, going to the city, sees a donkey eating grain.
  2. Saying thus, the boy runs to the city.
  3. I wish I would see the man running from the city
  4. Go! Obtain the book of the running man.



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