Lesson 19 – Athematic verbs – Classes 5 and 8

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

In lessons 16 and 17, we looked at athematic verbs of class 2. We looked at the active and middle voices of the present indicative, the imperfect, the optative and the imperative tenses, and also at the participles of class 2 verbs. We said that in class 2 verbs the endings are directly added to the root.

In this lesson we will look at verbs of classes 5 and 8.

Let us quickly review what we said are the features of athematic verbs.

  1. All thematic verbs stems end in the characteristic “a” whereas athematic verbs do not have this characteristic stem ending
  2. Athematic verbs show a distinction of strong and weak stems :The following forms are strong:
    1. The first, second and third persons singular active of present indicative  and imperfect
    2. The third person singular active of imperative
    3. The three first person forms of the imperative, both active and middle

    All other forms are weak (including all middle forms except as in 3 above).

  3. Also, the optative active, the second person singular of the imperative, the third person middle plural and the middle participle are formed differently from the thematic verbs.
  4. The personal endings are the same for thematic and athematic verbs except for the second person singular of the imperative and the third person middle plural of the indicative, the imperfect and the imperative.

Let us take classes 5 and 8.

Classes 5 and 8

In class 5,

-no -नो is added to the root to make the strong stem and

-nu -नु is added to the root to make the weak stem.

In class 8,

-o -ओ and -u -उ are added to make the strong and weak stems respectively.

Note that all verbs of class 8 except √kr̥ √कृ  (“do”) end in “n” “न्” and so class 5 and 8 stems are indistinguishable  from each other (except for those of root √kr̥ √कृ).

Thus class 5 root √su √सु (“press out”) forms the strong stem suno सुनो and weak stem sunu सुनु and class 8 root √tan √तन् (“stretch”) forms strong stem tano तनो and weak stem tanu तनु.

Note: The “u” of the class sign at the end of the weak stem is optionally dropped before the “m” and “v” endings of the 1st person dual and 1st person plural. Thus, sunuvaḥ सुनुवः or sunvaḥ सुन्वः and sunumaḥ सुनुमः or sunmaḥ सुन्मः

Note that this dropping of “u” does not happen if the root ends in a consonant (so that combination of three consonants is prevented). So, only āpnuvaḥ आप्नुवः, āpnumaḥ आप्नुमः etc.

Note: The “u” before a vowel ending (third person plural) becomes “uv” in sandhi, and the “u” is dropped (unless the root ends in a consonant). Thus sunvanti सुन्वन्ति and āpnuvanti आप्नुवन्ति (from class 5 root √āp √आप्)

Note: The second person singular ends in “nu” (class 5) and “u” (class 8). Thus sunu सुनु, tanu तनु etc.

Note: The root śru श्रु (“hear”) of class 5 makes the stem from śr श्र्. Thus śr̥ṇoti शृणोति, śr̥ṇu शृणु.

Some paradigms: (note, in the paradigms the dropping of “u” has been randomly done)

Note: the order given below is

third person singular, dual, plural,

second person singular, dual, plural and

first person singular, dual, plural

√su √सु (“press out”)

Present indicative

Active                                                              Middle

sunoti sunutaḥ sunvanti                           sunute sunvāte sunvate

sunoṣi sunuthaḥ sunutha                        sunuṣe sunvāthe sunudhve

sunomi sunvaḥ sunmaḥ                            sunve sunvahe sunmahe


Active                                                               Middle

asunot asunutām asunvan                        asunuta asunvātām asunvata

asunoḥ asunutam asunuta                       asunuthām asunvāthām asunudhvam

asunavam asunuva asunuma                  asunvi asunuvahi asunumahi


Active                                                                Middle

sunuyāt sunuyātām sunuyuḥ                    sunvīta sunvīyātām sunvīran

sunuyāḥ sunuyātam sunuyāta                  sunvīthāḥ sunvīyāthām sunvīdhvam

sunuyām sunuyāva sunuyāma                 sunvīya sunvīvahi sunvīmahi

(for root √āp √आप् the paradigm would be āpnuvīta आप्नुवीत etc.)


Active                                                                Middle

sunotu sunutām sunvantu                        sunutām sunvātām sunvatām

sunu sunutam sunuta                                 sunuṣva sunvāthām sunudhvam

sunavāni sunavāva sunavāma                  sunavai sunavāvahai sunavāmahai

(for consonant ending roots, normally for second active singular, the “hi” ending is used rather than the “u” ending. So āpnuhi आप्नुहि, aśnuhi अश्नुहि etc.)

Present participle

The present participle is formed by adding “ant” and “āna” for active and middle respectively, to the weak stem.

Thus from √su √सु comes sunvant सुन्वन्त् (feminine sunvatī सुन्वती) and sunvāna सुन्वान; from √āp √आप् comes āpnuvant आप्नुवन्त् and āpnuvāna आप्नुवान.

The extremely common class 8 root root √kr̥ √कृ  (“do”) irregularly forms the strong stem in karo करो and the weak stem in kuru कुरु. The class sign “u” is always dropped (it is not optional) before the “v” and “m” of 1st persons dual and plural, and also before the “y” of the optative active.

[Note: In ancient Sanskrit √kr̥ √कृ used to be of class 5 and formed its stems regularly in kr̥ṇo कृणो and kr̥ṇu कृणु . The root seems to have passed into a class 8 irregular formation in classical Sanskrit].

Present Indicative

Active                                                               Middle

karoti kurutaḥ kurvanti                                kurute kurvāte kurvate

karoṣi kuruthaḥ kurutha                              kuruṣe kurvāthe kurudhve

karomi kurvaḥ kurmaḥ                                kurve kurvahe kurmahe


Active                                                               Middle

akarot akurutām akurvan                            akuruta akurvātām akurvata

akaroḥ akurutam akuruta                            akuruthāḥ akurvāthām akurudhvam

akarvam akurva akurma                              akurvi akurvahi akurmahi


Active                                                                Middle

kuryāt kuryātām kuryuḥ                               kurvīta kurvīyātām kurvīran

kuryāḥ kuryātam kuryāta                             kurvīthāḥ kurvīyāthām kurvīdhvam

kuryām kuryāva kuryāma                             kurvīya kurvīvahi kurvīmahi


Active                                                                Middle

karotu kuruutām kurvantu                           kurutām kurvātām kurvatām

kuru kurutam kuruta                                     kuruṣva kurvāthām kurudhvam

karavāṇi karavāva karavāma                        karavai karavāvahai karavāmahai

Present participle

The participles are kurvant कुर्वन्त्  (feminine kurvatī कुर्वती)and kurvāṇa कुर्वाण

This is the end of lesson 19. In this lesson we looked at the conjugation of athematic verbs of classes 5 and 8.

Please study the first few verses (I have reached up to verse 11)  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.


3 thoughts on “Lesson 19 – Athematic verbs – Classes 5 and 8

  1. namaste,
    I am not clear on the imperative form of ‘su’ root formation; all other forms are fine and understand their formation.
    For 3rd person, I see it as su+ nu + ntu . It looks like ‘u’ of ‘nu’ is transformed into ‘va’.
    I would see if ‘o’ was involved and therefore resulting in ‘av’.

    Can you assist on how the final from ends up to be sunvantu?

    Thank you,

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