Lesson 33 – Other secondary conjugations

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

In the previous lesson, lesson 32, we looked at the causative. We said that the causative was a secondary conjugation. A secondary conjugation is one in which a whole system of conjugations is formed from a derivative (derived from the root) conjugation stem, rather than the root itself. This also connected with a modification of the sense of the root.

We said that the main secondary conjugations are:

  • The Passive
  • The Causative (ṇijanta णिजन्त)
  • The Intensive (yaṅanta यङन्त)
  • The Desiderative (sannanta सन्नन्त)
  • The Denominative (nāmadhātu नामधातु)

We had already considered the passive in lesson 26. And in lesson 32 we looked at the causative. We said that a causative of a root communicates the sense that a person or thing causes or makes another thing or person to undergo the state denoted by the root. That is, the causative changes the sense of the root from “do X” to “cause to do X”.

In this lesson we will look at the other three secondary conjugations.

The Intensive

[See Whitney 1000 to 1025 for a full discussion on intensives.]

The intensive is also called the frequentative. The intensive conjugation signifies the repetition of intensification of the action expressed by the primary conjugation of the root.

In English, intensives normally appear as adjectives modifying the verb. “What the hell is going on here?”; “What the heck is going on here?”: “I am bloody well going to do it”. These are all intensive uses of the verb, where an adverbs “heck”, “hell” and “bloody well” provide for the intensification.

In English, sometimes the reflexive is used as an intensive. For example, “I myself did it”. Many times, in the Indian usage of English, the word “only” is seen to be used as an intensive. “I only did it”, meaning “It is I who did it”.

Intensives were common in Latin. One way of making a verb intensive was to add the prefix e- or per- to the verb. For example, “ructa” means “burp” while “eructa” means “belch”.

The intensive is not commonly used in classical Sanskrit, but, it was quite common in ancient Sanskrit.

The intensive stem is formed by a strong reduplication, and it is inflected like verbs of class 3. The strong reduplication could be done in three ways. See Whitney for details.

Using this, all conjugations can be formed: present indicative, imperfect, optative, imperative, participle etc. Some tertiary conjugations can also be made.

An example of intensive conjugation.

From root √vid √विद् we can get the present indicative conjugation vevetti vevittaḥ vevidati वेवेत्ति वेवित्तः वेविदति etc.

The participle would be vevidat वेविदत्.

See Whitney 1000 to 1025 fro details.

The Desiderative

[See Whitney 1026 to 1040 for a full discussion on desideratives.]

The sense of the desiderative is to indicate desire to perform the action of the verb. For example, let us the root √pā √पा (“drink”). pibati पिबति (simple present) means “he drinks”. pipāsati पिपासति (desiderative) means “he wishes to drink”.

The desiderative stem is formed from the simple root by the addition of two characteristics – a reduplication and an appended -sa -स (which sometimes takes the auxiliary vowel i इ to form -iṣa -इष. See Whitney 1025 to 1040 for details.

Once the stem is formed it is conjugated like any thematic verb.

Using this, all conjugations can be formed: present indicative, imperfect, optative, imperative, participle, perfect, futures, passive,  etc. Some tertiary conjugations can also be made.

The desiderative also allows for the formation of derivative verbal nouns and adjectives. One key derivation is the adjective in u उ. For example: cikīrṣu चिकीर्षु means – “desiring to do”.

There is also an action noun that can be derived by adding ā आ. For example: pipāsa पिपास means “desire to drink” meaning “thirst”

The Denominative

[See Whitney 1053 to 1068 for a full discussion on denominatives.]

The denominative conjugation has a noun as its basis. It is a verb made from a noun. If the noun from which the denominative is made is X, then the meaning of the denominative could be any of the following: be like X, act as X, cause to be X, regard or treat as X, play the part of X, make into X, use X, make the application of X, wish, desire or crave X etc. [There are some denominatives that could mean something that is very different from the above also].

The denominative stem is made by adding a -ya -य to the noun stem (sometimes the noun stem is changed a bit. See Whitney). Then it can be conjugated like any thematic verb in the present system – present indicative, imperative, optative, imperfect and participles.

For example:

  1. amitrayati अमित्रयति from amitra अमित्र (“enemy”) means “plays the enemy”.
  2. devayati देवयति from deva देव (“god”) means “cultivates the gods, is pious”
  3. priyāyate प्रियायते from priya प्रिय (“dear”) means “holds dear”
  4. adhvarīyati अध्वरीयति from adhvara अध्वर (“sacrifice”) means “performs sacrifice”
  5. putriyati पुत्रियति from putra पुत्र (“son”) means “desires a son”
  6. laghayati लघयति from laghu लघु (“easy”) means “makes easier”
  7. ukṣaṇyati उक्षण्यति from ukṣaṇ उक्षण् (“bull”) means “acts like a bull

I suppose you get the drift.

[Note: In Classical Sanskrit, any noun (with sometimes small changes in the stem) can be combined with any of the forms of √kr̥ √कृ or √bhū √भू. With √kr̥ √कृ the noun X becomes verb “make X” and with √bhū √भू it becomes “become X”.

For example:

  1. stambhībhū स्तम्भीभू from stambha स्तम्भ (“post”) means “become like a post”
  2. surabhīkr̥ सुरभीकृ from surabhi सुरभि (“fragrance”) means “make fragrant”


This is the end of lesson 33. In this lesson, we looked at some secondary conjugations.





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