Lesson 35 – Indeclinables

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In the previous lesson, lesson 34, we looked at the Aorist.

In this lesson we will look at indeclinables (called avyaya अव्यय by the Sanskrit grammarians).

Indeclinables, as their name suggests, remain the same in all cases, numbers, genders etc. They undergo no change.

The indeclinables are:

  • Prepositions
  • Adverbs
  • Conjunctions
  • Interjections

Let us look at them one by one.


A preposition is a word, governing and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause, as in “He put the book on the table”, “Rama killed Ravana in battle”, etc.

Prepositions are very common in English. The two sentence above are examples. Others are:  “the book of Rama”, “Rama gave the book to Ravana”, “Rama killed Ravana by an arrow”, “he fell from the tree” etc.

In Hindi the same functions are done by postpositions (That is the word is used after the noun, instead of, as in English, in front of the noun). Eg. उसने पुस्तक को मेज पर  रखा; राम ने युद्ध में रावण को मार डाला; राम की पुस्तक; राम ने किताब को रावण को दिया; राम ने एक तीर से रावण को मार दिया; वह पेड़ से गिर गया etc.

In Sanskrit the work of the prepositions and postpositions are done by case forms attached to the nouns. For example: yudhi युधि – in battle (locative case) ; bāṇena बाणेन – by arrow (instrumental case); vr̥kṣāt वृक्षात्  – from the tree (ablative case); rāmāya रामाय – to Rama (dative case); rāmasya रामस्य – of Rama (genitive case).

If you compare the English and Hindi sentences above, you will see that in Hindi in many a case even the accusative case is marked by a postposition (को), while in English, there is no preposition to mark the accusative case.

There are some true prepositions (or postpositions) in Sanskrit, but they are not used often. In lesson 14, we looked at verbal prefixes. Most of these verbal prefixes could be used as prepositions in ancient Sanskrit (exceptions to this are the following verbal prefixes: ud ni parā pra ava vi उद् नि परा प्र अव वि). However, in classical Sanskrit such usage is mainly restricted to anu prati ā अनु प्रति आ.

There are also some other words that are used as prepositions / postpositions. saha सह – with; vinā विना – without;

When prepositions are used in Sanskrit, they are combined with a case form of the noun.

anyonyaṃ prati hr̥cchayaḥ अन्योन्यं प्रति हृच्छयः – love towards each other (used with accusative);

rāmeṇa saha रामेण सह – with Rama (with instrumental)

ā martyeṣu मर्त्येषु – among mortals (with locative)

rāmasya agre रामस्य अग्रे – in front of Rama (with genitive) etc.


An adverb is an indeclinable word that modifies the meaning of an adjective, verb, or other adverb, expressing manner, place, time, or degree (e.g. gentlyherenowvery etc.).

We will look at three types of adverbs: Adverbs by suffix; Case forms used as adverbs; and miscellaneous adverbs

Adverbs by suffix

Many adverbs are formed by adding adverb-making suffixes to noun, adjective or pronoun stems.

Some of the common suffixes are:

  • tas तस् (which imparts an ablative sense): eg. ataḥ अतः (hence, so, therefore etc.); itaḥ इतः (from this time, from here etc.); tataḥ ततः (from that etc.); sarvataḥ सर्वतः (from all); agrataḥ अग्रतः (in front); chāgataḥ छागतः (with reference to the goat); dharmataḥ धर्मतः (from duty) and many others.
  • tra त्र (which imparts a locative sense): eg. atra अत्र (here); tatra तत्र (there); kutra कुत्र (where); yatra यत्र (where -relative); anyatra अन्यत्र (in another place); uttaratra उत्तरत्र (after, beyond, later, northward etc.) and others
  • ha ह (same as tra above): kuha कुह (where); iha इह (here) and others
  • thā था (adverbs of manner): tathā तथा (in that manner, such, thus etc.); yathā यथा (for instance etc.); kathā कथा (how, whence, why etc.) and others
  • ti ति (same as thā था above): iti इति (thus) and others
  • dā दा (adverbs of time): tadā तदा (then, at that time); yadā यदा (whenever); kadā कदा (when); sadā सदा (always) ; sarvadā सर्वदा (at all times) and others
  • dhā धा (mainly made from numerals signifying -fold, times, ways etc.): ekadhā एकधा (in one way, at once etc.); dvidhā द्विधा (twofold, in two ways etc.); anekadhā अनेकधा (in many ways, often etc.) and others
  • śas शस् (distributively used adverbs of quantity, measure or manner): ekaśaḥ एकशः (one by one); śataśaḥ शतशः (by hundreds); sarvaśaḥ सर्वशः (wholly); mukhyaśaḥ मुख्यशः (principally) and others

Case forms used as adverbs

  • Accusative: nāma नाम (by name); sukham सुखम् (happily); naktam नक्तम् (by night); rahaḥ रहः (secretly); idam इदम् (now, here); adaḥ अदः (yonder) and others
  • Instrumental: kṣaṇena क्षणेन (instantly); divā दिवा (by day); uttareṇa उत्तरेण (to the north); śanaiḥ शनैः (slowly); uccaiḥ उच्चैः (on high) and others
  • Dative: not used very often as adverb
  • Ablative: kasmāt कस्मात् (why); ārāt आरात् (afar); dūrāt दूरात् (afar); uttarāt उत्तरात् (from the north) and others
  • Genitive: not used very often as adverb
  • Locative: dūre दूरे (afar); r̥te ऋते (without); agre अग्रे (in front) and others

Miscellaneous adverbs

Some of these are:

  • avaḥ अवः (down); adhaḥ अधः (below); purā पुरा (before); anti अन्ति (near); upari उपरि (above)
  • Some asserverative particles like hanta kila khalu tu hi हन्त किल खलु तु हि etc.
  • Negative particles like na ma न म
  • Interrogative particles like kad kim kuvid nanu कद् किम् कुविद् ननु etc.
  • Particles of time like nu adya नु अद्य etc.


ca च (and); vā वा (or)


Some examples are:

bhoḥ भोः (O!); dhik धिक् (alas!); kaṣṭam कष्टम् (woe is me!) etc.

This is the end of lesson 35. In this lesson we looked at indeclinables.




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