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Case 2: The Object | Learn Sanskrit Online

Case 2: The Object

Also known as: the accusative case, dvitīyā vibhakti ("second division")

Introduction

A few lessons ago, we studied the case that is used to define a verb's subject. Now we will learn the case that is used to define a verb's object. For simplicity, let's call this case the object case, or case 2 for short.

Take a look at the example sentences below. (These sentences have not had the sandhi rules applied.)

The object case is also used to show that action is done "to" or "toward" something:

You might be familiar with the English word "whom," which is used in expressions like "for whom" and "from whom." The word "whom" can also be used by itself, without a word like "for" or "from." But what does "whom" really mean?

The answer is actually quite simple: the word "whom" is like the "object case" version of the word "who." The rarity of "whom" in English illustrates the fact that inflection has continued to disappear from the English language. "Whom" is often used incorrectly by those who try to make themselves sound educated; sentences like Whom do you think you are? are ungrammatical.

So, where should "whom" be used? It is used whenever the idea of "who" is not in the subject case. So, we have Who do you think you are?, but we also have Whom did you see?, I am the person whom you approach, and Of whom do you speak? The words "me," "him," "her," and "them" are used in many of the same situations as "whom" — consider Did you see me?, You approach him, You speak of him — but "whom" is much less common.

As far as I am aware, this is the full extent of object-case inflection in modern English.

Inflection

-a (masculine)
गज Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) गजः
gajaḥ
गजौ
gajau
गजाः
gajāḥ
Case 2 (object) गजम्
gajam
गजौ
gajau
गजान्
gajān

The dual endings for case 1 and case 2 are the same! As we proceed with our study of the Sanskrit noun, you'll find that many of the noun endings are not unique. But in a normal sentence, other words usually provide enough context for you to understand a word's meaning.

Pronouns

mad (no gender)
मद् Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) अहम्
aham
आवाम्
āvām
वयम्
vayam
Case 2 (object) माम्
mām
आवाम्
āvām
अस्मान्
asmān
tvad (no gender)
त्वद् Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) त्वम्
tvam
युवाम्
yuvām
यूयम्
yūyam
Case 2 (object) त्वाम्
tvām
युवाम्
yuvām
युष्मान्
yuṣmān
tad (masculine)
तद् Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) सः
saḥ
तौ
tau
ते
te
Case 2 (object) तम्
tam
तौ
tau
तान्
tān

Note the similarity between the endings for the 3rd-person pronoun and the endings for nouns like gaja.

Compound vowel sandhi

When we first talked about sandhi, we restricted ourselves to the simple vowels only. Now we will talk about what happens if the first vowel is a compound vowel. The rule is as follows:

In front of any vowel, a compound vowel has its second vowel sound changed to a semivowel. Remember that e, ai, o, and au are treated as *ai, *āi, *au, and *āu for historical reasons.

Does this rule look familiar? Maybe you'll recognize it if I bring this table back from the second lesson of the guide:

WeakMediumStrong
i, ī*ai*āi
u, ū*au*āu
ṛ, ṝ*ar*ār

This "special rule for complex vowels" is really the same rule that makes gacchaty aśvaḥ. The second vowel sound changes to a semivowel and produces the result we have above. This sandhi rule seems to indicate that the "old" vowel forms really did once exist.

You might not realize it, but you've seen this rule in practice already: in verbs like bhavati and nayati! It's easier to say that the roots of these verbs are bhav and nay, and that's the system we've followed; but, it's just as valid to say that the roots are bho and ne. These roots would change because of the a that we add to make the verb stem:

-e in external sandhi

The word te, which is the masculine plural of tad in case 1, ends in -e. Words that end in e follows a special sandhi rule. The rule is a little arbitrary, but it's straightforward.

First, recall the general rule for final compound vowels:

In front of any vowel, a compound vowel has its second vowel sound changed to a semivowel. Remember that e, ai, o, and au are treated as *ai, *āi, *au, and *āu for historical reasons.

Our new -e sandhi rule extends the rule above:

In external sandhi, e "drops" the semivowel. But when e is in front of a-, e stays the same and the a- disappears. No other changes occur.

Note that the letter a is removed because of the influence of the big and powerful e.

Devanagari: Conjunct Consonants

Two consonants are conjunct when they are next to each other. For example, tarati has no conjunct consonants, whereas taranti has two: n is conjunct to t. In Devanagari, conjunct consonants do strange things. They form strange combinations that are sometimes much different from the two original letters.

It takes a considerable amount of time to get used to these combinations, but the truth is that most of them can be read on the first try. For instance, consider न्त. How would you read this combination? You might notice that the two letters are and , except that the seems to be attached to . So, you might suspect that this is a combination of consonants, leading you to conclude that न्त is nta — correctly! Most of the other conjunct consonants are just as simple, but a few are slightly more complex.

Special Combinations

The conjunct consonants featured here have combined so much that it is impossible to recognize them in the result. Both of these combinations are quite common, so you should learn them well.

देवनागरी
IAST
क्ष
kṣa
ज्ञ
jña