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Neuter Nouns | Learn Sanskrit Online

Neuter Nouns

Also known as: napuṃsaka-liṅga ("neuter gender")

Introduction

Now is a good time to start our study of the neuter gender. This might seem like an odd idea; why should we start studying another gender when we haven't even finished our discussion of the masculine gender? The answer is that the neuter and masculine genders behave very similarly. The two differ in cases 1, 2, and 8 only; they are the same everywhere else.

Inflection

You can see the behavior of a normal neuter noun below. The word shown is phala, which means "fruit."

-a (neuter)
फल Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) फलम्
phalam
फले
phale
फलानि
phalāni
Case 2 (object) फलम्
phalam
फले
phale
फलानि
phalāni
Case 8 (address) फल
phala
फले
phale
फलानि
phalāni

Notice that case 1 and case 2 use identical forms. This is one of the strange properties of the neuter gender, and it applies to all neuter words.

tad in the neuter gender

Let's take a look at tad in the neuter gender:

tad (neuter)
तद् Singular Dual Plural
Case 1 (subject) तत्
tat
ते
te
तानि
tāni
Case 2 (object) तत्
tat
ते
te
तानि
tāni

The words tat and te follow some new external sandhi rules.

tat

First, tat follows these general rules:

Moreover, a final t follows this rule:

Final t takes the point of pronunciation of the stop that follows it, as long as the stop is not in kavarga or pavarga.

Vowels in the dual number

The dual form te is identical to the case 1 plural of masculine tad. These two forms are easy to confuse; but all dual forms follow an extra sandhi rule:

ī, ū, and e, when they are at the end of dual forms, are immune to sandhi changes; they never combine.

This rule is quite strange, but it's best to just accept it and move on. If you like, you can consider it a way to remove ambiguity: