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Adding Emphasis | Learn Sanskrit Online

Adding Emphasis

Language is a way for people to communicate, and when one person wants to communicate with another, he or she might want to emphasize one idea more than another. In English, we emphasize words by speaking them differently; that is, we usually raise our voice when saying them, or else we speak them with a higher pitch. For illustration, compare the two sentences below:

This is called the "stress accent," and Sanskrit does not have it. Instead, Sanskrit uses some special uninflected words. When these words follow some other word, that word becomes emphasized. In this lesson, we will study some of these uninflected words and learn how to use them.


Adding eva after a word is the most common way of emphasizing it. eva works just like the English stress accent. English translations of eva could be "indeed" or "truly," but these translations are clunky and sound out of place in modern English.

The word eva can also mean "alone" or "only," as you can see in the examples below. This secondary meaning depends on the context of the sentence.

tu and hi

Adding tu or hi after a word is another way of adding emphasis. However, both of these words also carry some extra meaning with them. tu can have a sense of contradiction, like the English word "but." Meanwhile, hi usually has a sense of conclusion, like the English "for" or "after all."


The word api is used like all three of the words above, but it emphasizes the word much more weakly. It most commonly has the meaning of "also" or "additionally." Additionally, api is often combined with other uninflected words. When combined in this way, it is allowed to appear first in the sentence.

The words above are frequently used in Sanskrit poetry, but they're used for more than just emphasis. Sanskrit poetry requires that all lines follow a specific syllable pattern of heavy and light syllables, and these words are often used to fill gaps in the pattern. Verb prefixes are often used in the same way.

Devanagari: Common vowels

The three consonants that we haven't studied yet — ṭha, ḍha, and jha — are quite rare. For that reason, let's shift our focus to the Devanagari vowel symbols. Unlike the vowel marks, the vowel symbols are only used at the beginning of a word. Let's start with these five:


All other vowel symbols can be derived from these five using vowel marks. For example, ā, o, and au all come from a.