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Primary Suffixes | Learn Sanskrit Online

Primary Suffixes

Also known as: kṛt-pratyaya (a special kind of suffix)

Introduction

In the previous lesson, we learned that a prefix is a group of sounds attached to the front of a word. A group of sounds attached to the end of a word, meanwhile, is called a suffix. In this lesson, we will study some of the suffixes that turn verbs into nouns. Such suffixes are often called primary suffixes because they're the first thing to follow the verb root.

In Sanskrit, there are many different primary suffixes. We'll take a look at the most common ones below. To use a suffix, though, we should know three things about it: its meaning, its gender, and the vowel change it causes.

Now, here is a summary of the suffixes.

SuffixMeaningGenderVowel change
a
variousmasculinemedium
अन
ana
act of doing Xneutermedium
त्र
tra
means of doing Xneutermedium

For a and ana, the root vowel may sometimes be strengthened to the strongest level if the result would contain the ā vowel.

-a

a is an old and common noun suffix. As part of its complex history, it causes a final cavarga consonant to shift to kavarga.

This suffix is related to the -os of Greek and the -us of Latin.

-ana

ana does not cause the same consonant shift that a does. It's actually quite simple to use: just add it to the end of the root! Although it usually defines the act of doing something — ceremonies and events, usually — it is occasionally used more concretely, as in the second example below.

-tra

tra is also a simple suffix. It almost always defines the means of doing something.