Sanskrit for Beginners

A simple and comprehensive guide

Our complete guide to Sanskrit grammar uses clear and simple language that anyone can understand. We focus on core concepts and principles, not on dull busywork.

You can download this guide as a PDF here.

Last updated on 27 February 2022. Join our mailing list for updates.

Before you begin

You can learn Sanskrit without studying grammar. Our introduction will show you how. If you have questions about this approach or about our guide, write to us and we will reply as soon as we can.

Part I: Fundamentals

Our introduction explains our guide's philosophy and design. Then, our core lessons teach the essential parts of Sanskrit grammar.

Introduction

  1. For beginners
  2. For experts

Core lessons

  1. The Sanskrit language
  2. Basic vowels
  3. Short and long vowels
  4. Semivowels
  5. Compound vowels
  6. Consonants
  7. anusvāra and visarga
  8. Syllables
  9. Sandhi
  10. Sentences
  11. Nominals
  12. Verbs
  13. Uninflected words
  14. Prefixes
  15. Suffixes
  16. Compounds
  17. Review

Intermission

Now is a good time to use our acquisition resources and focus on interesting content. Remember: we acquire Sanskrit through content, not through rules!

Part II: Major topics

Each topic below is like its own small book. You can read these topics in any order. Earlier topics tend to focus on details, and later topics tend to focus on meaning.

Sounds

  1. The sound system
  2. Vowels
  3. Consonants
  4. Other sounds
  5. Modern pronunciation

Sandhi

  1. The sandhi system
  2. Vowel sandhi
  3. visarga sandhi
  4. Consonant sandhi between words
  5. Consonant sandhi within a word

Nominals 1: Normal stems

  1. The nominal system
  2. Basic nominal endings
  3. -a stems
  4. , , and stems
  5. -i and -u stems
  6. -ṛ stems
  7. -ai, -o, and -au stems
  8. Consonant stems

Nominals 2: Pronouns and numbers

  1. asmad and yuṣmad
  2. tad, etad, idam, and adas
  3. kim and yad
  4. Pronominal adjectives
  5. Number words

Verbs 1: Special tense-moods

  1. Special tense-moods
  2. The present tense
  3. The command mood
  4. The ordinary past tense
  5. The potential mood
  6. ātmanepada
  7. The bhū, div, tud, and cur classes
  8. The su, tan, and krī classes
  9. The ad and rudh classes
  10. The hu class
  11. karmaṇi and bhāve prayoga

Verbs 2: Other tense-moods

  1. Other tense-moods
  2. The simple future tense
  3. The conditional mood
  4. The distant future tense
  5. The distant past tense
  6. The recent past tense
  7. The blessing mood

Verbs 3: Derived roots

  1. Causal roots
  2. Desiderative roots
  3. Nominal roots
  4. Intensive roots

Uninflected words

  1. Types of uninflected words
  2. The upasarga
  3. Other prefixes
  4. ca, , and others
  5. Adverbs

Suffixes

  1. The suffix system
  2. -tvā and -ya
  3. -ta and -tavat
  4. -tum
  5. -tavya, -anīya, and -ya
  6. -at, -āna, and -vas
  7. Other root suffixes
  8. Nominal suffixes

Compounds

  1. The compound system
  2. The dvandva
  3. The tatpuruṣa
  4. The bahuvrīhi
  5. The avyayībhāva

Sentences

  1. Sentence structure
  2. Agreement
  3. Verbless sentences
  4. Questions
  5. Relative phrases
  6. Participles
  7. The eight cases

For further study

If you want to learn more about Sanskrit's rules, we recommend our vyākaraṇa-praveśaḥ series, which is a gentle introduction to traditional Sanskrit grammar. You can also read our site resources page for texts, dictionaries, grammar references, and other helpful resources.

If you feel stuck, write to us and we'll see if we can help.