In a sentence, multiple words might refer to the same idea. For example, consider these simple sentences:

  • रामः पृच्छति।
    rāmaḥ pṛcchati.
    Rama asks.

  • रामो योधः।
    rāmo yodhaḥ.
    Rama is a warrior.

In the first sentence, rāmaḥ shows who performs the action, and pṛcchati shows the action this performer does. In the second sentence, rāmaḥ shows who is being described, and yodhaḥ describes rāmaḥ.

When two words refer to the same concept, they must use the same gender, case, number, and person. For example, the sentences below are all incorrect because their words don't match:

  • *रामः पृच्छन्ति।
    *rāmaḥ pṛcchanti.
    (Number doesn't match.)

  • *रामः पृच्छामि।
    *rāmaḥ pṛcchāmi.
    (Person doesn't match.)

  • *रामो योधम्।
    *rāmo yodham.
    (Gender doesn't match.)

  • *रामो योधेन।
    *rāmo yodhena.
    (Case doesn't match.)

This matching is called agreement. In this lesson, we will study agreement in more detail.

Agreement of two nominals

Two nominals that refer to the same idea must have the same gender, case, and number:

  • कृष्णः सर्पः
    kṛṣṇaḥ sarpaḥ
    black snake

  • कृष्णौ सर्पौ
    kṛṣṇau sarpau
    two black snakes

  • कृष्णाः सर्पाः
    kṛṣṇāḥ sarpāḥ
    many black snakes

  • कृष्णाय सर्पाय
    kṛṣṇāya sarpāya
    for the black snake

  • कृष्णा सर्पी
    kṛṣṇā sarpī
    (female) black snake

In each example above, one word is the subject (sarpaḥ) and the other word describes it (kṛṣṇaḥ). The genders, cases, and numbers of these words completely match.

If the sentence uses a word like ca (“and”) to connect multiple nominals, the describing word should match the number of all of its described words together:

  • रामो योधः।
    rāmo yodhaḥ.
    Rama is a warrior.
    (singular number)

  • रामो लक्ष्मणश् च योधौ
    rāmo lakṣmaṇaś ca yodhau.
    Rama and Lakshmana are warriors.
    (dual number)

  • रामो लक्ष्मणो भरतश् च योधाः
    rāmo lakṣmaṇo bharataś ca yodhāḥ.
    Rama, Lakshmana, and Bharata are warriors.
    (plural number)

But if the sentence uses a word like (“or”), the describing word usually matches the number of the last word:

  • रामः सत्यवान्।
    rāmaḥ satyavān.
    Rama is truthful.

  • रामो लक्ष्मणो वा सत्यवान्
    rāmo lakṣmaṇo vā satyavān.
    Rama or Lakshmana is truthful.
    (masculine case 1 singular to match lakṣmaṇa)

  • रामो लक्ष्मणः सीता वा सत्यवती
    rāmo lakṣmaṇaḥ sītā vā satyavatī.
    Rama, Lakshmana, or Sita is truthful.
    (feminine case 1 singular to match sītā)

Agreement of nominal and verb

The case 1 nominal and the verb must use the same person:

  • अहं चरामि
    ahaṃ carāmi
    I walk.

  • अहं चर्ये।
    ahaṃ carye.
    I am walked (to).

  • त्वं चरसि
    tvaṃ carasi
    You walk.

  • त्वं चर्यसे।
    tvaṃ caryase.
    You are walked (to).

They must also use the same number:

  • गजश् चरति
    gajaś carati
    The elephant walks.

  • गजौ चरतः
    gajau carataḥ
    The two elephants walk.

  • गजाश् चरन्ति
    gajāś caranti
    The elephants walk.

This is true even in karmaṇi prayoga:

  • नरेण गजश् चर्यते
    nareṇa gajaś caryate
    The elephant is walked to by the man.

  • नरेण गजौ चर्येते
    nareṇa gajau caryete
    The two elephants are walked to by the man.

  • नरेण गजाश् चर्यन्ते
    nareṇa gajāś caryante
    The elephants are walked to by the man.

If ca or is used, we follow rules similar to those described above:

  • रामो गजश् च चरतः
    rāmo gajaś ca carataḥ.
    Rama and the elephant walk.

  • रामो गजो वा चरति
    rāmo gajo vā carati.
    Either Rama or the elephant walks.