In a sentence, multiple words might refer to the same idea. For example, consider these simple sentences:
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:
(Number doesn't match.)
(Person doesn't match.)
(Gender doesn't match.)
(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:
two black snakes
many black snakes
for the black snake
(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:
Rama is a warrior.
रामो लक्ष्मणश् च योधौ।
rāmo lakṣmaṇaś ca yodhau.
Rama and Lakshmana are warriors.
रामो लक्ष्मणो भरतश् च योधाः।
rāmo lakṣmaṇo bharataś ca yodhāḥ.
Rama, Lakshmana, and Bharata are warriors.
But if the sentence uses a word like vā (“or”), the describing word usually matches the number of the last word:
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:
I am walked (to).
You are walked (to).
They must also use the same number:
The elephant walks.
The two elephants walk.
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 elephant are walked to by the man.
नरेण गजाश् चर्यन्ते
nareṇa gajāś caryante
The elephants are walked to by the man.
If ca or vā 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.