Basic sentences

Sentences are meaningful expressions created from one or more words. Just as individual sounds combine to express a meaningful word, multiple words combine to create a meaningful sentence.

The lessons in this topic will focus on how words interact with each other within a sentence.

Expanding a basic sentence

The most basic Sanskrit sentence is a single verb:

  • गच्छति।
    (Someone) goes.

As we learned during the core lessons, verb can express four kinds of information: person, number, tense-mood, and prayoga.

We can add other words to this basic sentence to extend or modify its basic meaning. For example, we can express who is performing the act of “going” by adding a nominal word:

  • रामो गच्छति।
    rāmo gacchati.
    Rama goes.

We can also specify the destination of the action:

  • रामो वनं गच्छति।
    rāmo vanaṃ gacchati.
    Rama goes to the forest.

Or various other kinds of information:

  • रामो सीतया सह वनम् अयोध्याया गच्छति।
    rāmo sītayā saha vanam ayodhyāyā gacchati.
    Rama goes with Sita to the forest from Ayodhya.

As we add more and more nominal words, we add more and more detail to our original verb.

Verbless sentences

If we use a verb like asti (“is”), we can express that one thing is another:

  • रामो राजपुत्रो ऽस्ति
    rāmo rājaputro 'sti.
    Rama is a prince.

  • रामो बलवान् अस्ति
    rāmo balavān asti.
    Rama is strong.

But we can also remove the verb asti entirely. Why can we do so? If no verb is provided, the verb asti is assumed by default. So we can also rephrase the two examples above to avoid the word asti:

  • रामो राजपुत्रः।
    rāmo rājaputraḥ.
    Rama (is) a prince.

  • रामो बलवान्।
    rāmo balavān.
    Rama is strong.

Sentences without a verb are sometimes called verbless or nominal sentences.