Special tense-moods

In the core lessons, we learned that we can change a verb root into a verb stem. And once we have a verb stem, we can add endings to that stem to create a complete verb.

In the examples below, note the progression from root to stem to verb:

  • नी → नय → नयन्ति
    → naya → nayanti
    lead → lead → They lead.

  • नी → नेष्य → नेष्यामि
    → neṣya → neṣyāmi
    lead → will lead → I will lead.

We also learned that Sanskrit verbs express five basic kinds of information. These five are called person, which expresses the verb's perspective:

  • नयति।
    (Someone) leads.

  • नयामि।
    I lead.

number, which expresses how many of something there are:

  • नयति।
    (Someone) leads.

  • नयन्ति।
    They lead.

tense-mood, which expresses the verb's tense (time period) and mood (manner):

  • नयति।
    (Someone) leads.

  • नेष्यति।
    (Someone) will lead.

  • नयेत्।
    (Someone) might lead.

prayoga, which is hard to explain but easy to understand:

  • नयति।
    (Someone) leads.
    (kartari prayoga)

  • नीयते
    (Someone) is led.
    (karmaṇi prayoga)

and pada, which is meaningful only for certain roots. We will discuss pada more in a later lesson, but here is a simple example of it:

  • नयति।
    (Someone) leads (for another's benefit).

  • नयते।
    (Someone) leads (for their own benefit).

Four special tense-moods

Let's focus on tense-moods here. Sanskrit uses ten different tense-moods. But four of these tense-moods use very similar stems in kartari prayoga. You can see all four of these tense-moods below:

  • नयति
    (Someone) leads.

  • नयतु
    (Someone) should lead.

  • अनयत्
    (Someone) led.

  • नयेत्
    (Someone) might or could lead.

Since these four tense-moods use a special stem, they are sometimes called special tense-moods. They are called “special” only because of the stem they use. Otherwise, they are like any other verb.

Ten stem patterns

We form the stems for these four special tense-moods in ten different patterns. Generally, each root uses just one of these ten patterns.

The most common pattern is that we strengthen the root vowel and add -a:

  • नी → नयति, नयतु, अनयत्, नयेत्
    nī → nayati, nayatu, anayat, nayet
    lead → (someone) leads, should lead, led, might lead

For other roots, we might add a suffix like -aya instead:

  • चुर् → चोरयति, चोरयतु, अचोरयत्, चोरयेत्
    cur → corayati, corayatu, acorayat, corayet
    steal → (someone) steals, should steal, stole, might steal

And for a few roots, we might even make a more drastic change:

  • हु → जुहोति, जुहोतु, अजुहोत्, जुहुयात्
    hu → juhoti, juhotu, ajuhot, juhuyāt
    offer → (someone) offers, should offer, offered, might offer

Since roots change in ten different ways, we can sort these roots into ten different verb classes. Each verb class has its own characteristic change.

In this topic, we will learn about verb classes and the four special tense-moods that use them.


  1. How many special tense-moods are there?

  2. How many verb classes are there?