In the previous lesson, we learned about the prātipadika. By combining a prātipadika with one of the sup suffixes, we create a complete subanta.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the basic sup endings.

adhikāra rules

The sup endings are defined in the scope of three adhikāra rules. The first two are familiar:

  • प्रत्ययः। ३.१.१
    pratyayaḥ (3.1.1)
    … is a pratyaya (suffix).

  • परश्च। ३.१.२
    paraśca (3.1.2)
    paraḥ ca
    … and [it is inserted] after [the base].

And the last is new:

  • ङ्याप्प्रातिपदिकात्। ४.१.१
    ṅyāpprātipadikāt (4.1.1)
    After [the suffixes] ṅī or āp, or after a prātipadika (stem), …

ṅī and āp are pratyayas that create feminine bases, and we can set them aside for now.


Here are the endings in the sup pratyāhāra:

  • स्वौजसमौट्छष्टाभ्यांभिस्ङेभ्यांभ्यस्ङसिभ्यांभ्यस्ङसोसाम्ङ्योस्सुप्। ४.१.२
    svaujasamauṭchaṣṭābhyāṃbhisṅebhyāṃbhyasṅasibhyāṃbhyasṅasosāmṅyossup (4.1.2)
    su̐, au, jas, am, auṭ, śas, ṭā, bhyām, bhis, ṅe, bhyām, bhyas, ṅasi̐, bhyām, bhyas, ṅas, os, ām, ṅi, os, and sup.

There are several points worth noticing here.

First, notice that many of these endings have it sounds attached to them:

  • Some of these it letters are for the sake of making pratyāhāras. For example, suṭ uses the of auṭ to refer to just the first five of these endings. Likewise, sup uses the su from su̐ and the p of the final sup to refer to all twenty-one of these endings.

  • Some are labeled systematically. For example, the ṅit endings — that is, the endings with as an it — are often replaced, depending on the prātipadika and its gender.

  • Some of these it letters are for the sake of easier pronunciation, or they have other miscellaneous functions. Thus we have su̐, ṅasi̐, and the like.

Second, notice that these endings are not the standard endings we would use for a stem like rāma. Pāṇini examined many different nominal ending patterns and chose this set to represent what they have in common. Then we can apply various vidhi rules to get the endings we need, as we did for the tiṅ endings.

How do we choose which ending to use? In part, we can reuse these rules from when we studied the tiṅ endings:

  • तिङस्त्रीणि त्रीणि प्रथममध्यमोत्तमाः। १.४.१०१
    tiṅastrīṇi trīṇi prathamamadhyamottamāḥ (1.4.101)
    tiṅaḥ trīṇi trīṇi prathama-madhyama-uttamāḥ
    Taken three by three, the tiṅ [suffixes] are called prathama (first), madhyama (middle), and uttama (last).

  • तान्येकवचनद्विवचनबहुवचनान्येकशः। १.४.१०२
    tānyekavacanadvivacanabahuvacanānyekaśaḥ (1.4.102)
    tāni ekavacana-dvivacana-bahuvacanāni ekaśaḥ
    They [i.e. these triples] are called ekavacana (singular), dvivacana (dual), and bahuvacana (plural) when taken one by one.

  • सुपः। १.४.१०३
    supaḥ (1.4.103)
    [ekavacana, dvicana, and bahuvacana also apply for the triples] of sup (i.e. the nominal endings).

  • विभक्तिश्च। १.४.१०४
    vibhaktiśca (1.4.104)
    vibhaktiḥ ca
    And [these triples are each called] vibhakti.

By choosing a specific vacana (number), we narrow twenty-one endings down to seven. That leaves us with a very important distinction to make:


The different sup vibhaktis don't have any special names. They are simply called prathamā (first), dvitīyā (second), and the like:

  • सु औ जस्
    su au jas

  • अम् औट् शस्
    am auṭ śas

How do we choose which vibhakti to use? As you might guess, these vibhaktis imply different semantics. But the route we take from semantics to a specific vibhakti is an interesting one. The next two lessons will focus on this process.