Part 12 - Lesson #10

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Lesson 10

Future Tense

 The future (bhavissantī) tense has the same inflections as the present, added usually to a stem having a strong form of the root and the suffix iss, or in the seventh conjugation usually ess:

he will go
disdesessatihe will teach
bhūbhavissatihe will be, there will be
labhlabhissatihe will get
saṃ-vi-bhaj (to resort to)saṃvibhajissatihe will share

The meanings include the expression of the probable (bhavissati in particular often has this sense) and of the hypothetical future as well as of certainty or (in the 1st person) determination or decision.

sace ahaṃ … labhissāmi, saṃvibhajissāmi…

"if I get … I will share …"

 Obedience to a law of nature and also habit (innate or acquired) may also be expressed by the future: all living beings (must/will) die = … nikkhipissanti, literally "will throw down, put down" (the body).

This is more emphatic than the use of the present tense to express an "eternal truth": they will do this; it may also express the emotional colour of regret or disapproval. Indignation (or disapproval) may be expressed by the future tense, usually in a phrase beginning kathaṃ hi nāma …,"for how could ('will') he …" The future also expresses perplexity, surprise, and wonder, for example in: kim ev' idaṃ bhavissati, "what can this be?", "what is this (stuff)?".

Future passive verbs are formed by adding the same suffix and inflections to passive stems:

(p)pa-hā pahīyissati
it will be given up

Genitive Case

The genitive may often be translated by "of", and serves as a "possessive" case.

Two main and characteristic uses are distinguished: denoting the "possessor" (sāmin), or the whole of which the related word denotes a part (avayava).

The inflections of the genitive are as follows:
Verb Conjugation & Pronoun Declension Table (opens in new tab)

kathāya (sing. same as instrumental), kathānaṃ (plur.)
ahaṃmama (sometimes mamaṃ), me (enclitic form)
tvaṃtava, te (enclitic form)
(e)so and tad(e)tassa
te and tānitesaṃ
ayaṃassa or imassa (masc.), assā or imassā (fem.)
bhavaṃ bhoto

Usually the genitive word immediately precedes the word to which it relates:

rañño thūpo

"a king's monument."

A construction with a possessive genitive is very often equivalent to an English construction with the verb "to have".

In Pali "to have" is hardly ever expressed by a verb but almost always by the genitive case. The verb "to be" () is used if there is no other verb in the sentence:

idaṃ assa hoti

literally "of him there is this", "he has this".

tassa evaṃ hoti ... (or ahosi, etc.)

literally "of him thus it is ..." (or was, etc.), "he has this thought ...", "he thinks thus ..."

As noted in Lesson 8, an idiom consisting of the genitive of the word denoting the period + accayena expresses the time after which (or through the passage of which) something is done:

sattāhassa accayena … pabbajissāma

after a week … we will go forth

A similar idiom is mama + accayena = "after me" in the sense of "after I have passed away", "after my death/parinibbāna".

The genitive case can be used quite loosely where precision is unnecessary. Since the nouns include participles, we quite often find a participle in its verbal function (equivalent to a finite verb: Lesson 7) preceded by a noun in the genitive expressing either the agent or the patient of the action of the participle (so-called "subjective genitive" and "objective genitive" respectively).

Examples of agent-genitive ("subjective genitive"):

brāhmaṇassa pūjito (Soṇadaṇḍo)

"(Soṇadaṇḍo was) honoured of (= by) the priest"

yesaṃ ... devā ...adiṭṭhā

"those ... who have not seen ... the gods (negative participle: a-)"
("of (= by) whom the gods are unseen"; Commentary explains yesaṃ by yehi)

Example of patient-genitive ("objective genitive"):

ahaṃ … tassa yaññassa yājetā

"I ... (was) the performer of that sacrifice"

 The genitive is also regarded as a substitute for the instrumental ...

kumbhiṃ ... pūraṃ ... suvaṇṇassa

"pot ... full ... of gold"

The genitive is also used with certain indeclinables, such as:

piṭṭhito - "behind"

purato - "before", "in front of"

antarena - "between"

me purato - "in front of me"

kāyānam antarena - "between the bodies" 

uttaraṃ nagarassa - "north of the city".

The "genitive absolute" consists of a noun (or pronoun) followed by a participle, both inflected in the genitive. This nexus stands apart from the other words of the sentence and means "while (the noun was doing the participle)"

Often the genitive absolute has the special sense of disregarding: "despite (the noun doing the participle)", "under their very noses," as when the participle means "seeing", "looking on". e.g.

telassa jhāyamānassa 

"as (while) the oil is burning"

mātāpitunnaṃ … rudantānaṃ … pabbajito

"though his parents were weeping, he went forth" (i.e. "despite their weeping").

 The genitive absolute is useful for constructing a sentence with two agents, but the similarly constructed locative absolute (Lesson 16) is much more frequently used, not being restricted to special circumstances.



 Verbs of the first conjugation:

araharahatihe deserves, he must, he ought
kilamkilamatihe becomes tired
rudrudatihe weeps
vījvījatihe fans
subhsobhatihe makes it clear (intransitive)

 Verbs of the seventh conjugation:

pūjpūjetihe honours
veṭhveṭhetihe wraps


antoside, end, extreme
yaññosacrifice (ritual)
telaṃoil (sesame oil)
ratanaṃgem, precious thing
sarīraṃbody (of a man or animal: kāyo has this sense but also the wider meanings of "substance", "particle"), the plural sarīrāni is used to mean "(bodily) relics" (of the Buddha after his cremation)
suvaṇṇaṃ gold


antarenabetween (with genitive)
ciraṃfor a long time, after a long time
pana (enclitic)but, however
piṭṭhitobehind (with genitive)
aropitabefore, in front of (with genitive)

 Past participle:

past participle
āropitadisproved (from ropeti: lesson 13)


The answers are given in Part 13

Translate into English

na ciraṃ tathāgatassa parinibbānaṃ bhavissati

imassa jayo bhavissati

brāhmaṇā brahmuno puttā

dukkhass' antaṃ karissanti

āropito te vādo

ayaṃ imassa bhāsitassa attho


mā me purato aṭṭhāsi

so maṃ pañhena, ahaṃ veyyākaraṇena sobhissāmi

tena kho pana samayena Ānando bhagavato piṭṭhito ṭhito hoti bhagavantaṃ vījamāno 1

kammaṃ kho pana me karontassa kāyo kilamissati

tassa ratanāni bhavanti

1 Notice how the last two words are tacked on after the main verb. An additional clause of this sort is frequently so placed, as if it were an afterthought, when its action (or state) is simultaneous with the main action. This stylistic feature is very characteristic of old Pali prose.

Translate into Pali

These people will have sons

I am his slave

There will be danger

He will teach the doctrine

I will be an ascetic


The priest has a son

They wrap the king's body in a garment (instrumental)

This is the pagoda of that fortunate one

We deserve a share of the relics of the fortunate one