Lesson XXV

Uses of the Cases

The Nominative Case (Pañhamà)

1. The Nominative case, when used by itself, expresses the crude form of a word; e.g.,







2. The subject of a verb, whether active or passive, is expressed by the Nominative; e.g., .

Purisio gacchati,

man goes.

Buddhena Dhammo desiyate,

the Doctrine is preached by the Buddha.

3. The complement of intransitive verbs is also expressed by the Nominative; e.g.,

So ràjà ahosi,

he became a king;

Eso dàrako hoti,

he is a boy.

The Vocative case (âlapana)

The Vocative Case is used to express the Nominative of Address; e.g.,

Putta, idh'àgaccha!

son, come here.

Bho Gotama,

O venerable Gotama!

The Accusative Case (Dutiyà)

1. The Accusative denotes the object; e.g.,

Ahaü lekhanaü likhàmi,

I am writing a letter.

2. Duration of time and extent of space are expressed by the Accusative. e.g.,

Idha so temàsaü vasi,

here he lived for three months.

Dvã'haü atikkantaü,

two days are passed.

Yojanaü dãgho pabbato,

the mountain is one league long.

3. Verbs of motion take the Accusative; e.g.,

So gàmaü gacchati,

he goes to the village.

4. The prefixes " anu ", " pati ", " pari " also govern the Accusative; e.g.,

Rukkhaü anu, rukkhaü pati, rukkhaü parivijjotate cando

the moon shines by every tree.

Yad'ettha maü anu siyà,

whatever there be here for me.

Sàdhu Devdatto màtaraü anu,

Devadatta is kind to his mother.

Anu Sàriputtaü pa¤¤avà bhikkhu,

monk inferior to Sariputta in wisdom.

Saccakiriyaü anu pavassi,

it rained according to (his) act of truth.

Nadiü Nera¤jaraü pati,

near Neranjarà river.

5. The Accusative is sometimes used adverbially; e.g.,

Ràjà sukhaü vasati,

the king lives happily.

Sukhaü supati,

sleeps happily.

Dukkhaü seti,

lives painfully.

6. Sometimes the Accusative is used in the sense of the (a) Ablative of agent, (b) Dative, (c) Genitive, and (d) Locative; e.g.,


Vinà* Dhammaü,

without the Doctrine.


Sace maü n'àlapissati,

if he will not speak with me.


Upamà maü pañibhàti,

a simile occurs to me.


Taü kho pana Bhagavantaü,

(of) that Blessed One.


Ekaü samayaü Bhagavà..........,

on one occasion the Blessed One.

* Sometimes " Vinà " governs the Nominative, Instrumental and the Ablative.

7. The root " vasa " preceded by à, adhi, anu and upa governs the Accusative; e.g.,

Gàmaü àvasati, anuvasati, upavasati,

lives in the village.

Vihàraü adhivasati,

lives in the monastery.

The Auxiliary Case (Tatiyà)

When the construction is passive the agent is expressed by this case; e.g.,

âcariyena potthakaü dãyate,

a book is being given by the teacher.

Tena kataü kammaü,

the action done by him.

The Instrumental Case (Karaõa)

1. The means or the instrument by which an action is done is expressed by the Instrumental Case; e.g:,

Hatthena kammaü karoti,

he does the work with his hand.

Cakkhunà passàma,

we see with our eye.

„àõena sukhaü labhati,

one obtains happiness by means of wisdom.

2. The Instrumental is also used to express-

(a) Cause and reason; e.g.,

Vijjàya vasati,

through knowledge he lives.

Kammanà vasalo hoti,

by action one becomes an outcast.

(b) Bodily defects; e.g.,

Akkhinà kàõo,

blind in one eye.

(c) A characteristic attribute; e.g.,

Vaõõena abhiråpo,

beautiful in appearance.

Gottena Gotamo,

Gotama by clan.

Sippena naëakàro,

a basket-maker by profession.

(d) The length of time and space within which an action is accomplished; e.g.,

Ekamàsena gacchàmi,

I shall go in a month.

Yojanena gacchati,

goes by a league.

(e) The price at which a thing is bought or sold; e.g.,

Satena kãtaü,

bought for a hundred.

(f) The idea of resemblance, equality, rejoicing, deficiency, proficiency, need, use, etc.; e.g.,

Pitarà sadiso,

like the father.

Màtarà samo,

equal to the mother.

Kahàpaõena åno,

deficit of a farthing, less by a farthing.

Dhanena hãno,

destitute of wealth.

Vàcàya nipuõo,

proficient in speech.

Maõinà attho.

in need of a jewel.

(g) The conveyance or the part of the body on which a thing is carried; e.g.,

S sena bhàraü vahati,

carries the burden on his head.

3. The indeclinables saha, saddhiü - with, accompanied by; alaü - enough, what use; kiü - what, also governs the Instrumental ; e.g.,

" Nis di Bhagavà saddhiü bhikkhusaïghena ",

the Blessed One sat with the multitude of Bhikkhus.

Bhàtarà saha,

together with his brother.

Alaü te idha vàsena,

what is the use of your staying here?

Kiü me dhanena,

of what use is wealth to me?

4. Sometimes the Instrumental is used adverbially; e.g.,

Sukhena vasati,

lives happily.

5. The Instrumental is sometimes used in the sense of (a) Accusative, (b) Ablative, and (c) Locative, e.g.,


Tilehi khette vapati,

he sows gingili in the field.


Attanà'va attànaü, sammannati,

he chooses himself.


Sumuttà mayaü tena mahàsamaõena,

we are wholly released from that great ascetic.


Tena samayena,

at that time.

The Dative Case (Catutth )

1. The Dative Case is used to express the person or thing to whom or to which something is given; e.g.,

Yàcakànaü dànaü deti,

he gives alms to the beggars.

Kàyassa balaü deti,

he gives strength to the body.

2. The roots ruca, to please, and dhara, to bear or hold, govern the dative of the person pleased, or held; e.g.,

Samaõassa rucate saccaü,

the truth is pleasing to the ascetic.

Devadattassa suvaõõacchattaü dhàrayate,

he holds a golden parasol for Devadatta.

3. Verbs implying anger, jealousy, praise, blame, curse, and others having the same sense govern the dative of the person against whom such a feeling is directed; e.g.,

Tassa kujjha, mahàvãra,

be angry with him, O great hero!

Devà'pi tesaü pihayanti,

even the Devas hold them dear.

Dujjanà guõavantànaü usåyanti,

the evil are jealous of the virtuous.

Buddhassa silàghate,

he praises the Buddha.

Nindanti bahubhàninaü,

they blame the garrulous.

Mayhü sapate,

he curses me.

4. The indirect object of verbs such as telling, proclaiming, teaching, preaching, sending, writing, etc. is put in the Dative Case; e.g.,

Te vejjassa kathayiüsu,

they told it to the doctor.

Arocayàmi vo Bhikkhave,

I declare to you, O Bhikkhus

Satthà Bhikkhånaü Dhammaü deseti,

the Teacher is preaching the Doctrine to the Bhikkhus.

So tassa lekhanaü pahiõi,

he sent a letter to him.

5. The purpose for which anything is done, the result to which anything leads, and the reason for which anything exists, are also expressed by the Dative; e.g.,

Yuddhàya gacchti,

he goes to war.

Nibbànàya saüvattati,

is conducive to Nibbana.

Caratha bhikkhave càrikaü bahu-janahitàya, bahu-janasukhàya,

go ye forth, O Bhikkhus, for the good and happiness of the many.

Atthàya me bhavissati,

it will be for my good.

6. The words hita, good, attha, good, need, payojana, use, and indeclinables like alaü, kiü, namo, svàgataü, govern the Dative; e.g.,

lokassa hitaü,

good for the world.

Dhanena me attho,

I am in need of wealth.

„àõena te kiü payojanaü,

of what use is wisdom to you?

Alaü mallo mallassa,

a warrior is fit for a warrior.

Namo sammàsambuddhassa,

praise be to the Fully Enlightened One.

Svàgataü te mahàràja,

welcome to you, O king!

Svatthi hotu sabbasattànaü,

blessing to all beings.

Sotthi te hotu sabbadà,

may happiness ever be to you!

7. Sometimes the place to which the motion is directed is put in the Dative; e.g.,

Appo saggàya gacchati,

few go to heaven.

The Ablative Case (Pa¤camã.)

1. The Ablative Case is principally used to denote the place or object from which motion or separation takes place; e.g.,

Nagarà niggato ràjà,

the king departed from the city.

Rukkhasmà phalàni patanti,

fruits fall from the tree.

Assasmà patàmi,

I fall from the horse.

2. The Ablative is used to express the person or thing from whom or from which something is originated, produced, caused, learnt, received, released, etc.; e.g.,

Pabbatehi nadiyo pabhavanti,

rivers originate from mountains.

Urasmà jàto putto,

the son born from the breast.

Ubhato sujàto,

well-born from both sides.

Kàmato jàyati soko,

grief arises from passion.

Corasmà bhayaü uppajjati,

fear arises from thieves.

âcariyamhà ugguõhàma,

we learn from the teacher.

Sissà àcariyehi paõõàkàraü labhanti,

pupils receive gifts from their teachers.

Dukkhà pamu¤cantu,

may they be freed from pain!

Mutto màrabandhanà,

released from the bondage of the Evil One.

3. That which one desires to Protect and whose sight one desires to avoid, are also put in the Ablative Case; e.g.,

Kàke rakkhanti taõóulà,

lit. they guard crows from rice.

Pàpa cittaü nivàraye,

one should protect the mind from evil.

Màtà pitåhi antaradhàyati putto,

the son disappears from the parents.

4. The place or time from which another place or time is measured is expressed by the Ablative. The distance in space is put in the Locative or in the Nominative, and that in time is put in the Locative; e.g.,

Nagarasmà catusu yojanesu ara¤¤aü,

the forest is four leagues from the city.

Gàmasmà àràmo yojanaü,

the monastery is one league from the village.

Imamhà màsasmà pa¤camàse atikkhante,

when five months have elapsed from this.

Ito kappasahasse,

thousand Kappas hence.

5. Some prefixes and indeclinables also govern the Ablative; e.g.,

" â ", as far as

- à pabbatà khettaü,

as far as the rock is the field.

" Apa ", away from

- apa sàlàya àyanti,

they come from the hall.

" Pati", like, in exchange for

- Buddhasmà pati Sàriputto,

like the Buddha is Sàriputta.


Ghatam'asssa telasmà patidadàti,

he gives him ghee in exchange for oil.

" Pari ", away from, without

- Paripabbatà devo vassati,

it rains except on the mountain.

" adho ", below

- adharà adho,

below the hip.

" Nànà ", different

- te Bhikkhå nànà-kulà,

those monks from different families.

" Rite ", without

- rite saddhammà kuto sukhaü,

where is happiness without the noble Doctrine?

" Vinà ", without

- vinà dhammà,

without the Doctrine.

" Uddhaü ", above

- uddhaü pàdatalà,

upward from the sole of the feet.

" Upari ", above

- Upari gaïgàya,

above the river.

" Yàva", as far as

- yàva brahmalokà,

as far as the Brahma realm.

6. The Ablative is also used to denote comparison; e.g.,

Dànato sãlam'eva varaü,

morality is indeed higher than liberality.

Sãlam'eva sutà seyyo,

morality is nobler than learning.

7. The Ablative is sometimes used in the sense of the (a) instrumental and (b) Locative; e.g.,


" Sãlato naü pasaüsanti, "

they Praise him on account of morality.


Bhava-paccayà jàti,

birth is conditioned by action.


Saïkhàranirodhà avijjà nirodho,

the cessation of ignorance results from the cessation of activities.



from the east.

8. Sometimes the (a) Accusative and the (b) Genitive are used in the sense of the Ablative; e.g.,


Kiü kàranaü,

by what reason?


Taü kissa hetu,

by what cause?

9. Sometimes the Ablative is used after abstract nouns formed from past participles in the sense of 'because of'; 'on account of'; e.g.,

Kammassa kañattà,

by reason of having done the action.


on account of having arisen.

The Genitive Case (Chaññhi)

1. The Genitive Case is generally used to denote the possessor; e.g.,

Buddhassa dhammo,

Buddha's Doctrine.

Rukkhassa chàyà,

the shadow of the tree.

2. The Genitive is also used to denote the relationship between two objects; e.g.,

Pupphànaü ràsi,

heap of flowers.

Bhikkhånaü samåho,

multitude of monks.

Meghassa saddo,

sound of thunder.

Suvaõõassa vaõõo,

colour of gold.

Pàdassa ukkhepanaü,

raising of the foot.

Lokassa hito,

the good of the world.

3. Persons or things over which kingship, lordship, teachership, superiority, etc. are expressed are also put in the Genitive Case; e.g.,

Narànaü indo,

king of men.

Manussànaü adhipati,

chief of men.

Satthà deva-manussànaü,

teacher of gods and men.

4. When a person or thing is distinguished from a group the word implying the group is put in the Genitive or Locative; e.g.,

Buddho seññho manussànaü,

the Buddha is the chief of men.

Imesaü dàrakànaün, or (imesu dàrakesu) eso pañhamo,

he is the first of these boys.

Etesaü phalànaü ekaü gaõha,

take one of those fruits.

5. Words implying skill, Proficiency, likeness, similarity, distance, nearness, under, above, etc. govern the Genitive; e.g.,

Dhammà'Dhammassa kovido,

skill in knowing the right and wrong.

Kusalà naccagãtassa,

skilled in dancing and singing.

Gàmassa (và gàmato) avidure,

not far from the village.

Nibbànassa santike,

in the presence of Nibbàna.

Nagarassa samãpe,

near the city.

Tassa Purato,

in his presence.

Heññhà chàyàya,

under the shade.

Heññhà, ma¤cassa,

under the bed.


above it;

jànumaõóalànaü upari,

above the knees.

Pitussa tulyo,

similar to the father.


like the mother.

6. The Genitive is also used with superlatives and words having the same sense; e.g.,

Dhammànaü caturo padà seññhà,

of things the four Truths are the highest.

Sabbesaü sattànaü Buddho uttamo,

the Buddha is the highest of all men.

Danto seññho manussànaü,

a self-controlled person is the best of men.

7. Sometimes the Genitive is used in the sense of the (a) Accusative, (b) Auxiliary, (c) Instrumental, (d) Ablative, (e) Locative; e.g.,


Amatassa dàtà,

giver of immortality.


Pàpànaü akaraõaü sukhaü,

it is happy not to do evil.


Ra¤¤o påjito,

reverenced by the king.


Pattaü odanassa påretvà,

filling the bowl with food.


Sabbe bhàyanti maccuno,

all are afraid of death.


Bhãto catunnaü àsivisànaü,

frightened of the four snakes.


Divasassa tikkhattauü,

thrice a day.


Bhagavato pasannà,

pleased with the Blessed One.

The Locative Case (Sattamã)

1. The Locative Case denotes the place or time where anything is or happens; e.g.,

Manussà gharesu vasanti,

men live in houses.

Thàliyaü odanaü pacati,

he cooks rice in a pot.

Khãresu jalaü,

there is water in milk.

2. The Locative denotes also the time when an action takes place; e.g.,

Tasmiü samaye,

at that time.

Sàyaõhasamaye àgato,

he came in the afternoon.

Phussamàsamhà tãsu màsesu vesàkhamàso,

three months from Phussa month is the month of Vesàkha.

Ito satasahassamhi kappe,

one hundred thousand aeons hence.

3. The reason is sometimes expressed by the Locative; e.g. ,

Dãpi cammesu ha¤¤ate,

the tigers are killed on account of their skin.

Musàvàde pàcittiyaü,

one commits a pàcittiya offence, there is a pàcittiya with regard to a lie or through falsehood.

4. The group or class from which a person or thing is distinguished or separated is put in the Locative; e.g.,

Manussesu khattiyo såratamo,

the warrior is the bravest of men.

Addhikesu dhàvato sãghatamo,

the runner is the fastest of travellers.

âyasmà ânando arahantesu a¤¤ataro,

Venerable ânanda is one of the Arahants.

5. The Locative or the Genitive is used with the words " adhipati ", lord; " dàyàda ", heir; " issara ", lord; " kusala ",skill; " patibhå ",bail; " pasuta ", born of; " sakkhi ", witness; and " sàmi ", master; e.g.,

Lokasmiü or (lokassa) adhipati,

lord of the world.

Kammasmiü or (kammassa) dàyàdo,

heir of action.

Pañhaviyaü or (pañhaviyà) issaro,

lord of the earth.

Gãtasmiü or (gãtassa) kusalo,

skill in singing.

Dassanasmiü or (dassanassa) pañibhå,

surety for appearance.

Gosu or (gavaü) pasuto,

born of cows.

Adhikaraõasmiü or (adhikaraõassa) sakkhi,

witness in a case.

Dhammasmiü or (Dhammassa) sàmi,

master of Truth.

6. The Locative is used with the words " sàdhu ", good, kind; " nipuõa ", proficient, skilful; and words having the sense of "being pleased with, angry with, contented with, being addicted to"; etc., and with prefixes " adhi " and " upa ", in the sense of exceeding, or master of; e.g.,

Pa¤¤àya sàdhu,

good in wisdom.

Màtari sàdhu,

kind towards the mother.

Vinaye nipuõo,

proficient in discipline.

Bhaõóàgàre niyutto,

attached to the treasury.

Dhamme gàravo,

reverence towards the Dhamma.

Buddhe pasanno,

being pleased with the Buddha.

Appakasmiü tuññho,

being contented with little.

Kàsira¤¤e na kuppàmi,

I am not angry with the Kàsi king.

Adhi devesu Buddho,

the Buddha is superior to the gods.

Upanikkhe kahàpaõaü,

a Kahàpaõa is greater than Nikkha.

7. Sometimes the Locative is used in the sense of the (a) Nominative, (b) Accusative, (c) Instrumental (d) Dative, and (e) Ablative; e.g.,


Idam'pi'ssa hoti sãlasmiü,

this also is his virtue


Bàhàsu gahetvà,

taking the hands.


Bhikkhåsu abhivadanti,

salute the monks.


Samaõà pattesu piõóàya caranti,

the ascetics go for alms with their bowls.


Sanghe, Gotami, dehi,

O Gotami, give to the Sangha.


Kadalãsu gaje rakkhanti,

lit. they protect the elephants from the plantain trees.

The Genitive and the Locative Absolutes

The Nominative Absolute in English and the Ablative Absolute in Latin are expressed by the Genitive and Locative Absolutes in Pàëi. .


When the subject of a participle is different from the subject of the verb it is put in the Locative Absolute and the participle is made to agree with it in gender, number and case.


If the subject of the participle is the same as that of the finite verb this construction is not used.


Mayi gate so àgato,

he came when I had gone.


Bhikkhusaïghesu bhojiyamànesu gato,

he went when the multitude of monks were being fed.


Sabbe maggà vivajjenti gacchante lokanàyake,

when the leader of the world goes, all turn away from the path.

This construction corresponds to the Nominative Absolute in English and Ablative Absolute in Latin.


Ahaü gacchanto tena saddhiü na sallapiü,

as I was going I did not speak with him.

When disregard is to be shown the Genitive Absolute is often used. Sometimes the Locative Absolute is also used.

Màtàpitunnaü rudantànaü pabbaji or màtàpitåsu rudantesu pabbaji, he renounced disregarding his weeping parents, i.e., he renounced in spite of or not withstanding the weeping of his parents. (though his parents were weeping, he went forth into homelessness.)

The same construction may be used in the sense of as soon as; no sooner than, by compounding " eva " with the participle; e.g.,

Tayi àgate y'eva so gato, he went as soon as you came, or he went just as you had come.