Lesson 2: The Sentence
What follows is an overview of some of the most important grammatical terms we’ll be using throughout the year. We will for the most part rely on terms familiar from traditional Western grammars, given their presence in many Sanskrit textbooks and grammars. Whatever your background in foreign languages, be sure that you understand the following terms perfectly.
A simple sentence has traditionally been analyzed into a two-part predicate relation. ‘Predication’ means “saying something about.”
- The thing about which something is said is the Subject (a noun phrase).
- What is predicated of that Subject—what says something about it—is the Predicate (a verb phrase). Basically, the Predicate is the entire verbal idea: the verb together with everything that completes its action. Thus, in “Man bites dog,” the Predicate is “bites dog” (the Subject being “man”).
- But since the verb is the heart of the Predicate, it too is called the Predicate (in the example above, “bites”). So a sentence Predicate is also just the Finite Verb (a verb that has been conjugated [marked] to agree with the Subject) without which the sentence will not be complete.
- The Subject is the noun in the sentence with which its Finite Verb agrees.
- In the example above, “bites” is the Finite Verb. It is called “finite” because it is marked (with the -s ending) to agree with its particular Subject, here: “man.” If we wanted to say that “you” (and not “man”) are the one doing the biting, we could not use “bites” (which is specific to the “he/she/it” Subject). The verb would instead need to be marked (with no ending) to agree with the You-subject: “You bite (a) dog.”
- Non-finite Verbs, by contrast, are as named: not finite, i.e., not marked to agree with a particular Subject and can be used with reference to any Subject whatsoever, as in the case of Infinitives. For example, we can use the Infinitive, “to frighten,” with any Subject and its form will remain the same (it will never take any marking/conjugation): “I’ve come to frighten you” or “You tried to frighten me.” Such Non-finite verbs cannot be sentence Predicates.
Answer the following question in the box below. (In addition, if anything in the video was unclear or you have any feedback about it, please provide it in the space below.)
- What are the two senses, based on its two possible predications, of the sentence: नीलम् कमलम् (अस्ति)?