Lesson 2: Verb Conjugation
Here is the present tense Conjugation of the English verb, “to speak”:
By looking at conjugations of different verbs, it becomes clear that the pattern above is a general one and consists of a single base onto which various conjugational endings have been added. For example, just like वदति वदतः वदन्ति we have खादति खादतः खादन्ति (“He/she/it eats,” “They two eat,” “They all eat”), etc.
- What remains the same within each paradigm is the base or Stem (which ends in -a): वद (vada) and खाद (khāda).
- Whereas what remains the same across paradigms is these conjugational Endings. Hence, for all the verbs that follow वद (vada), -ति (ti) is the Ending for the 3rd Singular, तः (taḥ) is the ending for the 3rd Dual, etc.
- Before Endings that begin with म्- (m) or व्- (v), the final -अ (a) Stem vowel is lengthened: e.g., वद (vada) → वदा (vadā) // मि (mi) = वदामि (vadāmi)
- Conversely, before Endings that begin with a guṇa vowel, the final -अ Stem vowel is dropped: e.g., वद (vada) → वद् (vad) // अन्ति (anti) = वदन्ति (vadanti)
Root, Stem and Ending
- By looking at certain verbal derivatives, we can ascertain the most basic form of a verb, which is therefore called its Root. For example, the past participles खादित (khādita) and पतित (patita) reveal that these verbs’ Roots are खाद् (khād) and पत् (pat) because -इत ([i]ta) is the suffix for past participles.
- And since they both follow वदति वदतः वदन्ति, etc., above, it’s clear that their Stems in the present conjugation are खाद (khāda) and पत (pata): i.e., an -अ (a) is added to their Roots to form their Stems. This is true for all verbs in this class (which is conventionally called the 1st class): the Stem is formed by adding an -अ (a) to the Root.
- But in many verbs in this class there is another difference between Root and Stem. For example, we know from the past participle, चित्त (citta), that the Root here is चित् (cit), but from its conjugations चेतति चेततः etc., we know that its Stem is चेत (ceta). So the Stem is formed by changing the Root from चित् (cit) to चेत् (cet) before adding the -अ (a) stem-suffix. Since this is a regular feature of Stem-formation for a large subset of verbs in this class, we need to learn its pattern at once.