Introduction to Pali Sentences: Examples from Tipiṭaka

We come across such sentences in the Tipitaka where there is no subject in the sentence. Even so, we can easily identify the subject and translate the sentences based on this subject-verb agreement. Let us see a couple of familiar examples.

When we take the three refuges, we chant

Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi     I take refuge in the Buddha

Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi    I take refuge in the Dhamma

Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi     I take refuge in the Sangha

Audio for The Three Refuges

Note : The literal translation considering the verb gacchāmi would be - I go to the Buddha / Dhamma / Sangha for refuge.

No subject is mentioned in the above sentences. Yet, the verb gacchāmi clearly indicates the subject as ahaṃ (I).

Similarly, the undertaking of five or eight precepts ends in the verb samādiyāmi.

The first precept is :

Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.

I undertake the training rule (precept) to abstain from killing (taking life of) any living being.

Audio for the first precept

In this sentence too there is no subject mentioned. Yet, the verb samādiyāmi clearly indicates the subject as ahaṃ (I)

For text and translation of the five and eight precepts, please refer to Page 3, ‘The Gem Set in Gold’ or the free PDF download available at VRI.

Last modified: Saturday, 5 November 2022, 1:22 PM