Accusative Case (Dutiyā)
Usage of Cases
Accusative Case (Dutiyā)
The accusative case is primarily used to indicate the object of the sentence. The object can be defined as the person / animal / thing with respect to whom / which the action indicated by the verb is performed.
(Usually we can arrive at the object of the sentence by putting a question ‘whom’ or ‘what’ regarding the verb)
E.g. The child eats food. (what?)
The boys see a friend. (whom?)
The Buddha speaks dhamma. (what?)
The underlined words in the above sentences are the objects.
Please remember the accusative forms of the noun ‘buddha’:
(to the Buddha)
(to the Buddhas)
Now let us construct the abovementioned sentences in Pali.
1. The child eats food.
- child = dāraka. As it is the subject of the sentence it will take up the nominative (singular) case.
- eats = bhuñjati. The verb will also take up singular form, as the subject is singular.
- food = bhatta. This being the object of the sentence it will take up the accusative (singular) case.
Thus the Pali sentence will be : Dārako bhattaṃ bhuñjati.
Please note the syntax in the above sentence. As against an English sentence which uses subject – verb – object (s-v-o) order, a Pali sentence normally uses subject – object – verb (s-o-v) order.
|English :||The child||eats||food.|
However, as we will soon discover, the order of words is not important for correct translation of Pali sentences. We will revisit this concept and study multiple examples of the same after learning a couple of more cases.
2. The boys see a friend.
- boy = kumāra. As it is the subject of the sentence it will take up the nominative (plural, corresponding to ‘the boys’) case.
- sees = passati. The verb will also take up plural form, as the subject is plural.
- friend = mitta. This being the object of the sentence it will take up the accusative (singular) case.
Thus the Pali sentence will be : Kumārā mittaṃ passanti.
3. The Buddha speaks dhamma.
- As ‘buddha’ is the subject of the sentence it will take up the nominative (singular) case.
- speaks = bhāsati. The verb will also take up singular form, as the subject is singular.
- ‘dhamma’ being the object of the sentence it will take up the accusative (singular) case.
Thus the Pali sentence will be : Buddho dhammaṃ bhāsati.
Let us learn a few more verbs.
- āharati = brings
- gaṇhāti = takes / holds
- pacati = cooks
- phusati = touches
- yācati = begs / requests for
- vandati = salutes / pays respect
- upasaṅkamati = approaches
Accusative case is also used to indicate destination where the verb in a sentence indicates motion.
Please consider the verbs - gacchati (goes), āgacchati (comes), pavisati (enters), āruhati (climbs), upasaṅkamati (approaches).
These verbs indicate that the subject is moving from one place to another. In such sentences the destination of this motion is indicated by the accusative case.
1. The merchant comes to a village.
2. The lay devotees go to the monastery. They enter the monastery.
3. The boys climb the trees.
The underlined places are the destinations and they will take up the accusative case in Pali sentences. The corresponding Pali sentences will be
- Vāṇijo gāmaṃ āgacchati.
- Upāsakā vihāraṃ gacchanti. Te vihāraṃ pavisanti.
- Kumārā rukkhe āruhanti.
Please note : the word ‘rukkhe’ in the third sentence is accusative plural as the object / destination (trees) is a plural form.
The verb upasaṅkamati is a fairly commonly occurring verb in the Tipitaka. It can indicate someone approaching a place (a city, a monastery, a forest etc), but the most common usage is when someone approaches the Buddha.
The opening paragraph of many suttas describes someone approaching Buddha, paying respect to him and sitting on one side. We will come across various forms of this verb upasaṅkamati in similar context.