Conjugation of atthi

We have learnt that three Pali roots - bhū, and as express the meaning of English verb ‘to be’. We have already studied the conjugation of the roots bhū and . We will now study the conjugation of root as in the present tense.

Please note : The conjugated forms of root as in all the tenses and moods, differ substantially from the conjugated forms of any other verbal base or root. Moreover, these forms occur quite frequently in the Suttas. Hence, it is advisable to pay special attention to the conjugation of as in all tenses and moods.

Conjugation of √as

atthi = is

Singular Plural
Third Person atthi santi
Second Person asi attha
First Person asmi, amhi asma, amha, asmā, amhā

Here are a few simple Pali sentences containing conjugated forms of root as in the Present Tense :

  • Kassakassa khettasmiṃ goṇo atthi.
    (There) is a bull in the farmer’s farm / field.
  • Uyyānamhi rukkhā santi. Rukkhesu phalāni santi.
    There are trees in the park. There are fruits on the trees.
  • Vejjassa putto asmi.
    I am the doctor’s son.
  • Buddhassa sāvakā amha.
    We are the disciples of the Buddha.

Now let us translate a few sentences adopted from the Suttas, which contain conjugated forms of the root as in the Present Tense.

1. Atthi nissaraṇaṃ loke, paññāya me suphussitaṃ;

atthi = is,
nissaraṇa (neuter noun) = escape, release, liberation;
nissaraṇaṃ (nominative singular – subject) = escape, release;
loka = world, loke (locative singular) = in the word
paññā (feminine noun) = knowledge, insight;
paññāya (instrumental singular) = by / through wisdom / insight;
me (from pronoun ahaṃ, instrumental singular) = by me,
phussita / phusita = touched, reached, attained;
suphussita = well attained

Translation : There is release in the world (escape from this world);
(it) is well attained by me through insight.

● The above sentence is a part of verse uttered by āḷavikā bhikkhunī (elder nun called Āḷavikā) in response to statement made by Māra that there is no escape from this world and she should enjoy the sense pleasures. This sutta and its translation can be read at :|bt://sn/sn_e_5.htm#5.1

2. Atthi panāvuso maggo atthi paṭipadā rāgassa dosassa mohassa pahānāya?

panāvuso = pana + āvuso,
pana = but, and;
āvuso (vocative) = O friend!
magga (masc) = path, maggo (nominative singular – subject)
paṭipadā (fem) = way, course; paṭipadā (nominative singular – subject)
rāga (masc) = greed, lust, passion;
dosa (masc) = hatred, ill will;
moha (masc) = delusion
rāgassa (genitive singular) = of greed,
dosassa (genitive singular) = of hatred,
mohassa (genitive singular) = of delusion,
pahāna (neut) = abandonment, giving up
pahānāya (dative singular) = for abandonment

Translation : And friend! Is there a path, is there a way for the abandonment of greed, hatred and delusion?

● Please note the two words – magga and paṭipadā. They are translated as ‘path’ and ‘way’, respectively. The word magga features in the noble eightfold path – ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo, while the word paṭipadā usually comes in the description – majjhimā paṭipadā, the middle way (of practice). Though the English translation of these two words overlaps, they are used in different context in Pali. ‘magga’ is the path, the track / structure, the teaching that is laid down; while ‘paṭipadā’ is the course of action, following the teaching / path, the practice.

3. Ko’si tvaṃ āvuso?

ko’si = ko + asi,
ko (interrogative pronoun) = who,
asi (second person singular) = (you) are
tvaṃ = you

Translation : O friend! Who are you?

4. Santimāni āsanāni paññattāni.

santimāni = santi + imāni,
santi (third person plural) = (they) are,
imāni (pronoun) = these,
āsana (neut) = seat, cushion;
āsanāni (nominative plural – subject) = seats
paññatta (adjective) = appointed, designed, prepared

The sentence Santimāni āsanāni paññattāni can be split and rewritten as:
Imāni āsanāni paññattāni santi.

Translation : These seats are prepared (made ready).

● Please note that the sentences from the suttas often begin with a verb, and there is not a fixed pattern or order of words in a sentence. It is often helpful to rewrite the sentence / regroup the words before translating.

5. Santi sattā apparajakkhajātikā, assavanatā dhammassa parihāyanti.

santi = are,
satta (masc) = being, creature;
sattā (nominative plural) = beings, creatures;
apparajakkhajātikā = appa + raja + akkha + jātikā,
appa = little, less;
raja = dust,
akkha = eye,
jātika = of the nature, possessing the quality;
apparajakkhajātikā = beings with less dust in their eyes (this is a typical expression used in the Tipitaka for the beings capable of understanding the Dhamma. The commentary says that the dust indicates defilements of greed, hatred and delusion)
savana = listening,
assavana = not listening,
assavanatā = (abstract noun from assavana) = not listening to,
parihāyati = perishes, deteriorates, wastes away.

Translation : There are beings with little dust in their eyes (who are) perishing through not listening the dhamma.

● The above statement is a part of request made by Sahampati Brahma to the Buddha – to teach the Dhamma that the Buddha had realised. The Buddha also said this to the first 60 arahant bhikkhus who went on cārikā (wandering) in different directions.

6. Satthā me, bhante, bhagavā sāvakohamasmi.

satthā (nominative singular – subject) = teacher, the Buddha;
me (from pronoun ahaṃ) = my, mine;
bhagavā (nominative singular – subject) = the blessed one, the Buddha;
sāvakohamasmi = sāvako + ahaṃ + asmi,
sāvaka (masc) = disciple
sāvako (nominative singular – subject) = disciple,
ahaṃ (pronoun, nominative singular – subject) = I
asmi (first person singular) = (I) am

In the above sentence, there are two parts with different subjects and verbs. One of the verb ‘atthi’ is missing from this sentence. We must assume it while translating.
The sentence Satthā me, bhante, bhagavā sāvakohamasmi can be split and rewritten (after adding atthi) as :
Bhante, bhagavā me satthā (atthi), ahaṃ sāvako asmi.

Translation : Venerable Sir! The Buddha is my teacher. I am (his) disciple.

Last modified: Sunday, 30 April 2023, 11:21 AM