The conjugated forms of the roots √bhū, √hū and √as in the Past Tense indicate the meaning – was / were. Let us study their individual conjugation tables.

Conjugation of √bhū (bhava)

Singular Plural
Third Person bhavi / abhavi bhaviṃsu / abhaviṃsu
bhavuṃ / abhavuṃ
Second Person bhavi / abhavi
bhavo / abhavo
bhavittha / abhavittha
First Person bhaviṃ / abhaviṃ bhavimha / abhavimha
bhavimhā / abhavimhā

Please note that bhū i.e. the verbal base bhava being a-ending verbal base, conjugates like bhasa in the Past Tense.

Conjugation of √

Singular Plural
Third Person ahosi, ahu ahesuṃ
Second Person ahosi ahuvattha
First Person ahosiṃ, ahuṃ ahumha, ahumhā

Conjugation of √as

Singular Plural
Third Person āsi āsuṃ, āsiṃsu
Second Person āsi āsittha
First Person āsiṃ āsimha

As we can see from the above conjugation tables, the conjugated forms of the roots √hū and √as are quite different from those of other verbal bases. We need to pay special attention to these forms as they constitute some of the most commonly occurring verbs in the Suttas.

Let us translate a few simple Pali sentences into English containing conjugated forms of the roots √bhū, √hū and √as.

1. Vejjassa putto amacco abhavi.

abhavi = (PT, third p, s of bhūbhavati) = was / became

Translation : The doctor’s son was a minister; OR The doctor’s son became a minister.

Please note :bhū has two meanings – to be & to become, hence its Past Tense form abhavi can be translated as ‘was’ or ‘became’.


2. Gāmasmiṃ eko vihāro ahosi.

ahosi = (PT, third p, s of hoti) = was

Translation : There was one monastery in the village. / In the village, there was a (one) monastery.


3. Uyyānamhi pokkharaṇiyaṃ padumāni ahesuṃ.

ahesuṃ = (PT, third p, pl of hoti) = were

Translation : In the park, there were lotus flowers in a pond.


4. Ācariyassa bhaginī paṇḍitā āsi.

āsi = (PT, third p, s of asatthi) = was

Translation : The teacher’s sister was intelligent / wise.

Please note that the word ‘paṇḍita’ is used as an adjective in the above sentence. Hence, it takes up a feminine singular form paṇḍitā, the same as the subject (bhaginī).


5. Buddhassa sāvakā ahumha.

ahumha = (PT, first p, pl of huhoti) = we were

Translation : We were the disciples of the Buddha.


6. Bhūtapubbe ahaṃ gahapati upāsako āsiṃ.

āsiṃ = (PT, first p, s of asatthi) = I was

Translation : In the past, I was a householder lay devotee.

Last modified: Friday, 8 September 2023, 11:29 AM