In Pali, the infinitives are formed from the verbal base or root of the verb by adding the suffix ‘tuṃ’. Sometimes a connecting vowel ‘i’ is used before the suffix.

Infinitive = verbal base / root + (i) + tuṃ

From Verbal bases :
paca + i + tuṃ = pacituṃ = to cook
bhāsa + i + tuṃ = bhāsituṃ = to speak
gaccha + i + tuṃ = gacchituṃ = to go
passa + i + tuṃ = passituṃ = to see
suṇā + i + tuṃ = suṇituṃ = to listen
cinte + tuṃ = cintetuṃ = to think
pūje + tuṃ = pūjetuṃ = to worship, to honour

Please note that the last vowel of the verbal base is retained and connecting vowel ‘i’ is not used in case of e-ending verbal bases. In case of other verbal bases, the last vowel is replaced by connecting vowel ‘i’.


Here are a few simple Pali sentences with infinitives.

1. Mātā odanaṃ pacituṃ ārabhati.
The mother starts to cook rice / meal.

2. Kumārā mittehi saddhiṃ uyyānaṃ gacchituṃ icchanti.
The boys wish to go to the park along with their friends.

3. Mantī bhūpatiṃ passituṃ pāsādaṃ gamissati.
The minister will go to the palace to see the king.

4. Upāsakā bhikkhunā dhammaṃ suṇituṃ vihārasmiṃ sannipatiṃsu.
The lay devotees assembled in the monastery to listen to Dhamma (teaching) from the monk.

5. Gahapatayo buddhaṃ pūjetuṃ icchiṃsu.
The householders wished to worship / revere the Buddha.


Alternately, infinitives can be formed by adding the suffix ‘tuṃ’ directly to the root of the verb, and there can occur a few ‘sound changes’ in the process.

dadāti :
from verbal base – dadā + i + tuṃ = dadituṃ = to give
from root – + tuṃ = dātuṃ = to give

tiṭṭhati :
from verbal base – tiṭṭha + i + tuṃ = tiṭṭhituṃ = to stand
from root – ṭhā + tuṃ = ṭhātuṃ = to stand

suṇāti :
from verbal base – suṇā + i + tuṃ = suṇituṃ = to listen
from root – su + tuṃ = sotuṃ = to listen
(the last vowel ‘u’ of the root su undergoes strengthening)

gacchati :
from verbal base – gaccha + i + tuṃ = gacchituṃ = to go
from root – gam + tuṃ = gantuṃ = to go

(the nasal ‘’ of the root gam changes to the nasal ‘n’ from ta-vagga, when suffix tuṃ is added to the root. This is a commonly occurring sound change in Pali words)


Some similar infinitives are :
āgacchati : āgantuṃ = to come,
upagacchati : upagantuṃ = to approach, to go near;
adhigacchati : adhigantuṃ = to attain, to understand


Now let us translate a few sentences adopted from the Suttas, which contain infinitives in them.

Please remember that infinitives are indeclinables, hence their translation does not differ according to the tense of the sentence, the gender and number of the subject etc.

Last modified: Saturday, 4 November 2023, 12:13 PM