Earlier in this unit we studied the Infinitives, indeclinables formed from verbs. We will now study another type of indeclinables, Gerunds which are also derived from verbs.

There is a difference in the usage of gerunds in Pali, compared to English language.

Let us understand the usage of gerunds with the help of some examples.

Please consider the following English sentences :
1. The children sing and dance in the park.
2. The boys went to the river and bathed.
3. The women will go to the shop and buy goods.

In each of the above sentences there are two actions mentioned, and an ‘and’ is used to indicate multiple actions. However, in the first sentence the two actions – singing and dancing happens simultaneously; whereas in the other two sentences the actions take place one after the other or in a sequence.

i.e. the boys bathed after they went to the river and the women will buy goods after going to the shop.

The first sentence will be translated into Pali as :
Dārakā uyyānasiṃ gāyanti ca naccanti ca.

This sentence does not require a gerund and simple verb forms are used.

The next two sentences while translating in Pali will have a slightly different meaning. The Pali sentences would mean :
• Having gone to the river the boys bathed.
• Having gone to the shop the women will buy goods.

This type of construction clearly indicates the sequence of the actions. The gerund is used to indicate the completed or previous action e.g. a Pali gerund will indicate ‘having gone’.

If there are more than two actions in a sentence all the previous actions that are done before the final verb, will be indicated by gerunds.

E.g. The lay devotee went to the monastery, paid respect to the monk, sat on a seat and asked for the Dhamma.

While translating this sentence in Pali, ‘went to …’, ‘paid respect’, and ‘sat on…’ will be indicated by gerunds and only the last verb ‘asked for’ will be in Past Tense.

Now let us learn how gerunds are formed in Pali.

Last modified: Friday, 8 December 2023, 10:48 AM