We saw that the infinitives are formed from the verbal base or root of the verb by adding the suffixtuṃ’ and a connecting vowel ‘i’ is sometimes used before the suffix. The gerunds are formed in the similar way, by adding suffixtvā’ to the verbal base or root, and here again the connecting vowel ‘i’ can be used.

Gerund = verbal base / root + (i) + tvā

From Verbal bases :
paca + i + tvā = pacitvā = having cooked
bhāsa + i + tvā = bhāsitvā = having spoken / having said
gaccha + i + tvā = gacchitvā = having gone
passa + i + tvā = passitvā = having seen
suṇā + i + tvā = suṇitvā = having listened / having heard
cinte + tvā = cintetvā = having thought
pūje + tvā = pūjetvā = having worshipped, having honoured

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’.

Gerunds are also formed by adding the suffix ‘tvā’ directly to the root of the verb, and there can occur a few ‘sound changes’ in the process.


dadāti :
from verbal base – dadā + i + tvā = daditvā = having given
from root – + tvā = datvā = having given

tiṭṭhati :
from verbal base – tiṭṭha + i + tvā = tiṭṭhitvā = having stood
from root – ṭhā + tvā = ṭhatvā = having stood
(Please note that the last vowel ‘ā’ of the roots and ṭhā undergoes shortening – i.e. becomes ‘a’ – due to the addition of conjunct consonant tvā to the root.)

suṇāti :
from verbal base – suṇā + i + tvā = suṇitvā = having listened / heard
from root – su + tvā = sutvā = having listened / heard

gacchati :
from verbal base – gaccha + i + tvā = gacchitvā = having gone
from root – gam + tvā = gantvā = having gone

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


Some similar gerunds are :
āgacchati : āgantvā = having come,
upagacchati : upagantvā = having approached
adhigacchati : adhigantvā = having attained, having understood


Please note some important variant gerunds :
The root of the verb passati is √dis, and this root forms a gerund as :
dis + t = disvā = having seen

Please note that the letter ‘t’ is dropped to attain a favourable sound change for easy pronunciation (the word distvā would have had a combination of 3 consonants making it quite difficult to pronounce).

From karoti : √kar + tvā = katvā = having done

(Here again a consonant is dropped in the final word. But as against the previous example – disvā – the last consonant of the root kar is dropped and the suffix tvā is retained.)

The gerunds are also formed by adding suffix ‘ya’ in case of verbs containing prefixes (upasagga).

Some examples of verbs containing prefixes are :
ādadāti : ā + dadāti (ā is a prefix)
pajahati : pa + jahati (pa is a prefix)
pajānāti : pa + jānāti (pa is a prefix)
upagacchati : upa + gacchati (upa is a prefix)
saṃvijjati : saṃ + vijjati (saṃ is a prefix)
nikkhipati : ni + khipati (ni is a prefix)

When gerunds are formed by adding the suffix ‘ya’, it is mostly added to the root of the verb instead of verbal base. Many of the gerunds thus formed undergo sound changes for easy pronunciation.


From verb ādadāti : ā + √ + ya = ādāya = having taken

From pajahati : pa + √ + ya = pahāya = having abandoned, having given up

From uṭṭhahati : u + √ṭhā + ya = uṭṭhāya = having risen, having stood / got up

(duplication of ṭha occurs on combining with u and the word becomes uṭṭhāya)

From āruhati : ā + √ruh + ya = āruyha = having ascended, having climbed up

[Please note that metathesis occurs in the gerund where ya and ha sounds (letters) change places : ā + √ruh + ya = āruhyaāruyha]

Similarly, from oruhati : o/ava + √ruh + ya = oruyha = having descended

From āgacchati : ā + √gam + ya = āgamma = having come, having arrived

(the suffix ya gets assimilated and the word changes to āgamma from āgamya)

Similarly, from upagacchati : upa + √gam + ya = upagamma (having approached)

From nikkhamati : ni + √kam + ya = nikkhamma = having set out, having left

Thus some verbs in Pali can have multiple gerunds, and we come across these variants quite frequently in the Suttas.

gacchati : gacchitvā / gantvā
āgacchati : āgacchitvā / āgantvā / āgamma
upagacchati : upagantvā / upagamma
pajahati : pajahitvā / pahāya
uṭṭhahati : uṭṭhahitvā / uṭṭhāya
āruhati : āruhitvā / āruyha
passati : passitvā / disvā

Please note : Many a times in the suttas (especially in the verses) the suffix tvāna is added instead of tvā.

Thus we come across gerunds like :
daditvāna = having given,
vanditvāna = having paid respect,
disvāna = having seen,
katvāna = having done

There occur many more variants of the gerunds (due to sound change occurring in the word) in the Suttas. We will learn about them as and when we come across them.

Last modified: Wednesday, 13 December 2023, 9:22 AM