Previously in this Unit, we have studied the conjugation of verbs in Imperative Mood. We learnt how these conjugated verbs are used to convey various ‘moods’ and translated a few sentences from the Tipitaka containing such verbs. Let us now learn about the Optative Mood.

The Optative Mood is also called as Potential Mood and is used in Pali to express – probability / potential of an event happening; to give exhortation / advice etc.

The Optative Mood is sometimes used to express a wish – may such and such thing happen – which is also indicated by Imperative Mood. But a wish can be considered as a possibility, and thus Optative Mood can be used. Thus in the Suttas we sometimes have an overlap in the usage of Imperative and Optative / Potential Mood.

While translating these verbs indicating the Optative Mood, we use expressions like – (if / suppose) ….. would …..., may … etc.

The Optative mood is frequently used in the Suttas when the Buddha is teaching Dhamma using similes. E.g. Expressions like – ‘Suppose there is huge tree’, ‘if a man thinks thus ….’ – contain conjugated form of verbs in Optative mood.


The terminations added to the verbal bases denoting the Optative Mood are :

Terminations added to a, ā o and e-ending verbal bases

Singular Plural
Third Person eyya eyyuṃ
Second Person eyyāsi eyyātha
First Person eyyaṃ, eyyāmi eyyāma

Let us study the conjugation of all these types of verbal bases and the roots √, √bhū and √as in the Optative Mood. We will then translate into English a few Pali sentences containing conjugated forms of these verbs.

Last modified: Thursday, 25 January 2024, 1:24 PM