We will now learn how the present participles are formed, their declension and usage in sentences. We will then translate some Pali sentences adopted from the Suttas which contain present participles in their various declined forms.

As the name suggests, the present participles are used as adjectives, to indicate an ongoing action at any given time. But the tense of the complete sentence might be any of the three – present, past or future.

Please consider the following examples to understand this concept.

1. I am watching a game sitting among a cheering crowd.
2. She was walking down the road lost in her thoughts, when a speeding car brushed past her.

The first sentence is in the present tense and the second in the past, but the present participles (cheering and speeding, respectively) which are used as adjectives indicate the action happening at the time mentioned. – 1. The crowd is cheering now, 2. The car was speeding when it brushed past her.

In Pali, the present participles can be formed by adding the termination ‘nta’ or ‘māna’ to the verbal base.

gaccha + nta / māna → gacchanta / gacchamāna = going (one who goes)
bhāsa + nta / māna → bhāsanta / bhāsamāna = speaking (one who speaks)

*suṇā + nta / māna → suṇanta / suṇamāna = listening (one who listens)
*dadā + nta / māna → dadanta / dadamāna = giving (one who gives)

* Please note that the long vowel ‘ā’ at the end of verbal bases suṇā and dadā changes into the short vowel ‘a’ when the terminations nta and māna are added.

Present participles can be similarly formed from any verbal base and they are translated according to the meaning of the verb.

karonta = doing / performing (one who does)
caranta = walking / behaving (one who walks)
passanta = seeing (one who sees)
jānanta = knowing (one who knows)
desenta / desayanta = teaching (one who teaches)
bhāventa / bhāvayanta = cultivating / developing (one who cultivates / practises)

* Please note that we have only written the ‘nta’ ending forms of present participles in the above examples, as they are more commonly occurring forms in the Suttas. However, any verbal base can also take up ‘māna’ ending to form a present participle.

The present participles ending in ‘nta’ and ‘māna’ are used as adjectives in masculine and neuter gender. When masculine, they decline like the ‘a’-ending masculine noun ‘buddha’; and when neuter, they decline like the ‘a’-ending neuter noun ‘phala’.

1. bhāsanto kumāro = a talking boy (a boy who is talking),
2. kīḷantā dārakā = the playing children (children who are playing),
3. dhāvanto ratho = a running chariot,
4. patanta phala = a falling fruit

Please note that each of the above adjectives has the same gender, number and case as the noun.
1. Masc, nom. s (bhāsanto kumāro)
2. Masc, nom. p
3. Masc, nom. s
4. Neut, nom. s

Let us translate a few simple Pali sentences containing various declined forms of present participles.

Last modified: Sunday, 11 February 2024, 10:30 AM