Miscellaneous Pāli Class Topics

Hello @johnk and fellow pali students/enthusiasts

I hope it’s ok my starting a fresh thread to ask this question. I didn’t think it quite fit into a particular lesson and I didn’t want to take up too much of everyone’s time by asking in class.

The difference between the locative absolute and the genitive absolute is not clear to me.

I’d be grateful for any shedding of light… :slight_smile:


In terms of grammar, the noun and the adjacent participle (used adjectivally) when both put in the sixth case (genitive), it becomes a genitive absolute construction, while if they both are in the seventh case (locative), it becomes a locative absolute.

I guess you mean to ask about the way the meaning differs between the genitive and locative absolutes?

In a locative absolute it shows the simultaneousness of two actions i.e. when one action happens, another one also happens.

A genitive absolute usually gives the meanings “in spite of the fact of…, another thing happened”, or “even though something was the case, something else happened” etc.


Hello Ven @Vimutti, this is a very good question and I intend to actually address it in class this evening. I think this topic could well be moved under Lesson 16, since it’s quite relevant.

In short:

  1. both loc abs and gen abs express an action by a different subject than that in the main sentence;
  2. the loc abs is far more frequently used than the gen abs;
  3. the gen abs, most often (but not always) carries the idea of ‘despite’, ‘although’, ‘even though’.

Here are some useful notes on it that I extracted from Bhikkhu Bodhi’s wonderful book Reading the Buddha’s Discourses in Pāli
The locative absolute BB.pdf (78.0 KB)


To clarify, @srkris, this is often true but not always the case. It can also express a prior action when the participle used is a past participle, as opposed to a present participle being used for simultaneous action.


Yes, I agree, thank you.

Thank you, this is marvellous.

I’m enjoying reading through it and might pop back with a few more questions.

Okay, great. I might still ask my follow up questions here and then perhaps, if you think it best, you might address them in class?

Thanks heaps!


Hello John,

Sorry it’s taken me a while to get to this!

I think I understand the general difference between the two and how they might be used differently.

I may have read this somewhere and forgotten (!) but do both locative and genitive absolutes sometimes use the future participle?

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Thank you for letting me know about the spelling of genitive @johnk :slight_smile: I’ve corrected it here. :tulip:

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Ven @Vimutti. I would very much prefer, please, that we not start a brand new thread for every Pāli class related topic - apart from the Lesson numbers, as we have been doing (15a, 15b, 16a, etc.) and the Resources one. And so I would like to request that you (or @Gillian) create a new thread called Miscellaneous Pāli Class Topics, and move all the posts in both this thread and the other recent one (The Future, What Should Be, What Might Be) you created to the new thread. Thanks. :pray:


Ok, here’s another potentially long Q&A.

So far we’ve come across:

The Imperative, The Optative, The Future Tense and now we have the Future Passive Participle in Lesson 16.

Q 1. What are the similarities and differences. I’m asking because even though I can see that they exist - the similarities and differences - it’s being seen through a fog of confusion!

Q 2. Is there a nice neat table or booklet (small and concise!!) that goes into this with some clarity? Now I’m asking for too much - still… :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance.
With metta

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@johnk … Hello :slight_smile: I realised, I hadn’t tagged you.

Also, this might be a rather onerous query…so 'am happy to be pointed towards some helpful study materials.

I’ve got Ven Nyanatusita’s tables, thanks to our other Pali teacher, Bhante Sunyo; but I was looking for something with a bit more substance that would be useful in integrating stuff better.

Many thanks, :tulip:

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There is Duroiselle’s Practical Grammar of the Pali Language.

And an html version.

His descriptions are rather terse but good enough to start with. For example:

§622. The Future Passive Participle.

(ⅰ) The Future Passive Participle conveys the idea of “fitness, necessity, obligation;” it denotes that what is expressed by the root is to be, or ought to be, or is fit to be or must be done or undergone:

mayā kattabbaŋ kammaŋ niṭṭhitaŋ
the work which was to be done by me is finished;

sace so deso uklāpo hoti so deso sammajjitabbo,
if the place be dirty it ought to be swept;

na navā bhikkhū āsanena paṭibāhetabbā,
young monks should not be ousted from their seat.

(ⅱ) From the above examples, it will be seen that the F.P.P. must agree with the subject in gender, case and number.

(ⅲ) It is much used impersonally:

kinnu kattabbaŋ,
what is to be done?

ettha ca imāni suttāni dassetabbāni,
and in this connection these passages (from the Scriptures) should be pointed out;

iminā nayena veditabbo,
it must be understood in this way.

(ⅳ) It will be, from the above examples, remarked, that the agent is put in the Instrumentive.

(ⅴ) bhavitabbaŋ, used with the Inst. of the thing or person, is frequently used in the sense of "it must be that, one should or ought to’':

majjhatten’eva bhavitabbaŋ,
one should be indifferent to …;

visayojitāya etāya bhavitabbaŋ,
this must have been mixed with poison.


Duroiselle is a great grammar.
The Gair and Karunatillake texbook explains these as well.


I think this will be helpful, thank you.

There’s the sense that the passivity of future passive participle is about holding back and commenting on something to be done.

My interest here is to try and get a sense of how the optative, imperative and future differ from this, in I suspect, sometimes subtle ways. And also, why they might overlap.

I will defintiely take a look at Duroiselle!

Thank you for your suggestion too @stephen

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:thinking: My sense right now is that imperative is more of a command (so perhaps comparable to the active voice vs the FPP’s passive voice), the future a bit more certain (this will happen) and the optative less certain (this might happen).

Is that how the Pāli experts here think of the difference? :pray:


Correct! Well put, Ven Khemarato. And the FPP generally expresses what should be done. Though, there are some more subtleties to this that we will get into during next Tuesday’s lesson.


This is helpful, thank you!

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This is a thank-you note to @johnk as we might not have time in class for me to express my gratitude.

Thank you for all the help you’ve given from providing explanations since the start of Bhante Sujato’s course to taking over after the rains. I’m truly grateful.

But I need to excuse myself after today’s lesson (Nov 28), as several months ago I made a commitment to attend another class after the rains. Since the class is to start next month, I need time to revise what I’ve learnt to prepare myself for that class.

However, I do hope that you wouldn’t mind if I popped in here from time to time to seek your and other Pali experts’ advice.

With gratitude,


Thank you very much for your nice note, @Dheerayupa. It’s been a pleasure having such a diligent student in the class.

Please do keep up your Pāli learning and, of course, you are very welcome to pop back in this discussion group any time to ask questions.



I’d like to echo @Dheerayupa’s comment - it’s time for me also to bow out of these wonderful classes.

I’m grateful to Bhante @sujato for the initiative, his time and energy, sharing cool little snippets of knowledge that only he would be able to impart and for laying a solid foundation. @johnk thank you very much for consolidating with such care and for carrying on with the classes, even when you were unwell! It’s been fun and inspiring to hang out with an international group of Pali enthusiasts - honestly, I’ll miss seeing your faces every Tuesday evening! I wish you all the best, in all things Pali of course, but with everything.

With metta and bye for now :slightly_smiling_face: