Pali question: Plural of subjects, and verb in singular?

I have come across this formula:

Parisuddho ahaṁ bhante. Parisuddhoti maṁ buddho dhammo saṅgho dhāretu.

The first sentence I would translate “I am pure, sir.”

My first thought for the second sentence was to say, “May the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha remember me as pure”, like in the common formula “From this day forth, may the Buddha remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge for life” (while here the term for the Buddha is bhagavā).

But … dhāretu is now singular, while “the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha” are plural; so I would expect dhārentu.

What did I get wrong? Can anyone of the Pali students help?


1 Like

In fact, they seem to all be in the nominative singular in your Pali sentence.
A ‘they’ would seem to require a compounded plural.


Yes, they are. But together they are plural.

You would say, “Stephen and Paul are going to school”, not “Stephen and Paul is going to school”, although both Stephen and Paul are singular; but together they are plural.

Ah, I see this only now.

So does this mean, the meaning of my translation is still correct?

May the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha remember me as pure?

Yes, looks good to me!

1 Like

Thank you! :pray:

This means if we were to say my above example sentence in Pali, it would indeed be "Stephen and Paul is going to school”! :astonished:

Or perhaps, “Stephen goes to school and Paul goes to school. “

1 Like

Yes, perhaps that’s better. Thank you for taking so much time to help me understand this little sentence. :smile: :heart:

1 Like

P.S. I have edited the title to make it more specific.

Perhaps Warder’s advice on adjectives (it can agree with the last instead of the sum) applies for verbs as well?

1 Like

As an aside, may I still ask you as a bhikkhu: Is this sentence recited on the occasion of the Patimokkha recitation? It sounds a bit strange in so far as it seems to address the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha as “persons”, but sometimes in the traditions such strange sorts of things have developed.

Not at my temple (I don’t think…At least I don’t :grimacing: :see_no_evil:)

A “personal” (to eachother, not to the Triple Gem) version of this is found at Mv.II.26.7 as the formula for doing a two or three Bhikkhu Uposatha observance, and that’s almost certainly the origin of this Triple-Gem-oriented version. When observing the uposatha alone however, the chant my Bhikkhu Manual advises is simply “Ajja me uposatho.” Though I can imagine some Bhikkhus wishing for a bit more than that! I suppose some Bhikkhu observing the uposatha alone one day decided to declare their purity to the Triple Gem directly and then it became a thing? :thinking:

1 Like

Thank you for the explanation! :smile: