iti and iva

To wrap up our study of uninflected words, let's study two very common words: iti and iva.


The word iti is both common and powerful. Generally, iti used like a quotation mark.

However, iti is more powerful than an ordinary quotation mark. Michael Coulson puts it best when he writes that iti frequently expresses an attitude of mind or the grounds on which something is done.

As you can see, iti "marks off" a specific idea and lets the rest of the sentence refer to it. Among the old Indo-European languages, only Sanskrit has this feature. However, the Dravidian and Munda languages families feature a word used like iti. For that reason, it's likely that this use of iti was borrowed from those languages.


The word iva means something like "like," "as if," or "it seems." Like ca and , iva must follow the word it refers to. It is usually used with nouns.

Note the distinction between nara iva and naram iva in the examples above.


The other vowels

Here are the rest of the Devanagari vowels.


Notice that each of these longer and stronger forms comes from attaching the corresponding vowel mark to the shorter and weaker ones.

The symbol is created from three parts: the "3"-shaped part of , the hook on , and the candrabindu that we used to indicate a nasal vowel in -n sandhi.

Punctuation in Devanagari

These three punctuation marks are used in Sanskrit:

marks where a vowel was lost due to sandhi
marks the end of a sentence or half-verse
marks the end of a paragraph or verse

Some modern texts may also use more familiar punctuation, like the comma ( , ), the question mark ( ? ), or the exclamation mark ( ! ).