Tibetan Grammar - First case 'ming tsam' - just the name

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WORK IN PROGRESS: the grammar articles are being edited for wiki publication. During editing, the content might be incomplete, out of sequence or even misleading. In the verb section the approach to explain Tibetan verbs is changed to that of the "three thematic relations: Theme, Location, and Agent" - there will be discrepancies to the other grammar section until they are matched with it

Articles on Tibetan Grammar
1. Introduction
2. Formation of the Tibetan Syllable
3. Formation of the Tibetan Word
4. First case: ming tsam
5. agentive particle
6. Connective Particle
7. La don particles
8. La don particles—Notes
9. Originative case
10. Verbs
11. Verbs—Notes
12. Syntactic particles

(by Stefan J. Gueffroy[1] [fka Eckel])

ming tsam མིང་ཙམ་, Just the Name

This section contains Tibetan script. Without proper Tibetan rendering support configured, you may see other symbols instead of Tibetan script.

Also called: nominative case, "no particle", accusative case, patient role particle "-Ø", rirst case. This case does not add any particle to the word or changes it any way.

Independent of Verb Type


Enumeration, Section Heading, Title



Proleptic: anticipatory
Brahmin  poor       householder            food       cloths   gave
(Regarding) that poor Brahmin, the householder gave food and cloth to that (one).
The householder gave food and cloth to that poor Brahmin.

Temporal ming tsam

Temporal ming tsam can also be viewed as a very frequently omitted locative (la don) of time.
དེར་བསྡད་དུས་ same as: དེར་བསྡད་དུས་སུ་
there stayed time            there stayed time la don
at the time of staying there

དེའི་ཚེ་ same as: དེའི་ཚེ་ན་
that time            that time la don
at that (point in) time

In Compound Words

Note: See also "Formation of the Tibetan Words - Compounded Nouns".

Adjective/Verb - Adjective/Verb

to be happy, glad v.i. ཐ་མི་དད་པ་
དགའ་བ།  དགའ་བ།  དགའ་བ། 
past pres. fut. imp.
happy joyful
  • from: དགའ་བ་ adjective, noun, verb:

joyful, happy; joy; to be happy, glad, pleased, to take joy in

to be joyful
to enjoy
v.i. ཐ་མི་དད་པ་
སྤྲོ་བ།  སྤྲོ་བ།  སྤྲོ་བ། 
past pres. fut. imp.
to be joyful, to enjoy

Tibet language
Tibetan language

Noun - Adjective

A noun-adjective combination becomes either just a noun with an adjective (see: " adjectives") or a new word.

bottom, depth  deep
very deep; profound

extent big
vast, extensive


སངས་རྒྱས། ཀུན་མཁྱེན། རྐང་གཉིས་གཙོ་བོ། སྐུ་གསུམ་པ། མཁྱེན་ལྔ་པ། འགྲོ་བའི་བླ་མ། རྒྱལ་བ། བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས།
Buddha    all knowing   foot two    main  kaya  three knowledge five being highest victorious Bhagavan
The Buddha, the Omniscient One, Chief of Humans (bipeds), Victorious One, [Possessor of] the Three Kayas, the One with the Five Knowledges, Lord of Beings, Victorious One, Bhagavan[...]

Nouns in a List - Nominalized Clauses in a List

སངས་རྒྱས་ཆོས་ཚོགས་ཁམས་དང་བྱང་ཆུབ་དང༌། ཡོན་ཏེན་སངས་རྒྱས་འཕྲིན་ལས་ཐ་མ་སྟེ།
Buddha Dharma assembly element enlightenment qualities enlightened activity final
The Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, element, enlightenment, qualities and finally enlightened activity

རྒྱུ་ནི་འབྱུང་བ་ཆེན་པོ་བཞི་སྟེ། སའི་ཁམས་ནི་སྲ་ཞིང་གཞི་འཛིན་པའི་ལས་བྱེད་པ། ཆུ་ཁམས་གཤེར་ཞིང་སྡུད་པ།
cause elements great four earth element solid and base to hold action do water element liquid and draw together
མེ་ཁམས་དྲོ་ཞིང་སྨིན་པ། རླུང་ཁམས་གཡོ་ཞིང་འཕེལ་བར་བྱེད་པའོ།།
fire element warmth and mature wind element move and increase do
Causal [forms] are the four great elements. The earth element is solid and is performing the function of support. The water element is liquid and cohesion. The fire element is warmth maturing. The wind element is moving and increasing.

Examples for Types of Verbs with an Argument in ming tsam

See: The Syntactic Verb Categories and Classification of Verbs According to Semantic and Syntactic Groups

verbs have their theme in ming tsam

Exceptions are discussed in the verb section. E.g., see: (in The Syntactic Verb Categories) agentive directed, directed grammar with transitive verbs and (in Classification of Verbs According to Semantic and Syntactic Groups) Verbs Expressing Mental Activity with Directed Grammar, Verbs That Can Take a Referential ལ་ for Their Theme, Verbs of Benefit or Harm and Hindrance, Verbs Expressing "to Make Effort, to Engage In"

Linking Verb

linking verb, category: ming tsam intransitive - stative copula

theme (subject): ming tsam, complement[2]: ming tsam, strict "theme - complement" word order

red          colour   is
Red is [a] colour.

Intransitive Verbs

theme (subject): ming tsam

Intransitive verbs like:

verbs of existence and possession

verbs of existence
verbs of existence, category: ming tsam intransitive - stative located

theme: ming tsam, qualifier—place of existence: la don

barren women son not exist
The barren women’s son does not exist.

verbs of possession
verbs of possession category: ming tsam intransitive - stative located

theme—what is owned: ming tsam, qualifier—possessor: la don

I bos grunniens have
I have yaks.

non-volitional event verbs
non-volitional event verbs, category: ming tsam intransitive - dynamic non-volitional

theme (subject): ming tsam, qualifier: la don

to arise v.i. ཐ་མི་དད་པ་
ཤར་བ།  འཆར་བ།  འཆར་བ། 
past pres. fut. imp.
sun  arose
The sun arose.

verbs of motion
verbs of motion, category: ming tsam intransitive - dynamic directed

theme: ming tsam;  qualifier-direction, destination: la don;  qualifier-origin: originative

to go v.i. ཐ་མི་དད་པ་
ཕྱིན་པ་ / སོང་བ།  འགྲོ་བ།  འགྲོ་བ།  སོང།
past pres. fut. imp.
he Lhasa   went
He went to Lhasa.

verbs of necessity
Tibetan Grammar - verbs#Verbs of Necessity category: ming tsam intransitive - stative located

Qualifier—that which needs: la don, theme—that what is needed: ming tsam

to need v.i. ཐ་མི་དད་པ་
དགོས་པ།  དགོས་པ།  དགོས་པ། 
past pres. fut. imp.
sprouts water need
Sprouts need water.

In Tibetan, the theme (subject) of the verb དགོས་པ་, to need, is that what is needed, it performs the action to be needed, (the "water" in the example). What or whom needs is the qualifier (the "sprouts").

Transitive Verbs

transitive verbs, category: agentive transitive

Agent (subject): agentive particle, theme (object): ming tsam

to teach v.t. ཐ་དད་པ་
བསྟན་པ།  སྟོན་པ།  བསྟན་པ།  སྟོན།
past pres. fut. imp.
Buddha         Dharma taught
The Buddha taught the Dharma.

Ditransitive Verbs

Agent (subject): agentive particle, theme (object): ming tsam, recipient (indirect object)[3]: la don

to give v.t. ཐ་དད་པ་
སྟེར་བ།  སྟེར་བ།  སྟེར་བ།  སྟེར།
past pres. fut. imp.
doctor  the ill   medicine give
The doctor gives medicine to the ill.

Verbs of Absence and "Presence"

verbs of absence and presence, category: ming tsam intransitive - stative agentive, ming tsam intransitive - dynamic agentive, agentive transitive - agentive

theme: ming tsam, qualifier - that what is absent or "present": agentive particle

to be empty v.i. ཐ་མི་དད་པ་
སྟོངས་པ།  སྟོང་པ།  སྟོང་པ། 
past pres. fut. imp.
land   water  empty
the land is empty of water


  1. recently adopted
  2. The qualifier of a linking verb is usually called "complement". This term is also used here to distinguish it from "qualifiers" that are not in ming tsam.
  3. also called "addressee" and "beneficiary"