Proto-Indo-European particles

The particles of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) have been reconstructed by modern linguists based on similarities found across all Indo-European languages. They have long been ignored by Indo-Europeanists, who are generally interested only in nouns and verbs. The following article makes no reference to the new standard treatment, George Dunkel's Lexikon der indogermanischen Partikeln und Pronominalstämme (see the References), which presents the material for the first time in a systematic manner. Among other things, it proves that almost all of the laryngeals cited below must be deleted.


Adverbs used as adpositions

Many particles could be used both as adverbs and postpositions. This is similar to modern languages; compare English He is above in the attic (adverb) and The bird is above the house (preposition). The postpositions became prepositions in the daughter languages except Anatolian, Germanic, Indo-Iranian and Sabellic; Latin and Greek preserve postpositions vestigially.[1]

Reflexes, or descendants of the PIE reconstructed forms in its daughter languages, include the following.

*h₂epo / h₂po / apofromVed. ápa "away, forth", Gk. apó, Lat. ab "from", Alb. pa "without", Eng. of, off[2], Hitt. āppa, āppan "behind"
*h₂edto, by, atLat. ad, Osc. adpúd, Umb. ař, Goth. at, ON at, Eng. æt/at, Gm. az/--, Ir. ad/do, Welsh add-, at, Gaul. ad, Phryg. addaket, XMK addai[3]
*h₂etifrom, back, againLat. at, OCS OCS отъ Ir. aith-, Welsh ad- "re-", Toch. A atas, Toch. B ate "away", Gk. atar "however"
*h₂en / *h₂enh₃ / *h₂neh₃on, uponAv. ana, Gk. ano, Lat. in (in some cases), ON á, Goth. ana, Eng. an/on, Gm. ?/an, Lith. ant
*h₂entiagainst, at the end, in front of, beforeGk. anti, Lat. ante, Hitt. hantezzi "first"
*h₂euoff, away, too much, veryVed. ava, ' Lat. aut, autem, 'Lith. nuo, Eng. of, off[3]
*h₂n̥-bʰi / *h₂m̥-bʰiaround[4] (→ both)Ved. abhi, Av. aiwito, aibi, Pers. abiy/?, Gk. amphi, ON um, Eng. bi/by; ymbi/umbe (obsolete), Gm. umbi/um; ?/bei, Lat. ambi, ambo, Gaul. ambi, Ir. imb/um, Welsh am, Toch. āmpi/?, Alb. mbi, Lith. abu, OCS oba, Russ. ob "about", oba "both"[3]
*bʰeǵʰwithoutOCS без, OPruss. bhe, Ved. bahis "from outwards"[3]
*de, *dotoGk. -de, Eng. to, Gm. zu, Lith. da-, OCS do, PER tâ, Welsh i, Ir. do, Luw. anda,
*h₁eǵʰsoutLat. ex, Gk. ἐκ (ek)/ἐξ (eks), Gaul. ex-, Ir. ass/as; acht/; echtar, Russ. из (iz), Alb. jashtë, Oscan eh-, Umbrian ehe-, Lith. iš, Ltv. iz, OPruss. is, Welsh ech-[3]
*h₁eǵʰs-tosoutsideGk. ektos[3]
*h₁eǵʰs-tro- / *h₁eǵʰs-terextraLat. extra,[3] Welsh eithr "except, besides"
*h₁eninGk. en, Lat. in, Eng. in/in, Gm. in/in, īn/ein-, Ir. i, Welsh yn, Arm. i, Alb. në, OPruss. en, OCS vŭ(n)-,[2]

Luw. anda, Carian nt_a, Goth. in, ON í, Ir. in/i, Lith. į, Ltv. iekšā

*h₁en-terwithin, insideVed. antár "between", Lat. inter "between, among", Gm. untar/unter "between, among" (see also *n̥dʰ-er below), Ir. eter/idir "between", Cornish ynter, Alb. ndër "between, in",[2] Pers. ændær "inside", SCr. unutar "within"
*h₁etibeyond, over (about quantity), besidesLat. et, etiam, Gk. ἔτι, οὐκέτι, Ved. अति (ati), Av. aiti, OPruss. et-, at- , Eng. ed-, edgrow, Gaul. eti, t-ic
*h₁opi / h₁epi near, at, upon, byVed. ápi "by, on", Gk. epí "on", Lat. ob "on", Arm. ew "and",[2]

Av. aipi, Lith. api-, apie, Alb. afër "near" [3]

*h₁neuwithoutKhot. anau "without" Osset. aenae Gk. aneu
*km̥-th₂ / *km̥-tiby, alongHitt. katta "with, down (+Gen)", Gaul. kanta "with", Gk. katá "down"[2][3] Welsh gan
*komwithLat. cum, Ir. co/?,[2] Welsh cyf-, Goth. ga-
*medʰiin the middlePers., miyan Av. madiiana, Khot. mayana-, Ved. madhyama Lat. medius OPruss. median Goth. miduma "the middle" OCS meždu,[3] Welsh y mewn
*n̥dʰ-eriunderVed. adhás, Av. aδairi, Lat. īnfr-ā, Eng. under/under, Arm. ənd,[2]

Pers. ?/zēr, ON und, Goth. undar, Gm. untar/unter, Arm. ĕndhup/ĕnthub

*nidown, underVed. ní, Eng. ne-ther, Arm. ni, OCS ni-zŭ[2]
*nunowHitt. nu, Luw. nanun, Ved. nū, OPers. nūra/?, Pers. æknun/konun/?, Gk. nun, Lat. nunc, ON nū, Goth. nu, Eng. nū/now, Gm. nu/nun, Toch. nuṃ/nano, Lith. nūn, Ltv. nu, OPruss. teinu, OCS нъінѣ (nyne), Alb. tani, Arb. naní (but see the list of conjunctions below)
*h₃ebʰi, h₃bʰitowards, into, atOCS объ[3]
*pewith, togetherHitt. pe-
*per(i)around, throughVed. pári "around, forth", Gk. perí "around", Lat. per "through", OPruss. per, Alb. për,[2] Russ. pere- "through, over"
*per / *pero / *prōbefore, forth, in front of, ahead ofHitt. pēran "before", prā "toward", Ved. prā, Lat. per, prō, Eng. for/fore-, Gm. ?/vor, Welsh rhy, rhag, er, Lith. per, pro, Alb. para, Pers. pær-/pæri-/par-, Russ. pered
*posafterVed. pascat, Lat. post, Lith. paskui[5]
*r̥ / *rō / *rō-dʰifor (enclitic), for the purpose ofVed.OCS ради
*trh₂osthroughVed. tiras, Lat. trāns, Eng. through, OIr. tar,[5] Welsh tra
*uperaboveVed. upári, Gk. hupér, Lat. s-uper, Eng. over, Ir. for/fara, Welsh gor-, gwar- Arm. (i) ver "up",[2] Alb. sipër, Gm. über
*up / *upounder, belowVed. úpa "up to", Gk. hupó "below", Lat. s-ub, Ir. fo/faoi,[2] Welsh go-, gwa-

Hitt. upzi, Av. upa, Pers. upa/?, Umb. sub, Osc. sup, ON upp, Goth. iup, Eng. upp/up, Gm. uf/auf, Welsh go, Gaul. voretus, Toch. ?/spe, Lith. po

Untranslated reflexes have the same meaning as the PIE word.

In the following languages, two reflexes separated by a slash mean:

Negating prefixes (privatives)

Two privatives can be reconstructed, *ne and *, the latter only used for negative commands. The privative prefix *n̥- is likely the zero grade of *ne.

*nesentence negatorVed. ná, Lat. nē/ne-, Eng. ne/no, Gm. ne/nein, Lith. nè, OCS ne,[6]

Hitt. natta, Luw. ni-, Lyc. ni-, Lyd. ni-, Av. na, Pers. na/?, Gk. ne-, Osc. ne, Umb. an-, ON né, Goth. ni, Ir. ní/ní, Welsh ni, Arm. an-, Toch. an-/en-, Ltv. ne, OPruss. ne, Pol. nie, Russ. ne, net, Alb. nuk

*n̥-privative prefixHitt. am-, Ved. a(n)-, Gk. a(n)-, Lat. in-, Alb. e-, Eng. un-,[6] Gm. un-
*mānegator for commandsVed. mā, Per ma-, Gk. mē (Doric mā)[6]

Alb. mos

Adverbs derived from adjectives

Adverbs derived from adjectives (like English bold-ly, beautiful-ly) arguably cannot be classified as particles. In Proto-Indo-European, these are simply case forms of adjectives and thus better classified as nouns. An example is *meǵh₂ "greatly", a nominative-accusative singular.[7]


The following conjunctions can be reconstructed:[8]

*kʷeand, word or phrase connectorHitt. -ku, Ved. ca, Av. ca, Gk. te, kai, Lat. -que, Celtib. kue, Per ke
*wēor, word or phrase disjunctorVed. vā, Gk. -(w)ē, Lat. -ve
*deand, sentence connectorGk. dé, Alb. dhe, Russ. da "and"
*nuand, sentence connectorHitt. nu, Ved. nú, Gk. nú, Toch. ?/nu, Ir. no-/?, OCS(but see the adverbs above)

Placed after the joined word, as in Latin Senatus populus-que Romanus ("Senate and people of Rome"), -que joining senatus and populus.


There is only one PIE interjection that can be securely reconstructed.

*wai!expression of woe or agonyHitt. uwai, Lat. vae, Welsh gwae, Breton gwa, Eng. woe, ON. vei, Pers. vai, Kurd. wai, Ved. uvē, Gk. aī, aī aī (woe!, alas!), Lith. vajé, Ltv. ai, vai
*ō! / *eh₃! (?)oh!Gk. ō, Lat. ō, Eng. oh!, Gm. oh!, Russ. o!,[9] Pers. e!



  • Dunkel, George E (2014), Lexikon der indogermanischen Partikeln und Pronominalstämme, Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, ISBN 978-3-8253-5926-3 
  • Fortson, Benjamin W., IV (2004), Indo-European Language and Culture, Blackwell Publishing, ISBN 1-4051-0316-7 
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