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Nouns in Sanskrit, in my humble opinion, represent the most interesting facet of the language. The complexities of Sanskrit nouns are such that entire books have been written about single words; karma, dharma, and nirvana are all single words encompassing metaphysical concepts on a cosmic level. English alone is woefully inadequate to express such broad philosophical terms in a single word.

Sanskrit nouns come in more shapes and sizes than English nouns. The two most defining characteristics of a noun are the noun's number and gender. The number and gender of a Sanskrit noun are reflected in the case ending of the noun; see Sanskrit Grammar: Noun Cases for more information.

Number of a Sanskrit noun
Most languages of the world have 2 numbers of nouns, single and plural. Sanskrit adds to this, with a dual number, used when there are exactly two of an object. An excellent example of this is found in the rAmAyaNa (Ramayana), where the heroes rAma and his brother lakSmaNa are inseparable. They are often referred to as "tau dvau virau", translated as "those two heroes".
Example: devaH (1 god)...devau(2 gods)...devAH(many gods)

Gender of a Sanskrit noun
Like German, Sanskrit nouns come in three genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter. Gender of a noun is often irrelevant to the noun in question; i.e. "book", pustakam, is a neuter noun, "army", camUH, is a feminine noun, and "mountain", girih, is a masculine noun. However, the gender of the noun as a function of grammar matches the gender of the noun as a function of semantics, if there is one; i.e. the word for "man", puruSaH, is a masculine noun, while "girl". kanyA, is feminine.

Other Sanskrit Grammar nodes:
Sanskrit Grammar: Noun Cases
Sanskrit Grammar: Introduction

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