5. Adjectives

5.1. Inflection of Adjectives

5.1.1. In Proto-Indo-European, the noun could be determined in three different ways: with another noun, as in stone wall; with a noun in genitive, as in the father’s house; or with an adjective, as in paternal love. The adjective corresponds to the third way, i.e., to that kind of words – possibly derived from older genitives – that are declined to make it agree in case, gender and number with the noun they define.

5.1.2. The adjective is from the older stages like a noun, and even today Indo-European languages have the possibility to make an adjective a noun (as English), or a noun an adjective (stone wall). Furthermore, some words are nouns and adjectives as well: wersis, male, can be the subject of a verb (i.e., a noun), and can determine a noun.

Most stems and suffixes are actually indifferent to the opposition noun/adjective. Their inflection is common, too, and differences are usually secondary. This is the reason why we have already studied the adjective declensions; they follow the same inflection as nouns.

5.1.3. However, since the oldest reconstructible PIE language there were nouns different from adjectives, as wqos, wolf, or pods, foot, and adjectives different from nouns, as rudhrós, red, solwos, whole. Nouns could, in turn, be used as adjectives, and adjectives be nominalised.

NOTE. Noun has a wide sense in PIE, for many nouns may be used both adjectivally and substantivally, and the classification of nouns by inflectional type is independent of whether they are substantives or adjectives. In this book the terms ‘noun’ and ‘nominal’ are then to be interpreted in their wider sense.

5.2. The Motion

5.2.1. In accordance with their use, adjectives distinguish gender by different forms in the same word, and agree with the nouns they define in gender, number and case. This is the motion of the adjective.

5.2.2. We saw in §3.4 that there are cases of motion in the noun. Sometimes the opposition is made between nouns, and this seems to be the older situation; as, patr/mātr, bhrātēr/swesōr.

But an adjective distinguishes between masculine, feminine and neuter, or at least between animate and neuter (or inanimate). This opposition is of two different kinds:

a. Animates are opposed to inanimates by declension, and also vocalism and accent; as, -os/-om, -is/-i, -nts/-nt, -ēs/-es.

b. The masculine is opposed to the feminine, when it happens, by the stem vowel; as, -os/-ā, -nts/-ntja, -us/-wja.

NOTE. From Beekes (1995): Two feminine forms are strongly deviant:

o fem. potnja, mistress (originally powerful), next to masculine potis. The feminine may contain the individualizing suffix -en-, ‘one who is (powerful)’.

o fem. piwerja, fat, alongside masc. piwōn. Here too the forms are originally independent: from *peiHu-ōn ‘one who is fat’, and fem. from *peiH-ur ‘fat’.

The general system may be so depicted:




























5.2.3. Compare the following examples:

1. For the so-called thematic adjectives, in -os, -ā, -om, cf. somós, -, -óm,  equal, rudhrós, -, -óm, red, wolós, -, -óm, willing, kserós, -, -óm, dry, etc. But note the root accent in newos, -ā, -om, new, solwos, -ā, -om, whole, kaikos, -ā, -om, blind, lajos, -ā, -om, fat, etc.

NOTE. Most adjectives have o-stem, among them verbal adjectives and compound adjectives, cf. diwós, heavenly, klutós, heard, famous. The corresponding feminine forms feature ā.

2. For adjectives in -is, -i, cf. grdhís, -í, grown, lēnis, -i, weak, moinis, -i, obliged, muttis, -i, speechless, widis, -i, ignorant, etc.


3. For adjectives in -us, -wja/-wī, -u, cf. ēsús, -u, -ú, good, mghús, -u, -ú, short, leghús, -u, -ú, light, ōkús, -u, -ú, swift. With root accent, cf. swādus, -uja, -u (Southern IE swādús, -u, -ú), pleasant, mdus, -uja, -u, soft, tghus, -uja, -u, fat,tanus, -uja, -u, thin, tṛsus, -uja, -u, dry, dhsus, -uja, -u, bold, etc.

NOTE. On the original stress of PIE *swādus, see the so-called Erlangen School Ablaut system, e.g. at <https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/1887/2667/1/299_021.pdf> from Lubotsky (1987), and Frazier (2006) at <http://roa.rutgers.edu/files/819-0406/819-FRAZIER-0-0.PDF>.

4. Adjectives in -nts, -ntja, -nt, are frequently found in suffixes; as, -went-, possessing, rich in (masc. nom. -wents, gen. -wtós, neu. -wt, fem. -wt-ja), and especially in present participles in -nt-.

The old athematic declension is reconstructed as hysterodynamic, with nom. -´nts, acc. -´nt, gen. -ntós.

NOTE. Some participles also show traces of the static inflection that we saw in athematics, especially in PII; they show nom. -nt-s, acc. -nt-, gen. -nt-s. Beekes (1995).

However, -o/e-nt- was reinterpreted (probably still within the LIE community) as from the thematic conjugation, where no accent-ablaut patterns are applied, see §7.7.2. Only Sanskrit shows a generalisation of the athematic paradigm.

5. Adjectives in -ēs, -es, are found with possessive semantics formed from neuter s-stems by internal derivation; so e.g. -klewēs, -famed, from kléwos, fame; -gens, -born, from genos, kin; or -menēs, -minded, from menos, sense (intelligence).

A special s-stem is perfect participle suffix -wos-, which has an ablauting declension; as, knowing, nom. weid-ws (cf. O.Ind. vidús-, Av. vīduu, Gk. eidós), acc. weid-wos-, zero-grade oblique forms, as gen. weid-us-os (cf. Skt. vidúas, Av. vīdušō, Gk. weidwótos), fem. wid-us-ja / wid-us-ī (cf. Skt. vidúsī, Gk. widúia, Myc. a-ra-ru-ja), pl. nom. weid-wos-es, gen. weid-us-om, etc.

NOTE. Cf. for the zero-grade further afield Toch. B. acc. lt-wes, fem. lt-usa, and Lith. fem. áug-us-i ‘having grown’. For tentative reconstructions of ‘original’ PIH ablaut-accent nom. *wéid-wos or *wíd-wos, acc. *weid-wós- or *wid-wós, gen. *wid-ús-, etc. cf. Beekes (1995), Sihler (1995), Fortson (2004).

5.3. Adjective Specialisation

5.3.1. Adjectives could be formed by the addition of suffixes to roots or word-stems. Most adjectives so formed are o-stems.

5.3.2. Common adjectival suffixes for nouns and verbs are (Fortson 2004):

The all-purpose adjectival suffix -jo- and -ijo-, also used as a compositional suffix (cf. Lat. ēgregius), and often to form patronymics (‘son of…’), cf. Hom. Gk. Telamn-ios Aías ‘Aias (Ajax) son of Telamon’, Lat. Seru-ius ‘son of a slave (seruus), Servius’.

NOTE. For adjectival suffix -jo- and -ijo-, cf. Hitt. istarniya- ‘central’ (<ištarnabetween’), Ved. dámiya- ‘domestic’, gávya- ‘pertaining to cows’, Lat. ēgregius ‘outstanding’ (<ē grege ‘out of the herd’) etc. According to one widely held view, locational adjectives like Skt. dámiya- (from dam- ‘home’) were originally possessive derivatives formed by adding -o- or -ó-.

The suffix -ko- is most commonly found added to nouns to indicate origin or material composition, cf. Gaul. Are-mori-cī ‘those by the sea, Aremoricans’, Goth. staina-hs ‘stony’. It appears frequently in extended -iko- as a suffix indicating appurtenance, as Gk. hipp-ikós ‘having to do with horses’, Lat. bell-icus ‘pertaining to war’.

NOTE. Related is -isko-, found in Gmc. and Bal.-Sla. to indicate affiliation or place of origin. The suffix -ko- was apparently also used as hypocoristic or diminutive, cf. Ved. putra-ká-, ‘little son (putrá-)’, avi-k- ‘ewe-lamb’ (avi- ‘sheep’); cf. Slavic *-ĭko- in O.C.S. ovĭ-ca ‘sheep’, otĭ-cĭ (Russ. otec) ‘father’, etc. (Meillet 1961, Fortson 2004), or Lat. forms in -ko- for diminutives, as -cus or -culus (combined with -lo-, see below), as well as Hittite, after Shields (Hittite neka- and the origin of the Indo-European diminutive suffix *-ko-, 1998). The older function was possibly simply adjectival. Miller (Latin suffixal derivatives in English and their Indo-European ancestry, 2006).

The suffix -ro- was added to the zero-grade of an adjectival root to form that root’s free-standing adjectival form, and was usually accented; as, rudhrós, red.

The suffix -- forms passive verbal adjectives (v.i. §7.7), and also possessive adjectives, as Lat. barbā-tus ‘bearded’, Eng. beard-ed, O.C.S. bogatŭ ‘wealthy’.

Stems in -nt- form adjectives (viz. in -ment-/-went-), but are mostly found within the verbal system as present participles.

Words in -ter- are nouns, and adjectives are derived usually in -trjo- and others.

Nouns in -ti make adjectives in -tjo-, or -tiko-, usually with an ethnic meaning.

IE -lo- formations are found in a variety of adjectival functions, including ancient hypocoristics (shorter forms of a word or given name), as well as (later) diminutives.

NOTE. Cf. Lat. porculus ‘small pig’, MHG verhel (Germ. Ferkel), Lith. paršlis ‘piglet’, sūnlis ‘little son’, etc. or Goth. Wulfila, O.H.G. Wolfilo lit. ‘little wolf’ (according to Senn, Krahe and Meid, Risch, etc.), while O.Ir. Túathal (personal name; cf. túath ‘tribe, people’), cited by Jurafsky (1996) is possibly not a diminutive, Miller (2006).

The accent is sometimes used to distinguish thematic nouns from adjectives.

NOTE. There are sometimes secondary processes that displace the accent from an adjective to create a noun; cf. Gk. leukós ‘white’, léukos ‘white spot’.  

5.3.3. Common adjectival suffixes from prepositions and examples include:

·  In -tero: próteros, énteros, éksteros, níteros, etc.

·  In -no: úpernos, Lat. supernus, éksternos, Lat. externus.

·  In -jo: enjos, cf. O.Ir. inneinterior zone’, O.Ind. ni--, Goth. inna; autjos, ántitjos, preitjos, cf. Ltv. prìe(k)ša, O.Ind. ní-tya-, Lit. ̨ščios, Ltv. ̨ščios ‘intestine’.

·  In -qo: wiqos, diverse (cf. O.Ind. viśva-, ‘all’), niqos, inferior (cf. Gmc. *nihuuela), proqos near/far (cf. Lat. procul/prope/proximus), seqos, isolated (cf. Lat. secus, sequius, Corn heb, Bret. hep, O.Ir. sech; but Lat. antīqus <*anti-h3qo-).

·  In -qo: áporos, cf. O.Ind. apara-.

·  In -mo: epiromo- (cf. O.Ir. iarum, Alb. i èpërm), Lat. immus, summus.

5.4. Comparison of Adjectives

5.4.1. In Proto-Indo-European, as in English, there are three degrees of comparison: the positive, the comparative and the superlative.

5.4.2. The adjective in its natural or ‘positive’ state may be made comparative and superlative by the addition of suffixes.

5.4.3. The comparative, a difference of grade between two compared values, is generally formed by adding the primary comparative suffix -jos- to the root in e-grade (if there was one), regardless of the grade or stem of the generic adj. Thus from swād-ús, comp. swād-jōs, sweeter, rather than ˟swādu-jōs, or from dnghos, comp. dlegh-jōs, longer, rather than ˟dngh-jōs; also, from kartús, kret-jōs, harder, but from mag-nos (no-stem) mag-jōs, bigger (Lat. maiior), from sen-os, sen-jōs, older (cf. Skt. san-yas, Lat. senior), etc.

NOTE. “Older (probably PIE) was -is, which is preserved in adverbs: Lat. ntr. maius ‘greater’ < *-ios, adv. magis; Goth. min ‘less’ < *minn-is, mais ‘more’ > *meh2-is (cf. E. more).” According to Sihler (1995), “[t]he suffix *-yos- added to a root X originally meant ‘X to a pronounced degree; very X’. This is essentially the force of the affix in InIr. Pragmatically, of course, a statement like fruit is sweet, but honey is very sweet is equivalent to fruit is sweet, but honey is sweeter, and that is the basis for the evolution of the paradigmatic comparative (…).” This origin is probably behind its use as augmentative and pejorative in some languages.

Also, the intensive/comparative was added directly to the root (in full grade) rather than to the stem of the adjective, in accordance with the “view that the original meaning of the suffix was different from our notion of a paradigmatic comparative, which would be a derivative of the generic itself (as is clearly the case in NE damnedest and L difficilior). Thus Vedic átavyas-, a form with both the intensive suffix and the privative prefix, means ‘not very strong’ (from tavyás- ‘very strong’) rather than ‘very unstrong; very weak’. That is, it is a privative based on an intensive, not the other way around like the NE comparative untidier.” Cf. O.Ir. sír, cp. sía<*sējós, ‘longus, longior’; lán (plēnus cf. línnumerus’), cp. lia<*plējós (Lat ploios, Gk. pléos); cf. Lat. ploirume, zero-grade Lat. maios, O.Ir. mía. So, for júwen- we find Umb. cp. jovie<*jowjē-s, O.Ir. óaciuuenis’, óa ‘iunior’; óam ‘iuuenissimus’, O.Ind. yúva(n)- (́naḥ),  cp. yávīyas-, sup. yáviṣṭa-ḥ.

The form -jos- varies allophonically with -ijos-, cf. new-jōs, new-ijōs, newer. According to Meier-Brügger, “[*-ijos] replaces [*-jos] in nominative singular masculine and feminine forms with the structure K.K- and KVR.K-; whereas, according to rules of phonetics, *-jos- is expected in forms with three or more syllables.”

The inflection of the comparative is that of the hysterodynamic inflection for s-stems: singular nom. masc./fem. -jōs, acc. masc./fem. -jos, nom.-acc. neu. -jos, gen. -jesos, dat. -jesei, loc. -jesi; plural masc./fem. -joses, acc. masc./fem. -joss, nom.-acc. neut. -jōs, gen. -jesom, dat. -jesbhos, etc.

NOTE. This declension comes from an older ablauting *-´jōs, acc. m.f. *-jés-m, gen. *-is-ós, dat. *-is-éi, loc. -jes-i, dat. pl. -is-bh´-, etc. Sihler (1995). Beekes (1995):

The suffix -(t)er-o- is the basis for the secondary comparative forms; as, from upo, up, upon, úperos (cf. O.Ind. úpar-a-) beneath, nearer.

NOTE. The suffix -(t)ero- is the -o- adjective form of adverbs ending in -(t) and -(t)er; as, sup, under, sup-er-, over, and sup-er-o-, found above; pro, at the front, forward, and pró-ter-o-, toward the front, earlier. Adverbs and adjectives that were derived from them were capable of marking relative contrast, e.g. in the case of opposites or selection from a pair; cf. from sem-, one, s-ter-o, the other of two in a unity. The original use of this suffix was then probably to convey the idea of binary contrast to something else, rather than intensive; as, qóteros, which (of two)?, enteros, the other (also second, v.i. §5.5.2) in contrast to aljos, (an)other. Sihler (1995), Meier-Brügger (2003).

5.4.4. The superlative marks the highest grade among two compared values. The same suffix (with the ablaut -is-) is the base for a common suffix -is-tos (<*-ist(h2)o-, cf. Skt. -iha-, Gk. -istos, Goth. -ista), and -t-os (cf. Skt. -tamas, Gk. -tato-, -tamo-), and (possibly a combination of -is-tos and -t-os) -is-os (Ita.-Cel. *-isamo-); as, sénistos, oldest, mágistos, biggest (Gk. megistos, Lat. maximus<*magisamos), néwistos, newest, etc.; probably common to certain numeral suffixes.

NOTE. As stated by Sihler (1995), “a complex of two separate elements *-ṃ- and *-mo- is indefensible morphologically. An original PIH *-(t)mHo- solves the phonological problem, but there is no reason otherwise to suppose the presence of a laryngeal”. This form in *-mo- is also preferred by Fortson (2004) among others, while a laryngeal is preferred e.g. in Meier-Brügger (2003). Again, the auxiliary vowel in a sequence *T-RE is the most logical assumption (Adrados–Bernabé–Mendoza 1995-1998), hence LIE *-mo/- °mo-.

Superlative of the secondary comparative is made in -o-; as, úper-o-, sup-os (Lat. summus), from dherós, underly, ńdh-os (Lat. infimus, Skt. ádhamas), from entós, inside, ént-os, (Lat. intimus), innermost.

NOTE. While adjectival suffixes -jos-, -istos, are added to the root (in e-grade) without extensions, -teros and -os are added with the extensions.

Suffixes -jo-, -tero-, and -is-to-, had probably an original nominal meaning.

NOTE. Thus, the elongations in -jos- had a meaning; as in Latin, where iuniores (<*jun-jos-es) and seniores (<*sen-jos-es) were used for groups of age; or those in -teros, as *mātérterā ‘aunt on the mother’s side’, *ekwteros lit. ‘the horsy one’ (in contrast to ‘ass’), ‘mule’, Sihler (1995). Forms like *jun-jos-es were not common in PIE, although indeed attested in different dialects.

5.5. Numerals

5.5.1. Classification of Numerals

Indo-European numerals may be classified as follows:

I. Numeral adjectives:

1. Cardinal numbers, answering the question how many? as, oinos, one; dwōu, two.

2. Ordinal numbers, adjectives derived (in most cases) from the cardinals, and answering the question which in order? as, prāmos, first; ónteros, second.

3. Distributive numerals, answering the question how many at a time? as, semli,one at a time; dwisni, two by two.

II. Numeral adverbs, answering the question how often? as, dwis, twice, tris, thrice.

5.5.2. Cardinals and Ordinals

 1. These two series are as follows, from one to ten:







oinos, oinā, oinom





dwōu, dwāi, dwoi





trejes, trja/trī, trísores







































NOTE 1. From root oi-, PII ai-kas (<*oi-k-os), CA ei-kos, PGk oi-wos. For prāwos(<*prəHwos<*ph2-wo-), first, cf. O.Ind. pūrva-, O.C.S. prŭvŭ. For prāmos, (<*prəHmos<*ph2-mo-), cf. Gk. Dor. pratos (<*prā-wo-to<*prā-mo-), Lith. pìrmas, O.Eng. forma, or Goth. fruma (maybe also in Lat. prandēre< *prāmdo-dejom‘first eating’); Lat. prīmus (<*prī-isamos<*prei-isamos, Pael. prismu). All forms are probably related through the same root as in particle pr, forth, thus originally meaning ‘foremost’ or similar. For. fem. trja/trī<*triH, three, cf. Skt. trī, Gk. tría, Lat. tria, U. triia, Goth. þrija, O.Ir. tre, but. It seems that weks, six, could have been the ‘original’ PIH form, to which an s- from septḿwas added; it would have lost the -w- later (Sihler 1995).

NOTE 2. The ordinals were formed by means of the thematic suffix -o-, which caused the syllable before the ending to have zero-grade. The newer suffix -to- was the most productive in Late Indo-European. For internal reconstruction in PIH, Late Indo-European and early dialects, see Szemerényi (1970). For eighth, Beekes (1995) reconstructs an original short vowel *h3kt(e)h3- cf. gr. ogdo(w)os, but cf. for lengthened grade Lat. octāuus <*oktōwos <*eh3-w-. An original *dekt-ó- is reconstructed, later metanalysed into the attested dék-to- (Sihler 1995). The same could be said of most ordinals, apparently from earlier zero-grade forms and accent on the ending, Sihler (1995) and Beekes (1995), but recognised as having been replaced already in parent language; as, **tr̥- → *trijó- ‘third’.

2. The forms from eleven to nineteen were usually formed by placing the number and then dek, ten. Hence Late Indo-European used the following system:





sémdek / oinos dek

sémdekṃtos / prāmos dékṃtos


dwōu dek

éteros dékṃtos


trejes dek

tritjos dékṃtos


qétwores dek

qetwtos dékṃtos


penqe dek

penqtos dékṃtos


seks dek

sekstos dékṃtos


septḿ dek

séptmos dékṃtos


okt dek

óktwos dékṃtos


new dek

newnos dékṃtos

NOTE. Eleven and twelve were already fossilised collocations in O.Lat. undecim (<*oinodecem), O.Ind. áikadaśa, probably from oinom dekt (Sihler 1995). For a frozen thirteen, cf. Skt. trayodaśa, Lat. trēdecim (<*trēsdecem).

Also Gmc. and BSl. apparently from *óinoliqa ‘one left’, *dwliqa ‘two left’, with ordinals *óinoliqtos, *dwliqtos, although the exact reconstruction of these forms is problematic (Beekes 1995).

3. The tens are normally formed with the units and suffix -dkta “group of ten”.































NOTE. These forms are traditionally reconstructed for LIE with lengthened preceding vowel or resonant (as a conventional writing of LIE uncertain output for *RH), based on comparative evidence alone (e.g. Sihler 1995, Adrados–Bernabé–Mendoza 1995-1998), but internal reconstruction might explain the development of all attested forms more elegantly following the Leiden school (Kortlandt, Beekes, De Vaan, etc.), with the hypothesis that the glottal stop of the d in dktóm with the preceding vocalic resonant caused the development toward outputs similar to those of *RH; i.e. -Rʔkta <*-HktəH < *-h1kth2 <*-dkt-(h2?). Hence our selection of writing an etymological d- to represent the old glottal stop, that had the common effect in the attested dialects of lengthening the preceding vowel (or vocalic resonant). The ending -, comes from neuter ending *-(e)h2, which by convention we write -a. See e.g. at <http://eprints.ucm.es/tesis/19911996/H/3/AH3005401.pdf> Lujan’s tesis on numerals, with a full review of the available theories, or Kortlandt’s original 1983 article <https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/1887/1877/1/344_043.pdf>.

4. The hundreds are made as compounds of two numerals, like the tens:































NOTE. For n. (s)gheslom, thousand, cf. Skt. n. sa-hásra-m, Av. ha-zaŋra, from PII sa-ģhasla-m; from i-stem adjective gheslijos, -ā, -om,having a thousand, thousand-fold’, cf. Skt. sahasríya-, Gk. khīl(l)ioi< PGk khesl-ij-o- (Sihler 1995), Lat. n. mīlle, (n. pl) mīlia,  possibly from an original fem. abstract *s-ih2 ghesl-i,  or *sm-ih2 ghsl-ih2; for fem. *sm-ih2, cf. Gk. mía. Both Lat. *mīl(l)i and mīlia “might be postulated as free forms within the same synchronic structure” J. Gvozdanović (1992) against a starting point *-ij (E. Hamp, 1968). For the ordinal, cf. Skt. sahasra-tama.

Adifficult to reconstruct *tū́stī<*tū́s-kt-ij-os? ‘fat hundred’?, is found (Mallory–Adams 2007) in Northern IE; cf. Gmc. þūsund-i, pl. þūsundjōs, Toch. tumame, Bal. tūksunt-i, O.Prus. tūsimtons, Sla. *tɨ̨̄t-j-ā.

5. The other numerals are made similar to the tens, with the units in first place; as, oinā widk, f. twenty-one; m. qétwores tridkta, thirty-four.

NOTE. For the simple type oinos widktī, cf. Skt. éka-viśati (in compounds where the unit could be inflected); with copulatives, cf. Lat. unus et uiginti, Bret. unan-warn-ugent, Ger. einundzwanzig, Du. eenentwintig, Fris. ienentweintich, Da. enogtyve, etc.

The normal order of composite numerals is units+tens, and there was a natural tendency to follow a ‘units+tens+hundreds+…’, cf. Skt. ekādaśa sahasram, lit. ‘one ten thousand’, one thousand and eleven. So e.g. penqe dek któm, one hundred and fifteen, oinom qatwŕdkta septktos, seven hundred and forty-one.

All numbers signal the ordinal; as, prāmos widktos, (masc). twenty-first, tritjā trídktā triktémtā, (fem.) three hundred thirty-third.

6. Numerals were often inserted as prefixes of possessive compound forms, of the type qatw-pods, four-footed, quadruped. As first members, numbers 1-4 had a special zero-grade form: s-, one-; dwi-, two-, tri-, three-, and q(a)tur- [q(a)tw- before consonant], four-.

NOTE. The ‘original’ zero-grade qtw-, qtur-, appears usually with an inserted schwa secundum, generally LIE [a], i.e. qatw-, qatur-; also, PGk qetw-, qetur-. See §2.6.6.

5.5.3. Declension of Cardinals and Ordinals

Of the cardinals oinos, dwōu, trejes (and dialectally qétwores), are declinable.

a. The declension of oinos, -ā, -om has often the meaning of certain, a, single, alone; as, oinos dinos, a certain day. Also, as a simple numeral, it agrees with a plural noun of singular meaning. The plural occurs also in phrases like oinōs álterōsqe, one party and the other one (the ones and the others).

The root sem-, in semos, one, refers the unity as a whole, found in adj. somós, equal.

NOTE. Gk., Arm., Toch., show an old declension, found in frozen compounds in Late Indo-European: masc. nom. *sems, acc. *sēm (<**sem-m) neu. nom.-acc. *sem (gen.-abl. *smós, dat. *smei, loc. *sem(i), ins. *smē), and fem. *smja/ī (acc. *smja/īm, gen.-abl. *smjās, dat. *smjāi, loc. *smjā(i), ins. *smjā). Beekes (1995), Ringe (2005).

c. The inflection of dwōu, two, is irregular, connected to issues concerning the dual:


















NOTE. Apparently an older n./f. dwoi was separated into a newer Late Indo-European f. dwāi. Also, IE ambhōu, both, from ambhí, is inflected like dwōu; for adjective ambhojos, cf. Skt. ubháya-, O.C.S. oboji, Lith. abejì (Beekes 1995).

c. The inflection of trejes, three, is mostly a regular i-stem one:





















NOTE. The inflection attested of qétwores seems to have followed an old accent-ablaut paradigm acc. qet-wér-ns, gen. qet-ur-óm, loc. qet-w-, etc. (Beekes 1995). A feminine form qétes(o)res (*kwetu-sre- for Beekes), is found in Celtic and Indo-Iranian, deemed therefore usually an old PIE formation (although in decline, given that most old IE languages had already lost it), or an innovation based on trisores. A neuter qetwr <*kwetworH is found in Greek and Balto-Slavic. Tocharian, Italic, and Gothic show no gender distinction; all such finds indicate either an old common LIE trend of disuse of inflection for this number, or dialectal innovations. Sihler (1995), Adrados–Bernabé–Mendoza (1995-1998).

d. The ordinals are adjectives of the o and ā declensions, and are regularly declined.

6.3.2. Cardinals and ordinals have the following uses:

a. Only compound numbers have no gender or flexion; as, penqédkta kmtóm m., f., n. hundred and fifty; numbers including one, two, or three have gender and flexion; as, oinā séksdkta, (fem.) sixty-one, dwāi widk, (fem.)twenty-one, trísores qetwŕdkta, (neu.)forty-three, oinom widk putla, (masc. acc.) 21 children.

b. The highest denomination generally stands last, the next before it, etc., and the unit is first; as, qétwores séksdkta septktom sgheslom, 1764.

c. LIE had no special words for million, billion, trillion, etc. They were expressed by multiplication. From common loan million, from Lat. mille ‘one thousand’, we could reconstruct sṃghéslijōn, million, dwighéslijōn, billion, trighéslijōn, trillion, etc.

d. A common expression in PIE is the adverbial use of the accusative singular neuter of the ordinal; as, prāmom, firstly; ónterom, secondly, etc.

e. Fractions are expressed, as in English, by cardinals in the numerator and ordinals in the denominator. The neuter is generally used for substantivised ordinals, or the feminine with noun ‘part’; as, n. dwōi septa (or f. dwāi septāi ptes) two-sevenths; n. trísores óktwa, three-eighths.

When the numerator is one, it is usually omitted: tritjom, one-third; qétwtom, one-fourth, and so on.

NOTE. Indo-Iranian exhibits an old trend to omit the parts in which it is divided, if only one is left; as, dwāi ptes, two-thirds (“two parts”), trja ptes, three-fourths, etc.

The compositional sēmi-, half-, is combined with ordinals to express cardinals plus half; as, sēmi-tritjos, two and a half, lit. ‘having a half of the third (item)’.

NOTE. For IE ‘half’, cf. Lat. adj. dwismedhjos, noun dwismedhjom, ‘divided medially’; however, proper forms meaning ‘divided in two’ are reconstructed from multiplicatives, v.i.

f. In approximatives, the old disjunctive use of numerals was made by collocations of adjacent cardinals in ascending order, e.g. penqe seks septḿ, five, six, or seven. A common IE penqe septḿ (for penqe septwe), five or seven, is also possible.

g. Time periods are made with compounds: 

For years, as dwiatnjom, a period of two years, triatnjom, qaturatnjom, sgheslijatnjom, millenium, etc.

For days, as dwidjówijom, a period of two days, tridjówijom, qatwdjówijom.

For months, as dwimēnstris, a period of two months, bimester, trimēnstris, trimester, qatwmēnstris, seksmēnstris, semester, etc.

NOTE. For month names, a compound with mēns-ri- is followed; as, septmēnsris, september, oktōmēnsris, october, etc.

5.5.4. Distributives

1. Distributive numerals are number words which express group membership. They are used mainly in the sense of so many apiece or on each side, and also in multiplications. They answer to the question how many of each? how many at a time?

2. The oldest formations are collocations of geminated cardinals, with both members inflected; as, semos semos, oinos oinos, each one, penqe penqe, each five, etc.

NOTE. For this kind of distributives, cf. Gk. tri tri, O.Ind., éka- eka-, Zor. Pahl. ēk ēk, Pers. das das, Parth. Sogd. ‘ywyw, Arm. tasn tasn, Toch. A sam sam, B eme eme, okt okt, ñu ñu; also in Hittite iterated groups, in place of distributives, 1-aš 1-aš, 1-an 1-an.

This is also found in nouns, cf. Lat. alteros alterom ‘each other’, O.Ind. díve díve, ‘each day’; Myc. we-te we-te ‘each year’; etc.

3. Some PIE distributives were formed with adj. suffix -(s)no-, and abstract/collective suffix -ī; as, dwīsnī, two at a time, two each, trisnī, qátrusnī.

NOTE. For this formation e.g. dwīsnī, cf. Lat. bīnī, Gmc. *twiznaz (<*dwisnōs, cf. O.N. tvenner, O.H.G. zwirnēn, O.Eng. twīn, Du. twijn), Russ. dvójni, Lith. dvynù, Arm. krkin, Lyc. kbisñni. Also, it is believed that oi-no- was originally the first member of that series (remember dialectal PGk oi-wos, PII oi-kos), meaning ‘singleness, unity’, before replacing sem-. Distributives for higher numerals were later expressed in IE languages using a word that meant ‘each’, as, Eng. each, Fr. chaque, Alb. kaa, Bret. cach, etc.

4. Distributives can be used to express percentage; as, for ‘twenty percent’, dek dek dwōu, two for each ten, któm któm widk, twenty for each hundred.

5.5.5. Numeral Adverbs

1. The so-called numeral adverbs are a distinctive class of adverbs which specifically answer the question qoti, how many times? how often?

2. The most common ones are formed with zero-grade and a lengthening in -s; as, semli, once, dwis, twice, tris, thrice, and qatrus (<*kwətw-s), four times.

NOTE. For NWIE semli, cf. O.Lat. semol, Umb. sumel, Goth. simble, O.H.G. simlē, O.Ir. amal; for the expected *sni-, maybe Hitt. šani. PII s-qŕt, from -qt, v.i.; PGk s-pqus, alone, cf. Gk. hapaks, Hitt. pa-an-ku-uš, L. cūnctus. For the rest, e.g. tris, cf. Lat. ter, Myc. ti-ri-se-roe (<Tris-(h)rōhei), Gk. tris, O.Ind. tri, Goth. driror, O.Ir. thrí, Luv. tarisu, Lyc. trisu. Higher numbers are found in Lat. and maybe behind Hitt. 3-iš, 10-iš, 20-iš, 30-iš, etc. See Sihler (1995).

3. Some old compounds are also found in -ki.

NOTE. A certain reconstruction is difficult, though; cf. Hitt. -an-ki, Gmc. zwis-ki, Gk. -ki, Indian *-ki (cf. Sogd. -ky, Yaghnobi īki īki ‘one by one, one each’, Chorasmian -c); maybe also in Arm. erkics. Variant Gk. -kis, Hitt. -kis are probably due to assimilation to the type dwis, twice, twofold. For higher numbers, probably an innovation, cf. Greek numeral adverbs in -a-kis, and Hittite in -an-ki, maybe from a common PIE *-ki.

4. A system of simple collocations is used, placing the cardinal number before a noun meaning ‘time’; as, penqe qŕtewes, five times, okt qŕtewes, eight times, and so on.

NOTE. For m. qtus, time, cf. O.Ind. -ktwa (<*kwŕt-wn̥t-m̥, see Hollifield 1984), Bal. *kar̃t-a-, Sla. *kortŭ, O.Ir. cruth, O.Welsh pryd. For (rare) compounds, viz. s-qt, once, cf. O.Ind. sa-kt, Av. ha-kərət; cf. also Umb. trioper ‘three times’, Osc. petiropert ‘four times’.

5.5.6. Multiplicatives

1. Multiplicatives like single, double, triple, etc. which answer the question how many fold?, had a variety of compounds for the first numerals.

2. The oldest PIE multiplicatives found were collectives, made in -jo-, -t- and -k-; as, óinokos, single, sole, unique, dwojós, two-fold, group of two, duad, trejós, three-fold, triad, qetwerós, four-fold, group of four, penqstís, group of five, dekḿts, group of ten, decade.

NOTE. For North-West common óinokos, cf. Gmc. *ainagas (cf. Goth ainahs, O.N. einga, O.Eng. anga, O.Sax. enag, O.H.G. einac), O.C.S. inokŭ, Lat. unicus (<*oine-kos? or *oino-ikos?); suffix -ko- is also found in O.Ind. -śá, Gk. -kás, Hitt. -kaš. For PIE dwojós, trejós, cf. Ved. tvayá-, trayá, Myc. duwojo-/dwojo-, Gk. doiós, O.H.G. zwī, g. zwīes, Lith. dvejì, trejì, O.C.S. dĭvojĭ, trojĭ, O.Ir. trēode. For qetwerós, cf. Skt. catvarám, O.C.S. četvori, Lith. ketverì, Lat. quaternī. Apart from -jo-, common PIE collectives are found in -t-, usually -ti-, as penq-s-tis, group of five, fist, cf. O.Ind. paktí-, Av. sastí-, xsvasti-, O.C.S. pęstĭ, -tĭ, Lith. -t-, -ti-, Gmc. funxstiz (cf. Goth. fūst), O.Ir. bissi, O.Welsh bys, but also -ts, as, dekḿ-ts, Gk. δεκάς (dekás), Lat. *dekents>*dekients, spreading *j-ṇts as new formant, into Gk. πεντάς (pentás), then τριάς (triás),etc. Lat. *quinquens>quinquiens, then triēns, etc; cf. e.g. neuter plurals widk (interpreted as dual), lit. ‘a group of two decades, double decads’, twenty, tridkta, ‘triple decads’, thirty, and so on.

4. Proportional or relative numerals express how many times more (or less) one thing is than another; they are made as follows:

 a. in -plós, as splós, simple, dwiplós, two-fold, double, twice as much, twice as large, triplós, three-fold, triple.

NOTE. For dwi-plos, cf. Lat. duplus, Hom. Gk. f. acc. dipln (<dwi-pl-m) Umbr. dupla, Goth. twei-fls, O.H.G. zvī-fal, “doubt”, O.Ir. dīabul, maybe Av. bi-fra- ‘comparison’, Lyc. B dwipl. s-plos is found in Gk. ἁ-πλός (ha-plós), Lat. simplus, tri-plos is found in Gk. τριπλοῦς (triplous), Lat. triplus, Umb. tripler. For -plos (cf. Arm. -hal), a connection with PIE pel-, fold, is usually assumed.

b. in -pks, as, dwipks, ‘with two folds’, duplex, tripks, ‘with three folds’.

NOTE. For pk-, also reconstructed as from root pel-, cf. Lat. -plicare, Gk. plekō <*pl-ek, ‘to fold’. For dwipks, cf. Lat. duplex, Gk. δίπλαξ (díplaks), Umbr. tuplak.

c. with verbal adjective -ptós, folded, is used to denote something divided in n parts; as, dwiptós, an object folded in two.

NOTE. Cf. Gk. -plasio-<*-platio-<*pt-jo-s, a derivative that could express ‘belonging to the class of objects folded in two’ (Gvozdanović, 1992); maybe also here i-stem O.Ir. trilis<*triptis? For dwiptós, cf. Gk. διπλάσιος (diplásios), Ger. zwifalt. A similar form is in Gmc. *poltos ‘fold’.

d. with suffix -dhā, as dwidhā, two-fold, divided in two parts.

NOTE. cf. Skt. duví-dha, dve-dha, Gk. διχθά <*δι-θα (di-thá) and maybe also (with the meaning ‘half’) O.N. twēdi, O.Eng. twǣde, O.H.G. zwitaran, O.Ir. dēde, Hitt. dak-ša-an.