|Era||7th–11th centuries, after which it became Classical Tibetan|
In 816 CE, during the reign of Sadnalegs, literary Tibetan underwent a thorough reform aimed at standardizing the language and vocabulary of the translations being made from Indian texts, and this resulted in what we now call Classical Tibetan.
Old Tibetan is characterised by many features that are lost in Classical Tibetan, including my- rather than m- before the vowels -i- and -e-, the cluster sts- which simplifies to s- in Classical Tibetan, and a reverse form of the "i" vowel letter (gi-gu).
- absolutive (morphologically unmarked)
- genitive (གི་ -gi, གྱི་ -gyi, ཀྱི་ -kyi, འི་ - 'i, ཡི་ -yi)
- agentive (གིས་ -gis, གྱིས་ -gyis, ཀྱིས་ -kyis, ས་ -s, ཡིས་ -yis)
- locative (ན་ -na)
- allative (ལ་ -la)
- terminative (རུ་ -ru, སུ་ -su, ཏུ་ -tu, དུ་ -du, ར་ -r)
- comitative (དང་ -dang)
- ablative (ནས་ -nas)
- elative (ལས་ -las)
- comparative (བས་ -bas)
However, whereas the locative, allative, and terminative gradually fell together in Classical Tibetan (and are referred to the indigenous grammatical tradition as the la don bdun), in Old Tibetan these three cases are clearly distinguished.
Traditional Tibetan grammarians do not distinguish case markers in this manner, but rather distribute these case morphemes (excluding -dang and -bas) into the eight cases of Sanskrit.
Old Tibetan has three first person singular pronouns ང་ nga, བདག་ bdag, and ཁོ་བོ་ kho-bo, and three first person plural pronouns ངེད་ nged, བདག་ཅག་ bdag-cag, and འོ་སྐོལ་ 'o-skol. The second person pronouns include two singulars ཁྱོད་ khyod and ཁྱོ(ན)་འདའ་ khyo(n)-'da' and a plural ཁྱེད་ khyed.
- Hill, Nathan W. (2010a), "Overview of Old Tibetan synchronic phonology" (PDF), Transactions of the Philological Society, 108 (2): 110–125, doi:10.1111/j.1467-968X.2010.01234.x, archived (PDF) from the original on 28 July 2013.
- —— (2010b), "Personal pronouns in Old Tibetan" (PDF), Journal Asiatique, 298 (2): 549–571, doi:10.2143/JA.298.2.2062444, archived (PDF) from the original on 1 August 2013.
- —— (2011), "The allative, locative, and terminative cases (la-don) in the Old Tibetan Annals", New Studies in the Old Tibetan Documents: Philology, History and Religion (PDF), Old Tibetan Documents Online Monograph Series, 3, Tokyo: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, pp. 3–38.
- —— (2012), "Tibetan -las, -nas, and -bas" (PDF), Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale, 41 (1): 3–38, doi:10.1163/1960602812X00014, archived (PDF) from the original on 2014.
- Hodge, Stephen (1993), An Introduction to Classical Tibetan (revised ed.), Warminster: Aris & Phillips, ISBN 978-0-85668-548-4.
- Old Tibetan Documents Online, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies: transliteration of selected Old Tibetan and Classical Tibetan texts.
- International Dunhuang Project: includes images of many of the texts.