What intrigued me about the Tamil language was a very popular Tamil song titled ‘Unnai Kaanadhu Naan.’ Melodious music apart, the use of poetic imagery in this song kept me hooked for days on end. That’s when I decided to look up some conversational Tamil phrases to get to know this language more intimately and even sing along to this beauty of a song one fine day. Well, one can certainly hope!
Here’s one revelation: Learning essential Tamil words and expressions is NOT that difficult. Sure, the script can be overwhelming for total beginners, but once you get the hang of it and try to use some in daily conversations, you’ll understand the language’s richness and beauty. To start, we rounded up below the best phrases to master for beginners like you.
Learning Tamil Common Phrases
Learning basic conversational phrases in any language is the first step to venturing into learning a language as a tourist or traveler. As with any other language, there is a lot of difference between its written/ formal form and spoken/ informal conversation/colloquial form. Thus, spoken Tamil differs quite a lot from its written form.
For example, in an everyday conversation, complete sentences are not used. A Sari/ Cari (சரி – Okay) is a phrase. Accompanied by a warm and friendly smile, it can take you a long way and help you get by in an unknown situation. Addressing a strange old lady like Amma and an unknown older man like Appa can ensure you a home-cooked meal. So, knowing these language basics endears you to the locals and softens their countenance. A word of respect here and a friendly Eṉṉā (what) there can make a lot of difference to your local experience.
Easy Conversational Tamil Phrases
Here are some basic Tamil words and phrases to help you stay afloat on your trip to Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka. What’s more, you can easily impress your Tamil friends by learning some of this handy Tamil vocabulary!
#1 How Are You?
This expression is one of the simplest ones any learner should keep in mind. To express this in Tamil, you can say Eppaṭi Irukkiṟīrkaḷ? or write it as எப்படி இருக்கிறீர்கள்.
#2 I Am Fine. Thanks!
You can respond to a ‘how are you’ by saying Nāṉ Naṉṟāka Irukkiṟēṉ, Naṉṟi. In Tamil, it is written as நான் நன்றாக இருக்கிறேன், நன்றி.
#3 What Is Your Name?
To ask someone their name, say Uṅkaḷ Peyar Eṉṉa? which in Tamil is written as உங்கள் பெயர் என்ன.
#4 Where Are You From?
People all across India are quite curious to know about which country or region you hail from. Learning to ask it in Tamil: Nīṅkaḷ Eṅkiruntu Varukiṟīrkaḷ or நீங்கள் எங்கிருந்து வருகிறீர்கள், will surely help you get that conversation flowing.
#5 I Have To Go To
You can say Nāṉ ________ Cella Vēṇṭum or நான் __________ செல்ல வேண்டும் to tell your local acquaintances your next destination. Just insert the place name in the blank!
#6 Will You Take Me To _____?
You can also learn to say Eṉṉai _______kku Aḻaittuc Celvīrkaḷā? written as என்னை ________க்கு அழைத்துச் செல்வீர்களா to your local rickshaw or cab driver. You’ll have to add the place name before ‘kku.’ For instance, if you want to go to your hotel, say Eṉṉai Hōṭṭalukku Aḻaittuc Celvīrkaḷā?
#7 I Am Hungry
Keep Eṉakku Pacikkiṟatu (written as எனக்கு பசிக்கிறது in Tamil) up your sleeves when around Tamilians. You’ll surely be treated to some delicious Tamil meals.
#8 What Is The Time?
To ask what time it is, you can say Nēram Eṉṉa. It is written as நேரம் என்ன in Tamil.
#9 Where Are You Going?
Eṅkē Pōkiṟāy is used when asking someone where they are going. In Tamil, it is written as எங்கே போகிறாய்.
#10 I Am Not Feeling Well
Eṉ Uṭalnilai Cariyillai is a handy phrase to learn in case you feel under the weather. You can learn to write it in Tamil as என் உடல்நிலை சரியில்லை.
#11 I Need To See A Doctor
Eṉakku Vaittiyar Utavi Tēvai (எனக்கு வைத்தியர் உதவி தேவை) is a must-know phrase in case you find yourself in the middle of a medical emergency.
#12 Do You Like It?
If you want to ask someone’s opinion about a food, a place, or an experience, you can say Uṉakku Piṭikkumā. It is written as உனக்கு பிடிக்குமா in Tamil.
#13 How Much Is It For?
Celavu Evvaḷavu, written as செலவு எவ்வளவு in Tamil, is quite a useful phrase when going shopping in a Tamil speaking region. Bargaining in the local tongue will definitely win you some good discounts from amazed vendors.
#14 I Like It Very Much!
To show your appreciation or liking for something, say Itu Eṉakku Mikavum Piṭittirukkiṟatu! It is written as இது எனக்கு மிகவும் பிடித்திருக்கிறது.
#15 Thank You Very Much!
Naṉṟi means thanks. You say Rōmpā Naṉṟi (ரோம்பா நன்றி) when thanking someone profusely.
#16 I Missed You.
To let your Tamil-speaking friends know that you missed them, you can use the phrase: Nāṉ Uṉṉai Tavaṟaviṭṭēṉ (நான் உன்னை தவறவிட்டேன்).
#17 Sorry, I Made A Mistake.
Owning up to your mistake and apologizing for it is courteous, especially when mingling with the locals. It shows your respect toward them. To say that in Tamil, use the phrase: Maṉṉikkavum, Nāṉ Tavaṟu Ceytuviṭṭēṉ (மன்னிக்கவும், நான் தவறு செய்துவிட்டேன்).
#18 Do You Speak English?
This handy phrase makes your life a bit easier in a completely new and baffling linguistic zone. You can ask this question in Tamil by saying Nīṅkaḷ Aṅkilam Pēcukiṟīrkaḷā? It is written as நீங்கள் ஆங்கிலம் பேசுகிறீர்களா.
#19 I Speak Little Tamil.
To tell your local friends that you are a little bit acquainted with the Tamil language, say Nāṉ Koñcam Tamiḻ Pēcukiṟēṉ (நான் கொஞ்சம் தமிழ் பேசுகிறேன்).
#20 See You Later!
Apṟam Pārkkalāmē! (அப்றம் பார்க்கலாமே) is one of the more easygoing farewell phrases that you can use in both formal and informal contexts.
List Of Everyday Spoken Tamil Words
Interesting Trivia About Tamil
- The Tamil language is one of the oldest Dravidian languages in the world.
- The Tamil language is the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Union Territory Puducherry, and countries like Sri Lanka and Singapore.
- There are 88.6 million Tamil-speaking people across the world with 83.05 million Tamil people residing in the Indian state. A majority of Tamil speakers live in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
- In the year 2004, Tamil was declared a classical language in India based on its ancient origins, its independent tradition, and its exhaustive and expansive ancient literature.
- The Tamil script is an abugida script, which means that consonant-vowel sequences are written as one unit.
Let’s Learn Tamil With Ling
Did you have fun learning these day-to-day Tamil conversational phrases? There is so much more to the Tamil language that you can discover, and you can learn quickly in Ling. Not only do we have helpful blogs on trending topics and listicles on language learning, but we also cater to your linguistic curiosity via our gamified app.
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