A Quick & Easy Glance At Tamil Grammar 101!

Tamil grammar Ling app

Hey there! Are you a fan of the Tamil language and want to learn how to speak it like a pro? Well, buckle up, because we’re about to dive into the wacky world of Tamil grammar!

Now, before you start running for the hills, let me tell you that it is not as scary as it seems. Sure, there are a lot of rules and nuances to learn, but with a little bit of practice, you’ll be speaking like a native in no time. So put on your learning caps, grab a cup of kaapi (coffee), and get ready to have some fun with Tamil grammar!

What Is Tamil Grammar?

Grammar is the set of rules that govern the structure and usage of any language. One of the most distinctive features of Tamil grammar is its use of agglutination. This means that words are formed by adding a suffix or prefix to the root words, resulting in long and complex words that convey a lot of meaning. For example, the word kaalam (காலம்) means time, but by adding suffixes and prefixes, we can create words like mutrilum (முற்றிலும்) which means totally or absolutely. Come, let’s learn various components of grammar in the Tamil language.

An image of the Tamil grammar text written by a highlighter

Articles

Tamil does not have definite or indefinite articles like ‘the’ or ‘a’ in English. Instead, the context and the relationship between words in a sentence determine their meaning. In some cases, the language uses demonstrative pronouns, such as ‘this’ and ‘that,’ to indicate the specificity of a noun. However, most of the time, the absence of articles does not affect the clarity of the message conveyed.

Determiners

Determiners are words that precede a noun to indicate the reference of the noun in the context of the sentence. Here is a list of some commonly used determiners in Tamil:

EnglishTamilRoman TranscriptionSound
One/ A/ AnஒருOru
Thisஇந்தIndha
Thatஅந்தAndha
Whichஎந்தEndha
Everyஒவ்வொருOvvoru
Some/ Fewசிலsila
Noneஎதுவும் இல்லைedhuvum illai
Howஎப்படிEppadi
How muchஎவ்வளவுEvvalavu
Whole/ EntireமுழுMuzhu

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Nouns

Tamil nouns are classified into two categories: animate and inanimate. Animate nouns are those that refer to living things, while inanimate nouns refer to non-living objects. Nouns in this language can be declined according to the eight cases, which indicate the relationship between the noun and other words in the sentence. They also have singular and plural forms, which can be created by adding suffixes or by changing the ending of the word.

Cases

Tamil has eight cases, also known as vibhaktis, which indicate the relationship between a noun and other elements in a sentence. Let’s understand each case with the help of an example.

1. Nominative Case: It is used to indicate the subject of a sentence.

For example, in the sentence naan padikkiraen (நான் படிக்கிறேன்), naan (நான்) is the subject, and it is in the nominative case. Here, naan means ‘I’ and padikkiren means ‘am reading.’

2. Accusative Case: It is used to indicate the direct object of a transitive verb. In other words, it is used to show the receiver of the action.

For example, in the sentence naan puthakathai padikkiraen (நான் புத்தகத்தை படிக்கிறேன்), puthakam (புத்தகம்) is the direct object and is in the accusative case. Here, puthakam means ‘book,’ and padikkiraen means ‘am reading.’

3. Instrumental Case: It is used to indicate the means or instrument with which an action is performed. It is used to answer the question ‘with what’ or ‘by what means.’

For example, in the sentence paenaavaal kaditham ezhudhukiraen (பேனாவால் கடிதம் எழுதுகிறேன் – I am writing a letter with a pen), paenaa (பேனா), meaning pen, is in the instrumental case as the means by which the action is performed.

4. Sociative Case: It is used to indicate association or companionship with someone or something. It is often used with verbs indicating actions done with someone or something else.

For example, in the sentence naan naṇbharudan pogha vaendum (நான் நண்பருடன் போக வேண்டும் – I want to go with a friend), nanbharudan (நண்பருடன்) is in the sociative case as it indicates the person with whom the action of pogha, meaning ‘to go,’ is to be done. Here, naan means ‘I,’ and nanbhar means ‘friend.’

5. Dative Case: It is used to show the person or thing to whom or for whom something is being done.

For example, in the sentence naan en sagodharanukku oru pudhiya car vanghinaen (நான் என் சகோதரனுக்கு ஒரு புதிய கார் வாங்கினேன் – I bought a new car for my brother), sagodharanukku (சகோதரனுக்கு), meaning ‘to my brother’, is in the dative case as the recipient of the action.

6. Ablative Case: It is used to indicate the source or origin of something, as well as the place from where someone or something moves away. It is used to answer the questions ‘from where’ and ‘from whom.’

For example, in the sentence avan maalai naerathil thaamadhamaagha veetukku sendraan(அவன் மாலை நேரத்தில் தாமதமாக வீட்டுக்கு சென்றான் – he went home late in the evening time), maalai (மாலை – evening) is in the ablative case as the source or starting point from where the person moved away.

7. Genitive Case: It is used to indicate possession or association, to answer the question ‘whose’ or ‘of what.’

For example, in the sentence avanudaiya badhil enna? (அவனுடைய பதில் என்ன? – what was his answer?), avanudaiya (அவனுடைய – his) is in the genitive case as it indicates possession.

8. Locative Case: It is used to indicate the location or place where an action takes place, to answer the question ‘where.’

For example, in the sentence maghaḷ poonghaavil amarndhirundhal (மகள் பூங்காவில் அமர்ந்திருந்தாள் – daughter was sitting in the park), poonghaavil (பூங்காவில் – in the park) is in the locative case as it indicates the location where the action of sitting takes place.

Tamil adjectives and grammar Ling App

Adjectives

Adjectives are inflected based on gender, case, and number, and come before the noun they modify. For example, the adjective maghizhchiyaana (மகிழ்ச்சியான), meaning ‘happy,’ can be used to modify the Tamil word naal (நாள் – day) to form the phrase maghizhchiyaana naal (மகிழ்ச்சியான நாள்) which means ‘happy day.’ Adjectives can also be used in a comparative form, such as siridhu (சிறிது) meaning ‘less,’ and a superlative form, such as mighavum (மிகவும்) meaning ‘very much.’

Pronouns

Pronouns indicate the gender, number, and case of the noun they are replacing. Tamil pronouns also include possessive pronouns and demonstrative pronouns. Here is a list:

EnglishTamilRoman TranscriptionSound
I, meநான்Naan
YouநீNee
He, himஅவன்Avan
She, herஅவள்Aval
They, themஅவர்கள்Avarghal
We, usநம்Naam
You (plural)நீங்கள்Neenghal
ItஅதுAdhu
ThisஇதுIdhu
ThatஅதைAdhai
My, mineஎன்En
Your, yoursஉங்கள்Unghal
Our, oursநமதுNamadhu
Their, theirsஅவரதுAvaradhu
Itsஅதன்Adhan

Verbs

Verbs are conjugated according to tense, aspect, mood, person, and number, which can indicate a variety of meanings and nuances. For example, the verb paesu (பேசு – to speak) can be conjugated into the past tense as paesinaen (பேசினேன்) meaning ‘I spoke.’ Verbs in Tamil can also be transitive or intransitive, indicating whether or not they take an object. They can also be used in participial forms, such as the present participle paesughira (பேசுகிற), meaning ‘speaking.’

Adverbs

Tamil Adverbs indicate how, when, where, or to what extent an action or state occurs. For example, the adverb arumaiyaagha (அருமையாக) means ‘nicely’ and can modify the verb paesu (பேசு – speak), forming the phrase arumaiyaagha paesu (அருமையாக பேசு), which means ‘speak nicely.’ Adverbs can also indicate time, such as ippodhu (இப்போது) meaning ‘now,’ and degree, such as the adverb migha (மிக) meaning ‘very.’

Prepositions

Tamil prepositions indicate location, direction, or time, and are used to connect nouns and pronouns with other parts of a sentence. Here is a list:

EnglishTamilRoman TranscriptionSound
Withஉடன்Udan
Before, in front ofமுன்Mun
After, behindபின்Pin
Behind, at the back ofபின்புPinbu
On, over, above, uponமேல்Mael
Under, belowகீழ்Keezh
Beside, next toபகுதிPaghudhi
Insideஉள்uul
OutsideவெளிVeli
Through, by means ofமூலம்Moolam
Oppositeஎதிர்Edhir

Tamil Tenses

The most common tenses in Tamil are the present, past, and future, each of which has various forms to indicate aspect and mood. For example, the present tense can be used to describe actions or states that are happening currently, such as naan saapidughiraen (நான் சாப்பிடுகிறேன்) meaning ‘I am eating.’

The past tense is used to describe actions or states that have already happened, such as naan saapitaen (நான் சாப்பிட்டேன்) meaning ‘I ate.’ The future tense is used to describe actions or states that will happen, such as naan saapiduvaen (நான் சாப்பிடுவேன்) meaning ‘I will eat.’

How Do You Say Grammar In Tamil?

In Tamil, the term “grammar” is called Ilakkaṇam.

Explore More Tamil With Us!

Originating in Tamil Nadu, Tamil grammar is a complex and intricate system that requires a lot of dedication and practice to master. But worry not! You are in good hands with the Ling app if you wish to explore the Tamil language. With its gamified interface and an array of interactive, exciting, and fun exercises, the Ling app is your perfect learning guide for over 60 languages!

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