Tamil Speech sounds are produced by making use of pulmonic air-stream mechanism. The bulk of air being sent out by the alternate contraction and expansion of the lungs, escapes through the glottis, either freely or as vibrated air in producing various kinds of Tamil speech sounds.
Tamil speech sounds are classified as vowels, diphthongs and consonants.
Vowels are produced with the air set into vibration by vocal chords and coming out of the vocal cavity without any obstruction by the articulators. The quality of the vowels is determined by the movement and position of the tongue and also the posture of lips while producing them.
The vowels are ten in number. Of them five are short and five are long corresponding to the short ones. The short and corresponding long vowels are:
i i̅, e ē, a ā, o ō, u ū
The vowels are classified on the basis of three significant parameters namely, (i) height of the tongue in the vocal cavity (ii) part of the tongue used (iii) posture of the lips. Accordingly, three levels of tongue height have been fixed, viz., high, mid and low. The parts of tongue have been front, central and mid. The posture of lips are round or unround (spread).
|High||i ī||u ū̄|
|mid||e ē̄||o ō|
The vowels can be tabulated as follows:
Front Central Back long short long short long short High ī i ū u Mid ē e ō o Low ā a
i, ī, e, ē are unrounded; u, ū, o, ō are rounded; and a, ā assumes a neutral lip position.
The diphthongs have a beginning and an ending in articulating them. Thus they are the vowel glides. Both have the low, central position as the beginning. For the diphthong ai the tongue moves up towards the i position and for the diphthong au it raises to the position for u. ai is treated as a sequence of vowel front dorsa-palatal semivowel '[y]' .au is infrequent in use and occurs mainly in loan words found in Tamil.
i - High front short vowel with spread lips. ī - High front long vowel with spread lips.
In utterance initial position, sometimes, the vowel 'i' is articulated with a high front on-glide, superscribed as 'y'. eg. /ippa/ [yippa] 'now'. Similarly, 'i:' is articulated in utterance initial position, with a tense onset.
'e' - High - mid front short vowel with spread lips 'ē' - High - mid front long vowel with spread lips
In utterance, initially position both these vowels have a ‘palatal onglide. eg./eppa/ [yƸppơ]
'when'./ ēri/ [ye ri] 'lake' a - low central short vowel with neutral lip position ā - low central long vowel with neutral lip position o - High - mid back short rounded vowel ō- High - mid back long reounded vowel. In word initial position both these vowels have 'labio - velar onglide' superscribed as 'w'. u - High back short rounded vowel u - High back long rounded vowel
In utterance initial position both these vowels have as light labio velar onglide articulation.
In addition to the initial on glides characteristic of front and back vowels, all the vowels are characterized by a retroflexion, when followed by a retroflex consonant. All the vowels are produced in the environment of a following retroflex consonant with a curved tongue tip. The tongue is retracted towards the centre of the vocal cavity, causing ‘retroflexion’ and ‘cerbalization’ of the vowels.
The durational aspect of the final vowels varies as shorter than the longer ones and longer than the shorter ones.
The central vowels show a slight glottal catch as their onglides.
It can be observed that 'onglides' 'retroflexion', 'quality' and 'duration' are considered as predictable allophanic features of the vowels.
The allophanic distribution of vowels has been as follows:
/i/ High front short vowels has two allophones [I], [I^] [I^] slightly raised lower high front short unrounded oral vocoid occurs finally. [I] Lower - high front short unrounded oral vocoid occurs elsewhere. /ī/ High front long vowel has one allophone [ī] [ī] High front unrounded oral vocoid occurs in all positions /e/ High - mid front short vowel has two allophones [E], [Ɛ] [ɛ] Lower - mid front short unrounded oral vocoid occurs in final position [E] Mean - mid front short unrounded oral vocoid occurs elsewhere. /ē/ High - mid front long vowel has one allophone [e] [e] High - mid front long unrounded oral vocoid occurs in all positions /a/ Low central short vowel has two allophones [∧] [˂∧] [˂∧] slightly centralized lower - mid back short unrounded oral vocoid occurs in final position [∧] Lower - mid back short unrounded oral vocoid occurs elsewhere /ā/ Low central long vowel has one allophone [ā] [ā] Low central long unrounded oral vocoid occurs in all positions /o/ Higher - mid back short vowel has one allophone. [Ω] [Ω] Mean - mid back short rounded vocoid occurs in all positions /o/ Higher - mid back long vowels has one allophone [o] [ō] Higher - mid back long rounded oral vocoid occurs in all positions /u/ High back short vowel has three allophones , [t] and [t] [t] High central short unrounded oral vocoid occurs in the medial syllables when not preceded by a syllable having high back vowel. [t] High central short unrounded oral vocoid occurs in final position  Lower high back short rounded oral vocoid occurs elsewhere. /ū/ High back long vowel has one allophone [ū] [ū] High back long rounded oral vocoid occurs in all positions.
The consonants are distinguished by the place and manner of articulations. They are classified on the basis of articulators as bilabial, labio-dental, apico-dental, apico-domal, fronto-palatal and dorso-velar and further on the basis of manner of articulation as plosive, affricate, fricative, nasal, lateral, trill, tap or one tap trill, flap and approximant. Among the fricatives, there are slit and groove types. There are also lax and tenses difference in the stop articulation.
The consonants are tabulated as follows:
|Place of articulation||Bilabial||Labio-||Apico-||Apico-||Apico-||Fronto-||Dorso-|
|Manner of articulation||dental||dental||dental||dental||palatal||Velar|
|Plosive||p p b||ṯ ṯ ḏ||ṭ ḍ||k k g|
|Affricate||c c j||ky gy|
/p/ Labial voiceless plosive has three allophones [p], [p],  [β] Bi - labial voiced slit fricative occurs intervocally or between liquids and vowels. [p] Bi - labial voiceless unaspirated lax oral plosive occurs after juncture as first member of a gemination. [p] Bi - labial voiceless unaspirated lax oral plosive occurs elsewhere. /b/ Labial voiced plosive has one allophone [b] [b] Bi - labial voiced unaspirated oral plosive /t/ Dental / Alveolar voiceless plosive has three allophones. [t], [t], [ ] [ ] Apico - dental voiced slit fricative occurs intervocally or between liquids and vowels [t] Apico - dental voiceless unaspirated lax oral plosive occurs after juncture as a first member of a gemination. [t] Apico - dental voiceless unaspirated lax oral plosive occurs elsewhere /d/ Dental/Alveolar voiced oral plosive has one allophone [d]. [d] Apico - dental voiceless unaspirated plosive. /t/ Domal/ Retroflex voiceless plosive has two allophones [t]. Apico - domal retroflexed voiced flap occurs intervocally and between liquids and vowels. [t] Apico - domal retroflexed voiceless unaspirated oral plosive occurs elsewhere. /d/ Domal/ Retroflex voiced plosive has one allophone [d] [d] Apico - dental retroflexed voiced unaspirated oral plosive. /k/ Velar voiceless plosive has five allophones. [k], [k], [ky], [x], [c]. [c] Fronto - palatal voiceless slit fricative occurs intervocally when not followed by /i/ [x] Dorso - velar voiceless slit fricative occurs intervocally when not followed by i and between liquids and vowels except i. [ky] Dorso - velar voiceless unaspirated palatalized oral plosive in gemination either preceded or followed by y. [k] Dorso - velar voiceless unaspirated lax oral plosive occurs after juncture as a first member of a gemination. [k] Dorso - velar voiceless unaspirated oral plosive occurs elsewhere. /g/ Velar voiced plosive has two allophones [g], [gy] [gy] Dorso - velar voiced unaspirated palatalized oral plosive occurs before i. [g] Dorso - velar voiced unaspirated oral plosive occurs elsewhere. /c/ Palatal voiceless plosive has three allophones [c], [c], [s]. [s] Apico - alveolar voiceless groove fricative occurs initially or intervocally or between liquids and vowels. [c] Palatal voiceless lax affricate occurs after juncture as a first member of a gemination. [c] Palatal voiceless unaspirated affricate occurs elsewhere. /j/ Palatal voiced plosive has one allophone [j]. [j] Palatal voiced unaspirated affricate. /s/ Domal/Retroflex fricative has one allophone, [s] [s] Apico-domal voiceless groove fricative. /m/ Labial nasal has four allophones, [m], [n], [ny], [∼]. [∼] Nasalisation a co-occurring feature of the word final vowel and marked as a segment. [ny] Dorso - velar palatalized voiced nasal occurs before velar plosive when followed by i. [n] Dorso - velar voiced nasal occurs before velar plosive which is not followed by i. [m] Bi - labial voiced nasal occurs elsewhere. /n/ Dental/Alveolar nasal has three allophones, [n], [n], [∼]. [∼] Nasalisation as a co-occurring feature of the word final vowel and marked as a segment. [ṉ] Apico-dental voiced nasal occurs when followed by dental plosive. [n] Apico-dental voiced nasal occurs elsewhere. /n/ Domal/Retroflex nasal has one allophone, [n]. [n] Apico-domal retroflex voiced nasal. /n/ Palatal nasal has one allophone. [n] [n] Fronto - Palatal voiced nasal. /l/Dental/Alveolar lateral has one allophone, [l]. [l] Apico-alveolar voiced lateral. /l/ Dental/Retroflex lateral has one allophone, [l]. [l] Apico-domal voiced retroflex lateral. /r/ Dental/Alveolar trill has two allophones. [r], [r’]. [r] Apico-alveolar voiced trill occurs initially. [r’] Apico-alveolar voiced trill with one tap occurs elsewhere. /l/Domal/Retroflex approximant has one allophone, [l]. [l] Apico-domal lateralized retroflex approximant. /v/ Labial approximant has three allophones. [v], [v], [u]. [u] High back rounded non-syllabic vocoid occurs before high back vowels. [v] Labio-dental tense approximant with horizontal contact occurs when preceded by a labio-dental approximant. [v] Labio-dental approximant with horizontal contact occurs elsewhere. /y/ Palatal approximant has two allophones [l], [l]. [l] High front unrounded tense non-syllabic vocoid occurs when preceded by a palatal approximant. [l] High front unrounded non-syllabic vocoid occurs elsewhere.
Tamil is an intonation language. In this language, the pitch patterns are formed over the stretch of utterances and it gives specific and appropriate speech melody to the utterances. There exists specific patterns for specific meanings which may be syntactic, semantic etc. The pitch pattern with relevant rhythmic pattern and carrying specific function is called an intonation pattern or a tune in this language.
Tamil has a rhythm, which is characteristic to this language. This rhythm is a syllable based one. That is, in Tamil the syllables are said to occur in equal intervals of time creating rhythm which ultimately is syllable based. Hence this language is referred to as syllable-timed rhythm language. So the Tamil language can be regarded as an intonation language with syllable based rhythm.
The supra segmental strand of this language is comprised of a set of features, referred to as supra segmental or prosodic features. These features form the intonation system of the Tamil language. The features are: Pitch and its manifestations, loudness, duration, pause, tempo, rhythmicality. Among these features, pitch is the prime and predominant one in the intonation system. Pitch in this language is realized in three ways. They are: pitch levels, pitch movement and pitch range. The patterns of pitch, i.e., the pitch patterns, formed by pitch and its allied features are terminated by specific pitch movement observable in the final syllable of the utterance. This final pitch movement is termed as ‘terminal contour’ which completes a pattern. Besides, a pitch pattern may be having one or more syllables getting accented. So accentuation is another feature, employed for information focusing in utterances. Hence the feature ‘accent’ should be categorized as a supra segmental feature, apart from terminal contour.
The different supra segmental features of Tamil are listed below.
1. Pitch level 2. Pitch movement 3. Pitch range 4. Loudness 5. Duration 6. Pause (= Silence) 7. Tempo 8. Rhythmicality 9. Accent 10. Terminal contour
As has been mentioned earlier, the feature pitch has two aspects, viz., the level and movement. Pitch levels indicate the minimum and maximum voice pitch level in speech. A scale can be fixed indicating the possible degree of these two levels. In other words, the highest and lowest levels of pitch can be fixed, as a reference, with a few intermediary levels. In Tamil, a maximum number of five pitch levels are identifiable. They distinguish four pitch levels. They are referred to from the bottom respectively as 'low' pitch level, 'low - mid' pitch level, 'mid' pitch level, 'high-mid' pitch level, and 'high' pitch level. They are numbered as /1/, /2/, /3/, /4/ and /5/ with /1/ being the low and /5/ the high pitch levels. The intermediary low-mid, mid and high-mid levels are numbered as /2/, /3/ and /4/ respectively. The value of each level is relative to each other, that is, the pitch level values are not absolute but relative.
The pitch levels are depicted as shown below:
/5/ high /4/ high-mid /3/ mid /2/ low-mid /1/ low
Pitch range is definable as 'width' or 'gap' between any two successive syllables. In other words, it is the width of the gliding pitch of the syllables. Some degree of pitch range is observable from the beginning to the end of utterances. However, the width of the changing pitch in the nuclear syllable is more crucial and significant that it is correlated in indexing the emotion/attitude and the like. The pitch range of the nuclear syllables is significant as it shows where the live part of the intonation, as far as the emotion/attitude is concerned, lies. Hence its pitch range value is considered as significant. In Tamil the pitch range system is comprised of three types of pitch range. They are: i) narrow, ii) normal iii) wide pitch range. They are marked as 'Pr1', 'Pr2' and 'Pr3' respectively.
It is one of the features responsible for accentuation, the other features being pitch and duration. There are three levels of loudness in Tamil. They are i) soft, ii) normal and iii) loudness. Each one is respectively marked as’ 'L1', 'L2' and 'L3'.
This feature operates in association with pitch pattern and accent. A pitch pattern has its own duration. In other words, a pitch pattern is formed in time dimension. The durational value of a pattern gets altered, if it is accented. This means that the process of accentuation also has some duration in it. The duration of a pitch pattern also changes if any emotion/ attitude is intoned. In Tamil, the duration can be measured at two levels. That is, at utterance level and syllable level.
Pause is a significant feature in the Tamil intonation system. Its behavior or the place of occurrence gives different nuances of meaning in discourse. It influences the semantics of the sentences in discourse. Different types of pause, which are predominant, have been distinguished in Tamil, Each type of pause has been shown with an appropriate symbol indicated against it. The types and symbols of pause listed in Tamil are:
Type Symbol i) terminal pause # ii) natural pause † iii)hesitation pause . . . iv)emotive pause * v) attitude pause @ vi)searching pause - vii)semantic pause + viii)accent pause ∧
Of these the emotion and attitude types are marked with the respective symbols viz. *and@. followed by the letters indicating the 'nature' of emotion/attitude intoned in the utterances. For example, the emotion happiness will be marked as *H and the attitude 'sarcasm' as@S and so no so forth.
Tempo is also a dependent feature. It is measured as the speed in which an utterance is uttered. It indicates the nature of emotion/attitude of sentences. In Tamil, three types of tempo have been identified. They are, i) slow, ii) normal and iii) fast tempo. Each type is marked as 'T1', 'T2' respectively.
The speech melody in Tamil is realized by musical characteristics which are innate to this language as in the case of any other language. The musical characteristic is due to the rhythmical behaviour of speech breath. In Tamil the speech breath is syllable based and hence it is syllable-timed. The rhythmic character of speech is significant since it is considered as imposing certain linguistic and extralinguistic characters to the language. in Tamil Seven basic types of rhythmic patterns have been distinguished.
i) gradual rise - gradual low fall ii) gradual rise - gradual high fall iii) gradual rise - gradual fall-gradual low rise iv) gradual rise - gradual fall-gradual high rise v) gradual rise - fall-rise vi) gradual rise - gradual fall - rise - fall vii) level - gradual rise - gradual fall - (level)
These rhythmic patterns may be marked respectively as 'R1', 'R2', 'R3' etc.
Accent is the feature which is a conflation of three features, viz., pitch, loudness and duration. Accent is realized due to the qualitative increase in the basic character of pitch, i.e., an increase in pitch level and loudness, i.e., an increase in the degree of loudness and also duration which has its impact drastically on the other two features. Accent is possible on any of the syllables of an utterance. They are respectively marked as 'a1' and 'a2'.
The terminal syllable of every utterance has specific type of pitch movement such as rising, falling etc. This terminal pitch movement is referred to as terminal contour. In Tamil, three types of characteristic terminal pitch movement have been observed. They are: i) falling, ii) rising and iii) level terminal contours. They are respectively marked as. ↓,↑and →.
Tone group is unique phonological structure. It will have a pitch pattern which has a predominant pitch around which other less predominant pitches are grouped. In a tone group, the syllable which has the predominant pitch is called as nuclear syllable. Around this, the syllables which have the less predominant pitches are grouped. Of these, the stretch of syllables which occur before the nuclear syllable is termed as pre-nuclear syllable and the stretch of syllables which occur after the nuclear syllable is termed as post-nuclear syllable. Thus a tone group consists of nuclear part preceded by pre-nuclear part and followed by post-nuclear part. So tone group is a unique structure and it bears a pitch pattern with a predominant pitch (nuclear pitch or tone) around which the other less predominant pitches are grouped. Except the nuclear part others are optional in a tone group. That is, a tone group should minimally have a nuclear part. Tone group without a nuclear pitch rarely occurs. A tone group has a complete and specific information. Tone group is maximally divided into prehead, head nucleus and tail. But in the case of Tamil a tone group is treated as comprising a nuclear segment and a non-nuclear segment.
Nouns in Tamil, can be divided into two semantic classes: human and non-human. Native Grammarians use the terms uyartinai (superior class) and ahrinai (inferior class) to refer to them respectively. Of these, the human class comprises the nouns denoting human beings, Gods and devils and demons. Non-human nouns, on the other hand denote nouns of animals, inanimate things, abstract notions, etc.
Gender: Human class of nouns are further divided into two genders viz. masculine and feminine. Non-human class of nouns belong to the neuter gender. Thus, there are three genders as shown in the following examples:
uyartinai ahrinai Masculine Feminine Neuter an 'man' pen 'girl' nari 'fox' iraivan 'god' iraivi 'goddess' malai 'mountain' anpu 'affection'
Separate words may be used to denote male and female animals (for example, kaliru 'male elephant', piti 'female elephant') but animal is still treated to be a neuter noun. The words such as kulantai 'child,' cisu 'infant', pillai 'child' are considered to be neuter nouns as in the example,
kulantai tunkukiratu child is sleeping.'
Number : The nouns in Tamil language distinguish two numbers, the singular and plural. There is no separate marker to denote the category singular number. Example:
al 'man' maram 'tree' yanai 'elephant' puli 'tiger' vitu 'house'
The plural of nouns are formed by adding plural suffixes to the stem of a noun. There are two important suffixes which are used with majority of the nouns. They are kal and mar.
anaikal 'elephants' pulikal 'tigers' vitukal 'houses' marankal 'trees'
Note that in the following examples the initial consonant of the suffix kal is doubled (kal>kkal)
Singular Plural pacu pacukkal 'cows' teru terukkal 'streets' guru gurukkal 'priests' pu puukkal 'flowers'
The suffix mar is used with singular nouns denoting kinship words and certain caste names.
Singular Plural annan annanmar 'elder-brothers' kanavan kanavanmar 'husbands' pillai pillaimmar 'people of Pillay caste'
The nouns in Tamil are declined by means of adding case suffixes to the noun stems.
"The category of case indicates the syntactic and semantic relationship between (i) a noun or noun phrase and a verb, or (ii) two nouns or noun phrases. Verbal predicates take a number of obligatory and optional arguments in the sentence, e.g. subject, object NPs, and adverbial adjuncts. Case markers express then the syntactic and semantic relations between a noun phrase and the verbal predicate" (Thomas Lehmann, 1989 : 23) There are six case suffixes in modern Tamil.
Accusative - ai Instrumental - al Dative - kku / ku Sociative - otu Genitive - utaiya Locative - il / itam
Nominative case has no separate marker and the subject of a sentence with a zero suffix denotes nominative case. In the sentence kumar vantan 'Kumar came', the subject noun Kumar is in nominative case relation to the predicate vantan. The vocative case, which is eighth case, are generally built only in masculine and feminine nouns. The vocative forms may be built in several ways.
Noun Vocative forms rani rani 'O! queen' tampi tampi 'O! younger brother' raja raja ....O! king' paiyan paiya - 'O! boy'
Accusative case : The accusative case marker is-ai. Examples:
paiyan 'boy' : paiyan-ai maturai 'city Madurai' : maturai-y-ai appa 'father' : appa-v-ai maram 'tree' : maratt-ai aru 'river' : aar r-ai vitu 'house' : vitt-ai
In the above examples the noun stems are modified before adding the case suffix. The modified noun stems are sometimes referred as oblique stems. The function of the accusative case is to mark the direct object noun phrase of a transitive verb.
kulantai pal-aik kutittatu 'child drank the milk.'
pal 'milk' : pal-ai is the object of the transitive verb kuti-'drink'. Inanimate nouns are only optionally marked for accusative with the object of verbs.
(nii) nila par '(You) look at the moon!' avar nilam kotuttar. 'He donated land'
Instrumental : The instrumental case marker is -al. Examples:
paiyan 'boy' : paiyan-al maturai 'city' : maturai-y-al appa 'father' : appa-v-al maram 'tree' : maratt-al vitu 'house' : vitt-al
This suffix-al is the modification of the suffix-an, which occurs in classical Tamil (Andronov, 1967:79).
This case suffix expresses following semantic functions (Paramasivan, 1983:141): (i) instrument (ii) means (iii) source or material (iv) reason (v) cause and (vi) agent.
(i) Instrument : kamala kai-yal puu parittal. 'kamala plucked the flower with her hand.' (ii) Means : vitiyai matiyal vellalam. 'Fate can be won by wisdom.' (iii) Source or material :kamala tankattal nakai ceytal. 'Kamalaa made jewels out of gold' (iv) Reason : veyil-al murukan po-kavillai 'Because of hot sun murugan didn't go' v) Cause : urattal maram kayttatu. "Because of the fertilizer tree bear fruits." (vi)Agent : tirutan polisal kaitu ceyyappattan. 'The thief was arrested by police.'
Dative : The Dative case marker is the suffix -kku with the allomorphs-ukku and-akku. Examples:
paiyan 'boy' : paiyan-ukku maturai 'city madurai' : maturai -kku appa 'father' : appav-ukku maram 'tree' : maratt-ukku vitu 'house' : vitt-ukku nan 'I' : en-akku ni 'you' : un-akku
The allomorph-akku occurs with the oblique stems of pronoun en- 'my' and un - 'your'. The allomorph -kku occurs after the oblique stem of nouns such as maram 'tree,' vitu 'house', aru 'river' etc, and (ii) after the noun stem of nouns ending in i, i, ai, ai or the sort vowel u. examples:
ceti 'plant' ceti-kku pay 'mat' pay-kku chennai 'city Chennai' cennai-kku atu 'that' atu-kku itu 'this' itu-kku
at-ar-ku, ita-ar-ku are also found to occur in Tamil instead of atu-kku and itukku.
The dative case express a wide range of functions. This aspect has been described by Paramasivan (1968 : 151). The following are the important functions of dative case.
(i) Indirect object :raja tan nanpanukku oru katikaram paricu kotuttan. 'Raja gave his friend a watch as gift'. (ii) Goal of motion :raja katai-kkup pookiran. 'Raja goes to the shop' (iii) Purpose :raja kulikku velai ceykiran. 'Raja works for wages.' (iv) Receipent of experience : raja-v-kku carkkaraivyati irukkiratu. 'Raja is a diabetic patient' or'Raja is suffering from diabeties.'raja-v-kku kopam vantatu. 'Raja got angry' (v) Distribute :talaikku oru palam kotu. 'Distribute a fruit to each person' (vi) Point in time or duration of time :pukaivanti ettu mani-kku varum. 'Train arrives at eight'O clock!' raja oru varam inkee tankuvar 'Raja will stay here for a week'
The postposition element-aka is added after the dative suffix to denote benefactive case. This case marks the benefactor of an action or event.
raja tan pillaikkakap panam kotuttan. 'Raja gave money for the benefit of his loan'
To denote sociative case there are two suffixes such as - otu and -utan which are added after the noun stems.
'raja' : raja-v-otu raja-v-utan
The sociative case marker principally expresses the comitative function. This function expresses that the referent of the sociative case noun phrase is involved in the action or event expressed by the sentence in the same way as the referent of another noun phrase is involved in the respective action or event (Thoman Lehmann, 1989, 37).
(i) raman citai-y-otu cinima-v-ukku ponan. 'Raman went to Cinema with Sita.' (ii) raman citai-y-utan cinimavukku poonan. 'Rama went to cinema with Sita.'
In the following examples the sociative case marker expresses manner and means.
(iii) manner raja vañcai-y-otu muttamittan. 'Raja kissed (someone) with deep love.'
Note the following sentences where the sociative case is used to express other concepts.
(i) Totality maram verotu cayntatu. 'Tree feldown with the root.' raja kutumpatt-otu ponan. 'Raja went with the entire family.' (ii) restriction, between two points of time iravotu iravaka 'during night, restricted to night.' ctittirai-y-otu cittirai 'between the time gap from chittirai to chittirai month'
Genitive : There are three suffixes to mark the genitive case in Tamil. They are - utaiya, -atu, and-in. Examples:
rajautaiya vitu 'Raja's house' raja-v-in vitu 'Raja's house' avan-atu vitu 'His house'
It should be mentioned here that the genitive case indicates the relation not between a noun and a verb or predicate, but between a noun and other noun phrases. In the above example vitu-'house' is the head noun and rajavin is the modifier of noun phrase.
pennin tirumana vayatu penninutaiya tirumana vayatu pennin-atu tirumana vayatu 'age which is suitable for marriage of a girl.'
Locative: Locative case is denoted by the suffixes-il and-itam. Of these two suffixes-il occurs with the inanimate nouns as shown in the examples below.
kal 'leg' kal-il maturai 'city Madura' maturai-y-il amerikka 'America' amerikka-v-il maram 'tree' maratt-il aru 'river' ar r-il vitu 'house' vitt-il kal 'stone' kall-il The suffix-itam occurs with the animate nouns: Examples: raja-v-itam 'with Raja' appa-v-itam 'with the father'
Both these two suffixes express various semantic functions, which is elaboratly described by Thomas Lehmann (1989 : 39).
Ablative case is marked by the suffix-iruntu which is added to the noun stem inflected for locative case. Examples.
maram 'tree' maratt-iliruntu aru 'river' ar ri-iliruntu vitu 'house' vitt-iliruntu
If the noun stem is an animate noun, this suffix is added after the locative marker-itam. Examples.
appa-v-itamiruntu 'from the father' tampi-y-itamiruntu 'from the younger brother'
Certain adverbs and nouns denoting place and directions take the suffix - iruntu as shown in the examples:
inke 'here' inke-y-iruntu 'from here' anke 'there' anke-y-iruntu 'from there' vatakke 'north' vatake-y-iruntu 'from the north' kile 'down' kile-y-iruntu 'from downwards'
Postpositions: Tamil has few free forms which are referred as postpositions. They are added after the case marker. Example:
kovil vittukku pakkattil ullatu 'The temple is near the house.'
In the above example the post position pakkattil 'near' occurs after the dative noun phrase vittukku. Here the form pakkattil is not considered as a suffix, it is a free form and because of its place of occurrence it is termed as postposition. Postpositions are historically derived from verbs. Schiffman describes various postpositions and employed in Tamil in his work A Grammar of Spoken Tamil. (1979, 17). Thomas Lehmann (1989 : 117-131) provides a long list of postpositions and illustrates each form with appropriate sentence.
Some important postpositions are briefly described here:
(i) Postpositions occurring with nominative mulam 'with, by means of, through' amaiccar utavi mulam 'with the help of the minister' varaikkum, varai 'upto, until' - pattumani varikkum/varai 'up to, until 10.00' kulantai tunkkum varaikkum 'until the child sleeps.' ii) Postpositions occurring after oblique forms mel 'above, on the top of, after' marattu-mel 'on the top of tree' vittu-meel 'on the top of the house.' kil 'below, under' marattu-kil 'under the tree' maratt-in-kil 'beneath the tree'. (iii) Postpositions occurring after accusative parri 'about', kurittu 'about' raja kasmir parri / kurittu pecinar. 'Raja talked about kashmir' curri 'around' vittai curri pala marankal ninrana. 'There were fruit bearing trees around the house' vita 'than' chennai delliy-ai vita ciriya nakaram. 'Chennai is smaller than Delhi.' Postpositions occuring after dative piraku 'after' raja aintu manikku piraku vittukku vantan 'Raja returned home after five o' clock' appal 'beyond' inta antattukku appal enna irukkiratu? Beyond this universe what exists? ul 'inside, into, within' pampu valaikkul nulaintatu. 'A snake entered into a hole' pinnal - back vittukkup pinnal to the back of the house.
An exaustive list of postpositions is not given here, and hence the readers are advised to refer to the literature mentioned above.
Pronouns in Tamil are classified into seven sub-classes. They are - personal pronouns - reflexive pronouns - possessive pronouns - interrogative pronouns - demonstrative pronouns - determinative pronouns and - indefinite pronouns (Andronov, 1969, 100)
Personal Pronouns : Personal pronouns distinguish grammatical categories such as person, number and case. III person pronouns also distinguish gender in addition to other things. The system of personal pronouns of Tamil is illustrated as follows.
I sg. nan 'I' pl. nam 'we (inclusive)' nankal 'we (exclusive)' II sg. ni you pl. ninkal you III Pronouns denoting remote distance sg. mas. avan 'he' fem aval 'she' neu. atu 'that' pl. human avarkal 'they' new aval 'they' IV Pronouns denoting proximate distance sg. masc. ivan 'he' fem. ival 'she' neu. itu 'this' pl. human invarkal 'they' neu. ivai 'they'
The pronoun nir 'you (sg)' rarely occur in modern Tamil that denotes an equal status between the speaker and the hearer. To express III person singular honorific the forms avar (remote) and ivar (proximate) are used. The forms avaikal and ivaikal are also used instead of avai and ivai respectively. In official correspondences, the form tankal you (honorific, singular) is used in addition to the use of ninkal.
The pronouns are declined by adding case markers to the pronoun stems. Examples:
avan 'he' Nom : avan Acc : avan - ai Ins : avan - al Dat : avan - ukku Soc : avan-otu Gen : avan - utaiya Loc : avan - itam
In the case of I and II person pronouns, the case suffixes are added after the oblique forms. The oblique forms for I and II persons, are given below:
I sg.nan: en I pl.nam : nam en-n-ai namm-ai en-n-al namm-otu en-akku nam-akku en-nutaiya namm-utaiya en-n-itam namm-itam II sg.nii: u n ninkal : unkal un-n-ai unkal-ai un-n-al unkal-al un-akku unkal-ukku un-n-otu unkal-otu un-n-utaiya unkal-utaiya un-n-itam unkal-itam.
The second person (inclusive) form nankal is declined as the enkal in oblique form.
Third person neuter singular atu and neuter plural avai are declined as follows:
atu : atai at-an-ai at-al at-an-al at-ukku at-a-rku at-otu at-an-otu at-utaiya at-an-utaiya at-il at-an-itam at-an-il avai - avai Acc. ava-rr-ai Inst. ava-rr-al Dat. ava-rr-ukku Soc. ava-rr-otu Gen. ava-rr-utaiya Loc. avanrr-il
Third person pronouns denoting proximatesemotece are also declined as shown above.
Reflexive Pronouns : There are three forms which function as reflexive pronouns. Of these tan (the oblique stem tam) and tankal (oblique stem tankal-) function as plural reflexive pronouns.
They are declined like personal pronouns nan, nam, and nankal
tan : tan tam-tam tann-ai tamm-ai tann-al tam-al tan-akku tam-akku tann-otu tamm-otu tann-utaiya tamm-utaiya tann-il tamm-il tann-itam tamm-itam tankal tankal tankal-ai tankal-al tankal - ukku tankal-otu tankal-utaiya tankal-itam
Possessive Pronouns : The forms such as ennaval (en+aval) 'my lady', ennavan (en-avan) my (man), enatu (en+atu) my (thing), etc. are designated as possesive pronouns.
avanatu (avan+atu) 'his (thing)' aval atu (aval+atu) 'her (thing)' ninatu (nin+atu) 'your (thing)' (see : Andronov, 1969: 111)
Interrogrative Pronouns : Interrogrative Pronouns, like personal pronouns, has distinguished gender, number and case.
The following are the important interrogative pronouns which are widely used in Modern Tamil.
evan - 'who', / which man' eval - 'who', / which lady' etu - 'what', / which object evar - 'who', / which persons' enna - 'what' ettanai - 'how many' evvalavu - 'how much' yar - 'who'
Examples: ennai etirttup peciyatu evan? 'Who talked opposing my views?' katitattai eval elutinal? 'Who (fem) wrote (this) letter?' ariyar evar? 'Who are Aryans?' unkalukku enna ventum? 'What do you want?'
Demonstrative pronouns : inta 'this, these' anta 'that, those' are referred as demonstrative pronouns. But, these two forms do not distinguish number, gender and case. They are used as attributes to other words.
inta vitu 'this house' anta vanam 'That sky' inta tertal 'election which is currently taking place.'
Because of their attributive function they are also called as demonstrative adjectives.
Determinative Pronouns : ellam, ellar, and ellor are determinative pronouns used in Tamil. ellam is neuter and ellar and ellor are human pronouns.
ellam 'all' Nom : ellam Stem : ella Acc : ella-varr-ai-yum Inst : ella-varr-a-lum Dat : ella-varr-otu-um Gen : ella-varr-in Loc : ella - varr-il-um
It can be noted that this pronoun is always used with the particle -um, which gives an universal meaning. Example:
aval ellavarriyum collivittal 'she revealed all (secrets)'
Nom : ellar-um "all" ellor-um 'all' Acc : ellar-ai-yum ellor-ai-y-um Inst : ellar-al-um ellor-a-lum Dat : ellar-ukk-um ellor-ukk-um Soc : ellar-otu-um ellor-ot-um Loc : ellar-itam-um ellor-itam-um Gen : ellar-utaiya ellor-utaiya
Example : ellarum/ellorum vakku alikkavillai. 'Not all exercised (their) votes.'
Indefinite pronouns : The forms are : palar 'many (persons)' cilar 'few (persons)' pala 'many (things)' cila 'few (things)'
Of these pronouns, palar and cilar are declined as follows :
Nom : Palar cilar Acc : palar-ai cilar-ai Inst : palar-al cilar-al Dat : palar-ukku cilar-ukku Soc : palar-otu cilar-otu Gen: palar-utaiya cilar-utaiya Loc : palar-itam cilar-itam
Similarly, cila and pala are declined like the personal pronoun avai.
Verbs : Tamil verbs are distinguished from nouns in that they take case markers whereas verbs take tense, person, gender and number markers. Verbs can also occur with a few other verbal suffixes which mark non-finitness of the verbs. For example, the verb cey- 'do' takes various makers as follows:
cey-t-an '(he) did' cey-kir-an '(he) does' Finite verbs cey-v-an '(he) will do' cey-y-a 'to do' cey-t-u 'having done' non-finite verbs Non-finite verbs cey-t-a 'that which was done '
Here, in the above examples, 'cey' is the stem to which other verbal suffixes are added. A verb stem in Tamil may be divided into simple and derived. cey- 'do' is a simple verb stem whereas the forms derived such as cey-vi 'cause to do' are derived verbal stems. The simple verbal stems may in turn be divided into affective voice and effective voice, (Paramasivam, 1979) as in
elu-ntu 'be awaken' (affective) elu-ppu 'awake' (effective)
These two forms can be understood as shown in the following sentences.
1. kulantai elu-nta-tu 'child awoke' 2. tay kulaintai-yai elu-pp-in-al 'The mother awoke the child'
Both the affective and effective verb stems are analysed as verb stems from one root morpheme (Thomas Lehmann, 1989). elu- 'awake' in the above example is the root verb and'-ntu and-ppu are affective and effective morphemes. The affective and effective voice distinction is also seen with other allomorphs. Examples:
1. -ku -peru-ku 'increase' (affective) -kku -peru-kku 'increase' (effective) 2. -mpu -nira-mpu 'be full' (affective) -ppu -nira-ppu 'fill' (effective) 3. -tu -o-tu 'run' (affective) -ttu -o-ttu 'drive' (effective)
It can be seen above that the affective voice contains a single obstruent and the effective voice contains a geminated obstruent.
Derived verb stems are those which consist of a simple verb stem and a causative suffix. There are three allomorphs to denote causative meaning.
va 'come' + -vi → varu-vi 'cause to come' kel 'listen' + -pi → keet-pi 'cause to listen' etu 'take' + -ppi → etu-ppi 'cause to take'
However, these morphological causative forms are restricted only to written Tamil and in spoken Tamil they rarely found to occur. The verbs are also classified, as belonging to weak, middle and strong class depending on wheather they take an augmented suffix such as -kka or not. For Example:
var + -a → var - a 'to come' kel + -a → keet - k-a 'to listen' nata + a → nata - kk-a 'to walk'
Weak verbs do not take any augument, whereas middle and strong verbs take -k- and -kk as the auguments, respectively. However, if the inflectional suffix begins with a consonant, the augument phoneme does not occur.
nata + nt + an?natantan.
Finite verb forms : Finite verb forms are of three types viz. 1. Imperative 2. Indicative and 3. Optative. There are certain auxiliary verbs which express other moods and modalities. Imperative finite verb forms can be of singular or plural and these are further distinguished into positive and negative forms. Examples:
"When the interrogative en 'why' is suffixed to an imperative form, the command or request expressed by the imperative is changed into a suggestion." (Thomas Lehmann, 1989: p 57). Nouns denoting kins relationship are often added with the imperative forms to express social status or kinship relation between the speaker and hearer.
va-ta 'come on, (male friend equal or lower in status) va-ti 'come on' (female friend and or lower in status) va-mma 'come on' (addressing a lady with respect)
These later forms are predominantly used in conversational Tamil, and not characteristic feature of written Tamil.
The second type of finite verb forms, known as indicative verbs, is marked for the category of tense and gender, number and person. However the corresponding negative forms are not marked for these categories as the positive indicative forms are. There are three major tenses expressed by the indicative verbs.They are 1. Present 2. Past and 3. Future tense.
|cey-kir-an 'he does'|
vilu-kir-an 'he falls'
pecu-kir-an 'he speaks'
pootu-kir-an 'he drops'
keet-ki-an 'he asks'
pati-kkir-an 'he reads'
nata-kkir-an 'he walks'
There are two allomorphs for the present tense. -kinr-, -kkinr- are also used as the allomorphs of present tense. They are stylistic variations as in the forms cey-kinr-an, nata-kkinr-an.
|cey-t-an 'he did'|
vilu-nt-an 'he fell'
pec-in-an 'he talked'
pot-t-an 'he dropped'
ket-t-an 'he asked'
pati-tt-an 'he read'
nata-nt-an 'he walked'
There are certain other verbs which cannot be accounted by the rules given above. For instance, the verb stem ca: 'to die' is inflected as ca:kir-an 'he dies', ce-tt-an - 'he died', ca v-an 'he will die'.
|cey-v-an 'he will do|
'vilu-v-an'he will fall'
pecu-v-an 'he will talk'
potu-v-an 'he will drop'
ket-p-an 'he will ask'
pati-pp-an 'he will read'
nata-pp-an 'he will walk'
The future tense has three allomorphs. Another allomorph -um occurs with the verbs, when the subject of the sentence is non-human noun as in nalai bas ot-um. 'The buses will run (operate) tomorrow'.
Though there are three tense categories, the time reference, they denote are not constant. For example, the future tense may also denote the general ability one had in the past time.
kalki nanraka elu tu-v-ar. 'Kalki wrote well'
The future verb from (elutu-var has past time reference and also albility in the above example. The semantic functions of the tense suffixes are not discussed here.
Person-Number-Gender suffixes : Unlike English, the finite verb forms in Tamil carry person, number and gender suffixes. These suffixes signal agreement with the subject of the sentence. The suffixes are listed below.
|Personal pronouns||PNG suffixes||Examples.|
avai 'they (neu,)'
|nan vant-en 'I came'|
nam va-nt-om 'we came'
ni va-nt-ay 'you came
'ninkal va-nt-irkal 'you (pl) came'
avan va-nt-an 'he came'
aval va-nt-al 'she came'
atu va-nt-atu 'that came'
avarkal va- nt-arkal 'they came'
avai va- nt-ana 'they came'
In sentences such as yar va-nt-ar? there is no overt agreement between the subject and the verb.That is, agreement is not morphologically marked in the subject (yar)
yar va-nt-ar 'who came (They)' yar va-nt-an 'who came (he)' yar va-nt-al 'who came (she)' yar va-nt-atu 'who came (neuter)'
Negative indicative verb forms: There are two auxiliary verbs to form negative indicative verb forms. They are -il 'be not' matt- 'will not'. Usually, they are added after the infinitive form of the verb forms.
tunku → 'sleep' tunk-a → tunk-a-v-illai 'did'not / do'not sleep' tunk-a → tunka-matt-en 'will not sleep'
For the present and past negative verbs, the negative verb-illai is used as in the sentences below.
avan nerru tunka-v-illai 'He did not sleep yesterday' avan ippotu tunka-v-illai 'He is not sleeping now'
The negative verb illai is a defective verb and it does not have paradigms as that of other regular verbs.
avan nerru var-a-villai 'he didn't come yesterday' aval nerru vau-a-v-illai 'she didn't come yesterday' atu ner ru var-a-v-illai 'that didn't come yesterday' naan nerru var-a-v-illai 'I didn't come yesterday' nii nerru var-a-v-illai 'you didn't come yesterday'
Note that there is no agreement between the subject and the verb in the above sentences. The auxiliary verb mattu is inflected same as other verbs.
ni varamattay 'you will not come' ninkal vara mattirkal 'you will not come' (pl).
Optative is formed by the addition of the suffix -ka (with certain verbs the allomorph -kka is used) to the verb stem.
tamil val -ka. 'Tamil language live long' talaivar val -ka. 'The leader long live'
Non-finite verb forms : There are four types of non-finite verb forms. They are
1. Infinitive 2. Verbal participle 3. Conditional participle 4. Relative participle
Except the infinitive all the other participles show both positive and negative forms. Again, the relative participle distinguishes tense. That is, there are past, present and future relative participle forms.
Infinitive forms are obtained by suffixing the marker-a to the verb stem.
cey - cey-y-a 'to do' vilu - vil-a 'to fall' pecu - pec-a 'to speak' potu - pot-a 'to drop' kel - ket-k-a 'to listen' pati - pati-kk-a 'to read' nata - nata-kk-a 'to walk'
Verbal participle is the second tenseless non-finite verb form. As we mentioned earlier, there are both negative and positive forms for verbal participle. The positive verbal participle suffix is usually past tense marker and the suffix -u. These are added to the verb stem. -i is the allomorph with certain verbs.
cey cey-t-u 'having done' vilu vilu-nt-u 'having fallen' pecu pec-i 'having talked' potu pot-t-u 'having dropped' kel ket-t-u 'having listened' pati pati-tt-u 'having read' nata nata-nt-u 'having walked'
The verbal participle form is a non-finite form in the sense, they occur in a complete sentence with a finite verb at the end. Example:
avan nata-nt-u vant-an. 'He walked and came' (or) 'He came walking' kumar pati-tt-u mutitt-an 'Kumar read and finished' (or) 'Kumar completed reading'
Negative verbal participles are formed by suffixing -a-mal to the verb stem.
cey cey-ya-mal 'with out doing' vilu vilu-a-mal 'with out falling' pecu pec-a-mal 'without speaking' potu pot-a-mal 'without dropping' kel ket-k-a-mal 'without listening' pati pati-kk-a-mal 'without reading' nata nata-kk-a-mal 'without walking'
The conditional participle form is derived by adding the suffix -al to the past stem.
cey cey-t-al 'if (one) does' vilu vilu-nt-al 'if (one) falls' pecu pec-in-al 'if (one) speaks' potu pot-t-al 'if (one) drops' kel ket-t-al 'if (one) listens' pati pati-tt-al 'if (one) reads' nata nata-nt-al 'if (one) walks'
The negative conditional form, on the other hand, is obtained by suffixing the marker -a-vittal to the verb stem and not with the past stem, as in the case of positive forms.
cey cey-y-a-vittal 'if (one) does not do' vilu vilu-a-vittal 'if (one) does not fall' pecu pec-a-vittal 'if (one) does not speak' potu pot-a-vittal 'if (one) does not drop' kel ket-k-a-vittal 'if (one) does not listen' pati pati-kk-a-vittal 'if (one) does not read' nata nata-kk-a-vittal 'if (one) does not walk'
Relative participle form is formed by lay affixing -a to the past and present stem whereas -um is used in the case future tense. Relative participles are the only non-finite forms which distinguish tense. In English there are relative pronouns such as who, whom, which, where, etc. where as in Tamil such pronouns are not used.
Past present future cey cey-t-a cey-kir-a cey-y-um vilu vilu-nt-a vilu-kir-a vil-um pecu pec-in-a pecu-kir-a pec-um potu pot-t-a potu-kir-a pot-um kel ket-t-a ket-kir-a ket-k-um pati pati-tt-a pati-kkir-a pati-kk-um nata nata-nt-a nata-kkir-a nata-kk-um
Negative relative participle is obtained lay adding the negative allomorph -at- and the suffix-a with the verb stem. Examples:
cey cey-y-at-a vilu vil-at-a pecu pec-at-a potu pot-at-a kel ket-at-a pati pati-kk-at-a nata nata-kk-at-a
Participal nouns are formed by adding pronominal forms (only third person) to the present, past and future verb stems.
cey cey-t-avan 'he who did' cey cey-t-aval 'she who did'
Similar forms can be obtained by using atu, avarkal and avai. Present participial nouns are formed in the same way using present verb stem.
cey-kir-avan 'he who does' cey-kir-atu 'that which does'
Future participial nouns :
cey-p-avan 'he who will do'
negative participial nouns :
cey-y-at-avan 'he who did / does not do' cey-y-at-v-arkal 'they who did / does not do'
Certain adjectives can also be used to form participial nouns as the one shown above.
nalla-v-an 'a good person' (male) nalla-v-al 'a good person' (female) nalla-v-tu 'good thing' nalla-v-ar 'a good person'
Verbal nouns can also be formed regularly by using the verbal noun suffixes -tal, -ttal and -al, etc.
cey cey-t-al also cey-al vilu vilu-tal (vil-al) pecu pecu-tal (peec-al) potu potu-tal kel kett-al pati pati-ttal nata nata-ttal
Here, the meaning is 'act of doing x'. The forms ceyal, vilal are relatively older forms which are used only in written Tamil. For example.
avan po-k-a ventum 'He must go' avan potal ventum 'He must go' (older form)
1.0 The basic word order in a Tamil sentence is subject - object - verb. Other orders can be found in the language, due to stylistic variation.
avan puttakattaip patittan puttakattai avan patittan 'He read the book'
The subject of a sentence is a noun or a noun phrase. It usually occurs in the nominative case, except in certain intances where the sentence has either a psychological verb or adjective verb or a model verb. In these cases, the subject occurs with the dative case as shown below:
enakkut talai valikkiratu 'I have a headace' unakkut tamil teriyuma? 'Do you know Tamil'
In the sentence with the model verb muti the subject occurs with the instrument case.
ennal natakka mutiyum 'I can walk'
The subject of a sentence is an important structural element and always plays a crucial role in many grammatical processes in the language. The subject occurs normally in the initial postion of a sentence. It is generally in agreement with the verb with respect to person, number and gender (PNG).
nan ponen 'I went' nam ponom 'we went' ni (sg) ponay 'you went' ninkal (pl) ponirkal 'you went' avan ponan 'He went' aval ponal 'she went' avarkal ponarkal 'They went' atu poyirru 'It went' avai poyina 'They went'
The predicate of a sentence may consist of a verb as in the above sentences or a noun phrase. The sentence with a noun phrase as predicate is called equational sentence or NP predicate sentence.
avar oru aciriyar 'He is a teacher.'
The predicate may have one or more than one noun phrase and a verb as well.
nan maturaiyil oru puttakam vankinen 'I bought a book in Madurai'
The constituents in the predicate together make up the verb phrase.
A noun phrase is a phrase consisting mainly of a noun or pronoun, but also optionally other constituents like articles, adjective, relative participle, noun complement clauses. For instance, it may consist of the following:
(a) a proper noun: kannan vantan 'Kannan came' (b) a pronun: avan vantan 'He came' (c) a common noun: oru ciruvan vantan 'A boy came' (d) Article + Adjective + noun: anta alkiya cirumi 'That beautiful girl' (e) Article + numeral + Adjective + noun: anta munru alkiya + cirumikal 'Those three beautiful girls' (f) Relative participle + noun: ni vankiya puttakam 'The book which you bought' (g) noun complement clause + noun: amaiccar marainta ceyti 'The news that the minister died'
A verb phrase mainly consists of optional noun phrases and a verb.
nan meriyitamirantu ayiram rupay panam vankinen 'I received one thousand of rupees from Mary'
The verb occurs as the last constituent of the sentence. Verbs can be conveniently divided into finite and non - finite forms.
A finite verb form consists mainly of the following:
(a) verb stem + tense marker + PNG: ponen '(I) went' (b) a verb stem + infinitive marker + model poka mutiyum '(one) can go' (c) a verb stem + infinitive marker + negative: poka illai (pokavillai) '(one) did not go' po ka matten '(I) will not go' (d) a verb stem (past) + aspect + tense + PNG: poy + vittan '(he) went away'
When a model or negative occurs, the infinitive must be attached to the verb. When aspect occurs, the verb stem must be in the past. In past negative the PNG is absent. The non - finite forms infinitive, verbal participle, conditional and concessive optionally precede the verb and remain the constituents of verb phrase.
patikka cenren '(I) went to study' poy vanten '(I) went and cameback' ni vantal varuven 'If you come, (I) will come' ni vantalum varamatten 'though you would come, (I) will not come'
one more non - finite form of the verb which is called relative participle occurs only in the noun phrase.
In Tamil, generally adjectives precede the noun.
nalla puttakam 'good book' periya vitu 'big house' irantu manavarkal 'two students' cila manavarkal 'some students'
The nouns derived from numeral adjectives and indefenite adjectives, follow the noun.
manavarkal iruvar 'two students' manavarkal cilar 'some students'
Adjectives may be simple or derived from nouns or verbs.
ciriya pu 'small flower' al kana pu 'beautiful flower' civappu pu 'red flower'' uyarnta malai 'high mountain'
Relative participles consist of verb stem plus tense plus - a or - um.
pona ciruvan 'The boy who went' po kira ciruvan 'The boy who goes' po kum ciruvan 'The boy who will go'
The present participle and future participle freely vary.
nalai varum/varukira aciriyar 'The teacher who will come tomorrow'
The relationship of the adjectives to the noun it modifies seems to be closer than that of the adverb to the verb. Particles such as emphatic markers, yes/no question markers etc. cannot occur between the adjective and the noun whereas they can occur between the adverb and the verb.
* aval nallava pen? 'Is she a good girl?' * aval nalla tan pen 'she is certainly a good girl'
In Tamil, adverbs are formed in different ways.
aval mella natantal 'She walked slowly' avar marupati varavillai 'He did not come again'
kannan viraintu cenran 'kannan went fast' tavarukal mikuntu ullana 'Errors are so much'
kannan vekamaka otinan 'kannan ran fast' aval inimaiyaka patinal, 'She sang sweet'
avan nal to rum varuvan 'He came daily' ituve natu torum praccanai 'This is the problem in every country'
kannan inta velaiyai elitil mutittuvituvan 'kannan will finish this work easily' manavarkal neril varuvar 'students should come in person'
avarkal vitu vitaka cenrarkal 'They went door to door' avan vekam vekamaka natantan 'He walked very fast'
tocai cutac cuta iruntatu 'Dosa (a dish) was very hot' kuruvi uyara uyara parantatu 'The bird flied high and high'.
vakuppil avan mutalavataka irutan 'He was first in his class' makkal tokaiyil intiya irantavataka irukkiratu 'India is second in population' Adverbs express different meanings.
avar anpakap pecinar 'He spoke kindly'
avan palattai irantaka vettinan 'He cut the fruit into two'
avan mannanaka muti cutinan 'He crowed as king'
kalam karrakap parantatu 'The time flew as wind'
avan oru varamakak katirukkiran 'He is waiting for past one week'
tayir catam uppaka iruntatu 'The curd rice was very salty'
kettil uppamaka oru periyavar ninriruntar 'A tall old man was standing near the gate'
panam kotikkanakkil celavayirru 'Money was spent in crores'
Questions or interrogative sentences are formed in Tamil in two ways-one by adding the yes-no question marker-a to almost any constituent and the other by using wh-question words.
Generally, the yes-no question marker is added to the finite verb. When it is added to any other constituent, that particular item is focussed upon and questioned.
(a) kannan vekamaka kataikku otinan 'kannan ran to the shop fast' (b) kannana vekamaka kataikku otinan? 'Is it kannan who ran to the shop fast?' (c) kannan vekamakava kataikku otinan? 'Is it fast that kannan ran to shop?' (d) kannan vekamaka kataikka otinan? 'Is it to the shop that kannan ran?' (e) kannan vekamaka kataikku otinana? 'Did kannan run to the shop fast?'
In Tamil, question words usually begin with e-, e-, or ya- eg. enna 'what I", enike 'wheres eppati 'how', evvalavu 'how much' ettanai 'how many' etrku for what, eppotu 'when', en 'why', yar 'who'.
These interrogative words ask questions about the location, time, amount, manner, identity, substance etc of things. That is, every constituent of a sentence can be replaced by an e-word, asking questions about those constituents.
Also, more than one question words can occur in a sentence.
ni enke yarai eppotu parttay? 'where did you see whom and when?'
when e-words are reduplicated, the meaning is distributive.
ennenna? 'what all? ' enkenke? 'where all?' yar yar? 'who all?'
If case markers are added, they are added only to the last of the doublet.
yar yaraip parttay? 'Whom different persons did (you) see?'
Tag questions are formed by adding negative particle alla or illai plus interrogative -a with declarative sentences.
ni vantay, allava/illaiya? 'You came, didn't you?' ni varavillai, allava/illaiya? 'You did not come, did you?'
The e-words enna and evvalavu/ettanai are used adjectivally also.
enna alaku! 'what a beauty!' ettanai kastam! 'How difficult (it is) ?'
When clitics and the concersive avatu are added to e-words the notion of interrogative is not present.
when the clitic -o is added to the e-words, the interrogative meaning is replaced by a meaning equivalent to someone or something. This is used only in past.
yaro 'someone' enko 'somewhere' eppatiyo 'somehow'
-um is added to the interrogatives to indicate to totality. yarum illai 'nobody is (there)' yarum varalam 'Any body may come' enkum pokakkutatu '(one) should not go anywhere enkum pokalam '(one) may go anywhere'
The concessive avatu added to the e-words imparts the meaning equivalent to someone or something.This is used only in future.
yaravatu varuvarkal 'someone will come' eppatiyavatu panam kitaikkum 'somehow money will be available'
In Tamil, negative and affirmative forms do not match each other. It is not always possible to say that one form is the negative of some other form.
In Tamil, alla negates identity statements (mostly used in literary forms) and illai negates both identity and propositions.
avar aciriyar alla (illai) 'He is not a teacher' avar maturaiyil illai 'He is not in Madurai'
Adding illai to the infinitive form of the verb, past negative is formed.
avan varavillai 'He did not come'
Past negative form is also used as present negative form.
ippotu malai peyyavillai 'Now it is not raining'
By adding mattu + PNG (human) to the infinitive form of the verb, the future negative form is formed.
avan varamattan 'He will not come'
Also by adding - at + PNG (neuter singular) to the verb stem, the future negative form is formed.
malai varatu 'It will not rain'.
Past habitual negative is formed by adding - illai to the past verbal noun and present habitual negative is formed by adding - illai to the present verbal noun.
avan vantatillai 'He had never come' avan varuvatillai 'He never comes'
By adding - at + a to the verb stem negative relative participle is formed. This is common to all the three tenses.
varata ciruvan 'The boy who did not/does not/ will not come'.
By adding - a + mal or tu to the verb stem, the negative verbal participle is formed. - mal is the most commonly used suffix.
varamal/varatu 'having not rained'
By adding - a + vittal to the verb stem, negative conditional form is formed.
vara vittal 'If (one) will not come'
Imperative sentences function to make commands or requests of the person spoken to. In Tamil, verbs are marked for plural only.
po '(you) go!' ponkal '(you-pl) go!' Plural is used to indicate honour also.
The negative imperative or prohibitive is formed by adding - at + e for singular and - at + irkal for the plural to the verb stem.
pokate 'Don't go (sg)' pokatirkal 'Do'nt go (pl)
The concessive is a form based on the conditional or verbal participle with the clitic - um added; the meaning is 'even if x' or 'although x'. Concessives may be either positive or negative.
(a) malai peytalum payir vilaiyatu 'Even if it rains the crops will not grow' (b) malai peyyavittalum payir vilaiyum 'Even if it will not rain, the crops will grow' (c) malai peytum payir vilaiyavillai 'Even though it rained, the crops did not grow'
In Tamil, a kind of relative clause called co-relative clause which is used as a pre-noun modifier. The structure of these clauses is enta + noun . . . . i anta noun/the pronominal form.
enta nattil ulal illaiyo anta natu/atu cirakkum 'The country in which there is no corruption will flourish'
Complement clauses may complement either a noun or a verb. Accordingly, there are two types of complement clauses, noun complement clauses and verb complement clauses.
In Tamil, noun complement clauses are constructed in two ways:
(1) by making use of the participle form and (2) by adding the particle enra/ennum/enkira to the complement sentence. (a) amaiccar marainta ceyti 'The news that the minister died'
Verb complement clauses are formed in three ways - (1) by adding the particle enru to the complement + sentence (2) by adding the suffix - aka to the verbal noun or (3) by adding the particle - pati/-aru to the future relative participle form. The third type of form is used to convert the imperative sentence into indirect speech form.
(a) nan amaiccar maraintar enru kurinen 'I told that the minister died' (b) nan amaiccar maraintatakak kurinen 'I told that the minister died' (c) nan anta ciruvanai maru naal varumpati/varumaru kurinen 'I ordered the boy to come next day'.
In certain instance, instead of a complement sentence only a noun prcedes the particle enru.
inke ashok enru oru manavan irukkiran 'Here is a boy called Ashok' In some other instances enru implies the meaning 'for' nattukku enru tankal valvai arppanittavarkal palar 'There are so many people who sacrificed their lives for the nation.'
In Tamil, nominalized clauses are of two types - (1) with tense and (2) without tense. By adding the tense markers and third person pronominal endings to the verb, the first type of nominalized clauses are formed.
vantavan 'one who comes' varukiravan 'one who comes' varupavan 'one who will come' vantatu "that which came' varukiratu 'that which comes' varuvatu 'that which will come'
The whole sentence is nominalized by adding the neuter singular termination.
amaiccar maturai vantar 'The minister came to Madurai' amaiccar madurai vantatu 'Minister's coming to Madurai' alli nattiyam atinal 'Alli danced' alli nattiyam atiyatu 'Alli' s dancing'
Sentences are also nominalized by adding enpatu to the whole sentence.
amaiccar maturai vantar enpatu 'That minister came to Madurai' alli nattiyam atinal enpatu 'That Alli danced'
The other type of nominalized clauses are formed by adding - al or- tal suffixes to the verb.
amaiccar maturai varutal 'Minister's coming to Madurai' alli nattiyam atutal 'Alli's dancing'
In Tamil, clefting involves changing a verb into verbal noun and moving the focused part of the sentence to the end of the sentence.
(a) raman kattil manaip parttan 'Raman saw the deer in the forest' (b) raman manaip parttatu kattil 'It was in the forest that Raman saw the deer' (c) raman kattil parttatu manai 'It was the deer that Raman saw in the forest' (d) kattil manaip parttatu raman 'It was Raman who saw the deer in the forest'
Tamil has a number of clitics such as the emphatie clitics - tan, -e, the additive suffix -um, the indefinite - avatu 'or' -o and mattum 'only'.
These are added to the coustituents with different semantic effect.
This clitic is used to express emphasis.
avantan itai elutinan 'only he wrote this, (no one else)'
This clitic expresses exclusiveness.
avane itai elutinan 'He himself wrote this (without other's involvement)'
This is used to express meaning of additions.
avanum varuvan 'He will also come' ramanum kannanum varuvarkal, 'Raman and kannan will come' - um clitic expresses totality also. pattu puttakattaiyum kotu 'Give all the ten books!'
This is used as the disjunctive particle.
ramano kannano varuvarkal 'Either Raman or kannan will come'
In Tamil, verbal participles express different meanings.
kannan kulittu cappittan 'Kannan took bathe and then lunch' cinima mutintu kuttam kalaintatu 'The show came to an end and the people came out of the theatre'
avan puttakattai etuttuk kotuttan 'He took the book and handed over it (to someone)'
aval pati atinal 'She sang and danced'
malai peytu kulam niraintatu 'It rained and the tank filled'
avar vellait talaippakai katti kaiyil tatiyotu natantar 'Wearing white turban he walked with hand stick'
Reduplicated vevbal participles indicates the repetion of the action.
avan cetiyai vetti vetti erintan 'He again and again cut the palnt and threw away'
In Tamil, infinitives also express different meanings.
malai peyya kulam niraintatu 'Having rained the tank fulfilled'
avan cappitac cenran 'He went for lunch'
avan pata aval atinal 'He sang and danced'
avan colla colla aval elutinal 'He dictated and she wrote'
In Tamil, a number of auxiliary verbs, modal auxiliaries, causative auxiliaries, reflexive auixiliary verb, passive auxiliary verb, explicative auxiliaries and tense auxiliaries are found.
This auxiliary verb expresses the meaning of 'need' or 'must'.
In the absence of a main verb, ventum expresses the meaning of 'need/want'
enakku tannir ventum I need/want water
With a main verb it expreses the meaning of "must/should".
nan madurai poka ventum 'I should/must go to Madurai' The negative form is ventam 'not needed'.
This auxiliary verb occurs after the verbal noun and expresses the meaning permission or probability, depending on the meaning of the main verb.
ni pokalam 'you may go' malai varalam 'It may rain'
This auxiliary verb implies the meaning of probability.
malai varak kutum 'It may rain'
The negative form kutatu expresses the prohibitive meaning.
ni pokak kutatu 'You should not go'.
In Tamil, three causative auxiliaries ey, vai, and pannu (in lesser usage) are used to express causation.
avan avalai patikkac ceytan/vaittan/panninan 'He made her study'
In Tamil, the verb kol together with the anaphora tan expresses reflexivization.
avan tannaik katintu kontan 'He condemned himself'
The passive auxiliary verb patu is used to express passivezation.
avan kollappattan 'He was murdered'
This auxiliary verb expresses the meaning of completeness.
velai mutintu vittatu 'The work was completed'. bommai utaintu vittatu 'The doll was broken'.
This also expresses the meaning of completeness.
bommai utaintu poyirru 'The doll was broken' malai ninru poyirru 'The rain stopped'
There are two tense auxiliary verbs iru and kontiru expressing perfective and durative meanings respectively.
avan vantirukkiran 'He has come' avan vantiruntan 'He had come' avan vantukontirukkiran 'He is coming' avan vantukontiruntan 'He was coming'
When one's speech is quoted directly without any change it is known as direct speech. On the other hand when it is changed according to the reporter's situation it is known as indirect speech. In Tamil, all the three types of sentences (1) Statement (2) Imperative and (3) Interrogative sentences can be changed into indirect speech.
When the sentences with the third person pronominal terminations are changed into indirect speech form first the finite verb is changed into verbal noun and then the particle aka is added to the verbal noun.
raman kannan vantiruntan enru kurinan 'Raman said, "kannan had come"' ⇒raman kannan vanti runtatakak kurinan 'Raman told that kannan had come
When a direct speech sentence is changed into indirect speech the place and time adverbials and the pronouns are changed. For instance, when the sentence
kannan connan "nan nalai varuki ren" 'Kannan said, "I will come tomorrow"
is changed into indirect sentence either nalai 'tomorrow' is changed into marunal 'next day' depending on the day kannan spoke as
kannan marunaal varuvatka connan 'Kannan told that he would come next day'
or depending on the day the speaker spoke it is changed into inru 'today', or nerru 'yesterday' or nerru mun tinam 'the day before yesterday' and so on,
kannan inru varuvataka connan 'Kannan told that he would come today'
Here, the speaker speaks on the day next to the day Kannan spoke.
kannan nerru varuvataka connan 'Kannan told that he would come yesterday'
Here, the speaker speaks after two days kannan spoke.
The place adverb anku 'there' changes into inku 'here' invariably.
kannan kurinan "nan anku varukiren" 'Kannan said 'I will come there' kannan inku varuvataka connan 'Kannan told that he would come here'
Similarly, the pronouns are also changed,
(1) nan 'I' or avan tan 'he' kannan "nan nalai maturai celven" enru connan 'Kannan said, "Tomorrow I will go to Madurai" kannan (tan) marunal maturai celvataka connan 'Kannan told that he would go to Madurai next day' (2) ni 'you' nan 'I' kannan connan 'ni enutaiya puttakattait tirutivittay' 'Kannan said, "you have stolen my book" kannan avanutaiya puttakattai nan tirutivittataka connan 'Kannan told that I had stolen his book'
The change of the pronoun is determined by the speaker-hearer situation. For instance, when the sentence
kannan, "naan ramanotu varukiren" enru connan 'Kannan said "I will come with Raman"'
is reported to Raman by the speaker raman is changed as ni 'you'
kannan unnotu varuvataka connan 'Kannan told that the would come with you'when the sentence kannan "naan unotu varukiren" enru connan 'Kannan said, "I will come with you"'
is reported by the speaker to someone else in 'you' is changed into en 'me'.
kannan ennotu varuvataka connan 'Kannan told that he would come with me'
when the main sentence subjects are first person or second person pronouns only the finite verb is changed into verbal noun, the pronouns are not changed.
nan nan nalai maturai celven enru connen 'I said "Tomorrow I will go the Madurai"' nan nalai maturai celvataka connen 'I told that I would go to madurai next day'.
When the imperative sentences are changed into indirect speech the subject of the sentence is changed into object, the imperative verb form is changed into infinitive form and the spoken to np is deleted. That means, the structure
II person subject + imperative ⇒ I / II / III object + infinitive kannan ennitam "ni maduraikkup poo" enru connan 'kannan said "you go toMadurai"' ⇒ kannan ennai maduraikkup poka connan 'Kannan ordered me to go to Madurai' kannan unnitam "ni maduraikkup po" enru connan 'Kannan said to you "you go to Maduari"' ⇒ kannan unnai maduraikkup poka connan 'Kannan ordered you to go to Madurai' kannan ramanitam "ni maduraikkup po" enru connan 'Kannan said to Raman "you go to Madurai"' ⇒ kannan ramanai maduraikkup poka connan 'Kannan ordered Raman to go to Madurai' 'kannan said to Raman "you do'nt go to madurai"' kannan ramanai maduraikkup pookate enru connan 'kannan told Raman not to go to madurai'.
When the interrogative sentences are changed into indirect form, both in the yes/ no questions and information questions only the pronouns are changed according to the speaker- hearer situation.
kannan "nan vittukkup pookalama?" enru kettan 'Kannan asked "May I go home?"' kannan tan vittukkup pokalama enru kettan 'Kannan asked whether he might go home' kannan "un peyar enna?" enru kettan 'Kannan asked "what is your name?"' kannan en peyar ena enru kettan 'Kannan asked what was my name?"
General order of the Tamil sentence is subject, object, predicate. Tamil sentences can be classified into two major types-1) copular sentences and 2) verbal sentences.
In copular sentences the copula verb aku 'to be' is in the predicate position. In simple sentences this is optional.
kannan oru manavan (avan) 'Kannan is a student'
But in compound sentences and the relative clause this is obligatory.
avar en aciriyarum valikattiyum avar 'He is my teacher and guide' en manavanana kannan 'Kannan, who is my student'
Verbal sentences consist of both complement NPS and casal NPS.
avar amaiccar anar 'He became the minister' avar aciriyaraka irukkirar 'He is working as a teacher'
avan kannanotu vantan 'He came with Kannan'
In Tamil, there are three tenses past, present and future.
In Tamil, simple past is formed by adding past tense suffixes to the verb.
kannan vantan 'Kannan came'
Past continuous is formed by adding the tense auxiliary kontiru+nt- to the verbal participle form of the verb.
kannan vanutkoutiruntan 'Kannan was coming'
Past perfect is formed by adding the tense anxiliary iru + -nt- to the verbal participle from of the verb.
kannan vantiruntan 'Kannan had come'
In Tamil, simple present is formed by adding present tense suffixes -kir- or -kinr- to the verb form.
kannan varukiran 'Kannan comes'
Present continuous is formed by adding the tense anxiliary kontiru + kkir to the verbal participle form of the verb.
kannan vantu kontirukkiran 'Kannan is coming'
Present perfect is formed by adding the tense auxiliary iru +kkir to the verbal participle form of the verb.
kannan vantirukkiran 'Kannan has come'
In Tamil, simple future tense is formed by adding future tense suffixes to the verb.
kannan varuvan 'Kannan will come'
Future continuous is formed by adding kontiru + -pp- to the verbal participle form of the verb,
kannan vantukontiruppan 'Kannan will be coming'
Future perfect is formed by adding iru + -pp- to the verbal participle form of the verb.
kannan vantiruppan 'Kannan would have come'.
In Tamil, there are three defective verbs teri 'know', puri 'understand' and piti 'like'. These verbs do not have imperative verb form. They take only few tenses and they are lack of pronominal terminations.
teri 'know' kannanukku avanait teriyum 'Kannan knows him' puri 'understand' kannanukku urudu puriyum 'kannan understands urdu' Piti 'like' kannanukku kavitai pitikkem
In Tamil six types of auxiliaries are found 1) model auxiliaries 2) aspectual auxiliaries 3) tense auxiliaries 4) reflexive auxiliary 5) passive auxiliary and 6) causal auxiliaries
In Tamil, there are seven model auxiliaries-ventum 'should' ventam 'should not', kutum 'possible', kutatu 'should not', -am 'permission and possibility' mutiyum 'can' and mutiyatu 'cannot'.
ventum 'should' ni pallikkutam pokanentum 'You should go to school' ventam 'should not' ni pallikkutam poka ventam 'You should not go to school' kutum 'possible' inru malai peyyakkutum 'Today there may be rain' kutatu 'should not'
Though kutatu is the negative counterpart of kutum, its meaning differs. This verb strictly prohibits one doing an action.
ni pallikkutam pokak kutatu 'You should not go to school' -am 'permision or posibility' ni viittukkup pokalam 'You may go home' mutiyum 'can' ennal patikka mutiyum 'I can read'
This verb occurs in simple past and present tenses also.
ennal patikka mutintatu 'I could read' ennal patikka mutikiratu 'I am able to read' mutiyatu 'cannot' ennal patikka mutiyatu 'I cannot read'.
There are five aspectual auxiliaries -vitu, po, vai, par, and aku.
vitu : This auxiliary verb exprerses the completion of an action. avan poyvittan 'He went away' po : This auxiliary verb expresses a feeling of sorrow. bommai utaintu poyirru 'The doll broke' vai : This auxiliary verb denotes precaution. inta ceytiyai avanitam collivai 'Tell this news to him' par : This auxiliary verb denotes trial. nan avanitam collipparkkiren 'I will tell him' aku : This auxiliary verb denotes completion This verb occurs only in past tense taking neuter gender singular termination. nan cappittayirru 'I took dinner'
In Tamil there are two tense auxiliaries kontiru and iru.
kontiru : This auxiliary verb shows duration. avan vantukontiruntan 'He was coming' iru : This auxiliary verb shows perfect. avan vantiruntan 'He had come'
In Tamil, the reflexive auxiliary verb is kol. This shows the reflexivity. This is added to the verbal participle form of the verb,
kannan tannaik kattuppatuttik kontan 'Kannan controlled himself.'
In Tamil, the passive auxiliary verb is patu. This denotes passive voice. This is added to the infinitival form of the verb.
Ravanan ramanal kallappattan 'Ravana was killed by Rama'
In Tamil, there are three causal auxiliaries - 1) cey 2) vai and 3) pannu. Of these three verbs, pannu is in less usage.
avan iyantirattai ota vaittan/ceytan/ panninan 'He made the machine ran'.
In Tamil, any verbal sentence can be changed into cleft sentence by changing the finite verb into verbal noun and moving the casal NPS to the sentence final position.
raman kattil manaip parttan 'Raman saw the deer in the forest' kattil manaip parttatu raman 'It was Raman who saw the deer in the forest' raman manaip parttatu kattil 'It was in the forest that Raman saw the deer' raman kattil parttatu manai 'It was deer that Raman saw in the forest'
In Tamil, adverbials can occur in sentence initial porition or sentence medial position. There are several types of adverbials.
In Tamil, infinitive clauses are formed by adding the -a suffix to the verb form.
nan kannanaip parkka vanten 'I came to see kannan'
In Tamil, verbal participles are formed by adding -u suffix to the past tense verb form.
avan marattil eri palam parittan 'He climbed the tree and plucked the fruit'
Negative verbal participles are formed by adding the negative marker -a and the suffix - mal to the verb form.
avan inkee varamal poyvittan 'He went without coming here'
In Tamil, conditional clauses are formed by adding -al suffix to the past tense verb form.
malai peytal kulam niraiyum 'If it rains the tank will fill'
Negative conditional clauses are formed by adding the negative maker -a- and the particle vittal to the verb form.
malai peyyavittal kulam niraiyatu 'If it will not, the tank will not fill'
Concessive classes are formed by addding the particle -um to the verbal participle form or conditional form.
malai peytum kulam niraiyavillai. 'Eventhough it rained, the tank did not fill'
In Tamil, there are three types of verb complement clauses- 1) finite sentences + complement particle enru/ena 2) verbal noun + the complement particle -aka and 3) Infinitival complement clauses.
Finite sentences + complement particle enru/ena avan nalai malai varum enru connan 'He told that it would rain next day' Verbal noun + the complement particle -aka avan tan kalluriyil patippatakak kurinan 'He told that he was studying in a college'.
nan kannanai vara connen 'I invited Kannan to come'.
In Tamil, adding the particles mun / munnar 'before' pin/pinnar 'after', utan 'as soon as' potu 'when' and varai 'until' to the relative participles, time adverbials are constructed.
kannan raman varum mun/munar vantan 'Kannan came before Raman came'
The starting time of an action is denoted by adding the marker -iliruntu to the verbal noun.
kannan raman vantatiliruntu nanraka patikkiran 'Kannan studies well since Rama came'
The particle -um 'as soon as" is also added to the verbal noun.
kannan raman vantatum cenran 'Kannan went as soon as Raman came'
Adding the particle -pati to the relative participle, manner adverbials are constructed.
kannan raman connapati velai ceytan 'Kannan worked as Raman told'
Adding the particle varai 'until' ot the noun turam/tolaivu 'distance' the adverbials of extent are constructed.
en kannukkettiya varai/turam / tolaivu onraiyum kanavillai. 'I did see nothing as far as I could see'.
In Tamil, different forms of adjective phrases are formed.
1) Adjectival base peru nakar 'large town' ciru vitu 'small house' 2) Adjectives derived from base periya nakaram 'large town' ciriya vitu 'small house' nalla pen 'good girl' 3) Noun + -a alakiya vitu 'beautiful house' 4) Noun + -ana alakana pen 'beautiful girl' alamana kulam 'deep tank' 5) Particles mun vitu 'front house' pin tottam 'back garden' 6) Nouns Paccaip pul 'green grass' civapput tuni 'red cloth' mancal puu 'yellow flower' 7) Relative participles atarnta katu 'thick forest' irunta vitu 'dark house' When the adjectives like cinna, periya are reduplicated they show plurality. cinna cinna vitukal 'small houses' When these adjectives are partly reduplicated they express excessive quality. cinnañ ciriya kuruvi 'very small bird' cekkac civanta pu 'red flower' paccaip pacum pul 'green grass'
In Tamil, adverbs are formed in different ways.
aval mella natantal 'She walked slowly' avan marupati varavillai 'He did not come again'
kannan viraintu cenran 'Kannan went fast' tavarukal mikuntu iruntana 'Errors were to much'
kannan veekamaka otinan 'Kannan ran fast' aval inimaiyakap patinal 'She sang sweet'
avan naltorum varuvan 'He used to come daily'
kannan inta velaiyai elitil mutittu vituvan 'Kannan will complete this work easily'
avarkal vitu vitaka cenrarkal 'They went door to door'
tocai cutac cuta iruntatu 'Dosa (a dish) was very hot'
vakuppil avan mutalavataka iruntaan 'He was first in his class'
avar anpakap pecinar 'He spoke kindly'
avan palattai irantaka vettinan 'He cut the fruit into two pieces'
avan mannanaka muti cutinan 'He crowned as a king'
kaalam kaarraakap parantatu 'The time flew as wind'
avan oru varamakak kattirukkiran 'He was waiting for past one week'
tayir catam uppaka iruntatu 'The curd rice was very salty'
vacalil uyaramaka oru periyavar ninriruntar 'A tall old man was standing near the gate'
panam kotikkanakkil celavayirru 'Money was spent in crores'
In Tamil, only postpositional phrases are used. In Tamil, postpositional phrases are of two types - 1) Noun + case suffixes and 2) Noun + case suffixes + postpositions.
In Tamil, there are eight cases- 1) Nominative case 2) Accusative case 3) Dative case 4) Instrumental case 5) Sociative case 6) Locative case 7) Ablative case and 8) Genitive case.
In Tamil, nominative case is unmarked. Nominative are NPS are grammatical subjects of the sentence.
kannan vantan 'Kannan came' kannan maturaikku anuppappattan 'Kannan was sent to Madurai'
Accusative case marker is -ai. It functions as object of the sentence.
nan kannanaip partten 'I saw kannan'
In Tamil, the non- specific neuter nouns are not marked.
nan palam vaankinen 'I bought some fruit' nan palattai kutaiyil vaitten 'I put the fruit in the basket'
Dative case marker is -ku- It has a wide range of functions.
naan kannankku oru puttakam kotutten 'I gave a book to Kannan'
kannan vilttirkup ponan 'Kannan went to home'
avan veelaikkuk kuli kettan 'He wanted wages for work'
Four types of sentence patterns denote experience. Dative NP + Nominative NP + verb kannanukkup panam ventum 'Kannan wants money' enakkuk kavitai pitikkum 'I like poetry' Dative NP + Accusative NP + verb enakku amaiccarait teriyum 'I know the minister' Dative NP + Adverb + verb iru enakku aaccariyamaka iruntatu 'I was surprised' Dative NP + Experience verb enakkup pacittatu 'I was hungry' avalukkuk kulirkiratu 'She feels cold'
avanukku irantu pillaikal irukkirarkal 'He has two sons'
avan pattu manikku vantan 'He came at 10 o' clock'
aval oru nalukku irantu murai vavuval 'She will come two times a day'
alukku 10 rubay kitaikkum 'Each will get 10 rupees'
avalukku ival paravaayillai 'She is better than this girl'
aval kulantaikkup pal vanikinal 'She bought milk for the child'
The instrumental case suffix is -al. This case also has many semantic functions.
aval penaval elutinal 'She wrote with pen'
avan tan katina ulaippaal verri perran 'He succeeded by means of his own hardwork'
avan mannal bommai ceytan 'He made dolls with clay'
malaiyal yarum varavillai 'Because of rain, nobody came'
tiyinal vitukal erintu campalayina 'The houses were devasted by the fire'
ravanan ramaral kollappattan 'Ravana was killed by Rama'
avalal itaip patikka muti yatu 'She will not be able to read this'
In Tamil. there are two socitive case markers -otu and -utan. These markers have three functions.
raman kannanotu/utan vantan 'Raman came with Kannan' aval penavotu pensilum vankinal 'She bought pen with pencil'
avar anpotu/ utan pecinar 'He spoke with kindness'
avan aracanka utaviyotu patippai mutittan 'He completed his course with government help' The suffix -otu, and- utan expresse some other meanings also.
avarkalukku campalattotu bonasum kitaittatu 'They got bonus with salary'
ni unikal vittotu iru 'Stay in our house permanently'
aval teruvotu poykkontiruntal 'She was going along the street'
ni kaiyotu kannanai alaittuva 'You bring kannan with you'
avan eto oru nokkattotu inke vantirukkiran 'He has come here with some purpose'
nan unnotu pecamatten 'I will not talk with you'
There are two locative case markers -il and -itam, the former occurring with inanimate nouns and the latter occurring with animate nouns. Both the suffixes express different meanings.
kannan vittil irukkiran 'Kannan is at home'
vitiyarkalaiyil patippatu nallatu 'Studying in the early morming is good'
nan oru matattil intap panattait tiruppik kotuttuvituven 'I will return this money in one month'
avan karil cenran 'He travelled by car'
enkalil oruvar ankileyar 'One of us is an English man'
itu arici mavil ceyta pantam 'This snack is made with flour'
avan ennitam vantan 'He came to me'
avan amai cearitam paricu vankinan 'He got prize from the minister'
avan ennitam peca mattan 'He will not talk with me'
avanitam panam irukkiratu 'He has money'
There are two ablative case markers -iliruntu and -itamiruntu, the former occurring with inanimate nouns and the latter with animate nouns.
avan marattiliruntu kile viluntan 'He fell down from the tree' antap paiyanit amiruntu patil illai 'There was no reply from that boy' This case denotes starting point also. avan kalaiyiliruntu kattiruntan 'He was waiting from the morning' In the case of place adverbs only iruntu is the case marker. ankiruntu patil varaventum 'Reply should come from there' palam meliruntu kile viluntatu 'The fruit fell down from the top'
There are two genitive case markers in Tamil -utaiya and -in. feaps these two, -in is in less usage. But it is the marker occurring with postpositions.
itu kannanutaiya/kannanin vitu 'This is Kannan's house' aval kannanutaiya tankai 'She is Kannan's sister'
In the case of pronouns the oblique form itself functions as gentive NP and the case suffix is added optionally.
aval en tankai 'She is my sister' itu avan puttakam 'This is his book'
By adding the pronominal suffixes to the case fuffixes the NP predicate can be formed.
atu ennutaiyatu 'It is mine' aval ennutaiyaval 'She belongs to me'
Only two postpositions mulam 'through' mel 'on' and varai 'upto' occur directly to the nouns.
vanoli mulam ceyti paraviyatu 'The news spread through radio' avan vitu varai vantan 'He came upto the house'
All other postpositions occur after the case suffixes.
avan karin aruke cenran 'He went near the car' aval marattin kil utkarntal 'She sat under the tree' avan marattin mel erinan 'He climbed up the tree' yarum vittin pakkam varavillai 'Nobody came near the house' avarutaiya karuttinpati itu tavaru 'According to him, this is wrong'
cuvarrukku appal onrum illai 'There was nothing beyond the wall' atarku appuram avar pecavillai 'After that he did not talk' Pettikkul enna irukkiratu? 'What is inside the box?' pettikkuk kile puttakam iruntatu 'The book was under the box' viittirkup pinnal/pinne tottam irukkiratu 'Behind the house, there is a garden' atarkup piraku avanai yarum parkkavillai 'After that nobody saw him' vittirku munnal/ munne kar ninratu 'There was a car in front of the house' 10 naatkalukku mun/munpu/ munnal/munnar nan avanaip partten 'I saw him 10 days before' talaikku mele/mel minviciri currikkontiruntatu "Fan was operating above the head" vittirku etire vayal 'There was a field opposite to the house' avarkal arrukkuk kurukke palam kattinarkal 'They built a bridge across the river' aval cannalukku veliye ettip parttal 'She peeped out the window' nan kulantaikkaka palam vanikinen 'I bought fruit for the child'
vittai curri tennai marankal 'There were coconut trees around the house' vittai otti oru vaykkal otiyatu 'There was a canal very near to the house' avanukku anta vipattaik kurittu onrum teriyavillai 'He did not know anything about that accident' maruntu capituvatait tavira veru valiyillai 'There is no way except taking medicine' enakku avaraip parri onrum teriyatu 'I do'nt know anything about him' avan kuttattai vittu vilakinan 'He came out of the crowd' kar maduraiyai nokki cenratu 'The car went towards Madurai'
In Tamil, a noun phrase consists of a noun or pronoun obligatorily and optionally consists of article, adjective, relative participle, noun complement classes etc. For instance, it may consist of the following:
kannan vantan 'Kannan came'
avan vantan 'He came'
oru ciruvan vantan 'A boy came'
anta/oru alakiya cirumi 'That/a beautiful girl'
anta munru alakiya cirumikalum 'Those three beatiful girls'
ni vankiya puttakam 'The book which you bought'
amaiccar marainta ceyti 'The news that minister passed away'
avan vantatu 'Then he came'
There are three types of relative clauses in Tamil- 1) Relative participle 2) Correlative clause and 3) Tag relative clauses. Of these three clauses, relative participle is the most commonly used clause.
Relative participles are constructed by adding -a suffix to the tensed verb form or to the negative marker -at-.
vanta paiyan 'The boy who came' varum paiyan 'The boy who will come' varukira paiyan 'The boy who comes' varata paiyan 'The boy who could not come'
This is constructed by adding the words enta . . . . anta or enta . . . . The pronouns
entap paiyan vantano antap paiyan/avan 'The boy who came'
This is constructed by adding -e suffix to the finite sentences.
nerru oru paiyan vantane avan 'A boy who came yesterday'
In Tamil, there are two types of noun complement clauses-1) relative participle + noun and 2) finite sentence + enra/ennum/enkira complement markers.
natu cutantiram atainta ceyti 'The news that the nation attained freedom' natu cutantiram ataintatu enra/ennum/enkira ceyti 'The news that the nation attained freedom'
In Tamil, sentences are nominalised in two ways-11) by changing the finite verb into verbal noun and 2) by adding the complement particle enpatu to the finite sentence.
natu cutantiram ataintatu unmai natu cutantiram ataintatu enpatu unmai 'That the nation attained freedom is true'
When the NP + NP sentences are nominalised only the second type of clauses are possible.
ulakam uruntai enpatu unmai 'That the world in round is true'
In Tamil, the elitics -am, -o and -avatu and the words allatu, marrum and anal function as co-ordinating markers.
All the grammatical categories, NPS, postpositions, adverbs and non-finite clauses can be conjoined by adding the -um clitic. In Tamil, adjectives are conjoined just by putting them sequentially, not by adding -um elitic.
periya, alakiya, uyaramana kovilkal 'Large, beautiful and high temples' kannanum raamanum kovilukku cenrarkal 'Kannan and Raman went to jungle' vittukku munnum pinnum tottam iruntatu 'There was garden both in front of the house and backside' avar vekamakavum katumaiyakavum pecinar 'He spoke fast and harsh' avan patikkavum elutavum totankinan 'He started to read and write aval atiyum patiyum pilaittal 'She led life by singing and dancing'
In Tamil, sentences cannot be co-ordinated.
aracu marrum taniyar kallurikalil manavarkal patikkirarkal 'Students study in government and private colleges'
appavo ammavo varuvarkal/ appavavatu ammavavatu varuvarkal/ appa allatu amma varuvarkal 'Father or mother will come' -o exprerses doubt also. avan varuvano mattano 'Will he come or not?' -a is an alternative question marker. unkalukkup pal ventuna, ti ventuma? 'Do you want milk or tea?' malai varuma, varata? 'Will it rain or not?'
itu oru alakana anal apattana ur 'This is a beautiful but dangerous town' avar vekamaka anal telivaka pecinar 'He talked fast but clearly'
In Tamil, there are two negative markers -a- and -at- and the model anxiliary verb - matt-
The negative marker -a- occurs in two verb forms
1) future negative statements inflected for third person neuter gender. inke bas/baskal varatu 'Bus/ Buses will not come here' and 2) negative verbal participle form kannan patil collamal poyvittan 'Kannan went away without any reply'
The negative marker -at- occurs in three verb forms
1) negative singular and plural imperative forms. anke pokate/pokatirkal 'Don't go there' (singular and plural) 2) negative relative participle form itu nan patikkata puttakam 'This is a book which I did not read' and 3) negative verbal noun ni anke pokatatu tavaru 'That you did not go there is wrong'
The negative modal anxiliary -matt- occurs in future negative statements inflected for human nouns.
nan anke varamatten 'I will not come there' ni anke pokamattay 'You will not go there' avan/aval/avarkal inke varamattarkal 'He/She/they will not come here'
In Tamil, there are two negative lexical verbs -illai and alla
The negative verb illai has three negating functions, locative, existential and identity.
avar vittil illai 'He is not in house'
avan peccil poy illai 'There is no lie in his speech'
avan manavan illai 'He is not a student'
The verb illai added to a verbal noun expressed habitual negativity.
nan anke povatillai 'I never go there' nan anke ponatillai 'I had never gone there'
This verb added to an infinitive from makes past statement.
avan pallikku cellavillai 'He did not go to school'
In addition to first, second and third person pronouns Tamil has a fourth pronoun tan (sg) and tankalc (pl)
Since it occurs only as anaphor it is known as anaphoric pronoun or anaphora. It always refers to an antecedent of the third person subject in the higher clause and if there is no animate subject in the main clause, it refers to other casal NPS also.
kannan tan urukkup poyirukkiran 'Kannan has gone to his village' kannanukkut tan tankai yar ennu teriyum 'Kannan knows who is his sister' tan tankai tervil verri perrataik kannan arintan 'Kannan knew that his sister passed in the examination' tan tantai iranta ceyti kannanni varuttiyatu 'The news that Kannan's father died made him suffer'
In Tamil, reflexivity involves two processes-1) marking one of the two coreferential pronouns, in third person by a reflexive pronoun and a) adding the reflexive auxiliary verb to the verbal participle form of the main verb.
nan ennaik katintukonten 'I condemned myself ni unnait tiruttikkol 'You correct yourself' avan tannaik katintu kontan 'He condemned himself'
In Tamil, reflexive sentences cannot be passivised. For instance, the sentences like
avan tannal katintukollappattan 'He was condemned by himself' are ungrammatical.
In Tamil, reciprocality also involves two processes 1) marking both the nouns by reciprocal pronouns like oruvarai oruvar, oruvarukku oruvar, oruvarotu oruvar and so on or simply by tankalukkul and 2) adding the reciprocal auxiliary verb kol to the verbal participle form of the verb.
ramanum kannanum oruvarai oruvar/ tankalukkul atittukkontarkal 'Raman and Kannan beat each other' matukal onrotu onru muttikkontana 'The cows dashed against each other'
In Tamil, the particler vita and kattilum are used in comparative clauses. These are added to the accusative NPS.
kannan ramanai vita/kattilum kettikkaran 'Kannan is cleverer than Raman' intap palam atai vita/kattilum inippaka ullatu 'This fruit is sweeter than that'
In Tamil, superlative degree is also expressed by comparison only. By making use of ellarraiyum / ellavarraiyun superlative degree is expressed.
avan ellaraiyum vita kettikkaran 'He is the cleverest of all' itu ellavarraiyum vita periyatu 'This is the biggest one'
In Tamil, the particles pola and matiri are used in equative clauses.
karru puyal (ai) pola viciyatu 'The wind blew as cyclone' itu pakarkay matiri kacakkiratu 'This is bitten like bitter gourd'
Though the words ena and aka are not equative markers these are also used to express comparison.
antap pattu tenaka/tenena olittatu 'That song was sweet like honey'
Adding the pronominal markers to utaiya and uriya possession is expressed.
atu ennutaiyatu 'It is mine' itu enakku uriyatu 'This belongs to me' The word contam 'own' also expresses possession intak kar enakku contamanatu 'This car is owned by me'
In Tamil, the clitic -tan is the emphatic marker. It occurs with all the constituents except noun modifiers.
kannantan vantiruntan 'Only kannan had come' kannan anketan poyirukkiran 'Kannan had gone only there' kannan vekamakattan pecinan 'In fact kannan spoke fast' nan kannan vantaltan varuven 'I will come only if Kannan comes' kannan vantutan itait totanka ventum 'This should be started only cyter kannan's coming'
In Tamil, only introducing an NP and adding comments to it topicalization is made.
tanarai, itu nam nattin teciya malar 'Lotus, this is our national flower' kannan ivan en manavarkalil oruvan 'Kannan, he is one of my students' neru, ivar manitarul manikkam 'Nehru, he is jewel of human beings'.
In Tamil, a number of contructions are found as move mental processes.
The elitie -e expresses longing, assurance, more emphasis etc. inta velai kitaittal nanraka irukkume 'If I could get this job, it would be fine'! ni collivitamattaye! 'You will not tell, will you?' avantane bommaiyai utaittan 'He only broke the doll, isn't he?'
Conditional clauses also express different notions. nana (nan anal) ippati ceyyamatten 'If it were I, I will not do like this!' Venumna (ventumanal) panam vankikkol 'If you want, get money'
To show the high politeness honorific suffixes are added to the finite verbs. malai varatunka 'It will not rain, sir!' nan por enka 'I will go sir!'
To show the hopless ness -avatu clitic is added. avanavatu paspannuvatavatu 'He will not pass!'
ini enke elutuvatu? 'There is no hope of writing'
Making inanimate nouns as agent shows the mentality of shifting rerponritility. koti etta mattenkutu (matten enkiratu) 'I could not reach the rope' itu puriyamattenkutu (matten enkiratu) 'I am not able to understand this'.
Making use of verbal noun in the place of imperative shows suggestion. ninkal cappittuvittup piraku poratu 'You go after dinner'
By adding the -pola clitie approxif mateness is expressed. appotu malai peytappala (peytatu pola) 'Then likely it rained'
This suffix is added to make the statement as heard one. avan vantaram 'I came to hear, he came'
To show the simplicity of an action, this pronoun is used. ni enna amerikkavukka pokiray? 'Are you going to America?' skuttar enna kare vankalam 'We can buy not only scooter, but car'
To show the contempteness, reduplication is used. puttakamum kitaiyatu, kitta kamum kitaiyatu 'There is no book' vittaic curri tennai marankal 'There were coconut trees around the house' vittirkup pinnal vayal 'There was a field behind the house'
uyarnta malaikal 'High mountains' jamin aranmanai 'Jameen palace'
aval kannaki 'She is Kannaki' itu kooyil. 'This is a temple' cappatu mukkiyam 'Food is important'
avalukku varuttam 'She is sad' itu avalukku 'This is to her' uyir nattukku 'Soul is to nation' avanukku acai 'He desires' avanukku accariyam 'He wondered' enakkup paci 'I was hungry' mukattil kopam 'There was anger in (his) face' enakkaka aval 'She is for you'
Rangam, K., An Integrated study of Tamil syntax, U G C major project report. Thanjavur: Tamil University. 2002.
Suseela, M., A Historical study of old Tamil syntax. Thanjavur : Tamil university. 2001
Lehmann, Thomas., A Grammar of Modern Tamil. Pondicherry: Pondicherry Institute of Linguistics and Culture. 1983
Copyright CIIL-India Mysore