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Select Unit > Unit 1: வணக்கம் > Lesson 1:   Spoken   Transcript   Lessons:   1   2   3   4   5   6   Exercises: 1   2   3   4   5   6   Reading: 1   2   Glossary   Conversations  Test

    

 

    Grammar Notes:

    Noun-Noun sentences

    Simple sentences in Tamil can be made by joining two nouns or noun phrases without any linking or copula verb. In such sentences the first noun acts as the subject and the second as the predicate. Such predicates are called adjectival predicates because they act as modifiers to the subject.

    1. முருகன் வாத்தியார்
    muruhan vaattiyaar
    Murugan teacher
    'Murugan is the teacher' or 'Murugan is a teacher!'

    Here neither the link verb இரு 'be' nor the determiner article ஒரு 'a' is required. It is possible to make corresponding sentences with a determiner ஒரு and a 'be' verb, for example முருகன் ஒரு வாத்தியார் or முருகன் ஒரு வாத்தியாராக இருக்கிறார் meaning 'Murugan is teacher' or Murugan is a teacher, but they are used only in restricted contexts. (The main verb இருக்கிறார், which is a typical form of the Tamil verb consists of the root verb (இரு), tense suffix (கிற்) and person, number and gender suffix (ஆர்)). A detailed discussion on forming Tamil verbs may be found in the section on present tense.

    Sentence 1 can also be written as வாத்தியார் முருகன், where a shift in focus of the subject is understood with a meaning that 'the teacher is Murugan' rather than 'Murugan is a teacher'. In most cases the order of words in Tamil sentences is found to be flexible.

    Pronouns and corresponding possessive ('oblique') forms

    ClassPronounsPossessive ('oblique') form
    I person singular நான் 'I' என் 'my'
    I person plural (inclusive) நாம் ( நாம) 'we' நம் ( நம்ம) 'our'
    I person plural (exclusive) நாங்கள் ( நாங்க) 'we' எங்கள் (எங்க) 'our'
    II person singular (impolite/intimate) நீ 'you' உன் 'your'
    II person plural (polite) நீங்கள் ( நீங்க) 'you' உங்கள் (உங்க) 'your'
    II person plural (equals) நீர் 'you' உம் 'your'
    III person singular masculine (impolite/intimate) அவன் 'he' அவன் 'his'
    III person singular masculine (polite) அவர் 'he' அவர் 'his'
    III person singular feminine (impolite/intimate) அவள் (அவ) 'she' அவள்(அவ) 'her'
    III person singular feminine/masculine plural/polite அவர்கள் (அவுங்க) 'they-human' அவர்கள் (அவுங்க) 'their-human'
    Neuter singular அது 'it' அதன் (அதோடெ) 'it's'
    Neuter plural அவை 'they-neut.' அவைகள்/அவற்ற்- 'their-neut'
    Question word - human யார் 'who' யார்/யாருடைய yaaroote'whose'
    Question word - neuter எது 'which' எதன்/எதனுடைய எதோடெ 'whose' (its)

    Noun-noun sentences in Tamil can also be made using demonstrative pronouns such as இது (itu) 'this', அது (that) 'that' etc., and possessive pronouns such as என் (en) 'my', உன் (un) 'your-intimate', உங்கள் - உங்க 'your-polite' etc.

    இது என் புத்தகம்
    itu en puttaham
    This my book
    'This is my book!'

    Changing the order as in என் புத்தகம் இது would mean 'among a set of books the one that is referred is my book'.

    Similarly, each of these noun phrases can co-occur with adjectives as follows.

    உங்கள் புத்தகம் நல்ல புத்தகம்
    உங்க புத்தகம் நல்ல புத்தகம் (spoken)
    Your book good book
    'Your book is a good book

    Questions can be made in a similar manner, but by the substitution of question words such as என்ன (enna) 'what', எது (edu) 'which-thing', எங்கே (engkee) 'where', யார் (yaar) 'who' and எப்பொழுது/எப்போது (eppozhutu/eppoodu) 'when'. In many instances, these words occur at the end of sentences.

    உங்கள் பெயர் என்ன?
    உங்க பேரு என்ன
    Your name what?
    'What is your name?

    என் பெயர் வள்ளி?
    என் பேரு வள்ளி
    My name Valli?
    'My name is Valli?

    அவர்கள் ஊர் எது?
    அவுங்க ஊரு எது
    His/her {native town} which?
    'Which is her/his native town?

    அவர்கள் ஊர் பழனி
    அவுங்க ஊரு பழனி
    His/her native town Palani
    'His/her native town is Palani

    Negation of Noun-noun sentences

    The negative form of noun-noun sentences is made using the negative word இல்லை occuring at the end of the sentence. The use of this word is obligatory in all such negative sentences. It is also necessary that this word must occur at the end of the sentence.

    எங்கள் ஊர் மதுரை இல்லை
    எங்க ஊரு மதுரெ இல்லெ
    Our {native town} Madurai not
    'Our native town is not Madurai'

    இது என் புத்தகம் இல்லை
    இது என் புத்தகம் இல்லெ
    This my book not
    'This is not my book'

    Dialogue:

    Choose a partner and exchange greetings, ask each other's names and names of parents, ask about what they have etc. Use the following words and expressions:

    வணக்கம்

    வாங்க! வாங்க!

    எப்படி இருக்கீங்க?

    சௌக்கியமா?

    இது என்ன?

    அது என்ன?

    அவர் யார்?

    இவர் யார்?
    Translate the following into Tamil:
    1) My name is (your name).
    2) My home town is (your home town).
    3) There is a big temple in my home town.
    4) That is a big temple in my hometown.
    5) That temple is a small temple in our town.
    6) The name of the temple is Sivan temple.
    7) There is no big store in my town.
    8) This book is a good book.
    9) This is my pencil not yours.
    10) That house is your house.

    Dialogue: http://www.thetamillanguage.com/unit_01/section_A/lesson01.html

    Cultural Notes:
    Greetings are a very important part of the Indian culture. Likewise, Tamil speakers take greetings very seriously. People take time to greet others even if they are strangers. The most prominent way of greeting is by sharing a smile. Saying வணக்கம் is more popular in urban and semi-urban areas--usually among those with higher education--than in rural areas. However, when friends and acquaintances meet, they generally stop and exchange an extended greeting.

    The general greeting that can be used by anyone is வணக்கம் (greetings), எப்படி இருக்கீங்க or சௌக்கியமா? (How are you?). When one says வணக்கம் with head bowed or folded hands the respondent is expected to perform a similar gesture. When asked the question எப்படி இருக்கீங்க?, the respondant is expected to reply either நல்லா இருக்கேன் or சௌக்கியம் (I am fine). In extraordinary cases, some might respond with ஏதோ இருக்கேன் meaning 'sort of okay'. Like in English, usually the respondant is not expected to say for example 'I am not well' or 'doing some what okay' etc., as their initial response to எப்படி இருக்கீங்க?. The proper way is to say நல்லா இருக்கேன் 'I am fine' and after a few exchanges bring up any unpleasant news. People who keep in touch regularly normally keep track of any good or unpleasant events in each others families, and during greetings they respond appropriately. For example, if there was an unpleasant event in someone's family, no one is expected to ask him or her questions like எப்படி இருக்கீங்க?, சௌக்கியமா? or even வணக்கம். Rather, such encounters would usually begin with a head nod or smile.

    The length of a greeting exchange depends on the level of familiarity between the parties concerned. Thus it may even take between a minute and longer. Even when people are in a hurry, they will take time to exchange greetings in a proper fashion. Most men would shake hands when greeting one another. Shaking hands between men and women of any age is not appropriate.

    When greeting each other, people of the same sex may SHAKE HANDS. Men more than women will initiate a greeting with a handshake. Women rarely greet each other with a hand shake. Rather they may use body language such as a nodding of the head or smile. Influences from other cultures have not yet become fully popular in much of Tamil culture, especially in the case of women; a hug, a kiss on both cheeks, and holding each other's hands while conversing etc., is not common. Such responses from other cultures will most likely embarass the Tamil speakers.

© South Asia Language Resource Center (SALRC)