Let’s Learn Tamil (Grammar Introduction – Pronouns) – Lesson 05


வணக்கம், சுகமா? 🙂
(vaNakkam, Sukamaa? – Greetings, are you fine? 🙂

We studied different Tamil vernaculars and the numbering system in Tamil in our last lesson, இல்லையா? 🙂 (illaiyaa – isn’t it? :p )

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In this lesson, we are going to study the basics of Tamil grammar.  Feel free to seek help if you find this somewhat difficult! 🙂


Before starting with verbs, we should know something about Tamil pronouns. These are some of the English pronouns – I, we, you, it, he, she, and they.  Right? 🙂

But, in the case of Tamil, it is a little different. First person singular – plurals and second person singular – plurals have no problems! It is similar to English!

First person Second person
Singular I =  நான் – Naan You  =  நீ – ni
Plural We = நாங்கள் (NaangkaL) or நாம் (Naam) You = நீங்கள் – niingkaL

Then, what about third person singular and plurals?


In English, we say “he went here” and “he went there”. No confusion about distance – whether it is here or there, “He” is always “He”! 🙂


But, Tamil distinguishes “he” in two forms – if he is close to you, “He” = இவன் (ivan) and if he is away from you, “He” = அவன் (avan)!

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Similarly, “She”, “They”, and “It” also have two variations. We can summarize it in the table given below:

Pronoun If close to you If away from you
He இவன் (Ivan) அவன் (avan)
She இவள் (ivaL) அவள் (avaL)
They (uyarthiNai) இவர்கள் (ivarkaL) அவர்கள் (avarkaL)
It இது (ithu)
remember ,this resembles “this”
அது (athu)
remember, this resembles “that”
They (ahriNai) இவை (ivai)
can be compared with “these”
அவை (avai)
can be compared with “those”

Now, I can imagine the confusion on your face – “What does uyarthiNai and ahriNai means?” o.O

The Tamil language divides all creatures into two groups – உயர்திணை (uyarthiNai) and அஃறிணை (ahriNai)


உயர்திணை literally (high caste) humans are known as uyarthiNai. Supernatural living beings like gods, demons are also considered as uyarthiNai.

Eg: ஆசிரியர் (aasiriyar – teacher), தாய் (thaay – Mom) தந்தை (thanthai – dad), சிறுவன் (Siruvan – Boy)
அஃறிணை (litt. other than high caste) = dead, non-viable and all living beings except humans are known as ahrinai.

Eg: மாடு (maadu – Cow), காகம் (kaakam – Crow), புத்தகம் (Puththakam – Book),   வீடு (viidu – Home)


The third person plural அவர்கள்/ இவர்கள் is usually referred to uyarthiNai in Tamil while இவை/அவை referred to ahrinai.


Now, here’s a small exercise for you! Tell me whether the given nouns are ahriNai or uyarthiNai.

  1. விஞ்ஞானி (vinjnjaani – scientist)
  2. மேசை (meesai – table)
  3. விரிவுரையாளர் (virivuraiyaaLar – lecturer)
  4. கணினி (kaNini – computer)
  5. மாமரம் (maamaram – mango tree)


See below for answers and if your answer is uyarthiNai it will be mentioned as அவர்கள்/இவர்கள் and if it is ahriNai it will be mentioned as அவை/இவை.

Summary of today’s lesson:

– Tamil differs in mentioning second person and third person singular and plural depending on its distance from us!!

– Tamil Grammar divides all creatures into two groups – uyarthiNai and ahriNai.
– Humans, Gods and demons are uyarthiNai while all other creature are ahriNai.

– Third person plural differs in Tamil depending on their “caste”


Today’s Fact:There are 5 epics written in Tamil and they are praised as “ஐம்பெரும் காப்பியங்கள்” (aimperum kaappiyangkaL – five great epics). The interesting thing is that every epic possesses an ornament in its name and Tamil poets praise that the “Lady of Tamil” wears those 5 epics in her body as ornaments! They are:

சிலப்பதிகாரம் (silappathikaaram – silampu means anklet)

மணிமேகலை (maNimaekalai – golden hip belt)

சீவக சிந்தாமணி (siivaka sinthaamani – sinthaamani means gem of crown)

வளையாபதி (vaLaiyaapathi – vaLaiyal = bangles)

குண்டலகேசி (kuNdalakaesi – kuNdalam = earrings)


It doesn’t end here!

  1. Silappathikaram is the epic that describes the life of Kannaki who is known as Pattini Deviyo in Sri Lanka nowadays!


  1. MaNimaekalai and kuNdalakaesi are Buddhist epics while remaining three are considered as Jain epics!!

uyarthiNai, ahriNai, uyarthiNai, ahriNai, ahriNai.


Ok, let’s meet next time!!

போய்ற்று வாறன்! 🙂  (poittru vaaRan – see you later!!)

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