In Thamil, asking questions or pointing out objects up close (“this”/ “these”) or objects far away (“that”/ “those”) is very simple. In general, the prefix “அ-” points out objects far away, the prefix “இ-” points out objects up close, and the prefix “எ-” asks “which?” or “what?” about the object.
There are a few groups of words in Thamil that differ only by their prefixes and are related in this way. In addition, the similarity between words in one group is that they refer to the same thing. The chart below categorizes these words.
|அது||that thing||இது||this thing||எது||which thing?||thing|
|அப்படி||in that manner||இப்படி||in this manner||எப்படி||how?||manner / method|
|அன்று||that day||இன்று||today||என்று||which day?||day|
|அவ்வளவு||that much||இவ்வளவு||this much||எவ்வளவு||how much?||amount|
|அத்தனை||that many||இத்தனை||this many||எத்தனை||how many?||number|
|அவன்||that boy||இவன்||this boy||எவன்||which boy?||boy|
|அவள்||that girl||இவள்||this girl||எவள்||which girl?||girl|
|அவர்||that elder||இவர்||this elder||எவர்||which elder?||elder|
|அவை||those things||இவை||these things||எவை||which things?||things|
There are a few more words that ask a question, but these words have no “அ-/இ-” equivalents.
When using the question word யார், the respect/plural verb suffix (-ஆர்கள்) must be used with the verb. Ex:
The words in the big chart above, whose relationship is either “time”, “manner”, or “day” are called adverbs. It is important to distiguinsh adverbs because the placement of words in a Thamil sentence is different from English.
To learn about using the verb இரு with adverbs for making sentences like “It is red” or “He is here”, go to the next lesson, Adjectives / Adverbs.