Indefinite pronouns refer to things that are not precisely known. The characteristics that distinguish and indefinite pronoun from other words is very subtle. (Thus, at first, understanding indefinite pronouns may be tricky and may require a little extra effort.) Examples of English indefinite pronouns are: “anyone”, “anything”, “everybody”, “something”, “other”, “all”, “some”.
Two words for “all” were given in Lesson 7. The context in which எல்லோரும் and எல்லாம் were used in Lesson 7 was to end a plural word or list of several people or several things. The two words were being used as adjectives. Here, the words will be used as nouns to refer to “all people” or “all things”.
Let us take 2 similar sentences:
In the first sentence, we are very sure who we are talking about – Arasu. In the second sentence, we are not necessarily talking about Arasu. We are only talking about the person or group of people who can answer the question. However, we are unsure which people belong to that group. The uncertainty in the group to which “anyone” refers makes “anyone” an indefinite pronoun.
Just as indefinite pronouns can be formed in English from question words (“whomever”, “whatever”), indefinite pronouns are formed in Thamil from question words. In particular, the question words that are primarily used are எது, எங்கு, எப்பொழுது, எப்படி, என்று, எவ்வளவு, எத்தனை, யார், என்ன.
For these question words, the following rules apply:
Add the suffix -உம் to a question word to form a word with all-inclusive representation.
Add the suffix -ஓ to a question word to form a word which reflects uncertainty in the speaker and any observers.
Add the suffix -ஆவது to a question word to form a word which reflects uncertainty on the part of the speaker.
In particular, the tricky part is distinguishing in which circumstances -ஆவது or -ஓ should be used. A likely pitfall might be to construct a thought in English and then attempt to translate this in Thamil. As you can see, some words in English have multiple, distinct meanings. Furthermore, words like “whomever”, “whatever”, etc. don’t quite have a translation in Thamil, since their meaning in the context in which they are used is quite vague anyway. Once one begins to construct thoughts directly in Thamil, the proper usage of the words will come more naturally. The more one speaks, Thamil, and corrects his/her mistakes in Thamil, the easier this subject will become.