The Tamil language has a head-final or head-last syntax. That means that the verb is the last part of a clause which results in having a typical Subject-Object-Verb structure. In comparison, English is a head-initial language, the typical sentence structure is Subject-Verb-Object.

As you definitely have noticed from the previous chapter, Tamil works a lot with suffixes and post-positions that are appended to the nouns and verbs. On one hand, that means that you can build up sentences and words pretty easily but on the other hand it also means that you have to listen carefully to the whole word and sentence to understand its meaning.

Like Spanish and Italian, Tamil is also a null-subject language. A sentence does not necessarily have to have a subject because you can identify the subject by the verbs person-marker and the sentence's context. So actually, you can already build your first languages by just forming the verb in the correct form.


If you recall what you learnt in the previous chapter, you can split this up into படிpaṭi + க்k + கின்றுkiṉṟu + ஏன்ēṉ.

The last part, the ஏன்ēṉ indicates the first person singular, the கின்றுkiṉṟu the present tense and படிpaṭi is the verb stem for to learn. So the one word alone translates to "I learn" which is a full sentence.

In the following sections we are going to look in detail how the SOV structure in Tamil works and how we can put together all the verbs we learnt. We are also going to have a look at how some of the more complex sentences with subclauses look like.