Serial verbs

Just a few chapters ago, we learnt that you can't connect sentences with conjungtions such as "and", "or", "because", "although" and so on. Instead, we would have to split them into multiple sentences.

However, similar concept to the concept we use for the relative clause, there is the concept of serial verbs that we can use describe actions that happened one after another:

Ben went to school and then he went playing football. After having lunch, she went back to work. I take my books and go to school and learn from my teacher.

These sort of sentences can be created in Tamil by using serial verbs. Adding the verbal participle -உ-u (or -இ-i for verbs of class 3) to the verbs root and the past tense suffix creates infinite verbs that we can use to build these concatenated sentences.

நான் புத்தகத்தை எடுத்து பாடசாலைக்குச் சென்று பாடம் படித்தேன்.nāṉ puttakattai eṭuttu pāṭacālaikkuc ceṉṟu pāṭam paṭittēṉ.

In this sentence எடுத்துeṭuttu and சென்றுceṉṟu are two infinite verbs followed by the finite verb படித்தேன்paṭittēṉ. The last verb படித்தேன்paṭittēṉ tells us about the person, gender and number as well as the tense. The others are infinite and take over the same values as this last finite verb.

This also means that you can not have a single sentence in Tamil that talks in two different tenses of subjects.

I am talking and you picked up a book

is technically possible in English, however, in Tamil this would be two different sentences.

I am talking and picking up a book

on the other hand can be formed using serial verbs.

The negated version of these serial verbs can be built by using the -ஆமல்-āmal suffix. This will indicate that the sub clause did not happen. While the positive participle can be used to form sentences that you would usually connect with an "and" in English and can happen one after the other, the negated version will most likely talk about something that happened together with the finite verb.

அவன் பேசாமல் வீட்டிற்கு சென்றான்avaṉ pēcāmal vīṭṭiṟku ceṉṟāṉ

In this sentence பேசாமல்pēcāmal happened the same time as சென்றான்ceṉṟāṉ. So you would translate this to

He went without talking.