Tamil: நாம் vs. நாம

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Senior Member
England, English (UK)
I was looking at a website and it said that the 1st person plural (inclusive) pronoun, (i.e. "we",) in Tamil is "நாம் (நாம)". What I would like to know is, is there a difference between the two, and if so, what? In case of any confusion I shall provide a few more examples:

Our (inclusive): நம் (நம்ம)
We (exclusive): நாங்கள் (நாங்க)
You (plural (polite)): நீங்கள் (நீங்க)

Thanks very much.

Also note:

The brackets do not correspond to each other, by which I mean to say, for example, it is not correct to say that:

Our: நம்
Our (inclusive):நம்ம

Or at least, not to my knowledge, as:

You plural (equals): நீர்

(i.e. sans brackets on the right-hand-side, despite brackets on the left-hand-side)
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  • palomnik

    Senior Member
    Basically, to answer your question, நாம் (and not நம் - are you sure you spelled it right?) is the form for the literary inclusive first person plural. நாம்ம is the colloquial form.

    The same is true with the other forms you provided. The literary exclusive first person plural is நாங்கள் and the colloquial is நாங்க. Likewise for நீங்கள் and நீங்க. As for நீர் it is my understanding that it's an honorific form for the Second Person Singular. I really don't know if it's used any more (in modern colloquial Tamil நீங்க is used as the singular honorific) but Pope mentions it in his "Tamil Handbook," which is a great book but over 100 years old and the language has changed considerably.

    Tamil is diglossic; it has a written form and (various) spoken form(s). This leads to a lot of confusion in the relatively sparse teaching materials available for learning Tamil. Most books that I've run across seem to insist on having the student learn the alphabet up front. While with many languages this is a good idea, with Tamil it runs into problems because frequently you don't know, and the text you're using doesn't say, if you're learning the literary or colloquial term. There are a couple of websites that try to disentangle the issue but my opinion is that on the whole the student would be better served by learning to speak colloquial Tamil with a transliteration and being separately introduced to the written language.

    You can PM me if you want to discuss Tamil learning material.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    On a smilar topic, is there any difference (and if so what) between the following, written as follows:

    Their - neuter: அவைகள்/அவற்ற்
    Whose: யார்/யாருடைய
    Whose (its): எதன்/எதனுடைய எதோடெ

    The reason I ask is that there are no longer brackets, but there is a slash and I'm not sure the slash is the same as the bracket.


    Senior Member
    அவைகள் is the literary neuter third person plural. In the colloquial it is usually replaced by அதுக, அதுகளோட, அதுகளோடெ or அதுகளோடெய.

    I can't find anything on the form அவற்ற். That doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, however. It just means that the material I have doesn't present every possibility.

    யார் and யாருடைய both mean "whose". யார் (colloquial often யாரு) also means "who"; when it is put immediately in front of a noun it is understood to mean "whose." யாருடைய (colloquial often யாரொட) is the full form of the genitive case, and is used when you want to make the possessive relationship clear.

    எதன் is the literary word for "which" or "what." Like யார், it can be used as a standalone before a noun to show possession; the colloquial form is usually எது. எதனுடைய and எதோடெ are both full genitive forms; எதோடெ is closer to the colloquial than எதனுடைய.

    I think the writer used the slash to separate the short forms from the full forms, although with அவற்ற் I can only guess.


    Tagalog, French
    நாம(naama) is the colloquial for நாம்(naam). நாமம் isn't, it means something else.
    நம்ம or நம்ப is the colloquial form for "our", the speaking person is included here.

    in sri lankan tamil, we also use நம்மின் but this is not formal.
    the formal word is நம்முடைய or நம்மோடு.

    அவற்ற் is used for the cases of அவை(கள்) in the WRITTEN form.
    அவற்றை, அவற்றிற்கு( = அவற்றுக்கு), அவற்றில் ...

    in Sri lanka and some indian dialects, they tend to use ஆர்(ஆரு) instead of யார்.
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