Characteristics of the Tamil language in AX Semantics


In Tamil, you need to know the case, number, and gender of a noun to form the respective pronouns correctly. Tamil has three genders for nouns: masculine, feminine, and neuter. The grammatical gender of Tamil nouns corresponds to their natural sex, which is only applicable to human beings. Grammatically, non—human beings are handled as neuter nouns. There are two numbers: singular and plural. Additionally, Tamil has eight cases.

grammatical namevaluesexamples
numbersingularபழைய வீடு
[paḻaiya vīṭu]
(old house)
pluralபழைய வீடுகள்
[paḻaiya vīṭukaḷ]
(old houses)
(the dog)
accusativeநான் நாயை நடக்கிறேன்.
[nāṉ nāyai naṭakkiṟēṉ நடக்கிறேன்]
(I walk the dog.)
dativeநான் பந்தை நாய்க்குக் கொடுக்கிறேன்.
[nāṉ pantai nāykku koṭukkiṟēṉ]
(I give the ball to the dog.)
instrumentalபார்வையற்றவன் நாயால் நடக்கிறான்.
[Pārvaiyaṟṟavaṉ nāyāl naṭakkiṟāṉ]
(The blind man walks with a dog.)
genitiveநாயுடைய நிறம்
[nāyuṭaiya niṟam]
(the dog's color)
locativeபறவை நாயில்  மீது இறங்குகிறது.
[paṟavai nāyil mītu iṟaṅkukiṟatu]
(The bird lands on the dog.)
ablativeநாயிலிருந்து கற்றுக்கொள்கிறேன்.
[nāyiliruntu kaṟṟukkoḷkiṟēṉ]
(I learn from the dog.)
vocativeஇது நன்றாக இருந்தது, நாயே !
[itu naṉṟāka iruntatu_,_ nāyē]
(It was good, dog.)
adjectives (noun)before nounசிவப்பு ஆப்பிள்
[civappu āppiḷ]
(red apple)
verb tensespresentஅவன் சாப்பிடுகிறான்
[avaṉ cāppiṭukiṟāṉ]
(he eats)
pastஅவன் சாப்பிட்டான்
[ avaṉ cāppiṭṭāṉ]
(he ate)
futureஅவன் சாப்பிடுவான்
[avaṉ cāppiṭuvāṉ]
(he will eat)

The standard order of a noun phrase in Tamil is the following: determiner + numeral + adjective + noun + preposition. See for example:

இந்த    மூன்று   பிரபலமான     பாடகர்களைப்    பற்றி
[inta   mūṉṟu  pirapalamāṉa pāṭakarkaḷaip paṟṟi]
(these  three  popular      singers       about)
DET     NUM    ADJ          NOUN          PREP
"about these three popular singers"



Tamil nouns inflect for number and case. Nouns should be added to the lexicon if they do not inflect regularly.

Lexicon entries for nouns may also be necessary for inflecting determiners and pronouns correctly. They are omitted, if a lexicon entry is required, but missing.


The basic lexicon entry for வீடு [vīṭu] (house) contains:

  • inflection table for number and case:


In Tamil, the default position for an adjective is "before noun".


Tamil verbs inflect for tense, number, and person. The most common verbs are encoded in our software. If a verb inflects incorrectly, you should add it to the lexicon.

Container settings


The AX NLG platform supports the following determiners for Tamil: indefinite, demonstrative (proximal) and possessive. Tamil has no definite articles.


Tamil uses postpositions rather than prepositions. Therefore, if prepositions are used in a noun or pronoun container they are automatically put at the end of the phrase. Prepositions function as postpositions despite being called prepositions in the container, since they are analogous to prepositions in English (both are adpositions).


The AX NLG platform supports the following pronouns for Tamil: personal, demonstratives (proximal), interrogative, and possessive.


Four types of numerals are possible on the AX NLG platform: cardinal, cardinal as digit, ordinal, and ordinal as digit. Take நாள் დღე [nāḷ] (day) for example:

textஒன்பது நாட்கள்
[oṉpatu nāṭkaḷ]
(nine days)
ஒன்பதாம் நாள்
[oṉpatām nāḷ]
(the ninth day)
digit9 நாட்கள்
[9 nāṭkaḷ]
(9 days)
9. நாள்
[9. nāḷ]
(the 9th day)

For Tamil, ordinal numerals are written out until 12, otherwise (above 12) the output is in digit form. Cardinal numerals are written out until 20, otherwise (above 20) the output is in digit form. Take cardinal numerals for example:

இருபது கார்கள்
[irupatu kārkaḷ]
(twenty cars)
21 கார்கள்
[21 kārkaḷ]
(21 cars)

Vowel harmony

The AX platform applies vowel harmonies automatically. Vowel harmony means that many inflection suffixes have different variants, that are used depending on what kind of vowels a word contains.

Tamil has a distinction between short and long vowels. Therefore, vowel harmony means that if the first syllable of a word contains a short vowel (e.g., இ[i], எ[e], or அ[ä] ), the subsequent syllables change vowels to be more similar to nearby short vowels.

கடை + இ + இல் = கடையில் [kaṭai + i + il = kaṭaiyil]
(in the shop[locative])

மலை + உ + உடைய = மலையுடைய [malai + u + uṭaiya = malaiyuṭaiya]
(of the mountain[genitive])

This assimilation applies to long vowels as well.

Language variants

The AX NLG platform offers 2 variants of the Tamil language:

  • India
  • Sri Lanka

The main differences between these dialects are their pronunciation and grammar in spoken communication.