Learn Tamil

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About Tamil

Tamil is an official language of Sri Lanka along with Sinhala and is also spoken in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry. It is spoken in various other Indian states as well as in Singapore. About 60 million of its speakers live in India. Tamil is a Dravidian language - others in this family include Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Because most of its vocabulary is based on Classical Tamil, modern Tamil speakers are able to understand a lot of the Classical language. Other influences on vocabulary come from Sanskrit, English and the other Dravidian languages.

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Planet Earth

Where is it spoken?


Sri Lanka


People Talking

Number of speakers


Family Tree

Language family


Southern Dravidian




Fun facts — Tamil

  • Tamil words often have a wider scope of meanings than English: kannaadi கண்ணாடி means 'glass', 'mirror' and 'spectacles'.
  • The word 'mango' comes from Tamil.
  • There are lots of false friends between Tamil and Hindi - for example, naayi means 'barber' or 'hairdresser' in Hindi but 'dog' in Tamil!

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