Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 3 : 5 May 2003

Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Associate Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.




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Copyright © 2001
M. S. Thirumalai


S. Rajendran, Ph.D.


Linguists differ in their opinions in taking adjective as a grammatical category. Scholars like Asher, Lehman and Kothandaraman take adjective as a grammatical category in Tamil. There is a complete lack of agreement among grammarians whether to consider adjective as a form class in Tamil. The difficulty in providing an operational definition for adjective crops up due to this reason. Lehman takes adjective as a syntactic category only. According to Lehmann (1989:131), "The lexical category of adjective is another syntactic category in Modern Tamil which has evolved in a diachronic process". Adjective can occur as an attribute in pre nominal position as modifier of a head noun in a noun phrase.

The traditional grammars of Tamil talks elaborately about nouns and verbs only. It appears that they have not treated adjectives and adverbs as separate categories in Tamil. They treat adjectives as relative participial forms of appellative verbs (kuRippup peyareccam) and relative participial forms of regular verbs (terindilaip peyareccam). The qualitative adjectives are reconstructed as qualitative nouns.

peeraacai 'extreme eagerness' < perumai 'bigness' + aacai 'desire'
ciRRaamal 'small lily' < ciRumai 'smallness' + aampal 'lilly'


There are at least three kinds of opinion regarding the categorization of adjectives:

  1. Adjective is a separate grammatical category.
  2. Adjective is not a separate grammatical category but a sub-category of noun or verb.
  3. Adjective is a mixed grammatical category

Adjectives come before a head noun as a modifier (ex. periya nduul 'big book').  It can be followed a determiner  (ex. indta periya puttakam 'this big book').  When adjective occupies the predicate slot, it is pronominalized (ex. andta nduul periyatu 'that book is a big one').  Adjectives can be classified into simple adjectives (ex. ndalla 'good', periya 'big') and derived adjectives (azhaku 'beauty' + aana > azhakaana 'beautiful', uyaram + aana > uyaramaana 'high'). There is still some dispute over considering aana, uLLa, illaata the relativized forms of verbs aaku 'become', uL  'be', ill 'not' as adjectivalizer or not.  Both adjectives as well as relative participle forms occur before a noun.  But relative participle form of verbs co-occur with adverbial elements like uTan 'immediately', pin 'after', piRaku 'after', pootu 'at that time', mun 'before', maTTum 'up to', varaikkum 'up to' to form adverbial clauses (ex. vandta uTan 'immediately after coming', vandta pin 'after coming', varum mun 'before coming').  Adjectives (from appellative verbs) do not behave like this (Paramasivam, 1983:194). Paramasivam includes relative participle forms of  verbs, relative participle forms of appellative verbs, negative relative participle forms of verbs and adjectives formed by the adjectivalizer aana as adjectives.  At the same time he identifies relative participle forms and negative relative participle forms as phrases and appellative relative participle forms and adjectives formed by the adjectivalizer aana as simple words.

Those who argue adjective as a word class points out the property of adjective not taking the plural suffix kaL and case suffixes. Those who consider that adjective comes under nouns, take adjectival forms as alternate forms of the concerned nouns. For example, in the compound peeraapattu (< peer+ aapattu), the modifying element peer is considered as an alternate form of perumai and peeraapattu will be analyzed as perumai + aapattu.  The traditional grammars also carry the same opinion.  There is no consistency in reconstructing the adjectives into nouns.  For example irumozhi 'two language' is reconstructed as iraNTu + mozhi 'two language' and mummuurtti 'three gods' is reconstructed as muunRu + muurtti.  There is no reason whey they cannot be analyzed as irumai + mozhi and mummai + muurtti respectively.  There is no valid reason why perumai, ciRumai and ndanmai are not derived from the adjectival roots peer, ciRu and ndal by suffixing mai.  Lakoff (1970) considers adjectives as verbs. There is enough justification in considering peer, ciR, and ndal as adjective or as a word class different form noun.  In languages like English adjectives comes before a as a modifier and in where as a complement after be-verbs (ex. She is a beautiful girl. The girl is beautiful).  In Tamil aaku/aay suffixed abstract nouns, which are in adverbial form and which come as complement before the be-verb iru, function as adjectives modifying the noun in subject slot apart form aana suffixed abstract nouns which function as adjectives before nouns under modification.   


avaL azhakaana peN

            she beautiful woman

'She is a beautiful woman'

            andta peN azhakaaka/azhakaay iru-kkiR-aaL

            that woman beautifully be_PRES_she

'That woman is beautiful'

The same N+aaka/aay form function as adverbial if the verb in predicate slot is not a be verb.

            andta peN  azhakaaka paaTu-kiR-aaL

            that woman well sing_PRES_she

            'That girl sings well'

aaka/aay added to abstract nouns denoting emotions also functions as adverbs when collocated with be verbs such as iru and uL. 

            andta peN koopamaaka/koopamaay irukkiRaaL

            that woman angrily be_PRES_she

            'That woman is angry'

            andta peN koopamaaka/koopamaay irukkiRaaL

            that woman angrily be_PRES_she

            'That woman is angry'

Kothandaraman (1973:94-100) considers aaka as a case marker.


Gopal (1981:88-93) following Quirk et al (1976:231-34) and Nadkarni (1971:187-193), lists four tests to find out adjectives:

  1. Intensifier rompa 'very' test.
  2. Comparative test.
  3. eppaTippaTTa 'what kind of' test.
  4. Exclamation test.

Intensifier Test

The intensifier rompa 'very' can co-occur only with adjectives. If it is used with other attributes, it will not produce acceptable phrases.


            rompa ndalla paiyan

'very good boy'

*rompa va-ndt-a paiyan

very come_PAST_RP boy

*rompa marap peTTi

very wooden box

*rompa andta paiyan

very that boy

*rompa cila paiyan

very some boy

*rompa iraNTu paRavaikaL

very two birds

*rompa iraNTu maTangku kaTTiTam

very two times building

*rompa aaciriyar kaNNan

very teacher Kannan

Comparative test

Employing comparative test can identify adjectives.  If the test is used with other attributes it will produce only ungrammatical phrases.

            avan-ai viT-a ivaL ndalla-vaL

            he_ACC leave_INF he good_she

            'He is better than her'

            *avan-ai viT-a ivaL va-ndta-vaL

            he_ACC leave_INF she came_she

            *avan-ai viT-a ivarkaL cilar

            he_ACC leave_INF they few

            *avan-ai viT-a ivarkaL iraNTu paRavaikaL

            he_ACC leave_INF two birds

            *at-ai viT-a itu iraNTu maTangku kaTTiTam

            that leave_INF two times building

            avan-ai viT-a ivan aaciriyar

            he_ACC leave_INF he teacher

Interrogative Test: eppaTippaTTa 'what kind of' test.

Adjectives can be identified from other attributes by employing interrogative test using the interrogative word eppaTippaTTa 'what kind of'.    By using the question word eppaTippaTTa, we can get answers as given in the first two phrases and not as given in the rest of the phases given below:

            Possible answers

            ndalla manitarkaL

'good men'

            azhakaana manitarkaL

'beautiful men'

            Impossible answers

            va-ndt-a manitarkaL

            'come_PAST_RP men'

            aaciriyar manitarkaL

            'teacher men'

            cila manitrakaL

            'few men'

Similarly, the answers for eppaTippaTTa peTTi 'what kind of box' is:

            Possible answers

            ndalla peTTi 'good box'

            paLuvaana peTTi 'heavy box'

            Impossible answers

            marppeTTi 'wooden box'

Exclamation test

Adjectives can be differentiated from other attributes by exclamation test employing the exclamatory word evvaLavu 'how much'.

            evvaLavu azhakaana paiyan!

            how_much beautiful boy

            'How beautiful boy he is!'

            evvaLavu veekamaana kutirai!

            how much fast horse

            'How fast the horse is!'

            evvaLavu pazhu-tt-a pazham!

            how_much ripe_PAST_RP fruit

            'How much ripped the fruit is!'

This test cannot be successfully employed for relative participles, quantifiers, appositional clauses and other noun phrases.

            *evvaLavu va-ndt-a paiyan

            how_much came_RP boy

            *evvaLavu cila peer

            how_much some persons

            *evvaLavu iraNTu peer

            how_much two persons

            *evvaLavu reNTu maTangku kaTTiTam

            how_much two times building

            *evvaLavu aaciriyar kaNNan

            how_much teacher Kannan

evvaLavu as an exclamatory word can successfully collocated with nouns as compound nouns, but only to exclaim the quantity and not the quality.

            evvaLau paiyankaL

            'How many boys!'

            evvaLavu marappeTTikaL

            how_much wooden boxes

            'How many wooden boxes!'


Generally, adjectives in Tamil are taken as a separate category on the basis of their syntactic behaviour and not from the point of view of their morphological features. But still they can be treated as separate category from the point of view of their morphological behaviour too.  The adjectives of peer type (discussed in the later part) show some kind of morphological regularity. This can be seen from the following information about peer type of adjectives.  For example, peer occurs as peer, perum and periya while function as adjectives (the details are dealt in the later part of the paper).   The adjectives with iya, aiya and a as adjectival suffixes (dealt in the later part of the paper) can be treated so on the following grounds.

1.      They appear before nouns as modifiers.

umaa oru periya paaTaki

Uma one big singer

 'Uma is a good singer'

2.      The adjectives can be intensified by intensifiers such as mika.

umaa oru mikap periya paaTaki

Uma one very big singer

'Uma is a very good singer'

3.      The adjectives can be modified by comparative propositions introduced by the comparative elements such as viTa, kaaTTilum.

umaa raataiyai viTa mikap periya paaTaki

Uma Radha_ACC than very big singer

'Uma is very talented singer than Radtha'

4.      If the adjectives function as predicates they occur in their pronominalized forms.

      paaTaki umaa raataiy-ai viTa mikap periya-vaL

                  singer Uma Radha_ACC more very talented_she

                  'The singer Uma is very talented than Radha'

5.      The adjectives of the periya-type take pronominalizers such as atu, avai, etc.

periya-tu 'big one', kariya-tu 'black one', ndalla-tu 'good one'

periya-vai 'big ones', kariya-vai 'black ones', ndalla-vai 'good ones'

                  periy-van 'big man', kariya-van 'black man', ndalla-van ' good man'

6. The stop consonants (k, c, t, p) of the nouns which follows the adjectival suffix a of the adjectives of the periya-type do not geminate.

                  periya paiyan 'big boy'

                  ciRiya peTTi 'small box'

The first two statements are based on the syntax and the fourth and are based on morphology and the sixth based on phonology.  


Adjectives in Tamil can be taken as a grammatical category on the basis of their syntactic function. They come before the nouns to attribute them and they are not followed by a postposition.  Bhat (1991) argues in details how adjective establishes itself as a separate category like noun and verb.

There is a pair of forms for a number of adjectives:

1.      One is a bound form that has to be added immediately before a noun like a prefix.


ndal 'good' found in the word ndalaaci ‘good wish’

2.       The other is an a-ending form that is independent.

ndalla ‘good’ found in the phrase ndalla eNNam ‘good thinking’ 

We have at least three alternative solutions in dealing with the paired form.

1.      The bound form can be taken as an allomorph of the a-ending forms.

2.      The bound form can be considered as a reduced form of its counterpart, which is a quality noun (ex. ndanmai ‘goodness’ + eNNam > ndalleNNam, as proposed by the traditional grammarians). 

3.      The bound form can be considered as a root or base from which the a-ending forms are derived by the suffixation of the adjective maker -a.

The third alternative is not fruitful and productive as far as Modern Tamil is concerned.  The second alternative indirectly supports the formation of a stem by truncation.  The first alternative holds well.  But if we do not give categorical status to the bound forms, the relation between many related forms will be denied.  For example, the relation between ndalla ‘good’, ndanku ‘well’, ndanRu ‘fine’ ndanmai ‘benefit’, ndalam ‘state of good health' and ndalloor ‘great person’ cannot be established if these words are considered monomorphemic.  The denial of categorical status to the bound form probably needs rethinking. 


There is not doubt that relative participle forms of verbs attribute the noun which follows them.  So naturally one may doubt whether to consider the relative participle form of a verb as adjective or not. The difference between the adjectivalized forms such periya 'big', ciRiya 'small' and koTiya 'cruel' of appellative verbs peri 'be big', ciRi 'be small', koTi 'be cruel' and the adjectivalized forms (i.e. relaive participle forms) of the normal verbs is that the former is adjectivalized at the lexical level and the latter is adjectivalized at the sentential level.  The adjuctivalization does not disturb the argument structure of the verb that is adjectivalized.

            ndaan paLLiyil ndeeRRu paTitta paaTattai inRu avan paTittaan

            I school_LOC yesterday studied_RP lesson today he studied_he

            'He studied the lesson which I had studied in school yesterday'

Though adjectivalization changes the category of a verb into an adjective, it does not disturb its argument structure and its characteristic feature of expressing tense or negative.   There is no need to give the adjectivalized forms of verbs in dictionary as their resultant meanings and acquired syntactic characteristics can be predicted.  KTTA has listed only those relativized forms that are lexicalized into adjectives due to their idiosyncratic meaning.


The position of adjectives among the elements occuring in NP reveal that adjectives occur inbetween the noun and the relative participle form. If the relative participle form occurs in an NP, then the acceptable postion of adjective is after relative participle form.

            va-ndt-a ndalla paiyan

            come_PAST_RP good boy

            the good boy who came’

            ooTiya azhakaana kutirai

            run_PAST_RP beautiful horse

            the beautiful horse ran’

            *ndalla vandta paiyan

            *azhkaana ooTiya kutirai

In the case of compound noun the adjective cannot immediately attribute the head noun (i.e. It cannot occur inbetween the constituents of the compound noun.) The adjective precedes the compound noun.

            *mara ndalla peTTi

             wooden good box

            *pon azhakiya cankili

            golden beautiful chain

            ndalla marappeTTi

            good wodden box’

            azhakiya pon cangkili

            beautiful golden chain’

The demonstratives generally precede the adjective.

            andta ndalla paiyan

            that good boy’

            indta azhakiya ciRumi

            this good girl’

            ?ndalla andata paiyan

            good that boy

            ?azhakiya indta ciRumi

            beautiful this girl

The qunatifiers like cila ‘few’, ovvoru ‘each’, iraNTu ‘two’, mutalaavatu ‘first’, etc. can be interchanged with adjectives.

            ndalla cila manitarkaL

            good few men’

            cila ndalla manitarkaL

            few good men’

            ndalla ovvoru manitarum

            good each one of good men’

            ovvoru ndalla manitarum

            each one of good men’

            ndalla iraNTu ciRumikaL

            good two girls’

            iraNTu ndalla ciRumikaL

            two good girls’

            ciRandta mutalaavatu paiyan

            best first boy’

            mutalaavatu ciRandta paiyan

            first best boy’


Goapal’s concluding remarks on adjectives need to be explored here.

“The conclusion arrived at is that adjectives are not a separate part of speech and are only separate category like that of infinitives and verbal participles. The various forms which are considered to be adjectives in Tamil by various scholars which in reality are not adjectives have been taken for study in detail ... and rejected as they do not account for certain syntactic requirements.  That is, the demonstratives, quantifiers, numerals, nominal compounds, participles are not considered as adjectives.  And certain syntactic tests have been posited to identify adjectives. ... A constrictive study of English and Tamil is undertaken ... in order to show adjectives in Tamil in the surface structure behave differently from adjectives in English.... different forms of adjectives are taken up and it has been shown that the shape cannot determine an adjective and it must be treated as a syntactic category rather than a morphological category.” (Gopal, 1981:246-247).

The need for positing adjective as a word class has been discussed below.  Here we are going to examine all the lexical items listed in kiriyaavin taRkaalat tamizh akaraati (KTTA) as adjectives and extract the strategies involved in the derivation of adjectives as reflected from the dictionary. Taxonomy of adjectival formation is aimed at in order to stream line our understanding of adjectival formation. 


Adjectives can be classified into three based of their structure and process of derivation:

                 1. Adjectives from nominal source

                 2. Adjectives from verbal source

                 3. Adjectives from a third source

9.1. Adjectives from nominal source

            Certain nouns are listed as adjectives as they come before nouns functioning as adjectives by attributing the nouns.  They can be classified into two based on whether they are phonologically changed or not.  Thus we have two sets of adjectives in this type:

            1. Phonologically unchanged denominal adjectives

            2. Phonologically changed denominal adjectives

9. 2. Phonologically unchanged denominal adjectives

A set noun that are listed in KTTA as adjectives due do their semantic change and syntactic function are incorporated here. These nouns are used as adjectives without any phonological change.  Based on their internal structure they can be classified as simple and compound.


a 'that' + karai (n) ' adjacent area; side' > akkarai (n)  'that  side' > akkarai (adj) 'foreign'

            iNai (n) 'parallel' > iNai (adj) 'joint; associate; co'

            uumai (n) 'dump person' > uumai (adj) 'latent; without any outward sign'

            kuNTu (n) 'ball like structure' > kuNTu (adj) 'fat'

            koLLai (n) 'robbery; swindle' > koLLai (adj) 'much; enormous'

            talaimai (n) 'leadership' > talaimai (adj) `chief; main;  head (adj)'

            tiruTTu (n) 'theft; robbery' > tiruTTu (adj) 'illegal;  illicit'

            tii (n) 'fire' > tii (adj) 'evil'

tuNai (n) 'help; aid; act of abetting; company' > tuNai (adj) 'vice; deputy; assistant'


            iRu 'end' + ayal (n) 'that which is next in place' > iRRayal (adj) 'penultimate'

            uTan 'instant' + aTi (n) 'step' > uTanaTi (adj)   'immediate'

kiizh (n) 'bottom part' + taTTu (n) 'status' > kiizhttaTTu   (adj) 'lower economic stratum'

            taan 'self' + iyangki (n) 'that which operates' >   taaniyangki (adj) 'automatic'

            tinam (n) 'day' + cari (n) 'proper' > tinacari (adj) 'daily'

            tinam (n) 'day' + paTi (n) 'step' > tinappaTi (adj) 'daily; day to day'

            puujiyam 'zero' + sri 'mister' > puujiyasri (adj) 'his holiness'

            maRai 'veda' + tiru 'mister' > maRaittiru (adj) 'reverend'

            mun 'before; previous' + ndaaL (n) 'day'> munnaaL (adj) 'former; ex'

            meel 'above' + paTi (n) 'step' > meeRpaTi (adj) 'given above; mentioned above'

The nouns listed as adjectives in KTTA are treated so, as they are lexically and syntactically lexicalized as adjectives. Many nouns, which act as attributes, can come before nouns, which act as heads. While doing so they may get lexicalized to become functionally adjectives exhibiting semantic change.  Numeral nouns as well as nouns denoting colours can come before nouns as adjectives.

            paccai (n) 'green colour' > paccai (adj) 'green'

            civappu (n) 'red colour > civappu (adj) 'red'

            iraNTu (n) 'two' > iraNTu (adj) 'two'

            eezhai (n) 'poor' > eezhai (adj) 'poor'

It can be interpreted that nouns are capable of becoming adjectives.  In other words, nouns are sources from which adjectives can be formed when need arise.

9. 3. Phonologically changed denominal adjectives

Phonologically changed denominal adjectives can be classified into two based on the type of phonemic change:

1. Adjectives formed by the germination of the consonant of the final syllable of the concerned noun

2. Adjectives formed by the deletion of m/n/r of the final syllable or am\an\ar of the concerned noun 

9. 4. Adjectives formed by the germination of the consonant of the final syllable of the concerned noun

There are two types based on the internal structure: 1. simple and 2. compound.


ndaaTu (n) `country' > ndaaTTu (adj) `indigenous; country '

            ndaaTTuc caaraayam 'country liquor'

            veeRu (n) `different' > veeRRu (adj) `different (adj)'


pal 'several' + ndaaTu (n) 'country' > panndaaTTu (adj) 'multinational; international'

The potential forms such as the following that are not listed as adjectives in KTTA can be equated with ndaaTTu 'country (adj)'.

acaTu 'fool' > acaTTu 'foolish'

kuruTu 'blindness' > kuruTTu 'blind'

muraTu 'roughness' > muraTTu 'rough'

kaaTu 'forest' > kaaTTu 'wild'

The test frame - X aaka irukkiRa Y 'X who/which is Y'- can be used to pick out a type of adjectives.

            acaTTup paiyan 'foolish boy'< acaTaaka irukkiRa paiyan 'the  boy who is foolish'

            kuruTTup paiyan 'blind boy'< kuruTaaka irukkiRa paiyan 'the boy who is blind'

            ceviTTup paiyan 'deaf boy' < ceviTaaka irukkiRa paiyan 'the boy who is deaf'

muraTTup paiyan 'rough boy' < muraTaaka irukkiRa paiyan 'the boy who is rough'

            kaaTTup panRi 'wild pig'< *kaaTaaka irukkiRa panRi 'the pig which is forest' 

ndaaTTup paN 'national song' < *ndaaTaaka irukkiRa paN 'the song which is national'

But as the test frame weeds out ndaaTTu (<ndaaTu) as well as kaaTTu (<kaaTu) from the category of adjectives, we cannot fully rely on it.

9. 5. Adjectives formed by the deletion of m/n/r of the final syllable am\an\ar of the concerned noun

Adjectives formed by the deletion of m

Forty-two adjectives of this type are listed in KTTA out of which twenty-seven are simple adjectives and the rest of the fifteen are compound adjectives.


            akilam `world (n) > akila (adj) `all '

            ?aatarcam (n)> aatarca (adj) 'ideal; perfect; model' ,

            ?eekam (n) > eeka (adj) 'large; a great deal of',

 kaLLam (n) > 'cunning or deceitful nature' > kaLLa (adj) 'illicit; illegal; clandestine'

            ?kanishTam  (n) > kanishTa (adj) 'last born'

            ?kiraamiyam (n) > kiraamiya (adj) 'of village or folk; rural'

            kauravam (n) 'prestige; honour' > kaurava (adj) 'honorary',

            ?caastriyam (n) > caastriya (adj) 'classical'

            ?cuyam (n) > cuya (adj) 'self'

            ?cireeshTam (n) > cireeshTa (adj) 'eldest'

ciimantam (n) 'ceremony concerned with first pregnancy' > ciimandta (adj) 'first; eldest'

            cuttam (n) 'cleanliness' > cutta (adj)'complete; utter; pure'

            condtam (n) 'ownership; relationship'> condta (adj)'native; personal;  private'

            tarmam (n) 'charity; alms giving' > tarma (adj) 'free of cast'

            ?taarmiikam (n) > taarmiika (adj) 'moral; righteous;just'

            ?ndikaram (n) > ndikara 'net'

            ndittiyam (n) 'perpetuity'> ndittiya (adj) 'daily'

            ?piratamam (n) > piratama (adj) 'chief'

            ?puurvam (n) > puurva (adj) 'former; bygone; ancient'

            pautikam (n) 'physics' > putika  (adj) 'physical'

            ?mattiyam (n) > mattiya (adj) 'belonging to central'

            ?mattiyam (n) > mattiya (adj) 'of the centre'

            marmam (n) 'secret' > marma (adj) 'suspense packed'

            raajiyam (n) 'country' > raajiya (adj) 'diplomatic'

            viceesham 'of special interest' > viceesha (adj) 'special' 

            ?jeeshTam (n) > jeeshTa (adj) 'first born'


            N + N

            uur (n) 'village' + akam (n) 'inner; internal' > uurakam (n) > uuraka (adj) 'rural'

            kuNam (n) + cittiram (n) > kuNaccittiram (n) > kuNaccittira (adj) 'character'

ndaTu (n) 'centre' + taram(n)  'quality' > ndaTuttaram (n) 'medium; average'> ndaTuttara (adj) 'middle'

pakuti (n) 'part' + ndeeram(n)  'time' > pakutindeeram (n) > pakutindeera (adj) 'part-time'

N (with the deletion final m) + N

maatam (n) 'month' + andtaram/andtiram (n)  'withiness' > mataandtaram/maataandtiram (n) > mataandtara/maataandtira (adj) 'monthly'

varuTam (n) 'year' +  andtaram/andtiram (n)  'withiness' > varuTaandtaram/ varuTaandtiram (n) > varuTaandtara/varuTaandtira  'anual; yearly'

vaaraam (n)  + andtiram (n)  > vaaraandtaram/vaaraandtiram (n) > vaaraandtara/vaaraandtira (adj)  'weekly'

            Adj + N

carva 'all' + teecam(n)  'country' > carva teecam (n) > carvateeca (adj) 'international'

 pan 'several' + mukam (n) 'face' > panmukarm (n)> panmuka (adj)  'multifaceted; varied'

            mattiya 'central' + taram (n) 'quality > mattiya taram >  mattiyatara (adj) 'middle'

            muzhu 'full' + ndeeram 'time'> muzhundeeram (n) > muzhu ndeera (adj) 'full time'

muzhu 'full' + ndiiLam 'length' > muzhu ndiiLam (n) >   muzhundiiLa (adj)'full length'

            veku + janam (n) > vekujanam (n) > vekujana 'popular; public; mass'

            Adj + aa + N

ndaal 'four' + aa + vitam (n) > ndaalaavitam(n) > ndaalaavita (adj)  'of all kinds or sorts'

ndaan 'four + aa + vitam (n) > ndaanaavitam (n)> ndaanaavita (adj) 'of all kinds or sorts'

[The nouns suffixed by the symbol "?" are not attested in KTTA as they do not occur independently in those forms as nouns.]

Differentiating a noun which combines with a head noun to form a compound noun from a denominal adjective which comes to attribute a head noun appears to be ad hoc in some cases. Note that the following are listed as compounds in KTTA.

            kaLLat tooNi 'boat used for illegal transport'

            kaLLap paNam 'black money'

Adjectives formed by the deletion of n/r

            Ten such adjectives are listed in KTTA.


            acuran (n) 'one works with defatigable energy’ > acura (adj)  'tremendous'

            islaamiyar (n) 'muslims' > islaamiya (adj) 'pertaining to Islam'

            kattoolikkar (n) 'Catholics' > kattoolikka (adj) 'catholic'

            caNTaaLan (n) 'cruel person' > caNTaaLa (adj) 'wretched; heinous'

            cakootarar (n) 'brother/sister' > cakootara (adj) 'fellow; co-'

            paNTitan (n) 'man of erudition' > paNTita (adj) 'scholarly'

            paraman (n) 'the Supreme Being' > parama (adj) 'top; great, etc.'

            muuTan (n) 'stupid man' > muuTa (adj) 'absurd; foolish'

            raaTcacar (n) 'giant; titan' > raaTcaca (adj) 'giant'

            raaTcatar (n) 'giant; titan' > raaTcata (adj) 'giant'

Certain nouns ending in am, an, or ar have the tendency to function as adjectives attributing the head noun which follow them.  While doing so they drop their final consonant m/n/r and thus assumes the shape of an adjectives ending in a. Due to lexicalization by semantic change they get listed in the lexicon as adjectives.  The formation adjectives of this type can be said as analogical formation.  A number of nouns ending in am/an/ar seem to behave like or function as adjectives of this type though they are not listed in KTTA as adjectives.

kapaTam (n) 'deceit' > kapaTa  (adj) 'deceitful'

            kapaTa caamiyaar 'deceitful priest'

            kapaTa ndaaTakam 'deceitful act'

            ndirandtaram (n) 'permanence; consistency' > ndirandtara (adj) 'permanent'

            ndirandtara veelai 'permanent job'

            turitam (n) 'quickness' > turita (adj) 'quick'

            turita veelai 'quick work'

            apuurvam (n) 'that which is rare' > apuurva (adj) 'rare; unusual; novel'

            apuurva manitatan 'unusual man'

            apuurva ndikazhcci 'unusual incident'

It can be stated that certain nouns ending in -am/an/ar have the potentiality to form adjectives by dropping the final consonant m/n/r.

9. 6. Adjectives from verbal source

They can be classified into six types:

            1. cey-type of non-finite forms as adjectives

            2. ceyta-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

            3.  ceykiRa-type of  relative participle forms adjectives

            4.  ceyyum-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

            5.  ceyyaata-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

            6. ceyyaa-type of relative forms as adjectives

9. 7. cey-type of non-finite forms as adjectives

Verbal roots also can function as adjectives. (Compare them with appellative verbs of peer-type which function as adjectives.) There are ten forms of this type listed in KTTA as adjectives out of which five are simple forms and five are compound forms.   

Simple forms

            aTar 'concentrated'

            taku 'worth of'

            teLLu 'clear; impede'

            vaRaTTu 'meaningless; unreasonable'

            veLir 'light; pale'

            Compound forms

            N + cey-type of relative participle form

            aruL 'grace; mercy' + miku > aruLmiku 'holly; merciful'

            kaN 'eye' + kavar > kaNkavar 'fascinating; attractive' 

            maaNpu 'dignity; honour' + miku > maaNpumiku 'honourable'

            mee + taku > meetaku 'excellency'

            cey-type of RP form + cey-type of RP form

            viya + taku > viyattaku 'of amazing nature'

cey-type of relative participle form is considered by the traditional grammarians as tenseless relative participle forms.  They come in the form of the shape of the verbal roots/stems. 

cuTu 'be hot'+ cooRu 'rice' > cuTu cooRu 'hot rice'

            cuzhal 'whirl' + kaaRRu 'wind' > cuzhal kaaRRu 'whirl wind'

            viicu 'blow' + tenRal 'gentle breeze' > viicu tenRal 'blowing breeze’

kal 'stone' + eRi 'throw' + tuuram 'distance' >   kalleRi tuuram 'at a stone's throw'

Some of the modern Tamil grammarians consider this attributive forms as nouns. Many compound nouns are formed in which the attributive element of the head noun is a relative participle form of cey-type.

toTu 'touch + uNarvu 'sensation' > toTu uNarvu 'sense of touch'

putai 'burry' + kuzhi 'pit' > putai kuzhi 'pit for burial'

            azhu 'cry' + muunjci 'face' > azhumuunjci 'sulky person'

            eemaaRRu 'deceive' + veelai 'work' > eemaaRRu veelai ‘cheating’

            taLLu + vaNTi > taLLuvaNTi ‘trolley’

9. 8. miku as adjectivalizer

miku, the cey-type of form of the verb miku 'exceed', function as an adjectivalizer  forming adjectives from a group of nouns.

            karuNai 'mercy; grace' + miku > karuNaimiku 'merciful; graceful'

            irakkam 'mercy' + miku > irakkamiku 'merciful'

            matippu 'respect' + miku > matippumiku 'respectful'

            perumai 'reputation' + miku > perumaimiku 'reputed'

9. 10. ceyta-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

Many Past Relative Participle (PaRP) forms of verbs have been listed in KTTA as adjectives as obtaining idiosyncratic meaning lexicalized them. The form is made up of three morphemes- the verb stem + past tense suffix + relative suffix. There are sixty- seven simple forms and fifty compound forms of this type listed KTTA as adjectives.

            1. Simple forms

            akaNTa (PaRP from of akaL 'widen') 'wide; expensive'                            

            akanRa (PaRP form of akal 'become wider') 'broad'

            aTarndta (PaRP form of aTar 'be close together') 'dense;  thick'

            aTutta 'next' (PaRP form of aTu 'go near') 'next'

            aRRa (PaRP form of aRu 'be cut off; snap') 'without; less; beyond'

            aazhndta (PaRP form of aazh 'be drowned') 'heart-felt; profound'

            iruNTa (PaRP form of iruL 'become dark') 'dark'

            izhindta (PaRP form of @izhi 'descend') 'degraded; low'

            iRandta (PaRP form of iRa 'die') 'beyond'

            ukandta (PaRP form of uka 'accept with pleasure') 'suitable; appropriate'

            uyarndta (PaRP form of uyar 'raise; go up') 'highest; tallest'

            uratta (PaRP form of @ura 'become intense or louder') 'loud'

            uRRa (PaRP form of uRu 'happen; obtain') 'needed; trusted'

oTTiya (PaRP form of oTTu 'stick; become close') 'alongside; adjacent; preceding and following'

            orumitta (PaRP form of orumi 'unite') 'unanimous'

            eekoopitta (PaRP form of @eekoopi 'unite') 'unanimous'

            eeRRa (PaRP form of eel 'accept') 'agreeable; suitable; proper'

            kaTandta (PaRP form of kaTa 'go past') 'past; last'

            kaNTa (PaRP form of kaaN 'see') 'all and sundry; irregular; ill-chosen'

            karutta ( PaRP form of @karu 'become black') 'black'

            kanatta (PaRP form of kana 'be heavy') 'heavy build'

            kuRitta (PaRP form of kuRi note-down') 'concerning; regarding; about'

            kuRukiya (PaRP form of kuRuku 'get shortened') 'narrow; short'

kuRaindta (PaRP form of kuRai 'come down; go reduced; lower; diminish' ) 'not high; low; insufficient'

            kuurtta/kuurnta (PaRP form of @kuur 'sharpen') 'sharp(intelligent)'

            keTTa (PaRP form of keTu 'get affected; deteriorate')'harmful; bad'

            kozhutta (PaRP form of kozhu 'grow fat; be plump')  'huge; big'

            caanRa (PaRP form of @caal 'be abundant; be exquisite') 'having; being full of'

            ciRandta (PaRP form of ciRa 'become eminent') 'eminent'

            cemmaandta (PaRP form of @cemmaa 'be exalted') 'exalted'

            cevviya (PaRP form of @cevvu 'excel') 'excellent; perfect'

            cevviya (PaRP form of @cevvu become red') 'red'

            cezhitta (PaRP form of cezhi 'flourish; grow well') 'thick; chubby'

            cenRa (PaRP form of cel 'go') 'last; previous'

            ceernta (PaRP form of ceer 'join') 'belonging to'

            takundta (PaRp form of @taku 'be appropriate; be suitable') 'appropriate; suitable'

            taTitta (PaRP form of taTi 'swell slightly; thicken') 'thick; heavy'

            tazhuviya (PaRP form of tazhuvu 'embrace; hug') 'breadth and length of'

            tazhainta (PaRP form of tazhai 'bring down') 'polite; soft'

            taazhndta (PaRP form of taazh 'come down') 'low'

tiraNTa (PaRP form of turaL 'gather; come together; assemble') 'vast; gist;   essential'

            tiRandta (PaRP form of tiRa 'open') 'open'

            teLLiya (PaRP form of teLLu 'to become clear') 'clear; limpid'

            teerndta (PaRP form of teer 'atain proficiency')  'highly skilled'

            ndiiNTa (PaRP form of ndiiL 'increase in length; lengthen) 'long'

            nderungkiya (PaRP form of nderungku 'near; approach) 'intimate'

            parandta (PaRP form of para 'be spread') 'vast ;wide'

            palatta (PaRP form of pala 'become heavy; grow severe') 'heavy; strong'

            pazhutta (PaRP form of pazhu 'ripen') 'rich'

            paRRiya (PaRP form  paRRu 'hold; catch') 'concerning; regarding'

            paartta (PaRP form of paar 'see') 'facing'

            pindtiya (PaRP form of pindtu 'lag behind') 'later; latter'

            perutta (PaRP form of peru 'grow thick; become stout; increase') 'immense; great'

            porundtiya (PaRP form of porundtu 'fit; be joined') 'having'

            poRutta (PaRP form of poRu 'bear; wait') 'depend on; concerned; pertains to' 

            pootiya (PaRP form of pootu 'be adequate or enough') 'adequate; sufficient'

            poonRa (PaRP form of @pool 'resemble; be similar') 'like; such as'

            poona (PaRP form of poo 'go') 'last; previous'

            matartta (PaRP form of @matar 'flourish; be self-conceited') 'proud; strutting'

            mikundta (PaRP form of miku 'increase') 'extreme; much'

            mundtiya (PaRP form of mundtu 'go past; overtake')  'previous; pre-'

muutta (PaRP form of muu 'become old; age; grow in years') 'born first;   elder/first; senior'

            vizhumiya (PaRP form of vizhumu ) 'excellent'

            veeNTiya (PaRP form of veeNTu 'ask politely; entreat')


10. 1. N + ceyta-type non-finite form

N + aana

            @appaTTam 'openness; obvious' + aana > appaTTamaana 'blatant'

            @amukkam + aana > amukkamaana 'secretive'

            @uruppaTi + aana > uruppaTiyaana 'constructive'

            @eTuppu + aana > eTuppaana 'attractive'

            @kaNakku + aana > kaNakkaana 'in the region of'

            @kaNicam + aana > kaNicamaana 'considerable'

            @kamukkam + aana > kamukkamaana 'secretive'

            @kuur 'sharp tip' + aana > kuuraana 'pointed; sharp'

            @metu 'slowness; unhurriedness+ aana > metuvaana 'slow; unhurried'

@meel 'being better; being superior' + aana > meelaana 'excellent; superior; better'

            @leecu 'lightness' + aana > leecaana 'light'

N + paTTa

@appeer 'that  name' + paTTa (PaRP form of paTu 'be acted upon; be affected; experience') > appeerppaTTa 'such a kind of'

            @aanaana + paTTa > aanaanappaTTa 'even the most powerful'

            iTai 'middle' + paTTa > iTaippaTTa 'between'

            ippeer 'this name' + paTTa > ippeerppaTTa 'such as'

            uL 'inside' + paTTa > uTpaTTa 'below; within'

uTan 'being together' + piRandta (PaRP form of piRa 'be born) >uTanpiRandta 'born of the same parents; related by blood'

            uur 'village' + paTTa > uurppaTTa 'more than usual'

            @eekam 'plenty' + paTTa > eekappaTTa 'excessive; enormous; innumerable'

            onRu 'one' + paTTa > onRupaTTa 'united'

campandtam 'relevance; connection' + paTTa (PaRP form of paTu 'be acted upon; be affected') > campandtappaTTa 'connected; related; concerned'

            tani 'separate; independent' + paTTa > tanippaTTa 'personal; individual'

            ndaaL 'day' + paTTa > ndaaLpaTTa 'of a pretty long time; chronic; old'

paN 'fitness; good quality; suitbleness' + paTTa > paNpaTTa (PaRP form of paNpaTu 'become cultivable or arable; get refined') 'cultured; cultivated; seasoned; sophisticated'

pin 'back' + paTTa > piRpaTTa (PaRP form of piRpaTu 'lag behind (in time)') 'later'

meel 'top; above' + paTTa > meeRpaTTa 'more than'

mun 'front' + paTTa > ‘muRpaTTa (PaRP form of muRpaTu ‘initiate’) 'prior; pre-'

N+ iTTa

kuRippu 'note' + iTTa  (PaRP form of iTu 'put') > kuRippiTTa (paRP of kuRippiTu 'make a specific mention of; indicate') 'selected; specified'

kooTu 'line' + iTTa (PaRP form of iTu 'put' > kooTiTTa 'blank indicated by a line'

N+ aRRa

oppu 'equal; match' + aRRa (PaRP of aRu 'be cut off; snap')  > oppaRRa 'peerless; unique'

tikku 'direction' + aRRa (PaRP form of aRu 'be cut off; snap' > tikkaRRa 'with nobody to support or nowhere to go; destitute'

maTTu 'limit' + aRRa (PaRP form of aRu 'be cut off') > maTTaRRa 'overwhelming; limitless'

N+ keTTa

keeTu 'damage' + keTTa (PaRP form of keTu 'spoil; ruin') > keeTukeTTa 'wretched; despicable'

taRi 'post; stake' + keTTa > taRikeTTa 'without restraint; uncontrollable'

N + other ceyta type of forms

orungku 'all together' + iNaindta (PaRP of iNai 'join') > orungkiNaindta  'integrated'

            onRu 'one' + viTTa (PaRP of viTu 'leave') > onRuviTTa 'one generation removed'

kai 'hand' + kaNTa (PaRP form of kaaN 'see') > kaikaNTa 'efficacious; of proven effect'

            kai 'hand' + teerndta (PaRP form of teer 'select') > kaiteerndta 'adept'

cekkar 'redness' + civandta (PaRP form of civa 'become red') > cekkaccivandta 'bright red'

            talai 'head' + aaya (PaRP form of aa 'become' > talaiyaaya 'foremost; principal'

tuppu 'ability; resource; competeness' + keTTa > tuppukkeTTa 'having no competence'

            ndaaL 'day' + aarndta (PaRP form of aar 'to become full' > ndaaLaandta 'daily'

paaTal 'song' + peRRa (PaRP form of peRu 'get') > paaTal peRRa 'being the distinction of being sung by'

pin 'back' + tangkiya (PaRP form of tangku 'stay') > pin tangkiya (PaRP form of pintangku 'lag behind') 'backward'

            peyar 'name' + peRRa (PaRP form of peRu 'get') > peyar peRRa 'renowned'

            peyar 'name' + poona (PaRP form of poo 'go') > peyar poona 'renowned'

meel 'top; above' + kaNTa (PaRP form of kaaN 'see') > meeRkaNTa 'given above; cited above'

meel 'top; above' + conna (PaRP form of col 'tell; mention') > meeRconna 'mentioned above'

            vilai 'price' + uyarndta > vilai uyarndta 'costly; expensive'

10. 2.  Adj + N + ceyta-type of non-finite form

Adj + N + aana

            There are four forms of this type listed in KTTA.

            @oru 'one' + paTittu 'type' + aana > orupaTittaana 'homogeneous'

            @oru one' + manatu 'mind' + aana > orumanataana 'unanimous'

            @oru + muakam + aana > orumukamaana 'unanimous'

@perum + paal + aana > perumpaalaana 'majority of'

Adj + N + paTTa

pala 'many' + taram 'quality' + paTTa > palatarapaTTa'of all sorts; different kinds of'

pala 'many' + tiRam 'ability; capacity' + paTTa > palatiRappaTTa 'of all sorts; different kinds of'

10. 3. N + N + ceyta-type of non-finite form

@aakkam 'constructiveness' + puurvam 'basis' + aana > aakkapuurvamaana 'constructive'

@aaNi + taram + aana > aaNittaramaana 'firm; emphatic'

            @icai + keeTu + aana > icaikeeTaana 'awkward'

            @kalai + puurvam + aana > kalaapuurvamaana 'artistic'

            @cootanai + puurvam + aana > cootanaipuurvamaana 'experimental'

            @tarkkam + riiti + aana > tarkkariitiyaana 'logical'

            @potu + paTai + aana > potuppaTaiyaana 'general'

            @manam + puurvam + aana > manappuurvamaana 'wholehearted'

            muraN + paaTu + aana > muraNpaaTaana 'contradicting'

            @meel + oTTam + aana > meelooTTamaana 'superficial'

            @rattinam + curukkam + aana > rattinaccurukkamaana 'brief; precise; concise'

@vilaa + vaari + aana > vilaavaariyaana 'elaborate'

maacu 'dirt; dross; polution' + maRu 'spot; blemish'blemish' + aRRa > maacumaRuvaRRa 'blemishless; spotless'

10. 4.  ceytu-type of non-finite form + ceyta-type of  non-finite form

aaki 'having become' + vandta (PaRP form of vaa 'come') > aakivandta 'considered     lucky

kaTaindtu 'having churned' + eTutta (PaRP form of eTu 'take')  > kaTaindteTutta 'downright; out-and-out'

10. 5. N + ceytu-type of non-finite form  + ceyta-type of non-finite form

cel 'termite' + arittu 'having eaten' + poona (PaRP form of poo 'go') >cellarittuppoona '

10. 6. ceyya­type of non-finite form + ceyta-type of  non-finite form

taazhtta (PaRP form of taazh 'lower' + paTTa> taazhttappaTTa 'scheduled; backward'

ceyta-type of form is considered as past tense marked relative participle form by the traditional grammarians.  They are called relative participle form as they come before nouns to attribute them.  The relative participle formation is considered as a productive inflectional process and not as a derivational process.  But as developing some idiosyncrasy in their meaning lexicalizes these forms, they are listed as adjectives in KTTA.  Relative participle forms can be taken as potential source from which adjectival forms can be formed when they develop some idiosyncratic meaning.    When we analyze the N + relaive participle form which have been lexicalized as adjectives, we can infer that some of the relative participle forms have become suffixal in nature.  They are aana (the relative participle form of aaku 'become'), paTTa (the relative participle form of paTu ‘suffer’, iTTa (the relative participle form of the verb iTu ‘put’, aRRa (the relative participle form of al ‘be not’, keTTa (the relative participle form of keTu ‘become bad’ and enRa (the relative participle form of the verb en 'say').  So they are dealt separately below.

11. aana as adjectivizlizer

KTTA has posited aana, which is a relative participle from of the be-verb aaku, as as adjectivializer.  aana forms adjectives when added to certain nouns.  An appreciable number of adjectives of this type are listed in KTTA, out of which simple forms exceed compound forms.

11. 1. Simple forms

N + aana

            [Only as sample set of forms are given here.]

            apacaaram (n) 'desecration' + apacaaramaana > 'desecrative'?

            apattam (n) 'absurdity' + aana > apattamaana > absurd

aparimitam(n)  'enormity; excessiveness' + aana > aparimitamaana 'enormous; excessive'

            apaayam (n) 'danger' + aana > apaayamaana 'dangerous'

            apuurvam (n) 'rarity' + aana > apuurvamaana 'rare; unusual'

            ammaNam (n) 'nakedness' + aana > ammaNamaana 'naked'

amangkalam (n) 'that which is inauspicious' + aana > amangkalamaana 'inauspicious'

            amarttal (n) 'thinly veiled manner' + aana > amarttalaana 'thinly veiled'

            amarikai (n) 'modesty' + aana > amarikaiyaana 'modest'

            amaiti (n) 'silence; peace' + aana > amaitiyaana 'silent; peaceful'

aritu (n) 'rarity' + aana > aritaana 'rare'

            aruku (n) 'nearness' + aana > arukaana 'near'

            aruupam (n) 'formlessness' + aana > aruupamaana 'formless'

            alangkaaram (n) 'decoration' + aana > alngkaaramaana 'decorative'

            alngkoolam (n) 'disorderliness' + aana > alangkoolamaana 'disorderly; unkempt'

            alaTciyam(n) 'lacking in interest' + aana > alaTciyamaana

            alaati (n) 'something unique or special' + aana  > 'unique; special'

            aluppu (n) 'boredom; tiredness' + aana > aluppaana 'uninteresting; tired'

            avacaraam (n) 'haste' + aana > avacaramaana 'hasty'

            avaciyam (n)  'necessity' + aana > avaciyamaana 'necessary'

            avatuuRu (n) 'defamation' + aana > avatuuRaana 'defamatory'

            avamatippu (n) 'disrespect' + aana > avamatippaana  'disrespectful'

            avamariyaatai (n) 'disrespect' + aana > avamariyaataiyaana 'disrespectful'

            avalaTcaNam (n) 'ugliness' + aana > avalaTcaNamaana 'ugly'

            azhaku (n) 'beauty' + aana > azhakaana 'beautiful'

            azhukku  (n) 'dirt' + aana > azhukkaana 'dirty'

            azhuttam (n) 'firmness' + aana > azhuttamaana 'firm'

            aLavu (n) 'measure; limit' + aan  > aLavaana 'limited'

            anpu (n) 'affecton; love' + aana > anpaana 'affectionate'

            an(ni)yoon(ni)yam (n) 'intimacy' + aana > an(ni)yoo(ni)yamaana 'intimate'

            anukuulam (n) favourable' + aana > anukuulamaana 'favourite'

            ajaakkiratai (n)  'carelessness + aana > ajaakkirataiyaana 'careless'

            aacai (n) 'desire' + aana > aacaiyaana 'desiring'

            aaTamparam (n) 'show' + aana > aaTamparamaana 'showy'

            aaNavam (n) 'arrogance' + aana > aaNavamaana 'arrogant'

            aatmaarttam (n) 'oneness of mind' + aana > aatmaarttamaana

            aatarvu (n) 'support' + aana > aataravaana 'supportive'

            aapaacam (n) 'salaciousness; lewdness' + aana > aapaacamaana 'salacious; lewd'

            aayattam(n) 'readiness' + aana > aayattamaana 'ready'

            aayaacam (n)  'tiredness' + aana > aayaacamaana 'tired'

            aarppaaTTam (n) 'vain show' + aana > aarppaaTTamaana '

            uNTu (n) + aana > uNTaana 'due; belonging'

            urittu (n) + aana > urittaana 'characteristic or typical of'

            cari (n) 'correct' + aana > cariyaana 'proper'

            cematti (n) + aana > cemattiyaana 'severe'

            cezhippu (n) + aana > cezhippaana 'flourishing'

            tangkam (n) + aana > tangkamaana 'having a heart of gold'

            tiruttam (n) 'correction' + aana > tiruttamaana 'flawless; clear'

            tuTi (n) 'activeness'+ aana > tutiyaana 'active'

            toTarpu (n) 'contact; relation' + aana > toTarpaana 'relating to'

            ndiiLam (n) 'length' + aana > ndiiLamaana 'long'

            pakkaa (n) 'extremeness' + aana > pakkaavaana 'perfect'

            paTTavarttanam (n) + aana > paTTavarttanamaana

            parval (n) 'spreading' + aana > paravalaana 'widespread'

            pon (n) 'gold' + aana > ponnaana 'golden'

            pootum (n) 'sufficient’ + aana > pootumaana 'adequate; sufficient'

            makattu (n) + aana > makattaana 'impressive; grand'

            malivu (n)  'cheap' + aana > malivaana  'cheap;

            maaRu(n) 'opposite; the contrary' + aana > maaRaana 'different'

            miitu (n) 'on' + aana > miitaana 'against'

            mutal (n) 'from' + aana > mutalaana 'and the rest; etcetera; and  each other'

            muraN(n) 'contradiction; variance' + aana > muraNaana  contradicting; varying'

            mettakam (n)  + aana > mettakamaana

            mey (n) 'truth; fact' + aana > meyaana 'truthful'

            moohanam (n)  'charm' + aana > moohanamaana 'charming;  bewitching'

            rammiyam (n)  'being pleasant' + aana > rammiyamaana 'pleasant; delightful'

            ruci (n) 'taste' + aana > ruciyaana 'tasty;

            laTcaNam (n) 'beauty; perfection' + aana > laTcaNamaana 'beautiful'

            vakkaNai (n) 'esteem' + aana > vakkaNaiyaana 'tasty; skillful; smart'

            vacati (n) 'means; amenity' + aana > vacatiyaana 'rich; commodious; convenient'

            valu (n) 'strength' + aana > valuvaana 'strong'

            vanmai (n) 'forcefulness' + aana > vanmaiyaana 'forceful'

            vicittiram(n) 'strangeness; queerness' + aana > vicittiramaana 'strange; queer'

            viceesham (n) 'speciality' + aana > viceeshamaana 'of special interest'

            vittiyaacam (n) 'difference' + aana > vittiyaacamaana 'different'

            vitam (n) 'variety; kind' + aana > viitamaana 'variety; kind'

vitaraNai 'adroitness; discernment; perceptiveness'+ aana > vitaraNaiyaana 'adroit; discerning; perceptive'

            vipariitam (n) 'disaster' + aana > vipariitamaana 'disasterous'

            virakti (n)  'bitterness' + aana > viraktiyaana 'bitter'

            viracam (n) 'vulgarity; obscenity' + aana > viracamaana 'vulgar; obscene'

            virivu (n) 'extensiveness; elaborateness' + aana > virivaana 'extensive; elaborate'

            viruppam (n) 'desire; wish' + aana > viruppamaana 'desirable'

            vivaram 'information' + aana > vivaramaana 'informative'

            viveekam (n) 'discretion; wisdom' + aana > viveekamaana 'clever'

            vinayam (n) 'politeness; modesty' + aana > vinayamaana 'polite;  modest'

            vinootam (n) 'strangeness' + aana > vinootamaana 'strange'

            vistaaram (n) 'spaciousness' + aana > vistaaramaana 'spacious'

            vekuLi (n) 'innocence' + aana > vekuLiyaana 'frank and innocent'

            veTTi (n) 'uselessness' + aana > veTTiyaana 'useless'

            veLippaTai (n) 'openness; obviousness' + aana > veLippaTaiyaana 'blatant'

jampam (n) 'overweening pride; false prestige' + aana >   jampamaana 'of overweening pride; of false prestige'

            jaaTai (n) 'gesture; resemblance' + aana > jaaTaiyaana 'indirect'

            stiram (n) 'firmness' + aana > stiramaana 'firm; steady'

            spashTam (n) 'clarity' + aana > spashTamaana 'clarify'

11. 2. Compound forms

11. 2. 1. Fully reduplicated noun + aana

            Only one form is listed in KTTA

            paTi (n) 'step' + paTi + aana > paTippaTiyaana 'step by step'

11. 2. 2. Partially reduplicated noun + aana

Three such forms have listed in KTTA

[viRu + viRuppu] > viruviRuppu 'quality of being lively and exciting' + aana > viRuviRuppaana 'lively'

[vetu + vetuppu]> vetuvetuppu 'lukewarm state' + aana > vetuvetuppaana 'lukewarm'

[vev + veeRu] > vevveeRu 'state of being different' + aana > vevveeRaana 'different'

11. 2. 3. Rhyme motivated compound noun + aana

11. 2. 3. 1. N + N + aana

There are eight such forms listed in KTTA

arai (n) 'half' + kuRai (n) 'incompleteness' + aana > araikuRaiyaana 'incomplete'

azhuttam(n)  'firmness' + tiruttam(n)  'correction'> azhuttam tiruttam  + aana >  azhuttamtiruttamaana 'firm and precise'

uruTci (n) 'being round' + tiraTci (n) 'plumpness' + aana > uruTci  tiraTciyaana 'muscular'

11. 2. 3. 2. N + dative suffix + N

Only one  such form is listed in KTTA.

            eeRu + ukku + maaRu + aana > eeRukku maaRaana 'inconsistent'.

11. 2. 3. 3. Other types of compounds

11. 2. 3. 4. N + N + aana

There are sixteen of this type listed in KTTA.

avai (n) ‘assembly’ + aTakkam (n) ‘humility’  > avaiyaTakkam 'modesty; humility' + aana> avaiyaTakkamaana 'modest; humble'

aataaram (n) 'origin' + puurvam (n) 'basis' + aana > aataara puurvamaana 'authentic; authoritative'

            viiram (n) 'braveness' + aaveecam (n) 'anger' + aana > viiraaveecamaana 'fiery'

11. 2. 3. 5. N + ceyta-type relative participle form + N + aana

There is only one form listed in KTTA.

meel (n) 'top part' + ezhundta 'that which rose'+ vaari (n) 'according to; wise' + aana> meelezhuntavaariyaana  'superficial'

The forms marked with "@" are listed in KTTA as adjectives and those which are unmarked for "@" are listed as nouns and the possibility of deriving adjective form by adding the suffix -aana is given in bracket.   

12. paTTa and iTTa as adjectivalizers

The analysis of compound adjectives of the type N+paTTa/iTTa listed above reveals that paTTa and iTTa could be potential adjectivalizers.  The following could be possible adjectives.

N+ paTTa

            aacai ‘desire’ + paTTa > aacaippaTTa ‘desired’

            palveeRu ‘defferent’ + paTTa > palveeRupaTTa ‘different kinds of’

            viruppam ‘desire’ + paTTa> viruppappaTTa ‘desired’

N+ iTTa

            kaappu ‘security’ + iTTa > kaappiTTa ‘insulated’

            ndaaL ‘date’ + iTTa > ndaaLiTTa ‘dated’

            muttirai ‘seal’ + iTTa > muttiraiyiTTa ‘sealed’

Ambedkar (1998: 78) claims that there are twenty-four adjectives of N+iTTa type.

13. aRRa and keTTa as adjectivalizers

The ceyta-types forms such as aRRa and keTTa combines with a number of nouns to form compound adjectives.  It appears that aRRa and keTTa can be used as adjectivalizers (like aana) in the formation of adjectives from a set of nouns.

            aaTamparam (n) ‘pomp’ + aRRa > aaTamparmaRRa 'simple'

            azhaku (n) ‘beauty’ + aRRa > azhakaRRa 'ugly'

            aRivu (n) 'knowledge' + aRRa > aRivaRRa 'foolish'

            ozhukkam (n) ‘behaviour’ + keTTa > ozhukkangkeTTa 'imoral'

            ndanRi (n) ‘gratefulness’ + keTTa > ndanRikeTTa 'ungrateful'

            ndaati (n) ‘support’ + keTTa > ndaatikeTTa 'supportless'

            paNpu (n) ‘culture’ + keTTa > paNpukeTTa 'imoral'

Though aRRa and keTTa can be considered as the negative equivalents of the positive adjectival suffix aana, not all anna suffixed adjectival forms have the negative aRRa suffixed adjectival forms.

N + aana

N + aRRa

aaTamparamaana 'fancy'

aaTamparmaRRa 'simple'

azhakaana 'beautiful'

azhakaRRa 'ugly'

cariyaana      'correct'


tangkamaana    'excellent'


illaata which is phrasal than suffixal is preferred to aRRa in spoken language.

            azhaku 'beauty' + aRRa > azhakaRRa 'not beautiful'

            azhaku'beauty' + illaata > azhakillaata ' not beautiful'

            aRivu 'knowledge' + aRRa > aRivaRRa 'not clever'

            aRivu 'knowledge' + illaata > aRivillaata 'not clever'

14. enRa as adjectivizlizer

enRa is ceyta-type relative participle form of the verb en 'say'.  It is suffixed with words denoting sound and feeling to form adjectives.  KTTA has listed leven forms of this type as adjectives. KTTA does not recognize as an adjectivalizer.

Sound/feeling word + enRa

            cil + enRa > cillenRa 'chill'

            kaNiir + enRa > kaNiirenRa 'clear and loud'

            jil + enRa > jillenRu 'chill'

Fully reduplicated word denoting sound/feeling + enRa

            kaTa + kaTa + enRa > kaTakaTa enRa 'without break, interruption or break'

            kama + kama + enRa > kamakama enRa 'smelling pleasant'

            toLa + toLa + enRa > toLatoLa enRa 'loose'

Partially reduplicated word denoting sound/feeling + enRa

eenoo + taanoo + enRa > eenoo taanoo enRa 'half-hearted; perfunctionary; indifferent'

            kaca + muca + enRa > kacamuca enRa 'juicy; gossipy'

            cekka + ceveel + enRa > cekkacceveel enRa 'ruddy'

            paccai + paceel + enRa > paccaippaceel enRa 'lush green'

15. ceykiRa-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

There is only one form of this type is attested as adjective in KTTA.

talai 'head' + pookiRa (PaRP form of poo 'go' ) > talaipookiRa 'urgent; compelling'

talaipookiRa is an idiomatic usage. The rarity of the ceykiRa type of adjective shows us that ceykiRa-type of non-finite forms are not productive source of lexical adjectives.

16. ceyyum-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

There are seven forms of this type that have been listed in KTTA as adjectives.  Out of these seven forms three are simple and four are compounds.


ndikazhum (from the verb ndikazh 'happen';literally means 'that which happens') 'current' 

paazhum (from the verb paazh 'ruin'; literally means 'that which ruins') 'useless; wretched'

varum (from the verb vaa 'come') 'coming; next'


etir 'opposite' + varum (from the verb vaa 'come') >  etirvarum (literally means 'that which comes opposite') 'coming'

kiizh 'below' + kaaNum ( from the verb kaaN 'see') > kiizhkkaaNum (literally means 'that which is seen below')  'the following'

ndaTam 'walking' + aaTum (from the verb aaTu 'move') > ndaTamaaTum (literally means 'that which moves by walks')  'movable'

pin 'behind' + varum (from the verb vaa 'come'> pin varum (literally means 'that which comes behind') 'following'

The rarity of lexicalization of ceyyum-type of forms as adjectives in KTTA shows that the non-finite forms of this type are not a productive source for the formation of lexical adjectives.

17. ceyaata-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

There are twenty-three forms of this type which have been listed in KTTA as adjectives.  Out of twenty-four forms, eight forms are simple and the rest of the sixteen forms are compound.


            aTaata 'improper; unbecoming'

            allaata 'other than'

            illaata 'of not being or existing'

            innaata 'harmful; evil'

            takaata 'improper'

            taaLaata 'unbearable'

            veeNTaata 'unnecessary’


N + ceyyaata-type non-finite form

            iTai 'middle' + aRaata > iTaiyaRaata 'uninterrupted; without break; incessant'

iTai 'middle' + viTaata 'that which is not left' >iTaiviTaata 'uninterrupted; without break;incessant'

iNai 'match; pair' + piriyaata 'that which is not separated' > iNaipiriyaata 'inseparable'

inam 'sort; kind; identity' + teriyaata 'that which is not known' > inamteriyaata 'inexplicable; unidentifiable; vague'

inam 'sort; kind; identity' + puriyaata 'that which is not understood' > inampuriyaata        'inexplicable; unidentifiable; vague'

            kaN 'eye' + kaaNaata 'that which is not seen' > kaN kaaNaata 'remote; far away'

            kaN 'eye' + koLLaata 'that which is not taken in' > kaN koLLaata 'surpassing'

            meel 'above' + paTaata 'that which is subjected to' > meeRpaTaata 'not exeeding'

varalaaRu 'history' + kaaNaata 'that wich is not seen' >varalaaRu kaaNaata 'unprecedented'

N + dat + ceyyaata-type of non-finite form

kavai 'forked stick' + kku + utavaata (negative relative participle form of utavu ‘help’ > kavaikkutavaata 'useless; worthless; futile'

N + N + ceyaata-type non-finite form

kaN 'eye' + maN 'earth' + teriyaata (negative relative participle form of teri ‘know’) > kaNmaN teriyaata

            tan 'self' + ndikar 'equality'   + illaata >  tannikarillaata 'matchless; peerless'

            tan ‘self’ + ndirar ‘equality’ +aRRa > tannikaraRRa 'matchless; peerless'

mun 'front' + pin 'back' + teriyaata (negative relative participle form of teri ‘know’ > munpin teriyaata 'unfamiliar; unknown'

The verbs from which the simple forms have been formed are defective verbs.  The scaling of the lexicalization of the ceyyaata-type of relative participle forms as adjectives shows us that these types of forms are potential source for the deverbal adjectivalization.

ceyaa-type of relative participle forms as adjectives

There are no simple forms of this type; only compound forms of this type have been listed in KTTA as adjectives.

N + ceyyaa-type of relative participle form

iNai 'match; pair' + piriyaa (negative relative participle form of piri ‘separate’) > iNaipiriyaa ‘inseparable’

kaN 'eye' + koLLaa  (negative relative participle form of  koL ‘possess’) > kaNkoLLaa ‘surpassing’

maTTu 'limit' + illaa (negative relative participle form of il ‘be’ > maTTillaa ‘overwhelming’

N + N + ceyyaa-type of relative participle form

            tan 'self' + ndikar 'equality' + illaa > tannikarillaa 'matchless; peerless'

Except maTTillaa, all the other forms of this type have equivalent ceyyaata-type of forms listed in KTTA. Though all ceyyaata-type of forms can have equivalent ceyyaa-type of forms, only the above listed forms are found in KTTA. It is to be noted that ceyyaa-type of forms belong to high language variety.


Adjectives dealt under this heading are formed form a third source where most of the members belonging to it cannot be categorized strictly as nouns or verbs. The adjectives that are classified here can be equated with the relative participle forms of the verbs; they can be, in general, said as the relative participle forms of the appellative verbs (in line with traditional grammarians).  (Though some of the forms are nominal, due their similarities with the majority of the forms are grouped here.) The following classification is made taking into account different forms of the appellative verbs that can attribute nouns.

            1.  peer-type of adjectives

            2.  peru-type of adjectives

            3. perum-type of adjectives

            4. periya-type of adjectives

            5. ai-suffixed adjectives

            6. ee-suffixed adjectives

            7. Other types of adjectives

peer-type of adjectives

The words which are considered by traditional grammarians as appellative verbs and a few others whose derivation cannot be linked elsewhere are taken here as adjective of this type.

Those ending in consonant

            in 'delightful;sweet',

            iir 'two',

            eN 'eight'

            eezh 'seven',

            oor 'one',

            kaar 'black',

            caaTcaat, 'identical or exactly the same',

            ten 'south',

            tiTiir 'abrupt; sudden; unexpected',

            tol 'ancient; old' ,

            ndal 'good'

            ndaal 'four'

            nduN 'small; tiny; minute',

            punar 're-',

            peer 'great; immense'

The forms such as ndal, peer can be equated with the cey type of relative participle form of verbs. 

peru-type of adjectives

There are twelve adjectives of this type listed in KTTA. Out of which  six are simple and six are  complex.

            Simple forms

            oru 'one'

            iru 'two'

            muu ‘three’

            ciRu 'small',

            maRu 'further; another; opposite; alternate',

            muzhu 'whole; entire; full; complete; total', and

            veRRu 'empty; bare; blank; useless' are the simple forms.    

Complex forms

Reduplicated forms

            ov + oru 'one' > ovvoru 'every'

            cinnam + ciRu 'small' > cinnanjciRu 'very small; very young'

Compound forms

            in + oru > innoru 'another; one more'

            oor 'one' + iru 'two' > ooriru 'a few'

            maR 'another' + oru 'one' > maRRoru 'another'

perum-type of adjectives

There are sixteen adjectives of this type listed in KTTA, out of which thirteen are simple forms and three are complex forms

Simple forms

            arum 'precious; important',

            iLam 'young',

            karum 'black',

            kuRum 'short',

            koTum 'terrible',

            cem 'red',

            tiim 'sweet',

            ndeTum 'long',

            pacum 'green; fresh',

            pazham 'ancient' old; olden',

            paazhum 'desolate; ruined; useless; wretched',

            perum 'great; large; major; severe', and

            veRum  'empty; bare; naked; mere'.


N + Adj > Adj

            kaTTu + iLam 'young' > kaTTiLam 'strong and youthful; attractive and charming'

            Adj + Adj

            pazham 'old' + perum 'great' > pazhamperum 'veteran; seasoned' 

            mutu 'old' + perum 'great' > mutuperum > 'veteran; seasoned'

periya-type of adjectives

The adjectives of this type can be equated with the ceyta type of relative participle forms of the verbs.  These adjectives can be classified into three types:

            1. a-suffixed adjectives

            2. iya-suffixed adjectives

3. aiya-suffixed adjectives

4. attiya-suffixed adjectives

5. uLLa, uTaiya suffixed adjectives

a-suffixed adjectives

There are sixteen adjectives of this type listed in KTTA, out of which twelve are simple and four are complex.


            andt + a > andta 'that'

            indt + a > indta 'this'

            endt + a > endta 'what'

            in + a > inna 'such'

            uL + a > uLLa 'having'

            uTai + a > uTaiya 'having'

            cin + a > cinna 'small'

            tak + a > takka 'suitable'

            tii + a > tiiya 'bad'

            tuuy + > tuuya  'pure'

            ndal + a > ndalla 'good'

            mik + a > mikka 'very; extreme'


            aru + mandt + a > arumandta 'dear'

            in + oor + an + a > innooranna 'similar; such'

            inna + piR + a > innapiRa 'of similar; and so on'


            ciR + cil + a > ciRcila 'slight or minor'

aiya-suffixed adjectives

There are twelve adjectives listed in KTTA which can be analysed as formed by adding a to the ai suffixed nouns.

            [anRu 'that day' + ai] + a > anRaiya 'of the day; of those days'

            [i + tak + ai] + a > ittakaiya 'of this kind or sort or nature'

            [inRu 'this day' + ai] + a > inRaiya 'this day's; today's; of this present time'

            [een + ai] + a > eenaiya 'all other'

            [ndaaL + ai] > ndaaLai 'tomorrow' + a > ndaaLaiya 'of  tomorrow; future'

            [ndeeRRu 'yesterday' + ai] + a > ndeeRaiya 'yesterday's; of the past'

            [paNT + ai] + a > paNTaiya 'ancient; olden; former'

            [pazh + ai] + a > pazhaiya 'old'

            [taRpootu + ai] + a > taRpootaiya 'existing; present'

            [pindt + ai] + a > pindtaiya 'later'

            [mundt + ai] + a > mundtaiya 'previous'

            [mun + ai] + a > munnaiya 'previous'

iya-suffixed adjectives

There are twenty-three adjectives of this type listed in KTTA out of which twenty of them are simple and the rest three of them are compound.

Simple forms

            ar + iya > ariya 'rare; precious; valuable'

            azhaku + iya > azhakiya 'beautiful; lovely; charming'

            uyar + iya  > uyariya 'noble'

            ur + iya > uriya 'characteristic of' 

            in + iya > iniya 'delightful'

            kuur + iya > kuuriya 'pointed; sharp'

            koT + iya > koTiya 'cruel'

            ciR + iya > ciRiya 'small'

            ciir + iya > ciiriya 'excellent'

            tiN + iya > tiNNiya 'strong; firm'

            nduN + iya > nduNNiya 'small; tiny'

            ndeT + iya > ndeTiya 'tall; high'

            ndeer + iya > ndeeriya 'excellent'

            pac + iya > paciya 'green'

            put + iya > putiya 'new'

            per + iya > periya 'big; large'

            mutal + iya > mutaliya 'and the rest'

            mut + iya > mutiya 'aged; old'

            mel + iya > melliya 'thin; slender'

            vaR + iya > vaRiya 'poverty stricken; impoverished'

Compound forms

N + iya-suffixed form

            aLappu 'measurement' + [ar + iya] > aLappariya 'innumerable; incredibly high'

Reduplicated Compound

            puttam + [put + iya] > puttamputiya 'brand-new'

[N + Dat] + iya-suffixed form

            [ceyal + ku] + [ar + iya] > ceyaRkariya 'extraordinary'

attiya-suffixed adjectives

            There are five adjectives of this type.

            kizhakku 'east' + attu + iya > kizhakkattiya 'eastern'

            camiipam 'proximity' + attu + iya > camiipattiya 'recent'

            teRku 'south' + attu + iya > teRkattiya 'southern'

            meeRku 'west' + attu + iya > meeRkattiya 'western'

            vaTakku 'north' + attu + iya > vaTakkattiya 'northern'

uLLa and uTaiya as adjectivalizer

uLLa  which is the adjectival form of the root word uL and uTaiya which is the adjectival form of the root word uTai are synonymous to aana in the formation of adjectives from certain nouns. uLLa and uTaiya are not recognized as an adverbializer in KTTA.

azhaku 'beauty' + uLLa > azhakuLLa 'beautiful'

            azhaku 'beauty ' + uTaiya > azhakuTaiya 'beautiful'

            aRivu 'knowledge' + uLLa > aRivuLLa 'clever'

            aRivu 'knowledge' + uTaiya > aRivuTaiya 'clever'

While aana, uLLa and uTaiya are used for brining out the positive sense of the quality denoted by the nouns. aRRa and illaata can be considered as forms antonymous to the former three forms which are used for bringing out the negative sense of the quality denoted the nouns which precede them. ceyta-type of adjectival forms can be synonymous with forms derived by the suffixation of adjectival suffixes aana, mikka, uLLa and uTaiya with nouns. The following table will illustrate this point.

ceyta- type of adjectival forms

The synonymous simple as well as derived forms (formed by adjectival suffixes aana, mikka, uLLa and uTaiya)

akanRa 'wide'                

akalammaana, akalamikka, akalamuLLa

aazhndta 'deep'

aazhamaana, aazhamuLLa

izhindta 'low'

izhivaana, izhivuLLa

uyarndta 'high'

uyarvaana, uyarvuLLa

oTungkiya 'narrow'


karutta/kaRutta ‘black’

kaar, karuppu, karum, kariya, karumaiyaana

kanatta 'heavy' 

kanamaana, kanamuLLa

kuRukiya 'narrow'

kuRu, kuRum, kuRukalaana

kuRaindta 'low'

kuRai, kuRivaana

kuurtta/kuurndta 'sharp'

kuur, kuuriya, kuurmaiyaana, kuurmaimikka

keTTa 'bad'

keeTu, keTutalaana ?

ciRandta 'eminent'

ciRappu, ciRappaana, ciRappumikka

cemmaandta 'exalted' 

cem, cemaiyaaana

takundta 'sitable'

taku, takutiyaana, takutimikka

taTitta 'thick'

taTi, taTiya, taTippaana

tazhaindta  'soft'


tiraNTa 'vast'


teLLiya 'clear'


nderungkiya  'intimate' 


parandta 'vast'


pootiya 'enough'


mikundta 'much'

miku, mikka, mikutiyaana

The adjectivalizers antonymous to keTTa are aana, uLLa and uTaiya.  Though uLLa and uTaiya, as stated already, are synonymous with aana, aana cannot be always replaced by uLLa and uTaiya and vice versa. Gopal (1981) in the appendix of his thesis gives a table in which nouns are tabled against the adjectivalizers (uLLa, uTaiya, aana) they take.  He lists 603 nouns and out of them 344 nouns are capable of forming adjectives by taking uLLa or uTaiya; 538 nouns are capable of forming adjectives by taking aana.  According to his table, uLLa and uTaiya adjectivalize the same nouns; aana, with the exception of few nouns (ex. akkarai ‘interest’+uLLa > akkaraiyuLLa ‘interested’ akkarai ‘interest’ + uTaiya > akkaraiyuTaiya ‘interested’, akkarai+aana> *akkaraiyaana.), adjectivalize most of the nouns, which undergoes adjectivalization by uLLa and uTaiya; it also adjectivalize a number of nouns, which cannot be adjectivalized by uLLa and uTaiya. (It should be noted that KTTA allows the formation of akkaraiyaana ‘having serious attention’.)

ai-suffixed adjectives

            There only three adjectives of this type listed in KTTA.

            paNT + ai > paNTai 'ancient; olden; former'

            meel 'above' + ai > meelai 'western'

            kiizh 'below' + ai > kiizhai 'eastern; oriental'

ee-suffixed adjectives

            There is only one adjective of this type listed in KTTA.

            oru 'one' + ee > oree 'one and only; the only; very same'

Other types of adjectives


            itara 'other'

            upa 'sub-; supplementary'

            caataa 'plain'

            makaa 'great'

            maa 'large'

            maaji 'former'

            muu 'three'

            vaTa 'north'

            veeti 'chemical'


            toLatoLa 'loose; baggy'

19. REMARKS ON peer, peru, perum, periya TYPES OF ADJECTIVES

Tradtional grammars distinguish two types of verbs: terindilai vinaikaL, the verbs which are capable of taking take tense markers and kuRippu vinaikaL ‘appelative verbs’, the verbs which Most of the adjectives listed under peer, peru, perum, periya types of adjectives fall under appellative verbs. Some of the root forms exist as attributes to nouns (ex. peer 'big', oor 'one' and some of them do not exists in the shape posited here (for example tuuy, paNT, etc.). They are posited to keep up with the uniformity in the formation of the concerned adjectives and the posited forms can be justified diachronically. The traditional grammarians reconstruct the appellative adjectives as nominal forms.  For example, peer, peru and perum are reconstructed by traditional grammarians as perumai.  According to traditional grammarians peer, peru, perum attributive forms of the noun perumai or forms derived from perumai.  They treat adjectival forms as forms deduced from the mai suffixed nominal forms by sandhi change.  The following examples will exemplify this.

            perumai + azhaki > peerazhaki 'immensely beautiful woman'

            perumai + veLLam > peru veLLam 'flood'

On the similar lines the traditional grammars deduce oor 'a' from onRu 'one' and  vaTa from vaTakku 'north'.

            onRu 'one' + aayiram ‘thousand’> ooraayiram 'one thousand'

            vaTakku 'north' + ticai 'direction' > vaTaticai 'northerndirection'


The rules of deduction by sandhi changes as envisaged by the traditional grammars appear to be irregular. There is no justification for this type of traditional analysis as perumai itself can be analysed as derived from the root peru by the suffixation of -mai. If we take adjectival forms as alternants of nominal forms, then we have to posit adhoc morphophonemic rules to account for the change of one form into another.

            perumai 'greatness' + aapattu 'danger' > peeraapattu 'great danger'

            iraNTu 'two' + aayiram 'thousand' > irraayiram 'two thousand'

            teRku 'south' + ticai 'direction' > tenticai 'south'

More over prerumai 'greatness' comes as an attribute to aapattu, thereby exhibit the semantic irregularity in interpreting the attributive meaning.    So it is better for us to treat the alternant forms such as peer, peru and perum as adjectives rather than deriving them from noun.

Regularity can be visualized if we derive the suffixed-forms from presumed root forms as given in our analysis. It has to be noted that a root appellative adjective can have four forms as in the case of peer - peer, peru, perum and periya. The first three forms are bound forms and the last one is an independent forms. Some appellative root forms have all the four types of adjectival forms and some may not have all the four forms, missing one or two. The following table stands to testify this.




periya type

Related qualitative or numeral noun

















































































































































































































pazha, pazhaiya













































































["*" denotes that the item marked with * is not found in the dictionary or is not a dictionary form. "?" indicates that the forms marked by it is possible but is not listed in KTTA as adjectival form.]

 The table shows us that the qualitative adjectives have two or three adjectival forms. All the qualitative adjectives have mai-suffixed qualitative nouns. peer-type of adjectival form, peru-type of adjectival form and perum-type of adjectival form can be considered to belonging to one morpheme as they can be phonologically conditioned.   peer-type of form is suffixed with nouns beginning with a vowel; perum-type of form comes before nouns beginning with stop consonants; and peru-type of forms comes before nouns beginning with non-stop consonants; periya type of form is an independent form occurring before space juncture and thus differing from the previously mentioned three bound forms. 

peer ‘big’ + aapattu ‘accident’ > peeraapattu 'great accident'

            peru ‘big’ + veLLam ‘water’ > peruveLLam ‘flood'

            perum ‘big’ + pakuti ‘part’ > perum pakuti 'great part'

            periya atikaari 'superior officer'

Actually -m has four alternant phonemes -ng occurring before nouns beginning with k, nj occurring before nouns beginning with c, nd occurring before nouns beginning with t and m occurring before nouns beginning with p.

perum ‘big’ + kaaRRu ‘wind’ > perungkaaRRu 'great wind'

            perum + cirippu ‘laugh’ > perunjcirippu 'great laugh'

            perum + taaTi ‘beard’ > perundtaaTi 'great beard'

            perum + paavam ‘sin’ > perumpaavam 'great sin'

The generalized distribution based on phonology will not work when there is meaning or usage difference between the individual forms of a set.  For example kaar, which belongs to higher variety of Tamil, can come before nouns beginning with both vowels and consonants.

kaar ‘black’ + kuundtal ‘hair’ > kaar kuundtal 'black hair'

            kaar ‘black’ + iruL ‘darkness’ > kaariruL 'dark night'

The phonological distribution will be disturbed in the absence of one or more forms in a set.  The numeral nouns have one or two adjectival forms out of which the first one is peer-type of form and the second one is peru-type of form. The numeral adjectives denoting 'one', 'two' and 'seven' have two forms and those denoting 'three' and  'four' have one form each. The two forms of 'one' and 'two' are phonologically conditioned - the peer-type of forms occur before nouns beginning with vowel and peru-type of forms occur before nouns beginning with consonant.  

oor ‘one’ + aayiram ‘thousand’ > oraayiram 'one thousand'

            iir ‘two’ + aTi ‘step’ > iiraTi 'two steps'

            oru ndaaL 'one day'

            iru kaalkaL 'two legs'

Three and four have one more form for each mu and ndaa respectively which are not listed in KTTA as they are not adjectival forms;  [mu comes before patu 'ten' nduuRu 'hundred'as muppatu mundnduuRu 'three hundred' and ndaa comes before nduuRu]. 

The demonstrative adjectives have only periya type of forms. The comes before nouns to demonstrate them. The bound forms a, i and e can be visualized as alternants of andta, indta and endta respectively.

            andta paiyan / appiyan 'that boy'

            indta paiyan / ippaiyan 'this boy'

            endta paiyan / eppaiyan 'which boy'

The quantitative adjectives cila 'some' and pala 'many' have been listed in kTTA as nouns, though their use as adjectives has been taken care of under the same lemas/citations.  The following examples will illustrate their use as adjectives.

            cila tavaRukaL 'some mistakes'

            pala iTangkaL 'many places'

pala has two bound alternants pal and pan.

pal ‘many’ + aayiram ‘thousand’ > pallaayiram 'many thousands'

            pan ‘many’ + muRai ‘times’ > panmuRai 'many times'

pal and pan are not listed adjectives in KTTA as they are not productively used as attributes to nouns.


The following table gives the statistical details of the types of adjectives found in KTTA.

Sl. no.

Types of adjectives

Number of forms


aana-suffixed adjectives



enRa-suffixed adjectives



cey-type adjectives



ceyta-type adjectives



ceykiRa-type adjectives



ceyyum-type adjectives



ceyaata-type adjectives



ceyaa-type adjectives



Phonologically unchanged denominal adjectives



Adjectives formed by the germination of the consonant of the final syllable of the concerned noun.



Adjectives formed by the deletion of m/n/r of the final syllable am\an\ar of the concerned noun



iya suffixed denominal adjectives



aiya suffixed denominal adjecives



peer-type of adjecives



peru-type of adjectives



perum-type of adjceives



periya-type of adjectives



a suffixed adjective



iya suffixed adjectives



aiya suffixed adjectives


A particular type of rule or operation is productive in the formation of words will be decided by the fact that whether the word formation rule or operation is capable of forming new words or not.  There are different views regarding whether a particular wordformation rule or operation is productive or not.   The statistical information may be taken as a secondary support for a primary decision.   Based on the above discussions we can arrive at the following statements, though not coclusively, tentatively at least.

·       There is no problem in considering all the above listed non-finite forms of verbs as attributes to nouns and there by consider them as belonging to the syntactic category called adjective.  The issue here is whether to consider all these forms belonging to the word class called adjective or not.  As far as the function is concerned, there is no differences between denominal adjectives, appellative deverbal adjectives and deverbal adjectives.  Traditional grammars consider the relative participle forms as non-finite forms that occur before nouns and thus differentiate them from other non-finite forms that occur before verbs.

·       Nouns have the tendency of being used as adjectives if they stand to denote certain qualities that are attributive in nature.  So nouns that denote some abstract sense have the likelihood of being used and/or lexicalized as adjectives.

·       The use of appellative relative participle forms as adjectives seems to be a traditionally established function.  Even traditional grammarians consider the root of these forms, which do not inflect for tense as verbs, but take finite PNG (person-number-genedrer) syffix as kuRippu vinaikaL 'appellative verbs'.  The adjectival forms of this type are very much lexicalized and are closed sets. The use of relative participle forms adjective is also a traditionally established function.  As these forms are considered as non-finite forms of verbs, they are not assigned to a separate grammatical category (or word class) called adjective. 

·       Listing all the relative participle forms of verbs that occur before nouns as adjectives in a dictionary is not economical.  KTTA has listed only those forms that are lexicalized at the semantic level as adjectives.

·       aana seems to be a productive suffix in the formation of lexical adjectives, though there are controversies in taking it as a derivative suffix. uLLa, uTaiya koNTa, mikka, aRRa and  enRa can also be manipulated for the formation of adjectives in a restricted way. 

·       Lexicalization of the relative participle forms of verbs listed above into adjectives gives us the clue that they form the rich source from which adjectives can be formed by lexicalization as the semantic level. 


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Annamalai, E. (ed.) 1997. Adjectival Clause in Tamil. Tokyo:  Institute for the Study of Language and Culture of Asia and Africa.

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Bhat, D.N.S. 1991. An Introduction to Indian Grammars: Part three: Adjectives. Report submitted to University Grants Commission.

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