Tamil belongs to the South Dravidian subgroup of languages. Spoken in southern India and northeastern Sri Lanka from prehistoric times, Tamil literature and other documents reveal three distinct historical stages of the language: Old Tamil, Middle Tamil and Modern Tamil. This chapter describes the modern language. Lacking an adequate phonology of modern Tamil, linguists take the transcription of the written language as the underlying phonological representation and the corresponding spoken form as the surface representation. Tamil grammar distinguishes primarily between free forms, parts of speech, and bound forms clitic particles. Nominals in Tamil serve a variety of functions. As in many other languages, they generally correspond to arguments in logical structure, may be associated with referential indices and may be used in address. The words with defective morphology, incapable of participating in the full range of nominal or verbal inflection.