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Simple & Useful Phrases in Tamil to Get In and Around Chennai

So you’ve landed in Chennai — the land of beaches, temples, thalaiva-worshippers, and mouth-watering cuisine. But, the thing to make this mega metropolis more welcoming is to dish out some ‘Madras Bashai’.

No matter which part of the country you belong to, it’s easy to catch up on the slang and belong to the city. So, let’s go!

1. The basic magic words because you can’t shout ‘kaappathunga’ (help) every time.

Hello/Namaste

Vanakkam

Welcome

Vaazhga

Thanks

Nandri

How are you?

Eppadi irukkinga?

I’m fine, thanks

Nallaa irukaen

I’m sorry

Mannikkanum

I don’t understand

Enakku puriyala

Please

Theiva seidhu

Yes

Aama

No

Illa

2. To the market? Then here are your bargaining tools

How much?

Evlo? Or Evlo aagum?

How many?

Ethana?

Too much/ high (price)

Romba jaasthi

Decrease it little

Konjam kammi pannunga

I want this/that

Idhu/adhu vaenum

3. Directions anyone?

Where is ‘x’?

x’ engey erukku?

Stop here/there

Inga/anga niruthunga

Where is the ‘x’?

x’ enga iruku?

Do you know ‘x’?

x’ theriyuma?

4. Get familiar and get assistance promptly

Brother

Anna

Sister

Akka

Dude

Macha

Grandma

Paatti

Grandpa

Thatha

Okay

Seri

5. SOS or the life saver

Anna/akka, tamil theriyaadu
Or, Bro/sis, I don’t know Tamil.

These words will rescue you from any sticky situation that you might have landed yourself in. Of course, the paradox of saying ‘you don’t know Tamil’ in Tamil is obvious but this will ensure help rather than saying it in English.

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