In Malayalam, to talk about something existing, you generally use the verb ഉണ്ട് uND(u)
. This verb is typically pronounced (more like) oND(u)
. For example, to say 'there is fish in the boat', you'd say:
വള്ളത്തിൽ മീനുണ്ട്. vaLLaththil miinuND(u).
(But you'd probably pronounce it like vaLLaththil miinoND(u)
. For the purposes of this post, you may safely assume that all sequences of uND
are often pronounced oND
You can also use this with a pronoun as the subject, not just with nouns like 'fish'. For example, to say 'I'm here' (as in 'I'm here for you' or 'I'm present' or whatever), you'd say:
As I'd pointed out earlier in a reply to sshashwatt
, you can also use ഉണ്ട് after the present progressive form of a verb, and that means pretty much the same thing as the present progressive form.
The past tense of ഉണ്ട് is ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു unDaayirunnu
, and the future tense (definite) form is ഉണ്ടാകും uNDaakum
. If you want to say 'there may be', you'd say ഉണ്ടാകുമായിരിക്കും uNDaakumaayirikkum
, which is often pronounced uNDaakuvaayirikkum
(i.e. the first m
is often pronounced like a v
Also, generally, in Malayalam, you can drop the subject if it's implied from the context. This is kind of like using pronouns with a clear antecedent in English; it's just that in Malayalam, we often tend to just drop the subject altogether instead of replacing it with a pronoun:
'Is there any fish?'
വള്ളത്തിൽ ഉണ്ട്. vaLLaththil uND(u).
'Yes, in the boat.' (Literally 'there is in the boat')
There's a different form of ഉണ്ട് used for saying 'there is/are only...', but we'll probably talk about that later.
Sometimes, you can just use the verb for 'to be' to mean 'there is/are', too. For example, you can do this if you're talking about something being full of something else or about something being in/at a particular location (these are the only examples that are coming to my mind right now, at least):
വള്ളത്തിൽ മുഴുവനും മീനാ. vaLLaththil muzhuvanum miinaa.
'The boat is full of fish.' (മുഴുവനും means something like 'whole' and is typically pronounced more like muzhzhenum
വള്ളത്തിൽ മീനാ. vaLLaththil miinaa.
'It's fish that's in the boat.'
വള്ളത്തിലാ മീൻ. vaLLaththilaa miin.
'It's in the boat that the fish are.'
There are other expressions for saying that something exists that use ഉണ്ട് as well. Perhaps the most common one is ഇരിപ്പുണ്ട് irippuND(u)
, which literally means 'there is sitting'. Other common ones are നില്പുണ്ട് nilpuND(u)
'there is standing/waiting' and കിടപ്പുണ്ട് kiDappuND(u)
(typically pronounced keDapoND(u)
) 'there is lying'. I think it may be safe to say that കിടപ്പുണ്ട് has the connotation of something 'remaining' and that നില്പുണ്ട് has a connotation closer to 'waiting', while ഇരിപ്പുണ്ട് sounds like something or someone is in one place and isn't likely to move from there.
To say 'there isn't' in Malayalam, you usually say ഇല്ല illa
. Sometimes, you can say അല്ല alla
(just like how sometimes you can use -ആ -aa
to mean 'there is/are'). The past tense form of ഇല്ല is ഇല്ലായിരുന്നു illaayirunnu
, and the past tense of അല്ല is similarly അല്ലായിരുന്നു allaayirunnu
. The future tense equivalent of ഇല്ല is ഇല്ലാതിരിക്കും illaathirikkum
, literally 'will sit without being'. ഇല്ലായിരിക്കും illaayirikkum
(with a y
instead of a th
) means 'there may not be'. അല്ലായിരിക്കും allaayirikkum
can mean either 'may not be' or 'will not be'. You can also say something like 'cannot be' to mean 'will not be' (e.g. ആകാൻ വയ്യ aakaan vayya
Malayalam doesn't have a verb for 'to have'; instead, it usually uses ഉണ്ട് or ഇല്ല with the subject/possessor in dative case. For example, the usual way to say 'I have' is literally 'there is to me':
എനിക്ക് ഉണ്ട്. enikk uND(u).
And the usual way to say 'I don't have' is literally 'there isn't to me':
എനിക്ക് ഇല്ല. enikk illa.
However, there are other expressions that translate to some form of 'have' in English, too. If you want to talk about something being in someone's possession, a common way of saying this, especially in colloquial Malayalam, literally translates as 'in [subject]'s there is':
എന്റെയിൽ ഒരു കാറുണ്ട്. endeyil oru kaarruND(u).
'I have a car.'
അമ്മയുടെയിൽ ഒരു പശുവുണ്ട്. ammayuDeyil oru paSuvuND(u).
(pronounced more like ammEDEl oru paSuvoND(u).
) 'Mom has a cow.'
in these expressions is pronounced -El
in my experience.
Another way of saying that something is in someone's possession is to use the expression കൈവശം ഉണ്ട് kaivaSam uND(u)
, literally 'there is the hand side' (the idea being 'there is in [person]'s hand' even if it's only in the person's possession, not literally in anyone's hand) with the possessor in genitive case like in the previous expression:
എന്റെ കൈവശം ഒരു പേനയുണ്ട്. ende kaivaSam oru pEnayuND(u).
'I have a pen.'
The first of these expressions can be negated, though I'm less sure about whether the second one can be:
എന്റെയിൽ ഒരു കാറില്ല. endeyil oru kaarrilla.
'I don't have a car.'
Also, I thought I'd talk about how to talk about not wanting or needing things, because we already know that വേണം vENam
is the verb you use for talking about when someone does need or want something. The negative form is വേണ്ട vENDa
എനിക്ക് അത് വേണ്ട. enikk ath(u) vENDa.
'I don't want that.'
അവന് ഒരു ഭാര്യയെ വേണ്ട. avan oru bhaaryaye vENDa.
'He doesn't want a wife.'
ഉണ്ട് and ഇല്ല can also be used with some other words to talk about certain kinds of feelings and emotions, and these expressions also require the subject to be in dative case. For example, to say that someone is afraid, in Malayalam, you say that "there is fear (പേടി pEDi
) to them":
എനിക്ക് പേടിയുണ്ട്. enikk(u) pEDiyuND(u).
എനിക്ക് പേടിയില്ല. enikk(u) pEDIyilla.
'I'm not scared.'
You can use this for various other feelings and emotions, too:
എനിക്ക് വിശപ്പുണ്ട്. enikk(u) viSappuND(u).
'I'm hungry.' ("To me there is hunger.")
എനിക്ക് ദാഹമുണ്ട്. enikk(u) daahamuND(u).
'I'm thirsty.' ("To me there is thirst.")
എനിക്ക് സങ്കടമുണ്ട്. enikk(u) sanggaDamuND(u).
'I'm sad.' ("To me there is sadness.")
എനിക്ക് തണുപ്പുണ്ട്. enikk(u) thaNuppuND(u).
'I'm cold.' ("To me there is coldness.")
I think all of these expressions are also cases where you can use 'to be' instead of ഉണ്ട്, e.g. എനിക്ക് വിശപ്പാ. enikk(u) viSappaa.
There are other ways to say 'I'm thirsty' and 'I'm cold', too:
എനിക്ക് ദാഹിക്കുന്നു. enikk(u) daahikkunnu.
എനിക്ക് തണുക്കുന്നു. enikk(u) thaNukkunnu.
I should write a lesson on the various words for 'only' in Malayalam and the differences between them sometime, but next time, I think I'll just talk about some other ways to say 'no' besides അല്ല alla
and ഇല്ല illa
and then about how the direct objects of verbs having to do with feelings, wanting things, etc. are not always in accusative case even if they're animate. (Of course, if there's something more crucial that I just have to talk about next time, then I'll try to talk about that instead and may not get around to explaining all these things). Maybe I can write about 'only' the time after next and also talk in Malayalam about how to talk about whether there's any point to doing something; we'll see!