All Tamil pronouns contain an phonetic element that indicates whether one is referring to something proximate, distant, or whether a question is being asked about someone or something. This is similar to sets in English like `here, there' and `where', or `this, that,' and `what'. In English the only reliable portion of these sets is the wh- element, so in English these are referred to as wh-interrogatives by linguists. In Tamil, the first vowel of the adjective or pronoun, É i, Ç a, and Í e, represent the meanings `proximate' (this, here), `distant' (that, there) and `interrogative' (what, where). These sets are quite regular (more so than English), with only a few deviations from this vowel pattern.In older LT, there was a further distinction, `yonder, out of sight' provided by the vocalic element Ë u, but this is no longer in use, even in modern LT. Some grammarians refer to these kinds of pronouns etc. as `deictic' pronouns (from the Greek deixis meaning `pointing'.) Cf. also § 5.1 (Demonstrative Adjectives).
Note that in the cases of ÍÂ(ª) eva(l) `which (female)?', ÍÂ¨ evan `which (male)?' and ÍÂõ´ evanga `which people?' these forms are only used when it is known that the person in question is a (low-status) male or female, or something particular is known about the people. Otherwise, ¿Ôç yaaru `who' is used in place of all these forms. Furthmore, Íâ edu is also used only when something is known about a thing; if nothing is known, Í¨Æ enna is used.