I know that the Dravidian languages are agglutinating type and have noun cases but I was interested in whether they also have postpositions. I'm assuming they do. I also wonder if some might also have a couple of prepositions.

When I try to Google this, all the references I could find for Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, or Kannada seemed to be mislabeling case endings on nouns as postpositions.

Then again I tried to learn some Georgian ten years ago and in that language some postpositions are actually written as suffixes, which blurs the line with case endings. So it's not impossible that Dravidian languages could do something similar.

3 Answers 3


Conventional wisdom is that the Dravidian languages have postpositions. As a representative for this conventional wisdom I cite WALS chapter 85 here. Dryer, the author of the explanatory text, goes into some detail in the distinction between case endings (not counted as adpositions), clitics (counted as adpositions), and adpositions. He also mentions languages without adpositions at all (they exist) and languages with only one or two adpositions at all (they are counted as having adpositions in the WALS survey).

  • Georgian definitely has case endings and cliticized postpositions. I'm pretty sure it also has independent postpositions too but it's a decade since I was studying it. Jun 2, 2022 at 3:21

Kannada uses postpositions for marking case. Chapter 8 of A Manual of Modern Kannada shows plenty of examples for ablative and locative postpositions. I don't think of this as mislabeling case endings because many postpositions are derived from other words that can occur on their own. The suffix, "iMda", is always bound, but others like "alli", "meele", "keLage", "oLage", etc. can occur on their own, without an explicit noun. For example, "oLage" means "inside", and "oLage baa" means "come inside" (with the usual second person pronoun omitted), "oLage ide" means "it is inside" (the third person pronoun is not explicit here, but indicated by the conjugated verb).

In your example, ಕಡೆಗೆ (kaDege) functions as "to/towards". ಕಡೆ (kaDe) means "direction" or "end". The same kaDe indicates "from" when used with "iMda". ಮೈಸೂರು ಕಡೆಯಿಂದ (mysuuru kaDeyiMda) means "from the direction of Mysore", whereas ಮೈಸೂರಿಂದ (mysuuriMda) means "from Mysore". ಕಡೆಗೆ (kaDege) can work as an adverb, and means "finally/at the end". ಕಡೆಗೆ ಅವನು ಬ೦ದ (kaDege avanu baMda) "he came finally" and ಕಡೆಗು ಅವನು ಬರಲಿಲ್ಲ (kaDegu avanu baralilla) "finally, he did not come".

I haven't explored Dravidian languages other than Kannada, so my answer is somewhat limited.


At least some of them seem to. Here are some I found with example contexts in the English Wiktionary.

Telugu యొక్క "of": నా యొక్క గుర్రము (nā yokka gurramu) literally "my of horse"

Kannada ಕಡೆಗೆ "to/towards": ಮೈಸೂರು ರಸ್ತೆಯ ಕಡೆಗೆ (maisūru rasteya kaḍege) literally "Mysore road toward"

Telugu ద్వారా "by means of/through": అతని ద్వారా వింటిని (atani dvārā viṇṭini) literally "his through hear" - I learned it from him.

Telugu మీద "above/on/upon": మాట మీద మాట (māṭa mīda māṭa) literally "word upon word" ** but note this one is listed as a preposition and since the words either side of it are identical it's not possible to tell if the entry is wrong.

As far as I could see, almost every postposition also had a noun sense listed.

Some languages also had prepositions listed on Wiktionary but only one of those included examples and I couldn't verify whether that one was correct but it's in the list above.

Tamil and Malayalam have quite a few postposition entries in Wiktionary but not a single one with an example.

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