Sinhala is one of the official and national languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhala, along with Pali, played a major role in the development of Theravada Buddhist literature. Sinhala is the mother tongue of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhala has its own writing system, the Sinhala alphabet, which is a member of the Brahmic family of scripts, and a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script. The main features marked on Sinhala nouns are case, number, definiteness and animacy. Sinhala distinguishes three conjugation classes. Spoken Sinhala does not mark person, number or gender on the verb. In other words there is no subject–verb agreement.