Armenian is an Indo-European language with about 5–7 million speakers. It is a pluricentric language with two standard forms: Eastern Armenian, which is spoken in the modern country of Armenia itself and among Armenian populations in neighbouring countries to the east, and Western Armenian, which is mostly spoken in the diaspora. Historically one of the reasons for the split is that the land where Armenians were living was split between two Great Powers: the Russian Empire, to the east, and the Ottoman Empire to the west. Eastern Armenian is based on Yerevan dialect, while Western Armenian is based on the Istanbul dialect. The dialects are mutually intelligible to educated, literate speakers, but not necessarily to, say, heritage speakers whose main exposure to Armenian is the domestic register of their family’s dialect spoken verbally in the home. (Given history, Western Armenian in particular has a lot of those.)
Armenian’s closest relative among the Indo-European languages appears to be Greek, although there is dispute over whether it makes sense to talk about a “Proto-Graeco-Armenian” stage ever having existed. At any rate, Armenian is attested from the 5th century CE onwards. For that entire time, it’s primarily been written in the Armenian alphabet, which was developed around 405 CE. Classical Armenian was the literary standard from the 5th century up until the 19th (and a spoken language until the 11th); Middle Armenian is attested between the 12th and 18th centuries, apparently in a number of books. Modern Armenian seems to have been spoken from the 18th century onwards, and became codified and used as the two literary standards mentioned in the last paragraph in the 19th century. Part of Armenian’s evolution has concerned its morphological typology: Classical Armenian, like most other Indo-European languages, was highly inflected and fusional, while over time the language has become increasingly analytic (that is, word order has become more important than inflection).
Armenian has lost grammatical gender; not even Classical Armenian had it, although it did have a suffix to make a noun feminine (on par with the English suffix -ess); no other grammatical changes (like changing articles or adjectives) were required if this suffix was used, though. Armenian, then and now, also does not distinguish between masculine and feminine pronouns.
Historically, Armenian had seven grammatical cases, but after a couple of mergers it now has five:
However: direct objects take different cases bepending on their animacy; animate objects take the dative case, while inanimate objects take the nominative/accusative case. Also, animate nouns can never take the locative case.
Armenian verb inflections are very simplified compared to the earliest stages of the language. Verbs conjugate for person and number, with two sets of endings depending on whether the tense is a “present” tense or a “past” tense. In the indicative mood, there are four tenses: present, future, preterite, imperfect. There are also four other moods: the subjunctive/optative, the necessitative, the conditional and the imperative; all but the imperative have present and past-tense forms.
In Eastern Armenian, an irregular auxiliary verb (լինել linel “to be”) is used to “carry” the inflection in most indicative tenses, and that’s combined with a participle of the “content” verb. (Think like in English: am eating, are eating, is eating, was eating, were eating.) The exception is the preterite tense, where instead a tense-marking suffix is added to the end of the verb stem, and then a second suffix for person/number added to the end of that.
In Western Armenian, it’s the “content” verb that carries the inflection in every tense. In the present and imperfect tenses, the conjugated verb is preceded by the particle կը gë; in the future tense, it’s preceded by the particle պիտի bidi. The Western Armenian preterite tense is constructed the same way as in Eastern Armenian.
The Armenian subjunctive/optative is the same in both dialects. The present subjunctive is just the conjugated present-tense verb, and the past subjunctive is just the same as the conjugated imperfect-tense verb (i.e. like the Western Armenian forms, but without gë on the front of it).
Armenian has two conditional tenses, a present one and a past one, parallel to English would and would have. In Eastern Armenian, they are formed by adding the letter կ- (k-) to the front of the subjunctive/optative verb forms for present and past, respectively. (Where this կ- goes in front of another consonant, it’s pronounced [kə].) Western Armenian has the same, but has a second way of constructing the past conditional, which is the same as the future tense except the conjugated verb is conjugated with the past-tense endings instead.
Both dialects conjugate the imperative mood the same way, with separate forms for singular and plural, and positive and negative, versions of the verb. Basically these consist of a verb stem + a conjugation suffix, and for the negative form there’s a separate word մի՛ mi in front.
The necessitative mood, also found in Turkish, is used for expressing a plea, a command, a desire, an insistence, self-encouragement, a purpose, etc. The Eastern necessitative is formed by adding պիտի piti in fmront of the optative/subjunctive verb form. The Western necessitative is formed by conjugating լինել linel “to be” and placing that after the future participle of the “content” verb.
Armenian verbs also have two voices: active and passive. To make verbs passive, you just add the letter վ (v) in front of the verb’s suffix.