Latvian Grammar

Latvian Grammar

If you're trying to learn the most essential topics about Latvian you will find some useful resources including a course about adjectives, adverbs, articles, gender (feminine, masculine...), negation, nouns, numbers, phrases, plural, prepositions, pronouns, questions, verbs, vocabulary, excercises... to help you with your Latvian grammar Enjoy our courses!

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Latvian Lessons

Learning Latvian can help you communicate with other people who speak Latvian. The following courses will provide you with some help based on the lessons you choose. Here is a list of what we offer:

1-    Plural Lesson

While in English, the plural is formed by adding (s) to the singular. In Latvian, to form the plural of nouns and adjectives we must take into account the gender of the nouns and adjectives. There are several groups of nouns in Latvian with different endings for male and female nouns. For example, female nouns ending with -a (dziesma – a song)in Plural take –s (dziesmas). Female nouns ending with –e (zeme – land, earth)  in Plural take the ending –s (zemes). Male nouns ending in –s (koks – a tree) in Plural end with –i (koki). Male nouns ending in –is (zaķis – a hare, kaķis – a cat, lācis – a bear) in Plural end with –i as well but you must mind the consonant that stands before the vowel ending (zaķi – hares, kaķi – cats, but: či). The same rule applies to the male noun “suns”(a dog) as well. In Plural it is – suņi).

There are male nouns that end with –us like medus – honey, ledus – ice. We must take into account that these nouns are not used in Plural.

There are female nouns that also end with –s in Singular. For example, uguns – fire, nakts – night. These nouns take the ending –is in Plural.

Uguns – ugunis

Nakts - naktis

Aka (a well) – akas (wells)

Meitene (a girl) – meitenes (girls)

Pods (a pot) – podi (pots)

Exceptions: suns (a dog) – suņi (dogs). It sounds a little as if you put a “j” to the consonant and try to pronounce it together.

Kartupelis (a potato) – kartupeļi (potatoes)

2-    Adverbs Lesson

While in English adverbs are usually formed by adding (-ly) to adjectives. In Latvian many adverbs are formed from adjectives, simply by adding -i  to the singular form of adjectives of both genders. The endings of adjectives correspond to the endings of nouns. Examples:

Lēns, lēna – lēni (slowly)

Smags, smaga – smagi (heavily)

Jauks, jauka – jauki (nicely)

 

3-    Adjectives Lesson

While in English an adjective doesn’t change when the noun changes, in Latvian an adjective should agree in gender and number with the noun. For example:

a)    Masculine to feminine example:

Mans brālis ir mazs (My brother is little) – Mana māsa ir maza. (My sister is little)

b)    Singular to plural example:

Viens kaķis ir balts (One cat is white) – Divi kaķi ir balti (Two cats are white).

 

4-    Numbers Lesson

In Latvian numbers from 1 to 20 are unique and therefore need to be memorized individually. Numbers from 21 and upwards are formed by using the following pattern: for example 21 can be formed by using 20 + 1 while connecting them. 21 – divdesmit viens, 22 – divdesmit divi, etc.

 

5-    Articles Lesson

There are no articles in the Latvian language.

6-    Verbs Lessons

-       Present Tense

In Latvian, verbs take the following endings to form the present tense:

  1. Es las-u (I read)
  2. Tu las-i (you read)
  3. Viņš, viņa las-a (he, she reads)
  4. Mēs las-ām (we read)
  5. Jūs las-āt (you read)
  6. Viņi, viņas las-a (they read)

 

As you noticed „they” in Latvian are of two genders in contrary to English. For the verbs the endings are general but there exist several exceptions.

For example, the verb „to drink”

Es dzeru

Tu dzer (without the ending „i”)

Viņš, viņa dzer

Mēs dzeram

Jūs dzerat

Viņi, viņas dzer

 

There are also some irregular verbs in Latvian language where the person forms are different.

For example, the verb iet (to go) „ie” is pronounced like in „pier”.

Es ej-u

Tu ej

Viņš, viņa iet

Mēs ej-am

Jūs ej-at

-       Past Tense

In Latvian as well as in English the simple past tense (imperfect) is used to describe past events. The endings for the past tense verbs are much the same as in Present tense but the vowel that comes before the ending gets long. But the ending depend also in the Infinitive endings of the verb. Let us take the previous two verbs for the beginning.

Infinitive: lasīt (to read)

Es lasī-ju

Tu lasī-ji

Viņš, viņa lasī-ja

Mēs lasī-jām

Jūs lasī-jāt

Viņi,viņas lasī-ja

 

Infinitive: dzert (to drink)

Es dzēr-u

Tu dzēr-i

Viņš, viņa dzēr-a

Mēs dzēr-ām

Jūs dzēr-āt

Viņi, viņas dzēr-a

Infinitive: iet (to go)

Es gāj-u

Tu gāj-i

Viņš, viņa gāj-a

Mēs gāj-ām

Jūs gāj-āt

Viņi, viņas gāj-a

The endings for the 3.person Singular and Plural are the same.

-       Future Tense

As in other forms the Future tense as well must be remembered in Latvian because there are various forms and some consonants are changing in several persons, for example, in the 1.person. Like the verb “dzert” (to drink) changes to Es dzerš-u in the 1.person but the “s” stays unchanged in other persons.

Es dzerš-u

Tu dzers-i

Viņš, viņa dzers

Mēs dzers-im

Jūs dzers-it

Viņi, viņas dzers

Let us see what will happen with the verb „iet” (to go)

Es ieš-u

Tu ies-i

Viņš, viņa ies

Mēs ies-im

Jūs ies-it

Viņi, viņas ies

 

«lasīt» (to read)

Es lasīš-u

Tu lasīs-i

Viņš, viņa lasīs

Mēs lasīs-im

Jūs lasīs-it

Viņi, viņas lasīs

 

7-    Asking a Question Lesson

In question that take “yes” or “no” answers in Latvian you put a little word vai in front.

For example: Vai tu vari man palīdzēt? – Can you help me? (you can – tu vari) The verb “help” is “palīdzēt” and after the verbs like “can, want, etc.” take the Infinitive.

-Finally you can also make a question by adding a tag question to the end of a statement. 

Tu vari man palīdzēt, vai ne? You can help me, can’t you?

 

8-    Negation Lesson

In Latvian, negation can be made simply by placing "No" before the main verb linking them. But sometimes a double negative is required. "No" is the most common negative.

Es to nevaru izdarīt. – I cannot do it.

Es neko nesaprotu.(double negative) – I cannot understand anything.

 

9-    Feminine Lesson

To form a feminine word from the masculine in Latvian, you simply add (-e) or (-a) if the word ends in a consonant.

Students – studente (a student – male and female)

Skolotājs - skolotāja (a teacher)

There are not so many words that can be changed from masculine into feminine. You can do it mostly for professions or for nationalities.

Latvietis – latviete (a Latvian)

Vācietis – vāciete (a German)

Krievs – krieviete (a Russian)

The nationalities are not so easy so they must be learned separately.

 

10- Pronouns Lesson

In English personal pronouns are (I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they), and  In Latvian, the personal pronouns are:

Es (I), tu (you), viņš (he), viņa (she), mēs (we), jūs (you-Plural, You – the polite form)

Indirect Object Pronouns:

Indirect object pronouns are words that replace the indirect object, which is usually a person.

Man (me, to me), tev (you, to you), viņam (him, to him), viņai (her, to her), mums (us, to us), jums (you, You, to you, to You), viņiem, viņām (them, to them – maculine and feminine Plural).

Examples: Viņš dod man grāmatu.He gives me a book (or: He gives a book to me).

Possessive Pronouns:

Mans (mine masc.), mana (mine fem.), mani (mine, plural masc.), manas (mine, plural fem.), tavs /tava/tavi.tavas (yours),  viņa/viņas (his, hers), mūsu (ours), jūsu (yours), viņu (theirs).

We hope the lessons above helped you learn Latvian. To learn other topics please check our homepage here: Learn Latvian. Don't forget to bookmark this page.


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