Latvian is Easier Than Lithuanian!

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Attention: If you want to learn or improve your Lithuanian, please try my Interlinear Lithuanian bilingual book. This book is a Lithuanian book by Jonas Biliunas translated in the innovative Interlinear format, where the translation is provided below each word. Such format lets you read and improve your Lithuanian easily regardless of your level.

I know Lithuanian. I have been learning some Latvian lately. If somebody asked me “Which one is easier: Lithuanian or Latvian?” I would now answer “Latvian”. Latvian is easier to learn for both English-speakers and speakers of other non-Baltic languages. Here’s why.

  • Easier stress – the stress is always on the first syllable in Latvian while it is pretty chaotic in Lithuanian; this is a huge thing because in Lithuanian you also have to learn the stress of each word separately and that alone could be enough for the comparison to be over with a clear verdict.
  • Less conjugation – the past tense is simpler (often just “ja” added, it is harder than that in Lithuanian) and Latvian doesn’t have the past iterative tense (Lithuanian: I did – aš dariau, I used to do – aš darydavau) although it is not very difficult. The conditional tense has only one ending u in Latvian (the same for all persons) while Lithuanian has 7 (čiau, tum, ų, ume, umėme, ute, utėte), the conjugation system in general is simpler. Latvian has 6 participles while Lithuanian has 13.
  • Less inflection – there just is less need to change the endings in Latvian. Lithuanian has five declensions of nouns with 12 inflectional types; Latvian has six declensions with eight inflectional types. Then Lithuanian adjectives have three declensions and the Latvian ones have only one. In general, though, the two languages are pretty similar in the amount of inflection to be done so this could not be a major deciding factor.
  • Simpler gender identification– while they have the same genders, I believe it is easier to tell the gender apart in Latvian because masculine is always -s or -is and feminine is always -a or -e. The same applies to Lithuanian (masculine being being -as and feminine a and ė) but you have “-is” endings in Lithuanian that you have to pretty much learn by rote (įrankis (tool) is masculine while šaknis (root) is feminine).
  • Simpler preposition usage – propositions always require the genitive case from plural nouns unlike in Lithuanian. For example, Latvian uz pilsētu, uz pilsētam, Lithuanian į miestą, į miestus, English to town, to towns while Latvian no pilsētas, no pilsētam, Lithuanian iš miesto, iš miestų, English from town, from towns. There is more change in Lithuanian.
  • More links to Russian – Latvian seems to have more links to Russian in its vocabulary than Lithuanian does. For example, domāt (to think) remind of Russian думать (also the same meaning), while Lithuanian for to think is galvoti. A week in Latvian is nedēļa while Russian неделя (Lithuanian is savaitė). Lithuanian has some “Russian-like” words too but where Lithuanian has it, Latvian usually has it too, while the opposite is not always true. This is not that useful if you do not have a Slavic background.

I have not found parts where Lithuanian would be easier than Latvian except maybe that Latvian uses “jā” (although it is extremely simple) or “ot” for the “supposedly” tense (tas skrien – it is running, tas skrienot – it supposedly is running). These are not hard to learn at all, though. On the other hand, I hate to be biased but I’d say that Lithuanian is easier to practice in Lithuania because Latvia has more foreign language penetration and thus easier to find people to practice it with. Also, there are more speakers of Lithuanian (at least 3 million in Lithuania alone to give a a ball park number) and only about 1.5 million Latvian speakers in Latvia. Thus Lithuanian is easier to learn in that way.

On a totally unrelated side not, there are quite a lot of interesting faux-amis in both languages. Here’s a couple of them: (lt) atlikt(i)”perform” – (lv) atlikt “postpone”, (lt) apdraust(i) “insure” – (lv) apdraudēt “endanger”, (lt) ėst(i) “devour” – (lv) ēst “eat”, (lt) gulėt(i) “to lie” – (lv) gulēt “to sleep”, (lt) nacis – “Nazi” – (lv) nazis “knife”, (lt) gribams – “for mushrooms” – (lv) gribams “we want”, (lt) neatliekamas “non-garbage” – (lv) neatliekams “urgent”.

Attention: If you want to learn or improve your Lithuanian, please try my Interlinear Lithuanian bilingual book. This book is a Lithuanian book by Jonas Biliunas translated in the innovative Interlinear format, where the translation is provided below each word. Such format lets you read and improve your Lithuanian easily regardless of your level.

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29 Comments

  1. Ascii88
    ·

    It should read grybams

  2. Andris9408
    ·

    “Gulēt” in Latvian has to meanings – “to sleep” and “to lie”

  3. Latve
    ·

    “…masculine is always -s or -is and feminine is always -a or -e…”

    One word – durvis.
    Always, huh? As shocking as it might be, latvian has exceptions too. :P


  4. ·

    Just by accident I found this website. I am impressed that some people promote learning languages and especially Lithuania language :)

    Šanuolis :) Bandau dabar įveikti prancūzų kalbą ir jaučiu, kad po to imsiuosi dar vienos :D


  5. ·

    Gribams – people in Latvia like me don’t use that word, because it’s not fully grammatically correct.
    And if a latvian person wants to say ”we want” – this person would say ”mēs gribam”.
    Gribams means something similar to ”desirable” and ”wanted”.

  6. Erick
    ·

    Gosh, lihuanian has some words “russian – like” …) they have nothing in common with russian Time to wake up)?


  7. ·

    I did not say that. I simply said that Latvian has more.


  8. ·

    Ačiū. :)

    Šitas saitas jau beveik miręs, bet lankytojų vis dar šiek tiek susilaukiu. Vasarą jį ketinu šiek tiek atgaivinti, o po to turiu kitų įdėjų.

    Bon courage avec le français ! C’était une de mes premières langues étrangères.


  9. ·

    Well, coming from a PEDO Bear, I am not sure whether to believe that.

  10. Rolandas
    ·

    here is more faux-amis:
    (lt) briedis “elk” – (lv) briedis “deer”
    (lt) elnias “deer”  – (lv) alnis “elk”

  11. Sprigulis
    ·

    No, Pedo BEAR is correct, “gribams” is an adjective (īpašības vārds), while his mentioned “gribam” is a verb (darbības vārds, norisenis).

  12. Elvismm
    ·

    Yes there are. (Lithuanian) Knyga – книга (Russian) which is the same word. 

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