Introduction to Basque: Lesson 5

We have so far learned about the izan and the ukan gates which can send verbs to the past if they are bare or send them to the future with the protection ko or to the present with the protection ten. We have also learned how we can improve our ten protection by using ari and then the verbs get sent more precisely to the present moment (the continuous present - I am doing right now) but the tradeoff for that is that then the verb must go through the izan gate no matter what. We have also learned words like to arrive iritsi, to do egin, to take hartu, to write idatzi, to see ikusi and some more.

Let’s now learn three more words that are special in a way that they work in different ways than the usual words because they have izan:

Basque for to be able is ahal izan.

In a way this makes sense because just like in English you say be able in Basque you say ahal izan where izan is our word for be although it functions in a bit different way in Basque. Of course, I am able to do something means I can do something thus this word is also the word for can.

Just like you normally do, you use one of the gates depending on whether the question what? can be raised or not. For example, you do not raise the question what? for the phrase I was able to go (i.e. I could go) so this phrase must go through the izan gate but you can raise the same question for the phrase I was able to see (i.e. I could see) - what were you able to see? thus we go through the ukan gate.

Try both of these phrases. Let’s just first learn the word for go, though:

Basque for to go is joan.

The word order is going to be I go able be am. Say:

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And the second phrase (skipping it):

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Also ask whether somebody was able to speak Basque:

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We could also go to the future with ahal izan by adding ko (which turns into go because the word ends in n).

Basque for to go out is irten.

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Cool, we have pretty much gotten this out of the way. Let’s learn another important word:

Basque for to have to (i.e. must) is behar izan.

Think I must be haar tomorrow for the job interview to remember that behar izan means must (or rather to have to).

How would you say:

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You could also say:

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And finally (this is a bit tricky since you can imagine saying for example what did he work? i.e. what was he working on? or you could not be able to say it... both versions are possible in some situations but you encounter ukan more often so let’s go with it):

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Let’s learn the last word from the series:

Basque for to want is nahi izan.

The verb nahi izan is a bit special as well:

It does not fit in the izan gate so whatever the case it must always go through the ukan gate!

How would you say (skipping it like we always do):

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You will be sending it through the ukan gate in the second anyway because it just doesn’t go through the izan gate even when it ought to:

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Nice, apart from ahal izan for can, now we have behar izan for must (think must behar) and nahi izan for want.

They all act very special when they go through the gate to the present:

All of them do not take protection ten to go to the present... Instead, they simply lose izan.

They simply lose izan and that’s it for them... you’re in the present (congratulations!). No ten, no nothing.

How would you say:

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Now the next one is a bit tricky. Remember that the expression lan egin nahi - work do want is firmly stuck so these words do not change places. Otherwise, the next sentence is negative so you make it more English-like. Try this:

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If you remember to go out was irten. How would you say:

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Awesome. We have learned these three words ahal izan, behar izan and nahi izan (nahi izan being the one that only goes through the ukan gate no matter what) and we have learned that they act normal in the past, and for the present they simply drop their izan. Well, here is the last thing to know about these words:

Two of them - behar izan and nahi izan - drop their izan not only in the present but also in the future!

If we drop izan we cannot add ko to it because it is not there anymore so we must add ko to the words themselves: and we get beharko or nahiko.

Remember that to go was joan and say:

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What about:

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(Did you remember that nahi always only goes through the ukan gate, in the last sentence?)

Say finally:

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Fine, we’re done. Let’s also learn two greetings:

Basque for until is arte.

We had the work ikusi for to see. If we say see until we have the word for see you later (i.e. until the time we see each other again). How would you say that:

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Let’s also learn one of words in Basque taken from Spanish:

Basque for hello is kaixo.

This comes from the Spanish expression ¿qué hay? - what’s up?.

Let’s finish this by learning a word that is absolutely Basque then:

Basque for and is eta.

How would you say:

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That’s it. We have learned how to use the present, the past and the future in Basque, some important Basque words and expressions and hopefully you have also find out how unique and interesting Basque is as a language.

Let’s simulate a short dialogue now to show off some of what we have learned in this course. Imagine that you are asking a native Basque speaker how to get to Bilbao, he points the direction with his finger and asks you somethings. Let’s go

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He points it to you. Then asks:

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Then the stranger remembers that he has to do something. He apologizes and says:

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Then he adds:

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NOTE: You have finished this course. Well done! You can now check out some of the other courses we have:

Introduction to Italian a course of Italian with 5 lessons produced by Linas
Introduction to Esperanto a course of Esperanto with 5 lessons produced by Linas
Introduction to Romanian a course of Romanian with 5 lessons produced by Linas

You can also return to the main page of the labs to see all of the courses we have here.