Introduction to Latvian: Lesson 1

There is a course of Lithuanian on this site and this Latvian course was based on that course because the languages have similar structures. You should also take the Lithuanian course if you are interested in comparing the two Baltic languages.

Latvian for it is tas if it describes something masculine or if it describes something feminine.
Latvian for Latvia is Latvija.

The word Latvija ends in a so that shows it is feminine. Almost all words that end in a are feminine in Latvian. Moreover, in a lot of cases you could simply skip the Latvian word for is but we will learn it since it is pretty similar to the English one:

Latvian for is is ir.

1 translation: It is Latvia.

Latvian for England is Anglija.

How would you say:

2 translation: It is England.

Latvian for from is no.

That o is not pronounced like a simple o. It slightly resembles the beginning of the word what but you would ideally have to listen to it to understand it.

If you add no in front of a word that ends in a, you have to adjust that word a little bit and a changes to as. How would you say:

3 translation: It is from England.

Say:

4 translation: It is from Latvia.

Here’s a new word for you:

The word for I is es.

There is a word for am however if you don’t wanna use it - you can skip it. You could also skip the word for is but we haven’t done so. Try it now:

Latvian for Lithuania is Lietuva.

It is interesting because that’s what Lithuanians call it too. In fact, both words Lietuva and Latvija are the same in both languages (except the stress is a bit different in Lietuva). How would you say (skipping the word for is this time - just because you can):

5 translation: It is from Lithuania.

And now skip the word for am and say:

6 translation: I am from Latvia.

Latvian for informal you is tu.
Tu is the same informal you in Lithuanian, French, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. You use it when you talk to friends or people you know. If you call somebody by their first name, chances are you use tu on them.

How would you say (skipping are)?

7 translation: You are from Latvia.

Latvian for where is kur.

If you want to ask where from you switch the order and say from where. Moreover, just because there is from in front of it, the word kur changes to kurienes (in a similar way like where would change to whither in English). Try it out on a trial:

8 translation: Where from?

You could also go further and ask where are you from which would be from where you are but you still keep skipping that are so it comes out as from where you. Do this one too.

9 translation: Where are you from?

To which you could answer:

10 translation: I am from England.

In case you are American, you could say I am from America and that would be understood. Also it’s easy to remember because:

America is Amerika in Latvian.

If you want to ask are you from somewhere you just simply say it as a statement as you are from somewhere and raise the intonation just like you do in English so that it sounds like a question. So you could ask:

11 translation: Are you from America?

The way Latvians say yes sounds just like the way Germans say it:

Latvian for yes is .

That thing over a shows that it is a long sound rather than a short one. Say a full answer now:

12 translation: Yes, I am from America.

The first lesson of Latvian is over.

Answers to Lesson 1

1 answer: Tā ir Latvija.
2 answer: Tā ir Anglija.
3 answer: Tas ir no Anglijas.
4 answer: Tas ir no Latvijas.
5 answer: Tas no Lietuvas.
6 answer: Es no Latvijas.
7 answer: Tu no Latvijas.
8 answer: No kurienes?
9 answer: No kurienes tu?
10 answer: Es no Anglijas.
11 answer: Tu no Amerikas?
12 answer: Jā, es no Amerikas.