Introduction to Latvian: Lesson 2

We have words for I and informal you so let’s learn the word for he now:

Latvian for he is viņš.

That ņ is just like the Spanish ñ while š sounds like a sh in shoe. While we are talking about it, if you change that š to a more feminine ending you get to say she:

Latvian for she is viņa.

You could of course talk about he or she being from Latvia or whatever but let’s not.

Let’s learn the Latvian word for he knows:

Latvian for he knows is viņš prot.

If you add two more letters to that, you find out that:

Latvian for he understands is viņš saprot.

Now you know that the word for it is tas. However, it only is tas when it is the subject. To avoid getting into details we will say that for our purposes:

The word it is tas only when it is in the phrase it is (tas ir), otherwise the word for it is to.

The word to likes to sneak in the middle of short sentences. How would you say:

1 translation: He knows it.

We had words for England and Latvia. Let’s have one more:

Latvian for Spain is Spānija.

Here is how to make a country’s name into a language name:

STEP ONE: If there is ija on the end, you remove it. Otherwise you only remove the a.
STEP TWO: You add iski.

If you try this with Spānija, on step one you get Spān and on step two you get spāniski. This literally means something like Spanishly and it means in Spanish. You could also do that for, for example, Latvia. What would in Latvian be?

2 translation: in Latvian

How would you thus say:

3 translation: She understands Spanish.


4 translation: She knows Spanish.

Let’s do the rest QUICK. That’s right, QUICK. This is the word which will help us a lot. Look at the two vowels in it:


Well, believe it or not but these three vowels in the word quick correspond to the tense endings for I, informal you and viņš/viņa.

Let’s analyze it. We have u in quick for es and then we have the next vowel i in quick for tu. What’s left for viņš/viņa? Nothing. Okay, so nothing they get. In fact, they already have nothing in, for example, saprot. Only add the endings to that word to get the other words. So how would you say:

5 translation: I understand Latvian.

Correct, you add u from quick. Try another one (remembering that you are saying you understand English? for this one):

6 translation: Do you understand English?

Correct again, you add i from quick for tu.

7 translation: Do you know Lithuanian?

An answer to that:

8 translation: I understand Lithuanian.

9 translation: You understand English.

10 translation: I know English.

Latvian for and is un.

This is similar to the german und which is and but not quite.

You could thus say:

11 translation: I understand Latvian and English.

And finally:

12 translation: You understand Spanish and English.

This is the end of our second lesson.

Answers to Lesson 2

1 answer: Viņš to prot.
2 answer: latviski
3 answer: Viņa saprot spāniski.
4 answer: Viņa prot spāniski.
5 answer: Es saprotu latviski.
6 answer: Tu saproti angliski?
7 answer: Tu proti lietuviski?
8 answer: Es saprotu lietuviski.
9 answer: Tu saproti angliski.
10 answer: Es protu angliski.
11 answer: Es saprotu latviski un angliski.
12 answer: Tu saproti spāniski un angliski.