Lithuanian Basics: Lesson 7

Let’s learn something more.

When answering the phone, Lithuanians say alio.

This word doesn’t have any other meaning to it. Also it is a bit out-dated and I have a feeling it’s been imported to Lithuanian from Russian. It seems like it’s getting used more and more rarely now. But we’re about to find out why alio is such a helpful word.

Also, as a complete side-note, there is another way Lithuanians commonly answer the phone. They say "I’m listening" (or "I listen" which is the same in Lithuanian). You can say that as well if you know that:

Lithuanian word for listens is klauso.

Now, when Lithuanians answer they phone and they say I’m listening, they almost always drop and just use the I form for listen. Try answering the phone:

?I’m listening.|Klausau.

Okay, now that you know both common ways of answering the phone, let’s get back to the first word. Alio.

Now, let’s take out the consonant l and leave the vowels a, i, o. Now, this a, i, o is a very important combination in Lithuanian because it represents all verbs.

We have seen i-category verbs such as turi or gali and o category verbs such as daro or klauso. Now, from the word alio we can tell the last category - the a category.

First of all, just as a side note, this category is actually named the first in Lithuanian. Then there is the second - i and the third - o (the pattern follows exactly the word alio). Of course, this categorization is arbitrary but you might find it in dictionaries or something so it’s useful to know it.

Okay, let’s jump right into the a category.

Lithuanian for speaks is kalba.

So, let’s try it:

?She speaks it.|Ji tai kalba.

Now, as in all forms, the you (polite) just adds te, we adds me and they is just the same as he (the regular stuff, you already know it).

?You speak it but they don’t speak it.|Jūs tai kalbate, bet jie to nekalba.

What about:

?We speak it.|Mes tai kalbame.

Okay. Let’s learn another word from the a category to make it more fun.

I think there was a Lithuanian word pranta. Now, it has disappeared. However, there are a lot of other useful words where it is used. For example:

Lithuanian word for understands is supranta.

Okay, now, you can say:

?You understand it but we don’t understand it.|Jūs tai suprantate, bet mes to nesuprantame.

Fair enough. Now, what about and tu forms? Well, remember how if there is o in the end, it turns into an a (like in dar + o = dar + a + u). Well, what if there is already an a (kalb + a)? Simple - it disappears. So:

Before adding the ending for and tu forms, a disappears from he form in Lithuanian.

So, for example, if we have kalba for he speaks, and we make it into I speak, it’s kalb + u or kalbu.

Try it and say:

?I understand it.|Aš tai suprantu.

What about tu? Well, as you remember, tu likes i. So, it simply adds the i. So, you (informal) speak is tu kalbi. Try this:

?You (informal) don’t speak it.|Tu to nekalbi.

Try a couple of the examples:

?I understand but I don’t speak.|Aš suprantu, bet aš nekalbu.

What about:

?You (informal) don’t understand it.|Tu to nesupranti.

Nice. Just a summary. Don’t try to remember this. Seriously. Just read it and see if you can understand what I mean and that’s it.

We take the word alio and we see that we have three vowels in it: a, i and o.

That shows the categories of verbs we have in Lithuanian. These categories are determined by the he ending (kalba - a category, turi - i category, klauso - o category).

Then jūs and mes and they forms formed in their own way in all regardless of the category. As for and tu, they follow these rules:

i stays, o becomes a, a disappears

Then you add the endings.

Congratulations, now you know how to handle Lithuanian present-tense verbs!

Next, we’re going to be applying what we have learnt a bit. Till then.

Next lesson >