Introduction to Latvian: Lesson 4

As we have remembered, tas is it when it is with ir for our purposes (more accurately: when it is the subject) and ta in other cases so far (more accurately: when it is the object). Let’s learn about the interesting way in which Latvians express the concept of having. First...

Latvian for to me or for me is man.


1 translation: It is for me.

What if you wanted to say I have it? Well:

The Latvian construction for the phrase I have something is to me is something.

Try saying:

2 translation: I have it.

Latvian for time is laiks.

3 translation: I have time.

Latvian for to you or for you is tev.

You could thus say:

4 translation: You have time.

And even:

5 translation: You have it.

Fair enough. What if you wanted to say I don’t have it? Well, you would be saying to me not is it. What’s not is? It should be ne + ir or neir but there is actually a different word in Latvian for this:

Latvian for not is or isn’t is nav.

The word nav acts just like ne does and in fact even stronger and it changes tas to always! How would you say:

6 translation: I don’t have it.

This is good. Just to let you know that nav means isn’t in all cases, say:

7 translation: She isn’t from Latvia.

Alright, now since we know man and tev, we also have another use for them:

Adding in front of a word makes that word (say does) into must-be-done.

Thus if you want to say I must do something you are saying to me jā"does" something.

For example, we know that Latvian for he understands is saprot. If you want to say I must understand you would be saying man jāsaprot which means to me "must-be-understood" or to me "needed-be-understood". You could also add ir for is and say man ir jāsaprot which would mean to me it is needed to be understood or simply I must understand it.

Try this with:

8 translation: I must know Latvian.

Think this out thoroughly. You are in fact saying more literally to you it must-be-could to understand.

9 translation: Do you have to be able to do it?

I am aware that this looks a bit complicated but it’s not very much so...

Anyway, here is another way to use man and tev:

Latvian for pleases is patīk.

And here is the thing:

If you want to say I like something you say something pleases to me or in the usual word order to me something pleases in Latvian.

Both ways to order words are okay (Latvian is generally pretty flexible about it) but the second one is more common. With patīk you are always using tas as the word for it. Try saying:

10 translation: I like it.

11 translation: I like time.

12 translation: Do you like it?

Always using tas means always. Say:

13 translation: I don’t like it.

14 translation: Don’t you like it?

Answer that:

15 translation: Yes, I like it.

That’s the end of lesson four.

Answers to Lesson 4

1 answer: Tas ir man.
2 answer: Man ir tas.
3 answer: Man ir laiks.
4 answer: Tev ir laiks.
5 answer: Tev ir tas.
6 answer: Man nav tā.
7 answer: Viņa nav no Latvijas.
8 answer: Man jāprot latviski.
9 answer: Tev ir jāvar saprast.
10 answer: Man patīk tas.
11 answer: Man patīk laiks.
12 answer: Tev patīk tas?
13 answer: Man nepatīk tas.
14 answer: Tev nepatīk tas?
15 answer: Jā, man patīk tas.