Introduction to Latvian: Lesson 5

We know that in order to deal with words like grib, var and so on we follow the QUICK rule and we get es gribu, tu gribi and viņš grib. The problem is that there is another rule other that one. JUST another.

Oh yeah, JUST. That’s what it’s called. This rule implies that the first person (es) gets JU, and then we have nothing left so the second one (tu) gets nothing and the third one (viņš, viņa) also gets nothing. Too bad for them. That’s another reason why it’s called the JUST rule: it’s JUST about me and not about others. And yeah, I know that’s unJUST...

One word that follows this rule is studē:

Latvian for she studies is viņā studē.

That’s the third person: and there already is no ending because the JUST rule says there won’t be any. That’s fine. Under that rule, though, the first person (es) gets the ending ju. How would you say:

1 translation: I study it.

On the other side, you can have:

2 translation: Do you study it?

Latvian for there is tur.

It wouldn’t make very much sense to ask where the tour d’Eiffel is, huh?

You could replace the word to for the word tur because they have the same position and then you would have do you study there which would be:

3 translation: Do you study there?

You could always skip the word vai and ask:

4 translation: You study there?

Then let’s learn the Latvian word for what:

Latvian for what is ko.

Stick ko in the beginning to ask:

5 translation: What do you study there?

Here you go. Same for what do you want:

6 translation: What do you want?

But let’s get back to these JUST verbs shall we. Here is another one:

Latvian for he works is viņš strādā.

When we were trying to pay for the parking to a machine in Riga, we were approached by a man who asked strādā? wanting to find out whether the machine works: thus the word can not just be used in the sense of working but also in the sense of functioning.

How can you say he works there:

7 translation: He works there.

That’s because strādā is a just word. Thus how would you say:

8 translation: I work there.

Latvian for here is šeit.


9 translation: I don’t work there.

And one last thing:

These JUST words (like strādā and studē are) require only a letter t in the end to get the infinitive (to do) form.

Try this:

10 translation: to work

11 translation: I want to study.

12 translation: Don’t you want to work?

And finally:

13 translation: You must work.

Nice. Here’s one last JUST word that we will be learning:

Latvian for speaks is runā.
He speaks like a runner. He loves speaking about runes.

It is another just word thus you can say:

14 translation: I speak Latvian.

And you can also say:

15 translation: Don’t you speak Lithuanian?

And also:

16 translation: I need to speak Latvian.

Enough about that. Let’s learn hi and thanks because they stand out of context a bit and you still have to learn them separately in Latvian just like you do in Lithuanian.

Latvian for healthy is sveiks!

That’s only if you are referring to a man. If you are referring to a woman you say sveika and if you are referring to a mixed group or to somebody formally you say sveiki. Well, that a coincidence - it’s also the word for hi.

Thus the Latvians greet you by saying healthy. I am guessing that was a question but developed into a greeting because it got never answered (sort of like how are you doing?) or perhaps it was just a wish (like be healthy). Whatever the case, that’s what we got.

Imagine that you are talking to a man informally. How would you say:

17 translation: hi!

Now imagine that you are talking to a man formally. Say:

18 translation: hello!

What about a woman formally?

19 translation: hello

These two are good enough.

Then Latvian for thank you is paldies.

My guess is that it comes from the word palīdzēs which means will help. Perhaps it used to be Dievs tev palīdzēs as in God will help you (in return) and it just became paldies. Yeah, that sounds right.

And finally, let’s leave you with a tip:

Whenever you have some English words you don’t know how to say in Latvian, try adding s (is if that flows with the word better) or if that doesn’t work - a.

Your chances of getting understood increase. That’s how a basketball becomes basketbols, a telephone becomes telefons, theatre becomes teātris, a school becomes skola, Europe becomes Eiropa (well, don’t ask me about that one) and so on. Station is stacija.

And before we forget all of those, ask one last thing:

Latvian for where is kur.

20 translation: Where is the station?

Say you get the answer there which is:

21 translation: There!

Say thanks:

22 translation: Thank you.

Neblogai. Let’s have a conversation in Latvian to finish this introductory course. We will use the same (only a bit adapted) conversation that we use in the Lithuanian course so that it is easier for you to compare the languages if you wish to do both courses of Latvian and Lithuanian that are on this site. Imagine you ask somebody something and you get the answer and then the person whom you asked wants to develop the conversation a bit further and uses the informal word tu.

Tips: Imagine that you are talking to a woman and addressing her informally (say you are both pretty young and you are in an informal setting so she addresses you informally too). Omit the word there in the sentence "it’s not a park there* because it sounds better in Latvian that way. Don’t say es and tu more than once in the same sentence to sound more natural. Have in mind that there are no the and a words in Latvian so you skip them as well. Have this conversation:

23 translation: Hello. Where is the park? Is it there?

24 translation: Not there. It’s not a park there, it’s a theatre. The park is there.

25 translation: Thanks.

26 translation: Where are you from?

27 translation: From America. Where are you from?

28 translation: From Latvia. Do you work or study?

29 translation: I work.

30 translation: Where?

31 translation: I’m a dealer.

32 translation: You speak Latvian?

33 translation: Yes. I speak English and Latvian. Do you understand English?

34 translation: Yes. I understand English. I have to understand English: I study in English.

35 translation: You don’t work?

36 translation: No. I don’t want it and I can’t. I study.

Here we go. Just like usually, you have some foundations in Latvian: you know the QUICK and JUST rules, basic words, the basic ways in which words and sentences are constructed and so other tidbits of the language. You also have enough basic skills to ask questions and express our desires or abilities. Most of all, you now at least know what the Latvian language looks like and that is a pretty good accomplishment in five lessons.

That’s the end of the last lesson.

Answers to Lesson 5

1 answer: Es to studēju.
2 answer: Vai tu to studē?
3 answer: Vai tu tur studē?
4 answer: Tu tur studē?
5 answer: Ko tu tur studē?
6 answer: Ko tu gribi?
7 answer: Viņš tur strādā.
8 answer: Es tur strādāju
9 answer: Es šeit nestrādāju.
10 answer: strādāt
11 answer: Es gribu studēt.
12 answer: Vai tu negribi strādāt?
13 answer: Tev jāstrādā.
14 answer: Es runāju latviski.
15 answer: Vai tu nerunā lietuviski?
16 answer: Man jarunā latviski.
17 answer: sveiks!
18 answer: sveiki!
19 answer: sveiki!
20 answer: Kur ir stacija?
21 answer: Tur!
22 answer: Paldies.
23 answer: Sveika. Kur parks? Tas ir tur?
24 answer: Ne tur. Tas nav parks, tas ir teātris. Parks ir tur.
25 answer: Paldies.
26 answer: No kurienes tu?
27 answer: No Amerikas. No kur tu?
28 answer: No Latvijas. Vai tu strādā vai studē?
29 answer: Es strādāju.
30 answer: Kur?
31 answer: Es dīleris.
32 answer: Tu runā latviski?
33 answer: Jā, es runāju angliski un latviski. Vai tu saproti angliski?
34 answer: Jā, es saprotu angliski. Man jāsaprot angliski: es studēju angliski.
35 answer: Tu nestrādā?
36 answer: Nē, es tā negribu un nevaru. Es studēju.