Introduction to Basque:
Lesson 4

By Linas

We have words to see ikusi, to arrive iritsi and to do egin and we can send them either plain to the past or with the ko protection to the future through the izan or the ukan gate. The gate which we send the words through depends on whether the words can answer the question what?... This is what we have learned in the last lesson. In this lesson, we will learn how to send those words not to the past or the future but the present instead.

We will simply need another kind of protection to send them to the present. Without keeping it for long, I’ll say that:

The protection needed to go to the present is ten.

But wait... it’s not all. Think about it: the past is large (billions of years), the future is presumably also large. But the present is very limited compared to that. You need very good protection (like ten is) to go there and... you have to pay for this protection.

You don’t really have much to pay with so ten does something else:

The protection ten takes the ending of the word as payment for using it!

So ten usually takes the last letter of the word. For example, in to see ikusi it takes that last i as payment and then adds itself so we have ikusten. How would you say now in the present:

You see.

Answer: Zu ikusten duzu.
Not correct. Please try again.

Try saying the same for I do it:

I do it.

Answer: Nik egiten dut.
Not correct. Please try again.

Words ending in tsi or tzi have it worse, though. Not only ten takes the last letter i, it also takes the letter t.

We had one example:

to arrive

Answer: iritsi
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So ten takes i and t from the ending and then adds itself so we have iristen. How would you say (take into account which gate it goes too):

I arrive.

Answer: Ni iristen naiz.
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Another word ending in tzi is to write:

Basque for to write is idatzi.

Think of writing the word Idaho.

How would you say (skipping it):

He writes it.

Answer: Hark idazten du.
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That’s almost all we have to know... except one thing.

For words ending in tu or du both of the letters get taken away and ten upgrades itself to tzen after having received this perk.

One important word ending in ten is hartu:

Basque for to take is hartu.

Think you took my hart... you to remember that to take is hartu.

How would you say:

I take it.

Answer: Nik hartzen dut.
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You could also ask:

Do you take it?

Answer: Zu hartzen duzu?
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Let’s expand our knowledge and learn how to upgrade the ten protection:

You can upgrade the ten protection for free and make it super accurate if you use the word ari after it. If you use ari, the present becomes continuous (so it changes I do into I am doing, you write it into you are writing it and so on).

This is very easy to remember because just like you use are in English to say for example you are doing instead of you do, you use ari in Basque instead.

Let’s have an example. How would you, first, say:

He arrives.

Answer: Hura iristen da.
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You could simply add ari as a separate word after iristen to change it into he is arriving:

He is arriving.

Answer: Hura iristen ari da.
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There is a little tradeoff of using ari too:

If you use ari then the whole thing becomes pretty big and it does not fit into the ukan gate anymore. So whatever the verb, you must go through the izan gate!

So, what was:

I do.

Answer: Nik egiten dut.
Not correct. Please try again.

If you want to change it into am doing you use ari but you automatically go through the izan gate as well. Say:

I am doing it.

Answer: Ni egiten ari naiz.
Not correct. Please try again.

Say (skipping the it):

You write it.

Answer: Zuk idazten duzu.
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And change that into:

You are writing it.

Answer: Zu idazten ari zara.
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This word order idazten ari zara or idazten duzu simply means are writing or write so it does not change order in any way. Hope you remember, though, that in questions with question words the word order changes to that which English has (just like in negatives) so the position of zu will change.

Basque for what is zer.

How would you ask:

What are you doing?

Answer: Zer egiten ari zara zu?
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Well done! At this point - we have done it... We have pretty much learned how to use the past, the present and the future. There are more gates that we can go through in Basque (for example, if the action is directed towards somebody, we choose a different gate... and so on; we have a bit of stuff like that) but we have learned the basics at this point! It is true that you still need to learn the plural persons (we, you guys, they...) but these simply have different endings and that’s it: no differences in going through the gates or whatnot.

Let’s expand our knowledge and learn two more uses for our favorite word egin now. The fact is, we can use it to talk about a lot of things. For example:

Basque word for work (as in a work) is lan.

(An easy word indeed).

If you connect lan with egin you get lan egin which means work do or simply to work!

Let’s go advanced here and say:

I am working.

Answer: Ni lan egiten ari naiz.
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Another important word is word:

Basque for word is hitz.

Now can you guess what hitz egin or word do could mean:

hitz egin

Answer: to speak
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Speak! Now you can use this word to say that you speak Basque.

Basque for Basque (as in: the language) is euskaraz.

The word that is the object usually goes in the middle: between the subject and the verb. Your probably remember that because we used to say you time have. Do you still remember how to say that?

Do you have time?

Answer: Zuk astia daukazu?
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Good. Now give a shot at how you would say:

Do you speak Basque?

Answer: Zuk euskaraz hitz egiten duzu?
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Another word that you might need is English:

Basque for English (as in the language) is ingelesez.

I spoke English.

Answer: Nik ingelesez hitz egin dut.
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Awesome. Indeed a lot has been learnt. In the last lesson, we will cover three very important words in Basque that you can send through the gates to be able to say a massive amount of stuff. Until then!