Introduction to Lithuanian Basics:
Lesson 34

By Linas

You have learnt a lot in the lat few lessons. Well done.

Still, it’s time to expand your Lithuanian knowledge now. First, though, remember how to say:

He said.

Answer: Jis sakė.
Not correct. Please try again.

What about doing:

She did it.

Answer: Ji tai darė.
Not correct. Please try again.

And, let’s through another one into the mix so that you know that what we learn is universal:

They spoke.

Answer: Jie kalbėjo.
Not correct. Please try again.

These words describe action so they are called verbs. Now, talking about action, I want to introduce a concept of complete actions or simply COMPLETION.

Here is the thing:

All Lithuanian verbs by themselves are incomplete.

What that means is that when you are talking about action, you are talking about somebody doing it but not about somebody having finished it.

So, when you say "jie kalbėjo", you are in fact saying something more like "they were speaking" instead of "they spoke".

In other words, incompletion means that the actions are continuous! And, all Lithuanians verbs are incomplete by themselves, so they all are continuous.

So, when you say ji tai darė, you actually mean she was doing it or she did some of it or something like that. However, there is no completion. If you are talking about homework and you say ji darė, you simply say that she was doing it at some point of time. That does not IMPLY that she has completed her homework. Now, a point to make is that it could be that she has completed the homework. The word darė does not let us imply it, though.

So, the question is, how do you make these verbs complete? It’s very simple:

You make verbs complete by adding pa in front of them.

You simply attach this to the word. So, attention. How would you say, first, without completeness.

He was saying it.

Answer: Jis tai sakė.
Not correct. Please try again.

Now, with completeness:

He said it.

Answer: Jis tai pasakė.
Not correct. Please try again.

You could mean the work and say:

He did it.

Answer: Jis tai padarė.
Not correct. Please try again.

Of course, this pa- does not only work for when you travel to the past, but it works for all the forms (the present, the future and so on).

For example, you could say sakyti which would mean to be saying and pasakyti which would mean to say.

Same for the future. Try saying (remember: you are emphasizing time (yesterday, tomorrow) in this sentence, so the words for time move to the end of each phrase):

He was doing it yesterday but he will (completely) do it tomorrow.

Answer: Jis tai darė vakar, bet jis tai padarys rytoj.
Not correct. Please try again.

So, you can add pa to words to make them complete.

Of course, you only add it when you need to make words complete. Not all words need it. For example, look at can. If you said jis galėjo you couldn’t mean he was caning it because that does not make sense. Either you can do something or you can’t. Same for have - he was having a house. That doesn’t work. Either you have it or not. Both having and being able to are not continuous states at some level so simply:

Galėti and turėti are not continuous by themselves so they do not need pa.

Now you know that you sometimes have to add pa to make actions complete. There is no big mistake about not adding it but it would sometimes sounds weird if you didn’t.

For example, if you were asking for directions and you wanted to ask can you tell where in Lithuanian you would be saying can you say where... but if you actually said ar galite sakyti instead of ar galite pasakyti, it would come out as can you be saying where something is which sounds a bit strange, although it is comprehensible in most cases. Anyway, as we know it, we can expand our knowledge of Lithuanian.

Alright, pa is a nice thing that works for all forms but it’s especially used when travellng to the past so I thought I’d introduce it at this point. We’ll continue talking about the past in the next lesson.