Introduction to Lithuanian Basics:
Lesson 41

By Linas

Long time no see. We are going to learn about an important thing which is cases. If you don’t know what that is don’t worry because by the end of this lesson you will.

First, let’s thing of the English word for he. You can say he sees a cat or you could say a cat sees him. In both phrases, there are only two things involved: he and the cat but you use two different words for he: he and him. Why? That’s because him is a case for he! The word he can have different cases and one of them is him.

That’s all fine and good but did you notice something: when these two words he and cat change positions, he becomes him but the cat still stays cat. Does it mean that the word cat does not have cases? Well, not really. Technically the word cat still has cases but is is the same for all cases while he is not the same because it is him sometimes.

Let’s have another example. You can say the house of John or you could say John’s house. Where is that ’s coming from?

Well, it’s simply marks the case. You see, John and John’s are two different cases of the same word. If you replace the word he with John, you would say his house. So here is another case for the word he: his.

Currently we can see that the word he has at least three different cases: it can be he, his or him. The word cat, in theory, has at least the same three cases except some of them are the same words: cat, cat’s and cat.

Some cases are more evident than others. Ideally, you can just use one major case (like cat) and make all the other cases by adding endings (such as adding ’s to make it into cat’s). That sounds like something that would work most of the time.

Well, you know that he has at least three cases because there is he, his and him. Here is the thing:

Lithuanian has six major cases.

There is one more and then some very old ones but they are not used much and you can get by without using them and they are pretty easy anyway so we won’t be learning them most of the time.

If you think cases are hard, they are not. They are not harder than anything else we have learnt so far. Soon, you will know a lot about cases.

For now, let’s remember one case because you already know it.

What is:

I see it.

Answer: Aš tai matau.
Not correct. Please try again.

What is:

I don’t see it.

Answer: Aš to nematau.
Not correct. Please try again.

Now as you know you have to because you have ne. The thing is, the word is tai so what is to? Here are the news:

To is just a case of tai.

What kind of a case is that? That is the same case that is the ’s in English. You could call it the possessive (to) case of tai. In grammar, it’s called the genitive if you are interested. So, while tai is it, to is its.

So you know that a bus is autobusas. Imagine that you are talking about a cat that has a bus and you're referring to the cat as it. How would you say:

Its bus.

Answer: To autobusas.
Not correct. Please try again.

There are two ways to make the possessive in English: you can say its house or the house of it. In Lithuanian, you only make it in one way: by saying its - to. You don’t say of it because there is no word for of in Lithuanian.

So why do you say I don’t see its instead of I don’t see it.

Because you do. You say I don’t say of it because ne requires that. In grammar-like-speech you could say that ne requires the genitive. It requires the possessive. It requires to.

Now you see how this works a bit. We will learn a lot more about this in the subsequent lessons.