Latvian (latviešu valoda), also known as Lettish, is an Eastern Baltic language, alongside Lithuanian, spoken natively in Latvia and by Latvian diaspora abroad. It is written in the Latvian alphabet, a Latin-based alphabet. Latvian has retained many features of Proto-Indo-European in comparison to other Indo-European languages. Languages that have influenced Latvian vocabulary include Russian, German, and Estonian.
Latvian uses the Latin script, with extra characters marked by diacritics, and lacking q, w, x, and y. Letters with macrons (ā, ē, ī, ū) are long vowels. In addition, letters č, ģ, ķ, ļ, ņ, š, and ž appear. Letters f, h and o (/o/, /o:/) are only found in loanwords.
|o||/uɔ/, /o/, /o:/|
- Consonants b, d, g, z, ž, dz, dž are pronounced like p, t, k, s, š, c, č respectively before voiceless consonants, and vice versa before voiced consonants.
- Word-ending ds and ts are pronounced like c, while šs and žs are pronounced like š.
- Consonants v and j are pronounced similarly to vowels u and i respectively after short vowels. Between vowels and diphthongs, v might be pronounced like w.
- Similar to in English, the consonant n before g or k is pronounced like /ŋ/.
Latvians tend to Latvianize foreign names when writing them, for example John Lennon will be written as Džons Lenons and Taylor Swift will be written as Teilore Svifta.
Latvian has 7 cases, 2 genders, 3 tenses, 3 compound perfect constructions, and 5 moods. There are no articles. Word order is flexible, but the standard word order in Latvian is Subject-Verb-Object. Adjectives come before nouns. Prepositions are used.
|1st person||Es (I)||Mēs (we)|
|2nd person||Tu (informal), Jūs (formal) (You)||Jūs (you)|
|3rd person||Viņš (masc.), viņa (fem.) (he, she)||Viņi (they)|
Masculine nouns end in an s or š in the nominative case. Meanwhile, feminine nouns end in in a, e, or an s. Gender affects adjectives, plural forms, case declension.
|Masculine noun||Translation||Feminine noun||Translation|
|Latvietis||Latvian (male)||Latviete||Latvian (female)|
|Draugs||Friend (male)||Draudzene||Friend (female)|
|Masculine adjective||Feminine adjective||English translation|
The plural form of a word depends on its gender and ending. For masculine nouns, one ending in s or us will have s or us changed into i, and one ending in is will have is changed into ji in the nominative case. For feminine nouns, one ending in a or e will add s, and one ending in s will have s changed into is. Number also affect case declensions.
Adjectives are affected by number.
Nouns will have different endings based on their function or purpose in a sentence. These different functions are called cases. The nominative case is used in the dictionary, in the subject of the sentence, and for both nouns in constructions like "(noun) (copula) (noun)". The genitive case marks possession. The dative case is typically used to mean "to" or "for". The accusative case is used for the direct object of the sentence. The instrumental case is used to express that an action was done "with" or "through" someone or something. The locative case is used to mean "in" or "at". And finally, the vocative case is used to address someone or something. Some nouns will take different case endings depending on the verb. You may likely need examples or practice to understand when to use cases, so there are some basic examples below.
|Case||sg. masc.||pl. masc.||sg. fem.||pl. fem.|
Remember that there are more declension endings based on noun ending (masc.: s, is, us; fem: a, e, s) not shown in the chart above.
Adjectives are also affected by the case of the nouns they describe.
Latvian verbs have different conjugations depending on whether they, in their infinitive (dictionary) forms, end in āt, ēt, īt, ot, or t. Like in most if not all languages, there are irregular verbs that you should look into, like būt below.
Būt - to be Edit
Example of regular conjugation Edit
Strādāt - to work
Negation is usually expressed by adding the prefix ne to a verb.
|Pronoun and verb||Negated|
|Es strādāju||Es nestrādāju|
|Tu strādā||Tu nestrādā|
|Mēs strādājam||Mēs nestrādājam|
Note that the negated form of ir, the present tense "is", is nav.
Latvian makes use of double negatives.
There is a number of prefixes on verbs and adjectives used to change their meanings.
|Aiz-||Under, toward, away, closed|
|Iz-||Out, out of|
|Pa-||Under, for a short time|
|Pie-||To, to the front, joining, in addition|
|Priekš-||Ahead of, before|
|Sa-||(marker of perfective aspect)|
|Resource||Assimil||Pimsleur||Michel Thomas||Language Transfer||Rosetta Stone||Ba Ba Dum|
- Letonika - Online Latvian-English dictionary
- Freelang - Offline Latvian-English dictionary, with flashcard practice and options to add or modify entries
TV Series Edit
- Palīgā! - Listening and vocabulary practice with Latvian subtitles
- Do not fret over conjugation and declension charts. You should familiarize yourself with these rules one by one through using and practicing Latvian, not by memorizing a chart by heart.
<ref>tags exist, but no
<references/>tag was found