Learning Latvian is said to be difficult – but is it really?
I am writing this post for people who have tried learning some basic Latvian but have not figured out grammatical cases and all that stuff. I know, it sounds complicated, but it’s figuroutable. Just like everything is. And in this post, I’ll explain cases in a nutshell so that you have clarity. At the end of this post, I’ll tell you about a short $10 course that will help you to understand everything even better.
Think of cases as of behavioral patterns of nouns
Linguists use the term ‘cases’ to explain patterns. Those are behavioral patterns of nouns and other words that act the same way nouns do. Simple English equivalents would be singular and plural forms, for instance, a flower – flowers or a cactus – cacti.
Learning Latvian is about mastering those patterns just like a knitter masters patterns in knitting — little by little leading to a beautiful result. In a year, you’ll be happy that you started today. So, without further ado, let’s start figuring them out.
Explaining Grammatical Cases in a Nutshell
Nominative & Vocative
There are 7 cases altogether, but 2 of them are really simple to understand. They are the Nominative and Vocative cases. As the name suggests, the Nominative case is used for nomination. For instance, for naming what or who something or somebody is. The Vocative case, as the name suggests, is for being vocal. Namely, it is used to call someone out, for instance, when you’re calling someone by name.
Accusative, Dative & Instrumental
The Accusative and the Dative are the two cases for which you need to understand the concept of the direct and the indirect object in English.
For instance, if you say: “I gave the keys to dad,” then “keys” would be the direct object and “dad” would be the indirect object. Latvians think of these as of the Accusative case and the Dative case respectively.
The Instrumental case should be easy to understand. In Latvian everything and everybody we use to do something with or do something together with is regarded as an instrument. For instance, in the sentence: “Eat spaghetti with a fork and spoon” the words “with a fork and spoon” would be in the Instrumental case. Or, in the sentence: “I am together with my friend,” the words “with my friend” would also be changed into the Instrumental form.
The forms will be easy to remember after you’ve mastered the Accusative and Dative forms because the singular will be like that of the Accusative case while the plural will be that of the Dative case.
Genitive & Locative
The two remaining ones to discuss are the Genitive and the Locative cases. Think of the Genitive as the describing case. For instance, in the word combination Cinderella story, the word Cinderella describes the word story. Thanks to this word we know what kind of story it is.
As the name Locative suggests, this case is about location. You might have seen long vowels at the end of nouns in Latvian, for instance, Latvijā. When you see that, it means “in Latvia”.
So, there it is – I’ve revealed it all about Latvian nouns in a nutshell.
Colors, Numbers & Family Members Members
Now, if you’d like to see how it actually works in sentences, I invite you to take my small course Colors, Numbers & Family Members. Although I’ve priced at only $10, I’m very proud of it at how much value I’ve managed to put into it. It’s because I want you to fall in love with learning Latvian.
See what my student Ilona wrote to me just a couple of days ago:
“I have really enjoyed both your reading and your numbers courses and look forward to enrolling in your big program. Your approach is wonderful, in my humble opinion (as a retired educator). Well done!!”