As I learning about my Lithuanian heritage, I am also learning about the language. So far I have looked at Lithuanian greetings, some common courtesies, how to ask questions, numbers, and directions. This week, let's learn some basic verbs!
An upcoming trip to Lithuania will provide a really good opportunity to test out these 10 most important things to know, to get by in any language for myself and see how good my advice is! So I won't be trying for fluency in a year with Lithuanian. Instead, I'm focusing on these 10 things. This week I'm on the seventh item — basic verbs.
7. Basic verbs
būti : to be
eiti : to walk
ateiti : to come (by foot)
išeiti : to go [away] (by foot)
važiuoti : to drive
atvažiuoti : to come (by vehicle)
išvažiuoti : to go [away] (by vehicle)
skristi : to fly
nešti : to carry
atnešti : to bring
galėti : to be able
pažinti : to know (a person)
žinoti : to know (a fact)
turėti : to have
norėti : to want
reikėti : to be necessary
valgyti : to eat
gerti : to drink
miegoti : to sleep
žiurėti : to watch / to look
matyti : to see
klausytis : to listen
girdėti : to hear
sakyti : to say
pasakyti : to tell
mėgti : to like
The 10 Things list isn't meant to be a detailed grammar or language instruction, just the basics for survival. So I'm only going to look at basic verb conjugation for the present tense.
The standard six subjects apply: 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person, each in singular and plural.
The irregular verb būti (to be) has a mostly regular conjugation, but the verb stem is es-, which really doesn't match the infinitive at all, and the verb stem changes to yr- in the third-person.
Given my experience with several languages in different language families now, I find verb conjugation in Lithuanian to be refreshingly straightforward! These rules are simpler than those of Italian and orders of magnitude simpler than the complicated rules of Russian.
Perfective and imperfective aspects
Lithuanian is basically the parent language to all the modern Slavic languages, and as such, it uses perfective and imperfective aspects on all verbs, denoted by use of prefixes.
For simplicity, all verbs can be presumed to be imperfective, unless they are preceded by a prefix, such as: pa-, at-, iš-, nu-, su-, par- per- pra- pri-, už-, etc. With the prefix, the verb becomes perfective. And since there is no perfective present, the present conjugation becomes a future conjugation.
The exception is with verbs of motion, in which case the prefixes alter the direction or nature of the motion. With motion verbs, there are perfective verb stems to complement the imperfectve ones. We're not going to worry about that here. It's good to know for language study, but it's not necessary for survival. If you're interested in more information about verbs and prefixes in Lithuanian, click here.
Putting it all to use
At this point, we now have the ability to form real thoughts. There is really quite a lot that can be said just with the information on this page. For example, turiu eiti means I have to go. Noriu valgyti means I want to eat and can be said when you don't know the word for hungry.
But that's just with the information on this page. If you add in some words from previous posts, there's a lot that can be said! If someone asks you Kur jūs dabar einate? (where are you going now?), you can answer Aš einu į kavinę, (I am going to a café). And if you're having trouble hearing, you can ask someone near you, Ką jis sako? Negaliu girdėti.
Once you understand verbs, the possibilities are endless.
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.