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Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. The Latvian language is a Baltic language. It is moderately inflected language, with complex nominal and verbal morphology.


Latvian emerged as a distinct language in the 16th century, having evolved from Latgalian? and assimilating Curonian?, Semigallian? and Selonian? on the way. All of these belong to the Baltic language group.

Until the 19th century, the Latvian language was heavily influenced by the German language, because the upper class of local society was formed by Baltic Germans. In 1880s when tsar Alexander III came into power Russification started.

The verb

Latvian has:

  • three simple tenses: present, imperfect [or preterite] and future), and
  • three compound perfect tenses: present perfect, past perfect, future perfect.

Latvian verbs are used in five moods: indicative, imperative, conditional, conjunctive (or "relative", used for reported speech) and "debitive" (for expressing obligation).

Sample verb: būt

Present Past Future
es  esmu  biju būšu - būtu esot ir jābūt
tu  esi  biji būsi esi
viņš  ir  bija būs lai ir
mēs  esam  bijām būsim būsim
jūs  esat  bijāt būsiet esiet
viņi  ir  bija būs lai ir


  • Bielenstein, A.. Handbuch der lettischen Sprache. Mitau. 1863.
  • Eckert Rainer et al.. Die baltischen Sprachen. Eine Einführung. Langenscheidt Verlag. 5 edition. Leipzig. 1994.
Categories: Indo-European | Baltic | Language

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