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Estonian Language Course

Estonian Language Course


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Published by Mithridates
As far as I know, this is the first Estonian course / grammar made on the internet, created by me back in 1998 after I came back from a month in Tallinn. I'm hoping to expand on this sometime, or that somebody else will want to expand on this. In the meantime it's a good introduction to the grammar.

Attribution: an obvious link to my blog at http://mithridates.blogspot.com will suffice.
As far as I know, this is the first Estonian course / grammar made on the internet, created by me back in 1998 after I came back from a month in Tallinn. I'm hoping to expand on this sometime, or that somebody else will want to expand on this. In the meantime it's a good introduction to the grammar.

Attribution: an obvious link to my blog at http://mithridates.blogspot.com will suffice.

More info:

Published by: Mithridates on May 02, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Estonian Language Course

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Created October 1998; Last updated May 16/2000.

Update May 2 2008: I've decided to upload this to scribd.com in order to make it available to the public (up to now it's just been on my computer and on Google Docs). If you have any questions, contact me on my Wikipedia user page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mithridates Everything below this line is as it was back in May 2000 when I last looked at it. ---------As far as I know this is the first Estonian language course to be found on the web, and should fill a large void in internet-based Estonian language resources. It is strange that I have created this, though, for my Estonian is most definately not perfect. My experiences consist of three months of study, and then living for a month in Tallinn. Nevertheless, I consider myself a good teacher, and can convey what I know. I have written this page up with the help of a few grammatical books I own, and so as far as I know this page is mostly accurate. There are no sound files here, but one may find them at travlang.com. (select foreign languages for travellers, and then click on the Estonian flag.) Travlang has pages with basic phrases for a large number of languages, but no resources for forming one's own sentences, which is what this page is for. I really can't recommend learning Estonian without hearing it as well, and hopefully this should help. Also, some of the individual vocabulary here may be lacking in an explanation; if unsure as to the meaning of a word, try the On-line English-Estonian-English Dictionary by The Institue of Baltic Studies. Besides my experiences in Estonia, I have used a book called Colloquial Estonian to learn what I know. The whole course is contained on this one page. In this format it can easily be saved and printed out in its entirety. Lastly, even after completion I may make changes and improvements to this page. As well, since I am not a native speaker there will be a few (or perhaps more) errors to the Estonian on this page, so if you are one I urge you to mail me and help me out. In this regard, many thanks to Andrus Varnik and also Madis Remmik for their corrections, ideas and suggestions which have improved the accuracy of this course dramatically. Many others have contributed as well, and I have included many of their comments. In most cases I have integrated them into the course, but at times their comments seem to stand on their own, in which case I have differentiated them from the rest of the course by converting them to fixed width fonts, inside a block quote.

"To give you an example of what the comments from others look like - they appear in this form. This is a fixed width font inside a block quote."

1. Basics

2. Grammar
• • • • •

• About Estonian • Pronunciation • Basic Phrases Pronouns Numbers Verb Conjugation Noun Cases Adjectives

Estonian, as some know, is a Finno-Ugric tongue with close ties to Finnish, both outside the better known Indo-European language family. Finnish is the main language on the Finno side, while Hungarian is the main language on the Ugric side. It may be assumed then that learning Estonian will give on some knowledge of Hungarian. Unfortunately, this is not true (but it is with Finnish - more on that in a bit). Apparently Hungarian is similar to Estonian only in its grammatical structure, such as the usage of noun cases on the ends of words, and so on. However, the two languages barely sound alike at all. Finnish and Estonian, however, sound very much alike and one usually has to listen to the words to learn which is actually being spoken or sung. Finnish, however, is another story. Many words in Finnish are similar or identical to those in Estonian. The difference lies in the fact that Finland has had more of a Swedish influence on its language, while Estonia's influences have been linked more closely to German and Russian. The Estonian ü is pronounced the same as the Finnish y, and Finnish has no letter õ. Also, Finnish words tend to be much longer than Estonian ones. Here are a few examples.

About Estonian

English Estonian Finnish forest mets metsä school kool koulu god jumal jumala sea meri meri purple purpurne purppuranpunainen December detsember joulukuu The last example is a slightly hidden similarity. There is an Estonian word, jõulu, which means Christmas, and the word kuu means month or moon. Therefore the Finnish word joulukuu would look somewhat like 'Christmas Month' to an Estonian. But some words are not at all alike:

English wise

Estonian tark

Finnish viisas

misery õnnetus kurjuus ...and so on. But sometimes seemingly identical words can have drastically different meanings. The Finnish word hallitus (government), is the exact same as the Estonian word hallitus (mould). One should not make assumptions. And then there are the possibilities for gross misunderstandings: The Estonian word for tercel (hawk) is kull, which is also a fairly common family name in Estonia. In Finnish, however, it is slang for testicle(s). So, in short: 1) Most Finns and Estonians are unable to understand each other (but may with some effort), and 2) They easily could with a few months of study. But this does not seem to be the case. However, Estonians do tend to be more inclined to know Finnish than vice versa, as Estonia receives a few Finnish TV channels. During the Soviet occupation Finnish TV provided a window to the West and the western lifestyle, which motivated the Estonians to learn Finnish. Also, it gave the people a chance to hear the Finnish national anthem, the same music as that of free Estonia’s. Finland does not receive Estonian TV though, and so have less opportunity to learn Estonian. There is quite a bit of interchange between the two, however. Finns often go to Tallinn for a day or two to enjoy the lower prices, as well as to drink (and also enjoy marginally warmer weather?), and Estonians commonly go to Helsinki to see shows or cultural exhibits, (Helsinki is about 20% larger than Tallinn). Lastly, Estonian has no similarity to the Indo-European languages of the other countries it borders on. Though it has had some Russian influence, Russian is a Slavic language, not a Finno-Ugric tongue, and is quite different. Estonian also has no similarity to Latvian (Latvian is similar to Lithuanian, though). Although Estonian as a language has existed for a long time, the language was not codified (i.e., the rules of grammar and spelling established) until the late 19th century. Many regional dialects still survive. Once again, I urge you to find a way to hear spoken Estonian as well, such as Travlang's page above. Also, to hear Estonian radio you may also click here. This is the news section of an Estonian radio station, called (I believe) simply Eesti raadio. For beginners of course it's quite fast but nevertheless it gives a good idea of how Estonian is actually spoken. There are others as well, and it is not too difficult to find. But I will also add specifics here, and tips on pronouncing that may go unnoticed by the casual listener. Vowels Estonian vowels, in general, are not changed by doubling like in English. A doubled o sounds like the o in tone, while the short o sounds like the o in moment. It is somewhat subtle, but all too important. Consonants As with vowels, the doubling of consonants is noticeable. For example, the double s of the word sissevedu (import), is pronounced more like as in 'Miss something' than as in 'Mystery'. Say it as if it were two words, but do not pause. In general, the stress in Estonian is always on the first syllable of a word and thus words usually begin with a hard consonant (p, t, k) as opposed to a soft consonant (b, d, g). This does not carry over into syllabication, but has some impact in pronunciation; e.g., Jaakobi is pronounced as if it were written Jaakopi.


The Estonian letters a. Pronounced like the a in father. ä. Pronounced like the a in hat. o. Pronounced like the o in moment. ö. Pronounced somewhat like in cook.

õ. This is the most difficult Estonian letter. Somewhere in between ö and o, it seems, but it
really needs to be heard to be understood. u. Pronounced like cool. ü. This letter is more difficult to explain. If you already know the German ü or the French u, then it should be no problem. It is said with more of a rounding of the lips than u. It also sounds a little more distinct. i. Pronounced like film. When doubled, I think it takes on a sound more like screen. This is what I have noticed - some books have told me that the i sound is always the same, but I disagree. These basic phrases are ones I heard quite frequently while in Tallinn. I will also include greetings here. Tere! - 'Hi.' Very brief. Tere hommikust. - 'Good morning.' Tere päevast. - 'Good afternoon.' Tere õhtust. - 'Good evening.' Head aega. - 'Good bye.' Literally “(Have) a good time.” But, more frequently, Nägemist. - This is more casual, more like “See ya.” Also used is Nägemiseni - “Until we see again”. Or even... Ciao. - I have no idea how Estonians would spell this - there is no 'ch' sound in Estonian. But this is used quite frequently as well. Obviously acquired directly. Ma ei tea. - 'I don't know.' Sometimes just 'ei tea.' Võibolla. - 'Perhaps.' This can be used as the beginning of a sentence, or on its own. Sometimes it is spelled võib-olla, but I don't want to give the impression that there is any pause between the two words. There isn't. Mis sa teed? - 'What are you doing?' This is heard quite frequently on TV. Mis kurat sa teed? - 'What the hell are you doing?' Another TV word. The word 'kurat' means devil, and is fequently heard in Estonia. It may also be translated as 'What the devil are you doing?' "Word order can alter meaning, too. Mis kurat sa teed? Is closer to 'What the hell are you doing?' whereas Mis sa kurat teed? would be more like 'What the hell are you doing?' Kurat as a word is somewhat like the British “bloody.” In usage both carry a stronger connotation than their literal tanslations. - In the Estonian movie “City Unplugged” [?], the English subtitles inserted the F-word everytime kurat was used to add emphasis. Wonder what impression the non-Estonian speaking audience members took away with them! [In all honesty, I must admit that the Estonian F-word was used once!]" Jumalaga. - 'Goodbye.' Nobody says this, in fact; perhaps only members of the clergy. I have put it here because sometimes a book will state that this is a way to say goodbye in Estonia, but it really isn't (even though I like it). Literally it means 'with God.' An example of the Comitative case. Kohtumiseni- ‘till we meet again’.

Basic Phrases

Estonian pronouns differ noticeably from those in English. Compared to English, they are both more, and less specific. As with many other languages, there are two ways of saying 'you' - a formal, and an informal way (more on that below). There are also two forms of each pronoun - a long, and a short form. The short form is used more frequently, and the long form is used to emphasize the pronoun. Examples will follow below. Here is the chart of Estonian pronouns.


Long form Short form Meaning Mina Ma I Sina Sa You (Singular, and informal) Teie Te You (Plural or formal) Tema Ta He/She/It Meie Me We Nemad Nad They Short and long forms: As stated above, the long form is used for emphasis, as in the following example: 'Kelle raamat see on?' (Whose book is this?) The answer may be: 'See on meie raamat.' (It is our book.) Or alternatively, 'See raamat on meie.' (The book is ours.) - a subtle difference. The underlining will not be present in a translation, of course, but it helps to explain the point. Or perhaps, Kõik inimesed on kasutud (Everybody is useless - inimene means person, inimese is the genitive case) - Kõik asjad on kasutud (Everything is useless - asi means thing, asja is the genitive case). And then, 'Mina pole kasutu.' (I'm not useless.) And so on. But generally one should use the short form when speaking. The word pole is the short form of ei ole, the nagative form of to be (i.e., not). Demonstrative forms: note also that see = this/that: See siin = this (here), see seal = that (there). But it can also mean “the” as in “Kas see on see raamat?” - “Is this the book?” Tema/Ta: This is an interesting word in Estonian. In Estonian, whether the speaker is talking about he, she, or it will hopefully be evident from the context. As expected then, Estonians have a difficult time learning of this differentiation in English, as they never need to specify such things in their native tongue. Te and Sa: Though sa is listed as the informal pronoun, you may use it to people you have never met, depending on the circumstances, and young people never call each other te. Te is reserved for formal or business situations (and the form to use when you are unsure), a student speaking to a teacher perhaps, and other such occurrences. But generally one will most frequently use sa, but only among people one is already familiar with. "In general, te is used among adults unless they switch to sa by mutual consent (if they find Te awkward - the custom of drinking

to/toasting “sina-sõprust”). Also an older adult can grant a younger person, or a woman can grant a man, permission to address him/her as sa. I have noted that foreigners and Estonians who have grown up abroad are forgiven any transgression in this regard."

Estonian numbers are similar to English in how they are formed. 1 - üks 2 - kaks 3 - kolm 4 - neli 5 - viis 6 - kuus 7 - seitse 8 - kaheksa 9 - üheksa 10 - kümme 11 through 19 are formed by adding the suffix -teist to the number (üksteist, kaksteist, kolmteist, etc.) Numbers 20 and above are formed by adding the suffix -kümmend to the number. (Note: many Estonians shorten this to just -kend in daily speech. Twenty, for example, will be kakskümmend, or just kakskend.) "The -kend is not good practice and should not be encouraged on this page! It’s like teaching someone to say “twenny”!" As somebody commented once. So it's apparently not good practice, but I did hear it quite a bit while in Estonia, so at the least one should understand it. Some more examples: 51 - viiskümmend üks (viiskend üks) 73 - seitsekümmend kolm (seitsekend kolm) And so on. 100 - sada 1 000 - tuhat 10 000 - kümme tuhat 100 000 - sada tuhat 1 000 000 - miljon 1 000 000 000 - miljard So the Estonian numbers present no difficulty. They only require memorization. Estonian verbs actually have two infinitive forms, the -da and the -ma infinitive. Don't let this discourage you, for in most cases the da may be interchanged with the ma with no adverse effects. But not all the time... for now we will only deal with the -ma infinitive, as it is the form listed in most dictionaries, and the form we can most easily conjugate from. Estonian verbs are conjugated as French verbs are - meaning there is a clear difference between whether it is you, I, they, we, etc. initiating the action. Here is how they are conjugated, using the verb kirjutama (write) as an example.


Verb Conjugation

Pronoun Conjugation English Past tense English Ma (Mina) kirjutan I write kirjutasin I wrote Sa (Sina) kirjutad (inf.) You write kirjutasid (inf.) You wrote Te (Teie) kirjutate You write kirjutasite You wrote Ta (Tema) kirjutab He/She/It writes kirjutas He/She/It wrote Me (Meie) kirjutame We write kirjutasime We wrote Nad (Nemad) kirjutavad They write kirjutasid They wrote The verb endings are extremely important to learn, as sometimes Estonians will leave out the pronoun when wishing to be brief, as the ending specifies who is initiating the verb. The ending -s is used quite frequently in newspapers and books, specifically when quoting others. For example, 'Me vihkame tööpuudust,' ütles ta. - 'We hate unemployment,' he said. (or she or it. We must learn from the context.) Here we have vihkame, a form of the verb vihkama, to hate. ütlema means to say, and in these cases the word order is reversed (literally, said he).

Negative forms of verbs

It is very easy to refuse something in Estonian. Just say 'Ma ei...' plus the stem of the verb (ie, the verb minus the ma. See below for the conjugational form). 'Ma ei taha su vastikut teed.' -'I don't want some of your disgusting tea.' Here taha is the stem of the verb tahtma, to want. or: 'Ma ei tule, kui sa seal oled.' -'I won't come if you'll be there.' or, lastly: 'Ma ei aita sind.' -'I won't help you. Also, negative forms of verbs to not conjugate according to the person doing the action. ma ei aita, sa ei aita, meie ei aita, etc.

Giving orders (imperative form)

The way to tell someone to do something is quite simple. If one wishes to be polite, add -ke or -ge to the stem of the verb. Such as, 'Oodake mind.' -'Wait for me.' or, 'Tulge sisse.' - “Come in (Enter)” and 'Tulge siia' - 'Come here.' If one wishes to be less polite, just use the stem of the verb, without an ending, as in 'Istu!' -'Sit!' This is how one commands a dog. To give a negative command, preface the polite stem with ärge, or the regular stem with ära. Such as 'Ärge istuge.' -'(please) don't sit.' or, 'Ära tule sisse!' - “Don’t come in!”, 'Ära tule siia!' - 'Don't come here!' But the basic stem can also be used without rudeness if one is being positive, such as 'Ära muretse.' which means 'Don't worry.'

Some useful verbs

I will provide the verbs here in two forms: the -ma infinitive, and the conjugational form. The conjugational form indicated the stem of the verb used in conjugation - otherwise, one could make an important error, as in the following example: The verb minema means 'to go,' but the conjugational form is lähe. To the end of this we can add the endings n, d, te, and so on. But most verbs are quite straightforward, so do not worry. Minema is the most extreme example of this. -Come - tulema, tule. Such as 'Ma tulen hiljem.' -'I'll come later.' There is no future tense in Estonian, and the previous sentence literally means 'I come later'.: 'Ma tulen' can mean right now, later, tomorrow, next year! That's why a clarifier like hiljem is needed. -Do - tegema, tee. Such as 'Mida sa teed?' -'What are you doing?' or 'Mida sa täna teha tahad?' -'What do you want to do today?' -Go - minema, lähe.

"Example: To tell someone to “Go away!” you’d say “Mine ära!” but the response would be either “[Ma] lähen” or “[Ma] ei lähe,” although I have heard toddlers say “Ei mine.” And for fun we have “Ta läks minema” - “He went away.” But this is consistent as we would say “Ta läheb/läks sööma/ujuma/jalutama.” - “He goes/went to eat/to swim/for a walk[to walk].”"

-Hate - vihkama, vihka. -Help - aitama, aita. -Like - armastama, armasta. Used in such sentences as 'Kas sa armastad...' -'Do you like...' or 'Ma armastan sind.' -'I love you.'

"If you were to ‘armastama’ your vegetables it would be weird, ‘to like’ is more ‘meeldima’ -‘kas sul meeldib...’"

-Look - vaatama, vaata. -Think - arvama, arva. This is a very helpful verb. One will often hear 'Ma arvan et...' - 'I think that...' -Think - mõtlema, mõtle. Almost identical to arvama, but arvama has a meaning closer to 'consider'. -Want - tahtma, taha. Such as 'Kas sa tahad teed?' -'Do you want (some) tea?'

Noun Cases

Noun cases are extremely important in Estonian. In fact, they are so important that there are fourteen of them (compared to six in Russian, about the same in Latin, I think...). But do not despair. The noun cases are quite convenient, and often take the place of prepositions, so in this way they are easier to use and remember. Also, only the second and third of the fourteen present any difficulty for the prospective student. First I shall illustrate the cases in a chart, after which I will deal with them separately, and provide examples and further help. I will illustrate the cases with the example word meri, 'sea.' Here they are.

"But first an anecdote about Estonian President Lennart Meri: A carful of politicians are driving along the coast, when one of them gets a whiff of the sea and exclaims: “Meri haiseb. (The sea smells/stinks.)” Lennart Meri took exception to the remark!"

Name of noun case Nominative Genitive Partitive

Form meri mere (ends with a vowel) merd

Meaning sea of the sea some sea

merre (also -sse ending, see to the sea below) Inessive meres at the sea Elative merest from, about, out of the sea Allative merele for the sea Adessive merel on the sea Ablative merelt from the sea for, to, by, becoming the Translative mereks sea Terminative mereni up to the sea Essive merena as the sea Abessive mereta without the sea Comitative merega with the sea There they are. It is an intimidating display, indeed, but do not worry. Learning these cases will drastically reduce your need for prepositions. The English meanings on the right serve only as vague meanings of what the cases are actually used for. In any case, I will now explain further as to what the cases mean. Illative

Nominative (Nimetav, from nimetama = to name)

This case is the standard form of a noun, and can have any ending. It means simply tree, car, sea, etc. Nothing needs to be changed here, or worried about. This is the standard form given in a dictionary (although all good dictionaries should have the Genitive and Partitive form as well, and you'll see why in a bit).

Genitive (Omastav, from omastama = to appropriate)

The genitive form of a noun denotes ownership, and can be translated as 'of' or ''s' in English. For example, mere tuul is the sea's wind, or the wind of the sea. The genitive form usually ends with a vowel, but it is difficult to ascertain which one. This is why some dictionaries provide the Genitive form as well. It is extremely important to learn because all of the other forms, save the Partitive, consist of mere additions to the Genitive form. This is why it ends with a vowel, as then additions can be placed without awkwardness. Often though, when the nominative form ends with a vowel, no change needs to be made to convert it to the Genitive, such as the word isa, which means father. It can also mean 'father's', or 'of the father,' with no change. Now I must give the Genitive forms of the pronouns. These are used frequently, are quite easy to learn, and involve a small or no change. Here they are. Mina (Ma) - Minu, mu (my) Sina (Sa) - Sinu, su (your) Teie (Te) - Teie, te (your) Meie (Me) - Meie, me (our) Tema (Ta) - Tema, ta (his/hers/its) Nemad (Nad) - Nende (their)

Partitive (Osastav, from osastama = to assign/partition)

I have found the partitive to be the most difficult noun case in Estonian, and it is the one to deserve your greatest attention, after the Genitive. The partitive indicates a partial state of being, and can be translated as 'some' in English. For example, the sentence 'Kas sa tahad tee?' means 'Do you want tea?', but it is incorrect. Instead, one would say 'Kas sa tahad teed?', which means, 'Do you want some tea?'

"Estonians don’t use definite or indefinite articles: it is usually simply “cup of tea,” instead of “a cup of tea” or “the cup of tea.” {on further reflection, not true: One could offer someone “üks tass teed” or “see tass teed,” “seda tassi teed.” Thus when someone says “Mul on raamat” it could equally mean “I have a book” (response to: “Do you have a book?” “Kas sul on üks raamat?” [using üks as the indefinite article] or “I have the book (or this book).” in response to “Do you have the/this book?” both are “Kas sul on see raamat?” )" The partitive form is used in such cases, and generally ends with a t or a d. Once again, all good dictionaries should include the Partitive form along with the Genitive. It is also frequently used when talking about a language. For example, 'Ma räägin inglise keelt.' means 'I speak English'. However, keelt is the partitive form of keel, meaning language. So even if you were to speak fluent English, you would still say some, because nobody can learn such things perfectly, and there will always be words we don't know. This case will take much effort to acquire an easyness with, but rest assured that it is worth it. It is quite useful. Here are the partitive forms of the pronouns. Mina (Ma) - Mind Sina (Sa) - Sind Teie (Te) - Teid Meie (Me) - Meid Tema (Ta) - Teda Nemad (Nad) - Neid

Illative (Sisseütlev, from sisse = into)

This case begins those that merely add on to the Genitive, for which we are thankful. The Inessive has a slight difficulty, however, as there are two ways of stating it. Nevertheless, it is easier than the other two. The Illative case states where something is going. 'Ma lähen Eestisse,' means 'I am going to Estonia,' which is what I did. In many examples the Illative case will add on -sse to the Genitive stem, but not all the time. Sometimes it will merely lengthen a consonant by one letter. For example, take the word 'kino,' which means cinema or movie theatre. If I were to state that I am going to the cinema, I would not say 'Ma lähen kinosse,' but instead say 'Ma lähen kinno.' In this case it doubles the consonant in the word, just before the vowel. This is the primary difficulty in dealing with the Illative case. However, there is a general tendency one can use to know which form to use: generally, with important words or place names, one will add on -sse to the end. In most cases, where it is possible, one should merely add a consonant. And in some cases we need not worry, such as the word linn for city. The genitive form is linna, which already has a double consonant. In this cases, we need not do anything to change it to the Illative form.

Elative (Seestütlev, from seest = (motion) from within/out of)

The Elative, along with the rest of these cases, are simple and straightforward. The Elative case adds -st to the Genitive stem, and means 'from' or 'about', when concerning a noun. It can be used in a non-physical sense as well, such as 'Nende meelest on Eesti väike maa.' -'They think Estonia is a small country.' They are right. This literally means, 'From their mind,' or 'From their thoughts...' A different way of expressing such things.

"The names of countries are capitalized but not when talking about the people or their languages: Eesti (Estonia), Eestimaa (Estonia land), eestlased (Estonians), eesti keel (Estonian (language))."

Allative (Alaleütlev, from alale = (motion) onto a/the surface/area)

The Allative case adds on the ending -le, and has the basic meaning of 'for' or 'to'. The Allative case is used when something happens to someone or something. For example, 'Kanadalastele on suur maa antud.' (For Canadians, a large country has been provided.) Or, 'Mis on parim sulle?' which means, 'What is best for you?' The short forms of the pronouns change to mulle and sulle, but the long remain as minule and sinule. (For me, for you)

Adessive (Alalütlev, from alal = on a/the surface/area)

The Adessive case adds on the ending -l, and it's basic meaning is 'on.' It is also used in Estonian to denote possession, as in the mundane example, 'Mul on raamat,' which simply means 'I have a book.' (Lit. 'On me is a book.') This is the standard form for indicating ownership of something in the Estonian language, and should be used instead of the verb omama.

Ablative (Alaltütlev, from alalt = (motion) off a/the surface/area)

The Ablative case adds on the ending -lt, and has the basic meaning of 'from'. It's different from the Elative case, however. The Elative can also mean from in the sense of 'from my opinion', or more literally, 'from my mind...' but the Ablative generally refers to a physical reality, and can be used to give directions, or state the location of something.

Translative (Saav, from saama = to become)

The Translative case is somewhat useful, and generally it is quite obvious when this case is required, which is quite good. This case generally implies a change of state, or can also specify a duration of time. The case ending is -ks. Here are some examples. Ma tahan saada paremaks inimeseks. -'I want to become a better person.' Me saime märjaks ja mustaks. -'We became wet and dirty.' Ma pean minema pikaks ajaks. -'I must go for a long time.' (Pika is the genitive form of pikk - long, and aja is the genitive form of aeg - time.)

Terminative (Rajav, from rajatama = to mark the boundary)

The terminative is another useful and easily learned case, with the ending -ni. The terminative indicates a point at which an action ends, and is often translated as until. Ma läksin pangani, aga sind ei olnud seal. -'I went as far as the bank, but you weren't there.' Here panga is the genitive form of pank for bank. I never heard such a sentence is Estonia, but it may have been said at one time. "Note: "Ma läksin mööda teed kuni pangani, aga sind ei olnud seal" (I walked down the road until I reached the bank, but you weren't there) sounds better in everyday use."

Or... Nad võitlesid kella seitsmeni ning jõid siis kokku. -'They fought until seven, and then drank together.'

Essive (Olev, from olema = to be/exist)

We are on our twelfth case now... The Essive case denotes the function something performs. It is often translated as 'as', and takes upon the ending -na. It is often used when referring to careers or occupations, such as 'Ma töötan arstina,' which means 'I work as a

doctor.' Arst means doctor, arsti is the genitive stem. Or, 'Ma tahaksin sind oma teenijana.' -'I would like you as my servant.' "Sinu teenijana kuuletun sulle alati" - "As your servant, I shall always obey you".

Abessive (Ilmaütlev, from ilma = without)

The Abessive is the opposite of the next case, the Comitative, and is used to specify when something is not present. Its characteristic ending is -ta, and it is often translated as 'without'. 'ilma minuta, kus te oleksite?' -'Without me, where would you be?' 'Raamatuta ma olen ikka kurb.' -'Without books I'm always sad.'

Comitative (Kaasaütlev, from kaasa = along with/accompanied by)

The Comitative is the last of the fourteen Estonian noun cases, and is easily remembered. It specifies when something is present or being made us of, and is often translated as 'with', or 'by means of'. The characteristic ending is -ga. For example, if someone were to ask you what you intended to do on any particular day, the answer could be 'Midagi sõbraga.' -'Something with a friend.' Or it can also indicate what one is using to perform a certain action, such as discussing travel. 'Ma sõidan autoga,' means 'I travel by car.' 'Ma tahan minna sinuga,' means 'I want to go with you.' And so on. A very useful case.


Adjectives are used much like those in English. For example, "Ma olen kanadalane." - "I am a Canadian." "Ma olen noor kanadalane." - I am a young Canadian. To use an adjective in the comparative form, use the Genetive case and then add -m.

Adjective Comparative form English meaning noor noorem young kerge kergem (genitive is also kerge) easy hiline hilisem late halb halvam bad kiire kiirem quick, urgent So if you see an adjective in its comparitive form, one will also know the Genitive case of the noun as well. And to compare things with another, use the word kui. For example: 'Mu sõbra on noor.' - "My friend is young." 'Mu sõbra on noorem.' - "My friend is younger." and then add kui... 'Mu sõbra on noorem kui sinu kass.' - "My friend is younger than your cat. Or... "Kanada on suur maa." - "Canada is a big country." "Kanada on suurem maa." - "Canada is a bigger country." "Kanada on suurem kui Eesti maa" - "Canada is a bigger country than Estonia. Superlative: This is very easy, and is done by putting the word kõige before the comparative form. So then it becomes suur (big), suurem (bigger), kõige suurem (biggest). So then we could say, "Kanada on kõige suurem maa." - "Canada is the biggest country." Which isn't true, it's the 2nd biggest.

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