Latvian Declension
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Latvian Declension

In the Latvian language, nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals are inflected in six declensions. There are seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative.


Latvian has two grammatical genders, masculine and feminine.

Latvian nouns can be classified as either declinable or indeclinable. Most Latvian nouns are declinable, and regular nouns belong to one of six declension classes (three for masculine nouns, and three for feminine nouns).

Latvian nouns have seven grammatical cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative. The instrumental case is always identical to the accusative in the singular, and to the dative in the plural. It is used as a free-standing case (i.e., in the absence of a preposition) only in highly restricted contexts in modern Latvian. (See below for a true prepositional case, the ablative.)

Masculine declensions

The three masculine declensions have the following identifying characteristics:

  • 1st declension: nom. sing. in -s or -?, thematic vowel -a- (e.g. v?rs "man, husband")
  • 2nd declension: nom. sing. in -is (or -ns/-ss, see below), thematic vowel -i- (e.g. skapis "wardrobe")
  • 3rd declension: nom. sing. in -us, thematic vowel -u- (e.g. tirgus "market, bazaar")

The full paradigms of endings for the three declensions is given in the following table:

1st decl. 2nd decl. 3rd decl.
Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur.
Nom. v?rs v?ri skapis skapji tirgus tirgi
Gen. v?ra v?ru skapja skapju tirgus tirgu
Dat. v?ram v?riem skapim skapjiem tirgum tirgiem
Acc. v?ru v?rus skapi skapjus tirgu tirgus
Ins. v?ru v?riem skapi skapjiem tirgu tirgiem
Loc. v?r? v?ros skap? skapjos tirg? tirgos
Voc. v?r v?ri skapi skapji tirgu tirgi

The 2nd declension exhibits palatalization of the final stem consonant in the genitive singular and throughout the plural (p -> pj in the example above, but see below for full details). Exceptions to this include compound nouns and proper names ending in -dis or -tis (e.g. Atis, gen. sing. Ata).

A small subclass of 2nd declension nouns have identical nominative and genitive singular (most of them ending in -ens). These are part of the so-called consonant stem nouns: e.g. akmens "stone", asmens "blade", m?ness "moon", rudens "autumn", s?ls "salt", ?dens "water", and zibens "lightning". The 2nd declension noun suns "dog" has the regular genitive singular su?a.

Feminine declensions

The three feminine declensions can be characterized as follows:

  • 4th declension: nom. sing. in -a, thematic vowel -a- (e.g. sieva "woman, wife")
  • 5th declension: nom. sing. in -e, thematic vowel -e- (e.g. upe "river")
  • 6th declension: nom. sing. in -s, thematic vowel -i- (e.g. nakts "night")

The full paradigms of endings for the three declensions is given in the following

4th decl. 5th decl. 6th decl.
Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur.
Nom. sieva sievas upe upes nakts naktis
Gen. sievas sievu upes upju nakts nak?u
Dat. sievai siev?m upei up?m naktij nakt?m
Acc. sievu sievas upi upes nakti naktis
Ins. sievu siev?m upi up?m nakti nakt?m
Loc. siev? siev?s up? up?s nakt? nakt?s
Voc. sieva sievas upe upes nakts naktis

The final stem consonant is palatalized in the genitive plural of 5th and 6th declension nouns (in the examples above, p -> pj and t -> ?, but see the next section for full details). Exceptions to this include loanwords such as epizode (gen. pl. epizodu) in the 5th declension and a handful of words in the 6th declension: acs "eye", auss "ear", balss "voice", zoss "goose".

The 4th and 5th declensions include a number of masculine nouns (e.g. puika "boy", or proper names such as Dilba, Zvaigzne), or common gender nouns that are either masculine or feminine depending on their use in context (e.g. pazi?a "acquaintance", bende "executioner"). Some surnames (e.g. Klints) belong to the 6th declension for both masculine and feminine.[1] In these cases, the masculine nouns take the same endings as given in the table above, except in the dative singular:

  • 4th decl.: -am (e.g. dat. sing. puikam "boy")
  • 5th decl.: -em (e.g. dat. sing. bendem "male executioner", cf. bendei "female executioner")
  • 6th decl.: -im (e.g. dat. sing. Klintim for male surname, cf. Klintij for female surname)

The 6th declension noun ?audis "people" is masculine. It has no singular forms, only regular plural forms.

Consonant shift (stem-final iotation and palatalization)

Some of the case endings given in the declension tables above begin with an underlying palatal approximant - /j/. This is true of the 2nd declension genitive singular (ending -ja), all forms of the 2nd declension plural, and the genitive plural of the 5th and 6th declensions (ending -ju).

In Latvian literature this process is collectively referred to as l?dzska?u mija,[2] i.e., consonant shift. Jotana (cf. German Jotisierung), i.e., iotation can be further distinguished as a subcategory.[3] In English Academia the term "iotation" is often used to refer to properties of Eastern Slavic vowels wherein they acquire an underlying /j/ which palatalizes the preceding consonants regardless of their position within a word which is similar to the phenomenon of assimilative palatalization of consonants in Lithuanian. Latvian however does not have assimilative palatalization of consonants[4] and the term "iotation" is used strictly in the sense of stem-final labial consonants being "affixed with an iota" (i.e., the letter ?J?) in 2nd, 5th and 6th declension nouns.

change nom. sing. (not iotated) gen. plur. (iotated) translation
p -> pj upe upju "river"
b -> bj gulbis gulbju "swan"
m -> mj zeme zemju "land"
v -> vj dz?rve dz?rvju "crane"
f -> fj ?irafe ?irafju "giraffe"

Besides labial consonants (/p, b, m, v, f/) that are iotated, coronal consonants (/n, t, d, s, z, l/, see below on /r/) and affricates (/ts, dz/) and their clusters can be said to undergo palatalization. Thus, for example, plain Latvian ?L? (similar to the standard value of /l/ in American English or if not proceeded by a front vowel - Brazilian Portuguese, sometimes distinguished as "dark L" - /?/) is palatalized to , a palatal lateral approximant - /?/.

change nom. sing. (unpalatalized) gen. plur. (palatalized) translation
c -> ? l?cis lu "bear"
d -> ? briedis brie?u "deer"
l -> ? br?lis bru "brother"
n -> ? dv?nis dvu "twin"
s -> ? lasis la?u "salmon"
t -> ? nakts nak?u "night"
z -> ? v?ze vu "vase"
sn -> kr?sns kru "stove"
zn -> zvaigzne zvaigu "star"
sl -> k?pslis k?pu "stirrup"
zl -> zizlis ziu "baton"
ln -> vilnis viu "wave"
ll -> lelle leu "doll"
nn -> pinne piu "acne"
st -> ? r?kste r?k?u "rod"

History, exceptions and umlaut

After the Soviet occupation of Latvia minor reforms were made to Latvian orthography, namely the use of long ???, the ?ch? digraph and the use of "softened" ??? were abolished. The use of , ?ch? and is often collectively referred to as "Endzel?ns' orthography." The abolition of diacriticized effectively makes the trill sound (/r/) the only coronal consonant that does not undergo stem-final consonant shift.

For example, the of cepure "hat" is cepuru (but may be pronounced cepu?u). It is, however, still used among people of Latvian origin and books outside of Latvia.

Proponents of point out that it aids in distinguishing a number of homographic heterophones and helps distinguishing the so-called "open ?e?" (/æ/) and "close " (/e/) and prevents the appearance of their alternations in nominal paradigm (referred to as umlaut (p?rska?a), metaphony (metafonija) and other names such as regres?v? voku harmoniz?cija, etc.)

Nominative Old orthography New orthography /e/ or /æ/ (IPA) Tone (Latvian notation: /~/ - level, /^/ - broken) Translation
m?ris ma m?ra /me:ra/ m?ra Gen.Sing. plague
m?rs m?ra Gen.Sing. mayor
m?rs /mæ:ra/ Gen.Sing. measure
m?r?t 3rd Pers.Ind. - he measures
b?rt b?ru b?ru /be:ru/ bêru I poured (sand, grain, etc.)
b?res bu /bæ:ru/ Gen.Pl. funeral
b?ris /be:ru/ b?ru Gen.Pl. a bay horse

The use of has it that gen.sing. "plague" ma would be distinguishable from gen.sing. "measure" m?ra and bu would not show umlaut being pronounced with a close /e:/ like the rest of its paradigm. Further, besides the 5th declension plurale tantum noun b?res ("funeral") another word that would have stem final consonant shift can be introduced - 2nd declension b?ris ("a bay horse") both their will be bu if is used. One could argue that the appearance of umlaut in "funeral" now allows to distinguish it from "bay horse" (assuming the latter is not subjected to umlaut), however, the more common occurrence of the words "I poured (a granular substance)" and "of funeral" becoming perfect homophones is likely to be seen as a net-loss by proponents of >.

In Latvian literature it is usually assumed that open /æ/ is the underlying value of e which became the more close /e/ when followed by a palatal element - either a front vowel /i, e, i?, ei/ (cf. German Gast : Gäste /gast ?st?/) or the palatal approximant /j/ (the "shifted" values can always be analyzed as sums of some consonant and *j in historical terms: ? < *tj, ? < *dj, etc.)

In fact, consonant shift can be viewed as a means of blocking umlaut alternations in nominal paradigm, e.g., the 5th declension in -e has front vocalic endings (-e, -es, -ei, -?m, etc.) in all cases except pl.gen. which has the back vowel -u and pl.gen. happens to be the only case where consonant shift takes place for this declension (the 2nd declension in -is is not as immediately obvious because the modern pl.nom. ending -i is a front vowel which should not require consonant shift to block possible umlaut, however, it likely originates from an earlier back vocalic ending *-ai explaining the consonant shift.)

Some suggest[3] that the abolition of Endzel?ns' orthography in 1946 and 1957 was motivated by the fact that after the occupation Soviet authorities were promoting Russian-born Latvians for positions in the new administration, who, in turn, were not familiar with the developments that had taken place during the decades of independence.

During the Soviet rule one could observe what might seem motivation to simplify consonant shift further. Thus, for example, in a 1971 book by Aldonis V?ri Pu?kop?ba ("Horticulture") the pl. gen. of narcise ("daffodil") is consistently spelled narcisu instead of narci?u.

A 2000 handbook on Latvian orthography lists the following words as exceptions to consonant shift due to reasons of euphony.[2]

nom.sing./ gen.sing./ translation
Guntis Gunta Guntis (name)
Atis Ata Atis (name)
viesis viesu guest
gai?matis gai?matu a light-haired person
t?lskatis t?lskatu telescope
pase pasu passport
g?ze g?zu gas
mute mutu mouth
kaste kastu box, carton
torte tortu cake
azote azotu bosom
acs acu eye
auss ausu ear
balss balsu voice
dzelzs dzelzu iron
valsts valstu country, state
zoss zosu goose
debesis debesu sky

This list is far from exhaustive. 2nd declension two-syllable male names with stems ending in never undergo consonant shift (Uldis, Artis, Gatis, and so forth.) Besides body parts (acs, auss) there is a number of other words that historically do not undergo consonant shift, e.g., the name of the town of C?sis. Words with stem-final -st are not subject to consonant shift this includes all feminine forms of -ist nouns (e.g., feministe and so forth.) Further in a number of words consonant shift has been dropped to avoid homophony, thus of "passport" pase would be homophonous with "of (our-, your-, their-) selves" pa?u, the same goes for g?ze "gas" which would be homophonous with 1st pers. indicative of the verb g?zt "to topple." Perhaps only a small number could be genuinely attributed to euphony, e.g., gai?ma?a due to two concomitant /?/ sounds occurring within a three-syllable word which some might find "unpleasantly sounding."

Dorsal consonants

As has been noted stem-final labial consonants undergo iotation, whereas stem-final unpalatalized coronal consonants and affricates undergo case-specific palatalization and unlike Lithuanian, Latvian does not exhibit assimilative palatalization. However, the last large group of consonants, the dorsal consonants are an exception to both of these rules. Latvian has 3 unpalatalized dorsal consonants /k/, the voiced /?/ and /x/, the latter occurring only in loanwords, represented respectively by the letters ?K?, ?G? and ?H?, as well as palatalized versions of the natively occurring ones /c/ and /?/ represented by the letters and respectively.

Similar to the "hard and soft C" and "hard and soft G" distinction in many (mostly Western) European languages Latvian seeks to palatalize /k/ and /g/ when they are proceeded by front vowels (/e/ or /i/) to either:

  • /ts/ or /dz/ (for native words) or
  • /c/ or /?/ (historically, for assimilating foreign words.)

Unlike most Western European languages where the reader is expected to predict the "softness" or "hardness" of the ?c? and ?g? based on whether they are proceeded by a front vowel and the orthography doesn't change (e.g., cocoa /'k.k/ and Cecilia /se'silja/ both being written with ?c?), the highly phonetic orthography of Latvian requires any such changes to be shown in writing.

As with assimilative palatalization /k/ and /?/ before a front vowel (/e/ or /i/) take on their palatalized values regardless of their position in a word, furthermore, /c/ has been used historically to assimilate pre-front vowel /x/ (found in Russian) and /ç/ (found in German.) For example:

  • na /'ci:na/ from German - China /'çi:na:/
  • (ne)trs "(in)decent" from Russian - ? /xitr/ "sly, clever."[5]

When /k/ or /g/ is followed by a foreign front vowel sound not present in Latvian vowel inventory and when it's changed to a front vowel the palatalization will occur as well. This is the case with German ?ü? (/?/), for example:

  • is /'ce:cis/ from Low German - K?ke /'kø:ke/ "kitchen";[5]
  • ?irbis /'cirbis/ from German - Kürbis /'kb?s/ "pumpkin"[5]

Consequently as in the case of is, for example, no stem-final consonant shift can take place, cf. milzis - mil?a but is - a, since the /k/ is already palatalized.

As is evident with the loan ?imene "family," from the Lithuanian language,[6] /c/ and /?/ are over-represented in borrowed lexical items. By comparing Lithuanian gimti (source of Lithuanian gimin? and eventually Latvian ?imene) and Latvian dzimt ("to be born") it can be observed that replacing dorsal consonants with affricates (/k/ -> /ts/, /?/ -> /dz/) before a front vowel is the more "native" way reserved for pre-front vowel dorsal consonant changes in native words as can be observed in R?ga -> r?dzinieks, logs ("window") -> palodze ("windowsill") or koks ("tree") -> koci ("a stick.")

Indeclinable nouns

Some nouns do not belong to any of the declension classes presented above, and show no case or number inflection. For the most part, these indeclinable nouns are unassimilated loanwords or foreign names that end in a vowel. Some example are: taksi "taxi", atelj? "studio", Deli "Delhi".


Adjectives in Latvian agree in case, number, and gender with the noun they modify. In addition, they express the category of definiteness. Latvian has no definite and indefinite articles, but the form of the adjective chosen can determine the correct interpretation of the noun phrase. For example, consider the following examples:

Vi?a nopirka [vecu m?ju]. "She bought [an old house]."
Vi?a nopirka [veco m?ju]. "She bought [the old house]."

In both sentences, the adjective is feminine singular accusative, to agree with the noun m?ju "house". But the first sentence contains the indefinite form of the adjective, while the second one contains the definite form.

Indefinite declension

Masculine indefinite adjectives are declined like nouns of the first declension, and feminine indefinite adjectives are declined like nouns of the fourth declension.

Masculine Feminine
singular plural singular plural
Nom. -s -i -a -as
Gen. -a -u -as -u
Dat. -am -iem -ai -?m
Acc. -u -us -u -as
Loc. -? -os -? -?s

Definite declension

In the history of Latvian, definite noun phrases were constructed with forms of an old pronoun *jis; traces of this form can still be seen in parts of the definite adjectival paradigm.[7] Note that only definite adjectives are used in the vocative case. The nominative form can always be used as a vocative. If, however, the modified noun appears as a vocative form distinct from its nominative form (this can only happen with singular nouns, as can be seen from the declension tables above), then the vocative form of the adjective can optionally be identical to its accusative form in -o.[8]

Masculine Feminine
singular plural singular plural
Nom. -ais -ie -? -?s
Gen. -? -o -?s -o
Dat. -ajam -ajiem -ajai -aj?m
Acc. -o -os -o -?s
Loc. -aj? -ajos -aj? -aj?s
Voc. -ais / -o -ie -? / -o -?s


The declension of the adjective zils/zila "blue" is given below.

Adjectives containing the suffix -?j- have reduced case endings in the dative and locative. For example, vid?js, -a "central" (indefinite) has the following definite paradigm:

Masculine Feminine
singular plural singular plural
Nom. vid?jais vid?jie vid?j? vid?j?s
Gen. vid?j? vid?jo vid?j?s vid?jo
Dat. vid?jam vid?jiem vid?jai vid?j?m
Acc. vid?jo vid?jos vid?jo vid?j?s
Loc. vid?j? vid?jos vid?j? vid?j?s
Voc. (= nominative)


Personal pronouns

The third person personal pronouns in Latvian have a regular nominal declension, and they have distinct masculine and feminine forms. The first and second person pronouns, and the reflexive pronoun, show no gender distinction, and have irregular declensions.

Singular Plural reflexive
1st 2nd 3rd masc. 3rd fem. 1st 2nd 3rd masc. 3rd fem.
I you (fam.) he/it she/it we you (pol./plur.) they -self/-selves
Nom. es tu vi vi?a m?s j?s vi?i vi?as -
Gen. mans tavs vi?a vi?as m?su j?su vi?u vi?u sevis
Dat. man* tev* vi?am vi?ai mums jums vi?iem vim sev*
Acc. mani tevi vi?u vi?u m?s j?s vi?us vi?as sevi
Loc. man? tev? vi vi m?sos j?sos vi?os vis sev?

*After a preposition governing the dative (e.g. l?dz "to, until"), the dative forms manim, tevim, and sevim are possible. These forms may replace genitive and accusative pronouns with other prepositions, too.[9]

Possessive pronouns

There are five root possessive pronouns that change endings depending on the declension.

  • mans (1st person singular) - my, mine
  • tavs (2nd person singular) - your, yours
  • vi?s (3rd person singular) - his, her
  • vijs (archaic 3rd person singular) - his, her, their
  • savs (reflexive possessive) - (my, your, his, her, our, their) own
  • katrs (reflexive possessive) - every, each, any

The below table of endings replace the bolded characters above for the various declensions,

Masculine Feminine
singular plural singular plural
Nom. -s -i -a -as
Gen. -a -u -as -u
Dat. -am -iem -ai -?m
Acc. -u -us -u -as
Ins. -u -iem -u -?m
Loc. -? -os -? -?s
Voc.* -s -i -a -as
  • only for first person (ie. mans)

In addition to the pronouns that have different declensions, there are pronouns that stay the same in all declensions,

  • vi?a/vi?as (3rd person singular) - his/her
  • m?su (1st person plural) - our
  • j?su (2nd person plural/formal) - your
  • vi?u (3rd person plural) - their

Other pronouns

The following tables show the declension of the demonstratives tas "that" and ?is "this".

Masculine Feminine
singular plural singular plural
Nom. tas tie t? t?s
Gen. t? to t?s to
Dat. tam tiem tai t?m
Acc. to tos to t?s
Loc. taj? / tai / tan? tais / tajos / tan?s tai / taj? / tan? tais / taj?s / tan?s
Masculine Feminine
singular plural singular plural
Nom. ?is ?ie s
Gen. , ?o s, s ?o
Dat. ?im ?iem ?ai m
Acc. ?o ?os ?o s
Loc. ?ai / ?aj? / ?in? ?ais / ?ajos / ?in?s ?ai / ?aj? / ?in? ?ais / ?aj?s / ?in?s

The interrogative/relative pronoun kas "who, what" has the same declension, but it has only singular forms (and no locative form, with the adverb kur "where" used instead). The same applies to forms derived from kas: nekas "nothing", kaut kas "something", etc.

The intensive pronoun pats/pati (cf. "I myself", "they themselves") is irregular:

Masculine Feminine
singular plural singular plural
Nom. pats pa?i pati pa?as
Gen. pa?a pa?u pa?as pa?u
Dat. pa?am pa?iem pa?ai pam
Acc. pa?u pa?us pa?u pa?as
Loc. pa pa?os pa pas

Other pronouns and determiners exhibit regular (indefinite) adjectival declension:

  • the demonstrative forms t?ds/t?da "such (as that)" and ds/da "such (as this)"
  • the 1st and 2nd person singular possessive forms mans/mana "my", tavs/tava "your (fam.)" (and the reflexive savs/sava)
  • the interrogatives kur?/kura "which", k?ds/k?da "what (kind)", and indefinite pronouns derived from them, e.g. nek?ds "no", kaut k?ds, nezin k?ds "some kind of"
  • other indefinite pronouns such as da?s/da?a "some, certain", cits/cita "other", viss/visa "all", (ik)katrs/(ik)katra "every", ikviens/ikviena "each"


In Latvian there are two types of numerals: cardinals and ordinals.

The numbers from 1 to 9 are declinable. The number 1 (viens/viena) combines with a singular noun, 2 (divi/divas) through 9 (devi?i/devi?as) with plural nouns. With the exception of tr?s "3", these numbers take the same endings as indefinite adjectives.

Masculine Feminine
nominative tr?s
genitive triju
dative trim, trijiem trim, trij?m
accusative tr?s
locative trijos, tr?s trij?s, tr?s

The following cardinal numbers are indeclinable:

  • the numerals 11-19: vienpadsmit, divpadsmit, tr?spadsmit, ?etrpadsmit, piecpadsmit, se?padsmit, septi?padsmit, asto?padsmit, devi?padsmit
  • desmit (10) and its compounds: divdesmit, tr?sdesmit, ?etrdesmit, piecdesmit, se?desmit, septi?desmit, asto?desmit, devi?desmit
  • simt (100) and its compounds: simt, divsimt, tr?ssimt, ?etrsimt, piecsimt, se?simt, septi?simt, asto?simt, devi?simt
  • t?ksto? (1000) and its compounds: t?ksto?, divt?ksto?, tr?st?ksto?, ?etrt?ksto?, piect?ksto?, se?t?ksto?, septi?t?ksto?, asto?t?ksto?, devi?t?ksto?, etc.

Ordinal numbers ("first", "second", etc.) are declined like definite adjectives. In compound numbers, only the final element is ordinal, e.g. tr?sdesmit otraj? min?t? "in the 32nd minute".

Archaic forms

Instrumental case

The following table illustrates case syncretism in the Latvian instrumental form. In the singular, the instrumental is identical to the accusative. In the plural, the instrumental is identical to the dative.

Some linguists also distinguish an ablative case that is identical to the genitive in the singular and the dative in the plural.

1st decl. 2nd decl. 3rd decl.
sing. plur. sing. plur. sing. plur.
genitive v?ra v?ru skapja skapju tirgus tirgu
ablative v?ra v?riem skapja skapjiem tirgus tirgiem
dative v?ram v?riem skapim skapjiem tirgum tirgiem
instrumental v?ru v?riem skapi skapjiem tirgu tirgiem
accusative v?ru v?rus skapi skapjus tirgu tirgus

The ablative is generally not presented as a separate grammatical case in traditional Latvian grammars, because it appears exclusively with prepositions. One can say instead that prepositions requiring the genitive in the singular require the dative in the plural. Also it is important to note that the Latvian ablative case is not an archaism but rather an innovation.

The ablative case emerged in Latvian under the circumstances of shifting the government of almost all prepositions in the plural to the dative form. This shift was caused by the loss of the old accusative form in the singular, which became identical to the instrumental form: A.-I. v?ru, k?ju, m?su. In the plural, most feminine nouns had identical forms for the dative and the instrumental case. The masculine form ending in "-?s" was dropped and the dative ending was introduced there by analogy: I. v?r?s >> v?riem (<< D. v?riem). Therefore, the instrumental case merged with the dative in the plural and the accusative in the singular. Feminine nouns had in the meantime levelled their G.Sg.~N.Pl.~Acc.Pl. endings: GSg,NPl,AccPl k?jas; AccSg,ISg,GPl k?ju. Therefore, prepositional constructions became ambiguous: uz p?avas - "on the meadow" or "to the meadows"; uz p?avu - "on the meadows" or "to the meadow". To at least partly reduce this, the dative case was introduced after most prepositions in the plural: uz p?avas (on the meadow), uz p?avu (to the meadow), uz p?av?m (on/to the meadows). Therefore, almost all the prepositions that governed the genitive started taking the dative-instrumental case in the plural, giving a new birth to the ablative case.

The instrumental case, on the other hand, cannot be eliminated so easily, because it can be used in some contexts without any preposition:[10]

  • v?rs sarkanu b?rdu "a man with a red beard" (singular: instrumental = accusative)
  • meitene zil?m ac?m "a girl with blue eyes" (plural: instrumental = dative)

Dual number

Old Latvian had also a Dual number. Nowadays perhaps in some dialects the dual might be used only in some words representing body parts,[] e.g. divi roki, k?ji, au?i, ak?i, ni 'two hands, legs, ears, eyes, nostrils', in such phrases like: skat?ties ar ab?mu akmu 'to look with both eyes', klaus?ties ar ab?mu aumu 'to listen with both ears', ?emt ar ab?mu rok?mu 'to take with both hands', lekt ar ab?mu k?j?mu 'to jump with both legs'.[]

The old Dual endings of all cases:

Masculine Feminine
1.decl. 2.decl. 3.decl. 4.decl. 5.decl. 6.decl. 7.decl.
Nom.Acc.Voc. -u -ju -u -i -ji -ji -u
Abl.Dat.Ins. -amu -jamu -umu -?mu -?mu -?mu -?mu
Gen.Loc. -i -ji -u -i -ji -ji -u

Locative case forms

The locative case allegedly once had three forms:[] inessive (the regular and most common form), illative (for example in old Latvian texts: iek?(k)an tan pirman vietan, in modern Latvian it has been replaced by the inessive, but vestiges of what supposedly once was an illative final -an changed to an -?[] remain in some adverbs, e.g. ?ran > ?r? 'outdoors, outside', priek?an > priek? 'for'), allative (only used in a few idiomatic expressions like: aug?up, lejup, m?jup, kalnup, ?urp, turp). The later two are adverb-forming cases.[]

See also


  1. ^ ? ? ?, ? (in Russian).
  2. ^ a b Romane, Anita (2000). Latvie?u valodas rokasgr?mata, tabulas, sh?mas. Zvaigzne ABC. ISBN 9984-17-102-7.
  3. ^ a b Gr?sle, Rasma (2000). "Termins blakne un citi apvainotie, ar? ?, ch". Latvijas V?stnesis (22/23). Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. (..)l?dz ar citu l?dzska?u jotanu (bj, pj, mj, vj), kur to prasa gramatikas sist?ma.
  4. ^ Virginija Vasiliauskiene and Jonathan Slocum. "Lesson 7: Lithuanian". The Latvian language does not have the assimilative palatalization of consonants.
  5. ^ a b c Karulis, Konstant?ns (1992). Latvie?u etimolo?ijas v?rdn?ca. R?ga: Avots. ISBN 5401004117.
  6. ^ Vija Ziemele. "Leksikas sli". (..) vair?ki desmiti (..) (litu?nismu). (..) Piem?ram, rbt, ?imene, ?ekars, ?epuroties, rpji, ?irmis, min?t, pa?iras, snu?is, ?ilbt.
  7. ^ J. and D. Petit (2004), p. 93
  8. ^ Andronov (2001), p. 202
  9. ^ Andronov (2001), p. 201, 204
  10. ^ See the discussion in Andronov (2001).


  • Andronov, A. V. (2001). N. Nau (ed.). "A survey of the case paradigm in Latvian". Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung. 54 (3): 197-208. (Focus on: Typological Approaches to Latvian)
  • Fennel, T. G. (1975). "Is there an Instrumental Case in Latvian?". Journal of Baltic Studies. 6 (1): 41-48.
  • Lötzsch, R. (1978). "Zur Frage des sog. Instrumentals im Lettischen". Zeitschrift für Slawistik (in German). 23: 667-671. doi:10.1524/slaw.1978.23.1.667.
  • Mathiassen, Terje (1996). A Short Grammar of Latvian. Columbus, OH: Slavica. ISBN 0-89357-270-5.
  • Petit, Justyna and Daniel (2004). Parlons letton (in French). Paris: L'Harmattan. ISBN 2-7475-5910-6.

External links

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