Basic Lithuanian Verbs: Quick Intro For Beginners

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

Conjugation

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.

tujis, jimesjūs, jujie, jos
-ėti-iu-i-i-ime-ite-i
-yti-au-ai-o-ome-ote-o
all others-u-i-a-ame-ate-a

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.


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  • Correction time:išeiti means to leave
    išvažiuoti to leave as well but by a vehicle
    fly is skristi, skraidyti is to often fly
    klausyti is fine for to listen tooYou have to know the present III person form in order to conjugate to other forms and you can't always get this form from the infinitive for a conjugation verbs.Just for the record, the word for hungry is alkanas.Negaliu girdėti sounds very awkward. You must always say 'negirdžiu' or more likely 'neišgirdau' from išgirsti išgirsta išgirdo.

  • Regarding išeiti and išvasžiuoti, I was using "go" in the sense of "go away", as the opposite of come.Re: skristi/skraidyti, I couldn't tell which to pick. Would you believe that my dictionary doesn't indicate perfective/imperfective/determinate/indeterminte conditions of transitive verbs? A good Lithuanian/English dictionary/phrasebook would be so valuable.Negaliu girdėti was meant to be an example of making something understood on limited knowledge of the language. But it's certainly helpful to know the right way to say it!Thanks, as always, for the comments. With the exception of skristi, I think I actually did much better this week! :)

  • Also, a little plug: you can use my Lithuanian conjugator too.

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