Language Tips!

With a mere 1.5 million native speakers and only 3.2 total speakers you have to be a pretty dedicated linguist to want to get to grips with the tricky Latvian language. Still, if you're desperate to be a member of this elite club (ie. you got hitched to a Latvian wife and can't understand what she's shouting at you) then read on for a few pointers!

The Latvian language is one of two Baltic languages, the other being Lithuanian, that evolved from Indo-European. Latvian boasts a hearty 35 letters, 22 of which you will find in the English language and 13 of which look suspiciously familiar except for the curious dots and dashes floating above and below. Clever people refer to these 'extras' as diacritical marks, but no need to tax yourself - just know that they affect the pronunciation of the letter in question.

Here are a few handy phrases that are sure to see you through ninety nine percent of situations you might encounter in Riga... Remember the stress always falls on the first syllable! Es nesaprotu
I don't understand
Vai Jus runajat angliski?
Do you speak English?
Vienu alu, ludzu
One beer, please
Es tevi milu
I love you
Cik jums gadu?
How old are you?
Jūs esat brīnisķīgs dejotājs!
You're wonderful at dancing!
Cik tas maksa
How much does it cost?
Ludzu, rekinu
The bill please

When it comes to grammar there's more than enough to keep you busy for a decade or two. Nouns boast a healthy six declensions and six cases (just think of the permutations!) and whereas verbs only come in three simple and perfect tenses there's always the five moods to consider. Probably you can feel a thin film of perspiration on your forehead by now, but no need to panic just yet. Take a peak at our simple words and phrases and you'll have plenty to help you through a long weekend!

If you've got some good ideas on how to make our language section better, let us know!


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bieber girl
United States

i want to learn this language

Reply May 9th, 2013

Hello! If you're still looking for a chance to study Latvian, I offer to study it. If you or others are interested, write me -

Reply Sep 12th, 2013
Steve 'rooms for Lett' Christie
United Kingdom

My woman, the love of my life, speaks beautiful Latvian and if you heard her you'd think you'd tuned into Angel FM (...oooerr...I'm in love)

Reply Feb 27th, 2012

I speak perfect German. Is this language still used in Riga as a spoken or even commercial language

Reply Oct 21st, 2011

I just moved to Riga and I need to take a Latvian language course, preferably intensive. I appreciate any information and a good apartment rental hint too.

Reply Jun 2nd, 2011
United States

how you say , sweetheart to your latvian girlfriend ? or baby ? or anything nice !!

Reply Oct 10th, 2010
United States

"tev ir skaistas acis" means "you have very beautiful eyes"

Reply Apr 3rd, 2010

there is nowhere to click for listening???

Reply Jul 23rd, 2008

All I know is that I like this language very much. My wife (latvian) tells me I have it easy for I am spanish speaker, compared to english-spoken people that seem to have so much problems to get the concepts of latvieðu valoda...I don† think it's in extinction: the identity of this country is such so strong... :)

Reply Jun 18th, 2008

Hi I moving to Latvia-Riga and I wanna know where can I go for to learn me this languages ///not body know???

Reply Jun 15th, 2008

Btw, Latvian language is the most similar language to old Sanskrit.. our nation has very deep roots and interesting history.

Reply May 16th, 2008
Aivars Klavins

All languages are beautiful including Latvian.It's good for each individual to extend themselves either by language or other skills, for their own self esteem.For those comments against the Latvian language "have you learnt another language" you believe to be more useful to improve yourself? Or can you ONLY write disparing comments?

Reply Apr 25th, 2008
Michele dollfuss

click and listen does not work

Reply Apr 12th, 2008

one of the most interesting languages of europe, not of the dying kind, I think baltic languages will have a revival in the near future. It is a key to many questions in linguastics. Besides its a cool language, spoken by few, but so cool!!

Reply Mar 28th, 2008

Latvian language is really a great language i knows this language bcoz of my best friend who is from latvia

Reply Mar 16th, 2008

Latvians have their own language, kept for ages and closely realted to original Indo-European. Americans and Australians do not even have a self language nor culture, and some of them cant even be aware of other different people existing all arround. Latvian language is useful and hard to learn as well. Surely not as extended as other languages, but handy to interact with Latvians (as you ignorants, cant speak Russian either). They say learning hard (inflected) languages keeps your brain younger for longer, so there might be a cure for you.

Reply Feb 29th, 2008

can you give us the latvian equivalant of 'do you have a single brother' "would you like to live with me in australia", and 'can we take our clothes off now'

Reply Jan 20th, 2008
my name is ...

Who would want to learn a dying language, spoken only by 2 mil people? :)) that's a good joke

Reply Dec 9th, 2007

Latvian has 11, not 13, "special" letters (with diacritics). "R with cedilla" is used only in diaspora, and even with this that would be only 12. Writing examples without diacritics is totally senseless, at least not without a pronunciationguide.

Reply Sep 24th, 2007
John Murphy
United States

I like Latvian I was in Riga Jan 2007 to meet a friend she became ill so I didn't get to see her much (10 Min the day I had to go home) I didn't have a hard time talking to Latvians as for a lot of them also speak some English and if not they were steel willing to try to help me and understand what I needed or help.

Reply Jul 28th, 2007
United States

I think it is good to know a second language fluently. Having travelled abroad, I feel lost not knowing the language.

Reply Jul 23rd, 2007

it's a beautiful language! y'all must be some sweethearts over there! i would love to see riga and ride my bike.

Reply Jul 21st, 2007
United States

It's a beautiful language! I have spoken and understood it all of my life. No one should pay any attention to the low-class, non-cultured comments of some of these people.

Reply Jul 9th, 2007
United States

I think it's a terrible language to learn. Nobody needs it anyhow, except Latvians.

Reply May 29th, 2007

You poor arrogant fool, yes it hard to learn but so is any foreign language if you are not interested or ignorant

Reply Mar 18th, 2013