• Estonian grammar
  • 1 Estonian sentence structure [0/2]
  • 2 Estonian nouns [0/3]
  • 3 Estonian pronouns [0/3]
  • 4 Estonian cases [0/11]
  • 5 Estonian verbs [0/8]
  • 6 Estonian adjectives [0/1]
  • 7 Estonian prepositions and postpositions [0/1]
  • 8 Estonian adverbs [0/1]
  • Derivatives in Estonian

    A derivative refers to a word that is formed from another,  e.g 'owner' from the verb 'to own'. Estonian is rich in so-called suffix derivatives, which are formed by adding endings onto words. Some of the most common derivative endings are presented below.


    -ja: this suffix is added to the stem of the verb's -ma infinitive and indicates the agent of the verb's action, as well as an occupation. It corresponds to endings like -er, -or, -ant in English. 

    Verb   Noun derivative  
    algama to begin algaja beginner
    esindama to represent esindaja representative
    kuulama to listen kuulaja listener
    osalema to participate osaleja participant
    õpetama to teach õpetaja teacher

    -ur: this signifies someone whose job or habit it is to do something. 

    Estonian English
    kalur fisherman
    lendur flyer
    sõdur soldier
    valvur guard

    -nik: this indicates a person with some kind of constant employment or and enduring situation.

    Estonian English
    kirjanik writer
    kunstnik artist
    põgenik refugee
    elanik inhabitant
    kodanik citizen

    -lane: this indicates a person of a certain nationality, residence or occupation.

    Estonian English
    eestlane Estonian
    ameeriklane American
    tartlane inhabitant of Tartu
    teadlane scientist
    õpilane student

    -nna, -tar: these indicate either the female counterpart or the wife of the man which the root word describes.

    Root word / man   Derivative / woman  
    eestlane Estonian eestlanna Estonian woman
    laulja singer lauljanna female singer
    sõber friend sõbranna female friend
    tantsija dancer tantsijatar female dancer
    kaunis beautiful kaunitar beauty
    kuningas king kuninganna queen


    Action or result of the action

    -mine: this is added to the of the verb's -ma infinitive and indicates the action of the verb in the most general sense. It corresponds to -ing in English.

    Estonian English
    laulmine singing
    lugemine reading
    reisimine travelling
    kokkamine cooking

    -us: this indicates an action or the result of an action and is added to a verb stem.

    Estonian English
    suudlus a kiss
    lubadus a promise
    kasvatus upbringing
    harjutus an exercise
    haridus education

    -is: indicates the result of an action.

    Estonian English
    küpsis cookie
    leiutis invention
    keedis jam


    Verb   Noun derivate  
    hüppama to jump hüpe jump
    palvetama to pray palve prayer
    mõtlema to think mõte thought
    tõlkima to translate tõlge translation


    Abstract concepts

    -us: this is added to an adjective stem.

    Adjective   Noun derivate  
    tark wise tarkus wisdom
    rumal stupid rumalus stupidity
    selge clear selgus clarity
    pikk long pikkus length
    lai wide laius width


    Estonian English
    vabadus freedom
    vanadus old age
    iludus beauty
    truudus faithfulness


    Place, group, area


    Noun   Noun derivate  
    haige ill haigla hospital
    söök food söökla diner
    suvi summer suvila summer house
    vang prisoner vangla prison


    Noun   Noun derivate  
    sõna word sõnastik dictionary
    täht letter tähestik alphabet
    laev ship laevastik fleet
    maa land maastik landscape
    mägi mountain mäestik mountain range


    Estonian English
    ühiskond society
    inimkond humanity, human race
    õhkkond atmosphere
    keskkond environment
    seltskond company (of people)


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