• 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]
  • Estonian adjectives

    Adjectives are words that describe or modify another person or thing. In a sentence, they can act as a modifier or a predicative.

    While in English an adjective doesn’t change when the noun changes, in Estonian an adjective should agree in number with the noun. Also, in 10 cases out of 14 the adjective has to be declined accordingly.  

    For example:

    • See on suur maja. --- This is a big house.
    • Need on suured majad. --- These are big houses.


    Adjective derivatives

    There are 5 common suffixes that can be used to create new adjectives from nouns, adverbs or verbs. 

    1) References to material, place, time, manner:

    -ne: This derivative suffix is added to a noun or adverb and corresponds to -en, -ful, -y in English. 

    English Estonian English Derivative
    Gold Kuld Golden Kuldne
    Yesterday Eile Yesterday's Eilne
    Sand Liiv Sandy Liivane
    • Mul on kuldne sõrmus. --- I have a gold(en) ring.
    • Kui sa tuled, võta eilne ajaleht kaasa. --- When you come take yesterday's newspaper with you.
    • Pärast ujumist olid mu bikiinid liivased. --- After swimming my bikinis were sandy.

    2) Different characteristics:

    -line: This is usually added to the genitive form of a noun. 

    English Estonian English Derivative
    square ruut checkered ruuduline
    dark hair tumedad juuksed dark-haired tumedajuukseline
    language keel linguistic keeleline

    -lik: mainly added to the noun

    English Estonian English Derivative
    woman naine ladylike naiselik
    letter, writing kiri written kirjalik
    religion usk religious usklik

    -kas: added to the genitive form the of the noun

    English Estonian English Derivative
    work töö hard-working töökas
    joke nali funny naljakas
    charm sarm charming sarmikas
    • Mul on jalas ruudulised püksid. --- I am wearing checkered pants.
    • See kleit on väga naiselik. --- This dress is very ladylike.
    • Mu abikaasa on töökas mees. --- My husband is a hard-working man.

    3) Lack of certain traits:

    -tu: This is added to the genitive form of the noun or to the -ma infinitive of the verb.

    English Estonian English Derivative
    pain valu painless valutu
    to know tundma unknown tundmatu
    to die surema immortal surematu
    • See oli südametu tegu. --- This was a heartless deed.
    • Tundmatu sõduri haud. --- The tomb of an unknown soldier.
    • Võin öelda, et mu elu on üpriski muretu. --- I can say that my life is quite worry-free.


    Other suffixes

    Adjectives can also end in various other suffixes:

    • ik: metsik 'wild', lapsik 'childish'
    • lane: aeglane 'slow', kahtlane 'suspicious'
    • ldane: üksildane 'lonely', haruldane 'rare'
    • ne: äärmine 'extreme, outermost', seesmine 'inner, internal'
    • s: aus 'honest', ilus 'beautiful'
    • (u)r: pahur 'grumpy', himur 'lustful'
    • v: tugev 'strong', edev 'vain'


    Comparative forms of adjectives

    Adjectives have three degrees of comparison:

    1. the positive (ordinary) grade, as in väike 'small'
    2. the comparative (higher) grade, as in väiksem 'smaller'
    3. the superlative (highest) grade, as in väikseim 'smallest'



    In Estonian, the comparative is constructed by adding the suffix -m to the genitive form.

    English Adjective Genitive Comparative
    big suur suure suurem
    beautiful ilus ilusa ilusam
    poor vaene vaese vaesem


    Some adjectives, which have two syllables in the genitive form and end in -a or -u change to -e- instead before the comparative ending -m.

    English Adjective Genitive Comparative
    tall pikk pika pikem
    bad halb halva halvem
    fat paks paksu paksem


    Adjectives that end in -ke(ne) usually lose this suffix and have the vowel -e- before the -m ending.

    English Adjective Comparative
    short lühike lühem
    thin õhuke õhem
    tiny pisike pisem



    The superlative is formed by simply placing the word kõige 'most' before the comparative.

    English Adjective Comparative Superlative
    expensive kallis kallim kõige kallim
    sweet armas armsam kõige armsam
    short lühike lühem kõige lühem


    In addition to the superlative form with kõige, for some adjectives there is an alternative form with the ending -im or -em. 

    English Adjective Comparative Superlative
    beautiful ilus ilusam ilusaim
    new uus uuem uusim
    happy õnnelik õnnelikum õnnelikem

    enlightened The adjective hea 'good' is irregular. Comparative - parem 'better'. Superlative - parim 'best'.


    Exercise: comparative forms