Estonian sentence structure
In this lesson we will have a look at the very basics of constructing a sentence in Estonian. You will learn about the articles, genders and word order.
The Estonian language lacks both the definite article 'the' and indefinite article 'a, an'. This means that a noun, such as tüdruk 'girl', can mean 'girl', 'a girl', or 'the girl' depending on the context.
Sometimes the number üks 'one' can be used as a sort of indefinite article meaning 'a, an' but this is very rare in the written language.
Unlike many other languages, Estonian doesn't have grammatical genders. This means that the words can end with all letters and they have no distinctive features that would let you know if it's about a man or a woman.
Also, Estonian lacks distinct words for 'he, she, it' and the pronoun tema is used for all three. Which one is actually meant can only be determined from the context.
1) The neutral word order is subject-verb-object (SVO) like in English.
- E.g Naine vaatab telekat 'The woman is watching the TV'
2) An adjective precedes the noun it modifies, also like in English.
- E.g Ilus tüdruk 'Beautiful girl', Naljakas mees 'Funny man'
3) However, an adverb of time usually precedes an adverb of place, in contrast to English.
- E.g Ma lähen homme poodi 'I will go the shop tomorrow' (literally: 'I will go tomorrow to the shop')
A reverse order may be used when the sentence begins with an adverb or object.
- E.g Täna on tüdruk koolis 'Today the girl is at school'
This can also happen in English but less often ('Rarely comes a second chance').
4) However, as one would expect from an agglutinative language, the word order is quite free and can be changed to stress some parts of the sentence or in poetic text. For example, consider the sentence Mees tappis karu '(a/the) man killed (a/the) bear' and uses the neutral SVO word order. The sentence can be rephrased using OVS word order as Karu tappis mees — a normal Estonian sentence that could be more precisely translated as 'It was (a/the) man who killed the bear' i. e. the sayer emphasizes that the killer was a man, probably assuming the listener knows that a bear was killed.
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Hi,First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the decision to learn or improve a new language. Whether it is Estonian, English or... Russian, beginner, advanced or Business language - you are in the right place.My name is Martin and I am coming from a tiny country in the Northern Europe called Estonia. One of my biggest hobbies is teaching and educating others, that is why for the past 3 years I have been living and working in Istanbul while teaching English to different age groups: kindergarten, school, university as well as adults. I have had students from Beginners to Advanced as well as several businessmen and CEOs of international companies located in Istanbul. What is more, for the last 2 years I have been teaching Estonian, English and Russian online through Skype that gave me chance to meet people from all over the world and help them on their journey of learning foreign languages in a comfortable and enjoyable environment.We are going to have a 20-30-minute trial lesson during which we can get to know each other, set expectations towards the lessons and schedule the timetable. The next step is simple - we start learning the language of your choice! As simple as it is :)During the lessons we will focus on making you speak even with the limited vocabulary because speaking is the key to learning a new language quickly and in a fun way!Cannot wait to receive your in-mail and help you on your journey to learn and speak a foreign language.Martin Read more
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