Past simple (lihtminevik) in Estonian
The simple past (lihtminevik in Estonian) indicates an action that was completed at an earlier time.
How to form the simple past in Estonian?
The simple past is derived from the -ma infinitive by adding an element between the stem and the suffix which identifies the person doing the action. There are two different ways:
- -si- element in the verb
- -i- element ni the verb
1) The past tense with -si-
Most Estonian verbs have the following endings in the past tense:
Notice that the past endings for 'you (singular)' and 'they' are the same.
The past tense endings are added to the stem of the -ma infinitive. For instance, you start with the infinitive tantsima 'to dance', drop the -ma and you have the stem tantsi-.
|I danced||Ma tantsisin|
|You danced||Sa tantsisid|
|He/She/It danced||Tema tantsis|
|We danced||Meie tantsisime|
|You danced||Teie tantsisite|
|They danced||Nemad tantsisid|
When the stem ends in a consonant, an -i- is inserted before the -s ending of the 3rd person singular. This makes it easier to pronounce.
|I knew||Mina teadsin|
|She knew||Tema teadis|
If the stem has a single p or t after a short vowel, the 3rd person singular form doubles this consonant.
|I cried||Mina nutsin|
|She cried||Tema nuttis|
If the stem already ends in -s, the s in the past is omitted. (Except the 3rd person singular, where an -i- is also inserted.)
|I stood||Mina seisin|
|She stood||Tema seisis|
The verb minema 'to go' is irregular. The stem doesn't come from the -ma infinitive, but is related to the present tense form of lähen 'I go'.
|I went||Mina läksin|
|You went||Sina läksid|
|He/She/It went||Tema läks|
|We went||Meie läksime|
|You went||Teie läksite|
|They went||Nemad läksid|
2) The past tense with -i-
For some verbs, the past tense is made with an element -i- instead of -si-. The 3rd person singular adds nothing to the -i.
Two types of verbs are conjugated in this manner:
Some verbs with two-syllable stems ending in -e-
Example: olema 'to be'
|I was||Mina olin|
|You were||Sina olid|
|He/She/It was||Tema oli|
|We were||Meie olime|
|You were||Teie olite|
|They were||Nemad olid|
Some verbs with stems ending in aa, ää, oo, öö. In these cases, the double vowel becomes a single vowel and oo or öö changes to õ.
Example: jooma 'to drink'
|I drank||Mina jõin|
|You drank||Sina jõid|
|He/She/It drank||Tema jõi|
|We drank||Meie jõime|
|You drank||Teie jõite|
|They drank||Nemad jõid|
The negative form
In the simple past tense, the negative form does not have personal endings. It consists of the negatory word ei 'not' and a form of the verb with a -nud suffix.
Example: verb tantsima 'to dance'
|I did not dance||Ma ei tantsinud|
|You did not dance||Sa ei tantsinud|
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