Latvian Verbs (Part X)
- Person: first, second, third person
- Number: singular vs. plural
- Tense: present, past, future
- Conjugation classes: 1st conjugation, 2nd conjugation, 3rd conjugation
- Irregular verbs
- Reflexive verbs
- Complex tenses: complex present, complex past, complex future
- Participles: declinable, partially declinable, indeclinable
- Mood: indicative, imperative, subjunctive, etc.
- Voice: active vs. passive
Indeclinable Participles (nelokāmie divdabji)
Finally we come to the indeclinable participles: -ot and -am. Both of these participles are formed from the present stem of the verb. The present stem of a verb can be derived from the 1st person singular form of the verb in the simple present tense: drop the 1st person singular ending -u, (or -os if the verb is reflexive) and what remains is the present stem of the verb. For example:
pērk-u 'I am buying' → pērk- present stem of 'buy'
The participle -ot may be formed from either transitive or intransitive verbs. It is formed from the present stem of the verb by adding the suffix -ot. If the verb is reflexive, one also adds -ies. The following chart provides some examples:
||1st p. sg. pres.
|active (i.e. non-reflexive)
||to dress, clothe s.o.
||to raise, lift
||to rise, get up
||to lie down
This participle has two major functions: (a) reported speech, and (b) the meaning 'while' or 'since'. We will discuss reported speech in more detail later. As for the meaning 'while' or 'since', it can be clearly seen in the following folk song verse:
| Latvian Folk Song||Free translation
Dziedot dzimu, dziedot augu |
Dziedot mūžu nodzīvoju,
Dziedot mani ievadija
| Singing I was born, singing I grew up,|
Singing I lived my whole life,
Singing I was led
Into the garden of Paradise.
The participle form dziedot clearly means that while something else was happening, the person was singing.
Since this participle is indeclinable, it cannot agree in case, number, or gender with the noun (or pronoun) which it describes. Here are a few example sentences which contain this participle; the participles are shown in dark red, and the nouns or pronouns that they refer to are in olive green:
In all of these examples the participle follows the noun or pronoun which it describes. However, this is not a requirement. It is just as likely for the participle to come before the noun or pronoun which it describes, as shown in the following sentences:
- Roberts nāca pa ielu, skaļi smejoties. 'Robert came down (the) street, laughing loudly.'
- Es sēdēju pie galda, ēdot vakariņas. 'I was sitting at (a) table, eating supper.'
- Hermanis redzēja Ritu šūpojoties. 'Herman saw Rita swinging.'
- Bejtovens komponēja muzīku, bēniņos dzīvojot. 'Beethoven composed music (while) living in (a) garrett.'
In order to make it perfectly clear who is the participial agent (i.e. the doer of the action of the participle), one can put the agent noun or pronoun in the dative case. This is illustrated in the following example sentences; as above, the participles are shown in dark red, and the nouns or pronouns that they refer to are in olive green:
- Dzīvojot Rīgā, Mārtiņš dauz dzēra. '(While) living in Riga, Martin drank a lot.'
- Skaļi smejoties, Anita lasija Hermaņa vēstuli. 'Laughing loudly, Anita read Herman's letter.'
- Mirstot uz sava kuģa, Nelsons teica: «Nobuču mani, Hardij!». '(As he lay) dying on his ship, Nelson said: "Kiss me, Hardy".'
Notice that the participle is often translated 'since' or 'because' if it precedes another action which logically follows from it. Thus in sentences (2) and (3) above, it would be quite appropriate to translate them as '(Because) I was laughing, Anita got angry' or
'(Because) (a) dog was barking, (the) cat quickly disappeared.'
- Gailim dziedot, Anna izleca no gultas. '(The) rooster having crowed (literally: 'singing'), Anna jumped out of bed.'
- Man smejoties, Anita kļuva dusmīga. '(Since) I was laughing, Anita got angry.'
- Sunim rejot, kaķis ātri pazuda. '(Since) (a) dog was barking, (the) cat quickly disappeared.'
- Raimondam rakstot vēstuli, tintes pietruka. '(While) Raymond was writing (a) letter, (the) ink ran out.'
If the meaning of the sentence is more appropriate translated as 'while', 'as', or 'during', then the same sentence could just as well be formulated using the partially declinable present active -dam- participle. Thus, the sentences about Beethoven and Nelson could just as well be rendered as follows:
- Mirdams uz sava kuģa, Nelsons teica: «Nobuču mani, Hardij!». '(As he lay) dying on his ship, Nelson said: "Kiss me, Hardy".'
- Bejtovens komponēja muzīku, bēniņos dzīvodams. 'Beethoven composed music (while) living in (a) garrett.'
This participle is formed in exactly the same way as the present passive participle, except that you don't add an adjectival suffix at the very end. Interestingly, this gives you an indeclinable participle that looks exactly like the first person plural form of the verb in the present tense. Here is a chart illustrating some examples:
||1st conjugation verb
||2nd conjugation verb
||3rd conjugation verb
||Group (b) or (c)
||to search for
|1st p. plural pres.
|indecl. pple. -am, -ām
The participle is probably the rarest of all the participles. It is typically used as follows: to describe when someone perceives (i.e. sees, hears) the agent of the participle (which is in accusative case) doing the action of the verb. Here are a few example sentences. As earlier, the participles are shown in dark red, and the nouns or pronouns that they refer to are in olive green:
- Hermanis redzēja Ritu šūpojam. 'Herman saw Rita swinging.'
- Anita dzirdēja mani dziedam. 'Anita heard me singing.'
- Mēs dzirdējām Arturu klusi smejamies. 'We heard Arthur softly laughing.'
To continue with verbs, click on → Verbs (Part XI).