Latvian Verbs (Part XI)
- 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
What is "mood"?
(For the following introductory paragraphs I am indebted to the Wikipedia article on Grammatical Mood, and to a University of Oregon handout on Aspect and Mode in English Verbs.)
In grammar, mood does not refer to how you are feeling! Instead it refers to different verbal modes. Each mode can describe a range of the speaker's attitudes towards or perspectives on an event.
English has only three moods: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. I'll go into the meanings and functions of particular moods in more detail later. Meanwhile, here are three example sentences, each of which illustrates a different mood of English:
Note that the last example sentence has an indicative verb form (wish) in the main clause, and a subjunctive verb form (were) in the subordinate (i.e. dependent) clause. English subjunctives usually occur in complex sentences of this type.
- The door was closed. [Indicative]
- Close the door. [Imperative]
- I wish the door were closed. [Indicative, Subjunctive]
Mood in Latvian
Latvian is normally descibed as having five distinct moods (izteiksmes). They are: the indicative mood (īstenības izteiksme), the imperative mood (pavēles izteiksme), the relative mood (atstāstījuma izteiksme), the subjunctive mood (vēlējuma izteiksme), and the debitive mood (vajadzības izteiksme). Each will be described in its own section, to follow.
Indicative Mood (īstenības izteiksme)
Almost all of the Latvian example sentences I have provided to this point have been in the indicative mood. This is considered the most common, or most basic form of a verb; statements and questions are typically in the indicative mood.
Six tenses are possible in the Latvian indicative &mdash three simple tenses, and three complex tenses. They are illustrated in the following six example sentences:
Grammarians run into difficulties when attempting to define the meanings expressed by the indicative mood. For example, one might say that it expresses facts or opinions. But that's very much like saying: "Either it's going to rain, or else it won't". My opinion is that the indicative is a kind of grab bag: it expresses all of the meanings that the other moods don't.
- Rita lasa grāmatu. [Simple present tense] 'Rita is reading (a/the) book.'
- Rita lasīja grāmatu. [Simple past tense] 'Rita was reading (a/the) book.'
- Rita lasīs grāmatu. [Simple future tense] 'Rita is going to read (a/the) book.'
- Rita ir izlasījusi grāmatu. [Complex present tense] 'Rita has read (a/the) book.'
- Rita bija izlasījusi grāmatu. [Complex past tense] 'Rita had read (a/the) book.'
- Rita būs izlasījusi grāmatu. [Complex future tense] 'Rita will have read (a/the) book.'
Imperative mood (pavēles izteiksme)
The imperative mood is very straightforward: it expresses a command, or (somewhat more politely!) a request. Most commands are directed to the addressee (i.e. hearer). Therefore, the imperative mood is used most commonly in the second person.
Second Person Imperative
The second person singular imperative is identical with the same form in the indicative. Here are a few examples (note that Latvian grammarians traditionally indicate an imperative form by the use of the exclamation mark): ēd! 'eat!', skrien! 'run!', kāp! 'climb!', jautā! 'ask!', dejo! 'dance!', raksti! 'write!', stāvi! 'stand!', etc.
However, the second person plural imperative (which is also used to address an individual in a formal manner) has a distinct form. One forms this imperative as follows: take the present stem of the verb, add the imperative suffix -ie, and then add the 2nd p. plural ending -t (and, finally, -ies, if the verb is reflexive) . For example, the 2nd p. plural imperative forms of skrie-t 'to run' and ģērb-t-ies 'to dress oneself' would be derived as follows:
skrie-n- → skrie-n-ie → skrie-n-ie-t
ģērb- → ģērb-ie → ģērb-ie-t → ģērb-ie-t-ies
The following chart illustrates the second person imperative forms for several verbs &mdash three from each conjugation class; one example for each conjugation is a reflexive verb:
||2nd p. singular imper.
||2nd p. plural imper.
|1st conjug. verbs
|| to eat
|| to rest, relax
|2nd conjug. verbs
|| to be quiet
|| to ask
|| to wash oneself
|3rd conjug. verbs
|| to wipe
|| to sleep
|| to learn
Third Person Imperative
It is also possible to produce a (type of) imperative for the third person. The particle lai 'let' is used, along with the verb in the third person simple present tense indicative form. Here are a few examples of this type of third person imperative:
- Lai dzīvo karaliene! '(Long) live (the) queen!'
- Lai viņi runā droši! 'Let them speak freely!' (literally: bravely, fearlessly)
- Lai grāfs Roberts ienāk! 'Let Count Robert enter!'
- Lai dzīvo sveiks! 'Let (them/someone) live safe and sound! (literally: healthy)
First Person Imperative
It is not possible to have a first person singular imperative form &mdash semantically it doesn't really make sense for the speaker to command him- or herself. However, it is possible to create a (sort of) first person plural imperative. Often this takes on the meaning of a future intention (by the group of individuals involved). Thus, it most commonly appears as a first person plural future tense verb form. Take a look at the following examples:
- Rakstīsim karalienei! 'Let's write to the queen!'
- Iesim uz reizi! 'Let us go at once!'
- Steigsimies! 'Let's hurry!'
To continue with verbs, click on → Verbs (Part XII).