Latvian verbs change based on person and number, as well as tense and voice.
Latvian verb forms often change based on who does the action:
- 1st person verb forms are used when the speaker is the subject – in English equivalent to “I” or “we”.
- 2nd person verb forms are used when the listener is the subject – in English equivalent to “you”.
- 3rd person verb forms are used when neither the speaker or the listener is the subject – in English equivalent to “he”, “she”, “it”, or “they”.
Closely related to person are the personal pronouns, best introduced in relation to the complement būt “to be”.
Different endings for verbs will usually be employed based on whether the subject is singular or plural.
When describing actions from different vantage points of time and completion, different tenses are used.
- The infinitive, while not per se a tense, is useful for building the other tenses, and for expressing ability and desire in conjunction with specific verbs (i.e., not unlike English, “I want to read.”). It does not have person or number, and cannot be used directly as a verb within a sentence.
- When talking about events that are occurring now (“I am reading”), or are habitual (“I read”), Latvian employs the tagadne, or the present tense.
- To describe future events (“I will read…” or “I will be reading…”), or events that are intended (“I intend to read…” or “I intend to be reading…”), Latvian has a future tense, nākotne.
- This is not an exhaustive list, as I am still compiling details as I study. For instance, I know there is a past tense, a conditional tense, a past perfect tense, etc., but have not reviewed them.
Voice is either active or passive, and this gives information on the subject’s relationship to the activity. In general, active voice is used when the subject is the one engaged in the activity, while passive voice is used when the subject is being acted on.