Language/Standard-latvian/Grammar/Negation

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Standard Latvian Grammar - Negation

Hi Standard Latvian learners! 😊
In this lesson, we will learn about negation in Standard Latvian. Negation is a vital part of any language, and not only does it allow us to express negative ideas, but it also enables us to describe things that are not. Before diving into this lesson, you should have a basic understanding of Standard Latvian grammar, including the cases, verb tenses, and word order. If you need help with the basics, please visit our Grammar page.


Consider exploring these related pages after completing this lesson: Standard Latvian Grammar: Introduction to Latvian grammar: The ..., Pronouns, Nouns & How to Use Be.

Negation Particles[edit | edit source]

In Standard Latvian, we use special particles to create negative verb forms. Two such particles are used in negative sentences: ne and nav.

Ne is placed in front of the verb, while nav is a form of the verb būt (to be) that we use only in the present tense. Remember that you should choose between ne and nav based on the tense of the verb you are negating.

For example:

Positive Sentence Negative Sentence
Es lasu grāmatu. (I am reading a book.) Es neskatījos televīziju. (I am not watching TV.)
Viņš aiziet uz skolu. (He is going to school.) Viņš neaiziet uz skolu. (He is not going to school.)
Mēs dziedāsim vakarā. (We will sing tonight.) Mēs nedziedāsim vakarā. (We will not sing tonight.)

Remember, use ne with all verbs except the verb būt in the present tense, where we use nav.

Placement of Negation Particles[edit | edit source]

Where you put ne or nav is straightforward. Both particles are always placed before the verb in the sentence they negate.

Positive Sentence Negative Sentence
Es lasu grāmatu. (I am reading a book.) Es neskatījos televīziju. (I am not watching TV.)
Viņš aiziet uz skolu. (He is going to school.) Viņš neaiziet uz skolu. (He is not going to school.)
Mēs dziedāsim vakarā. (We will sing tonight.) Mēs nedziedāsim vakarā. (We will not sing tonight.)

If you want to use more complex sentences with two verbs, then place the particle in front of the second verb:

Positive Sentence Negative Sentence
Es mācos un strādāju. (I study and work.) Es nemācos, nedz strādāju. (I am not studying, nor working.)

Negation of Nouns and Adjectives[edit | edit source]

Negation can also apply to nouns and adjectives. We do this by adding the negation particle nav before the noun or adjective in question. For example:

Positive Sentence Negative Sentence
Tēja ir karsta. (The tea is hot.) Tēja nav karsta. (The tea is not hot.)
Āboli ir saldi. (Apples are sweet.) Āboli nav saldi. (Apples are not sweet.)
Māja ir liela. (The house is big.) Māja nav liela. (The house is not big.)

Like with verb negation, we only use nav for the present tense of the verb būt (to be). For past tense sentence, we use nebija:

Positive Sentence Negative Sentence
Putni bija skaisti. (The birds were beautiful.) Putni nebija skaisti. (The birds were not beautiful.)

Dialogue[edit | edit source]

A dialogue between two people can help you understand negation in context:

  • Person 1: Vai tu dzīvo Rīgā? (Do you live in Riga?)
  • Person 2: Nē, es neesoju Rīgā. (No, I don't live in Riga.)
  • Person 1: Vai jums ir suns? (Do you have a dog?)
  • Person 2: Nē, mēs neesam suni. (No, we don't have a dog.)
  • Person 1: Vai tu lasi žurnālu? (Do you read a magazine?)
  • Person 2: Nē, es nelasu žurnālu. (No, I don't read a magazine.)

More Examples[edit | edit source]

Here are more examples of negation in Standard Latvian:

Positive Sentence Negative Sentence
Viņš man palīdz. (He helps me.) Viņš man nepalīdz. (He does not help me.)
Es gribu maizi. (I want bread.) Es negribu maizi. (I don't want bread.)
Viņa redz zirgu. (She sees a horse.) Viņa ne redz zirgu. (She doesn't see a horse.)

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Negation is a vital part of any language, and with this lesson, you have learned the basics of negation in Standard Latvian. You now know how to use the negation particles ne and nav with verbs, nouns, and adjectives. To continue to improve your Standard Latvian language skills, you can use the Polyglot Club website. Find native speakers and ask them any questions!


➡ If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section below.
➡ Feel free to edit this wiki page if you think it can be improved. 😎

Sources[edit | edit source]


Upon wrapping up this lesson, take a look at these related pages: Standard Latvian Grammar: The Subjunctive Mood and Wishes, Standard Latvian Grammar → The genitive and possessive forms ..., The past tense and other verb forms & 0 to A1 Course.

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