Latvian Adverbs

What is an Adverb?

An adverb (apstākļa vārds) can be defined as a part of speech which is used to describe (i.e. modify) the verb. Adverbs have only a single form; unlike nouns or adjectives they are not declined. Here are some example sentences (two in English and two in Latvian); nouns are shown in olive green, the verb is orange, and the adverb(s) that modify it are purple:
  1. Anna runs quickly.
  2. Caruso sang beautifully.

  3. Anna ātri skrien. 'Anna runs quickly.'
  4. Karuso skaisti dziedāja.'Caruso sang beautifully.'
Sometimes adverbs can also be used to modify adjectives, or other adverbs. Here are a few more example sentences in Latvian to illustrate this; the first two sentences illustrate an adverb modifying an adjective, and the last two illustrate an adverb modifying another adverb (nouns are shown in olive green, the (main) verb is orange, each adjective is dark red, and the adverbs are purple; the adverbs which modify other adverbs are underlined):
  1. Pēters nopirka gaiši zilu kreklu. 'Peter bought a light(ly) blue shirt.'
  2. Anna noķēra ļoti lielu lasi. 'Anna caught a very large salmon.'

  3. Anna skrien ļoti ātri . 'Anna runs very quickly.'
  4. Pēters prot cept diezgan labi . 'Peter can bake rather well.'

Adverb Types or Functions

Adverbs can be classified according to their functions. Here is one system of categorization (adapted from Letonika.lv_apstākļa vārdi). After each adverb type, I provide an example sentence illustrating one such adverb (as above, nouns are shown in olive green, the verb is orange, and the adverbs are purple):

Formation of Adverbs

Adverbs may are often formed from roots of other parts of speech. Adverbs can be formed from:

Adverbs derived from Adjectives

By far the greatest number of adverbs are derived from adjectives. It is possible to pick almost any Latvian adjective and derive an adverb from it; here are just a few more examples: Although adverbs can be formed using several different endings, the most common adverb-forming suffixes are: -i, -u, -ām. These endings do not differ in meaning or function &mdash they are basically interchangeable (although these days -i does appear to be the most commonly-occurring adverb formative). Take a look at the following examples:

Translation Adjective Adverbs Note:
'quiet' klus-s klus-i klus-u klus-ām All 3 adverbs mean 'quietly'
'slow' lēn-s lēn-i lēn-u lēn-ām All 3 adverbs mean 'slowly'

Since adjectives can appear in comparative and superlative degrees, adverbs which are derived from such adjectives can as well. Look at the following examples:

Regular Comparative Superlative
Adjective klus-s 'quiet' klus-āk-s 'quieter' vis-klus-āk-ai-s 'quietest'
Adverb klus-i 'quietly' klus-āk 'more quietly' vis-klus-āk 'most quietly'
Adjective tāl-s 'distant, far' tāl-āk-s 'more distant, farther' vis-tāl-āk-ai-s 'most distant, farthest'
Adverb tāl-u 'at a distance, far' tāl-āk 'at a greater distance, farther' vis-tāl-āk 'at the greatest distance, farthest'

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This page created and maintained by
A. Steinbergs

Last revised September 17, 2008