Giving Orders

We hear orders every day:

  • “Pick that up!”
  • “Come here!”
  • “Buy now!”

Sometimes there’s a “please” attached, but it’s still an order.

Orders are in the imperative case.  My mnemonic for this originally was: “it’s imperative that you remember.”  It’s something that must be done.

In English, we form an imperative by dropping the pronoun from the 2nd person form of the verb. (Not that English has many forms for verbs to begin with…) It changes from a statement (“You call this number now.”) to an order (“Call this number now.”).

In Latvian, it’s pretty similar. No pronoun is used, unless it’s really important for emphasis or direction.  If you’re addressing one person, use the 2nd person singular form, if addressing many people, use the 2nd person plural form.  With the plural, you should change the –at ending to –iet, however.  Don’t be surprised if you hear a native speaker use -at instead, it happens. Of course, this also means that if you forget, you’ll still be understood!

Of course, the formality rules also apply, so use the 2nd person plural imperative when necessary even when speaking to only one person. (More on formality later.)

Here are some examples:

  • Tu nāc (you come) –> Nāc! (come!)
  • Jūs nākat (you all come) –> Nākiet! (come!)

Reflexives, as always, have their own little rules.  (By the way, reflexive verbs usually mean that the action is reflected back onto the subject.)  So, for those, we change the -at to -iet for plurals and leave the singular forms alone, just like with the regular verbs, but we must add the reflexive -ies to the end too to signify the reflexive meaning.

Using skatīties (to look), we can look at the following:

  • Tu skaties (you look) –> Skaties! (Look!)
  • Jūs skatāties (you all look) –> Skatieties! (Look!)
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