This is my favorite case, hands down. For one, it is the case I can most reliably pick out of sentences, so I usually will translate it first. For another, it’s just so darned easy. I love this case!
The locative case expresses location — both physical location and location in time (also known as the locative of time). It primarily answers the question Kur? or Where?
Simply put, the locative is used any time you want to say something or someone is located in somewhere. If you are in a car, car will be in locative. If there is water in the pot, pot will be in locative. If you are in the field, field will be in locative.
Yes, it is that easy. Locative is location.
It is incredibly easy to distinguish – singular nouns will end in a macron, while plural masculine nouns end in -os and plural feminine nouns end with -ās, -ēs or -īs (which is basically their nominative plural + a macron).
Now what is really, really cool about the locative is that Latvians can refer to location very quickly and efficiently, while we English-speakers need a few more words to do it. Like so:
Galds ir istabā. -> The table is in the room.
Latvian cuts that sentence length in half and almost all of that is due to the fact that placing a noun in locative represents an entire prepositional phrase in English. (In fact, I could imply ir with a –, the sentence would still be perfectly understandable and it’d be down to two words!)
Here’s the other neat thing: because of the locative, there really isn’t a need for a prepositional equivalent of in just to indicate that something is in that location. If you need to be more specific about position or relative position, there are prepositions for inside, on top of, next to, etc., but of course, those do not take the locative.
Now, you might be thinking, “Do I put seasons and time into locative then? Can I say ‘Jāņi ir junijā?'” (Jāņi is in June.) Yes, because that calls for the locative of time.
Yes, junijā is left uncapitalized. Latvians do not consider the names of months or days to require capitalization except at the beginning of sentences.
Locative of Time
Locative is used quite a bit when it comes to time and this is probably the most fiddly bit when it comes to understanding the locative case. Locative is also used to answer both kad and cikos.
The exact K-question word for when is kad but cikos is a more specific way of asking at what time something is to happen. Kad is used for time in a general sense, like “today,” “next week,” or “this winter.” Cikos is used for time in a specific sense, such as “at 2 pm”.
Interestingly, either kad or cikos can be used for “in 10 minutes” as it can imply either when or at what time. Specific is important when it comes to cikos! It cannot be used when you’re giving a general estimate of when something will be done, the way we would casually say “in two or three hours” in English. Well, you can, but it’s not a great idea. Cikos implies a request for a specific scheduled time. This is why it is important to remember that cikos translates as “at what time” rather than “when”.
With locative and kad, if you would answer “in [time]”, then you would use the locative.
Kad puses zieda? Vasarā. –> When do flowers bloom? In the summer.
In the example above, you need to use the locative for “in the summer.” (See the in? Big clue that you should use the locative to express this.) Note also that this would be singular – there is only one summer and the question is quite general, thanks to kad.
However, when it comes to more specific time, we use cikos and in this case the question word has an ending applied. Cikos? is the locative plural expression of Cik? and expects an answer also in the locative plural.
In short, cikos is always plural and refers to a scheduled time, kad can be singular or plural and can refer to general time.
Cikos mēs brauksim pie ārstes? Četrpadsmitos. –> At what time will we travel to the doctor? At 14 (2pm).
In the example above, we see that četrpadsmitos is in the locative plural, so if we wanted to translate it exactly into an equivalent in English, we’d wind up with something along the lines of “at 1400 hours” which is how the American military (and possibly others) would refer to it.
Pie is used here instead of dative because it is used when you are going “to” someone. It isn’t a true indirect object.
I’ll have to do a post just on time at some point, because there are a lot of little intricacies in Latvian when it comes to time. More on time in time.
How to Decline the Locative
The endings are as follows:
vsk. 1. dekl. | 2. dekl. | 2. dekl. exc. | 3. dekl. Kur? -ā | -ī | -ī | -ū vsk. 4. dekl. | 5. dekl. | 6. dekl. Kur? -ā | -ē | -ī dsk. 1. dekl. | 2. dekl. | 2. dekl. exc. | 3. dekl. Kur? -os | -os | -os | -os dsk. 4. dekl. | 5. dekl. | 6. dekl Kur? -ās | -ēs | -īs Red indicates potential palatalization changes.