Monday, April 5, 2010

clothes and putting them on

The Estonian phrase riidesse panema means 'to put on clothes'. Estonian has two words for clothes: riided and rõivad. The former is the general word for clothes whilst the latter tends to be reserved for fashionable or formal wear.

The command Put on clothes! / Get dressed! is Pane riidesse! using the 2nd person singular imperative form of panema 'put' and the illative (sisseütlev) of riided. In a hurry you may hear someone say: Pane kiiresti riidesse 'get dressed quickly'; or in winter: Pane paksult riidesse! ‘dress warmly [lit. fatly/ thickly]’.

When making a statement about what item of clothing we are putting on, we use the genitive case (omastav). When giving an order to someone as to what item of clothing to put on, we use the nomative form (nimetav). In the case of plural nouns (shoes, gloves, trousers etc.) we use the nominative form in both instances. It is normal in Estonian to also mention the body part to which the item of clothing is put, i.e. put your scarf on your neck instead of simply put your scarf on. This body part takes the illative case. Below you can find common body parts in their nomative and illative case forms as well as common items of clothing in their nomative and genitive forms [plural nouns are just listed in their nominative form].

Don't forget  that you can make use of the excellent tool Eesti keele süntesaator to get the singular and plural case forms of nouns and the conjugation of verbs [input in their -ma form].

Body Parts

selg, -a 'back' [ill. same as gen.]
kael, -a  'neck' [ill. same as gen.]
jalg, -a 'foot, leg'
pea, pähe 'head'
käsi, kätte 'hand, arm'

Items of Clothing

mantel, mantli 'coat'
jope, - 'jacket'
kampsun, -i 'cardigan, jumper, pull-over'
särk, särgi 'shirt'
sall, -i 'scarf'
müts, -i 'hat'
püksid 'trousers'
kingad 'shoes'
kindad 'gloves'
kleit, kleidi 'dress'
seelik, -u 'skirt'
pluus, -i 'blouse'
sokid 'socks'
sukad 'stockings'


Note that in Estonian we don't use possessive adjectives as we do in English.

Ma panen jope selga 'I am putting on my jacket' [lit. I put the jacket to the back]
Pane jope selga! 'Put on your jacket!' [lit. Put the jacket to the back]

Ma panen kampsuni selga. 'I am putting on my jumper'
Pane kiiresti kampsun selga! 'Put on your jumper quickly!'

Me paneme särgid selga 'We are putting on our shirts'
Paneme särgid selga! 'Let's put on our shirts!'

Te panete paksult riidesse 'Ye are getting dressed warmly'

Pange paksult riidesse! '(Ye) get dressed warmly!'

Ta paneb salli kaela 'He is putting on her scarf'
Pane sall kaela! 'Put on your scarf!'

Ta paneb kleidi/ seeliku selga 'She is putting on a dress/ skirt'
Las ta panna kleidi/ seeliku selga 'Let/ Leave her put on her dress/ skirt'

Ta paneb kiiresti sukad jalga 'She is putting on her stockings quickly'
Pane kiiresti sokid jalga 'Put on your socks quickly'

Ma panen kindad kätte 'I am putting on my gloves'
Sa paned kingad jalga 'You are putting on your shoes'

Ta panen mütsi pähe 'He is putting on his hat'
Pane müts pähe! 'Put on your hat!'


  1. Hi!

    Two comments on the phrases:

    1) "Pangem särgid selga" sounds quite formal, even pompous. I think nowadays it's more common to say "paneme särgid selga" also for a suggestion or command (which is indicated by the intonation).

    2) "Las ta panna kleit/ seelik selga." -- I'd say, "Las ta paneb kleidi/ seeliku selga."

    These variants may not (yet) be considered proper but they are spoken.

  2. Another thing that's worth noting is that pants go on the legs ("püksid jalga") while a skirt goes on the back ("seelik selga").

    There's obviously no logical reason for the skirt to go on the back. It just does. :)

  3. As always, thanks for the comments!

    "another thing that's worth noting is that pants go on the legs ("püksid jalga") while a skirt goes on the back ("seelik selga").

    There's obviously no logical reason for the skirt to go on the back. It just does. :) "

    When you think about it, both a skirt and a pair of trousers attach to the waist but only a pair of trousers slides on the legs - a skirt is free of the legs. A pair of trousers on the other hand are pulled onto the legs. That may be why.

  4. Maybe so! Another possibility I guess is that it's because it sounds good. "Se... se..."