Monday, March 8, 2010

-ma infinitive

I have mentioned before about the fact that Estonian verbs have two infinitives, "the -ma forms" and "the -da forms". In this post I would like to discuss the situations in which the -ma forms appear. In a later post I will deal with the -da forms. Note: In Estonian, infinitives are of one form unlike in English where the infinitive comes in two parts, i.e. 'to read', 'to speak' etc.

Infinitive and Present forms

Oftentimes the stems of the -ma infinitive and the present are different. Compare the following:

luge/ma --- loe/n 'I read'
rääki/ma --- räägi/n 'I speak'
taht/ma --- taha/n 'I want'
õppi/ma --- õpi/n 'I learn'
tead/ma --- tea/n 'I know'
sundi/ma --- sunni/n 'I force/ compel'
pida/ma --- pea/n 'I have to'

The verb 'go' has two completely different stems:

mine/ma --- lähe/n 'I go'


The -ma infinitive is used with the following verbs:

1) after verbs of motion:

minema, lähen 'go' ---- tulema, tulen 'come' --- jooksma, jooksen  'run'
sõitma, sõidan 'ride, drive' --- istuma, istun 'sit' --- panema, panen 'put, set'

Ma lähen jalutama 'I go (out) for a walk [in order to walk]'
Ta jookseb vaatama, mis seal juhtub 'She runs to see what is happening there'.
Me istume laulma 'We sit in order to sing.'
Pane masin käima 'Turn on the machine [Set the machine to go]'.

2) after these following verbs:

hakkama, hakkan 'begin' --- juhtuma, juhtun 'happen' --- jätma, jätan 'leave (behind)'
jääma, jään 'remain' --- kutsuma, kutsun 'invite, call' --- kõlbama, kõlban 'be suitable'
pidama, pean 'have (an obligation) to' --- sundima, sunnin 'force, compel'
õpetama, õpetan 'teach' --- õppima, õpin 'learn, study'

Ma hakkan kohe minema 'I will begin to go right away'.
Jää seisma! 'Stop! [Remain in order to stand].'
Kutsu lapsed sööma 'Call the children to (come and) eat'
Sa pead siia tulema 'You have to come here.'
Ma õpin joonistama 'I am learning to draw.'

3) After certain adjectives and participles:

harjunud 'accustomed, used to' --- sunnitud 'forced, compelled' --- nõus 'willing'
osav 'capable, skilled' --- valmis 'ready'

Ma olen valmis aitama 'I am ready to help'.
Ta on nõus tulema 'S/he is willing [agrees] to come'.
Me oleme harjunud kõvasti rääkima 'We are used to talking loudly.'

Source: Juhan Tuldava, Estonian Textbook, 1994

1 comment:

  1. Hey there. I'm Daniel and I'm living in Estonia. I'm studying Estonian language in a languages academy and your blog is very helpful. Thanks!