Learn Estonian

Learn phrases and sentences in the Estonian language online by selecting the Estonian phrases that you want to learn from the list. These cover a wide variety of Estonian topics, including the numbers in Estonian, days of the week in Estonian, Estonian greetings and the months in Estonian. The Estonian phrases have audio recorded by a native speaker.

Estonian phrases

A few first words. 1, A few first words. 2, Bathroom. Items, Bedroom. Items, Buying things. General phrases, Buyings things. Useful words, Countries, Communication problems, Conversation. Introductions, Conversation. Small talk. 1, Conversation. Small talk. 2, Conversation. Filler words, Conversation. Small talk. Sport, Conversation. Small talk. The weather, Days. General, Days of the week, Describing things. Colours, Describing things. Adjectives, Directions. 1, Directions. 2, Eating phrases. 1, Eating phrases. 2, Eating items, Emergencies, Family, Food and drink. General phrases, Food and drink. At the bar or café. 1, Food and drink. At the bar or café. 2, Food and drink. At the bar or café. 3, Getting around. General phrases, Getting around. Train and bus, Getting around by taxi, Getting around by car, General phrases, Health, Household items, Money, Months of the year, Numbers. 1 to 10, Numbers. 11 to 20, Numbers. 30 to 1000, Parts of the body, Places and buildings. 1, Places and buildings. 2, Question and size words, Somewhere to stay. 1, Somewhere to stay. 2, Time, The house, Useful words to recognize, Words to do with food. General, Words to do with food. Fruit, Words to do with food. Vegetables, Words to do with food. Meat.

Estonian language learning games

As well as the flashcards for the Estonian phrases there are additional learning games for colours, days, fruit, months, numbers and vegetables.

Colours

Fruit

Months

Numbers. 1 to 10

Numbers. 1 to 20

Vegetables


Test whether you know the difference between a õun, kartul, küüslauk and porgand, can count едно, kaks, kolm, and know roheline from kollane.

The Estonian Language

Non-Indo-European languages present the native English speaker with particular challenges. Word origins are not shared so acquiring a vocabulary is more difficult, and the grammatical structure can be radically different. Both these factors are true of Estonian.

On the plus side there is no grammatical gender in Estonian nor is there a definite or indefinite article; there are also many imported words which tend to turn up in areas of interest to the visitor, krediitkaarte and tualettpaber being two useful examples.

German speakers will be helped by the large proportion of German load words. Another positive is that Estonian is a highly phonetic language.

Two important characteristice of Estonian are that it is primarily an agglutinative language and that it has a special syllable-accent system.

An agglutinative language is one in which meaning is conveyed more by adding components to words rather than relying on word order or prepositions, so in Estonian single words often have to be unpacked into an English phrase. This process can frequently be seen at work in English, although it is not a primarily agglutinative language like Estonian, e.g. in the formation of words like 'beautiful', 'backwards', 'fullness', 'hyperactivity', etc and especially in the formation of new words, particularly from Latin and Greek.

The Estonian syllable-accent system is unusual. It has three contrasting vowel and consonant lengths, short, long and 'overlong', which can represent important differences in meaning. Thus taevas (short e) means 'sky', taevas (long e) 'in the sky'; lina 'linen', linna (two short n's) 'of the city', linna (long n and short n) 'into the city'.

Long sounds are simply indicated by doubling the vowel or consonant. The extra-long sound is not indicated by any special mark, but among the consonants b d g count as singles, while p t k are doubles and pp tt kk are extra-long.

Related languages

Estonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. It is not an Indo-European language.

It is distantly related to Hungarian, and has been influenced by German and Swedish.

Resources

Learning Estonian. An outline of the Estonian language and its grammar.
BBC quick fix estonian. Essential Estonian phrases from the BBC
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