Estonian is the official language of Estonia. It is spoken by about 1.1 million people in the country itself and thousands of others abroad. Estonian is a Finno-Ugric language and is closely related to Finnish and distantly to Hungarian. It has been influenced by German, Russian, and Swedish and Latvian, though it is not related to them.

The Estonian language has 14 cases but the use of prepositions is relatively simple. Estonian belongs to the Finno-Ugric family of languages and is therefore probably easier for Finns to learn than it is for others. Before starting your Estonian studies, you should make sure that the teacher uses a type of teaching methods that you are able to follow. It would be advisable to listen to a sample lesson. Larger language learning centres offer several courses per year.

Estonians value their language and culture highly but generally do not expect foreigners to have any knowledge of it. Sometimes, it even seems that they take pride in the Estonian language being so difficult for foreigners to learn – as if this feature alone would make the language exceptional and mysteriously beautiful. Practice has proved that the quickest way for a foreigner to open up a reserved Estonian is to at least try to say something in Estonian: a simple "Tere" (Hello) or "Aitäh" (Thank you) will make any Estonian smile in surprise and delight.

Learning Estonian

Free online Estonian English-based language online course for beginners: KEELEKLIKK

Free online Estonian Russian-based language online course for beginners: KEELEKLIKK

Get up to speed with the basics! The Essential Estonian course is available for free via the Lingvist app.


tere - Hello!

nägemiseni - Good bye!

tšau (Ciao) - informal and a very common way between friends to say both Hi and Bye

aitäh! / tänan! - thank you!

palun - please

jah - yes

ei - no


buss - bus

bussipeatus - bus stop

rong - train

kuukaart - a month’s pass (for public transport)


id-kaart - ID card

isikut tõendav dokument - personal identification document

juhiluba - driving licence

lugejapilet - library card

pass – passport


postkontor - post office

ümbrik - envelope

mark - stamp

arst - doctor

hambaarst - dentist

kiirabi - ambulance

pood - shop

restoran - restaurant

kohvik - café

baar - bar

juuksur - hairdresser


valuutavahetus - currency exchange

vahetuskurss - exchange rate

palk - wage, salary

hind - price

arve - bill

tasuta - free of charge


naine - woman

mees - man

abikaasa - spouse

kool - school

lasteaed - day-care centre, nursery school

õpetaja – teacher


teadus - science

teadlane - researcher/scientist

õppemaks - tuition fee

üliõpilane - student

lektor - lecturer

professor - professor

üliõpilaspilet - student card

sihtasutus – foundation


Kus asub/kus on …? - Where is …..?

Ma armastan Sind - I love you

Ilusat päeva! - Have a nice day!

Mulle meeldib kohtuda uute inimestega - I like to meet new people

Kus on raamatukogu? - Where is the library?

Kuidas minna ülikooli? - Which way is the university?

Minge vasakule - Go left

Minge paremale - Go right

Minge otse - Go straight ahead

Palun sõitke aadressil… - Please drive to this address

Mis kell on? - What time is it?

Kui palju see maksab?- How much does this cost?

Kuidas läheb? - How are you?

Tänan küsimast, väga hästi! - Very well, thank you!

Mida Sa õpid? - What are you studying?

Kui palju see maksab? - How much does it cost?

Ma ei saanud aru, palun räägi natuke aeglasemalt - I didn't understand, could you speak a bit more slowly, please.