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.
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.