Estonian/Negative and Conjunctions

Eitav kõneliik

This lesson will be on the Estonian negative and some conjunctions.

Forming the Negative



The negative is formed with the word "no" which is "ei", and by taking a conjugated form of a verb without the personal suffix:

  • to be: olema -> ma olen -> ei ole
  • to know: teadma -> ma tean -> ei tea
  • to want: tahtma -> ma tahan -> ei taha

One very convenient aspect about the negative is that it's the same for all persons and quantities of pronouns:

-ma kesksõna mina sina tema meie teie nemad
olema ei ole
teadma ei tea
tahtma ei taha

The word "ei" in verb negation is considered to be an auxiliary verb, and roughly translates to "do not" or "don't".


-ma kesksõna mina sina tema meie teie nemad
olema ei olnud
teadma ei teadnud
tahtma ei tahtnud


Estonian has no auxiliary verb for the Future like "I will", so the negative future is composed of "ei" simply followed by the simple negative form of the verb (not) to be performed in the future.

-ma kesksõna mina sina tema meie teie nemad
olema ei ole varsti
teadma ei tea varsti
tahtma ei taha varsti

Some Conjunctions


Conjunctions are called "sidesõnad" (tying words)

Not preceded by comma in simple sentences Preceded by comma in simple sentences
Estonian English Note Estonian English Note
ja and et that
so that
If followed by a Conditional clause, describes reason and effect.
Comma may come before the preceding word, like in "nii et"
ning and Often used when "ja" has been exhausted aga but
ega nor Can also begin questions in the form of "Isn't it... ?" kuid but
või or sest because
ehk also known as,
otherwise known as
kui if
siis then
vaid but/only


  • sai - saia - .saia - white bread
  • leib - leiva - .leiba - black bread
  • piim - piima - .piima - milk
  • mahl - mahla - .mahla - juice
  • söök - söögi - sööki - food
  • jah - Yes
  • ei - No
  • võib-olla - maybe
  • eesti keel - Estonian language


  • saama (to get) - also means to be able to or allowed to
English -ma kesksõna mina sina tema meie teie nemad Negative
to be allowed to tohtima* tohin tohid tohib tohime tohite tohivad ei tohi
to be able to suutma* suudan suudad suudab suudame suudate suudavad ei suuda
to have the strength to jaksama* jaksan jaksad jaksab jaksame jaksate jaksavad ei jaksa
to be capable to
to know how to
oskama* oskan oskad oskab oskame oskate oskavad ei oska
to need to pidama pean pead peab peame peate peavad ei pea
to do
to make
tegema teen teed teeb teeme teete teevad ei tee
to eat sööma söön sööd sööb sööme sööte söövad ei söö
to drink jooma joon jood joob joome joote joovad ei joo
to know someone
to feel
tundma tunnen tunned tunneb tunneme tunnete tunnevad ei tunne
  • * - When specifying an action, these verbs refer to a -da Infinitive, which we haven't learned yet. Notice that pidama takes the -ma Infinitive.

Conjunctions and the Negative


Some sentences sound unnatural when using certain combinations of Conjunctions and the Negative without some adjustments similar to those in English:

  • Ma ei tea, et sa jood vett - incorrect "I don't know that you drink water" "jood" is an ongoing or passive action. This is also unnatural in English, but acceptable in some informal cases.
  • Ma ei teadnud, et sa jood vett - "I didn't know you drink water". This uses the simple past, which we haven't learned yet.

"Kas" is a question determiner, which roughly translates to "whether" and "is it that...". In questions it can be replaced by a simple reversal which is common for asking questions in languages of European descent: "Kas sa tahad?" -> "Tahad sa?"



Ma ei joo


I don't drink

Ta oskab seda


He knows how to do this

Ma ei oska eesti keelt


I can't speak Estonian

Ma tean, et sa oled siin


I know that you are here

Kas sa tahad mahla või vett?


Do you want juice or water?

Ma tean, et sa ei tunne mind


I know that you don't know me

Ma pean oskama seda


I must know how to do this