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Euskara ikastaroa: 1go ikasgaia / Basque: Lesson 1

(Hona hemen ikastaroaren aurkibidea. / Here's the course's table of contents. )

(Also, I spent several hours writing/formatting the post, but it got all mangled up here, if anyone has any suggestions as to a better way to format the post i'm all ears.)

<h1>Euskara ikastaroa: 1go ikasgaia</h1>

While waiting for Basque to get accepted into the Incubator, i thought it might be nice to start with some simple lessons.


The Basque alphabet isn't too complicated. The vowels are pretty straightforward, similar to Spanish with one clear pronunciation. The 's' and 'z' sounds are a bit complicated, but as long as you get them close people won't have trouble understanding you. The fun part about Basque (or the headache, depending on how you look at it ;)) is the verbs, which we will look at shortly.

Here's a chart of some letters which might cause a little trouble. Other letters (other than the vowels) can be assumed to have the same pronunciation as in English:

Personal pronouns

Now, let's take a look at Basque's personal pronouns:

First, a note on the order of the pronouns. There is actually another pronoun, 'hi', which is a bit more informal/personal than 'zu', but its use is a bit more complicated (forms change according to the gender of the person being spoken about) and i don't know it very well yet, so we'll ignore it for now. It might seem weird that the third person singular comes directly after the first person singular pronoun, but as we move on it will become clearer why. The 'ni', 'hi', and 'hura' forms are generally closely related to one another, as are the 'gu', 'zu', and 'zuek' forms. 'Haiek', as well, though sometimes it's just a bit odd. It's also worth noting that 'hura'/'haiek' literally mean 'that one over there' and 'those ones over there' respectively (etxe hura = 'that house over there').

Our first verb: IZAN - to be

Similar to Spanish, Italian, and other languages where the verb contains information about the subject performing the action, you will often not need to use the personal pronoun in Basque. As you will find out, Basque verbs can contain a lot more information than just the subject, they can also tell you the direct and indirect object of the verb as well. We'll save that for another lesson, though. For now, let's look at the aditz (verb) izan - to be. This might be a bit much to take in for now -- if you have questions just ask in the comments -- but izan is known as the nor verb. This is because the subject of the verb is in the nor case. This is used for intransitive verbs (verbs that have an action but no object, such as being, walking, sleeping, etc.). We'll continue to talk about these cases as we go on through the lessons, soon things will start making a lot more sense.

Right now it might seem that these forms are completely random, which they are in part, izan is a highly irregular verb, but pay attention to the first letter of each form. You will see many forms use these letters ('n' for 'ni', 'd' for 'hura', 'g' for 'gu', etc.)

In Basque, the verb often comes at the end of a phrase. Here are a couple examples:
A couple comments:

  1. Here we see the words ikaslea, ikasleak, zaharra, and zaharrak. The "dictionary form" of these words is ikasle and zahar.
  2. The 'a' added to the end of these words (or -ra in zahar) is the article, similar to 'the' in English. It is generally added to the end of a word unless another word is modifying it.
  3. Most words ending in -r will double the 'r' when adding the 'a', thus zahar (old) becomes zaharra and azkar (fast) becomes azkarra.
  4. The plural is formed by adding -ak to the dictionary form of the word.

Common phrases

And lastly, let's look at some common phrases/greetings:

If you have any questions, suggestions, corrections, ideas as to what to cover next, let me know :) Also, if someone wanted to record some of the sample sentences, that would be great, too! Maybe we can start each lesson off with a dialog and some vocabulary?

June 6, 2015



About formatting, see here for some ideas.


Thanks, i checked there first but couldn't find a clean way to make a chart, i believe even the code tag ignores repeated spaces (in addition to turning everything yellow), for example.


Indeed, charts are not supported on Duo fora.

Yellow text is done with grave accent/code-block:
`this` gives this

Repeated spaces are ignored (replaced by one space) except (at least):

  1. for two spaces at the end of a line
  2. series of 4 spaces before * to make lists.

By any chance, an Euskara course from FR or from SP? :)

Catalan was launched first from SP, maybe more chance to have Euskara had first from SP or FR. ;)


I'd be happy with either, but as far as i know more Basque/Spanish speakers have applied to create the course than Basque/French speakers, so i assume it will be from a Spanish base :)


Both are fine with me! :)

Thus, a "pre-course" on the Spanish forum?
It could show the motivation of the applicants and the interest of users. Well, just an idea.


That's an interesting idea, i could put out a Spanish and English version of these lessons or perhaps make the Spanish lessons a bit closer to the Duolingo style with some simple sentences and explanations.


Euskara interesgarria da :D Eskerrik asko :)


Ez horregatik! Eskerrik asko zuri ere! Uste dut "euskara" idatzi nahi zuela, eta bai, oso interesgarria da! :)

Don't mention it! Thank you! I think you meant to write "Euskara" (ie. the language, not the adjective), and yes, it's very interesting!

If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know, thanks for stopping by!


Ohhh! This is phenomenal! I think Basque is so fascinating and intriguing!! I love it! Also I have seen videos of the Basque Country before and it is splendid, I must say!!! :D


Does Basque replace 3rd person pronouns with demonstrative pronouns?


Pronouns are often left out in Basque, but yes, generally you'll see hura (aquel/lo/la in Spanish, "that over there") but there's also the pronoun bera (originally an "intensive" pronoun, ie. "he himself", "she herself"). Haiek/berak (or even eurak) for "they". Bera forms are used mostly in the west.


Eskerrik asko!

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