See also: butt, but, Butt, bút, bût, Bụt, and but-




From Proto-Baltic *bū-ti, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰuH- ‎(to grow, to prosper) ( > “to become, to be”). The past tense forms are derived from Proto-Baltic *bī- (*bī-yuo > biju), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰew-wi. The present tense forms come from Proto-Indo-European *es- < *h₁es- ‎(to be): *esmi > esmu, etc. The third-person forms are from other sources: see ir, nav. Cognates include Lithuanian būti, Old Prussian būton, boūt(on), Sudovian bus ‎(will be), Old Church Slavonic бꙑти ‎(byti), Russian быть ‎(byt’), Belarusian быць ‎(byc’), Ukrainian бути ‎(búty), Czech býti, Polish być, Irish buith ‎(to be), Old High German būan ‎(to live, to cultivate land), German bauen ‎(to build, to cultivate land, to grow, e.g., of roots), Sanskrit भवति ‎(bhávati, to become), Ancient Greek φύομαι ‎(phúomai, to grow, to be).[1]




būt intr., no conj., pres. esmu, esi, ir, past biju

  1. to be, to exist
    būt vai nebūt‎ ― to be or not to be
    tas ir (= t.i.)‎ ― i.e., that is to say (lit. that is)
    ir vairāki šās dziesmas varianti‎ ― (there) are many versions of this song
    lietus beidzot pārgājis, bet saules nav‎ ― the rain is finally gone, but (still) there is no sun
  2. to be, to be at, to be located (at)
    mēs būsim mājā‎ ― we will be in the house
    viņš vakar bija Rīgā‎ ― he was in Riga yesterday
    kur tu biji?‎ ― where were you?
    govis ir ganībās‎ ― the cows are in the grazing area (= grazing)
    grāmata ir uz galda‎ ― the book is on the table
    pilsētā ir rūpnīcas‎ ― (the) factories are in the city
    spainī ir ūdens‎ ― (there) is water in the bucket
    maizes somā nebija‎ ― there was no bread in the bag
    mūsu mežā ir stirnas‎ ― there are deer in our forest
  3. to be at, to attend, to participate in
    daudzi Ceilonas skolotāji bijuši VI Vispasaules jaunatnes un studentu festivālā Maskavā‎ ― many teachers (from) Ceylon were at the VI All-World youth and student festival in Moscow
    “varam sākt sapulci” Jānis teica; “vairāk neviena nebūs‎ ― “we can begin the meeting”, Jānis said; “there won't be anybody else” (= nobody else is coming)
    būt arodbiedrībā jau desmit gadu‎ ― to be (= participate, work) in the trade union for ten years
  4. (3rd person only, with a dative complement) to possess; to have (all senses)
    viņiem ir divistabu dzīvoklis‎ ― they have a two-room apartment
    zvejniekiem ir jauni tīkli‎ ― the fishermen have new nets
    vai tev ir nauda?‎ ― do you have (any) money?
    mātei ir māsa‎ ― the mother has a sister
    meitenei bija draudzene‎ ― the girl had a (girl)friend
    man ir darbs‎ ― I have work
    mums bija uzdevums‎ ― we had a task
    šodien man nebūs laika‎ ― today I won't have time
    latviešiem ir teika par Lāčplēsi‎ ― the Latvians have a legend about a Bear Slayer
    viņam bija pamatoti argumenti‎ ― he had valid arguments
    mums ir priekšlikums‎ ― we have a proposal
  5. (3rd person only, with a dative complement) to have, in a part-whole relationship}}
    ābelei ir balti ziedi‎ ― the apple tree has white flowers
    viņam bija brīnišķīgi skaidras un laipnas bērna acis‎ ― he had wonderfully clear and kind child's eyes
    viņam ir skaļa balss‎ ― he has a loud voice
    aktierim ir talants‎ ― the actor has talent
    tev ir labs noskaņojums‎ ― you have (= are in) a good mood
  6. (3rd person only) to be, to happen, to take place
    pagalmā bija liels tracis‎ ― in the (back) yard (there) was a big brawl
    kas ir, ir; kas būs, būs‎ ― what(ever) is, is; whatever will be, will be
    tur viss kārtībā... nelielā neskaidrība tikai, kad īsti būs kāzas‎ ― there everything (is) all right... only a little uncertainty (about) when exactly the wedding will be (= happen, take place)
    lai būtubūdams‎ ― let it be as it is (= let happen what will happen; so be it)
  7. to be; used as a simple copula to link a subject to its predicate
    ir laime‎ ― that is happiness
    būs labi‎ ― (it) will be good
    man ir auksti‎ ― I am (= feel) cold
    laiks būšot saulains‎ ― the weather, they say, will be sunny
    kas bija dzīve, kas bija cilvēks bez liela sapņa?‎ ― what was life, what was a person without a big dream?
  8. to be, to have, must, should; used as an auxiliary verb to form compound verb tenses
    esmu atnācis‎ ― I have arrived
    bijām aizbraukuši ciemos‎ ― we had left to visit (someone)
    nav dzirdēts‎ ― (it) hasn't been heard
    par to ir jārunā‎ ― one must talk about this
    tas būtu jāredz‎ ― this would have to be seen (= it is a must-see)
    viņš esot tur strādājis‎ ― he, they say, has worked there
    darbs būšot pabeigts‎ ― the work, they say, will be finished


Usage notesEdit

Of the two conjunctive debitive form, jāesot is the most frequently found one; jābūtot, though attested, is less frequent and apparently nonstandard.

Derived termsEdit

prefixed verbs:
other derived terms:


  1. ^ Karulis, Konstantīns (1992), “būt”, in Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca (in Latvian), Rīga: AVOTS, ISBN 9984-700-12-7