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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 (bytʹ), Belarusian быць (bycʹ), 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 nebūtto 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 navthe rain is finally gone, but (still) there is no sun
  2. to be, to be at, to be located (at)
    mēs būsim mājāwe will be in the house
    viņš vakar bija Rīgāhe was in Riga yesterday
    kur tu biji?where were you?
    govis ir ganībāsthe cows are in the grazing area (= grazing)
    grāmata ir uz galdathe 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 nebijathere was no bread in the bag
    mūsu mežā ir stirnasthere are deer in our forest
  3. to be at, to attend, to participate in
    daudzi Ceilonas skolotāji bijuši VI Vispasaules jaunatnes un studentu festivālā Maskavāmany 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 gaduto 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 dzīvoklisthey have a two-room apartment
    zvejniekiem ir jauni tīklithe fishermen have new nets
    vai tev ir nauda?do you have (any) money?
    mātei ir māsathe mother has a sister
    meitenei bija draudzenethe girl had a (girl)friend
    man ir darbsI have work
    mums bija uzdevumswe had a task
    šodien man nebūs laikatoday I won't have time
    latviešiem ir teika par Lāčplēsithe Latvians have a legend about a Bear Slayer
    viņam bija pamatoti argumentihe had valid arguments
    mums ir priekšlikumswe have a proposal
  5. (3rd person only, with a dative complement) to have, in a part-whole relationship
    ābelei ir balti ziedithe apple tree has white flowers
    viņam bija brīnišķīgi skaidras un laipnas bērna acishe had wonderfully clear and kind child's eyes
    viņam ir skaļa balsshe has a loud voice
    aktierim ir talantsthe actor has talent
    tev ir labs noskaņojumsyou have (= are in) a good mood
  6. (3rd person only) to be, to happen, to take place
    pagalmā bija liels tracisin the (back) yard (there) was a big brawl
    kas ir, ir; kas būs, būswhat(ever) is, is; whatever will be, will be
    tur viss kārtībā... nelielā neskaidrība tikai, kad īsti būs kāzasthere everything (is) all right... only a little uncertainty (about) when exactly the wedding will be (= happen, take place)
    lai būtubūdamslet 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 laimethat is happiness
    būs labi(it) will be good
    man ir aukstiI am (= feel) cold
    laiks būšot saulainsthe 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 atnācisI have arrived
    bijām aizbraukuši ciemoswe had left to visit (someone)
    nav dzirdēts(it) hasn't been heard
    par to ir jārunāone must talk about this
    tas būtu jāredzthis would have to be seen (= it is a must-see)
    viņš esot tur strādājishe, they say, has worked there
    darbs būšot pabeigtsthe 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