Perfect grams in Lithuanian and Latvian: A comparative analysis based on a typological questionnaire

2021. №4, 7-41

Peter M. Arkadiev a
Anna D. Daugavet b
a Institute of Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia; Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia;;
b Saint Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia;


This article presents a first detailed comparative investigation of the semantics of the perfect verbal forms in standard Lithuanian and Latvian. A typological questionnaire filled by five Latvian and seven Lithuanian informants reveals the difference in the degree of grammaticalization of the present perfect between the two Baltic languages. The set of contexts available for the present perfect in Latvian is wider and more reminiscent of the perfects in English and Scandinavian languages in comparison to the Lithuanian counterpart. While in Lithuanian the present perfect is restricted to the experiential and the resultative contexts, where it is also often substituted by the simple past, Latvian also employs the present perfect to convey the meanings of ‘hot news’, current relevance and persistent situation. The past perfect, on the contrary, is more frequent in Lithuanian and appears to be a separate category rather than a past tense version of the present perfect. The article also discusses the use of the future perfect and of a special variety of the perfect with the auxiliary in the evidential form, as well as the use of ‘bare’ participles formally coinciding with the second component of the analytical perfect form but used without the auxiliary.

For citation:

Arkadiev P. M., Daugavet A. D. Perfect grams in Lithuanian and Latvian: A comparative analysis based on a typological questionnaire. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 4: 7–41.