Romanian Language, Lesson 1

On my blog to this point, I have given Korean lessons and Japanese lessons. Yes, I can carry on conversations in both of those languages and have taught Japanese in two different universities, but my best foreign language is actually Romanian.  I have never taught Romanian in a school. I have taught Spanish which is similar, but never Romanian. I was a translator in Romania.  I have never seen a Romanian grammar book.  I had an English Romanian dictionary I used many, many years ago for about a year or two, but I really didn’t need it, so I stopped using it and have lost it.  When a Romanian friend gave me a Romanian/Romanian dictionary and said to me that was the kind of dictionary I needed, I was very complimented.  I had a Romanian teacher who was actually a Romanian English teacher, and I told him what I needed to learn, and he taught it to me.  I read children’s books at the beginning because there were no books to learn Romanian then.  I learned from talking to the people, watching TV, and reading in Romanian like a child. Even now, when I speak Romanian with a Romanian living here in Korea, they think I am Romanian. I had to prove to the Romanian embassy that I was not Romanian because I even speak with a particular accent from a particular area of the country.  I am a language teacher, so I have decided to share a little Romanian with you.  If you want me to continue my Korean or Japanese language blogs, let me know, but I have decided to begin Romanian for you.

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The Romanian Alphabet:

To begin with, if you took high school Spanish in America, you already know a lot of Romanian pronunciation, but not all of it. When I took high school Spanish, my teacher just went through the alphabet telling us the pronunciation of each letter in Spanish, and it worked well for me, but I began doing that for you here in Romanian and realized it was getting long, detailed, and boring, so I am not going to do it.  As I give you words, I will explain the pronunciation, and you will learn it as you go. As in English, often you say a word based which letter the letters are close to, so it is more efficient to explain as I go along.

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Basic Personal Pronouns, State of Being Verbs in Simple Present Tense, and Question words:

Eu sunt Ronda.  = I am Ronda.  (Pronunciation: Yow soont  Ronda. –The letter in “sunt” is a letter we don’t have in English.  Say it at the back of your throat.)

Tu esti Ronda.  = You are Ronda. (Pronunciation:  The “t” in “tu” is not as sharp at he English “t.” If you take a piece of paper and hold it in front of your mouth when you say “t,” in English, that paper will move, but in Romanian, it will not.  The “u” is pronounced “oo.”  The word “esti” actually begins with a “y” sound.  Then, a short “e.”  After that, if I had a Romanian key board, you would see a comma below the “s.”  That signifies the “s” becomes an “sh” sound. Next, the “t” is just like the “t” in “tu,” and finally, the “i” can’t really be heard.

El este Ovidiu.  – He is Ovidiu. (Ovidiu is a Romanian boy’s name.)  (“El” is pronounced “yell.”  “Este” is pronounced “yeste,’ pronouncing every letter.  Ovidiu begins with a long “o” sound like “orange,”  The “v” is the same as English.  The “i” is pronounced like a long “e” in English, like the sound in the middle of the word “feet.”  The “diu” at the end is pronounced” “joo.”)

Ea este Ronda.  – She is Ronda.  (“Ea” is pronounced “ya.” Everything else is the same as above.)

Noi suntem Ronda si Ovidiu. –  We are Ronda and Ovidiu.  (“Noi” is pronounced “noy,” the first part of “suntem” is pronounced just like “sunt,” and then “em” on the end.  The word for “and,”  which is “si” should have a comma connected to the bottom of the “s” and is pronounced like our English word “she.”

Voi sunteti Ronda si Ovidiu. – You guys are Ronda and Ovidiu. (“Voi” is pronounced “voy.” “Sunteti” begins like “sunt” from above.  In the later part of the word, the “t” should have a comma under it.  If a comma is under a “t,” it is pronounced “ts,” so “sunteti” is pronounced “soontets.”  They say they pronounce that “i,” but you really can’t hear it.

Dumneavoastra  sunteti– a very formal, respectful “you are.”  (Pronounced: doom-ne-a-vo-a-stra.  Every letter is pronounced, and the “a” is like “a” in father.)

Ei sunt Ronda si Ovidiu. –  They are Ronda and Ovidiu. (“Ei” is pronounced “Yay!”)

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Cine esti? – Who are you? (Don’t bother with the pronoun because you can find it in “esti.” If there is an “i” after the “c,” pronounce it like a “ch.”  The “i” is pronounced like “ee” in “feet,” and the “e” is a short English “e” like in “bet.”  Look above to know the pronunciation of “esti.”

Cine sunt? – Who am I? or Who are they? (pronunciation above) (Don’t include the pronoun. They know from the context. If you want to be more specific, say “Cine sunt eu? = Who am I? or Cine sunt ei? = Who are they?)

Cine este? – Who is he? or Who is she? (pronunciation above) (Don’t include the pronoun because they will know from context.)


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Ce este? – What is it?  (They don’t have an “it,” so leave it out.  To pronounce “ce,”  because of the “e” after the “c,” pronounce it “che.” and the “e” is the short “e” sound in English like the “e” in “they.”

Este o cartea. – It is a book. (Again, leave “it” out in Romanian.  The pronunciation of “este” is above. “O” is pronounced “oh,” and is a feminine article meaning “a” in English.  To pronounce “cartea” “c” like a “k” in English, “a” like in “father,” a trilled “r,” “t” is not as articulated as in English, and “ea” at the end is said “yea.” To say a trilled “r,” put your tongue on the roof of your mouth on the ridge and flap it, putting your teeth together, and and make a voice like you are pretending to be a motor boat.  To say the “t,” put a piece of paper in front of your mouth. If you say “t,” and your paper moves, you are saying an English “t.”  If you say your “t” a little more blunt and don’t let so much air explode as you say it, and the paper doesn’t move, you are saying a Romanian “t.”


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Cand este? – When is it? (“Cand” would have an inverted “v” over the “a.” When I began speaking Romanian, they had an “i” with an inverted “v,” but they changed it  to “a” to be less like Russian.  That “a” is pronounced in the back of your throat like “uh” as if you are grunting.  We don’t have this letter at all in English.

Este maine. – It is tomorrow. (For the pronunciation of “este,” look above.  To pronounce “maine,” the “m” is the same as English.  The “a” is the “a” with the inverted “v” over it like in “cand.”  The “i” is pronounced like “ee” in “feet.” The “n” is the same as English.  The “e” is a short “e” in English like in the word “egg.” Leave “it” out in Romanian.)



Unde este? – Where is it? (“Unde” is pronounced “oonde” with a short “e.”  That “oo” is like the “oo” in “food.”)

Este acolo.  – It is there. (The “a” is the “a” like in “father.”  The “c” is the same as an English “c.” The “l” is the same as an English “l.”  The “o” is a long “o” in English like the “o” in “orange.”)


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Dece este? – Why is it? (“Dece” is pronounced “deche,” and the “e” is like a short “e” in English.)

Este pentruca vreau. – It is because I want to. – (“pentruca” is one way to say “because” in Romanian.  I have told you how to say each of those letters in other places.  Don’t forget to trill your “r,” the “u” is “oo,” and there is no air escaping when you say “t.” “vreau” is how you say “I want.”  You can’t see the “I,” but it is conjugated into the verb. It has a trip-thong with “eau,” and we usually only have diphthongs  in English which is only two vowels blended.  the “eau” is pronounced “ay-oh.” The “v” is the same as Enlgish, and the “r” is trilled.)


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Cum este? – How is it? or How is he? or How is she? (“Cum” is pronounced “koom.)

Este bine.  – Its fine. (“Bine” is pronounced “beenay.”)

Cum esti? – How are you?

Sunt bine. – I am fine.

Cum sunteti? – How are you guys?  (Also used if you want to be respectful and say “how are you?” You could say, “Cum sunteti dumneavoastra?” also to be polite.)

Suntem bine. – We are fine.

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Vai de mine! – Goodness gracious alive! (I added this as an extra for fun. It isn’t literally “goodness gracious alive!”  However, that is what it means.  If I say this, my daughter laughs. To her it is a big joke. Pronounce that “ai” in “vai” like the name of our letter “i.” “de” is pronounced “day.” “mine” is pronounced “meenay.”)


Since we are just getting started, I won’t put any exercises yet.  Just read what is here and  try to make sense of it. If you have any questions, leave a comment on my blog.  This seems like a lot to take in, but you will get used to it.  Just remember, everything is difficult before it gets easy.  Try to get your tongue rapped around these. A good thing to remember when you progress in Romanian is it gets easier for a couple of reasons. First, their words will be like our bigger, more complicated words in English. If you have a good vocabulary in English, it will make it easier.  Secondly, if you want to get your grammar right, everything must rhyme.  When you speak, it sounds like poetry, and it is a beautiful language.  I will go slowly, and we will talk about all of this again later, so if you have trouble remembering, don’t worry.



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