Estonian is a very easy language to read and fairly easy to pronounce, with a few exeptions.

Consonants are prounounced as English speakers would pronounce them except that the “r” is rolled, “h” is aspirated and “j” is pronounced as a “y” as in “yes”. When consonants are doubled, the sound is lengthened (as in “ummmmm”). Estonian vowels are always pronounced the same way (unlike English vowels) but there are four vowel characters in addition to the five that English speakers are familiar with.

a – “ah” as in “caught”
e – “ay” as in “gate”
i – “ee” as in “meat”
o – “oh” as in “boat”
u – “oo” as in “shoot”

ä – the “a” in “apple”
ö – the “u” in “put”
ü – the “u” in “ew”
õ – like ö through clenched teeth

The stress is on the final syllable of a word.

Hello … Tere
Goodbye … Head aega
Excuse me … Palun vabandust
Thank you (general) … Aitäh
Thank you so much (special) … Suur tänu
Pleased to meet you … Väga meeldiv
God bless you … Jumal õnnistagu teid
Bon apetit! … Head isu
This is tasty … Väga maitsev
God … Jumal
Jesus … Jeesus

Numbers 1-10 … üks, kaks, kolm, neli, viis, kuus, seitse,
kaheksa, üheksa, kümme

My name is … … Minu nimi on …
What is your name? … Mis su nimi on?
I am from (…) … Mina olen (Ameerikast, Prantsusmaalt, Czechist)
I am a Christian. … Ma olen kristlane.
Are you a Christian? … Kas sa oled kristlane?
How much does this cost? … Kui palju see maksab?
Where is the bathroom? … Kus on vc? (pronounced vay tsay)
Where is the church? … Kus on kirik?
I am lost. … Ma olen eksinud.

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