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J. Harlow. Hard copies may be made for personal use only. Any user may make one electronic copy for personal use only. All copies must contain this copyright notice, including the date given below. No electronic copy may be located elsewhere for public access. Links to this original copy on the World Wide Web are encouraged. Please respect the conditions of this copyright notice; I simply don't want to have various unofficial (and perhaps not upto-date) copies floating around elsewhere. Date: 1995.09.11. The Rules 1. Articles 2. Nouns 3. Adjectives 4. Numerals 5. Pronouns 6. Verbs 7. Adverbs 8. Prepositions 9. Pronunciation 10. Accent 11. Compound Words 12. Negatives 13. Direction 14. The Multipurpose Preposition 15. Borrowing Words 16. Elision Some Postnotes 1. Word Order 2. Transitivity 3. Progression of Tenses 4. Desambiguation with -N In the following, bracketed expressions are editorial interpolations. Indented notes are commentary by myself. EXAMPLES are introduced by myself, and are as shown. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. There is no indefinite ARTICLE [English a, an]; there is only a definite article la, alike for all genders, cases and numbers [English the]. Author's note: The use of the article is as in other languages. People for whom use of the article offers difficulties [e.g. speakers of Russian, Chinese, etc.]may at first elect not to use it at all. EXAMPLE libro = book, a book la libro = the book The main difference between the use of the definite article in Esperanto and in English is that in Esperanto the article, with a singular noun, may be used to indicate an entire class.
nine. seven. for collectives. EXAMPLE La hundo persekutis la katojn de la knaboj al la domo per bojado = The dog chased the boys' cats to the house by barking. the superlative with plej [English most]. for fractions [actually. ablative by per [English by means of] or other prepositions. There are only two cases: nominative and accusative. sep. three. To show ordinal numbers we add the adjective ending. for multiples. Cases and numbers are as for nouns. The particle po causes many problems for beginning speakers of Esperanto. The comparative is made with the word pli [English more]. thousand]. four. kvin. The other cases are expressed with the aid of prepositions (genitive by de [English of]. -op. five. reciprocals]. Duopo = A pair. La kvina trono = The fifth throne. mil [English one. Duobla eraro = A double error. EXAMPLES La bruna hundo persekutas la nigrajn katojn = The brown dog is chasing the black cats. Mi donis al ili po tri pomojn = I gave them three apples each. ten. according to meaning). hundred. Sed la homo estas la plej granda el ĉiuj = But the human being is the largest of all. EXAMPLES Mil naŭcent naŭdek kvin = 1995. Tri kvaronoj = Three quarters. -on. eight. for the comparative the conjunction ol [English than] is used. The basic NUMERALS (not declined) are: unu. Noun and adverb numerals can also be used. two. six. To form the plural. particularly those whose native language is English. for divisionals.EXAMPLE la leono estas danĝera besto = lions are dangerous animals 2. Tens and hundreds are formed by simple juxtaposition of the numerals. the latter can be obtained from the nominative by adding the ending -n. the suffix -obl. du. La bruna hundo estas pli granda ol la nigraj katoj = The brown dog is larger than the black cats. the word [particle] po. ses. like the '@' sign in English. cent. First. tri. 4. should be placed as follows: . is wrong. ADJECTIVES end in -a. 3. kvar. po means at the rate of and. NOUNS have the ending -o. dative by al [English to]. dek. add the ending -j. ok. there is a tendency to put it in the wrong place: EXAMPLE *Mi rapidis cent kilometrojn po horo = I was speeding along at a hundred kilometers an hour. naŭ.
command mood. -us. conditional mood. they. ĝi (for an object or animal). It is occasionally used in poetry for effect. The VERB does not change for person or number. past time. The word iŝi has been used for this. -i. Some other Esperanto speakers would prefer to have a specifically female third-person plural pronoun. Remember that po always takes as its object a numeral. you very likely will never encounter it. li. future time. 5. the possessive pronouns are formed by addition of the adjective ending. they-one-people]. you. EXAMPLES Mi amas vin = I love you. since the objects of prepositions generally don't take the -n ending in Esperanto. Zamenhof also proposed a second-person-singular pronoun ci [English thou]. liŝi. oneself. -is. you. primarily native speakers of English. Oni diras. A few Esperanto speakers. . Mi razas min kaj vi razas vin = I shave myself and you shave yourself. Sed la hispana barbisto razas sin = But the Spanish barber shaves himself. ŝi. Zamenhof recommended that the word ĝi simply be used for this. vi.EXAMPLE Mi rapidis po cent kilometrojn en horo = I was speeding along at a hundred kilometers an hour. ni. You won't encounter them. Forms of the verb: present time takes the ending -as. it. ke li amas ŝin = It is said (people say) that he loves her. ŝili and ŝli have also been used experimentally in this way. 6. and in the word cidiri -. Personal PRONOUNS: mi. Some Esperanto speakers feel the need for a non-gender-specific singular pronoun to refer in the third person to human beings. either. It is rarely used and you are not likely to encounter it. Second. however. we. si. she. -u. vi. there's a tendency to assume that in a sentence like the example above the -n on the object shouldn't be there: EXAMPLE *Mi donis al ili po tri pomoj = I gave them three apples each. feel uncomfortable with this usage and have come up with a new pronoun ri ("he/she"). ili. any associated noun takes whatever it would have if the po weren't there at all. -os. he. infinitive mood. oni [English I. Declension is as for nouns. Again.to speak to someone in an intimate fashion. Mia hundo amas vian katon = My dog loves your cat.
at the moment the sentence is expressed. past passive. in Esperanto it would be shown in the present.for which generations of Latin students may give thanks!). and of interest. -int. -ont. For examples of how participles are formed.a situation somewwhat different from that in English. -it. Mi amis vin = I loved you (but don't any longer. do amu min! = I want you to love me. future passive. future active. Mi deziras. If something as shown in the present tense (-as). it takes on many of the jobs ordinarily done by the subjunctive (which does not exist as a separate entity in Esperanto -." The Bulgarian Esperantologist Atanas Atanasov denies the existence of passive verb forms in Esperanto -. if it is shown in the past tense (-is).Participles (with adjectival or adverbial meaning): present active. -ant. or it's irrelevant to what's happening now). EXAMPLE Mi loĝas ĉi-tie jam kvin jarojn = I have been living here for five years already. -at. it is assumed to be happening. ke vi amu min.and I find myself agreeing with him. If it is shown in the future (-os). as the "volitive mood. I use the term "command mood" instead of the more common "imperative mood" to translate Zamenhof's modo ordona. in the Plena Analiza Gramatiko. or it's irrelevant to what's happening now). see the affixes page. so love me! Koni lin estas ami lin = To know him is to love him. past active. since -u covers a much wider range of uses than the traditional Western imperative. assuming that it is still going on and still of interest. Mi amos vin = I shall love you (but haven't started yet. Participles are more accurately adjectives formed from action roots than parts of the verb -. -ot.) So in a few cases when in English something might be expressed as having happened in the past. in fact. it is assumed to be either not yet begun or not yet of interest. (This view of time and completion carries over into the participles as well. EXAMPLES Mi amas vin = I love you. it is assumed to be either completed or no longer of interest. the preposition with the passive is de [English by]. Se vi gajnus la loterion. mi amus vin = If you were to win the lottery. Kalocsay and Waringhien refer to this form. I would love you (but that's not likely). All forms of the passive are formed with the aid of the corresponding form of the verb esti [English to be] and the passive participle of the required verb. It's probably worth noting that the Esperanto time-sense is slightly different from that of English. present passive. Use of the participial suffixes may be better understood if you consider them as means of transforming verbs into .
as Zamenhof says. 7. Mi faris tion por vi = I did that for you. in his 100-page epic poem La Infana Raso. merely the copula linked with an adjective. EXAMPLES La libroj de la knabo = The boy's books (the books of the boy). Bureaucratese is rare in Esperanto. not as parts of speech in themselves. All PREPOSITIONS take the nominative. where Strunk & White advise against them. EXAMPLES La sandviĉo estis manĝata = The sandwich was (in a state of being) eaten.even rarer than it is in English. William Auld. Oni pafis la hundon = The dog was shot. ADVERBS end in -e. sometimes with the inversion that the -n ending permits. comparison is as for adjectives. but these are not really compound verb forms. and the pronoun oni makes translation of even agentless passives as active very easy. EXAMPLES La katon persekutis la hundo = The cat was chased by the dog. by coupling the verb esti = "to be" with the "passive participles". doesn't use the passive once.adjectives. Use of such forms is rare in Esperanto -. 8. Floroj kreskas ĉirkaŭ mia domo = Flowers grow around my house. La sandviĉo estas manĝita = The sandwich is (in a state of having been) eaten. . EXAMPLES La kato rapide kuris = The cat ran fast. La sandviĉo estis manĝita = The sandwich was (in a state of having been) eaten. Ordinary passives can easily be converted into ordinary active sentences in Esperanto. La hundo pli rapide kuris ol la kato = The dog ran faster than the cat. The Western passive voice is shown. Sed la gepardo plej rapide kuris el ĉiuj = But the cheetah ran fastest of all. La sandviĉo estos manĝota = The sandwich will be (in a state of) going to be eaten.
the word NE [English no. the speaker may wish to insert a vowel between the two. If it doesn't. EXAMPLES ŝipo (ship) + veturi (travel) = ŝip(o)veturo (a journey by ship). This should make immediate sense. but this is not mandatory. 11. Depending upon the sound produced when the two words are put together. 9. the grammatical endings are also viewed as independent words. this follows from rule 13. in addition to) are generally classified (by analogy with their equivalents in Western languages) as prepositions. not him. not] is omitted. the vowel should be an o if the leading word is an object. Every word is read as it is written. Mi amis ŝin anstataŭ lin = I loved her. La muso kuris sub la tablon = The mouse ran (to) under the table. When another NEGATIVE word is present. 10. the accent always falls where it would if the -o were still there. So many Esperanto speakers will add the -n ending to the objects of these "prepositions" when they coordinate with another word that has an -n ending. Purists might also wish to put in an n if the trailing word is an action acting on the leading word. . not he. ami (to love) + plena (full) = am(o)plena (full of love) pagi (to pay) + povi (to be able) = pag(i)pova (able to pay) nenio (nothing) + fari (to do) = neni(o[n])fara (doing nothing) 12.Prepositions of location may also take objects with the -n ending to show motion to that location. EXAMPLES La muso kuris sub la tablo = The mouse ran (around) under the table. When accenting a noun with an elided -o. their behavior is more like that of coördinating conjunctions such as kiel. or an i if the leading word is an action. For elision. If this is done. who loved her. The ACCENT always falls on the next-to-last syllable [vowel]. EXAMPLES Mi amis ŝin anstataŭ li = It was I. While the particles anstataŭ (instead of) and krom (besides. see rule 16. go here. COMPOUND WORDS are formed by simple juxtaposition of words (the main word stands at the end).
words take the accusative ending. La kato saltis sur la tablon = The cat jumped onto the table. 13. Every preposition has a definite and permanent meaning. some Esperanto speakers also assume that it permits us to use the preposition je instead of the -n ending. EXAMPLES Li vetas je la ĉevaloj = He bets on the horses. but if we have to use a preposition and the direct meaning doesn't tell us what preposition we should take. Mi neniam faris tion = I never did that. The n ending is used to show the destination of a motion or the direct recipient of an action. the n ending is used only for the action. Li vizitos nin je lundo = He'll visit us on Monday. then we use the preposition JE. This is a convenience when we encounter a word (such as a proper name) which doesn't lend itself well to taking a regular Esperanto ending. (Mi sendis lin la leteron would be confusing) 14. (preposition does away with any confusion) Mi sendis al li la leteron = I sent him the letter. Instead of je the accusative without a preposition may be used. while the preposition al is used for the movement. Since this rule gives us permission to use the -n ending instead of the preposition je. EXAMPLES La reĝino iris Londonon = The queen went to London. To show DIRECTION. . Mi alvenos je la oka horo = I'll arrive at eight o'clock (the eighth hour). Li lundon vizitos nin = He'll visit us on Monday. When an action and a movement occur in the same expression and confusion is otherwise unavoidable. To show the accusative (direct object) case is only one of its uses. EXAMPLES Mi ĵetis la katon sur la tablon = I threw the cat onto the table. which has no independent meaning.EXAMPLES Mi ne faris tion = I didn't do that.
borrowed disigi = to separate <-. = Oh. mia kor'.internally created There has been much dialectic about this topic during the history of Esperanto. For two good polemical accounts (from opposite sides) see Claude Piron's La Bona Lingvo (The Good Language) and Fernando de Diego's Pri Esperanta Tradukarto (On the Art of Translation in Esperanto).EXAMPLES Mi ja konas Glazunovski-on = I do know Glazunovski.borrowed mallakso = constipation <-.borrowed malbona = bad <-. = Hope.. What Zamenhof means by "the majority of languages" is no longer as clear as it was a hundred years ago. EXAMPLE Mi ja konas sinjoron Glazunovski = I do know Mr. An honorific can also be used to get around this problem. those taken by the majority of languages from one source. are used in Esperanto without change.borrowed malami = to hate <-.internally created dis = in various directions (prefix) separi = to separate <-. EXAMPLES L' espero. The so-called FOREIGN WORDS.borrowed komputilo = computer <-. ne batu maltrankvile. The FINAL VOWEL of the noun and the article may be dropped and replaced by an apostrophe [without effect on stress]. EXAMPLES lakso = diarrhoea konstipo = constipation <-.. . l' obstino kaj la pacienco.internally created komputi = to compute komputero = computer <-. Glazunovski.e.. Mi ja konas je Glazunovski = I do know Glazunovski. i. 16.borrowed arbaro = forest <-.internally created ami = to love hati = to hate <-. 15. but for different words from a single root it is better to use without change only the basic word... my heart.. stubbornness and patience.internally created bona = good mava = bad <-. and form the rest from this latter according to the rules of Esperanto.internally created arbo = tree forsto = forest <-.. taking on only the orthography of this language. do not beat nervously. Ho..
as in the following translation from the poetry of Matthew Arnold: Kaj altas montosuproj. 6 and 7 above show one of Esperanto's fundamental differences from English: its use of grammar-coding for showing the roles that words play in a sentence. Word Order Rules 2. There are two basic forms of word order that are much freer in Esperanto than in English. in cloudy air. and more important. implies that nouns are sometimes linked together by prepositions. ankaŭ. object and verb. In Esperanto all six possible permutations of these elements are permissible and used: The boy bit the dog La knabo mordis la hundon La knabo la hundon mordis .. An adjective in English must be placed before the noun it modifies (with the occasional exception. in Esperanto as in English. and can even be separated from it by other words. adjectives and other adverbs. and could be lost without much loss of meaning.N.. An adjective in Esperanto may be placed before or after the noun it modifies.) . This is an exaggeration. and the object of the postposition must precede the postposition). for instance. For all intents and purposes these endings in English are fossilized. as in English (though not Japanese.B. nuba en aer'. of course. (And high the mountaintops. being used for the plural. and furthermore the primary English grammatical ending (-S.. But the claim still contains much truth. occasion in which word order is freer in Esperanto than in English has to do with the order of subject. Similarly. Speakers of Esperanto often brag that their language has been freed from the chains of word order. which can modify a variety of different types of words. 3. The other. as when you are trying of a "pseudo-archaic" atmosphere).where the word nuba ("cloudy") is placed before the preposition for reasons of scansion.. adjectives modifying that object may even be placed before the preposition. but not with the same consistency (the common adverbial ending -LY occasionally shows up in adjectives. Esperanto adverbs.. This degree of freedom (some may call it "license") is usually exercised only in poetry. Rule 8. often pronounced -Z) is heavily overloaded. as an example. and conversely the ending -WISE is often used today). The noun ending may be elided only if it does not have a plural or accusative ending attached to it! Postnotes Here follow some comments on grammar that fall outside the explicit descriptions of the basic 16 rules. should always precede the word they modify.. eĉ and one or two other particles usually (and perhaps incorrectly) described as adverbs which can be associated with nouns as well as the usual verbs. in almost every situation subject must precede verb which then precedes the direct object. and the third person present singular of the verb. The first of these is the order of a noun and its adjective modifiers. and the very name preposition indicates that its noun object must follow the preposition. the genitive case. In English. if this will not cause any ambiguity. this is particularly important for such words as ne. nur. where postpositions are used. English depends heavily on word order to give a sentence proper meaning. English does the same thing. while the object of a preposition must follow the preposition. as friendly.
a verb in its basic form refers to one and only one action -. The meanings. You can convert the one to the other with the suffixes -IG (intransitive->transitive) and -IĜ (transitive-> intransitive) (see the affixes page).one of the major reasons for the current preoccupation with a journalistic. in both English and Esperanto. despite the fact that it is standard wordorder in almost no ethnic language in the world. Japanese in the first case. perhaps not so well -. despite the fact that they are used as standard word orders by several different languages (Latin. it can be done. the fourth is probably the second most popular. On the other hand. but it requires much care and effort. of course. are somewhat different: The fire is burning The fire is burning the house I am drowning I am drowning the cat In Esperanto. it is often difficult to remember whether the word that means "to drown" means "to die of suffocation in liquid" or "to kill by suffocating in liquid". When you encounter such words. one transitive and one intransitive. does very well without it. Is there any value in this ability to vary word order? English.La hundon la knabo mordis La hundon mordis la knabo Mordis la hundon la knabo Mordis la knabo la hundon The first of these is the most commonly used (and pedestrian) word order in Esperanto. I suspect that it is no coincidence that the accusative case disappeared from the Western vernaculars during a period of low literacy and little literature. Hemingwayesque style of writing in which sentences are short and choppy. . where the rules permit. Transitivity Transitivity refers to the ability of a verb to accept a direct object. and contain relatively few modifiers. it is best to remember their meanings -. all the Celtic languages in the second). German. The second and sixth are not terribly widely used. after all. When you speak Esperanto. Well. Some verbs can and some verbs can't. have identical forms in English. is that it is very hard in modern English to write sentences that are both complex and easy to follow. A problem that often arises for speakers of English (and some other languages) is the case in which two related verbs. probably because of the ability it gives to emphasize the direct object.a transitive one or an intransitive one. In the above examples we have: La fajro brulas La fajro bruligas la domon Mi dronas Mi dronigas la katon The problem arises when learning the words through the medium of English.not their English language equivalents. Both of these verbs can be both intransitive and transitive. The job is considerably easier in Esperanto. feel free to vary your word order as you see fit. probably because it is the standard word-order in the languages spoken natively by most Esperantists. Two common examples are "to burn" and "to drown".
In Esperanto.. Desambiguation with -N The ability to distinguish between subject and object via the -N ending not only allows greater freedom of word order.. this is not a rule. ĉu li venos.. Mi sciis. I didn't know when he was going to come.. Mi ne sciis.. to remove potential ambiguities when a coordinated noun's relationship to the original noun is either tacit or indeterminable.. most Esperantists use a progression of tenses like those in Western languages for these. In Esperanto.. in some cases. Mi scivolis. Unfortunately. when a subordinate clause is attached to a sentence... I wondered whether he would come. and as far as I know you are free (and will find it a lot easier) to follow the simple rule: "Use the real tense" as with ke and ĉu. For reasons I have never figured out.. ke li venos. I wonder whether he will come. On the other hand. whatever time frame that happens to be in: Mi scias.Progression of Tenses In English and other Western languages. Mi scivolas. if we should ... the same simple rule is not followed for subordinate clauses that begin with one of the correlatives.because the entire expression is basically an idiom. kiam li estis venonta... In the first case Li traktis min kiel princon where the -N on the end shows that the noun coordinates with "min". its meaning more or less free of the meanings of the words contained. as in: I know that he will come. but also allows us. ke li venos. Still..... this sort of sentence is easily handled. A good example of what this means is the sentence He treated me like a prince What does this mean? That he wined me and dined me? Or that he ordered my head lopped off? Well. I knew that he was going to come. kiam li venos.... I don't know when he's coming. for subordinate clauses beginning with ke ("that") and ĉu ("whether") the tense of the verb in the subordinate clause is independent of the main clause: it will always be the tense as seen by the subject of the main clause. all us native English-speakers know that the first is correct -. the meaning may be less clear to the non-native speaker. Mi ne scias... ĉu li venos.. the tense of the verb in the subordinate clause depends on the tense of the verb in the main body of the sentence.
(for some reason) wish to express the second case. we can use Li traktis min kiel princo where the lack of a final -N shows that the noun coordinates with "li". . An earlier example was given in rule 8 for the words anstataŭ and krom.