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stelo/star esperanto

introduction  | links  | learning  | grammar  | dictionary

Disclaimer: this is my own understanding of Esperanto. I am a long way from being an expert in the language, or even reasonably fluent. If you are a real expert, and have spotted any egregious errors in what follows, please let me know, and I will put it right.

Additional Disclaimer: This quick reference is based on my own notes, some of which were simply copied from other webpages. Unfortunately, these notes were compiled over a period of several years, and I no longer know which parts are copied, nor where from. I apologise for the resulting lack of acknowledgements. If I have copied anything from your website, and you would either like it removed, or would like an acknowledgment, please let me know.

A Quick Reference of Esperanto Grammar

-onounamo"love"
-aadjectiveama"loving"
-eadverbame"lovingly"
-ndirect object of a verbamon"love"
-jpluralamoj"loves"
-jnplural of the direct objectamojn"loves"
-iverb, infinitiveami"to love"
-uverb, imperativeamu"love!"
-isverb, past tenseamis"loved"
-asverb, present tenseamas"loves"
-osverb, future tenseamos"will love"
-usverb, conditionalamus"would love"

A verb can be made emphatic with the particle ja (indeed):

mi ja esperasI do hope
mi ja esperisI did hope

Pronouns

A complete list of pronouns. As in English, the plural "you" is identical to the singular and does not take the plural suffix. Possessives take the adjectival form by adding the -a suffix (hence, mia, my).

miI
viyou
lihe
ŝishe
ĝiit
niwe
ilithey
onione
cithou (archaic)
sireflexive - refers back to subject
rihe or she (genderless, neoligism)

Participles

Participles commonly appear in English as '-ing' words (my apologies to any linguistics who are now cringing at this hopelessly simplistic explanation). For example, I am writing a letter, where writing is the participle.

(Don't confuse this with the writing in the writing on the wall, which is actually a different word -- English manages to conflate two concepts, and thus trip up English speakers who try to learn other languages where these two ideas are expressed separately...)

These participles can form what are known as compound verbs when they follow the auxiliary "esti" (where they take the adjectival suffix), or they can take adjectival, adverbial or noun forms on their own (with the appropriate grammatical ending).

PASSIVEACTIVE
PAST-it--int-
PRESENT-at--ant-
FUTURE-ot--ont-
CONDITIONAL-ut--unt-

Some examples to make it more obvious:

estis ...intahad done
estis ...antawas doing
estis ...ontawas about to
estis ...untawas intending to
estas ...intahave done
estas ...antaam doing
estas ...ontaam going to do/about to do
estas ...untaam intending to
estos ...intawill have done
estos ...antawill be doing
estos ...ontawill be about to
estos ...untawill be intending to
estus ...intawanted/intended to do
estus ...antawant/would to be doing
estus ...ontawould be about to do
estus ...unta???
mi estis skribinta leteronI had written a letter
mi estis skribanta leteronI was writing a letter
mi estis skribonta leteronI was about to write a letter
mi estis skribunta leteronI was intending to write a letter
vi estas skribinta leteronyou have written a letter
vi estas skribanta leteronyou are writing a letter
vi estas skribonta leteronyou are about to write a letter
vi estas skribunta leteronyou are intending to write a letter
ŝi estos skribinta leteronshe will have written a letter
ŝi estos skribanta leteronshe will be writing a letter
ŝi estos skribonta leteronshe will be about to write a letter
ŝi estos skribunta leteronshe will be intending to write a letter
li estus skribinta leteronhe had wanted to write a letter
li estus skribanta leteronhe wants to write a letter

(The last two possibilities, estus skribonta and estus skribunta, are so convoluted and unlikely in meaning that I can't think of a sensible translation for them -- in fact, I am not entirely sure what they would mean).

The basic principle of the participles may be illustrated with the verb fali (to fall). Picture Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff. Before gravity kicks in (after all, this is a cartoon), he is falonta (about to fall). As he drops, he is falanta (falling). After he impacts the desert floor, he is falinta (fallen).

Active and passive pairs can be illustrated with the transitive verb haki (to chop). Picture a woodsman approaching a tree with an axe, intending to chop it down. He is hakonta and the tree is hakota. As he swings the axe, he is hakanta and the tree hakata. After the tree has fallen, he is hakinta and the tree hakita.

One tricky point to note is that the participle when used in a compound verb is an adjective (note the '-a' ending). This is most easily seen (in English) in the very last example above. After the tree has fallen, it is a felled tree: arbo estas hakita (the tree has been felled), in other words, it is arbo hakita (a felled tree). Note that a 'fallen tree' would be arbo hakinta.

Finally, in normal conversational Esperanto, many of these subtleties should probably be avoided. Don't say (or write) mi estas skribanta leteron, just use mi skribas leteron.

Correlatives

Any combination of the prefix and suffix will form a small word describing something.

----othing
----uperson
indefined(some-)i--akind
demonstrative(that-)ti--espossession
interrogative(what-)ki--eplace
collective(every-)ĉi--amtime
negative(no-)neni--omquantity
----alreason
----elway, manner

Numbers

Numbers follow a consistent pattern, best illustrated by example.

nulozerodek unueleven
unuonedek dutwelve
dutwodek trithirteen
trithreedudek tritwenty three
kvarfourkvindek okfifty eight
kvinfivecent sesdeka hundred and sixty
sessixsepcent okdekseven hundred and eighty
sepsevendekmilionoten million
okeight
naunine
dekten
centhundred
milthousand
milionomillion
miliardobillion (thousand million)

Prefixes

All the prefixes precede the stem of the word, many are in fact word stems themselves. Many may be compounded with other prefixes and suffixes. Many are rather flexible in their definition.

al-approach, towards, bringing closer
al"towards"
veni"to come"> alveni"to arrive"
iri"to go"> aliri"to approach"
porti"to carry"> alporti"to bring"
paroli"to speak"> alparoli"to address"
See also: for-
bo-relative by marriage
patro"father"> bopatro"father-in-law"
ĉef-chief
ĉefo"a chief"
urbo"town"> ĉefurbo"capital city"
ministro"minister"> ĉefministro"prime minister"
dis-separation, dispersal
doni"to give"> disdoni"to distribute"
sendi"to send"> dissendi"to transmit"
ek-commencement, suddenness
ek!"commence!"
brili"to shine"> ekbrili"to flash"
iri"to go"> ekiri"to set off"
sidi"to sit"> eksidi"to sit down"
See also: -ad- re-
eks-former
eksa"former"
prezidanto"president"> eksprezidanto"ex-president"
fi-shameful or immoral
fi!"shame!"
viro"man"> fiviro"scoundrel"
for-away
for"away"
iri"to go"> foriri"to go away"
esti"to be"> foresti"to be absent"
See also: al-
ge-both sexes together
frato"brother"> gefratoj"siblings"
patro"father"> gepatroj"parents"
sinjoro"Mister"> gesinjoroj"Mr and Mrs"
See also: vir- -in-
mal-opposite
malo"opposite"
alta"high"> malalta"low"
vero"truth"> malvero"falsehood"
ami"to love"> malami"to hate"
forta"strong"> malforta"weak"
See also: mis- "ne"
mis-wrongly
kompreni"to understand"> miskompreni"to misunderstand"
paso"a step"> mispaso"a blunder"
See also: mal- "ne"
pra-of great antiquity, remoteness of relationship
praa"primitive"
tempo"time"> pratempo"the ancient past"
nepo"grandson"> pranepo"great-grandson"
See also: -id-
re-repetition, return
ree"again"
si vidas"she sees"> si revidas"she sees again"
ni venas"we're coming"> ni revenas"we're coming back"
See also: ek- -ad-
sen-without
sen"without"
koro"heart"> senkora"heartless"
forta"strong"> senforta"strengthless"
helpa"helpful"> senhelpa"helpless"
kompata"merciful"> senkompata"merciless"
See also: -ac- -eg- -et-
vir-masculine
viro"man"
bovo"ox"> virbovo"bull"
porko"pig"> virporko"boar"
cevalo"horse"> vircevalo"stallion"
See also: ge- -in- -ic-

Suffixes

All these suffixes follow the stem of the word and precede the grammatical ending, which defines the role the word will play. Many may be compounded with other suffixes and prefixes. Some are in fact word stems themselves.

-aĉ-disparagement
aĉa"awful"
domo"house"> domaĉo"hovel"
hundo"dog"> hundaĉo"cur","mongrel"
ridi"to laugh"> ridaĉi"to sneer"
See also: -eg- -et- sen-
-ad-action, particularly prolonged or repeated
paroli"to speak"> paroladi"to make a speech"
penso"thought"> pensado"(the process of) thinking"
memoro"memory"> memorado"the fact of remembering"
See also: ek- re-
-aj-A thing, having the quality or substance of ...
ajo"a thing"
nova"new"> novajo"news", "novelty"
okazi"to happen"> okazajo"event"
arto"art"> artajo"objet d'art"
porko"pig"> porkajo"pork"
See also: -ec- -a -em-
-an-member of a group; inhabitant
ano"member"
urbo"town"> urbano"townsman"
Novjorko"New York"> novjorkano"New Yorker"
polico"police"> policano"member of the police force"
lando"country"> landano"citizen"
See also: -ar- -ul-
-ar-collective, group
aro"group","set"
vorto"word"> vortaro"dictionary", "vocabulary"
homo"human being"> homaro"mankind"
studento"student"> studentaro"the student body (of a school)"
kuracisto"doctor"> kuracistaro"the medical profession"
See also: -an-
-ebl-possibility
ebla"possible"
havi"to have"> havebla"available"
ami"to love"> amebla"possible to love"
See also: -ind-
-ec-having the characteristics of ...
eco"a quality","a characteristic"
infano"child"> infaneca"childish"> infaneco"childhood"
sola"alone"> soleca"lonely"> soleco"loneliness"
ruga"red"> rugeca"reddish"
libera"free"> libereco"freedom"
viro"man"> vireco"virility"
unu"one"> unueco"unity"
See also: -aj- -a -em-
-eg-augmentative
ega"huge"
bona"good"> bonega"excellent"
bela"beautiful"> belega"splendid"
urbo"town"> urbego"a large city"
labori"to work"> laboregi"to work hard"
See also: -et- -ec- sen-
-ej-place (often collective)
ejo"a place"
dormi"to sleep"> dormejo"dormitory"
lerni"to learn"> lernejo"school"
-em-tendency
emi"to be inclined to"
paroli"to speak"> parolema"talkative"
agi"to act"> agema"active", "enterprising"
timi"to be afraid"> timema"fearful", "timid"
See also: -a -ec- -aj-
-end-passive obligation
enda"that must be"
pagi"to pay"> pagenda"payable"
solvi"to solve"> solvenda"that must be solved"
-er-small particle of a whole
ero"a particle"
pano"bread"> panero"crumb"
ceno"chain"> cenero"link"
pluvo"rain"> pluvero"raindrop"
-estr-leader
estro"leader"
stacio"station"> staciestro"station master"
urbo"town"> urbestro"mayor"
lerni"to learn"> lernestro"schoolmaster"
-et-diminutive
eta"tiny"
virino"woman"> virineto"little woman"
bela"beautiful"> beleta"pretty","cute"
See also: -eg- -ec- sen-
-ic-male
ico"a male"
instruisto"teacher"> instruistico"male teacher"
See also: vir- -in- ge-
-id-descendant of
ido"offspring"
koko"rooster"> kokido"chick"
porko"pig"> porkido"piglet"
bovo"ox"> bovido"calf"
cevalo"horse"> cevalido"colt"
rego"king"> regido"prince"
See also: pra-
-ig-causative
igi"to make"
granda"big"> grandigi"to enlarge"
forta"strong"> fortigi"to strengthen"
facila"easy"> faciligi"to facilitate"
scii"to know"> sciigi"to inform", "to make known"
stari"to stand"> starigi"to set up"
kontenta"glad"> kontentiga"satisfactory"
See also: -ig-
-iĝ-become ...
iĝi"to become"
proksima"near"> proksimiĝi"to draw nearer"
stara"standing"> stariĝi"to stand up"
viro"man"> viriĝi"to become a man"
rapida"quick"> rapidiĝo"acceleration"
See also: -ig-
-il-implement, tool
ilo"a tool"
labori"to work"> laborilo"tool"
veturi"to travel"> veturilo"vehicle"
-in-female
ino"a female"
knabo"boy"> knabino"girl"
viro"man"> virino"woman"
patro"father"> patrino"mother"
instruisto"teacher"> instruistino"female teacher"
See also: vir- ge- -ic-
-ind-worthiness
inda"worthy"
ami"to love"> aminda"deserving love"
vidi"to see"> vidinda"worth seeing"
havi"to have"> havinda"worth having"
See also: -ebl-
-ing-holder
ingo"a holder","a socket"
glavo"sword"> glavingo"scabbard"
plumo"pen"> plumingo"pen-holder"
-ism-pattern or system
ismo"an ism"
protekti"to protect"> protrektismo"protectionism"
alkoholo"alcohol"> alkoholismo"alcoholism"
-ist-habitual occupation, profession
isto"professional"
instrui"to teach"> instruisto"teacher"
labori"to work"> laboristo"worker"
polico"police"> policisto"policeman"
See also: -ul-
-obl-multiple
oble"-fold"
du"two"> duobla"double"
kvar"four"> kvaroble"fourfold"
-on-fraction
ono"a fraction"
du"two"> duoni"to halve"
ses"six"> sesono"a sixth"
-op-collective numeral
tri"three"> triopo"triplet"
unu"one"> unuope"one by one","in the manner of one-ness"
-uj-container
ujo"receptacle"
sukero"sugar"> sukerujo"sugar basin"
papero"paper"> paperujo"wallet"
mono"money"> monujo"purse"
-ul-a person
ulo"fellow","chap"
juna"young"> junulo"a youth"
forta"strong"> fortulo"a hefty guy"
drinko"alcoholic drink"> drinkulo"drunkard"
trinko"drink"> trinkulo"one who drinks"
See also: -ist- -an-
-um-related to in some way (no fixed meaning though)
malvarma"cold"> malvarmumi"to catch a cold"
plena"full"> plenumi"to fulfill"
plando"sole of foot"> plandumo"sole of shoe"
cerbo"brain"> cerbumi"to puzzle over"

Prepositions, Conjunctions and other words with no grammatical ending

Short words which do not have any grammatical ending are used very often. They are prepositions, conjunctions, interjections and even adverbs, and a real pain to always be looking up in a dictionary. Here is a fairly complete list of all you will likely meet.

EsperantoEnglish
ajn-ever (with a correlative)
alto(wards)
almenauat least
ankaualso
ankoraustill, yet
anstatauinstead of
antaubefore
apenauscarcely
apudbeside, near
baldausoon
ĉarbecause
ĉeat, by, in case of
ĉithis- (with a correlative or noun)
cirkauaround
daof (quantity)
deof, from
desso much the
dothen, thus, therefore
dumduring
eceven
eksteroutside of
elout of
enin
foraway
gisuntil
interbetween
jaindeed
jamalready
jeindefinte preposition
jenhere is, behold
jesyes
juso much the
jusjust
kajand
kethat
kontrauagainst
kromexcept, apart from
kunwith
kvankamalthough
kvazauas if
lauaccording to, along
malgrauin spite of
mem-self (with a pronoun)
neno
nuwell
nunnow
nuronly
olthan
perby means of
plejmost
plimore
poat the rate of
porfor
postafter
preterpast, by, beyond
priconcerning, about
proon account of, oweing to, because of
sedbut
senwithout
subunder
superabove
suron
tamenhowever
trathrough
transacross
trevery
trotoo
tujimmediately