Talk:Esperanto grammar

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Removed the following because gender is not used in the commonly accepted linguistic sense:

although it does assume the male gender for many of its nouns, forcing the use of a special affix to refer a noun to the female equivalent (thus, in Esperanto, a sister is defined as a "female brother"; this male bias as served as the source of criticism of Esperanto)
Isn't it still true as an example of sexism, having the male as the norm? As far as I have understood, a sister is a "female brother", where a brother is not a "male brother/sibling". Rather, the sentence should be rewritten.

Probably the treatment of the inherent gender of some root words (nearly all family relationship words) and the use of affixes ge-, -in, vir- should be moved to a section of a new article on Esperanto semantics. --Jim Henry 23:19, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I expanded on gender and moved it under Esperanto vocabulary for now, as I'm not writing a semantics article.
As to the earlier point, "female brother" isn't a good translation for Esperanto fratino, any more than "female stallion" is a good translation of English mare. kwami 05:06, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think what he was trying to get at was that male sex is automatically assumed and in order to make a word feminine, one takes the masculine and adds the female ending. (talk) 00:33, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

+++++ There is some confusion about gender in Esperanto that is caused by the inclusive language movement and by the fact that many people are familiar with Spanish, in which -o is a masculine ending.

Zamenhof did not speak Spanish. He spoke Polish, Russian, German, and Yiddish. In Slavic languages, such as Polish, and Russian, which he did speak, -O is the neuter ending. In German and Yiddish, nonnative words that end in O are also neuter. For Zamenhof in the 1880s, all Esperanto nouns would have been neuter unless he chose the ending arbitrarily, which is possible. Adjectives must agree with the nouns they modify, hence "mi vidas la belajn instruistojn," which can either be "pretty female teachers" or "handsome male teachers." However, if you wish to specify that the teachers are female, you don't have to write "mi vidas la belinajn instruistinojn." In other words, gender serves no grammatical function in Esperanto, but it is part of the meaning of some words. It is true that some words refer to masculine entities only and have to take a suffix to refer to feminine entities, but that is semantic, not grammatical and is the result of Zamenhof devising a way to keep the vocabulary small.

In other words, some words are semantically masculine and feminine counterparts have to be derived from them, but that is limited to the meanings of kinship terms and a few other words. Gender has no grammatical function in Esperanto.KenWC (talk) 14:23, 31 August 2016 (UTC)Ken[1]

"Sixteen rules"[edit]

I removed "Esperanto has a regular grammar (sixteen rules without many exceptions)", since the sixteen rules are not even close to a description of the grammar. They're just a "quick reference sheet" for people already familiar with Latin-like languages (and aren't even all concerned with grammar). Brion VIBBER, Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I'd be tempted to stick them in somewhere, for their historical value, adding some language about them being a traditional description that assumes a background in European languages.--Chris 23:52, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree. They're still how Eo is promoted, and they do a pretty good job too. kwami 00:02, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

Irrelevant bit about orthography[edit]

These sentences:

"The alphabet includes new letters that are not found on any national keyboard, which is overcome by use of the h-system, x-system, or Unicode. (See Esperanto orthography.) Other languages, like Chinese, have similar problems."

seem to be irrelevant in this article. I reckon we should delete them. --Jim Henry | Talk 17:59, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)

this belongs in Esperanto IMHO MarSch 13:46, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Similar text was removed from Esperanto and put into Esperanto orthography instead when Esperanto was going through peer review. I don't think we should add it back; it's trivia compared to most of the other material in the already fairly long (just under 32KB) Esperanto main article. --Jim Henry | Talk 17:45, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I noticed that this had been removed and then someone had put something similar back in. I tried cutting out the less relevant stuff, but you're right, it really doesn't belong here at all. However, I don't remember the orthography article mentioning that the reason for creating Esperanto-unique letters was to avoid problems with nationalism: the Esperanto alphabet is clearly based on Czech, but different enough to avoid appearances of bias. Whoever removes this paragraph might want to mention something like this in the orthography article. --kwami 23:44, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Feel free to add material to Esperanto orthography explaining Zamenhof's reasons for creating unique letters, especially if you can find a source or quote to support it. But it doesn't belong here. --Jim Henry | Talk 19:35, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I wasn't aware there is also Esperanto orthography. It should clearly go there. MarSch 12:45, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

edits; "infixes"[edit]

I'm filling in a few details of the grammar. One change in wording I think I should justify, since there's a lot of confusion about it. Esperanto has no infixes. An infix is an affix that is placed within a root or stem, not merely a suffix followed by another suffix. If the participle of esper- were *espanter-o, that would be an infix. Esper-ant-o is merely a root followed by two suffixes. Infixes are generally rather uncommon in the world's languages, though they are plentiful in Tagalog and Khmer. --kwami

sources of vocab[edit]

The basic vocab is almost entirely Latinate and Germanic. There is only a handful of direct Slavic or Greek borrowings. (That is, words that were taken directly from Slavic or Greek, rather than through Latinate or Germanic languages that had borrowed them.) --kwami

I heard that most of the original Slavic borrowings had been changed to Germanic and Latinate equivalents in language reforms. Anyone knows anything else about this?
Pretty sure that is not correct. Don't have my sources with me, but I remember Zamenhof's original basic vocubulary of 900 or so roots only a dozen or so Slavic words: kolbaso, kaĉo, svati, etc. Reforms are resisted pretty strongly, since there's a history of them creating chaos. A couple of the original Slavic words may be a bit archaic (e.g. svati "to match make"), but I have heard & read several times that all of Zamenhof's basic vocabulary is still considered basic to the language.
What you may have heard about is the difference between what Zamenhof first dreamed up as a student, before he knew any English, versus what he finally published a decade (?) later. In its original conception, the language had more noun cases, the verbs inflected for person, and used <w> for modern <v>. It wouldn't surprise me if it also had more Slavic vocab at this stage. But none of the published Slavic vocab has ever been removed. — kwami 23:34, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Have now moved this to its own article, Esperanto vocabulary. kwami

source for Zamenhof's "regret"?[edit]

I'm curious about the source of "Also to Zamenhof's regret, a limited number of adverbs do not end with -e." Is this supported? Zamenhof went out of his way to create an indefinite part-of-speech ending, -aŭ, for words like hodiaŭ that could be used as adverbs, prepositions, or nouns, and where most people would have difficulty deciding when to use -e. (Unlike adjectives, verbs, or nouns, adverbs aren't a semantically coherent part of speech.) If he did regret making this decision, he could always have started using the -e ending instead, as you will occasionally see: anstate, hodie, apene, etc. The fact that Zamenhof almost never bothered to do this makes me doubt that he regretted his decision. It's not like the choice of a particular ending is required by the grammar, unlike adjectival agreement.

If this isn't supported in Zamenhof's writings, I think we should remove the "regret" wording and instead give the reasons for the "special" adverbs. --kwami 00:50, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I'm editing the article, adding a few examples, and moving a couple sections (participles, grammar examples) to help it flow a bit better.

One example I'd given earlier was the correlative neniel (nohow). Someone "corrected" this to "in no manner". However, no one ever says "in no manner"! "Nohow" has been used in formal writing for centuries. Here's an illustration from the OED:

1775 in Lett. Earl Malmesbury: A course of habitual improvement which nohow else is to be acquired.

I put "nohow" back, along with the other colloquial translation, "no way". — kwami 23:13, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

need help with diphthongs[edit]

I wrote that the Esperanto phonemes are based on Polish [they are remarkably close; Espo nj and ĉj even correspond to Polish ń and ć, and kz suggests that Esperanto was designed with regressive voicing assimilation ([gz]) in mind], but I'm unable to verify the diphthongs. Can someone verify or falsify my claim? Also, if Esperanto ŭ ends up corresponding to Polish ł, we'd need to verify that ł can only close a syllable after a and e to have a match with Esperanto.

Thanks! --kwami 12:11, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

First of all, I'm no expert in polish language, but it seems to me that polish ń and ć are a subset of the possible pronounciations of nj and ĉj (I think they are pronounced more in the "front" of the mouth than the usual Esperanto pronounciation).
Regarding ŭ, this is definitly not true. ł developed out of normal l and occurs for example in the name of the polish town Wrocław. However, belarusian has a corresponding sound and letter (see U-breve), but I cannot tell whether it only occurs in the off-glide of diphthongs. --Schuetzm 14:51, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Does Polish then not have any diphthongs? As for the <ł>, I only meant restrictions as an offglide. I'll try looking into Belorussian, though. Thanks! kwami 18:11, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

introduction heading[edit]

I removed the introduction heading once. I see that it's back. Its existence makes it so the first thing you see is the ToC. Perhaps you have turned that off in your prefs or something, but if you take a look around the wiki, you will find that few other pages do it this way. -MarSch 12:48, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Okay, I'll take it out. The only reason I put it in was to make editing easier, but I see your point. kwami 20:52, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

question, new article[edit]

Are people comfortable with the example,

la abeloj havas felon, sed ili ne taŭgas por karesi (Bees have fur, but are not good for petting) ?

Personally, I would say this in the singular in Esperanto, despite the English plural, but I'm on unsure footing here.

Also, the article is getting a bit long. I suggest we move the sections on vocabulary and word formation (affixes) to a new article on Esperanto vocabulary. I'll do this if it seems alright with people, unless one of you would prefer to. --kwami 10:54, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I've compiled the vocabulary article. kwami


According to the article, -ent is a suffix. AFAIK, prezident-o is an import from European languages, with a restricted meaning over that of prezid-ant-o. They are closely related etymologically, but from a syntactic point of view they are unrelated. There may have been proposals for -ent- (reference) but they have no currency. If you need a tenseless active participle, you use -ant- or try another way.

-ent is sometimes considered a sort of pseudo-suffix, but you're right. kwami 11:23, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
I wondeer if this section should be deleted, except for the bit about -igx-, since it strikes me as being someone's idea of how Eo should develop in the future rather than Eo as it actually is. Likewise with the Conditional Participles. --Chris 21:11, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
I've tried bringing in interesting tidbits, so this article won't just repeat what can easily be found elsewhere. I've seen conditional participles, though of course they're rare in the extreme. kwami 22:39, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
Maybe there should be a section for experimentalist things like ri, -u-, and -ent-. Anyway, I don't think the article should suggest that they are part of normal Esperanto, in the way that bluas for estas blue is.--Chris 23:50, 6 December 2005 (UTC)


Should ambaux be counted among numerals?

No. It's a pronoun, and maybe a conjunction? Like other pronouns, it can be used substantively or attributively, and the attributive usage is something like attributive numerals, but no more than tiu etc. kwami 11:15, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Patro Nia[edit]

I guess there should be a comma after ĉielo, because kaj here is rather a substitute for (tiel) ankaŭ then to be seen as an "and".
Furthermore it would be great, if another sample text could be included (for example a part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). This would provide more (religious) neutrality.   –   Korako / 10:59, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

The nice thing about the Pater noster is that most English speakers have heard it enough times for it to be at least vaguely familiar, which isn't the case with the UDHR. But here's a link if you're interested in adding something: UDHR in Eo. kwami 11:36, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
You're right there. For that very reason I would absolutely keep the Lord's Prayer in the sample section. Thanks for the link, I'll have a look at it. Maybe someone else will find an example which is both fairly well-known and virtually neutral.   –   Korako / 11:59, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Something from the UDHR would be a good addition (not replacement), so long as we provide an English translation.--Chris 21:38, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Most Catholics, you mean? I disagree with the usage of this text on a number of levels- most highly because as an English speaker, I feel confident in saying most English speakers have no idea what "Pater noster" is (as it's known as the Lord's Prayer in English). Even knowing the text, I think most other native English speakers would still be utterly clueless as to translating it without being intimately familiar with the text. First off, since this is the English-language version, shouldn't the section mention the English title "The Lord's Prayer"? And then the article is just flatly presumptious saying it should be readable without translation- even knowing the Lord's Prayer, the only reason I can figure out most of the text is from knowing a bit of Spanish. True English speakers would be utterly clueless, especially if they're non-Catholic. Then there's the obvious issue with using a religious text as a "universally readable" model- we all should see problems there. And virtually no one knows the UDHR, so that's non-workable. At the very least, you could try a children's song. Although "Ring Around the Rosie" has many odd objections as well, at least it is quite widely known regardless of religion. 16:53, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

The Google n-gram of Our Father,Paternoster,Lord's Prayer makes it quite clear that, at least in the corpus covered by Google Books, Paternoster has been the least used of those terms through most of the past two centuries, holding roughly steady since 1940 at half the frequency of Our Father and one-third that of Lord's Prayer. This vindicates the IP comment just above that
I feel confident in saying most English speakers have no idea what "Pater noster" is (as it's known as the Lord's Prayer in English).
Accordingly, I've changed the text of the link in § "The noun phrase" to use— Well, whaddya know? It's the name of the article as well! Who's surprised?— "Lord's Prayer".
To discuss this, please {{Ping}} me. --Thnidu (talk) 06:49, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

"The Man Who Would Be King"[edit]

In the title of the Kipling story, "would be" is not a conditional, but a slightly archaic past-tense form. You could say of Prince Charles, that he is "la viro kiu* estus rego" if the Queen dies or abdicates (or "la regunto" using a conditional participle). But Kipling was writing about a freebooting English soldier who tried, but failed, to become king of Kafiristan; so the translation would be something like "La viro kiu* volis esti rego".

*or whatever, I'm pretty shaky on the Eo correlatives.--Chris 21:34, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

It strikes me that the example you might want to use is "inventinto" (inventor, past tense), since it is a normal Eo word, not an artificial example.

All very true, though we could apply the title "The Man Who Would Be King" to Al Gore as a joke, and people would understand perfectly what we meant, so it can be understood as a conditional today. The participles are the one point of Eo grammar that English speakers really have a problem understanding, and I've tried to come up with something that would click in people's minds. That's why I've been fighting to keep this, even if it's not historically accurate. I'd fight for the Wile E. Coyote example too. The tree-chopping one is pretty boring, and I'd love to have something better. kwami 01:00, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
I've always understood Kipling's "would" in the title as archaic "wanted to". --Thnidu (talk) 05:59, 25 May 2015 (UTC)

deleted article[edit]

i've deleted Interrogatives in Esperanto and redirected here, in case anyone wants to rescue anything from it. kwami 06:15, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Non-Indo-European aspects?[edit]

I have notices the following inaccuracies in the chapter:

1. English less : least has nothing to do with ablaut sensu stricto (i.e. a Proto-Indo-European change of vowel quantity or quality). The difference between the two words is due to a Middle English shortening of the vowel before ss.

But it is vocalic apophony. Can you come up with a better example for adjectives? kwami 06:27, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

2. It is said that "European languages also have many words without ablaut"; in fact, the European languages inflect most words without ablaut. Ablaut is restricted to the strong verbs in Germanic. Most verbs, however, are weak. The Romance and Slavonic have little traces of ablaut in their verbal systems. Some Germanic nouns have umlaut (a Proto-Germanic change of vowel quality before an i in the following syllable), e.g. mouse : mice; this is more frequently in German than in the other Germanic languages. However, most nouns are inclinated without any vowel change at all.

No, all IE languages retain ablaut to some extent. But this could be worded better. kwami 06:27, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

3. The "regular analogic extension of standard European grammatical structures" are seen in many modern Indo-European languages. Most English nouns form the plural with -s; the same is the case in Spanish.

Yes, most. There are few cases in which it is all. kwami 06:27, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

4. A future participle is known in both Latin and Ancient Greek. In fact, Ancient Greek has a developed participle system which may have served as a model for Zamenhof's system. E.g.

  Present Aorist Perfect Future
Active λύων = solvanta λύσας = solvinta λελυκώς = solvinta λύσων = solvonta
Middle λυόμενος = solvata; solvanta sin / al si λυσάμενος = solvinta sin / al si λελυμένος = solvita; solvita sin / al si λυσόμενος = solvonta sin / al si
Passive λυθείς = solvita λυθησόμενος = solvota
Thanks for the points, esp. the last. I'll try to get them in. kwami 06:20, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Lith/IE parallel to -jn[edit]

If the historical nasality and proto-IE origin were made explicit, the Lithuanian 5th declension would be something like -, -s, -n, -ns, parallel to Eo -, -j, -n, -jn. Proto-Esperanto had -s for the plural, though I don't know what he did for the accusative. Anyway, the -jn is the one thing people keep insisting is "non-European", to justify their claim that Eo is not a (purely) European language. The Lith. morphology is a rather tenuous connection, but then the use of -jn to justify classifying Eo as non-IE is just as tenuous. kwami (talk) 22:45, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Esperanto Is More Logical?[edit]

"A logical structure makes Esperanto easier to learn than most of the world's languages..."

Can we have some proof to bolster this statement? I'm skeptical that Esperanto has a 'logical' structure - at least show me how 'logical' it is compared to other languages? ('Logical' according to whom? Speakers of languages which do not routinely differentiate between verbs and nouns - such as many polysynthetic languages - would hardly find Esperanto grammar to be 'logical'. And what about speakers of languages which do not differentiate adverbs from adjectives, like German and Dutch?) 20:45, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps 'morphological regularity' and 'syntactic flexibility' would be better. Or 'easier to learn than other Indo-European languages', since they pretty much all share the things that people might find difficult.
Most polysynthetic languages do distinguish nouns and verbs quite clearly. Of the few which do not, their speakers are all bilingual in English. And going from a polysynthetic language to one with simpler morphology is rather easy; it commonly happens with language contact. kwami 06:13, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Yes, the article should replace 'logical' with the qualities you mentioned. I imagine you have some background in linguistics (as do I - it's what I majored in in college), so I have to disagree with the notion that most polysynthetic languages 'clearly' distinguish between nouns and verbs - polypersonal agreement often conflates and obscures what is traditionally 'verbal' and what is traditionally 'substantival' (although we can obviously talk of roots and affixes). I'm also skeptical that it's "easier" to go from a polysynthetic language to one with a simpler morphology - the tendency for speakers of Native American languages to start speaking the often less synthetic languages of Europeans has little to do with "ease" and more to do with historical processes. [I imagine you're referring to processes of pidginization, but it probably would be easier to go from Mohawk to a nascent pidgin than, say, from Spanish to Vietnamese, Yi (with its surprisingly variable syntax), or Nass-Gitksan (with its preference for VSO), even though these languages range from highly analytic (the former two) to slightly synthetic (the latter). So the actual desired trait for enhanced communication might be rigid, predictable syntax, and not necessarily simpler morphology.] Thank you for your prompt response, though - I understand a little better what might be meant by "logical" in this context. 17:41, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I was thinking of Tiwi, actually, which because of English influence is losing its polysynthesis. It's apparently easy enough for elders to 'dumb down' their speech in what is essentially baby talk, with non-incorporating verbs and overt arguments, but much harder for youngsters to master polysynthetic morphology. As for unclear boundaries between noun and verb, AFAIK that is an areal feature in the American Pacific Northwest, especially in Wakashan. If those people didn't speak English, then yes, the Espo noun-verb distinction would be difficult. I'm not so sure in other languages that outsiders find confusing on the N-Vb front, the speakers themselves have much difficulty with it. kwami 18:28, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
One more logical rule is the totally absence of irregularity of verbs (italian: inf. =andare, but present (1st person) = vado; english: think, but thinked is wrong, and the most used verbs are irregular; the verb to be is irregular in most of the languages of the world - even japanese, where to be is the only irregular verb - and it's irregular in almost all indoeuropean languages: French, hindi, latin, english, polish, bulgarian, greek...)

Something missing...[edit]

Something really important is missing, please chech it (i just added it, it's not vandalism, you can correct if it's not a good english):

  • In esperanto, ci is only for you singular, but it is rarely used (to express close friendship), in opposition with the most formal vi. Zamenhof did not include it in the 16 rules, he did not consider it necessary (i.e. english does not have this difference), but ci is still in dictionaries. The most consider it as arcaicism, but some would want it to be more widely used, to avoid ambiguity.

Maybe searching in a English-Esperanto dictionary you can't find this because in english there is not difference, so you can search for ci in the esperanto part. It's a personal pronoun, it can't miss. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:43, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

That info is already there. Just read down a bit in the description. For the chart, there are all sorts of adjustments we could make, such as singular formal Vi and ĝi for a person of unknown gender ('s/he'). However, the chart as it is is how nearly everyone speaks Esperanto today. The three-way distinction ci, Vi, vi is archaic. kwami (talk) 21:25, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
I can't find it, i don't understand why you deleted. Was the place where i putted this info not good? In the note, you could read it is an archaicism, because i also wrote that.
It says,
Zamenhof created an informal second-person singular pronoun ci (thou), and capitalized the formal singular pronoun Vi, following usage in most European languages, but these forms are rarely seen today.
kwami (talk) 20:16, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
The books that do mention ci also say that it's intentionally archaic; i.e., that it has the same connotations as English "thou". I have not seen the ci/Vi distinction; but if it did exist in Esperanto proper, it dropped out very early. Sluggoster (talk) 13:55, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Prepositions and case[edit]

The prepositions section says:

"in Esperanto all prepositions govern the nominative... The only exception is when there are two or more prepositions and one is replaced by the accusative.... A frequent use of the accusative is in place of al (to) to indicate the direction or goal of motion (allative case). It is especially common when there would otherwise be a double preposition: ... la kato ĉasis la muson en la domon (the cat chased the mouse into the house)."

However, this is putting the cart before the horse. The 13th rule of grammar says, "To show DIRECTION, words take the accusative ending." All the Esperanto grammars I have seen follow this. In other words, "en la domon" is a fundamental part of the language, and "al en la domo" is a variation which is not even mentioned and is rarely if ever used. So the section is misleading to those who don't know Esperanto. I posted this more conventional explanation, which was reverted by Kwamikagami:

in Esperanto all prepositions govern the nominative: por Johano (for John). However, the noun turns accusative to show motion toward it:
la kato ĉasis la muson en la domo (the cat chased the mouse in [inside of] the house)
la kato ĉasis la muson en la domon (the cat chased the mouse into the house).
This happens with certain prepositions in German and Russian, but Esperanto extends it to all prepositions which sometimes show motion. Prepositions which always show motion do not take the accusative: al la domo (to the house), ĝis la fino (until the end). There's some uncertainty about few prepositions --- li iris tra la ĉambro, tra la pordo (he walked through the room, through the door), la hundo kuris post la aǔto(n) (the dog ran after the car [to try to catch up to it]) --- but the nominative is more common with these.
To show motion away from, use de or el plus the preposition and nominative:
La glaso falis de sur la tablo (the glass fell from on top of the table)
Me reakiris la ovon el sub la fridujo (I picked up the egg from under the refrigerator)
However, "de + en" is always replaced by "el", and "de + other preposition" is usually replaced by just "de" unless there's a special reason to stress the other position:
La knabo prenis la donacon el la skatolo (the boy took the present out of the box; i.e., from inside the box)
La glaso falis de la tablo (the glass fell from the table. Not "el la tablo" because it wasn't inside it.)
All prepositions have a specific meaning. When none seems to fit, the indefinite preposition je is available:
ili iros je la tria de majo (they'll go on the third of May; the "on" doesn't mean literally "on top of").
In practice, je is generally limited to time expressions, measurements, the location of a blow, believing "in" something, etc: la vespermanĝaĵo estas je la 17a horo (dinner is at 17:00/5pm), la domo estas je 5 kilometroj de la preĝejo (the house is 5 km from the church), mi bezonas ŝtofon je 3 metroj de larĝo (I need a cloth 3 meters wide), Teresa kredas je Dio (Theresa believes in God), mi prenis lin je la maniko kaj li frapis min je la makzelo (I took him by the sleeve and he hit me in the jaw). It's also used for the complement of adjectives: preta je iri (ready to go), plena je rubo (full of rubbish), and for the direct object of verbal nouns: ŝia amo je floroj (her love of flowers), la decidinto je la matĉo (the decider of the match).
Frequently the je in time and measurement expressions is replaced by the accusative if there is no other direct object in the sentence:
ili iros la trian de majo.
Mi iris Londonon.
The accusative n can also be used with adverbs to show motion towards:
Mi iras hejmen. (I'm going home.)
La avio turnis sin suden. (The airplane turned southward.)
La sudena ŝoseo. (The freeway heading south.) (Compare: la suda ŝoseo, the south freeway)
The preposition de is particularly ambiguous because it has several meanings: of (posession), from (motion), by (agent).
La amo de ĉokoladaĵoj de Teresa (Theresa's love of chocolates, or the love of Theresa's chocolates.)
La pilko estis prenita de Jeffrey de la gazono de la domo de McCaffreys de Kreto de hieraŭ. (The ball had been taken by Jeffrey from the lawn of the house of the "McCaffreys of Crete" since yesterday.)
This can be overcome by using more precise prepositions:
  • far for the agent: far Jeffrey.
  • je for the object of a verbal noun: amo je ĉokoladaĵoj.
  • ekde (starting from a time): ekde hieraŭ.
  • disde (starting from a place and spreading).
  • ĉe (at the house of): de la gazono ĉe McCaffreys.
  • el (from inside, made from ___ material, the city you were born in): McCaffreys el Kreto, botoj el gomo (boots made of rubber), el la domo (out of the house).
Far is an interesting case because it derives from fare de (made by), which derives from fari (to make). It's not normal for a word root to become a preposition, but that's what happened. Some have suggested extending this to other words (nom = de nomo de, escept = escepte de, sud = sude de), but so far only far has gained wide acceptance. (Although David Jordan in Being Colloquial in Esperanto writes that he "hates it" due to its unorthodox derivation.)

First, apologies for not realizing I wasn't logged in when I posted it. But rather than get into post/revert wars I decided to put my case here. I think this explanation of "en la domon" is more true to the Esperanto tradition than what the article currently says. Second, this text has other things which are worthwhile in their own right: contrast with "motion from" which is not otherwise mentioned, uses of "je", the problem with "de" and its more precise equivalents, putting "far" in its place, and avoiding that troublesome word "allative". These parts should be put in the article in some form, perhaps with better examples than I could think of.

For je I'm following the Plena Vortaro:

Komuna preposicio, kies senco estas nedifinita k kiun oni ĉiam povas uzi, kiam la senco ne montras klare, kia prepozicio konvenas. Oni tamen devas uzi ĝin kiel eble plej malofte, kaj preskaŭ nur en la sekvantaj okazoj: 1 Antaŭ la komplemento de adjektivo, 2 Antaŭ la nerekta komplimento de verbo, 3 Antaŭ la objekta komplimento de substantivo el verbo deveno, 4 Antaŭ circonstanca komplimento de tempo, mezuro kc.

As for far, while I personally like it and the concept of turning a word root (zero-suffix) into a preposition, the article does not say how rare or controversial this is.

William Auld discusses it with approval in La Fenomeno Esperanto, and suggests some similar bare-root prepositions like "cel"; but I've never seen any used except "far", and that rarely. --Jim Henry (talk) 21:55, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

When I saw the words "allative" and "oblique" I did a double take. The Esperanto cases are nominative and accusative. I'm not a linguist but I've studied several western languages (Germanic, Romance, Russian, Koine Greek) and never come across the term "allative". Its Wikipedia page defines it as, "Allative case (abbreviated ALL, from Latin allāt-, afferre "to bring to") is a type of the locative cases used in several languages. The term allative is generally used for the lative case in the majority of languages which do not make finer distinctions", with examples from Finnish and the Baltic languages but not Esperanto.

Which leads to the question, does Esperanto have an allative case? The article says so, without explanation of citation. So is it one person's original research? I haven't read Kalocsay/Waringhien or Wennergren, but I've never seen it called such elsewhere. Most importantly, grammar rule 2 says Esperanto has two cases, nominative and accusative. Anything besides Zamenhof and the early congresses is non-official, so you can say "Esperanto appears to have an allative case" or "Esperanto can be analyzed as having an allative case", but not "Esperanto has an allative case". That contradicts the 16 rules and a dozen grammars and instructional texts produced over the decades. And regardless of whether it's correct, what good does it do to use an obscure linguistic term that few people understand, has not been traditionally applied to Esperanto, and may or may not be appropriate for Esperanto?

I've heard the term used occasionally for E-o's locative-preposition-plus-accusative construction, but I don't think it's perfectly standard yet. I would prefer to call it an allative construction rather than an allative case, however. It's more like when a Greek textbook describes various ways the genitive or dative case is used, it doesn't mean that Greek has a temporal or instrumental case, only that those are uses of the basic cases. Similarly Esperanto just has the two cases, which have various uses with and without prepositions. --Jim Henry (talk) 21:55, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Jim's right. It should be allative construction, or allative use of the accusative case, not *allative case. kwami (talk) 01:53, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

As for "oblique", I understand it as "all cases except the nominative". The Wikipedia entry describes it as "when a noun is the object of a sentence or a preposition. An oblique case can appear in any case relationship except the nominative case of a sentence subject or the vocative case of direct address." I don't find this term as offensive as "allative", but I question what value it adds to the article. At minimum is requires an explanation of why oblique applies to Esperanto. And perhaps why most Esperanto texts have overlooked the term until now.

It's not called "oblique", but "nominative/oblique", showing that it is not just the case of the subject, but also of the object of a preposition. kwami (talk) 01:56, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm also wondering if the preposition section should be spun off into a more detailed article.

Sluggoster (talk) 13:55, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

You've got some good stuff here, but I have one objection. Just as you say that de plus another preposition is shortened to de (though not always! I've seen de sur etc.), so the argument I've seen for the accusative of motion is that al plus another preposition is shortened to that preposition plus the accusative. So al sub la lito or ĝis sub la lito (nominative, as all preps govern the nominative) becomes sub la liton. Since "all preps govern the nominative" is one of the basic rules of the language, so as to prevent Germans or Russians redundantly saying al sub la liton, I think we should keep it.
A few de compounds: de antaŭ, de ĉe, de inter, de super, de sub, and el de. (El ligno would mean "(made) out of wood", whereas el de ligno would mean "(coming) out of a piece of wood".)
You also keep the accusative when there's no longer a verb: danke vian oferon, responde vian leteron, ili sidis koncerne sian koron. kwami (talk) 18:07, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Possessive Pronouns[edit]

I disagree with the statement that "pronouns also have a genitive case." The possessive pronouns (mia, via, etc.) are possessive adjectives, as evidenced by the fact that they are A) denoted by the adjectival suffix and B) fully declined as other adjectives are. The genitive in Esperanto is formed using the preposition "de" as stated in the Fundamento. Compare this to Latin, in which there is both a genitive and a series of possessive (adjectival) pronouns. "Eius" is not declined, as it is an independent noun, while "suus, -a, -um" is declined as an adjective. Esperanto's possessive adjectives are similar to the latter. There is, however, once genetive form created without use of a preposition: the correlatives ending in -es. Since these are undeclinable, freely associating nouns, they better fit the description "genitive." --N-k, 12:05, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Okay, you're right. kwami (talk) 17:53, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Subordinate and Relative clauses[edit]

There seems to be nothing in the article about subordinate and relative clauses. Such as

When I wrote this sentence, I was using a laptop.
The man that robbed the bank has been captured. 
The thief the police captured escaped.

There is a section on conjunctions but this is not the same.

For example, can I place the 'when' in the example after the word 'sentence'? Can I put 'that robbed the bank' before 'the man'? Interestingly no grammar that I can find online seems to indicate the order of such clauses relative to their head-word (The fact that this is not addressed generally seems to suggest that people are not aware that many languages don't work with the above word order (and Esperanto is likely not very easy for speakers of say Japanese where the head-first aspect of Esperanto is only easy for speakers of head-first languages). Macgroover (talk) 14:42, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

You're right, the order is fairly fixed. I'll expand the section when I get a chance. — kwami (talk) 15:08, 20 December 2010 (UTC)
Didn't get to that, but added a more general section on word order which should answer your question. The short answer is 'no'. You're right, you often have to simply infer the rules from examples, but Wells does discuss this at some length, including comparisons to Japanese et al. — kwami (talk) 08:16, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

Suffix -unt-[edit]

Both PMEG and PIV list suffix -unt- as "experimental". This means that while the suffix may be used by some, it's not considered to be a feature of mainstream Esperanto (yet). Therefore I believe it's inappropriate to discuss such a feature in "Esperanto grammar". Maybe we should split that part to a separate "Variations of Esperanto grammar" article? --Vilius Normantas (talk) 13:42, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

We note on the section header that this is unofficial. It keeps cropping up, however, as it's regularly derived from the official grammar. — kwami (talk) 18:21, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

“Easy to learn”: POV?[edit]

I can’t begin to imagine what test can be done, or objective standard is to be met when the opening paragraph states: A highly regular grammar makes Esperanto much easier to learn than most other languages of the world. Without any citation, or substantiation, this would appear to be POV or original research, and should probably be removed unless there is some way of backing it up. The slight let-out that is given, saying that speakers of some backgrounds may find some elements of it difficult is a complete cop out, as it seems to me (and this I have no problem in stating is completely POV) that it is a grammar/ language largely incompatible with Germanic languages such as English, which with nearly 5% of the world’s speakers as a first language is quite a lot of people with a problem… Jock123 (talk) 15:20, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

This is commonly noted, so is not OR, and borders on being obvious. — kwami (talk) 18:43, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

anstate, anstata, anstato, anstati[edit]

A while ago, I changed the assertion "With the -aŭ suffix, this is nearly universal, and the -aŭ is rarely dropped: anstataŭ 'instead of', anstataŭe 'instead', anstantaŭa 'substitute', anstataŭo 'a substitute', anstataŭi 'to replace', etc. (Rarely anstate, anstata, anstato, anstati.)" by replacing "rarely" to "not" and removing the parenthesis. However, my edit was reverted and I don't understand why. The words anstate, anstata, anstato, anstati are not part of Esperanto. I have never heard them in my entire life, there are 0 occurrences on and, if someone uses them, they will be considered obvious mistakes. If anstate is worth mentioning on this article, then it should also be mentioned that ke can be a relative pronoun because many beginners make this mistake. Mutichou (talk) 11:14, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

It's not a mistake, it's per Zamenhof. Never caught on, but still a possibility. — kwami (talk) 23:12, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

ili ŝparis la arbojn hakotajn[edit]

Shouldn't this be "Ili ŝparis la arbojn hakigotajn", or "Ili sxparis la arbojn faligotajn" - or something? Anyway, somehow this sentence seems incorrect. I'd have difficulty coming up with a plan for trees chopping anything, so they're probably the recipients of the chopping. I'm still studying a basal reader in basic Esperanto at this point, so I don't know. I haven't gone over your userpages, so I don't know if there's an expert here. Is there an expert here? (talk) 08:41, 22 April 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ observation of Esperanto usage and grammar