Esperanto/Lesson 4

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In this lesson we will learn about how you can derive new words in Esperanto.

Part-of-speech endings[edit | edit source]

We have seen that in Esperanto nouns end in -o, verb infinitives in -i, adjectives in -a, and adverbs in -e.

Derivation[edit | edit source]

Esperanto has been designed to be a language comprised of root words that can be used in conjunction to create countless words. Individual roots remain unchanged. One way to derive new words is by simply changing the ending of the word. For example, laca ('tired') can become laci ('to be tired'); hundo ('dog') can become hunda ('dog-like').

Despite this, one of the forms is the basic or fundamental form, with the others derived from it. For example, laca is the basic word, not laci, and hundo is the basic form, not hunda. There are three types: objects and abstractions (with the basic form in -o), actions (with the basic form in -i), and characteristics (with the basic form in -a). Note that nouns end with the letter 'o', adjectives end with 'a' and adverbs end with 'e'. Often, it is clear to which type a root belongs, but this is not always the case (for example, kombi means 'to comb' and kombo means 'combing', not 'a comb'. Below are several examples, with the base form in bold.

Examples[edit | edit source]

Some of the below have rather complicated meanings that are more easily and clearly expressed in other ways, and will therefore be very uncommon. They are nevertheless grammatically correct. The idea of the table below is to introduce the principle of creating new words by changing the ending.

-o -i -a -e
Word Meaning Audio Word Meaning Audio Word Meaning Audio Word Meaning Audio
laco tiredness laci to be tired laca tired lace tiredly
hundo dog hundi to act like a dog hunda of a dog hunde like a dog
ŝtono stone ŝtoni to be like (a) stone ŝtona of a stone ŝtone like a stone
kombo (the) combing kombi to comb komba combing (adj.), referring to the (single) act of combing kombe combingly
sezono season sezoni to season sezona seasonal sezone seasonally
laŭto loudness laŭti to be loud laŭta loud laŭte loudly
havo possession, the 'act' of having havi to have hava characterized by having (adj.) have characterized by having (adv.)
ideo idea idei to exist as an idea idea existing as an idea idee as an idea

esti + adjective?[edit | edit source]

Words such as laci mean more or less the same thing as "esti + adjective" (i.e. laci = esti laca). There exists a difference: If identifying a more-or-less unchanging characteristic, then "esti + adjective" is used; if the characteristic is of a more temporary nature "stem + -i" is used. We will go into this distinction in a later lesson.

Compounds[edit | edit source]

Aside from deriving one part of speech from another, new words can be formed by putting two or more words together. The first word usually drops its part-of-speech ending, unless the resulting word would be difficult to pronounce: dormi + ĉambro → dormĉambro (bed room, lit. sleeping room); birdo + kanto → bird(o)kanto (bird song). The effect of the order of the compounded words is the same as in English, compare kantobirdo (songbird). This way, one can quickly multiply the number of concepts one can refer to. Conjugation such as pluralization (-j) or objectification (-n) is unchanged and is appended to the final -o or -a (e.g. dormĉambroj, kantobirdoj).

al[edit | edit source]

We have already seen the word al to refer to a destination, for example in "Mi iros al la parko.", where it is translated as "to". Like English "to", al is also used indicate the indirect object of a verb.

Note that in English "to" is sometimes left out. In Esperanto it must always be used.

Examples[edit | edit source]

Sentence Audio Meaning
Mi donis al ŝi libron. I gave her a book / I gave a book to her.
Ŝajnis al mi, ke li ne povas iri al la parko. It seemed to me that he cannot go to the park.

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

Here are more words to play with and memorize.

Word Audio Meaning
ŝtono stone
aero air
lando land; country
kolero anger
laca tired
agrabla nice, pleasant
kapo head
vizaĝo face
korpo body
okulo eye
orelo ear
mano hand
piedo foot
kruro leg
sezono season
vintro winter
printempo spring
somero summer
aŭtuno autumn / fall
plezuro pleasure
tago day
nokto night
mateno morning
posttagmezo afternoon
vespero evening
scii to know
ideo idea
doni to give
diri to say

Greetings etc.[edit | edit source]

Word Audio Meaning
Saluton. Hello.
Bonvenon! Welcome!
Bonan tagon. Good day.
Bonan matenon. Good morning.
Bonan vesperon. Good evening.
Bonan nokton. Good night.
Ĉaŭ. Bye.
Adiaŭ. Goodbye.
Ĝis (la) revido. See you later.
Dankon. Thanks.; Thank you.
Koran dankon! Many thanks!; Thank you very much!

Exercises[edit | edit source]

Let's play some more with the affixes from the previous lessons:

  • Go through the words in this lesson and tack on mal-, -ulo, and -ino. What do they mean? (answers)

Created Word (answers) Audio
Created Word (answers) Meaning
belulino pretty woman
stratangulo corner
klubano club member
lernejo school

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