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Esperanto grammar

Esperanto is an agglutinative language which has no grammatical genders and limited, regular verb conjugation. Nouns and adjectives have two cases, nominative and accusative, and two numbers, singular and plural; and nouns and adjectives must agree in case and number. The accusative ending can also be used to show the destination of a motion, or to replace certain prepositions when preferred. The accusative allows flexible word order like Russian, Greek, and Latin.

Most of its vocabulary is made up of Latin, Greek, English, French, German, and some other Indo-European roots with a few words from Slavic languages. Esperanto has a relatively regular grammar, phonetic alphabet (meaning that all words are pronounced as in written and vice versa), and very logical structure (the same words' ending for the same parts of speech, e.g. -o for nouns, -a for adjectives, etc.). All these features make Esperanto easier to learn than most of the world's languages, even for non-Europeans, though particular features may be more or less advantageous to native speakers of particular languages. 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.

Grammar examples

   esperi             To hope
   esperas            Hopes, is hoping, does hope
   esperis            Hoped, was hoping, did hope
   esperos            Shall or will hope
   esperu             Hope! (volitive)
   esperus            Were to hope, would hope (conditional)

   esperanta(n)       Hoping - nominative (accusative) adjective
   esperantaj(n)      Hoping - nominative (accusative) adjective, plural
   esperanto(n)       Hoper  - nominative (accusative) noun
   esperantoj(n)      Hopers - nominative (accusative) noun

The -ant- suffix in the above examples indicates present active participle. Participles, like tenses[?] (above) use the vowels i, a and o to indicate past, present and future time, respectively. Example: esperinto=former hoper. Passive participles are formed like active participle, except the n is omitted (infixes -it-, -at-, -ot-). Esperanto suffixes are not only used for grammatical inflections, but for expansion of vocabulary from a relatively few basic words:

   esperantino        Hoper, female
   Esperantujo        "Esperantoland" (wherever Esperanto is being spoken)
   esperiga           Hope-inspiring (giving hope)
   senespera          Hopeless

Prefixes are similarly used for vocabulary expansion. For example, antonyms are very rarely based on separate roots but are formed by use of the negating prefix "mal-":

      dekstren        Towards the right
   maldekstren        Towards the left
      supren          Upwards
   malsupren          Downwards

This reduces the number of root forms to be learned. However, the prefix mal- almost always occurs in an unstressed position (such as the words above), which can lead to many similar-sounding words with opposite meanings. Despite the above examples, Esperanto is sometimes presented as a solution to the many airplane crashes which arise due to misunderstandings of English.

A fairly good overview of Esperanto's grammar and word-building system can be gained by viewing "The Sixteen Rules of Esperanto", "The Esperanto Correlatives" and "Word-Building With Esperanto Affixes".

See also

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