Languages > Esperanto > Lesson 12: Wait for the Drop

Lesson 12: Wait for the Drop
Dropping Words and Vowels

To assume makes an ass out of you and me?


Language is all about the efficient transfer of information. Esperanto knows this, and will sometimes drop words entirely if they are obvious within the context, or just because it’s said so often.

Esperanto has a system for dropped words - it only happens in certain circumstances.

In the examples below, we indicate the dropped portion of the phrase using brackets.


Since expressions are so commonly used, there is no need to repeat the entire expression. We simply want to say the most important piece of the expression to get our point across. Sometimes using the full expression can add emphasis to it.


Esperanto English Literally
(Mi donas) dankon (al vi) Thanks I give a thank to you
(Mi donas) dankon al vi Thank you I give a thank to you
(Mi donas) dankon al ĉiuj Thank you everyone I give a thank to everyone


Esperanto English Literally
(Mi donas) saluton (al vi) Hello I give a greeting to you
(Mi donas) saluton al vi Hello I give a greeting to you
(Mi donas) saluton al ĉiuj Hello everyone I give a greeting to everyone

Dropping the Noun

Whenever we talk about a national language, or time (hours, days of the month), the noun phrase will often be dropped. Also, if a noun phrase that follows an ordinal is obvious from context, it can usually be dropped.

Esperanto English
Mi parolas la japanan (lingvon) I speak Japanese
Mi volas lerni la germanan (lingvon) I want to learn German
Mia denaska lingvo estas la angla (lingvo) My native language is English
Mi revenis je la sepa (horo) vespere I came back at seven in the evening
Mi vojagxos je la dek kvina (tago de la monato) I will travel on the 15th
Mi logxas je la kvara (etaĝo) I live on the fourth floor

An interesting case of the above is when talking about ownership. In this case, we still drop the noun phrase because it is implied through context, but we also add the determiner (la). We add this determiner because it is a specific, determined noun phrase that we are talking about. Let’s learn with some examples.

Esperanto English
Mi havas mian biciklon. Kie estas la via (biciklo)? I have my bike. Where is yours?
Jen du tasoj da teo. Ne trinku la mian (tason da teo) Here’s two cups of tea. Don’t drink mine.

Dropping the Last Vowel

Poetic works such as the lyrics of a song, and poems can even drop the final vowel of a word, which is always replaced with an apostrophe (‘). This is so that the artist can be more dynamic with rhyming and flow. This is not acceptable in regular written works.

Here is a lyric from one of my favourite songs that demonstrates this. See if you can pick out the dropped vowels. Bonus points if you’ve heard this song before.

Karulajn voĉojn mi neniam aŭdis
Sed en liaj mensoj mia mieno loĝas
Sopiro al tempo rezistis
Estas ĉagreno al anim'
Sen hejmo, nek famili'
Tamen, kun freneza dezir'
Mi volas miajn karulojn renkonti
Do mi povas dormi.

La kanto estas Heredo De La Post-Milit' de BaRok' Projekto

Don’t Become Drop-Crazy - This Isn’t Dubstep

We’ve learned that some words in Esperanto can be dropped depending on the context of the conversation. Also, in poetic works the final vowel can be dropped for rhyming or flow purposes. Don’t start dropping words left and right though, as people won’t understand you; stay structured in which words you’re dropping and you’ll be perfectly understood.

That’s all for this lesson. Pick up some more vocabulary by playing our games, then head on over to the quiz portion of this lesson.

Happy learning!

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