Languages > Esperanto > Lesson 3: Piecing Together Our First Sentence

Lesson 3: Piecing Together Our First Sentence
Nouns, Verbs, Objects

After this lesson, you will be prepared to create any simple statement using a subject, verb, and object, such as “I learn Esperanto”. Let’s get started!

Nouns

These words represent people, places, or things such as “cat”, “house”, or “car”.

In Esperanto, these will always end in the letter “o”.

English Esperanto
cat kato
house domo
car aŭto
Esperanto esperanto

Like English, Esperanto has a definite determiner (la). It must directly precede the word it is modifying, like in English and these examples:

English Esperanto
The cat La kato
The house La domo
The car La aŭto

However, unlike English, the indefinite determiner is not needed. It is assumed if there is no “la”:

English Esperanto
A cat kato
A house domo
A car aŭto

Plural Nouns

“Plural” means more than one. Generally in English we add an “-s” to a noun to make it plural.

In Esperanto, it’s as easy as adding a “-j” (pronounced like a ‘y’)

Esperanto Singular Esperanto Plural English
kato
katoj
cats
domo
domoj
houses
aŭto
aŭtoj
cars

Me and you, and you and me - Pronouns

These words are a special type of noun. They represent people relative to the discourse of a conversation, such as “me”, “you”, “he”, or “she”.

In Esperanto, these will end in the letter “i".

English Esperanto
I mi
you (plural / singular) vi
he li
she ŝi
we ni
they ili
it ĝi
one oni

And... Action! - Verbs

These words represent actions such as “to go”, “to see”, or “to learn”.

In Esperanto, these will all end in the letter “i”.

English Esperanto
to go iri
to see vidi
to learn lerni

There's no time like the present - Present Tense

To use a verb with other words to create a sentence, we must conjugate it.

Conjugations in Esperanto are very easy. There are no special rules, verb types, or exceptions. (Yes, I’m talking about you French). You simply drop the “i”, and add “as”.

Esperanto Verb Esperanto Phrase English Phrase
iri Mi iras
I go
vidi Mi vidas
I see
lerni Mi lernas
I learn
esti Mi estas I am

It's almost like it was made to be this easy! /s

Listen to this head-banger of a track by Inicialoj DC (Initials DC) that demonstrates this. He’s actually a really good artist of Esperanto music. You should check him out.

The last piece - Objects

This is often considered one of the harder parts for beginners to grasp, but we’ll walk you through its simplicity.

In Esperanto, the object of a sentence (accusative case) is represented by a suffix of “-n”. It allows a noun or pronoun to become the object of the sentence -- the thing that the verb is acting upon.

Here is the effect of the accusative using our basic phrases from above:

English Esperanto
I learn Esperanto Mi lernas esperanton
Esperanto learns me Esperanto lernas min
I see cats Mi vidas katojn
Cats see me Katoj vidas min

Why would we need this extra letter to represent the object? English doesn’t do that.

This is because in English, we use SVO (subject-verb-object) word order to tell who’s doing what to who. In Esperanto, instead of defining the order, we use the “-n”. This allows esperanto to be flexible with its word order. In the following example, each of these esperanto phrases are equivalent and valid:

I see a cat

  • Mi vidas katon
  • Mi katon vidas
  • Katon mi vidas
  • Katon vidas mi
  • Vidas mi katon
  • Vidas katon mi

This is so that languages other than English, who may use a different word order, can just as easily construct sentences according to their own word order.

To Be, or not To Be - esti

It should be noted that the verb "esti" does not actually act on an object, and therefore nouns used with "esti" should not take the accusative case. For example:

English Esperanto
I am a cat Mi estas kato
You are me Vi estas mi

See if you can sense the weird meaning if we were to add an "-n" to the examples above.

We Did It! Hurray!

And just like that we’ve constructed a full sentence. Congratulations, you’ve become a komencanto (beginner)!

Take your time with this lesson, and make sure you know it before moving on. The foundations are important. Learn the vocabulary from this lesson to create your own sentences, and then take the quiz to ensure that you’ve mastered these concepts.

See you in the next lesson!

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