Basic Esperanto Grammar

Esperanto is a strictly agglutinative language, meaning that all the pieces are clearly laid out, you simply have to put them together. When you see a word like plibonigojn, it has six components:


pli: "more"

bon: root for "good"

ig: suffix for "cause"

o: noun ending

j: plural ending

n: accusative ending


Putting the parts together, we create: more + good ( = better) + cause, and it means improvements. Because it is in the accusative, and carries the n ending, it must be the object of a verb, such as in the sentence Mi vidis la plibonigojn (I saw the improvements), where they are the object of the seeing.


For all words, you can tell the parts of speech by the ending:


o: noun

a: adjective

j: plural

n: accusative

e: adverb


If a noun is in the plural, or the accusative, then all adjectives that modify it are in the plural and/or accusative, as the case may be. Also, the order does not matter.


Pomo ruĝa: A red apple

Pomoj ruĝaj: Red apples

Mi manĝas ruĝan pomon. I eat a red apple.

Mi manĝas ruĝajn pomojn. I eat red apples.


Verbs are always regular, and tense will always be shown by the ending:


-as: present

-is: past

-os: future


-us: conditional

-u: imperative (command)

-i: infinitive


Mi dancas. I dance

Mi dancis. I danced

Mi dancos. I will dance


Mi dancus: I would dance

Mi dancu: I should dance

Dancu!: Dance!

Danci: To dance


Esperanto words can be joined to one another or with affixes so that from a small number of parts, you can create a large number of words. So long as the words obey the grammatical rules, the expressions are technically correct. A sample of the many various affixes:



dis- separation, scattering; doni give, disdoni distribute

eks- former; edzo husband, eksedzo ex-husband

mal- opposite; bona good, malbona bad

mis- error; kompreni understand, miskompreni misunderstand



-ad- repetition; paroli speak, paroladi give a speech

-an- member; senato senate, senatano senator

-- stuff; posedi possess, posedaĵo property

-ec- quality; libera free; libereco liberty

-eg- augmentative; domo house, domego mansion

-ej- place; aŭto car, aŭtejo garage

-et- diminutive; rido a laugh; rideto smile

-ig- cause; verda green; verdigi make something green

-- become; verda green; verdiĝi become green

-il- tool; torni screw, tornilo screwdriver

-in- female; patro father, patrino mother

-ul- person; juna young, junulo, youngster


The affixes can also stand on their own as their own words.


Ege: greatly

Aĵoj: things

Ilo: tool

Social Customs


Almost everyone that speaks the Esperanto language did so by their own free will, without any compulsion or even incentive to do so, and probably in spite of resistance from people who told them that they are wasting their time. Because of this, when Esperantists encounter one another, it is a validation of their effort to learn the language. Esperantists know one another as samideanoj, literally, members of the same idea. The atmosphere tends to be very pleasant and idealistic.


If nothing else, Esperantists have language in common. So Esperantists in general are a talkative bunch. You will find that finding the right manner of addressing someone will come out in conversation. The safe way is always sinjoro for a man and sinjorino for a woman. They could mean sir or madam, respectively, or when followed by the family name, mister or missus. Note that in some counties, for example China and Hungary, the last name comes first. Once you get to know someone, they will tell you what to call them.


When you are in a position to use Esperanto, you will either be accepting a visiting guest in your home, visiting someone in their home, or at an international gathering of Esperantists. In a guest/host situation, your guest or host will likely be as interested in your culture as you are in theirs. In public, if you are unintentionally doing something considered rude, your host will most likely tell you. In some cases, these customs may defy logic, but it is advisable to curtail your rude conduct while in that culture.


Of course, normal rules of being a courteous guest always apply. Try not to stay too long, keep your belongings tidy, and don't forget to wash. Offer to help, and know that that is also a great cultural learning opportunity.


The social customs at Esperanto gatherings in their own way form distinct national culture. First of all, it is impolite to speak a foreign language in such a way that someone there might not understand you. Between yourself and a fellow countryman in your room, English wouldn't be considered rude. If you are in a group, say a 6-seat cabin on a train, and you turn to talk in English to a compatriot, it will be frowned upon.


When you register, you should always put your name as you normally write it in English. It is not necessary to Esperantize it. If you would rather be called by something in Esperanto, simply handwrite it on the tag. Wear your nametags at least during the day. It is not considered impolite to inspect someone's nametag to find out their name, nor is it impolite to call them by their first name right away. Family names are usually represented in all upper case letters, since in some cultures (eg. Hungary, China), the last name comes first.


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