A Summary of Esperanto Grammar
© Copyright, Bernd Wechner 1993 - 2 Page PDF version also available

Building Blocks of Esperanto

Following is a list of Esperanto building blocks.  Along  with  a
list  of  word  stems,  it should help to interpret and construct
Esperanto words.  I should note that some  of  the  prefixes  and
suffixes quoted here are rather loose in their definition and may
also appear in word stems on occasion without the cited  meaning.
Where an affix is actually a word stem itself I have attempted to
list that word stem underneath.

I might also add, that this summary  is  not  intended  to  teach
Esperanto, but to serve as a useful reference for those of us who
are learning. Many things are left unsaid.

Grammatical Endings

One of these grammatical endings should appear on the end of most
words,  and defines that words role in a sentence. Other suffixes
and prefixes may precede this final identifier. 

-o      noun                            amo   "love"
-a      adjective                       ama   "loving"
-e      adverb                          ame   "lovingly"
-n      direct object of a verb         amon  "love"
-j      plural                          amoj  "loves"
-jn     plural of the direct object     amojn "loves"

-i      verb, infinitive                ami   "to love"
-u      verb, imperative                amu   "love!"
-is     verb, past tense                amis  "loved"
-as     verb, present tense             amas  "loves"
-os     verb, future tense              amos  "will love"
-us     verb, conditional               amus  "would love"


All the prefixes precede the stem of the word, many are  in  fact
word stems themselves. Many may be compounded with other prefixes
and suffixes. Many are rather flexible in their definition.

al-     approach, towards, bringing closer
        al     "towards"
        veni   "to come"  > alveni   "to arrive"
        iri    "to go"    > aliri    "to approach"
        porti  "to carry" > alporti  "to bring"
        paroli "to speak" > alparoli "to address"

        See also: for-

bo-     relative by marriage
        patro "father" > bopatro "father-in-law"

ĉef-    chief
        ĉefo     "a chief"
        urbo     "town"     > ĉefurbo     "capital city"
        ministro "minister" > ĉefministro "prime minister"

dis-    separation, dispersal
        doni  "to give" > disdoni  "to distribute"
        sendi "to send" > dissendi "to transmit"

ek-     commencement, suddenness
        ek!   "commence!"
        brili "to shine" > ekbrili "to flash"
        iri   "to go"    > ekiri   "to set off"
        sidi  "to sit"   > eksidi  "to sit down"

        See also: -ad- re-

eks-    former
        eksa       "former"
        prezidanto "president" > eksprezidanto "ex-president"

fi-     shameful or immoral
        fi!  "shame!"
        viro "man"    > fiviro "scoundrel"

for-    away              
        for  "away"
        iri  "to go" > foriri "to go away"
        esti "to be" > foresti"to be absent"

        See also: al-

ge-     both sexes together
        frato   "brother" > gefratoj   "siblings"
        patro   "father"  > gepatroj   "parents"
        sinjoro "Mister"  > gesinjoroj "Mr and Mrs"

        See also: vir- -in-

mal-    opposite 
        malo  "opposite"
        alta  "high"     > malalta  "low"
        vero  "truth"    > malvero  "falsehood"
        ami   "to love"  > malami   "to hate"
        forta "strong"   > malforta "weak"

        See also: mis- "ne"

mis-    wrongly
        kompreni "to understand" > miskompreni "to misunderstand"
        paŝo     "a step"        > mispaŝo     "a blunder"

        See also: mal- "ne"

pra-    of great antiquity, remoteness of relationship
        praa  "primitive"
        tempo "time"      > pratempo "the ancient past"
        nepo  "grandson"  > pranepo  "great-grandson"

        See also: -id-

re-     repetition, return
        ree       "again"
        ŝi vidas  "she sees"     > ŝi revidas "she sees again"
        ni venas  "we're coming" > ni revenas "we're coming back"

        See also: ek- -ad-

sen-    without
        sen     "without"
        koro    "heart"    > senkora    "heartless"
        forta   "strong"   > senforta   "strengthless" 
        helpa   "helpful"  > senhelpa   "helpless"
        kompata "merciful" > senkompata "merciless"

        See also: -aĉ- -eg- -et-

vir-    masculine 
        viro    "man"
        bovo    "ox"    > virbovo   "bull"
        porko   "pig"   > virporko  "boar"
        ĉevalo  "horse" > virĉevalo "stallion"

        See also: ge- -in- -iĉ-


All these suffixes follow the stem of the word  and  precede  the
grammatical  ending,  which  defines the role the word will play.
Many may be compounded with other suffixes and prefixes. Some are
in fact words stems themselves.

-aĉ-    disparagement 
        aĉa   "awful"
        domo  "house"    > domaĉo  "hovel"
        hundo "dog"      > hundaĉo "cur","mongrel"
        ridi  "to laugh" > ridaĉi  "to sneer"

        See also: -eg- -et- sen-

-ad-    action, particularly prolonged or repeated
        paroli "to speak" > paroladi "to make a speech"
        penso  "thought"  > pensado  "(the process of) thinking"
        memoro "memory"   > memorado "the fact of remembering"

        See also: ek- re-

-aĵ-    A thing, having the quality or substance of ... 
        aĵo   "a thing"
        nova  "new"       > novaĵo  "news", "novelty"
        okazi "to happen" > okazaĵo "event"
        arto  "art"       > artaĵo  "objet d'art"
        porko "pig"       > porkaĵo "pork"

        See also: -ec- -a -em-

-an-    member of a group; inhabitant
        ano      "member"
        urbo     "town"     > urbano     "townsman"
        Novjorko "New York" > novjorkano "New Yorker"
        polico   "police"   > policano   "member of the police force"
        lando    "country"  > landano    "citizen"

        See also: -ar- -ul-

-ar-    collective, group
        aro       "group","set"
        vorto     "word"        > vortaro     "dictionary", "vocabulary"
        homo      "human being" > homaro      "mankind"
        studento  "student"     > studentaro  "the student body (of a school)"
        kuracisto "doctor"      > kuracistaro "the medical profession"

        See also: -an-

-ebl-   possibility
        ebla "possible"
        havi "to have" > havebla "available"
        ami  "to love" > amebla  "possible to love"

        See also: -ind-

-ec-    having the characteristics of ...
        eco    "a quality","a characteristic"
        infano "child" > infaneca "childish" > infaneco "childhood"
        sola   "alone" > soleca   "lonely"   > soleco   "lonliness"
        ruĝa   "red"   > ruĝeca   "reddish"
        libera "free"  > libereco "freedom"
        viro   "man"   > vireco   "virility"
        unu    "one"   > unueco   "unity"

        See also: -aĵ- -a -em-

-eg-    augmentative
        ega    "huge"
        bona   "good"      > bonega   "excellent"
        bela   "beautiful" > belega   "splendid"
        urbo   "town"      > urbego   "a large city"
        labori "to work"   > laboregi "to work hard"

        See also: -et- -eĉ- sen-

-ej-    place (often collective)
        ejo   "a place"
        dormi "to sleep" > dormejo "dormitory" 
        lerni "to learn" > lernejo "school"

-em-    tendency
        emi    "to be inclined to"
        paroli "to speak"     > parolema "talkative"
        agi    "to act"       > agema    "active", "enterprising"
        timi   "to be afraid" > timema   "fearful", "timid"

        See also: -a -ec- -aĵ-

-end-   passive obligation
        enda  "that must be"
        pagi  "to pay"   > pagenda "payable"
        solvi "to solve" > solvenda "that must be solved"

-er-    small particle of a whole
        ero   "a particle"
        pano  "bread" > panero  "crumb"
        ĉeno  "chain" > ĉenero  "link"
        pluvo "rain"  > pluvero "raindrop"

-estr-  leader
        estro  "leader"
        stacio "station"  > staciestro "station master"
        urbo   "town"     > urbestro   "mayor"
        lerni  "to learn" > lernestro  "schoolmaster"

-et-    diminutive
        eta    "tiny"
        virino "woman"     > virineto "little woman"
        bela   "beautiful" > beleta   "pretty","cute"

        See also: -eg- -ec- sen-

-iĉ-    male
        iĉo        "a male"
        instruisto "teacher" > instruistiĉo "male teacher"

        See also: vir- -in- ge-

-id-    descendant of
        ido     "offspring"
        koko    "rooster"   > kokido    "chick"
        porko   "pig"       > porkido   "piglet" 
        bovo    "ox"        > bovido    "calf"
        ĉevalo  "horse"     > ĉevalido  "colt" 
        reĝo    "king"      > reĝido    "prince"

        See also: pra-

-ig-    causative
        igi      "to make"
        granda   "big"      > grandigi   "to enlarge"
        forta    "strong"   > fortigi    "to strengthen"
        facila   "easy"     > faciligi   "to facilitate"
        scii     "to know"  > sciigi     "to inform", "to make known"
        stari    "to stand" > starigi    "to set up"
        kontenta "glad"     > kontentiga "satisfactory"

        See also: -iĝ-

-iĝ-    become ...
        iĝi      "to become"
        proksima "near"     > proksimiĝi "to draw nearer"
        stara    "standing" > stariĝi    "to stand up"
        viro     "man"      > viriĝi     "to become a man"
        rapida   "quick"    > rapidiĝo   "acceleration"

        See also: -ig-

-il-    implement, tool
        ilo    "a tool"
        labori "to work"   > laborilo "tool"
        veturi "to travel" > veturilo "vehicle"

-in-    female
        ino        "a female"
        knabo      "boy"     > knabino      "girl" 
        viro       "man"     > virino       "woman"
        patro      "father"  > patrino      "mother"
        instruisto "teacher" > instruistino "female teacher"

        See also: vir- ge- -iĉ-

-ind-   worthiness
        inda "worthy"
        ami  "to love" > aminda  "deserving love"
        vidi "to see"  > vidinda "worth seeing"
        havi "to have" > havinda "worth having"

        See also: -ebl-

-ing-   holder
        ingo  "a holder","a socket"
        glavo "sword" > glavingo "scabbard"
        plumo "pen"   > plumingo "pen-holder"

-ism-   pattern or system
        ismo     "an ism"
        protekti "to protect" > protrektismo "protectionism"
        alkoholo "alcohol"    > alkoholismo  "alcoholism"

-ist-   habitual occupation, profession
        isto    "professional"
        instrui "to teach" > instruisto "teacher"
        labori  "to work"  > laboristo  "worker"
        polico  "police"   > policisto  "policeman"

        See also: -ul-

-obl-   multiple
        oble "-fold"
        du   "two"  > duobla   "double"
        kvar "four" > kvaroble "fourfold"

-on-    fraction
        ono "a fraction"
        du  "two"   > duoni  "to halve"
        ses "six"   > sesono "a sixth"

-op-    collective numeral
        tri "three" > triopo "triplet"
        unu "one"   > unuope "one by one","in the manner of one-ness"

-uj-    container
        ujo    "receptacle"
        sukero "sugar" > sukerujo "sugar basin"
        papero "paper" > paperujo "wallet"
        mono   "money" > monujo   "purse"

-ul-    a person
        ulo    "fellow","chap"
        juna   "young"           > junulo   "a youth"
        forta  "strong"          > fortulo  "a hefty guy"
        drinko "alcoholic drink" > drinkulo "drunkard"
        trinko "drink"           > trinkulo "one who drinks" 

        See also: -ist- -an-

-um-    related to in some way (no fixed meaning though)
        malvarma "cold"         > malvarmumi "to catch a cold"
        plena    "full"         > plenumi    "to fulfill"
        plando   "sole of foot" > plandumo   "sole of shoe"
        cerbo    "brain"        > cerbumi    "to puzzle over"


This is a very brief summary. The participles can  form  compound
verbs when they follow the helper "esti" (where they take the ad-
jectival suffix), or they can take adjectival, adverbial or  noun
forms on their own (with the appropriate grammatical ending).

                        PASSIVE         ACTIVE

        PAST             -it-            -int-
        PRESENT          -at-            -ant-
        FUTURE           -ot-            -ont-
        CONDITIONAL      -ut-            -unt-


A complete list of pronouns. As in English, the plural  "you"  is
identical to the singular and does not take  the  plural  suffix.
Possesives take the adjectival form by adding the -a suffix.

                        mi      I       
                        vi      you
                        li      he
                        ŝi      she
                        ĝi      it
                        ni      we
                        ili     they
                        oni     one
                        ci      thou (archaic)
                        si      reflexive - refers back to subject
                        ri      he or she (genderless, neoligism)


Any combination of the prefix and suffix will form a  small  word
describing  something.  Remember that movement towards a place is
indicated by using the accusative (-n) suffix.

                                        -o              thing
                                        -u              person
indefined     (some-)           i-      -a              kind
demonstrative (that-)           ti-     -es             posession
interrogtaive (what-)           ki-     -e              place
collective   (every-)           ĉi-     -am             time
negative        (no-)           neni-   -om             quantity
                                        -al             reason
                                        -el             way, manner

Numbers follow a consistent pattern, best illustrated by example.

nulo     zero           dek unu         eleven
unu      one            dek du          twelve
du       two            dek tri         thirteen
tri      three          dudek tri       twenty three
kvar     four           kvindek ok      fifty eight
kvin     five           cent sesdek     a hundred and sixty
ses      six            sepcent okdek   seven hundred and eighty
sep      seven          dekmiliono      ten million
ok       eight          
naŭ      nine           
dek      ten
cent     hundred
mil      thousand 
miliono  million
miliardo billion (thousand million)

Prepositions, Conjunctions and other words with no grammatical ending

Short words which do not have any  grammatical  ending  are  used
very  often.   They are prepositions, conjunctions, interjections
and even adverbs, and a real pain to always be looking  up  in  a
dictionary. Here is a fairly complete list of all you will likely

ajn             -ever (with a correlative)
al              to(wards)
almenaŭ         at least
ankaŭ           also
ankoraŭ         still, yet
anstataŭ        instead of
antaŭ           before
apenaŭ          scarcely
apud            beside, near
baldaŭ          soon
ĉar             because
ĉe              at, by, in case of
ĉi              this- (with a correlative or noun)
ĉirkaŭ          around
da              of (quantinty)
de              of, from
des             so much the
do              then, thus, therefore
dum             during
eĉ              even
ekster          outside of
el              out of
en              in
for             away
ĝis             until
inter           between
ja              indeed
jam             already
je              indefinte preposition
jen             hereis, behold
jes             yes
ju              so much the
ĵus             just
kaj             and
ke              that
kontraŭ         against
krom            except, apart from
kun             with
kvankam         although
kvazaŭ          as if
laŭ             according to, along
malgraŭ         in spite of
mem             -self (with a pronoun)
ne              no
nu              well
nun             now
nur             only
ol              than
per             by means of
plej            most
pli             more    
po              at the rate of
por             for
post            after
preter          past, by, beyond
pri             concerning, about
pro             on account of, oweing to, because of
sed             but
sen             without
sub             under
super           above
sur             on
tamen           however
tra             through
trans           across
tre             very
tro             too
tuj             immediately

Compiled by Bernd Wechner,  with  much  appreciated  advice  from
Daniel  Chung, Donald J. Harlow, David Wolff, Harri Laine, Martin
R. Bartel, Jim Kingdon, and Bob Lidral.