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Project Gutenberg's a complete Grammar of Esperanto, by Ivy Kellerman Reed

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Project Gutenberg's A Complete Grammar of Esperanto, by Ivy Kellerman Reed

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
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Title: A Complete Grammar of Esperanto

Author: Ivy Kellerman Reed

Posting Date: December 4, 2010 [EBook #7787]

Release Date: March, 2005
First Posted: May 25, 2003
Last Updated: November 13, 2004

Language: English


Produced by William W. Patterson, Carlo Traverso, Charles

Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. We
thank the Case Western Reserve University Library
Preservation Department that has given us the image files
with which the present e-book has been prepared.


The Esperanto alphabet contains 28 characters. These are the
characters of English, but with "q", "w", "x", and "y" removed, and
six diacritical letters added. The diacritical letters are "c",
"g", "h", "j" and "s" with circumflexes (or "hats", as Esperantists
fondly call them), and "u" with a breve. Zamenhof himself suggested
that where the diacritical letters caused difficulty, one could
instead use "ch", "gh", "hh", "jh", "sh" and "u". A plain ASCII
file is one such place; there are no ASCII codes for Esperanto's
special letters.

However, there are two problems with Zamenhof's "h-method". There

is no difference between "u" and "u" with a breve, and there is no
way to determine (without prior knowledge of the word(s) involved,
and sometimes a bit of context) whether an "h" following one of
those other five letters is really the second half of a diacritical
pair, or just an "h" that happened to find itself next to one of
them. Consequently other, unambiguous, methods have been used over
the years. One is the "x-method", which uses the digraphs "cx",
"gx", "hx", "jx", "sx" and "ux" to represent the special letters.
There is no ambiguity because the letter "x" is not an Esperanto
letter, and each diacritical letter has a unique transliteration.
This is the method used in this Project Gutenberg e-text.










This volume has been prepared to meet a twofold need. An adequate presentation of the International Language has become an imperative necessity. Such presentation, including full and accurate grammatical explanations, suitably graded reading lessons, and similarly graded material for translation from English, has not heretofore been accessible within the compass of a single volume, or in fact within the compass of any two or three volumes.

The combination of grammar and reader here offered is therefore unique. It is to furnish not merely an introduction to Esperanto, or a superficial acquaintance with it, but a genuine understanding of the language and mastery of its use without recourse to additional textbooks, readers, etc. In other words, this one volume affords as complete a knowledge of Esperanto as several years' study of a grammar and various readers will accomplish for any national language. Inflection, word-formation and syntax are presented clearly and concisely, yet with a degree of completeness and in a systematic order that constitute a new feature. Other points worthy of note are the following:

The reasons for syntactical usages are given, instead of mere statements that such usages exist. For example, clauses of purpose and of result are really explained, instead of being dismissed with the unsatisfactory remark that "the imperative follows por ke," or the "use of tiel ... ke and tia ... ke must be distinguished from that of tiel ... kiel and tia ... kia," etc., with but little intimation of when and why por ke, tiel ... ke and tia ... ke are likely to occur.

Affixes are not mentioned until some familiarity with the general character of the language is assured, as well as the possession of a fair vocabulary. They are introduced gradually, with adequate explanation and illustration. Of importance in connection with word-formation is an element distinctly new—the explanation and classification of compound words. Such words, like affixes, are withheld until the use of simple words is familiar.

Another new feature is the gradual introduction of correlative words in their logical order, and in their proper grammatical categories, before they are called "correlatives," or tabulated. The tabulation finally presented is a real classification, with regard to the meaning and grammatical character of the words, not merely an arbitrary alphabetical arrangement. The use of primary adverbs precedes the explanation of adverb derivation; prepositions, especially de, da, je, etc., receive careful attention, also the verb system, and the differentiation of words whose English equivalents are ambiguous.

A general characteristic of obvious advantage is that almost without exception new forms and constructions are illustrated by means of words or roots already familiar. Likewise, the new words or roots of each lesson recur at least once in the next lesson, and usually in some lesson thereafter as well. Each reading exercise gives not only a thorough application of the grammatical principles of the lesson, but a review of those in the preceding lesson, and no use is made of words or constructions not yet explained. The comparative ease of the language, and the lack of necessity for reciting paradigms, permit the reading exercises to be long enough for the student to feel that he has really mastered something. These exercises are further unique, in that each after the fifth is a coherent narrative, and nearly every one is a story of genuine interest in itself. These stories, if bound separately, would alone constitute a reader equivalent to those used in first and second year work in national languages. (For list of titles, see Table of Contents.)

The second element of the twofold need which this volume meets is the necessity for a presentation of Esperanto, not as a thing apart, but in that form which will make it most serviceable as an introduction to national tongues. A stepping-stone to both ancient and modern languages, Esperanto may render invaluable aid, and pave the way for surmounting the many difficulties confronting both student and teacher. Through Esperanto, the labor in the acquirement of these languages may be reduced in the same proportion in which the pleasure and thoroughness of such acquirement are increased. For this reason, the grammatical constructions of Esperanto are here explained as consistently as possible in accordance with the usage of national languages, especially those in the school curriculum, and precise names are assigned to them. Such matters as contrary to fact conditions, indirect quotations, clauses of purpose and of result, accusatives of time and measure, expressions of separation, reference, etc., thus become familiar to the student, long before he meets them in the more difficult garb of a national tongue, whose exceptions seem to outnumber its rules, and whose idioms prove more puzzling than its exceptions, unless approached by the smooth and gradual ascent of the International Language, Esperanto.

Ivy Kellerman.

Washington, D. C.,
August 3, 1910. TABLE OF CONTENTS.
LESSON   I. Alphabet.—Vowels.—Consonants.—Names of the Letters.—Diphthongs.—Combinations of Consonants.—Syllables.—Accent. II. Nouns.—The Article.—Adjectives.—Attributive Adjectives.—Present Tense of the Verb III. The Plural Number.—Predicate Adjective and Noun IV. Transitive Verbs.—The Accusative Case.—The Conjunction Kaj.—The Negative Ne. V. The Complementary Infinitive.—Interrogation.—The Conjunction Nek. VI. Personal Pronouns.—Agreement with Pronouns.—Conjugation of the Verb. VII. The Past Tense.—Prepositions.—Accusative Case of Personal Pronouns. VIII. Reflexive Pronouns.—Reflexive Verbs. IX. Limitation of the Third Personal Pronoun.—Possessive Adjectives.—Pronominal Use of Possessive Adjectives.—La Kato kaj la Pasero. X. The Accusative of Direction.—The Article for the Possessive Adjective.—Apposition.—La Arabo kaj la Kamelo. XI. Possessive Case of Nouns.—Impersonal Verbs.—Verbs Preceding their Subjects.—Coordinating Conjunctions.—La Arabo en la Dezerto. XII. Indirect Statements.—The Indefinite Personal Pronoun Oni.—The Future Tense.—La Ventoflago. XIII. The Demonstrative Pronoun Tiu.—Tenses in Indirect Quotations.—Formation of Feminine Nouns.—En la Parko. XIV. The Demonstrative Pronoun Ĉi tiu.—Possessive Form of the Demonstrative Pronoun.—The Suffix -Il-.—The Expression of Means or Instrumentality.—La Manĝo. XV. The Demonstrative Adjective.—Adverbs Defined and Classified.—Formation of Opposites.—La Ruza Juna Viro. XVI. The Demonstrative Adverb of Place.—Accompaniment.—The Adverb For.—The Meaning of Povi.—Malamikoj en la Dezerto. XVII. The Demonstrative Temporal Adverb.—Comparison of Adjectives.—Manner and Characteristic.—Diri, Paroli and Rakonti.—Frederiko Granda kaj la Juna Servisto. XVIII. The Demonstrative Adverb of Motive or Reason.—Derivation of Adverbs.—Comparison of Words Expressing Quantity.—Comparisons Containing Ol.—Causal Clauses.—Pri la Sezonoj. XIX. Ju and Des in Comparisons.—The Preposition Inter.—The Preposition Pro.—Prepositions with Adverbs and Other Prepositions.—La Aŭtuno kaj la Vintro. XX. The Demonstrative Adverb of Manner and Degree.—Prepositions Expressing Time-Relations.—En Septembro. XXI. The Accusative of Time.—Adverbs and the Accusative of Time.—The Preposition Por.—La Sezonoj kaj la Mondo. XXII. Clauses Expressing Duration of Time.—Clauses Expressing Anticipation.—The Infinitive with Anstataŭ, Por, Antaŭ ol.—The Expression of a Part of the Whole.—Diogeno kaj Aleksandro Granda. XXIII. Adverbs Expressing a Part of the Whole.—The Demonstrative Adverb of Quantity.—Result Clauses.—En la Butiko. XXIV. The Interrogative Pronoun.—The Present Active Participle.—Compound Tenses.—The Progressive Present Tense.—The Suffix -Ej-.—En Nia Domo. XXV. The Interrogative Adjective.—The Imperfect Tense.—Salutations and Exclamations.—Word Formation.—Koni and Scii.—La Nepo Vizitas la Avinon. XXVI. The Interrogative Adverb of Place.—The Past Active Participle.—Adverb Derivation from Prepositions.—Adverbs Expressing Direction of Motion.—The Suffix -Eg-.—La Pluvego. XXVII. The Interrogative Temporal Adverb.—The Perfect Tense.—The Preposition Ĉe.—The Suffix -Ar-.—Tempo and Fojo.—The Orthography of Proper Names.—Roberto Bruce kaj la Araneo. XXVIII. The Interrogative Adverb of Motive or Reason.— The Infinitive as Subject.—Present Action with Past Inception.—The Suffix -Ul-.—Loĝi and Vivi.—Pri la Avo kaj la Avino. XXIX. The Interrogative Adverb of Manner and Degree.—The Pluperfect Tense.—Cardinal Numbers.—The Accusative of Measure.—Nia Familio. XXX. The Interrogative Adverb of Quantity.—Modifiers of Impersonally Used Verbs.—Formation of Cardinal Numerals.—The Suffix -An-.—Leciono Pri Aritmetiko. XXXI. The Relative Pronoun.—The Future Perfect Tense.—Ordinal Numerals.—Alfredo Granda kaj la Libro. XXXII. Kia as a Relative Adjective.—Kie as a Relative Adverb.—The Future Active Participle.—The Periphrastic Future Tenses.—The Suffix -Ind-.—Alfredo Granda kaj la Kukoj. XXXIII. Kiam as a Relative Adverb.—Kiel as a Relative Adverb.—Numeral Nouns and Adverbs.—Word Derivation from Prepositions.—La Invito. XXXIV. Prepositions as Prefixes.—The Suffix -Ebl-.—Expression of the Highest Degree Possible.—Titles and Terms of Address.—Ĉe la Festo. XXXV. Kiom as a Relative Adverb.—The Present Passive Participle.—Fractions.—Descriptive Compounds.—La Ĥinoj. XXXVI. The Present Passive Tense.—The Use of De to Express Agency.—The General Meaning of De.—Word Derivation from Primary Adverbs.—The Suffix -Ist-.—Antikva Respubliko. XXXVII. The Distributive Pronoun.—The Preposition Po.—Dependent Compounds.—La Ĉapelo sur la Stango. XXXVIII. The Distributive Adjective.—The Imperfect Passive Tense.—Compound Tenses of Impersonal Verbs.—Reciprocal Expressions.—The Suffix -Uj-.—Vilhelmo Tell kaj la Pomo. XXXIX. The Distributive Adverb of Place.—The Future Passive Tense.—Possessive Compounds.—The Time of Day.—The Suffix -Obl-.—En la Stacidomo. XL. The Distributive Temporal Adverb.—The Distributive Adverb Ĉial.—The Past Passive Participle.—The Perfect Passive Tense.—The Preposition Laŭ.—The Suffix -Em-.—La Perdita Infano. XLI. The Distributive Adverb Ĉiel.—The Distributive Adverb Ĉiom.—The Pluperfect Passive Tense.—The Future Perfect Passive Tense.—The Expression of Material.—The Suffix -Et-.—La Donaco. XLII. The Future Passive Participle.—The Passive Periphrastic Future Tenses.—The Generic Article.—The Suffix -Ec-.—Sur la Vaporŝipo. XLIII. The Indefinite Pronoun.—Participial Nouns.—The Prefix Ek-.—The Suffix -Id-.—La Nesto sur la Tendo. XLIV. The Indefinite Adjective.—The Indefinite Adverb of Place.—Predicate Nominatives.—La Ĉevalo kaj la Sonorilo. XLV. The Indefinite Temporal Adverb.—The Indefinite Adverb Ial.—Causative Verbs.—Emphasis by Means of Ja.—Ĉe la Malnova Ponto. XLVI. The Indefinite Adverb Iel.—The Indefinite Adverb Iom.—The Suffix -Ad-.—The Use of Mem.—Arĥimedo kaj la Kronoj. XLVII. The Negative Pronoun.—The Adverbial Participle.—The Prefix Re-.—La Filozofo Arĥimedo. XLVIII. The Negative Adjective.—The Negative Adverb of Place.—The Negative Temporal Adverb.—The Suffix -Aĵ-.—The Adverb Jen.—Du Artkonkursoj. XLIX. The Negative Adverbs Nenial, Neniel, Neniom.—The Suffix -Iĝ-.—La Krepusko. L. The Pronouns ending in -O.—Correlative Words.—The Use of Ajn.—The Suffix -Ing-.—La Gordia Ligaĵo. LI. The Pronoun Ambaŭ.—Formations with -Ig- and -Iĝ-.—Factual Conditions.—La Monaĥoj kaj la Azeno. LII. The Conditional Mood.—Compound Tenses of the Conditional Mood.—Less Vivid Conditions.—Independent Use of the Conditional Mood.—The Prefix Dis-.—Pri la Gravitado. LIII. Conditions Contrary to Fact.—The Verb Devi.—The Preposition Sen.—La Filozofo Sokrato. LIV. Summary of Conditions.—Clauses of Imaginative Comparison.—The Use of Al to Express Reference.—The Suffix -Estr-.—La Ostracismo de Aristejdo. LV. The Imperative Mood.—Resolve and Exhortation.—Commands and Prohibitions.—Less Peremptory Uses of the Imperative.—The Use of Moŝto.—La Glavo de Damoklo. LVI. The Imperative in Subordinate Clauses.—The Preposition Je.—The Suffix -Op-.—La Marŝado de la Dekmil Grekoj. LVII. Clauses Expressing Purpose.—Further Uses of the Accusative.—Synopsis of the Conjugation of the Verb.—The Suffix -Um-.—La Reirado de la Dekmilo. LVIII. Permission and Possibility.—The Prefix Ge-.—The Suffix -Aĉ-.—Interjections.—Aleksandro Granda. LIX. The Position of Unemphatic Pronouns.—Some Intransitive Verbs.—The Suffix -Er-.—The Prefixes Bo- and Duon-.—Correspondence.—Kelkaj Leteroj. LX. Some Transitive Verbs.—Elision.—The Prefix Eks-.—The Prefix Pra-.—The Suffixes -Ĉj- and -Nj-.—Weights and Measures.—The International Money System.—Abbreviations.—Pri La Kamero.   ESPERANTO-ENGLISH VOCABULARY.   ENGLISH-ESPERANTO VOCABULARY.   INDEX. A COMPLETE GRAMMAR OF


1. The Esperanto alphabet contains the following letters: a, b, c, ĉ, d, e, f, g, ĝ, h, ĥ, i, j, ĵ, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, ŝ, t, u, ŭ, v, z.


2. The vowels of the alphabet are pronounced as follows:

a as in far.

e as in fiancé, like a in fate.

This "long a" sound in English frequently ends with a vanish,—a brief terminal sound of ĭ, which makes the vowel slightly diphthongal, as in day, aye. Such a vanish must not be given to any of the Esperanto vowels.

i as in machine.

o as in toll, for.

u as in rude, rural.


3. The consonants b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, t, v, z, are pronounced as in English, and the remaining eleven as follows:

c like ts in hats, tsetse.

ĉ like ch in chin, much.

g like g in go, big.

ĝ like g in gem, j in jar.

ĥ is produced by expelling the breath forcibly, with the throat only partially open.

As in pronouncing German and Scotch ch, Spanish j, Irish gh, Russian x, Classical Greek χ etc. There are only a few words containing this consonant.

j like y in yes, beyond.

ĵ like z in azure, s in visual.

r is slightly trilled or rolled.

s like s in see, basis.

ŝ like sh in shine, rash, ch in machine.

ŭ like w or consonantal u. See Diphthongs, 5.


4. The vowels are named by their sounds, as given in 2. The names of the consonants are bo, co, ĉo, do, fo, go, ĝo, ho, ĥo, jo, ĵo, ko, lo, mo, no, po, ro, so, ŝo, to, ŭo, vo, zo. These are used in speaking of the letters, in pronouncing them in abbreviations, as ko to po for k. t. p. (= etc.), and in spelling words, as bo, i, ro, do, o, birdo.


5. Diphthongs are combinations of two vowels uttered as a single sound, by one breath-impulse. The diphthongs in Esperanto contain an i or u sound as the second element, but in order to avoid confusion with combinations of vowels not forming diphthongs (as in naiva, like English naïve, etc.), they are written with j and ŭ instead. Their pronunciation is as follows:

aj like ai in aisle.

ej like ei in vein, ey in they.

oj like oi in coin, oy in boy.

uj like ui in ruin, u(e)y in gluey.

like ayw in wayward, or like é(h)oo pronounced together.

like ou in out, ow in owl.


6. Each consonant, in a combination of two or more consonants, is pronounced with its full value, whether within a word or at its beginning. There are no silent letters.

a. Thus, both consonants are clearly sounded in the groups kn, kv, gv, sv, in such words as knabo, kvin, gvidi, sviso.

b. The combination kz, as in ekzisti, ekzameno, must not be modified to the gs or ks represented by x in exist, execute.

c. The combination sc, as in escepte, scias, is equivalent to the combination sts in last said, first song, pronounced together rapidly. The s in a word beginning with sc may be sounded with the end of the preceding word, if that word ends in a vowel, as mis-cias for mi scias.

d. The n and g are pronounced separately in the combination ng, in such words as lingvo, angulo, producing the sound of ng heard in linger, not that in singer.

e. Each of two similar letters is clearly sounded, as interrilato, ellasi, like inter-relate, well-laid.


7. Each word contains as many syllables as it has vowels and diphthongs. The division of syllables within a word is as follows:

a. A single consonant goes with the following vowel, as pa-no, be-la, a-e-ro.

b. A consonant followed by l or r (which are liquids) goes with the l or r, as in ta-blo, a-kra, a-gra-bla.

c. Otherwise, the syllable division is made before the last consonant of the group, as sus-pek-ti, sank-ta, deks-tra.

d. Prefixes are separated from the words to which they are attached, as dis-meti, mal-akra, and compound words are divided into their component parts, as ĉef-urbo, sun-ombrelo.


8. Words of more than one syllable are accented upon the syllable before the last, as tá-blo, a-grá-bla, sus-pék-ti.


9. (To be pronounced aloud, and correctly accented) Afero, trairi, najbaro, aero, hodiaŭ, pacienco, centono, ĉielo, eĉ, samideano, treege, obei, obeu, Eŭropo, gvidi, ĝojo, ĉiujn, justa, ĝuste, juĝi, ĵaŭdo, lingvo, knabo, larĝa, pagi, kvieteco, ekzemplo, ellerni, fojo, krajono, forrajdi, kuirejo, ĉevalejo, sankteco, scio, nescio, edzo, meze, duobla, ŝipo, ŝarĝi, poŝo, svingi, sklavo, palaj, ŝafaĵo, atmosfero, monaĥo, geometrio, laŭdi, vasta, eksplodi, senĉesa, sensencaĵo, malluma, arbaranoj, manĝo, freŝa, aŭskulti, daŭri.


10. Words which are the names of persons or things are called nouns. The ending, or final letter, of nouns in Esperanto is o:

knabo, boy.
ĉevalo, horse. pomo, apple.
tablo, table.


11. The definite article is la, the, as la knabo, the boy, la ĉevalo, the horse, la tablo, the table, la pomo, the apple. In English there is an indefinite article "a, an" for the singular, but none for the plural. Esperanto has no indefinite article for either singular or plural. Therefore knabo may mean boy, or a boy, pomo may mean apple or an apple.


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