Esperanto 101

To have another language is to possess a second soul. ~Charlemagne

Esperanto words are derived by stringing together prefixes, roots, and suffixes. This process is regular, so that people can create new words as they speak and be understood. Compound words are formed with a modifier-first, head-final order, the same order as English "birdsong" vs. "songbird".

The different parts of speech are marked by their own suffixes: all common nouns end in -o, all adjectives in -a, all derived adverbs in -e, and all verbs in one of six tense and mood suffixes, such as present tense -as.

Plural nouns end in -oj (pronounced "oy"), whereas direct objects end in -on. Plural direct objects end with the combination -ojn (pronounced to rhyme with "coin"): That is, -o for a noun, plus -j for plural, plus -n for direct object. Adjectives agree with their nouns; their endings are plural -aj (pronounced "eye"), direct-object -an, and plural direct-object -ajn (pronounced to rhyme with "fine").

Noun Subject Object
Singular -o -on
Plural -oj -ojn
Adjective Subject Object
Singular -a -an
Plural -aj -ajn

The suffix -n is used to indicate the goal of movement and a few other things, in addition to the direct object. See Esperanto grammar for details.

The six verb inflections consist of three tenses and three moods. They are present tense -as, future tense -os, past tense -is, infinitive mood -i, conditional mood -us, and jussive mood -u (used for wishes and commands). Verbs are not marked for person or number. For instance: kanti "to sing"; mi kantas "I sing"; mi kantis "I sang"; mi kantos "I will sing"; li kantas "he sings"; vi kantas "you sing".

Verbal Tense Suffix
Present -as (kantas)
Past -is (kantis)
Future -os (kantos)
Verbal Mood Suffix
Infinitive -i (kanti)
Jussive -u (kantu)
Conditional -us (kantus)

Word order is comparatively free: Adjectives may precede or follow nouns, and subjects, verbs and objects (marked by the suffix -n) may occur in any order. However, the article la "the" and demonstratives such as tiu "this, that" almost always come before the noun, and a preposition such as ĉe "at" must come before it. Similarly, the negative ne "not" and conjunctions such as kaj "both, and" and ke "that" must precede the phrase or clause they introduce. In copular (A = B) clauses, word order is just as important as it is in English clauses like "people are dogs" vs. "dogs are people". 

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