Hi, and welcome to lesson 1. We'll start in on the first set of 50 Esperanto roots from the list of 1000 most important Esperanto words selected by Kontakto magazine.

The four most basic suffixes. (4) redakti

When you look at most words in Esperanto, you'll usually know what part of speech it is, according to its last letter. Here's the endings, with my memory mnemonic underlined.

  • -o Noun (or Object). All regular nouns end in O. Sometimes, nouns are called O-words.
  • -a Adjective. All adjectives end in A.
  • -i Infinitive verb. ("To" form)
  • -e Adverb.

These first four suffixes are very powerful. As a general rule, you can make one part of speech into another by changing the ending. There may be a better or more elegant word choice... however as a beginner, you will be able to get your point across. That is the whole point of Esperanto – to facilitate communication, even if you're a beginner. For example if you wanted to change the word for moon ("luno") into the word for lunar, you would simply change the ending to its adjective form ("luna").

Let's also start out with some basics:

Useful Suffixes (9) redakti

  • -j A "J" indicates plural. You can make a noun plural, by adding a -j onto its -o, making an "oy" sound, -oj. Likewise, any adjective modifying a plural noun will also get a plural marker, becoming -aj.
  • mal- Opposite of ____
  • -ul- Person (who is ____)
  • -ej- Place for ____
  • -an- Member of ____
  • -il- Tool for _____
  • -eg- Big or great amount of _____. For example, large is granda. Very large is grandega. Very good is bonega.
  • -in- Female ____
  • -uj- Container for _____. The word "ujo" -- pronounced OO-yo -- is a general word for container. Here we mean "container" in the very loosest sense. The -ujo root can be used for traditional containers, for example a teapot would be teujo. It can be much broader than that, meaning an old-world country (like Francujo for France and "Ĉinujo" for China) and also I've seen it used for fruit trees (so "pomujo" would be an apple tree!) "Esperantujo" is often used as the fictional country of all Esperantists world-wide; if you speak Esperanto, then you are a citizen of Esperantujo.

These suffixes can combine with the first four basic suffixes. For example, the generic word for "tool" in Esperanto is ilo. A generic word for "guy" is ulo. I've even seen malo as the noun form of "opposite", and as you would expect, mala is the adjective form. Male (pronounced "MA-leh") means "oppositely".

Nouns (6) redakti

Note, when combining these later, you will just use the root of the noun, which is everything up to the final -o.

  • viro "man" (virino is "woman". See "-in" suffix above.)
  • teo "tea"
  • ideo "idea"
  • lingvo "language"
  • lando "country"
  • sinjoro "Mr." (sinjorino is "Mrs.", combining again with the suffix -in.)

There may be times that you will want to make an adjective, adverb, or even a verb form for a noun (if you can wrap your head around that idea). To do that, simply switch the ending. So, to make the word "lingvo" to be an adjective, as in the phrase "language lesson", you would change the word to end with -a, making "lingva leciono".

Pronouns (6) redakti

  • mi "I" or "me"
  • vi "you"
  • ili "they"
  • li "he"
  • ŝi "she"
  • ĝi "it"

Note, you can make a possessive form of any of these pronouns by adding the adjective ending, -a. Now, translate the following into English: Example: "lia" = his

  • ŝia _______
  • via _______
  • mia _______
  • ilia _______
  • ĝia _______

Verbs (8) redakti

  • esti "to be"
  • iri "to go"
  • veni "to come"
  • loĝi "to live (in a particular place" or "to dwell"
  • paroli "to speak"
  • labori "to work"
  • ludi "to play"
  • ĝoji "to be happy"

Conjugating verbs (4) redakti

In many languages, verbs are changed to say when action happened. Let's see how this is done in English:

Present tense conjugation
of "to be" in English
I am
you are
he/she is
we are
they are

Let's look at the equivalent in French:

Present tense conjugation
of "être" in French
je suis
tu / vous es / êtes
il/elle est
nous sommes
ils sont

I'm not picking on English or French, here. They are the languages I am familiar with. If you are a learner of English or French, you must memorize five or six words for every verb. Some verbs follow regular rules, and some are irregular. Unlike other languages, verbs in Esperanto are very easy to conjugate, and they always follow the rules. Let's take a look at Esperanto.

Present tense conjugation
of "esti" in Esperanto
mi estas
vi estas
li/ŝi estas
ni estas
ili estas

In Esperanto, it doesn't matter if you're conjugating for a singular or plural noun; all the conjugations are the same. The only thing that matters, is if the action takes place in the past, present, or future. Simply change the -i ending to one of the following.

  • -is (past) "______-ed"
  • -as (present) "is _____-ing" or simply "____-s"
  • -os (future) "will ____"
  • -u (command) "_____!" (Venu! Ludu! Come! Play!) As in English, the pronoun "you" is implied in commands.
Conjugation in Esperanto.
"to be"
"will be"
"must be"
"to go"
"will go"
"to speak"
"will speak"

Adjectives (8) redakti

Note, when combining these later, you will just use the root of the adjective, which is everything up to the final -a.

  • bona "good"
  • sama "same"
  • sana "healthy
  • granda "big" or "great"
  • longa "long"
  • alta "high"
  • vera "true"
  • varma "hot"

It's worthy to note, that all of these can be made their opposite, by adding the prefix "mal-". (So, malbona is "bad", and malgranda is "small".) The suffixes -et- and -eg- can lessen or heighten the intensity of the adjective. (Example, "longega" is very long, and "longeta" is just a little long.) Substituting an -e ending (instead of -a) turns the word into an adverb form: bone = "well" and sane (SAH-neh) is "healthily".

Also, if an adjective describes a plural noun (which gets the -j) the adjective also gets the pluralizing -j. So, for example:

  • grandaj landoj = large coutries
  • La landoj estas grandaj. = The countries are large. [The word "large" still modifies "countries", so it is also pluralized!]

Other important words for lesson 1 (5) redakti

  • la "the" | One thing that you won't see on this list that may take some getting used to, is -- there is no word for the English a or an. La is the only article in Esperanto. If you have a noun with no article, it is assumed to be "a noun".
  • kaj "and" Pronounced like "kite" without the T sound at the end.
  • en "in" or "into"
  • de "from" or "of"
  • ĝis "until" or "up to" – What a great preposition, which is used quite a bit in Esperanto. A common good-bye in Esperanto is "Ĝis la revido!" which literally means, "Until the reseeing!" However if you're writing someone a letter, it could be more appropriate to type, "Ĝis la reskribo!" If you're one of the cool crowd, you can shorten this to "Ĝis la" or even "Ĝis!" It is such a common goodbye saying that the rest of the phrase in implied. People in Internet chats have sometimes shortened it to "ĝ". I've even heard anecdotally that an Esperantist waved goodbye, and then cupped their hand over their head making a circumflex, implying the letter "ĝ". Isn't that sweet?

Combining these bits redakti

Like English, in Esperanto, it's possible to combine words, prefixes, and suffixes into compound words. In English, we have crazy words like preposterous and oneupmanship. You can do things like that in Esperanto as well – even more easily than in English. You'll find that it's easy to make up words using the above Esperanto roots which there isn't a direct translation in English.

There are two ways to make compound words in Esperanto. The first is to connect them with a hyphen, much like you would in English. The second way is ignore the hyphens, and use the roots of words (without the final vowel) like you would a prefix or suffix. For example, combine teo (tea) with ujo (container) and you get teo-ujo or more simply (and commonly) teujo ("teapot"). Sometimes, we even do this in English without even thinking about it, and similar forms are found in other languages: Taking the words bone (well) and veni (come) we can get the word bonveni (to welcome).

Remember, the goal is to be understood in this new foreign language. While the language is flexible in how you make yourself known, and there are no rules against stringing 5 or more roots together to make a word, I think it's easy to get confused (especially at first) when there are many roots to combine or decipher. Keep it simple.

Ekzameno redakti

"Ekzameno" means exam. It's test time! This is an open-book, open-notes test, however. You can use any of your resources to answer this test.

Can you translate the following words into an English word, phrase, or concept? I found, as a beginner, starting at the right of words was helpful to narrow down the meaning. After discovering their meaning, try to speak each of the Esperanto words out loud.

  1. malo (mal-o) ______________
  2. grandega (grand-eg-a)_____________
  3. landano (land-an-o) _____________
  4. teujo (te-uj-o) _____________
  5. sinjorino (sinjor-in-o) _____________
  6. ilarejo (il-ar-ej-o) _____________
  7. samideano (sam-ide-an-o) _____________
  8. malsanulejo (mal-san-ul-ej-o) _____________
  9. samlingvano (sam-lingv-an-o) _____________

Speak out loud the following Esperanto sentences, and translate them into English:

  1. Ŝi estas bela. ____________________
  2. La viroj estas sanaj. ________________
  3. Mia teo estos varmega. _______________
  4. Ili parolas vere. ________________
  5. Ludi estas ĝoji. ________________
  6. Mi estas de Usono*. _________________ [Usono = United States]
  7. Esperanto estas bona ideo kaj lingvo. _________________
  8. Mi loĝas en Usono. _____________________
  9. Estu ĝoja. ______________________
  10. Mi laboras en bona laborejo. ______________________

Translate the following sentences into Esperanto:

  1. I am very healthy.
  2. Cool tea was in the teapot.
  3. They will live in a small country.
  4. We work in the the same work-place.
  5. Until I see you again!

If you wish to ask questions, or have Lesson 1 graded, please send to yekrats@gmail.com.

Are you finished? Please proceed to Lesson 2.