A micro-course in Esperanto


Letters are the same as in English, except…
c is pronounced ts (e.g. cent is pronounced tsent)
ĉ is pronounced (t)ch (e.g. is pronounced etch)
g is always ‘hard’, like go (e.g. ega is pronounced like eh-gah)
ĝ is a ‘soft’ g, like gent (e.g. aĝo is pronounced like ah-joe)
ĥ (a rare sound) is the sound of ch in loch (e.g. ĥoro)
j is pronounced y (e.g. jes is pronounced yes)
ĵ is like the s in treasure (e.g. aĵo is pronounced like ah-zhoh)
r is always pronounced, preferably trilled (e.g. karto is pronounced like carr-toe)
s is always ‘soft’ like so (e.g. emis is pronounced like em-iss)
ŝ is pronounced sh (e.g. ŝi is pronounced like she)
a is always like the a in father (e.g. kate is pronounced like kah-teh)
e is always like the e in bet (e.g. ne is pronounced like neh)
i is always like the i in bit (e.g. filo is pronounced like fee-loh – except the ee is short)
o is always like the o in forty (e.g. po is pronounced like poor – with no r sound)
u is like the oo in moon (e.g. guto is pronounced like goo-toh)

In words with more than one syllable, the stress is always on the second-last syllable (e.g. rapide is like rah-PEE-deh)

Let’s create some sentences in Esperanto

1. Choose a subject:

mi (I); vi (you); li (he); ŝi (she); kato (a cat); la kato (the cat); floro (a flower); la floro (the flower); la viro (the man); la virino (the woman)

2. Choose a verb:

estas (am / is / are); estis (was / were); ŝatas (like / likes); ŝatis (liked); vidas (see / sees); vidis (saw); kuras (run / runs / am running / is running); kuris (ran); havas (have / has)

3. Choose an object (for ŝatas, ŝatis, vidas or vidis):

(Same as subject, but add ‘-n’. E.g. ‘la virino’ becomes ‘la virinon’.)

Or choose an adjective (for estas or estis):

bela (beautiful); malbela (ugly); granda (big); malgranda (small); rapida (fast)

4. Now, make a sentence (1 + 2 + 3):
Mi ŝatas vin. (I like you.)

Vi ŝatas min. (You like me.)

La floro estas bela. (The flower is beautiful.)
Kato kuris. (A cat ran.)

Mi ŝatas la malgrandan katon. (I like the small cat.) – Notice how the adjective ‘malgranda‘ takes on the ‘n’, too.

Or make a question (just start the sentence with ‘Ĉu’):

Ĉu vi ŝatas min? (Do you like me?)

Ĉu la floro estas bela? (Is the flower beautiful?)

Ĉu kato kuris? (Did a cat run?)

5. Use the negative (‘ne’, before the verb):

Vi ne ŝatas min. (You don’t like me.)

La kato ne kuris. (The cat didn’t run.)

La virino ne estas malbela. (The woman isn’t ugly.)

6. To make a noun plural, add ‘-j’ – after the ‘o’ (but before the ‘n’)
Katoj (cats)

Floroj (flowers)

Mi ŝatas florojn. (I like flowers.)

In a sentence, if a noun is plural, so is any adjective associated with it:

Malgrandaj katoj kuras. (Small cats run.)

La floroj estas belaj. (The flowers are beautiful.)

Ŝi havas belajn florojn. (She has beautiful flowers.) – Notice how the adjective ‘bela’ takes on both the ‘-j’ and the ‘-n’.

Did you notice some patterns in the word lists?

If ‘Mi havas katon’ means ‘I have a cat’, how would you say ‘I had a cat’?

If ‘malgranda’ means ‘small’, what does ‘malrapida’ mean?

Unlike English, and most other languages, these patterns – and many more like them – are completely consistent. Verbs always end in ‘-as’ for the present and ‘-is’ for the past. If an adjective has an opposite, you can make it just by putting ‘mal-’ before that adjective.

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