Nouns in Esperanto

Introduction

We can identify nouns in Esperanto by their -o ending (-oj in plural). We differentiate between subject and object with the ending -n, which gives Esperanto a relatively flexibile word order.

Jen estas hundo. Ĝi estas la hundo de Karlo. Ĉiun tagon Karlo iras en parkon kun sia hundo. Tie ili renkontas aliajn hundojn.

Ofte Karlo kaj lia hundo ludas en parko. Karlo ĵetas la pilkon kaj la hundo kaptas la pilkon.

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Gender

Inanimate objects are not gendered in Esperanto (as in English). Neutral nouns can also be used for animals and people.

Example:
hundo → dog (male or female)
posedanto → owner (male or female)

If we want to emphasize the gender of an animal, we use the prefix vir- for male animals. For female animals we insert the syllable -in- before the noun ending -o.

Example:
virhundo → male dog
hundino → female dog

Be careful!

The -o ending for people is considered neutral, but it is also used as the male term. The female term is formed by inserting -in-.

Example:
posedanto → owner (neutral or male)
posedantino → owner (female)

Plural

We form the plural by adding -j to the end of the word.

Example:
hundo → hundojdog → dogs
parko → parkojpark → parks
pilko → pilkojball → balls

Cases

Nouns in Esperanto can be nominative or accustaive.

Nominative

The subject of a sentence and nouns that follow prepositions (excluding differentiations between movement/place, see below) are nominative.

Example:
La hundo estas saĝa.The dog is smart.
Karlo ludas kun la hundo.Karlo is playing with the dog.

Accusative

We form the accusative by adding -n ending. The accusative ending always comes after the plural (-j) ending.

Eaxmple:
la hundo → la hundonthe dog → the dog
la hundoj → la hundojnthe dogs → the dogs

We use the accusative:

  • to distinguish the direct object from the subject (due to the flexible word order in Esperanto).
    Example:
    Karlo ĵetas pilkon kaj la hundo kaptas la pilkon.Karlo throws a ball and the dog catches the ball.
    Tie ili renkontas aliajn hundojn.There they meet other dogs.
  • to indicate movement or direction (where to?) when the same preposition is used to indicate place.
    Example:
    Ĉiun tagon Karlo iras kun sia hundo en parkon.Every day, Karlo goes to the park with his dog. (where to (movement/direction) → accustaive)
    (compared to: Ofte Karlo kaj lia hundo ludas en parko.Karlo and his dog often play in the park. (where (position) → nominative))
  • to specify time when a preposition is not used.
    Example:
    Ĉiun tagon Karlo iras kun sia hundo en parkon.Every day Karlo and his dog go to the park.