Simple Tenses in Esperanto

Introduction

In Esperanto, there are four basic tenses: present, past, future and conditional. The tenses are quick and easy to learn because we only have to change the verb ending to indicate the tense. Verbs in Esperanto are not conjugated differently for each person i.e. I/you/he etc.

Beispiel

La kato saltis sur la fotelon kaj kuŝiĝis.

Nun la kato dormas kaj sonĝas pri bovleto da lakto.

Se ĝi scius, ke mi metis jam iom da lakto por ĝi, ĝi kurus en la kuirejon.

Kiam poste ĝi vekiĝos, ĝojos pri la lakto.

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Overview

TenseEndingExample parolispeak
Present -as mi/vi/li/ŝi/ĝi/ni/vi/ili parolasspeak/speaks
Past -is parolisspoke
Future -os parolosam/is/are going to speak
will speak
Conditional -us paroluswould speak
would have spoken

Most of the time you can get by with just these four tenses. However, we can use compound tenses, which are formed with esti and a participle (see: compound tenses) to give finer more detailed information.

Present

We use the present tense for everything that is taking place right now or that takes place on a regular basis.

To form the present tense, we simply replace the infinitive ending -i with -as.

Example:
Nun la kato dormas kaj sonĝas pri bovleto da lakto.Now the cat is sleeping and dreaming about a bowl of milk.

Past

We use the past tense for everything that has already taken place.

To form the past tense, we simply replace the infitive -i ending with -is.

Example:
La kato saltis sur la fotelon kaj kuŝiĝis.The cat jumped onto the armchair and lay down.
Mi metis iom da lakto por ĝi.I put some milk out for it.
We don’t use male/female pronouns for animals in Esperanto, instead we always use the pronoun ĝi (it).

Future

We use the future tense for everything that will take place at a later moment in time.

To form the future tense, we simply replace the infinitive ending -i with -os.

Example:
Kiam poste ĝi vekiĝos, la kato ĝojos pri la lakto. When it wakes up, the cat will be glad about the milk.

Conditional

We use the conditional tense for anything that could take place (I would speak).

To form the conditional, we simply replace the infinitve ending -i with -us.

Example:
Se ĝi scius, ke mi metis jam iom da lakto por ĝi, la kato kurus en la kuirejon.If it knew that I had put out some milk for it, the cat would run into the kitchen.