The Volitive Mood in Esperanto

Introduction

The volitive mood functions as the imperative for requests and orders. We use the volitive mood in dependent clauses after expressions of desire, wishes and requests (similar to the subjunctive in other languages).

Pasaĝero: Haltu! Veturigu min al la stacidomo.

Taksiŝoforo: Kompreneble. Eniru! … Ni ekveturu!

Pasaĝero: Bonvolu ne veturi tro rapide! Mi naŭziĝas facile.

Taksiŝoforo: Ne timu! Mi ne povas veturi rapide en la pinthoro kaj mi ne volas, ke miaj pasaĝeroj vomu en mia taksio.

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Usage

As Imperative Command

The volitive mood can be compared with an imperative command when we request something directly from somebody or ask them to do, or not do, something.

Example:
Haltu!Stop!
Eniru!Get in!
Ne veturu tro rapide!Don’t drive too fast!

Other Ways to Make Requests

Instead of the volitive mood, we can also use questions to make requests.

Example:
Veturigu min al la stacidomo!Drive me to the train station!
→ Ĉu vi povus veturigi min a la stacidomo?Could you drive me to the train station?

Alternitively, use the word bonvoli please in the imperative command. In this case the verb that follows is used in the infinitive.

Example:
Bonvolu veturigi min a la stacidomo!Please drive me to the train station.

Dependent Clauses

We use the volitive mood in dependent clauses that follow particular words and expressions expressing a wish/desire, a request or a necessity. See: List of Words and Expressions that Require the Volitive Mood. As subjunctive clauses are less common in English we translate these constructions differently.

Example:
Estas malpermesate, ke pasaĝeroj fumu en taksio.It is forbidden for passengers to smoke in the taxi.

We also use the volitive mood in dependent clauses with (por) ke …, when they describe the objective of the main clause.

Example:
Mi ne volas, ke miaj pasaĝeroj vomu en mia taksio.I don’t want my passengers to be sick in my taxi.
Mi diras tion, por ke vi sciu.I'm saying it so that you know.

Translation of Should

To make an indirect request, which would be formulated with should in English, we need the volitive mood in Esperanto.(see: reported speech).

Example:
The taxi driver should drive slowly.
→ La taksiŝoforo veturu malrapide.

Construction

To create the volitve mood we simply replace the infitive ending -i with -u.

Example:
veturi → Veturu!to drive → Drive!
  • We don’t use the pronoun vi in direct requests (but we do use ni).
    Example:
    halti → Haltu!Stop!/Ni haltu!Let’s stop.
    eniri → Eniru!Get in!/Ni eniru!Let’s get in.
    ekveturi → Ekveturu!Go!/Ni ekveturu!Let’s go.
  • We use nouns and pronouns in dependent clauses and indirect requests with the meaning should.
    Example:
    La taksiŝoforo/Li veturu malrapide.The taxi driver/he should drive slowly.
    Mi ne volas ke miaj pasaĝeroj/vi vomu en mia taksio.I don’t want my passengers/you to be sick in my taxi.
    Mi diras tion, por ke la taksiŝoforo/li sciu.I say it, so that the taxi driver/he knows.

Negative Form

To request that someone not do something, simply put ne before the verb.

Example:
Ne veturu tro rapide, bonvole! Mi naŭziĝas facile.Don’t drive too fast, please. I get nauseous easily.
Ne timu!Don’t worry!