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Accusative and plural adjectives

  • 2148

Is the accusative the same is the direct object? If not what's the difference (and if so why a different term)?

What purpose do accusative and plural adjectives serve, given that the English language functions well without them and English speakers don't seem to have any trouble?

Thanks for the Esperanto team for the notes and the course - it's been great fun :)

August 26, 2015



Yeah, it is! They are just synonyms!

But Accusative in Esperanto is a bit different. It is used when we are speaking about direction as well.

What purpose do accusative and plural adjectives serve, given that the English language functions well without them and English speakers don't seem to have any trouble?

Okay, accusative allows poets to make more beautiful poems: we can make a beautiful and appropriate word order.

Our speech can be more flexible.

The same is about the plural adjectives.

I think that Accusative and plural adjectives make more sense...

English don't have accusative and plural adjectives, but it has invariable word order which is not easy to use, especially for people who study English!


Direct object and accusative aren't the same thing although they are similar. Direct object is a role a word can fulfill in a sentence whereas the accusative is the case some languages mark direct objects with. In "Mi manĝas la pomon" "pomon" is the direct object and is marked for accusative. In "I eat the apple" "apple" is the direct object as well but is not marked for accusative.

Anyway, I'm being nitpicky and your explanation is great. I just thought I would put this out for us grammar enthusiasts.

  • 2148

Is that because different languages have different rules or is it somehow a different sentence?

Does it mean the in Esperanto the direct object is always 'marked' as accusative?

  • 2148

Just looked on Wikipedia:

Esperanto grammar involves only two cases, a nominative and an accusative. The accusative is (...) used for direct objects.


In English you rely on position of words in a sentence.

For example:

"I gave a child soldiers" means "Mi donis al infano soldatojn". Here "soldiers" is a direct object, it is what you give and "child" is an indirect object (and informs to whom you gave something) .

"I gave soldiers a child" means "Mi donis al soldatoj infanon". Here "child" is a direct object and "soldiers" is an indirect object.

  • 2148

Sure, I know what a direct and indirect object is. (And as an aside, learning Spanish has taught me more about English than all those years at school.)

But I take your point about he word order in English - subject, verb, object.

Does this mean that in Esperanto (and other languages with the accusative case) the words can be placed in whatever order?

For example can one say "Knabo kisis knabinon" or "Knabinon kisis knabo" and they both mean the same thing? Is that the case's advantage?


You are right. Knabo kisis knabinon or knabinon kisis knabo is the same and can be written thus.


mihxal, bonege klarigita, — dankon!


  • an indirect object = nerekta objekto (dativa objekto)
  • a direct object = rekta objekto

  • 2148

Thanks for the reply. I'll look out for the poetry!


You may also benefit reading an excerpt that comes from Jordan Colloquial. Here it is: 4.1.6. The Accusative Case. The so-called accusative case is marked in Esperanto with the letter -n at the end of adjectives, nouns, or pronouns. When there is a -j to show the plural, the -n follows the -j: Mi deziras kukojn. = I want cakes. Ĉu kafon vi deziras? = Do you want coffee? Ŝi min ĉiam batas! = She always hits me! Some grammarians regard the expression “accusative case” as referring to a relationship between a noun and a verb; others consider it to refer to a distinctive form of a word (in Esperanto, any form to which the ending -n has been added). This second is the definition we will use here. In Esperanto the accusative ending may be added to nouns, pronouns, adjectives, or adverbs of location. The Accusative of Direct Object The direct object of a verb in Esperanto is always in the accusative case. In English, the subject and direct object of a verb are shown by word order. In Esperanto, they are shown by the presence or absence of the accusative ending -n. For this reason, word order is much more flexible in Esperanto. Viro mordas hundon. = Man bites dog. Hundo mordas viron. = Dog bites man. Hundon mordas viro. = Man bites dog. Viron mordas hundo. = Dog bites man. Viro hundon mordas. = Man bites dog. Viron hundo mordas. = Dog bites man. Although in principle the subject, verb, and object may occur in any order, in fact, there is a tendency for Esperanto word order to be very similar to English word order, although this is by no means inevitably the case. Since grammatical information is shown in Esperanto word endings, fluent speakers feel free to vary word order for emphasis or stylistic effect. If you assume the word order of an Esperanto phrase parallels English, you will be right some of the time, but you will be misled sooner or later. I suggest making it a practice to try to create Esperanto sentences in which the word order does not follow the English pattern in order to try to break the habit of depending on word order for grammatical information. Instead of saying Ĉu vi deziras kukon? = “Do you want cake?” try to remember to say Ĉu vi kukon deziras? or Ĉu deziras vi kukon? or Ĉu kukon vi deziras? The fact that there is a clearly marked accusative form leads to some efficiencies not shared with English. For example, sometimes we do not need to repeat a verb for a second clause: Ŝi amas blondulojn, sed mi brunulojn. = She likes blonds, but I [like] brunets. Riĉaĵojn li havas; mi nur “psikan enspezon”. = He has riches; I [have] only “psychic income”. Hieraŭ Daĉjeto mordis la hundon, hodiaŭ la katon. = Yesterday Little Davey bit the dog, today [he bit] the cat. Hieraŭ Daĉjeto mordis la hundon, hodiaŭ la kato. = Yesterday Little Davey bit the dog, today the cat [did so].

  • 2148

Thanks, very interesting especially about the missed verbs. You could kind of get away with "yesterday he bit the dog, today (...) the cat" so long as there's that little pause. But the other sentences would be confusing. The final sentence is a great example.


Miakomprene, la objekto estas unu el la eroj de frazo (kaj la akuzativo estas kazo), ekzemple

  • Mi skribas leteroN.


  • "Mi" estas subjekto
  • "skribas" estas predikato
  • "lerteroN" estas rekta objekto

En Esperanto ekzistas nur du kazoj (ekz. en la finna lingvo estas 14–15 kazoj):

  • nominativo (letero)
  • akuzativo (leteroN)

Do, la kazo de la rekta objekto estas akuzativo.

kazo ≠ objekto

  • 2148

I only started Esperanto the other day so I do not understand your reply. Thanks anyway.


The object is only one of elements of a sentence (and accusative is a case).

There are only two cases in Esperanto. The case of a direct object is accusative.

→ case ≠ object

Moreover, accusative in Esperanto is used not only to indicate a direct object of a verb.

  • 2148

Thanks mihxal, but I think I understand the Esperanto more!!!

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