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  5. "Ne provu impresi min!"

"Ne provu impresi min!"

Translation:Don't try to impress me!

October 30, 2019



What word should we use for "try" here?

JenMLee asked the question here and in the reverse thread. The discussion got a little convoluted, so I thought I would try to organize my responses for the benefit of anybody reading along.

JenMLee (in the two threads) provided a definition of provi - apparently based on her reading of vortaro.net. There was also some mix up in her two posts about whether it's about "worth" or "worthiness" - but her presentation of the definitions were not correct. It's actually pretty simple.

There are three common words for "to try":

  • provi - to test out (the most general word for "try")
  • peni - to make an effort to get something done
  • klopodi - to take steps to get something done

As a side note, transitive and intransitive doesn't factor in here. The way peni and provi is used in a sentence is exactly the same.

  • Mi provis levi la sxtonon - I tried to lift the stone.
  • Mi penis levi la sxtonon - I made an effort to lift the stone.

Can we say provigi to emphasize that the verb is transitive?

No. It's less important to focus on whether a verb is "tr" or "ntr" - and to focus instead on what the verb means and how it's used in sentences. Adding -ig- to a verb makes the verb mean "to cause someone to do the action of the verb."

What -ig- does is different. It changes who is doing what.

  • provi - to try
  • provigi - to cause someone to try.

When describing English verbs, people will say that some verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively such as:

  • I am drowning.
  • I am drowning the cat.


  • I am eating.
  • I am eating my shoe.

However, notice that these are actually two different things. In the first example, the action changes from going under the water to causing something to go under the water. In the second example, the person is putting something in his mouth in both cases. For this reason, I think it's possible to be mislead by words like "transitive" and "intransitive" when learning Esperanto.

The Tips and Notes (light bulb icon) say this:

"Many verbs in English can be both transitive and intransitive, but this is not possible in Esperanto, in which verbs are normally either transitive or intransitive, but not both."

Please note that the intention here is for the first kind of verb above (I am drowning ... the cat), not the second. Some people do say that the second kind is a case where a verb can be both. For example, Word Reference Forums says this about the English verb "to eat".

Eat is mainly a transitive verb, while it can be intransitive in case of describing a habitual action. For example, He is eating at 6 o'clock.

The verb manĝi is the exact same way. Li manĝas je la sesa vespere.

So... the way Word Reference Forums puts it, the verb manĝi can be both transitive and intransitive. Clearly, this is not what the authors of the tips and notes mean by "transitive."

Also note that verbs that can take an object (e.g mangxi, klarig) don't necessarily have to.

  • Mi provis klarigi, sed vi ne komprenas.

But back to peni. Should I report this?

I would be surprised if the course took peni. The meaning is different.

  • Ne provu impresi min! - The person is testing out to see if they can impress you.
  • Ne penu impresi min! - This carries the notion of effort... the person would be exerting himself to impress you.

If you use peni in this sentence, your meaning will be something like:

  • "Don't strain to impress me."
  • "Don't sweat to impress me"
  • "Don't push it to impress me."

If you're interested in this thread, be sure to check out the reverse thread.



Mi kredas, ke tiu frazo estu "Ne penu impresi min!" Ĉu ne? Provi is transitive and means to prove, test or try something to determine its worthiness. Peni is intransitive and means to make an effort.


If that's the case, Duolingo would have so many wrong sentences. E.g.:

Sofia provas kuiri tomatan supon kun viando.

Ili provas kuiri viandon.

Mi provas manĝi rapide.


You are correct that PIV lists one as "tr"(transitive) and the other as "ntr"(intransitive) - but if you look at the definitions and the sample sentences, you'll see that the pattern that this sentence demonstrates is actually quite common in Esperanto. The sentence is fine as as it is.

This is another good example of why it's less important to focus on whether a verb is "tr" or "ntr" - and to focus instead on what the verb means and how it's used in sentences.

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