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  5. "Li donas al ni lakton."

"Li donas al ni lakton."

Translation:He gives us milk.

May 28, 2015



I think it was "al ni", because "nin" would be accusative, but the milk was being given, not us.


you're right. nin would be accusative but here ni should receive dative marking


Us in this case would be the INDIRECT object, while milk would be the direct object, so al ni implies that something is being given TO us rather than us being given to somebody.


Well, the sentence "Li donas al ni lakton" or "Li donas lakton al ni" would literally translate to "He gives milk to us," where "us" would not be the indirect object but the object of a preposition.

Now, I'm not sure how Esperanto handles objects of prepositions, but I'm sure one of the grammar pages on duolingo says that nouns preceded by a preposition never get the -n. However, I've also read that da and de mark indirect objects, so they might not actually count as prepositions.


I believe you don't mark indirect objects with -n.


Don't forget Esperanto is a mixture of many languages, and in this case the phrase is very GERMANIC:

Li donas al ni la lakton-

◘ Subject: Li (he)

◘Verb: doni (give)

◘ Direct object: well, i'm giving wilk, not "giving us", so milk is the accusative/ direct object of my sentence.

◘ Indirect object: The milk was given to us, the milk is the direct object, so IT us given to US.... al ni is the indirect object.

And because Esperanto is a mixture of many languages you can also say Li donas la lakton al ni, which is a bit more complicated but it's ok!!


Not sure how "mixture" factors in here.


The accusative also implies direction.


Just curious... can the original sentence be written as "Li donas lakton al ni" instead? Would that be grammatically correct / sound natural?


That is actually the preferred way of saying it


In 20 years of speaking Esperanto I haven't found that people make a big deal either way.

  • Li donas lakton al ni
  • Li donas al ni lakton

Both are good.


I think so but I'm not sure. I know that Esperanto has a very flexible word order.


It can be flexible, but it's always useful to use the general order that people will all understand


or you could mess around with people and say: al ni li donas lakton

  • 1251

That's a good idea but I guess we should be a little bit careful about the word order when you want to emphasize something.. look below..

Mi vin amas. I love you. (I, for you am loving.) Vin mi amas. I love you. (It is you that i love.) Vin amas mi. I love you. (You are loved by me.) Amas mi vin. I love you. (Love is what i have for you.) Amas vin mi. I love you. (Loving you is what i'm doing.)

I got this from http://esperanto.org/stanford/leciono-0-order/


I think the preferred order depends on one's native language, as many other things.

It's the same as, for instance "ši estas bela" and "ši belas": they're both correct, but, as in english we'd say "she's beautiful", we'd be more likely to use the first one. Maybe people from other countries tend to prefer the latter instead


Somehow I spell "he" as "hi"

I think the Esperanto is getting to me.


is 'al' always needed after donas?


If you're giving something to someone, you'll need "al + pronoun". That same sentence could have been written: Li donas lakton al ni.

Since "to give" usually requires an indirect object (to whom?), you'll have to use "al" with to verb "doni" a lot.

  • 1251

Some other word orders:

Li donas al ni lakton. (He, is who gives milk to us)

Lakton li donas al ni. (Milk, is what he gives us)

Al ni li donas lakton. (Us, is whom he gives milk to)

Donas li lakton al ni. (To give, is what he does with milk to us.)

I'm not sure if they're all accepted. Correct me if I'm wrong.


Only SHEs give milk, Jack!


You tell that the milkmen. Which are called milkMEN. Although Wikipedia also has a picture of a milkwoman.


So did I; that's why I looked at the discussion. I have tinnitus, and I have Music Choice playing on both the TV and the computer, and the computer lags behind the TV a fair bit; it's like hearing two people singing a round. So, I don't think I'm in a good position to make good judgments about what he actually says. But I played it several times after getting it wrong, and it sounds like "mi" to me.


well, n and m actually sound very much alike.

if there are plenty instances in English in which it's easy to separate, like when spelling the letters alone, it doesn't make it any less similar in so many other instances, like the last n in "mountain" or the last m in "i'm".

plus he does speak "al ni" very fast.


Same here.


Is there a difference between "He gives us milk" and "He is giving us milk" in esperanto? In other cases they looked the same.


No; almost all the previous lessons gave "is _-ing" as correct.


No there isn't. "He is giving us milk." should be accepted as a valid translation for this sentence.


You can say "Li estas donanta al ni lakton" (or even "Li donantas al ni lakton"), which only means "He is giving us milk". But this is very rare (tio estas tre malofta), and "Li donas" can mean both "He gives" and "He is giving".


Am I the only one who thought 'he donates milk to us'?


I have just reached level 5, so before i continue with this lesson what should i have a full grasp in this amazing language before i continue?

  • 1251

"He gives to us milk" is the word-for-word translation.


I take it that "li donas lakton al ni" is also correct? But is "Li donas al ni lakton" the more preferred method?


I'm having such a hard time discerning whether the man says "ni" or "mi".


"Li donas lakton al ni" and "Li donas al ni lakton" I guess are the same and correct. I use to think "Li donas al ni lakton" is wrong though.

I am just sharing my thoughts because this is my concern.


he gives us some milk


what is the purpose of the 'al' before 'ni'?


"al" means "to" - to us (forms the indirect object)


what is "al ni"?


"to us" -- "Li donas al ni lakton" -- He gave to us milk OR "Li donas lakton al ni" -- He gave milk to us.


you mean give rather than have, right?


"He give the us milk" Li (he) donas (give) al (the) ni (us) lakton (milk). Is what I read and got it wrong, what am I doing wrong?.. :<


Al means to, la means the. It's "Li (he) donas (gives) al (to) ni (us) lakton (milk).


I put he gives us the milk. Guessing "the" was what is wrong. Not sure why. Can someone please tell me why? Starting to learn this language, structure is not my strong point.


There's no "la" in the Esperanto version.


Oh snap there is no la, got it! Thank you commenters.


I envision getting "mi" and "ni" confused often in the audio. They just sound too similar when spoken fast. Maybe headphones would help.


There's no "l" sound in this person's "al ni" and it sounds like one word "ani" not two. The a sounds like a short a not an al. Pronunciation helps alot. I hope when I get talking to others I pronunciate well.


I think the speaker (June 28, 2020) is Chinese. I think the L is OK, but my wife had trouble understanding. I'll let someone know.



Question, can donas translate to donate or is there another word for that?

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