1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Esperanto
  4. >
  5. [Answered] Confused about the…


[Answered] Confused about the -n suffix

I just started phrases, and the tips indicate that the -n suffix on a noun indicates that it is the subject of a sentence. As I understand it from Wikipedia, this is because clauses in Esperanto can be either SVO or OVS, so the -n is necessary to distinguish.

However, the -n was omitted in the "basics" exercises. Was it just omitted for simplicity, meaning those sentences are actually not grammatically correct? Or am I missing something?

Edit: as the answers below describe, I was confusing the object with the subject.

May 30, 2015



Esperanto has two noun cases: Nominative and Accusative. The accusative noun case is used when the noun being used is the direct object of the sentence. I think you misunderstood the tips, it should not be indicating the subject of the sentence. That's the job of the nominative noun case.

The reason that you don't have the -n suffix in sentences like "Mi estas viro" is because the "to be" verb doesn't have a direct object, but instead describes the subject.

"La viro havas hundon," and "Hundon havas la viro" mean the exact same thing because the noun "hundo" (dog) is in the accusative case, (marked by the suffix -n) which means it is the direct object, and "viro" is the subject. SVO word order is the generally used one, but you could switch it around if you want to put emphasis on the object instead of the subject.


Ah, that clears it up. I was confusing the object with the subject. Oops!


thats because the basics only used the verb "to be", which doesn't take -n after it, or verbs with no objects (i.e. she sings).


simply put, a noun and its modifiers (excluding articles) take the "n" prefix when they are in the accusative (direct object). This is what gives it its free word order. The object is marked by the "n," so it can be placed wherever in the sentence, and its meaning will still be understood. Another thing to consider is that it is not used after "estas" because it is a linking verb. It doesn't have an object, as estas is used to link a word with something that modifies or renames it (predicate adjective or predicate nominative). I think this may be the source of your confusion.


The -n is the accusative marker (it's marks the object of the sentence). The times where you don't see it, that means you don't have a direct object at all: with to be, you're almost in the presence of a predicate subject: the verb to be doesn't act on an object, it only gives you more information that describes your subject.


And this is where Esperanto is similar to German

Learn Esperanto in just 5 minutes a day. For free.