"La instruisto demandas al la knaboj pri io."

Translation:The teacher asks the boys about something.

May 30, 2015

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How do you know when to use "al"? I would have translated the English phrase to "La instruisto demandas la knaboj pri io." Is there a tip for when "al" is used or not used?


It's used for the indirect object. English has ditransitive verbs with two positional objects ("he told me everything"), Esperanto doesn't. One object gets the -n role and the other uses a preposition. "Li rakontis al mi ĉion" - He told (to) me everything / He told everything to me

http://literaturo.org/HARLOW-Don/Esperanto/rules.html#nouns http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/dative_case.htm


What is the rule around using 'al la'?


Is it also acceptable to use "demandas la knabojn"? It seems strange that this verb is taking two objects and neither is in the accusative.


Both of these sentences exist in Duolingo:

  • La instruisto demandas la knabojn pri io.

  • La instruisto demandas al la knaboj pri io.

According to Duolingo, they both translate to:

  • The teacher asks the boys about something.


You can ask a question. You can't ask "a boy".

'A question' is implied and left out. The full sentence of this would be - "The teacher asks (a question to) the boys about something."

Objects of prepositions don't normally take the accusative.


I understand that prepositions can replace the accusative, so I was wondering if you could remove the "al" and use the accusative instead.

Thanks for pointing out the implicit question that is being asked - I didn't think of that. But still, I'm not sure what you're arguing in your first paragraph. In English at least, it seems to me that you can both "ask a question" and "ask a boy" though I agree you can't *"ask a topic". But making analogies with another language seems to be of limited use - e.g. in my limited understanding of German, both objects of "fragen" are in the accusative here (https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/40839/why-does-fragen-take-two-accusatives).

So I guess it's not like there's a "right" answer that all languages can agree on. Is there a dictionary or something where I can find out which object takes the accusative in Esperanto?


Demandi is a transitive verb. It needs a direct object. When I say you can't 'ask a boy', I mean literally, you can't. 'a boy' would be the indirect object. You can ask a question to a boy, or you could ask a boy a question, but you can't actually 'ask a boy'. It doesn't truly make sense because that's not what's being asked (even if we do say it in English). A question is being asked.

In English you can throw in the indirect object without a preposition. For example, "John gave him money." him is not what's being given. That wouldn't make sense. In Esperanto, you have to indicate the indirect object with a preposition. So it would be, "John gave money to him." John donis al li monon, or Donis monon John al li. Or however you want to order it.


vortaro.net lists as examples for demandi: "kial vi min demandas pri bono?", and "li demandis ŝin, kion ŝi faras tute sola" (http://vortaro.net/#demandi).

Are these not the same as my proposed "la instruisto demandas la knabojn pri io"?


Your sentence is also correct. But from what I understand the "n" in "ŝin" is there because the action has a direction, which is "towards her".

https://www.duolingo.com/skill/eo/Questions/tips-and-notes Kien vi iras? Mi iras tien. To where are you going? I am going to there.

So "la instruisto demandas la knabojn" is really "the teacher asks (a question to) the boys" as I understand it as a boy is not a thing that can be asked, rather a question to a boy.


Any reason "the teacher is asking something of the boys" wouldn't be right?


When I see that, I get the impression that the teacher is asking the boys to DO something.

[deactivated user]

    "pri io" means "about something".


    How would we say 'The teacher is asking the boys ABOUT something'?


    "La instruisto demandas al la knaboj pri io."


    The prompt for the words are providing the wrong options.


    Do you mean that there were not any correct options at all among all options?

    According to the dictionary PIV the verb demandi has a rection demandi iun pri io, i.e. not with al iu. So next time try with that PIV-approved rection, and report if necessary.

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