1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Esperanto
  4. >
  5. "Nia vespermanĝo odoras bone."

"Nia vespermanĝo odoras bone."

Translation:Our dinner smells good.

June 1, 2015



As to why we use adverbs instead of adjectives in such verbs such as smell, look, taste, etc., this is because they are a special type of verb. I don't know what it is called, but they are (simply put) verbs that pertain to the use of the senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch). These verbs fucntion like the verb "be" in the sense that they use adjectives instead of abverbs for describing them.

Example: It is tasty. Tasty is an adjective. It tastes good. Good is an adjective.

But this is not the case in Esperanto, where we use adverbs to describe such verbs.

Example: Gxi estas bongusta. Bongusta is an adjective. Gxi gustumas bone. Bone is an adverb.

Hope this helps.



In English, we have the concept of linking verbs. Linking verbs, as the above page describes, don't demonstrate an action, but rather connect the subject to more information about that subject. Some verbs, like to be, to seem, and to become. Other verbs can sometimes be linking verbs and other times not. In this example, we are talking about the verb to smell. In Esperanto, there are two translations, odori, and flari. Flari is an action, and thus is not a linking verb when translated into English. It is transitive, so it takes a subject, and an object: "La viro flaras la vespermanĝon." = "The man smells dinner." The man in this sentence is actually performing an action--he is smelling dinner. The other Esperanto verb, odori, is a linking verb when translated into English. It is intransitive, thus it does not take an object: "La vespermanĝo odoras bone." = "Dinner smells good." In this case, there is no action being performed; instead some characteristic about the dinner is being described. Since English has the concept of linking verbs, which simply connect the subject with more information about it, it is proper to link the subject with an adjective, since it is describing the subject, with a bit of help from the linking verb. But because Esperanto does not have this same concept (except for esti, that I know of), we must use adverbs--how is the dinner smelling? It is smelling well (adverbial form of good).

Esperanto and English are two completely different languages with completely different grammar rules, and it is extremely helpful for me to think as much as possible in the grammar of Esperanto, rather than comparing everything to English grammar; it's not that nothing in English is logical, but its grammar is a lot more complex and quite a bit different.

Final disclaimer: I am not a grammarian, nor am I an English major, nor am I fluent in Esperanto, so take what I said with a grain of salt, and consult Mignon Fogarty or something. :)


It does, thanks. I hope the course touches on this difference between English and Esperanto at some point in the Tips & Notes section.


Isn't "gustumas" the actual act of tasting something?


In fact, yes. Mi gustumis la supon. Gxi gustas malbona.

Note, that I willfully am using an adjective here. The use of adjectives or adverbs with "gusti" seems to vary.

  • ĝi gustis aĉe
  • ĝi gustis sala kaj naŭza.
  • Ĉio gustis tre malsame ol la manĝaĵoj, kiujn mi konis,
  • ĉe tiu lertulo viando gustis fiŝe, fiŝo gustis funge, makaronioj gustis pulve, sed neniu karoto povis trafi kaserolon sen akcepti formon de rombo aŭ trapezo.

You could also say "malbongustas."


I'm really confused by this one. Why are we using "bone" instead of "bona"? In the English version of the sentence, "good" is an adjective, not an adverb, because it's modifying "our dinner" not "smells", as the dinner is being smelled, not doing the smelling. Can someone explain why it's different in Esperanto? Because now I'm confused about when to use adjectives and when to use adverbs.


I think it is the English which is illogical by using an adjective, because "bone" really modifies the verb. We don't know whether the food is good, it could be bad even if the smell is OK


Exactly, kanguruo -- in fact, I have translated bone a couple of times as "well" accidentally. It's English.


On the contrary, the English usage with "smell" is exactly parallel to the English usage with "look." It looks good. It smells good. That is, I use my senses to determine that it is good.

The weird thing is that the Esperanto verb "aspekti" works like "to look." Gxi aspektas bonega.

The Esperanto sentence in the OP looks strange to me. I'm going to need to look into this a bit. For sure, the verb "bonodori" is the most common way to say that something smells good. I've been looking for similar sentences but I haven't found any. The closest I have come up with is:

"La tagmanĝo estis apenaŭ sufiĉinta, kaj la granda viandopeco kiun mi turnadis odoris bonege."

It's not clear to me whether this is supposed to mean that the big piece of meat smells like an excellent piece of meat, or whether it was doing an excellent job of giving off a smell and therefore tempting the person who had not eaten enough lunch.

Edit: According to PMEG, at least, after the verb "aspekti", it's permissible to use either an adjective or an adverb with the same meaning. http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/specialaj_priskriboj/perverba/subjekto.html


Uhmm, that's a really big problem, but this is you have to know.... Esperanto (as far as you know) is a mixture of languages, so German is in the lis; and, when in French, Spanish or English we say how is someone/thing in Esperanto you say How is ssomeone/thing going. So use adverbs instead of adjetives when talking about states of someone/thing!


I'm still confused as to how these two sentences would be said/interpreted in Esperanto:

"The man smells well." (Meaning: The man has a good sense of smell; he has a good nose; he is good at smelling things). "The man smells good." (Meaning: He has a pleasant odour.)

In Esperanto, is there a different verb for "to smell something" versus "how something smells"? Because if it's the same verb, and adverbs are used in either case, the sentence, "La viro odoras bone" would be really confusing and hard to interpret.


Yes, two different verbs:

odori (mal)bone - to smell good(/bad)

flari (ion) - to smell (something)

Thus, "la viro odoras bone" can only mean "the man smells good" i.e. the man has a pleasant odour.

Odori is a verb that can only take an adverb. In fact, the only verb off the top of my head that can take an adjective is "esti" because that verb acts as an equal sign. La odoro estas bona. The smell/odour = good.


Ok, thank you. That clears things up.


Does Nia vespermanĝo odoras bongusta. have the same concept?


It translates literally to "Our dinner smells tasty/delicious." So, I assume it have the same concept, but I don't think it's going to be accepted.

Please note that it should be "Nia vespermanĝo odoras bonguste".


If something can be said to "gusti sala", I don't see why it can't be said to "odori bongusta." I'm double-checking my own understanding here, but I will say with some confidence that in real life, you're way more likely to hear "Nia vespermangxo bonodoras" than any of the other variations which have been suggested here so far.


I agree with you on your last sentence, but not on the first one.

I can't find it in PMEG, but searching case-insensitively for \bgust\w\w? \w{3,}a\b (conjugated gusti + adjective) in Tekstaro de Esperanto gives 1 real result*, compared with 15 real results of \bgust\w\w? \w{3,}e\b (conjugated gusti + adverb).

* About "ĝi gustis sala kaj naŭza", it's the only result in Tekstaro. It's from a book called "Mortula ŝipo", which also used an adverb with gusti severals times, and used gusti instead of gustumi in another place! Anglicism detected!

I've repeated the same test with odori, and get 0 vs 6.

So, I see that Tekstaro agrees that gusti and similar verbs are used with an adverb not an adjective.

BTW, that above search pattern means a word boundary (\b) followed by gust then a letter (\w) or two + a space, then at least three letters followed by an "e" or "a" (depending on what we are searching for), and another word boundary. I have excluded some results because it's not what we want (e.g., "gusto" and "gustas ĉiutage"), therefore I used the term "real results".


For starters, I want to underscore for anybody reading along that we agree on "bongustas" and "bonodoras". Those words are common and ordinary ways to say that something smells or tastes good.

It may not be as apparent, but we also agree that a phrase like "la tomata supo gustas bone" is good Esperanto. When I said above "I'm double-checking my own understanding here", I meant that I was asking around as well as reviewing the very sources you mention. To that, we could add that every illustration in PIV for "gusti" and "odori" is with an adverb and not an adjective. I have also reviewed the relevant sections of PMEG, PAG, and even Menade Bal Püki Bal.

At this point, it's clear that "Nia vespermanĝo odoras bone" is correct. Where I have lingering doubts is with the various explanations that I have found. I have not found a single one that does not seem ad hoc to me.

Another clarification: it's probably not fair to refer to any mistakes in "Mortula ŝipo" as anglicisms. It was translated from German by a native German speaker, then checked by an American living in Germany. For sure, that one use of "gustas" (for tasting the bitter oranges) is wrong.

You said you couldn't find it in PMEG. I posted the link elsewhere in the thread (see below as well). Bertilo specifically lists "aspekti" as a verb which can take an adverb or an adjective with essentially the same meaning. What I'm looking for at this point is a coherent explanation of which words act like "aspekti", which words act like "sxajni" (which takes an adjective), and which words act like "gusti" -- and why.

At this point (for reasons that I'm omitting because this comment is already long) I'm not ready to say that "odori bongusta" is actually wrong, even if I will say that "odori bonguste" is certainly correct.

Some potentially relevant links.




Actually, there was a similar discussion earlier, but in the opposite direction, and I also have referred to the same page in PMEG.

I searched for exactly "gustas" or "odoras" in PMEG, so I couldn't find anything. I repeated the search today with the four -S verb-forms of these two verbs, but nothing found. But it seems that the mentioned page is what we want.

About "Mortula ŝipo", I confess that I don't know anything about it, except what I found using Tekstaro yesterday. But I referred to the mentioned mistake (gusti instead of gustumi) as anglicism, because it's an English expression. So is using an adjective after gusti. The same expressions may be found in other languages, but not in Esperanto. That's the reason. I didn't mean it literally.

Using an adjective with gusti sounds reasonable to many (including me), but I can't find a strong evidence yet. So, I'll go with what I'm sure of.

I totally agree with you on having a general rule for choosing between an adjective or an adverb with a verb, rather than the basic rule: adjective with esti (kaj similaj verboj), unless the subject is not (pro)noun or there is no subject at all (like the weather expressions), and adverb with the rest verbs.

There are Akademianoj on Duolingo, and they will eventually see these comments. There are many experts on Lernu.net, so I will certainly ask them if no satisfactory answer is found. But now I don't have enough time due to my exams.

Please let me know when you find anything related to the topic, and I will do so, too. :)


salivanto, I know it's over a year since you posted this, but have you ever found a convincing explanation for why?


Here's how I'm remembering now: if it's a description of an action, use - e ending, if it's a description of an object use - a ending, think of it like a pattern or a math equation, ignore the language and think of it as a rule. Note the key point here: odoras does not mean 'smells' it means "giving off a smell". Not smelly, but the act of giving off a smell. A verb.

This simplifies things for me I hope it does for you. Took me a couple days to wrap my head around this.


Keep in mind, bone and bona are the same word just in a different form.


So I have a question for the esperantistoj : is there a noun version of odoras? Would that be 'odoro'? If so, then would you use' bona' when describing it? Like "La odoro estas bona"?


That's exactly it. "Kio estas tio bona odoro?" What is that good smell?


Thank you SO much for cementing my understanding. OK, next hurdle overcome!


why not "Our dinner smells nice"


In English, it's common for people to use adjectives as adverbs, but..Odoras bona is incorrect because you can not use adjectives to modify verbs. Adjectives belongs with nouns and adverbs belongs with verbs.


No, you are misunderstanding my question. In the English version of this sentence, "good" IS an ADJECTIVE. It is modifying the noun "our dinner" not the verb "smells".

This is something in English grammar that is commonly misunderstood. When we say, "Our dinner smells good" in English, "good" is an adjective, not an adverb, because it is presumed that dinner cannot do smelling, but that the smelling is being done by a person. The object of the sentence is 'dinner' and the subject is not mentioned. So "good" is actually modifying the noun "our dinner", not the verb "to smell".

The adverbial form of "good" in English is "well", and if we say "The dinner smells well," it doesn't make sense. A person can smell well (ie, be good at smelling) or smell badly (ie be bad at smelling), but a non-sentient object cannot.

As another example, you can see how this works if you just change "good" to "delicious".

"Our dinner smells delicious." (adjective). Meaning: We smell the dinner and it smells delicious to us. "Our dinner smells deliciously" (adverb). Meaning: Doesn't really make sense. Maybe, our dinner is really enjoying sniffing something?


The sentence is using smell as "to have a scent or odor" not "to sense an odor". In English, "smell" has both those meanings, but in Esperanto those meanings do not belong to the same word.

You can't apply the same rules to EO. It would just mean "The good dinner smells" and to me that just means the dinner was good but it stinks, not that the dinner smells good. You need to modify the smell not the dinner and to do that you need an adverb not adjective.


Thank you. That's what I was trying to understand.


You asked in another part of this thread:

> I know it's over a year since you posted this, but have you ever found a convincing explanation for why?

Nothing that doesn't really seem ad hoc.


Now why cant we say 'nia vespermango flaras bona' . I am confused why are we writing bone whereas it means well when in english we are translating it as good.


How detailed an explanation do you want? The simple answer is "that's how Esperanto works." The extremely long answer is in the rest of the discussion of this thread. I may be able to dig up a middle-length explanation from another thread.

Edit I wrote the above on the thought that you were asking about "odoras bone." The reason you can't use "flaras" is that "flaras" means "to sense with your nose."


Vidu mian respondon. Mi pensas, ke ĝi estas klara kaj mallonga.


I replied back to that post four years ago explaining why I didn't think it was overly clear. The ultimate answer is "that's the way it's done in Esperanto" and "Esperanto and English are different language."

Even within Esperanto different verbs of perception require different kinds of compliments.


To be able to "flari" you need to have a nose. You can say Mi flaras ion. But a thing can't "flari". As said above bone relates to the verb, so it has to be an adverb. Obviously Esperanto and English don't work the same way. English is not as logical as Esperanto.


On the contrary, in this particular case, English is more internally consistent than Esperanto.

  • It looks good.
  • It seems good.
  • It smells good.
  • It tastes good.

In all cases, we're using an adjective to describe the subject as we perceive it using various senses or ways of perceiving things. In Esperanto, however:

  • Ĝi aspektas bona/e.
  • Ĝi ŝajnas bona.
  • Ĝi odoras bone.
  • Ĝi gustas bone.

I've seen many explanations of why ŝajnas takes an adjective and why the others take an adverb.. and why aspektas takes either -- and none of them didn't seem post hoc. It comes down to usage, not logic in this case.


It is very logical to use an adverb. Only the smell is good, but the dinner in itself might not be good, it could be very fatty, have a bad taste even if the smell is good. The problem of English is that smell has quite different meanings. Very confusing for people who don't have English as their first language.


It is very logical to use an adverb

  • Ĝi aspektas bona/e.
  • Ĝi ŝajnas bona.

Are you saying Esperanto isn't logical?


No I am saying Esperanto is logical. The examples you give are different. Ĝi ŝajnas bona. In that case it relates to ĝi.


This is exactly what I meant when I said post hoc. I've been waiting four years for an explanation of why: ŝajnas relates to the subject, odoras and gustas relates to the verb, and aspektas relates to either one.

The only possible answer is the one I gave to Swati - "that's how Esperanto works."

Ĉu vi scias kio estas kopulo?

Of course I do.

Esti, ŝajni, aspekti estas kopuloj

Ok, I've said this twice already. I'll try a third time. If esti, ŝajni, aspekti are all in the same category, why are the following sentences all correct?

  • Ĝi estas bona.
  • Ĝi ŝajnas bona.
  • Ĝi aspektas bona.
  • Ĝi aspektas bone.

While these sentences are not:

  • Ĝi estas bone.
  • Ĝi ŝajnas bone.


The only answer is "that's just how Esperanto is."


Ĉu vi scias kio estas kopulo? Esti, ŝajni, aspekti estas kopuloj. Odori ne estas. Ekzistaj diversspecaj verboj. Vi certe scias ke "esti" estas iom speciala verbo, vi ne uzas akuzativon post "esti", sed ekzistas kelkaj aliaj iom similaj verboj: kopuloj.

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