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The Sixteen Rules

Saluton ĉiuj!

A while ago I found this Esperanto resource titled 'The Sixteen Rules of Esperanto Grammar' searching through Google, so I figured it would be a good resource to look over grammar with. If you're a native English speaker, you might find the accusative in Esperanto a little challenging, and I found that this resource could possibly help explain any grammar questions that you may have.

The Sixteen Rules: http://donh.best.vwh.net/Esperanto/rules.html

I also found another guide about the rules that some users may like better here: http://issuu.com/apamexico/docs/the_sixteen_rules_of_esperanto/1

Happy Learning!

June 2, 2015



Thank you for making this! I stopped learning my previous language because I wasn't having fun, but have joined the language I wanted to learn since I started duolingo! Thank you so much and I plan on finishing this soon and starting to learn other languages and work on Esperanto more!


Hope it helps :)


Zamenhof wanted Esperanto to work well for all fields of human communication, including literature and poetry. The option of leaving off a final 'o' in a word allows changes in rhythm and rhyme, and to a lesser extent, for stylistic variation. Consider the whimsical translation of "Mary had a little lamb" below, in which dropping an 'o' allows for the desired rhyme and/or rhythm in the first and last lines.

Sur la ŝafido de Meri’, ŝaflano neĝe blankis; ne gravis kien iris ŝi, ŝafid’ neniam mankis. —Derek Roff

On Mary’s lamb, the fleece was snowy white; it didn’t matter where she went, the lamb was never lacking. (Literal translation)

This poem appears in the very useful reference, "Being Colloquial in Esperanto", by David Jordan. It's available online, and is updated frequently. http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/eo/colloq/colloq.html


Rule 16 has me thoroughly confused. What's the benefit in doing this? I've never seen it outside of the Sixteen Rules so I assume it's an unpopular thing to do, but why would Zamenhof introduce this rule in the first place?

The other 15 are a great grammar reference, I'll probably print a page off of this and tape it to the wall behind my monitor. Thanks for the links!


If you listen to Esperanto songs or read Esperanto poetry, you run into this a lot. It's simply for aesthetic purposes and to maintain the flow in verse.


My guess is that it's sorta Esperanto's version of contractions, but definitely not as popular. But hey, it's good to know if you ever do see it happen right? :)


I just assumed that Esperanto didn't have contractions at all, which I viewed as a bonus. This method removes the letter that tells you what type of word you're dealing with... without reducing the length of the word at all. I'm seeing this as akin to replacing all the vowels in English with asterisks; It doesn't shrink sentence size and sows confusion by forcing you to rely on context to understand the sentence, which seems like the antithesis of Esperanto's philosophy. I suppose that it IS a good thing to know someone is just making contractions and not having a stroke when the apostrophes start flying around.

I'm still very much a komencanto, so I'm probably missing some bigger picture stuff here. If someone out there reading this knows the story behind rule 16, please educate me!


You can remove only the final "o". If a word ends in apostrophe, it is a singular noun. Esperanto words have as many syllables as vowels. If you remove the ending "-o", it will have one less syllable, it reduces the length. It also puts the stress on the last syllable, instead of the regular next to last. This is used in poetry, not in regular writing.


Rule 16 is for poetic purposes. From the beginning, Esperanto has been used to make or translate poems to check or demonstrate the language's ability. Imagine what would poetry be if each and every line ended with o, then orally it may sound quite heavy. (Well, there are other endings of course…)

The article might be helpful when counting the syllables, or comfortable with nouns beginning with "a".

IRL, in fluent casual chats, it seems to me that final "o"s tend to fade away, it's never accented, and gets muted, as the final "e"s in German and French.

Note to learners: if you remove the final o, the accent is on the last syllable (the same one it would be otherwise).


Thanks for sharing those links! :)


Awesome, thanks!


The first link doesn't work anymore; at least for me.


Here is the work of the regretted Don Best


A most important site ☺…

sfuspvwf npj


His name was Don Harlow.

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