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When to use the -n ending

Thanks to a very helpful member of the Duolingo Esperanto Learners Group on Facebook, we are pleased to present the following useful summary:

When to use -n:

1.When the noun is the direct object: “Mi amas vin”, I love you.

2.When an adjective is describing the direct object: “Li ŝatas manĝi verdajn pomojn”, He likes to eat green apples.

3.When there is motion towards the noun: “La infano saltas sur la liton”, The child jumps onto the bed (compare “La infano saltas sur la lito”, the child was already on the bed and is jumping on it).

4.When expressing a duration of time: “La kapo doloris min la tutan tagon”, My head hurt the whole day.

5.When expressing length, quantities, price, distance and measures: “La ŝtofo estas 2 metrojn longa”, The fabric is 2 metres long; “La domo kostas multan monon”, The house costs a lot of money; “Ili marŝis dudek kilometrojn”, They walked twenty kilometres.

6.For greetings, thanks, wishes, apologies, and other similar expressions: “Saluton”, “bonan tagon”, “pardonon”, “bonan apetiton”, "gratulon", “dankon”, etc. These are shortened forms of a longer phrase: “Mi donas al vi dankon", “Mi deziras al vi bonan tagon”.

When NOT to use -n:

1.When the noun is the subject

2.Directly after “esti” or “fariĝi”

3.On “la”: “Ŝi verŝas teon en la tason” (NOT “Ŝi verŝas teon en lan tason”)

4.On numbers that are not nouns: “Ili havas du hundojn” (NOT “Ili havas dun hundojn)

5.When saying the name of the person you are talking to: “Mi amas vin, paĉjo” (NOT “Mi amas vin, paĉjon”)

NEVER use -n after: al, ĉe, da, de, dum, el, ĝis, kun, laŭ, per, por, pro, pri.

July 21, 2015



I feel like the -n ending is the one aspect of Esperanto that somewhat mimics how confusing every aspect of natural languages is.


The reason why many "natural languages" are confusing, isn't because they contain a couple of grammatical features which are not present in you native tongue, but because they contain tons of irregularities.


Yah, it's the irregularities, but it's also concepts like this more specifically that I was referring to where it's difficult to fully grasp and remember all the rules for when something is supposed to be used in a certain way until you get to a higher level in the language and you just start to instinctively understand when it should be used and when it shouldn't.


For some people it's the article „la“.


Exactly. Knowing when and when not to use the article "la" comes natural to speakers of most European languages, but it can be a huge stumbling block for the speakers of many Asian/African/etc. languages. Because the difference between "la domo" and just "domo" is very nuanced. Most people can't even explain why one is correct and the other isn't. It just is.


with this I feel like either one is correct, but I think it's weird to struggle with the concept of using an article in front of a noun, just the same as i find it weird to struggle with the concept of not using an article, its just a way of specifying which "domo" you're talking about


The point is taken, but the difference is whereas one can list the uses of -n on a single page, the irregularities of almost any natural language will fill a large, dense book (I had such a book in my highschool "rhetoric" class). Compare a few weeks of initial difficulty to a lifetime of uncertainty. This is a mountain-molehill situation.

There is also the problem of perspective: The -n is much less confusing if you are a speaker from a number of languages that are declined/inflected similarly (unlike English). The -n is absolutely natural and, indeed, a vast simplification compared to their native languages' case systems. Different things are confusing for different learners. That's the rub of an international language.

The -n system is a useful, if imperfect, compromise with both costs and benefits.


...I was just making a simple comparison, I don't know why people seem to want to argue me on it.


If there were no accusative case, you would have distinguish subjects from objects with word order, as English does, and then there'd be someone from another background explaining how confusing that can be too.


Eh, the use cases of "je" though are like natural language, subjective and based on usage ratehr than rules.


Another way of describing how the -n is used for measurement of time and distance is that it stands in for the place of a preposition. That's why Ruth listed all (did she miss any?) of the prepositions at the end.

In the sentence: La ŝtofo estas 2 metrojn longa. You can think of the sentence more simply structured as: La ŝtofo estas longa je 2 metroj. But, because that preposition is for adding additional information about a measurement, the preposition may be dropped and the accusitive (-n) added to the unit of measurement. This works the same for time: Mi kuris dum 3 minutoj. The preposition dum can be dropped and the unit of measurement of time can take the -n. Mi kuris 3 minutojn.

It works the same way when indicating direction with "al". Mi iras al Parizo. Drop the preposition al and add -n to the destination. Mi iras Parizon.

I dispute that: "La domo kostas multan monon" is a good example of this. Kosti is a transitive verb. Therefore, multan monon is the direct object of that verb. One cannot say, La domo kostas je multa mono.

Whenever I hear some people argue that Esperanto should get rid of the accusitive (-n), I shudder. Yes, it can be a bit confusing at first for English speakers, but when you get it you'll see that it is extremely important. It carries loads of meaning and is fundamental to how the language works.


This is more clear than the OP, which I still appreciate.


Ruth/Margo - it was brought to my attention that this summary doesn't include when to add -n to adverbs. Do you think this should be added - perhaps as item 3b?

Amike, Tomaso/Salivanto


Clarifications based on learners' questions:

  • What about measurements with estas?
  • Why is ĉe on the "never use" list?

Point 5 from the DO list and point 2 from the DON'T list seem to conflict

Good point. For reference:

5 [Use -n] When expressing length, quantities, price, distance and measures: “La ŝtofo estas 2 metrojn longa”, The fabric is 2 metres long; “La domo kostas multan monon”, The house costs a lot of money; “Ili marŝis dudek kilometrojn”, They walked twenty kilometres.


2 [Don't use -n] Directly after “esti” or “fariĝi”

I would agree that the wording for number 2 is far from bulletproof. The spirit of number 2 here, however, is that we should not use -n when describing or clarifying the subject using esti or fariĝi. The word "directly" doesn't belong there because descriptions of the subject don't have to come directly after estas - as the bolded example above demonstrates.

  • “La ŝtofo estas 2 metrojn longa

Longa in this example is a description of the subject and so doesn't take an -n. On the other hand, "du metrojn" is a measurement qualifying how long the fabric is - and so needs an -n because of number 5 above.

There are at least three basic ways that esti (and fariĝi) can describe a subject.

  • Mi estas Tomaso - "Mi" and "Tomaso" are the same person.
  • Tomaso estas instruisto - Tomaso belongs to the category "instruisto"
  • La folio estas verda - verda is a quality of the leaf.

It's these kinds of situations that number 2 is meant to reference.

Why can't you use -n with ĉe?

Someone asked this question in some detail, and my answer is below.

I noticed ĉe on RuthKC/Margo's list just recently while discussing accusative with one of my students.

It's not on my own "short list" (see link below for context):

  • “Do not use -n after: al, ĝis, de, or el. They already show motion.”

I believe ĉe should not be on Ruth's list either. It's obviously a preposition of location. When I saw that while sharing the post with my student, I'm not sure I felt strongly enough about it to make a big deal about it. Of course you can use -n with ĉe. The fact is, however, people generally don't - in large part because al is usually a better choice than ĉe + n.

Mi alvenis, kaj trovis lin sidigita ĉe la tablo.
Translation: I arrived and found him seated at the table.
(No movement, so no motion N-finaĵo)

Leaving aside the question of whether we sit on or onto things, and whether we sit at an object or sit into the location at an object, it's not clear to me why you think there's no motion when the action happens in the past but there is motion when the same action happens in the present.

The only real question left in my mind is whether:
? Mi alvenis, kaj trovis lin sidiĝanta ĉe la tablo.
is grammatical, and if so, does it have the same meaning as …sidiĝanta ĉe la tablon?

I think this is the wrong question - in part because of the doubt I expressed above about your intuitions regarding whether there's motion into a location and whether that varies with when the action takes place, your question is complicated by the question of whether sidiĝi shows motion into a location.

If we pick some clearer verbs as examples, I think it's a lot easier to understand.

  • Li staris ĉe la tablo.
  • Li iris ĉe la tablon. (Li iris al la tablo.)

Or, if you prefer participles:

  • Starante ĉe la tablo, li serĉis liberan seĝon. - While standing at the table...
  • Irinte ĉe la tablon (al la tablo), li serĉis liberan seĝon. - Having gone to the table...
  • Irante ĉe la tablon (al la tablo), li serĉis liberan seĝon. - While going to the table...

P.S. Now that I've written all this, I notice that you say "sigigita" and "sidiĝanta". I hadn't noticed the passive/active distinction - but my question remains -- given that both verbs involve the act of sitting, why would you expect one to express motion while the other does not?

Links in this post:


"La ŝtofo estas 2 metrojn longa”"

Why doesn't "longa" have the accusative N?


It describes ŝtofo, not metrojn. Notice that it's singular as well.


What about asking question about your possesions such as:

Do you like my shirt? Ĉu vi ŝatas mian ĉemizon? or Ĉu vi ŝatas mia ĉemizon? or

Ĉu vi ŝatas mian ĉemizo?

Does the -n go on both the word for "my" and "shirt" or just the "shirt" or just the word "my"?


In Esperanto, possessive pronouns behave like adjectives - and adjectives "agree" with the nouns they describe. The briefest way to explain what that means is - yes - in your examples it's mian ĉemizon.


Copying and pasting this into a document in my Esperanto folder. Thank you, Ruth!


La listo 100 bazaj verboj de Esperanto povas esti utila, bv. vidi ĉe lernu!-forumo:


Notu en la listo:

  • tr = transitiva [verbo] — Transitiva verbo estas verbo, kiu povas havi rektan objekton (-n). Ekz. havi, aĉeti, ami, legi, ….
  • ntr = netransitiva [verbo] — Netransitiva verbo estas verbo, kiu ne povas havi rektan objekton. Ekz. esti, fali, kuri, …


Ĉe shouldn't be in the never list. See PMEG.


is this a special problem for english speakers? i am a native spanish speaker and i don't have many problems with the -n.


But you guys use the preposition "a" before animate objects, so you have something kind of similar.

Also, in English speaking countries, our education when it comes to grammar is mostly terrible. (Most English speakers seem to think "grammar" means "correct spelling".) Also, we're not really forced to learn a foreign language. Sure, we have to learn a foreign language in school, but mostly, we hardly learn anything at all in these classes. Most of my friends back in Australia are monolingual native speakers of English and they don't know what a subject or an object is and a good percentage of them aren't even clear on what a noun, verb or adjective is. I'm a huge nerd who loves languages, so I know these things, but most don't. I've also worked a lot as an ESL teacher and I know that in most countries where my students came from, people actually learn about the grammar of their own languages in school. We learn correct spelling and punctuation and read some important books and discuss the themes in them, but we have very little metalanguage to talk about language with.

I think it's got less to do with the structure of our own language and more to do with our level of education regarding language.


I never could learn in school what all the non , pronoun, adjective, participle, .... and the list goes on, all were. I learned to just ignore all that stuff and work with trying to make a decent sentence. And it worked well for me..... until I decided to learn Esperanto. Now I am trying to learn all that language part stuff. I do find it all interesting and wish I could keep it in my head. I keep forgetting what a noun is, and without looking it up again, I would have to guess, in this moment I would guess.."a word that is acted upon by a verb and perhaps other language parts?". Now I know you linguists are having a chuckle (or pitying this american) for my 'knowledge' of nouns, and that is ok I have to chuckle as well. I am dedicated to learning Esperanto and with Esperanto one HAS to know language parts to know when to use the -n, there is not getting around it for me. And I need that. And I will continue to fight to remember them. It will just take a lot of time for me to learn them this late in life.

This is the reason I believe Esperanto should be taught in schools when Usono children are just learning language. For me would have been fun and confidence building for me if I could have learned a second language. I always loved codes, ciphers, and liked pig latin and cheap oriental. EO would really have played into my desire to learning another language, and I would have learned the ultimate code to language learning as well.

Look out... One day I may be writing a wall of Esperanto like this rather than Anglan. ;)


I understand that people who don't know more than one language, and who were never particularly fond of learning about their own language, probably don't know the technical terms for parts of a sentence. My wife also has a hard time with knowing the difference between, say, an adjective and an adverb.

But, just to clear things up. These things are not that hard.

A "noun" is a "name." That's it!

That's all you have to remember about what a noun is. It's a name. "I went for a run." In this context "run" is being used as a noun. It's the name of the thing I did. So is "I" also a noun. It's the name of the person doing the run. Both are special kinds of nouns, but ultimately they are both just different types of nouns, because noun literally means name. Some names are formal, some names are abstract, some names are names of things and some names are names of actions. But, if it names something, it's a noun. Boom. Easy.



That is by far the most simple explanation I have ever heard of what a noun is. I love it :)


I don't think it is a grammar or a language problem, it seems to me that is due to the level of your practice, like when you naturally say "her" or "him" in English when the pronoun is an object. You just have to keep practicing until it comes naturally for you.


Yes, and I should add that eventually it does start to feel natural. English does not mark the direct object other than by the word's position in the sentence (and with the exception of a few pronouns), but I remember when I first noticed that it felt natural to add the -n. In a sentence in which the direct object was distantly removed from the subject and verb by an intervening subphrase I remember feeling like the object should have an -n but doubting myself. Then working through the structure of the sentence and concluding by logical application of the rules that my intuition was correct!

That confirmed to me that eventually it does become natural. Somehow, in that instance, my brain was aware that this word was a direct object, and hence ought to have an -n ending, even though the sentence it was embedded in was quite complex.


"Her" or *"him" ;-)

In English, however, there are a couple of important differences. We use the objective form after prepositions, which only happens in Esperanto when a locative preposition is used to indicate direction. We also use the objective form of pronouns when they stand on their own and after the verb "to be". Basically, the objective forms of pronouns seem to be our default and we only use the subject form directly before a verb.

Who's there? Me. / It's me. / I am.

Who's coming? Me! / I am.

Who stole your phone? Her! / It was her! / She did!

In Esperanto, there would be no -n in these examples (except for on "your phone").


My example was merely ilustrative, just to say there are similar kinds of mechanisms in the two languages and most people doesn't even notice absorbing it naturally.

Thanks for the correction. ;)


Ah yes. There's definitely at least something we can point to and say "English has, in a very limited way, something similar to this." Languages like Chinese and Vietnamese don't have any trace of case at all and I can imagine it being a bit of a further stretch to see how it works.


No, I am brazilian and I have the same problem.


I can't speak for all English speakers, but for me understanding the concept of accusative case isn't too difficult. Reading a bit of theory and seeing some examples and it makes sense without too much effort.

But as the sentences I think in English never really (with the exceptions of the pronouns) don't account for accusative when forming, so when trying to speak Esperanto it doesn't come naturally to put in an accusative so I keep forgetting to do it. So I'm usually having to translate the sentence, then go back and analyse the sentence in my head and determine which (if any) is the object and then adjust the translation.

I obviously am going to have to try figure a better system out there before I'd be able to hold a real time conversation.


I'm a native Chinese speaker and i have problems with -n


As one english speaker, I absolutely despise the -n. It is the hardest part of esperanto for me. I guess, at least, a quarter of the time and am wrong quite a bit. It just makes no sense to me and is one reason I believe the best I'll ever manage, is to read esperanto. I don't believe I'll ever be able to speak it properly.


Bartimaus - Do people comment in French or Russian courses "As a learner of French (or Russian, or whatever), I absolutely despise declension (or the subjunctive, the way the past tense is formed, or whatever)"?

The sooner you simply accept that Esperanto has the accusative case, the easier it will be to learn. Also, saying that you'll never be able to learn it is almost a guaranteed way to make sure that you never are.

Like anything else, it takes good examples, comprehensible input, good instruction, and practice. If you're not learning it on Duolingo, try another course. If you're having trouble on your own, do a session or two with an experienced teacher to get yourself on the right path.

People learn and master this stuff all the time. It just takes the right attitude and the right approach.


Hi Bartimaus, We native English speakers struggle with the accusative case because it appears so rarely in our everyday speech. However, there's ONE PLACE it does appear, and its almost invisible because we are so used to it, and that is using "I" vs "me".

You would never say "You love I" - and this is exactly the same rule as in Esperanto. The difference is that in English, (practically) no other words are marked this way. If you can apply the same reasoning to other nouns, you will never stumble again.
Good luck, and keep believing that you can cross this "gate" and move forwards with your learning. Best Dimitri


>It just makes no sense to me…

This and other cries from English speakers make me wonder, how bad school system you have (whatever your country is). Accusative is one of the elementary school grammar things. Isn't that taught?


Why would you think accusative would be taught in schools? You don't need to know what the accusative is to speak and write English well.


Eh? How pupils are told, which animal ate which in a sentence like The lion ate the honey badger? Aren't they taught, that the first is the subject and the second the object? And furthermore in He loves her, that her is the object or accusative form of she?


If you're a native speaker, you feel those things in your gut and do them automatically. Nobody needs to teach you them in school. You don't need to know the names of them.

I'm sure there's some talk about "the subject of the sentence" - but there's no reason to obsess about "direct object" and "direct object pronouns" because it's their native language.

In English grammar lessons, our teachers spent a lot of time trying to get to use he/him, I/me, we/us, correctly, since it's quite natural in English to say things like "Him and me went to the store" even though we would never say "Me went to the store".

But the teaching was not in terms of "case", it was in terms of "subject" vs "object". I didn't encounter the concept of "case" until I studied German.

I had the exact same experience - and clearly many other people have, since they hyper-correct to "Give the book to him and I" or "She's coming with Mary and I."


In English grammar lessons, our teachers spent a lot of time trying to get to use he/him, I/me, we/us, correctly, since it's quite natural in English to say things like "Him and me went to the store" even though we would never say "Me went to the store".

But the teaching was not in terms of "case", it was in terms of "subject" vs "object". I didn't encounter the concept of "case" until I studied German.


Fore me case was never really a taught thing, We just learnt it as word before the verb is subject word after the verb is object. And because being the object doesn't change the word 90% of the time there was no need to deeper into it.


Yes, English has virtually no declension/inflection, so I think this is mostly an English problem.


Very helpful, thank you. Can this post be made a "Sticky" so we can find it when we need to?


Yes, it is a link in the "mega post"


Okay, that'll work. Thanks!


I just wish it had it what a noun is included. This american did not learn that language part stuff in school and I am now fighting to learn it. case in point:

  1. When the noun is the direct object: “Mi amas vin”, I love you.

I have stop and think every time. Now, I do have memory problems so that does play a part in the following dilemma.

I do not think it is the word amas play a part in this question so: Is the noun the word 'I' or 'you'? Then again perhaps amas is language part in question here. In the example "Mi amas vin" I still do not know what the noun or direct object is. Who is the object 'mi' or 'vin'. Is the object the one being declared love to or the one declaring love to 'vin'. I alway get confused or get is backwards.

This is not to get a language lesson in this thread, it would do me no good buried way down here for reference. But I just used it as an example of what I have to go through to decide who gets the -n. I really wish I could have learn it when I was young in school.

<pre>I may just make a copy of this and research the definitions of what parts are considered a noun, object, direct object and such and make my own more detailed version of the document. As it is it is not a functional aid yet. There go with another wall again, It just irks me I cant keep this in my head that is basic to others. -end wall- </pre>


I don't mind giving language lessons in the forum, if it helps others, and it may help give the course creators content ideas and ways of teaching something.

You're a bit confused on what a noun is still. But that's okay. In the sentence "I love you." (Mi amas vin.) Both I and you are types of nouns. They are both names, they name people in this case, so they're both types of nouns.

However, there is a difference between the noun performing the action and the noun the action is performed on. The one doing the act is the "subject". It's still a noun, but it's the subject or subjective noun. The one being acted on is the "object". It too is a noun, but it's the object or objective noun.

In english it is the order of the words in the sentence that determines which noun is the subject and which noun is the object. In Esperanto the word order is more free, but to compensate for that freedom it is always the "object" which is marked by adding a final -n. So, it is always the noun (the name) of the thing acted upon, which is marked with the -n. (Other things are marked with -n in more complicated sentences too of course.)

"I love you." Can be translated properly into Esperanto in any of the following ways:

Mi amas vin. Mi vin amas. Vin mi amas. Vin amas mi. Amas mi vin. Amas vin mi.

Did I miss any? However, in practice, some of these possible word orders are very rare. In fact I'd say they become progressively less common in the order I put them in.


@Pa11en. Look at GrammarBook.com and see if it helps you understand the different parts of grammar (noun, verb, etc.). I was a good grammar student, but I do refer to that website from time to time. Bonan ŝancon!


Useful Artilce, THanks! I must admit that the acusative (-n) endings are something that I still make a lot of mistakes with and find confusing, but with time and practice I am hoping will become easier and more natural for me. Is this exclusive only to native english speakers, or do speakers of other languages also find thi a big challenge?


Is this a possible rule: "Use the accusative for nouns which follow a verb (except "esti")"?


@kolego, I used to think that was a rule. I even thought I had read that somewhere. The "possible rule" you mention seems to work, but I've found that it's not the best way to look at it. Seems best to think in terms of using the -n to show who/what is being acted upon. This works for most general uses I've seen so far. (note: "-n" usually is added to the Noun and also the related Adjectives following verbs)

Notice the placement of the "-N" in the following examples: More fun with Accusatives ( "accusatives put the -n in fun" ):

What are you eating? (Literally: “You are eating what?”) = kioN vi manĝas? What is eating you? = kio viN manĝas?

We are eating that. = ni manĝas tioN. That is eating us. = niN manĝas tio.

(yes, -n is also used for indicating direction and change of location and for quantity, etc. But, I would think that for beginners and intermediates, for now, just concentrate on adding -n to who/what is being acted upon)

ALSO, read this detailed explanation relating to accusative -N (from @flootzavut): https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9063207$comment_id=10752480


Thanks for this. I was struggling with it and the study text didn't help. Woman is already virino, so it's not like you're adding an O. We called the object "knabon," but when a man is the subject, we don't call him "viron" or say "vio" for you. It was all very confusing.


Yes, accusative involves adding an "n" where appropriate for correct grammar and clarification. In Esperanto, nouns end with "O", regardless of whether or not a particular noun is used as a direct object. Think of the "O" as simply just always correct spelling for any noun. An "n" is just for occasional grammar usage.


Thanks! I was really lost on this!


Just seen this, very helpful


Also why "La kapo doloris min la tutan tagon" and not "Min kapo doloris la tutan tagon" ? wouldnt that make more sense then " the head hurt me all day long" ?


It's a little bit like "The ball hit him in the arm." We say "the arm" and not "his arm" here because if the ball hit him, it's already clear whose arm we're talking about. If a head is hurting you - giving you a headache - it's obviously your own head.


See the item 4 in "when to use -n" above.

I strongly recommend taking Duolingo first on a web browser, because there are lessons on the first level before lessons (or at least there used to be). The app versions of Duolingo hasn't them.


I thought I understood accusative with time, but I've gotten confused on https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/28444094, where a comment says to use the accusative with "post" and "antaŭ" when saying "after [some duration of time]" or "[some duration of time] ago."

Yet these Duo sentences don't use the accusative with post/antaŭ: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/9063142 https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/29044449 https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/26377116

Should post and antaŭ be added to the list of prepositions we don't use accusative with? Or are they not on the list because we sometimes use the accusative with them, though not always?


There's a lot to go through here so I only looked a your first point:

I thought I understood accusative with time, but I've gotten confused on https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/28444094, where a comment says to use the accusative with "post" and "antaŭ" when saying "after [some duration of time]" or "[some duration of time] ago."

I don't believe that anybody said that anywhere in that thread. At least, I was unable to find it. Notice the difference between post and poste

post - (preposition) before
poste - (adverb) previously

  • Eĉ kvindek jarojn pli poste ili tuj rekonis unu la alian.
  • Eĉ post kvindek jaroj ili tuj rekonis unu la alian.


I suspect proper nouns, like 'Justin' or 'Mt Everest', never take the 'n' ending. Is that correct?

Part of my suspicion comes from the use of ' al ' such as 'doni al Sofia', with the effect of avoiding the accusative distinction.


Looking at Zamenhof's translation of the Old Testament: Kaj Dio la Eternulo vokis Adamon, kaj diris al li: Kie vi estas?


What' s the difference between the two in esperanto :

1 He gives us milk - Li donas al ni lakton 2 He gives milk to us - Li donas lakton al ni


I think it's the same difference between the two sentences in English and Esperanto.


Yes I think the meaning of the two sentences could be interpreted the exact same way. In my mind, putting ‘lakton’ at the end of the sentence makes it sound like it has greater emphasis. In context, I could imagine it being used like this: “Ne, li ne donas al ni akvon. Li donas al ni lakton!”


Would an accusative -n ever be used directly after "jen"?


I think this depends on how you're using "jen." Jen is a bit different, it introduces something by indicating that "here it is!" Ekz. Jen, mi havas du dolarojn. Is like saying, Check it out, I have two dollars!. I think it could make sense to say something like: Mi donas al vi jen du dolarojn. Which is like saying, I am giving you, here it is, two dollars. However, the jen is really just shoved in the middle for emphasis, but not as though "du dolarojn" is the object of jen.

I actually don't think jen is a preposition.


Thank you for the reply! It's much appreciated. I was also wondering, does anyone know which language "jen" is pulled from?


No problem! I've never thought to check what the etymology of jen is. But a quick search of the web revealed this:


It appears to be taken directly from Latin. The above page links further to this:



Question on using -n with showing direction. I've come across two different sentence with different applications of -n:

In the Verbs:-Ig-ig lesson, there is "Sidiĝu sur ĉi tiu seĝon!"
In the Travel lesson, there is "Turnu en ĉi tiun direkton."

Which is right?

From the notes in the Accusative lesson:

Note that an adjective modifying a direct object would also receive the -n ending.

From the notes in the Prepositions lesson:

In addition to its use for the direct object, the -n ending is also used to show direction

Now, there's noting in the notes in the Prepositions lesson to address adding the -n to other terms after the preposition; the examples shown are:
- Ŝi saltas sur la tablo. = She jumps (up and down) on the table.
- Ŝi saltas sur la tablon. = She jumps onto the table (from another location).

As an aside; perhaps better examples would be:
- Ŝi saltas sur la blua tablo. = She jumps (up and down) on the blue table.
- Ŝi saltas sur la blua[n] tablon. = She jumps onto the blue table (from another location).
With the [n] added or removed as appropriate.


Just one minor point of clarification. Salti means to jump one time. That is to thrust your body up so your feet leave the ground and then to fall back down to approximately the same place or a nearby place.


If you want to say jump as in to repeatedly jump up and down over and over several times, you want the verb "saltadi".

Therefore, "Ŝi saltis sur la lito", and "Ŝi saltis sur la liton" both make sense. She jumped once while on the bed and she jumped once to get up onto the bed. However, while "Ŝi saltadis sur la lito" makes perfect sense, it's what my kid loves to do, "Ŝi saltadis sur la liton" does not really make sense. She jumps repeatedly onto the bed. I guess it makes sense, but I'd probably assume the speaker had made a grammatical mistake before trying to take it at face value. The reason it doesn't make sense is that once you jump onto the bed once you're then already on the bed. So you'd have to get off the bed in order to do it again, I think that's why it sounds weird to me.


Should be "tiun" in the first sentence. I will check on that sentence and fix it if there is an error.


In the sentence "katidoj iĝas katoj" the katoj didn't get the -n. So i guess that "iĝi" should get into the list too. Do all subjects after "iĝ" verbs don't get the -n?


That's right, you wouldn't put an -n on katoj in that sentence. "Iĝi" is really another word for "fariĝi", both mean (more or less) "become."

The original post lists words after which to not use -n. It lists "esti" and "fariĝi". There are actually several (maybe even many) words that mean something similar to these. I always say you shouldn't try to memorize the list, you should try to understand why they don't have direct objects as a result of the meaning of the words themselves.

For example: aperi, aspekti, ŝajni, resti. And there are probably others. Every now and then I encounter another one.

Li aperis mensoganto. He appeared to be a liar. Ili restis Germanoj. They remained German. Li ŝajnis gasto en la hotelo. He seemed to be a guest in the hotel. Ŝi aspektas kolera. She looks angry.

In each case, the verb is not expressing a change that the subject is causing in the object. Instead some other relationship is being expressed with the verb.

As bajanisto said, these verbs are not transitive. Only transitive verbs can have direct objects. Although, this is a technical explanation.

You can read about it (in Esperanto) here: http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/specialaj_priskriboj/perverba/subjekto.html


Every time i think i completely understand the -n thing, i discover something new. But i think i get it now. thanks @bajanisto and @gregnacu.


Jes, nur transitivaj verboj povas havi rektan objekton (-n). Ĉiuj -iĝi-verboj estas netransitivaj verboj, kiuj ne povas havi rektan objekton. (Bonvolu vidi mian antaŭan mesaĝon en ĉi tiu fadeno.)


Note that fariĝi is in the list and iĝi and fariĝi are synonyms. For whatever reason "iĝi" seems to be preferred in this course, but in wider Esperantujo (including, apparently, for the "very helpful member" mentioned in the OP) "fariĝi" is more colloquial.

The answer to your question (do all nouns after "iĝ" verbs go without an -n) is "it depends." There are sentences in Duo like "aliiĝi la klubon" which is an alternative form of "aliĝi al la klubo."


iĝi and fariĝi are both used frequently in the course, and we do not prefer "igxi". "aliĝi la klubon" did appear at one point in the course, but it was removed as it was deemed incorrect by our expert advisor.


Interesting. Thanks.

To clarify - I'm not sure off hand how frequently "fariĝi" is used -- only that "iĝi" is used in at least a few cases where many would say that "fariĝi" would be the better choice.

I stand corrected on "aliĝi la klubon". I went back and checked. Turns out I did not see it in the course. It was in a question from a learner. Nevertheless, Duo sentences notwithstanding, it is not uncommon to see an -n after a verb with iĝi in it. Sometimes it's a measurement, such as:

  • la stacio troviĝas ioman distancon ekster la urbo.

Sometimes it's taking the place of a preposition:

  • li humile alproksimiĝis sinjoron de Prelongo



the last part about not using the accusative after those prepositions isn't true. Read the lernu.net grammar.


I have a similar list of prepositions in my Keys to Understanding Esperanto Prepositions. I just reviewed the link you posted and I didn't see anything that contradicted what is said here.



The "akuzativo" or "n-finaĵo" has several different grammatical functions in Esperanto.

Primarily, it marks the direct object of a transitive verb. But it also marks other things in the language.

Such as points in time, measurement, salutations, etc.

If you don't like it, or don't want to understand it, that's fine. Maybe you should learn another language.

Duolingo presents Esperanto as it is actually spoken and used in the Esperanto speaking language community.


as confusing as this is, i get the feeling it could be still greatly simplified... but i don't know Esperanto. just barely starting to learn. can someone confirm if this would be right?

N replaces prepositions used to directly target the subject of the sentence. so...

use N to whatever word is directly targeting the subject, which includes standalone greetings because of the hidden subject!

so, obviously, don't use N on: prepositions, articles, auxiliary numbers, proper nouns, and "esti" or "fariĝi" because none of them are directly targeting the subject!

makes sense?


This is like a preposition


With regard to movement, does it have to be movement directly toward the noun or can it be a bit more general?

For instance, in German we can distinguish between remaining in one location (dative) and moving across a location (accusative) as follows:

Restricted space:

Das Flugzeug fliegt über meinem Haus. The plane is flying over my house (but clearly in a circle or other pattern that restricts its flight to the space above my house)

Moving into or across a space:

Das Flugzeug fliegt über mein Haus The plane is flying over my house (it has come at the house from some angle or other and then continued on over the house and beyond - approach, over and away).

So, in Esperanto, can I do anything similar?

La birdo flugas super mia domo (flying in a restricted space over my house)

La birdo flugas super mian domon (flying toward and then over and away?)

Similarly, I'm assuming if I say something like:

"The waiter is coming to my table" this must be expressed as:

La kelnero venas al mian tablon.

Is this correct?

Thanks in advance for your help. Belĝesto


Hmm, theoretically there are four possibilities :

  • super la tablo : something is on the table, not moving anywhere

Tiam Gedeono kovris sian kapon kaj, etendinte la manojn super la tablo, parolis direktante la okulojn al la ĉielo. (La Faraono, Kabe, 1907)

  • super la tablon : something is moving onto the table

… diris Clemency, duone metinte sin super la tablon kaj medite rigardante la kandelon… (La batalo de l’ vivo, Zamenhof, 1891)

  • supren la tablo : ööh?

Only three hits in Google, no reliable sources

  • supren la tablon : ööh?

Only one hit in Google, not a reliable source

Furthermore if you search in Tekstaro, all Zamenhof-ian sources use supren without a main word, e.g. Mi kuris supren kaj malsupren. So super + nominative or super + accusative are valid, but supren + something isn't.

If you take a look at the NEVER list above,

  • al : never takes an accusative because it already shows motion

  • ĉirkaŭ : not in the list, i.e. the main word can be either in nominative or accusative

  • preter : not in the list, but usually is used only with nominative (since it already shows motion), however accusative can be used to emphasize that the motion has an end-point past the mentioned one (cf. tra), Ĝi iris al li preter la buŝon


  • La aviadilo flugas super mian domon : The plane flies (to) over my house and stays put there, i.e. must somehow hover.

  • La aviadilo flugas cirkaŭ mian domon : The plane flies (to) over my house and stays circling there.

  • La aviadilo flugas preter mia domo : The plane passes flying my house.


Motion towards or into a location. The rule is almost exactly the same as in German. (I've split hairs with some German speakers about whether you write on or onto a piece of paper.)


Do you also add -n to someone's name? Like "Mi amas Adamon"?


See my reply above.


I'm not sure who you're talking to, but if you're talking to me - yes I do.


Dankon por tia artikolo. Mi serĉis tion (por?) longa(n) tempo(n) :-)


I have a question about the last bit: Shouldn't we use the accusative after "al" when there is movement? Like in "Mi iros al Zurikon"


No. You can divide the prepositions into three categories:

never show movement

dum, kun, per…

Since these never show movement, you don't need to use -n.

always show movement

al, el, ĝis…

Since these always show movement, you don't need to use -n.

can show movement

ĉe, ĉirkaŭ, en…

With these you use -n, if you need to show movement; without -n they mean "being at/around/in… a location".


Ah, of course! Thanks


I prefer to divide into two categories -- shows a location and doesn't show a location. Some prepositions show inherent motion - such as "tra" but don't always show motion into a location.

  • 2073

Number 5 of the "Don't use" list is confusing. It says not to use with a name. But then it uses "paĉjo" which is not a name. Or at least it wasn't taught as a name. It was taught as a friendlier version of "patro". Would we use "Mi amas vin, patro" or "Mi amas vin, patron" ?


It would be patro in that sentence because all that word is doing in the sentence is getting the person's attention or to clarify who the sentence is addressed to etc. It is a vocative phrase and has no other syntactic meaning in the sentence. That is what was meant by "when you say someone's name.

You would use it when you say "_Mi amas mian patron_" (I love my father). In this sentence, patro is the object of the sentence. In your sentence, the object was vin and patro is simply an additional vocative phrase.

It's not about whether it's a name or not, but in these vocative constructions, it's often a name. Here's an example where it's not:

Mi vidas vin, juna viro. = I see you, young man.
c.f. Mi vidas la junan viron. = I see the young man.

  • 2073

I don't think we've been explicitly introduced to the concept of "vocative phrase", but that makes sense.



The vocative does not have a special form in Esperanto, and so it's seldom explicitly taught. As for not being introduced to the concept, that's what the author of number 5 in the "don't use" list was trying to do, even though he didn't use the term:

5.When saying the name of the person you are talking to: “Mi amas vin, paĉjo” (NOT “Mi amas vin, paĉjon”)

When saying, calling (voki) the name. This is distinct from referring to someone by name, such as mi vidas Karlon.

I agree number 5 could be clearer. While this is a great post, I've come to the conclusion that the whole thing could stand to be rewritten in the light of many questions which have come up in the meanwhile. It's on my very long to-do list.

[deactivated user]

    Thank you so much!

    [deactivated user]

      This post was very helpful. Thank you.


      Thank you. This was very helpful.


      Thanks for this very informative post! Something I've wanted to know for a long time is why the '-n' ending isn't used for direct objects in a sentence using 'esti' or 'fariĝi'. It seems that this grammatical rule is saying that a sentence using either of those two verbs doesn't actually have a direct object (or there's no directionality?), but that would seem odd. I'm curious to know what people think of this


      "When there is motion towards the noun: "
      This can be a very vital aid to clear communication.

      quote The false invasion announcement came at 12:22 a.m. Friday, in an English-language statement that was vague: “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.”

      The ambiguity of the word “in” had not been present in the Hebrew-language version of the statement, issued a few minutes earlier. end-quote from New York Times

      (Please try to keep replies to this post focused on grammar. Most Esperantists have a strong bias towards peace and goodwill towards everybody, including both Muslims and Jews in the Middle East. Whether or not you agree with the Israeli military's tactical use of English ambiguity, I think it is a virtue of Esperanto than it avoids such potentially fatal ambiguities.)


      Because you understand this?


      Because I know how to say poop


      Just a useless complication, for a language that was created to be as easy as possible. Possibly one of the reasons it did not took off. Surprised the community hasn't dropped it.


      It is neither useless nor complicated, you only feel that it is because your own language doesn't have it. If you ask other people what they think is a "useless complication" in Esperanto, their answer will typically be something that's different in their mother language, and it doesn't occur to them that speakers of other languages really enjoy having that feature in Esperanto. I'm not saying I like accusative, but most things that make Esperanto "easy" aren't universally easy, they're just very similar to European languages.


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