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De/El, Si/Si Mem, & word Order

by lordmayors, March 2, 2008

Messages: 18

Language: Esperanto

lordmayors (User's profile) March 2, 2008, 10:19:04 PM

Sorry I'm typing this in English, but I don't know enough Esperanto to communicate what I want to say yet.

First of all, what is the difference between "de" and "el"? Can't they mean the same thing, and if so, when does one use one?

Secondly, what is the distinction between "si" and "si mem"? La Puzlo says it "add emphasis," but what does this mean? Also, it says "Li parolos kun siaj gepatroj" means he speaks with his parents. Why not "Li parolos kun liaj gepatroj"?

On a quick note, is "oni" used like the French "on" and how can you tell if it is referring to "them" or "you"?

And lastly, the word order of sentences makes no sense to me. Can anyone explain this? And Esperanta word order in general?

Thank you!

Hikaro (User's profile) March 2, 2008, 10:51:36 PM

There is an English forum, by the way.

1) "De" means "of"; "el" means "from".

2) Si is a reflexive pronoun only used in the 3rd person (i.e., "si" never refers to "I", "we", or "you"). You use si whenever someone does something to themselves, for example.

"Li parolas kun siaj gepatroj," means "He speaks with his (own) parents."

"Li parolas kun liaj gepatroj," means "He speaks with his (someone else's) parents," and that is not the intended meaning.

I'm a beginner at Esperanto too, so I haven't seen "si mem" but I'm guessing that La Puzlo is right; the "mem" (meaning "self") simply reemphasizes that the reflexive quality of "si".

3) I don't speak French, but "oni" is the same word as English "one", as in "if one wants to buy something, one has to have money." Nowadays most Americans (I can't speak for other English speaking countries) will say "If you want to buy something, you have to have money," when they want to convey that kind of message. In English, "one" sounds very formal but in Esperanto it doesn't have those connotations.

4) In general, word order in Esperanto is very similar to English, but unlike English, Esperanto is not constrained to English word order. For example

"Ŝi lavas la pladojn," (She washes the dishes) is the default word order. But it can also occur as:

"La pladojn ŝi lavas."
"La pladojn lavas ŝi."

The accusative ending (-n) allows the word order to be flexible while still retaining meaning. This allows speakers of all sorts of word orders to use their native word order in Esperanto and still be intelligible.

Similarly, adjectival (-a)/plural (-j) endings allow adjectives to either come before the noun (like English) or after (like Spanish).

"La knabo manĝas la ruĝajn dulĉaĵojn"
and "La knabo manĝas la dulĉaĵojn ruĝajn" both mean "the boy eats the red candies."


sergejm (User's profile) March 3, 2008, 5:54:46 AM

Hikaro:1) "De" means "of"; "el" means "from".
"de" signifas "of" aŭ "from" - "de" means "of" or "from"
"el" signifas "out of" aŭ "from" - "el" means "out of" or "from"

Mi iras al arbo - I go to a tree.
Mi estas ĉe la arbo - I am at the tree.
Mi iras de la arbo - I go from the tree.

Mi iras en domon - I go into a house.
Mi estas en la domo - I am in the house.
Mi iras el la domo - I go out of the house.

Ĝi estas la domo de mia amiko - It is the house of my friend.

awake (User's profile) March 3, 2008, 6:30:17 PM

The usage of the prepositions De/El/Da is one of the most confusing things about Esperanto. They express different meanings that english rolls into the word "of".

El is best thought of as meaning "out of"

Li iris el la domo. = He went out of the house
Ŝi estas la plej alta el la tri fratinoj. = She is the most tall (out of) the three sisters.

Da refers to things you quantify (weigh, count, etc...)

Li aĉetis tri litrojn da lakto = he bought 3 liters of milk
Li ne havas multon da mono = He doesnt have a lot of money.

If the previous sentence could ask, How much? or How many? you generally will use da.

De pretty much takes the other uses as others have noted here.

This may seem like an unnecessary complication, but it allows Esperantists to speak with a lot of precision.

Consider these two phrases

taso de teo = A cup of tea (not coffee)
taso da teo = A cup(ful) of tea.

In the previous case your emphasizing the tea. In the latter case you're emphasizing the amount of tea.


This can all get pretty confusing for beginners. Don't let it bother you. If you use de instead of da, or de instead of el, you'll likely still be understood. When you let people know that you're a beginner, they'll often correct you which is very helpful. Also, as you read proper Esperanto, you'll start to assimilate the correct usage naturally (you just have to see it enough times for it to get burned into your brain).


As for mem, it is just a way of adding emphasis. We used to do this in English, though it is less common now.

Mi mem riparas ĝin. = I myself fixed it (or I fixed it myself)

Dio mem ne povus kompreni vin! = God himself could not understand you!



siaj vs liaj

In english, we might say, "John and Bob were sitting at a bar, and then John drank his beer.

Who is "his" referring to? It could mean John drank his own beer. Or it could mean that john drank bob's beer.

English is ambiguous, where Esperanto is more precise.

Li trinkis sian bieron = He drank his (own) beer
Li trinkis lian bieron = He drank his (Bob's!) beer


And finally, Oni is a general pronoun that can be translated several ways in English

"Oni diras" could be translated as

People say
They say,
One says
It is said (by others)

Basically, oni is an indefinite pronoun. When you're not referring to someone specific, that's when you use oni.

Se oni estas riĉulo, oni ne malliberigos =If one is a rich person, they won't go to jail (become imprisoned).


Terurĉjo (User's profile) March 3, 2008, 7:34:55 PM

Mi nenion komprenis.

mnlg (User's profile) March 3, 2008, 9:15:55 PM

Terurĉjo:Mi nenion komprenis.
Vi estas mia heroo.

diogotux (User's profile) March 3, 2008, 9:31:32 PM

Verŝajne oni ne scias uzi forumon...

黄鸡蛋 (User's profile) March 5, 2008, 1:38:07 PM

Oni tute povas demandi tion en la angla forumo...

Parenteze, kara awake, "taso de teo" estas nur taso... angle, "a tea cup".

awake (User's profile) March 5, 2008, 5:48:46 PM

黄鸡蛋:Oni tute povas demandi tion en la angla forumo...

Parenteze, kara awake, "taso de teo" estas nur taso... angle, "a tea cup".
Mi malkonsentas. "Tea taso" estas la traduko de la angla vorto "teacup". "Taso de teo" estas taso kiu enhavas teon (kaj ne enhavas kafon aŭ lakton aŭ alian). Kaj "taso da teo" aludas al la kvanto de teo kiu unu taso povas enhavi.

Tiuj ekzemploj venas de la libro de sinjoroj Cresswell, Hartley, kaj Sullivan ("Teach Yourself Esperanto"). Eble, ili malĝustas, sed laŭ mi, la distingo ŝajnas deca.

horsto (User's profile) March 6, 2008, 9:31:20 PM

awake:The usage of the prepositions De/El/Da is one of the most confusing things about Esperanto. They express different meanings that english rolls into the word "of".
Mi neniam havis tiujn problemojn. Ĉu vi pensis ke tiu estas problemo nur por la anglaj parolantoj? La ebla manko de precizeco de la angla lingvo memorigas min al Claude Piron, kiu menciis tion dum sia prelego en Bulonjo 2005, okaze de la centjariĝo de la 1a Universala Kongreso de Esperanto. Bonvolu nepre aŭdi tiun prelegon, estas vere aŭdinde kvankam la sonkvalito ne bonas.

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