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Part I: Esperanto Grammar

Chapter 3: Roots & Stems

Esperanto words are built on “roots” (radikoj). Some roots can function directly as words. This is true, for example, of prepositions, numbers, conjunctions, pronouns, and some adverbs (like tuj = “immediately,” nun = “now,” for = “away,” and baldaŭ = “soon”). Other roots (the vast majority) require grammatical endings to be used as words. By the addition of these endings, roots become nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. In verbs, the endings also show the tense and mood of the verb. In nouns and adjectives, the endings show the case and number. In adverbs, endings show whether motion is involved. Here is a table of the grammatical endings used in Esperanto:

*-In this book we distinguish “affixes” (prefixes and suffixes), which modify the meaning of a root and produce a “stem,” as against “endings,” which show the function of the word in the sentence. Items like mal- and -iĝ- are affixes. Items like -o and -is are endings. For our purposes the combination of two or more endings (e.g. -a-j-n) is still called “an ending.”

Noun = Root + o (+j) (+n)
Pronoun = Root (+n)
Adjective = Root + a (+j) (+n)
Adverb = Root + e (+n)
Verb = Root + as/is/os/us/u/i

**-Some Esperanto grammarians doubt whether it is useful to distinguish “agglutinative affixes” as a distinctive class, since they too are roots and, given appropriate endings, they too can function as words. Examples will be found throughout this book.

In addition to the grammatical endings listed above, roots may be modified by combination with other roots and by a host of “affixes”(prefixes and suffixes) that modify the meaning before the grammatical endings are added.* (They are technically called “agglutinative affixes.”** ) The combination of a root and one or more affixes is called a “stem” in English and is sometimes called a bazo in Esperanto.

re- -memor- -ig- -as =reminds
prefix root suffix ending

The use of the grammatical suffixes is discussed in the appropriate sections of this book. A list of the affixes will be found in Section 13.

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