How To Use Prepositions, Prefixes And Suffixes In Esperanto

Saluton esperantistoj!

Today I will outline the concepts of prepositions, prefixes, and suffixes — essential concepts in the language of Esperanto.

Because Esperanto was designed to be easy to learn and remember, we find that many words are formed by simply attaching affixes to existing word stems. In my opinion, this falls short of the brilliance I find reflected in the construction of Russian words, but it's still much better than having to learn 5-10x the vocabulary.

Also a note about Esperanto's special characters. The additional characters required by the Esperanto alphabet required me to switch my Input Source from U.S. to U.S. Extended. This is relatively easy on a Macintosh, and doesn't appear to have any negative consequences for me. I'm curious to know if that's different for Windows or Linux users. (Leave a comment!)

If you are unable to switch your keyboard, there is a well-known standard of following the base character with an x (eg: ĝ is gx) to represent the special character. It is preferred to use the x method, rather than just leave the special characters off and expect people to understand.

And one last note: The sample sentences are all my own constructions. If any experienced Esperantists finds any errors, please let me know!

*Updated Wednesday, May 31, with the corrections in the comments.


I found this list of the basic prepositions in Esperanto at Wikipedia. They are as follows:

toward. to.
Mi iras al mia laborejo.
La rozoj estas apud la fenestro.
from. of.
Mi aĉetis botelon da akvo.
Mi ekdormis dum leciono hieraû.
Mi estas ĉi tie ekde tagmezo.
in. into.
Miaj gepatroj vivis en Florido.
Li studias la batalon inter bono kaj malbono.
La ŝipa estas videbla kontraû la horizonto.
Ŝi piediras kun me.
Mi ne havas tempon por konversacio.
Mi ne volas vivi sen vi.
Mi havas du najbarinojn kiuj loĝas super mi.
at. on.
La tasoj estas sur la tablo.

Prepositions can also function as prefixes in the role of altering the meaning of a word. For instance:

Mi vekiĝis dumnokta.
Ni kunlaboris.
Sennoma viro donacis monon.

In addition to using prepositions to modify words you can also use prefixes and suffixes. The prefixes and suffixes below are compile from two sources: Esperanto Panorama and Wikipedia.


While the list of prefixes already isn't very long, this is also a somewhat shortened list. There were a few additional prefixes listed at the Wikipedia page, but there's no need to waste a lot of attention on prefixes that only affect a handful of words.

relation by marriage. in-law.
Li estas mia bofrato.
head. chief.
Ĉu vi loĝas en la ĉefurbo?
separation, scattering.
La instruisto disdonas librojn al la studentoj.
beginning, onset.
La knabo kaj la knabino ekamis unu kun ilian.
mixed gender.
Miaj gepatroj ne loĝas kune.
Vi devas manĝi se vi estas malsata.
Mi miskomprenis tion, kion diris la instruisto.
over again, back again.
Mia najbaro rekonstruas lian domon.


Once again, this is a basic list. The Wikipedia page lists more suffixes, including affectionate forms and pejoratives, but for an accelerated track to fluency, I'm just looking for what I really need to know.

frequent, repeated, or continual action. imperfective. an action or process.
Ŝia fratino povas paroladi por horoj!
a manifestation. a product.
Ĉu vi aŭdis la novaĵon?
a member, inhabitant, or participant.
Mi estas Usonano.
a collective group without specific number.
Mi ne povas trovi Esperantan vortaron.
Ĉe mia domo, la konstruaĵo Sears Tower estas videbla.
an abstract quality.
Via amikeco estas kara al mi.
Mi estas malsatega.
a place.
Mi trovis interesan libron ĉe la librejo.
a tendency.
Lia patrino estas parolema.
leader, boss.
Laborestro diras al oni kion fari.
Antaŭ al mia domo estas arbetoj.
offspring, descendent.
Hundidoj plaĉas al knabinoj.
to make, to cause.
La viro mortigis lian edzinon.
to become.
La viro kaj la virino geedziĝis.
Mi tranĉis min kun tranĉilo.
worthy of.
Li estas viro koninda.
Saluton, sinjoroj kaj sinjorinoj!
profession or occupation.
Ateistoj ne kredas je dio.
container, country, source.
Mi havas monon en mia monujo.
one characterized by the root.
Junuloj devas studi.


I have seen the suggestion from several different sources that once armed with this understanding of word modifers, a person could turn a modest vocabulary of a few hundred word stems into a comprehension of between 80-90% of what people say, hear, read, and write in Esperanto. Whether that's accurate or not, I can't say. But even if it falls a bit short, it still bodes well for my one-week challenge!

In addition to learning these modifiers, I continue to study word stems, but I have also had to learn numbers, as well as question words, and correllatives which is what we'll look at tomorrow.

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  • I'm on Ubuntu 8.10, and special characters are included by default. :)It's also pretty easy to add new ones with xmodmap.

  • I'm on Linux (Gentoo) with for a tool (thing) doing something and a person doing something habitually (so that he becomes characterized by that activity); I call it "characteristic doer". So the class seems to be characterized by the consonant (root?) and the preceding vowel further declines its meaning. It reminds me of how correlatives work in Esperanto, but this pattern is less regular, unfortunately, and there's still a lot of empty spots :q (but I'm not sure if they're empty by design, or I'm simply missing some affixes that I didn't find yet :q that's why I asked about the comprehensive list).

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