Complete Detailed Grammar of the International Language Ido/Article
5. The definite article is la for the two numbers; so it is invariable; la domo [the house] (singular), la domi [the houses] (plural).
When no other word indicates a plural, whether by its own form (final -i), or whether by its own sense (number-noun or indefinite pronoun), use le; otherwise, it is not known (by la) if one individual or several are being spoken about. Example: le Gracchus, le Cato (Cat); le x, le y, le z; la cifri di ca konto esas tanta male formacita, ke le 3 e le 5 esas konfundebla a le 8 [the digits of this account are so badly formed that the threes and the fives are confusable with the eights].
6. You may elide the final a of the article, replacing it with an apostrophe, as equally before a consonant as before a vowel: la charmo di la infanto or di l'infanto [the charm of the young child]; la plumi di la ucelo or di l'ucelo [the feathers of the bird].
But pay attention to not eliding the article if it destroys the aspiration of the letter h. So do not use l'homo, l'hosti, but la homo, la hosti [the man, the host].
Also pay attention to avoid the possible misunderstanding. So do not use la duro di l'afero [the length of the affair], for audibly you could understand la duro di la fero [the durability of the iron]. Therefore say la duro di la afero.
Certainly the elision in the article is permitted, never obligatory.
You may use the form a l', da l', de l', di l' and the contractions al, dal, del, dil, as opposed to a la, da la, de la, di la; all are regular, so usable without hesitation.
Use the definite article in the two following cases:
1) when the substantive (singular or plural) indicates the whole type, or all individuals of the type: la leono ne esas tam kruela kam la tigro [the lion is not as cruel as the tiger], la uceli flugas en la aero, quale la fishi natas en l'aquo [birds fly in the air like fish swim in the water];
2) when it indicates one or several determinate individuals of the type: la libri dil profesoro [the professor's books] (the complement, dil profesoro determines libri); querez la mediko [get the doctor] (the accustomed doctor, or which already came; mediko could indicate a semi-definite or any doctor at all).
Except for those two cases, you should not use the article, and it is even advised to omit it when the substantive has a generally indeterminate sense, for example in the proverb: Kontenteso valoras plu multe kam richeso; povreso ne esas vicio [Satisfaction is worth much more than richness; poverty is not a vice].
Following this, you never need to use the article with the names of abstract entities, qualities, virtues, etc., for those concepts of type, and do not correspond to individual objects: fido, espero, karitato, kurajo, energio, esprito, e. c. [trust, hope, charity, courage, energy, wit, etc.] (We notice that in old French, such words were used without articles). The same concerning the names of sciences, which are quasi proper names: filologio, geometrio, fiziko, e. c. [philology, geometry, physics, etc.]. But according to the above remembered rule, those names should take the article, if they indicate one apparent thing within multiple things: la espero di Petro [the hope of Petrus], la kurajo di Alexandro [the courage of Alexander], la filozofio di Epikuro [the philosophy of Epikurus], la esprito di Voltaire [the wit of Voltaire], e. c. [etc.]. If you will follow this rule very logically, you will conserve many articles, and you will make the discussion more striking and livelier.
We also don't use the definite article with all types of proper nouns (even of rivers, mountains, etc.), and never with common names that really are proper nouns, like those of stars, seasons, months, and days.
When the proper nouns are preceded by a title, we don't use the article: rejo Henrikus IVa, Papo Pius Xa [King Henry IV, Pope Pius X]. But we use it when the proper noun is only an apposition to a common noun: la genioza poeto Dante [the genius poet Dante], and also if the proper noun accompanies (preceding or following) some adjective: la bela Helena, Alexander la Granda [the beautiful Helen, Alexander the Great].
To sum up, the definite article is used only with expressed or implied substantives, such that in this last case it seems to replace that substantive: Yen rozi; prenez la maxim bela = la maxim bela rozo [Behold roses, take the most beautiful = the most beautiful rose] — prenez le maxim bela = la maxim bela rozi [take the most beautiful = the most beautiful roses].
Don't think that la is always necessary before maxim for it is independent of this adverb, as we soon will see. Indeed we say ta homi sentas su la maxim felica, kande… [those people feel themselves the happiest when…]. Consequently we should never repeat la after a substantive: la homi maxim felica [the people most happy] (and not la homi la maxim felica [the people the most happy]). In the same way we should not use la before maxim, after an adverb: venez maxim frue [come earliest] (and not la maxim frue [the earliest]). Finally we should use la with the possessive pronouns only when that is demanded by the sense (see 33 in Possessive Adjectives and Pronouns).
8. The indefinite article does not exist in Ido. The indefinite sense is indicative of the fact that the article la does not precede the substantive. When we want to insist on the indeterminate, we use ula [some], and for a completely indeterminate, irga [any]. Example: querez ula mediko [fetch some doctor], mem irga mediko en la urbo [fetch any doctor in town], ma ne retrovenez sen mediko [but don't return without a doctor], nam sola ni ne salvos l'infanto [for alone we will not save the young child].
When we want to precisely indicate the number 1, we use un. Example: Un franko suficos [One franc will suffice].
9. A partative article does not exist in Ido: donez a me pano = donez a me la kozo nomizita pano [give me bread = give me the thing named bread]. If we want to indicate an indeterminate part or quantity, we use the preposition de: donez a me de vua pano, de vua pomi [give to me of/from your bread] (part of your bread, of your apple). If we should say vua pano, vua pomi, the sense is: all of your bread, all of your apple.
Similarly, we use de with a pronoun (for that partative idea): Yen kremo, prenez de olu [Here's cream, take from it] (little or much? About this we are not precise; the quantity rests totally indeterminate). But we could be precise, if we say prenez kelke, multe de olu [take some, much of it].
- Because of general custom, we continue to use in this grammar the "definite/indefinite" participle-adjectives for the articles and some pronouns, although certainly a more correct epithet is desirable.
- The examples with le, compared with many similar others which we could give, show by themselves that too much grammatical simplicity can deserve to be thrown away. Because, for example, the uniqueness of the definite article in Esperanto impedes translating the above sentences, yet they are not hard and are very ordinary. But really, is sacrificing grammatical simplicity laudable, or altering the expression of the thought? Certainly those world-languages somewhat blindly allege the ease and grammatical simplicity. Almost all of them forget that ease of learning does not necessarily coincide with ease of application. It even happens that the first really offers only pure deception, if it harms or hinders the second. With the second of their own rules and words Espo and Ido certainly would be more easily learnable. But would they be better because of this? We learn a help-language for some hours, for some days, but we apply it for some years. So there is a question: which merits preference; learning a little shorter, but application fettered and defective; or studying a little longer, but application without want and conforming to purpose? In the first case, one definite article suffices; in the second case, certainly two articles are necessary.
- Dec. 588: We admit the elision of the article before a consonant after the words da, de, di [by (agent), from (origin), of (possession)]. Examples: da l'regulo, de l'regulo, di l'regulo [by the rule, from the rule, of the rule].
Dec. 713: We adopt the forms: dal regulo and da l'regulo [by the rule], with or without an apostrophe, after the three prepositions da, de, di.
Dec. 949: We admit al (one word) as an abbreviation of a la [to the], beside the already existent abbreviation a l', due to the similarity to the already admitted dal, del, dil.
- This first line in the last paragraph is taken out of Progreso, I, 491.