Verb Conjugation

  • Infinitive: -i
  • Present: -as
  • Past: -is
  • Future: -os
  • Command: -u
  • Conditional: -us

In lesson 1, we learned that the base form of a verb – the infinitive, which ends in -i – is translated "to verb". The present tense of any Esperanto verb ends in -as and is translated "I verb", "I am verb'ing", or "I do verb". Note that "I" is only an example and can be replaced with anything.

Now we will learn the future and past tenses, the command form of a verb, and even how to form verbs that lack tense altogether.

Future Tense
The future tense is formed by replacing the -i ending of the infinitive with -os. These can be translated "I will verb" or "I will be verb'ing".
Past tense
The past tense is formed by replacing the -i ending of the infinitive with -is. These can be translated "I did verb" or "I verb'ed".
The imperative is the form one would use when they are telling somebody what to do, and is therefore sometimes called the command form. For example, in the sentence "Bob, please run to the store", "run" is an imperative. In Esperanto, these are formed by replacing the -i of the infinitive with -u.
This form is used when a verb lacks a tense and refers to something that could potentially happen or have happened, and it is not really a tense, as such. For example, "Bob would run if Jim were to tell him." Bob may not have run yet, and Jim has not necessarily asked him to. All we know is that Bob would run if Jim would tell him to. Esperanto has no word for "would", but the meaning of it is reached by replacing the -i of the infinitive with -us.

These are all the forms of the active voice, that is, when the subject is the one "doing the verb". The passive voice, when the subject is "being verb'ed" by something else, will be covered later.

Be sure to memorize the "theme vowels" for each tense: a for the present, o for the future, and i for the past. They show up in many places within the language, particularly the participles, which are explored in the next section.



Participles are adjectives formed from verbs, and are used to describe somebody who did, is doing, or will do a verb. The English language has two types of participles: the present active participle and the past passive participle.

  • The present active participle is an adjective describing somebody who is doing something in the present. For example, "The running boy will soon arrive home." "Running" is a participle.
  • The past passive participle describes somebody who, at some time in the past, had the verb done to them by something else. For example, "The torn and crumpled paper was thrown in the trash." The paper is torn because, in the past, somebody tore it, and it's crumpled for the same reason. In English, the passive participle usually looks the same as the past form of the verb, as is the case with "crumpled" ("he crumpled it", "it is crumpled"), but not for "torn" ("he tore it", "it is torn").

Esperanto, however, has eight participles. Since English only has two participles, these don't always have perfect translations. Take a look at the table of forms below. If not already obvious, they are formed by replacing the final -i of the infinitive with these forms. Those in yellow exist in English, the rest have imperfect translations.

Present Past Future Conditional
Active -anta
Passive -ata

Because four of the participles have imperfect translations, they will have to be rephrased when translated into English.

Esperanto Rough English (as in gloss) Rephrased English
Knabo kurinta falos. The was-running boy will fall. The boy who was running will fall.
Arbo haketota alta estas. The will-be-being-chopped tree is tall. The tree which will be chopped down is tall.

At the same time, the English sentence "The tree which will be chopped down is tall." can be translated "Arbo haketota alta estas." instead of the more literal "Arbo, kiu estos haketata, alta estas."

Vojaĝado (Travelling)

Vocabulary / Vortlisto
Esperanto English
aĉeti to buy
veturo journey
bileto ticket
voli to want
kiu which
urbo city, town
Parizo Paris
bone okay, well
aviadilo airplane
ekflugi to take off
el from
Berlino Berlin
al to
post after
dudek twenty
minuto minute
dankon thank you, thanks
iri (al) go (to)

Buying a plane ticket / Aĉeti veturo-bileton

  • Ludoviko: Saluton, mi volas aĉeti veturo-bileton.
  • Vendisto: Al kiu urbo?
  • Ludoviko: Al Parizo.
  • Vendisto: Bone, la aviadilo ekflugos el Berlino al Parizo post dudek minutoj.
  • Ludoviko: Dankon.

Asking and Answering Questions


Asking questions in Esperanto is very easy to accomplish with the help of a few question words.

Yes/No Questions


Asking Yes/No Questions


In Esperanto, all questions that require "yes" or "no" as an answer begin in "Ĉu"; no other change is made to the sentence. For example, "Do you eat?" would be said "Ĉu vi manĝas?".

In English, "It is a dog." would be asked "Is it a dog?". You may notice that the only change is that "it" and "is" switch places. This is not true of Esperanto: all you have to do is put "Ĉu" at the beginning of the sentence. That's it. ("Ĉu ĝi estas hundo?" means "Is it true that it is a dog?" or more simply "Is it a dog?".)

Answering Yes/No Questions


Answering Yes/No questions is very easy: "jes" means "yes" and "ne" means "no".

Other Types of Questions


Here is a list of several basic question words:

Vocabulary / Vortlisto
Esperanto English
Kiu? Which?/Who? (Which person?)
Kio? What?
Kiam? When?
Kie? Where?
Kial? Why? (For what reason?)
Kiel? How?
Kiom? How many?

These words may be useful in answering questions that use the above words:

Vocabulary / Vortlisto
Esperanto English
Tiu That/That person
Tio That (thing)
Tiam Then
Tie There
Tial For that reason
Tiel Thus/In that way
Tiom That many

Notice how all these words are linked to the question word that has same ending. This system of words, called the correlatives, will be dealt with in a later chapter.

Vocabulary / Vortlisto
Esperanto English
Ĉar Because
Per Through means of
Pro On account of
Esperanto English
Kio estas tio?
Tio estas hundo.
What is that?
That is a dog.
Kiu estas tiu?
Tiu estas mia amiko.
Who is that?
That is my friend.
Kiam vi venos?
Mi venos baldaŭ.
When will you come?
I will come soon.
Kie vi estas?
Mi estas en Usono.
Where are you?
I am in the USA.
Kial vi estas en Usono?
Ĉar mi loĝas en Usono!
Why are you in the USA?
Because I live in the USA!
Kiel vi venos al Eŭropo?
Mi venos per aviadilo.
How will you come to Europe?
I will come by airplane.

Exercise: Translation

Vocabulary / Vortlisto
Esperanto English
Helpi To help
Bagaĝo Luggage, bag
Edzino Wife
Misloki To misplace
Povi To be able
Trovi To find
Havas to have
Jam Now, already
Bonega Very good
Feliĉega Very happy
Apud Near, next to
Stranga Strange
Se If
Mono Money
Pagi To pay
Sinjorino Ma'am, Miss, Mrs.
Reveni To return
  • Ludoviko: Min helpu!
  • Virino: Jes?
  • Ludoviko: Mi bagaĝojn de mia edzino mislokas. Ĉu vi povas trovi ĝin?
  • Virino: Jes, mi havas ĝin jam.
  • Ludoviko: Bonege! Mia edzino feliĉega estos. Kie vi trovis ĝin?
  • Virino: Tie, apud mia bagaĝon.
  • Ludoviko: Estas strange. Se mi havus monon, mi vin pagus. Dankon, sinjorino, kaj adiaŭ!
  • Ludoviko revenis lian edzinon.
  • Edzino: Ludoviko! Ĉu vi havas mian bagaĝon?
  • Ludoviko: Jes, ĝi trovita de[1] virino bona estas.
  1. This word generally translates "of", though in this context, it means "by".

What You Need to Know

  • To change a standard sentence into a yes or no question, place the word "ĉu" in front of it.
  • The Table of Correrlatives in Appendix H, in order to ask questions.
  • The forms and uses of infinitive, imperative, and conditional verbs.
  • The forms of the past and future tenses.
  • The forms of the six participles and how to use and translate them.