esperanto in forty-five seconds

Esperanto is a constructed international auxiliary language designed to be simple and easy to learn. It achieves this by having a small vocabulary and very regular grammar. It's quite influenced by Indo-European (particularly Romance) languages, so knowing some of those helps a lot.

This post is not intended to be exhautive or comprehensive, I mostly want to express how simple the grammar is and highlight other cool things.

Forty-five seconds is about how long it takes me to read this page, but excludes time spent on trying to remember things. If you want to actually learn, check out the links at the end.


Nope. The definite article is 'la' for everything. There is no indefinite article.


They end in '-o':

hundo: dog (like the German Hund)
feliĉo: happiness (like the Spanish felicidad)
fromaĝo: cheese (like the French fromage)
arbo: tree (like the Latin arbor, Spanish àrbol)

To pluralise, add '-j':

hundoj: dogs
arboj: trees


This is just a list but people like these things.

mi: me
vi: you
ŝi: she
li: he
ĝi: it
ni: we
ili: they

There's no plural 'you', for some reason.


Conjugation by person isn't a thing. One ending for each tense. Using esti (to be):

  • -i: Infinitive: esti: to be
  • -as: Present: estas: is
  • -is: Past: estis: was
  • -os: Future: estos: will be
  • -us: Conditional: estus: would be


Mi estas...: I am...
La arboj estis...: the trees were...
Feliĉo estus...: happiness would be...


Denote the object of a verb (accusative case) with '-n':

La hundo manĝas la fromaĝon: The dog eats the cheese

This stacks with plurals:

Viro vidas la arbojn: A man sees the trees


They end in '-a':

bela: beautiful
rapida: fast
malrapida: slow

Examples: (note, they must match the noun in case and number),

Mi estas bela: I am beautiful
La rapidaj viroj: The fast men
La rapida bruna vulpo transsaltas la pigran hundon: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.1


Observe rapida (fast) → malrapida (slow).

mal is a prefix for negation. Esperanto has very many affixes (prefixes or suffixes) which modify word roots to form other words. This is where it gets really cool and therefore beyond the scope of this post. Briefly, some examples:

  • hundo → hundido: dogpuppy (offspring of dog)
  • ĵurnalo → ĵurnalisto: newspaperjournalist (professional of newspaper)
  • salo → salero: saltgrain of salt (one of the many same salt objects)


This was just a taste of Esperanto. For more, see Duolingo, grammar at lernu!, Mazi en Gondolando.

[1] This English pangram is not an Esperanto pangram! From here, an Esperanto pangram would be:

Laŭ Ludoviko Zamenhof bongustas freŝa ĉeĥa manĝaĵo kun spicoj.
According to Ludwig Zamenhof, fresh Czech food with spices tastes good.