Skipping what’s unnecessary

The “pleonastic it” is when in English we use the word “it” simply to satisfy grammar, but where it adds no meaning:

  • “It’s raining” – What’s raining? “it” shouldn’t be needed.

So Esperanto does away with it! The verb “to rain” is “pluvi”

  • “Pluvas” = “It’s raining/It rains”
This is often the case with sentences about the weather, where in English we like to say “it’s thundering”, or “it’s hailing”, Esperanto will simply use the verb.
However, there are other such situations, any time the “it” isn’t referring to a concrete thing that you’ve previously referred to seems to be a candidate for verbs without their “it” subject.
Take this example from Lernu.net:
  • “Temas ne pri li, sed pri ŝi.” – “It’s not about him, but about her.”
“Temas” (temi = to be about) doesn’t have a subject! But in English we use “it”.
Also, in English we often introduce things with “There are/is…”. In this case the “there” isn’t necessary, and in Esperanto we can just use the verb for is/are:
  • “Estas kameloj” = “There are camels”.
It seems like the word “there” is only necessary in Esperanto if you are talking about a particular place where something is. So perhaps:
  • “Tie estas kameloj” means “There (in that place) are camels”.
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4 thoughts on “Skipping what’s unnecessary

    • As in,”Jen kameloj”?

      You’re asking if “Jen” is unnecessary here, so whether Esperanto is really skipping the unnecessary or not?

      Well, “Jen la cameloj” is actually quite different from the simple “There are camels” (estas kameloj). The latter is a simple indication of existence in general, where “there” is unnecessary and omitted in Esperanto.

      Whereas with “jen” we have “Behold camels” or “Look: camels”, or some other variant, the common theme being that we are purposely using the interjection “jen” to draw attention to some specific camels. We’re not just stating the fact that there are some camels in existence. “Jen”‘s purpose is the attention drawing, and changes the meaning thusly.

      That make sense?

  1. Good stuff! I hope you are thinking about putting all this in an online book or something 😉

    Your examples remind me a little of what I am reading now, “Step by step in Esperanto”.

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