It was already red!

So something about Esperanto that I don’t think I’ve mentioned, but is necessary to know for this post, is the fact that an adjective can appear either before or after the word it is describing. Esperanto is easy going like that. Thus:

  • La blua kato, is the same as:
  • La kato blua
Only possible difference could be that there is ever so slightly more emphasis on the one that comes first.
Okay, now we’ve established that, what’s the difference between these two:
  • Mi farbis la domon ruĝan (= Mi farbis la ruĝan domon)
  • Mi farbis la domon ruĝa

“farbis” = “painted” , “domo” = “house”, and “ruĝa” = “red”.The only difference is that in the second sentence, the word for “red” does not receive the accusative “n” (therefore isn’t attributed to “domon”, which does have the ending,  in the usual way).What effect does this elicit?

In the first sentence, the “red” adjective is describing the object “house”. It is describing what that object is, before it receives the action of the sentence (in this case a painting action). Whereas in the second sentence  the adjective is not attributed to the description of what the object was before the action. It says what the action did to the object.


Bearing this in mind, the first sentence states that I painted a house that was already red (but I didn’t state what colour I painted it), whereas the second sentence states that I painted a house the colour red (but I didn’t state what colour it was originally).Therefore, conceivably one could say:

  • Mi farbis la domon bluan ruĝa, or
  • Mi farbis la bluan domon ruĝa

In order to mean “I painted the (already) blue house (now) red.”


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