When an adjective (word ending in “a”) is directly describing a noun (words ending in “o”), and when the context clearly shows what the noun should be, it’s often possible to just omit the noun:
- Mia melo estas la plej bela [melo] en la mondo = My badger is the most beautiful [badger] in the world (see how the second “melo” is unnecessary because we know what’s being discussed).
- Ili estas la unuaj [personaj] kiuj manĝas melojn = They are the first people who eat badgers. *
- Granda melo estas pli forta ol malgranda [melo] = A big badger is stronger than a small [badger] (Again the second “melo” is unnecessary).
Understanding that this is what you mean is facilitated by using a word like “la” (or “ol”, something that sufficiently narrows the meaning) in front of the adjective, to show that you are talking of a specific thing.This is also why telling the time looks the way that it does:
- Estas la naŭa [horo] = It’s nine o’clock (literally: It’s the ninth [hour])
Here “horo” is obviously implied and therefore not necessary. The same occurs in phrases like “The ninth day of september”, you can simply say “The ninth of september”.
Also worthy of note is the word “alia” = “other/another” (remember not to stress it like the person name [AH-lia], instead make sure that stress is on the penultimate syllable: a-LI-a ). “Alia” is often used in the manner described above (only implying a noun rather than explicitly stating it), because the implied noun is usually very obvious.
Think about it, if I’m talking about X, then go on to speak about “another” Y, the word “another” suggests that Y is of the same type as X:
- Mi amis tiun melon, trovu por mi alian [melon] = I loved that badger, find [for] me another [badger].
There are also words that mean quantities (e.g. some, several) that perform similar functions often. You can find these, more examples and my main resource for this post on this PMEG page.
I always find it handy to know these little things about a language, just so you know that such constructions are recognised. I find it gives me more confidence using the language!
*Thanks to folks at Lernu.net forums for helping me with the translation of the second half of this sentence, I was unsure about using “ke/kiu” or using nothing at all with “manĝi”.