Partying with Participles #4

Now here’s the fourth in the series concerning participles and their antics. Check out the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

Today’s post is about using the various participles with the “e” ending, the ending for adverbs as in:

  • Amiko = Friend
  • Amika = Friendly
  • Amike = Friendlily / In a friendly way

So what does doing this to a participle achieve?

Quite a bit. It’s almost like making two phrases in one!

So here’s two phrases connected with “and”:

  • La melo manĝis kamelon, kaj pensis samtempe pri la sekvonta manĝo = The badger ate a camel, and at the same time was thinking about the next meal.
How can they be joined? E-participle!
  • Manĝante kamelon la melo pensis pri la sekvonta manĝo = (while) eating a camel the badger thought about the next meal.

(Note how “pensis” the simple past tense was translated as both “was thinking” and “thought”. The simple tenses are flexible, which is why Esperanto uses them more. Future post!)

So instead of having two separate main verbs “manĝis” and “pensis” and the surrounding goop, we have “X was thinking about Y” plus the extra information that X was eating something. So they allow you to provide additional context in the same phrase.

Notice now that because “manĝ-” has become a participial adverb (not a main verb), it cannot have it’s own subject. That is, the thing that is doing the eating, will always be the subject of the main verb (here, pensi). So whatever is doing the thinking, must be doing the eating (or whatever the adverb is about).

If you want the subject to be on the receiving end of the action, you must use a passive participle (so that you’re being eaten, rather than eating. Check out the comments on this post for further explanation!):

  • Manĝote de la kamelo, la melo pensis pri feliĉaj aferoj = About to be eaten by a camel, the badger thought about happy things.

Notice the differences you can get with the different aspects of participles too. In the first example the eating was ongoing, in this example, the eating is anticipated.

This allows you to be very succinct with expression. This is one of my favourite examples from “Being Colloquial in Esperanto”:

  • Eĉ pafote silentadus li = Even about to be shot he would remain silent

“Li” is the subject of the main verb “silentadus” = “would remain silent”. So the adverb describes “li”. And the adverb means “about to be shot” because it’s an anticipated action, and a passive one (so “li” is anticipated to receive the action).

Obviously when things get really compact, you should probably reserve those gorgeous sentences for written communication.

Check out the PMEG for more examples.

Next time, I’ll be discussing what happens if you use the “o” ending for participles, instead of “a”, “e” or the verbal endings (that I’ve already talked about)!

11 thoughts on “Partying with Participles #4

  1. And also, my mind leans toward using the adjective form of a participle as in English. Would it be correct to say “Manghota de la melo, Andy Esperantisto sciis ke sia vivo estas kompleta”?


    • If you’re going for “About to be eaten by the badger, Andy knew that his life was complete.” Then I’m not sure this is correct, it’s a weird one to me.

      Perhaps it is more like (should be without comma and estas = estis):

      An about to be eaten Andy knew that his life was complete.

      The adjectival participles cannot be be in their own little phrase like the adverbial ones. They have to be an adjectival description much like:

      Brave Andy knew that his life was complete

      Here “brave” is an adjective, this is the kind of position adjectival participles may take up.


      • So I was correct in the first place! But don’t worry about it – I usually wrap my head around other languages’ concepts quickly, and that just happened. Now the “e” makes perfect sense!


  2. A point about “pensis pri” as in at the beginning…

    As I understand it, if a verb needs a preposition and an infinitive follows that verb, you take the preposition and join it to the front of its verb. (And this can be done even before a noun.) Is this correct? (Don’t blame me if I’m wrong; gave me most of the ideas.)


    • In general, word building does indeed extend to prepositions. Though the resulting combination, isn’t necessarily exactly equivalent to the uncombined version:

      Mi pensas pri ĝi = I am thinking about it
      Mi pripensas ĝin = I am thinking about it / I’m reflecting on it

      This seems to be because you are creating a word from senses. It has it’s own sense. See link below to previous post, it’s a very similar issue: what’s the difference between blua floro, and blufloro?

      Often what normally comes after the preposition becomes the direct object with the combined word, but not always:

      Mi laboras kun ŝi = I am working with her
      Mi kunlaboras kun ŝi = I am collaborating with her

      This usually happens when the new word becomes a common word in its own right, then usage and other such things determine how people tend to use it, it seems.

      I wonder if you said:

      Mi kunlaboras ŝin

      People would hear it just as more like “working with”…


  3. See, I told you I have a problem with participles!

    Thanks for the corrections (ankaux vi, februaro!). The X learned Y example and explanation makes it clearer for me.



    • Thanks for reading all these lengthy participle posts! 🙂

      I like that combination of participle and verbal quality word!

      Though you missed out an “n”! I don’t know if that’s just a typo, but just incase:

      “Lernite” uses the “it” ending, which is a passive participle ending, so this says that the action is happening to the subject (mi). So “lernite” is more like “having been learnt”, instead of “lerninte”, which would be “having learnt (or learned!)”.

      Whenever you’ve got an action word that takes an object (like lerni = to learn, remember that you can’t use passive participles for words that can’t take an object), and you want to decide whether you need passive or active, imagine this:

      X learned Y

      Then in your desired sentence “having learned, I am happy” where the subject is “I”, is “I” (the subject) X or Y, did it learn, or was it learnt? If it is X then you need active, if it is Y then you need passive. Because X is doing the action (I learnt), and Y is receiving the action (I’ve been learnt).



    • Vi ne povas esti lernita, cxar vi ne estas studobjekto =)

      En la praktiko oni preskaux cxiam uzas nur ‘X-ante’ kaj ‘X-inte’ formojn laux la formuloj:
      — kiam oni X-as,.. = X-ante,..
      — post kiam oni X-is,.. = X-inte,..



      • Certe, laŭvorte ĝi sensencas, sed ĝi estas agrabla metaforo pri tre ekkonas iun (do trakti iun kiel studobjekton). Do eble estas ejo por ĝi en kreema verkado! 🙂

        Kiel vi diris, la grava afero estas:

        Kiam mi X-as, … = X-ante, mi…


        Kiam iu X-as min = X-ate, mi…


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