Prepositions out alone, don’t forget your “e”s

Having a good day is easy when even a new grammatical idea can make you grin. I came across a description in the PMEG today of something that I’ve seen evidence of here and there, and is quite intuitive, but was nice to see the logic behind it.

Prepositions (little words that determine the role of other words in a sentence), can’t really stand alone, as in this phrases where “…” would be replaced with the thing that is in that place:

  • … sur la seĝo = … on the chair
  • … en la melejo = … in the badger den
  • … apud la melo = … near the badger
  • … post la manĝo = … after the meal
  • … dum la manĝo = … during the meal
  • … ekster la kaverno = …outside the cavern

You can’t just go:

  • Mi estas en = I am in…
  • Ĝi estas post = it is after…
  • Mi estas apud = I am near…
  • Mi kuros dum = I will run during…

These are just incomplete sentences! We do all sorts of things to the words in English to make them make sense, but you just add an “e”  to the prepositions in Esperanto (to make them into adverbs, which are allowed to go out alone):

  • Mi estas ene = I am inside
  • La manĝo estas poste = The meal is afterwards
  • Mi estas apude = I am nearby
  • Mi kuros dume = I will run in the meantime/meanwhile

This is helping me to see how to choose between these different ways of expression!

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3 thoughts on “Prepositions out alone, don’t forget your “e”s

  1. I too thought that this -e ending was very interesting when I first saw it.

    It is also interesting how other languages do the same thing. In English you have “after” and “afterwards”, while in Portuguese, we have “depois de” and “depois”.

    So you could say that we only have the word for afterwards/poste, and we need a preposition (de) to connect it to something else. Not all language courses explain that mismatch between Portuguese and Esperanto or English…

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