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In an article from TeoKajLibro, the following sentence appear

Multaj homoj kredas Irlandon katolika.

I assume that this sentence is correct and means

  • Multaj homoj kredas ke Irlando estas katolika.

How much does the word order matter here? And is this a trick specific to kredas?

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This is the so called predicative expression (predikativo). It often represents a result of an action or is the complement of an opinion or idea (like with kredi). The adjective says something about either the subject or the object (both being in the nominative case). Here are some examples (and note how the English sentences have the same structure).

  • I deem him nice. = Mi opinias lin afabla.
  • We elected her president. = Ni elektis ŝin prezidento.
  • I arrived home tired. = Mi alvenis hejme laca.
  • We painted the house blue. = Ni farbis la domon blua.
  • Don't call me an idiot. = Ne nomu min idioto.

If you use the same construction applied to an infinitive or a subordinate clause, then the predicative expression should be an adverb (like usual when you say something like “Helpi homojn estas grave”).

  • I find helping people important. = Mi opinias helpi homojn grave.

The word order is not too important; you can swap it around a bit, but make sure that the predicative expression does not become a normal adjective/adverb, as that would change the meaning of the sentence:

  • La malsana knabino vekiĝis.La knabino vekiĝis malsana.

In the first sentence the girl was already sick and just woke up. In the second sentence, the girl was perfectly fine when she went to bed, but woke up sick.

Sometimes it can be ambiguous whether the predicative expression applies to the subject or the object:

  • I drove the guy home drunk. = Mi hejmenveturigis la viron ebria.

This could either mean that I, the driver, was drunk, or that I drove the guy home and when we arrived he was still drunk. Here you might be tempted wonder why we then not just put the predicative in the accusative case. That changes the meaning of the sentence, because it becomes an adjective:

  • Mi hejmenveturigis la viron ebrian. = I drove the drunk guy home.
  • According to the PMEG, predikativo is a “traditional term” used for other languages that is more aptly described in Esperanto as a perverba priskribo. See bertilow.com/pmeg/aldonoj/gramatika_vortareto.html for this definition and bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/specialaj_priskriboj/perverba/… for a discussion of these usages—including some where -an is also allowed but causes a change in meaning, like “he painted the house red” vs. “he painted the red house”. – Trey Dec 25 '19 at 20:11
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    PMEG generally avoids using technical terminology, which I think is good. Nonetheless, I think the word predikativo is still accurate for Esperanto. For instance, see its definition in PIV. PMEG says that perverba priskribo traditionally is called predikativo. It in no way implies that the word is archaic and should be replaced with perverba priskribo; it just says that the term perverba priskribo used in PMEG is in traditional—standard—linguistic grammar terms predikativo. – Joffysloffy Dec 25 '19 at 23:07
  • That’s a good point, but in the front-matter of PMEG, it’s explained why neologisms like o-vortoj instead of the familiar terms like “nouns” are used—because they linguistically better fit than shoehorning in words from the linguistics of other languages. As a linguist, I think this matters because PIV was first published in 1970, just before modern cognitive linguistics was widely adopted. And analyzing Esperanto as a Romance language as PIV does can cause confusion. I think it does here. – Trey Dec 26 '19 at 21:45
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    Yes, “predicative” is a cross-linguistic term, but it’s not a very well-defined one. In Esperanto, this construct has a form that we could always, in English, convert to an “as adjective” or “seemingly adjective” expression (depending on the aktionsart of the superordinate v-bar). Those are not predicative expressions in English; they are subordinate adjectival predicates. True predicative expressions would be “he seems friendly”. Other Romance languages are similar. So a formalism is being used not just imprecisely to shoehorn it into Esperanto, but a bit inaccurately as well. – Trey Dec 27 '19 at 18:40
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    Hm yes, that is true. I am not a linguist, so I primarily just picked up the term from a professor of interlinguistics and Esperanto, and then went with the definition in PIV, and learned from there. But I did not realize certain English phrases were not considered predicatives, whereas the equivalent in Esperanto would be an predicative (with PIV's definition). Interesting! – Joffysloffy Dec 27 '19 at 19:21
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Without using a lot of grammatical lingo here, we add adjectives to the end of sentences all the time - with estas.

  • Mi estas. - I am (I exist.)
  • Mi estas laca. - I am tired.

It also works with other verbs, including verbs with objects:

  • Mi ŝatas la panon varma. - I like the bread (when it it is still) warm.

It can also be used to describe a change in state.

  • La suno kolorigas la nubojn ruĝaj. - The sun is coloring the clouds red.

Finally, it can be used in examples like the one you presented.

  • Mi kredas tion. - I belive that.
  • Mi kredas tion bona. - I believe that is good.

You asked why it makes sense. My short answer to that is that we already do it with estas. (More theoretical answers are of course possible, but that is the answer that works for me.)

More detail here:

http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/specialaj_priskriboj/perverba/objekto.html

Examples from the tekstaro:

  • Mi ne estas tiel malhumila, ke mi kredas mian filinon neerarema.
  • nun oni kredas la junulon murdita.
  • kvalitoj, kiuj igas edzon feliĉa.
  • [Felikso] lasis Paŭlon ligita.
  • La prezidanto de la loka kongresa komitato anoncis la kongreson malfermita.
  • li pro manko de novaj ideoj trovis tiun ĉi entreprenon akcelinda.
  • Kruko trovas Banikon gimnastikanta.
  • Ĉiu opinias avidon bona.
  • Oni serĉas la realon kaj ĉiu opinias ŝajnon senvalora.”
  • ĝi tenis homon sporta.
  • 65 % da britoj taksas politikistojn nefidindaj.
  • Oni juĝis la manovrojn finitaj.
  • nun li havis la manojn ligitaj.
  • Sur mia dorso plugis plugistoj, Faris siajn sulkojn longaj.
  • Nomu viajn fratojn Mia popolo, kaj viajn fratinojn Kompatataj.
  • ili plu ne povas teni la okulojn nefermitaj.
  • ŝi lasis la boteletojn netuŝitaj.
  • li trovas la tarifojn ekscesegaj.
  • neniu konsiderus tiujn diplomojn seriozaj.
  • [Ratoj] manĝis la homojn vivantaj.
  • Mi vidas nur unu klarigon ebla.

Notice that often the semantic relationship of the words is often slightly different even if the endings follow the same pattern. There were dozens more examples like this, but I tried to include a variety.

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