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According to my Esperanto dictionary on my Android phone, both mean wake up. Which verb is transitive, and which one isn't? How do you use each in a sentence? Thanks!

  • This question illustrates a common problem among Esperanto learners — inadequate verb definitions. DON'T LEARN VERBS IN ESPERANTO BY TRANSLATING THEM INTO ENGLISH. It is inadequate, and lays the foundations for endless problems later. If you EVER find yourself cursing because you can't remember whether a verb is transitive or intransitive, it's a sure sign that you learnt it inadequately in the first place. Learn a SENTENCE that contains the verb BEING USED. "La suno vekis min" will do. That short sentence TELLS you that it's transitive. Also, it's a useful sentence. – Tim Morley Dec 6 '16 at 12:01
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Veki is the transitive one. Recall that -iĝ- always yields an intransitive verb. You can also look in PIV to check the definition and the transitiveness of a verb.

You use veki when something wakes someone up and you use vekiĝi when someone just wake up by themself.

Here are some example sentences of how to use them:

  • La sono de la vekhorloĝo vekis min. = The sound of the alarm woke me up.
  • Pro la sono de la vekhorloĝo mi vekiĝis. = I woke up due to the sound of the alarm.
  • Veku min je la oka! = Wake me up at eight!
  • Ŝi ĉiam vekiĝas je la naŭa. = She always wakes up at nine.
  • Is "veki sin" a way to acceptably replace "vekiĝi?" – Clayton Ramsey Nov 9 '16 at 5:08
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    @ClaytonRamsey No, they are distinct. There is a difference between applying an action to yourself, and undergoing something without your own interference. One could use veki sin in the sense of e.g. setting an alarm: Mi vekis min per vekhorloĝo., but you can't really say *Mi vekis min pro la hela lumo.*. That doesn't really make sense: You don't wake yourself up due to the light, you just wake up due to the light. – Joffysloffy Nov 9 '16 at 7:48
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The fact that you can add -iĝ- to the verb shows you that it's transitive. You can't put -iĝ- on an intransitive verb, it just doesn't mean anything.*

So veki is transitive. It means "to wake someone up" (where "someone" can of course include animals or even slumbering supernatural beings of the deep). It's an action that is done to someone, as in @Joffysloffy's examples: La sono de la vekhorloĝo vekis min and Vi veku min je la oka!

If you want to talk about someone just waking up, without saying what woke them up, then you use vekiĝis: Mi vekiĝis je la 9-a ĉi-matene.


*Note to pedants: I am aware of the tiny number of exceptions to this rule, but they're not relevant to this question, and the rule is good enough for 99% of the time.

  • I believe it's much closer to 96%. – Tomaso Alexander Nov 9 '16 at 2:04
  • Ah, one of the aforementioned pedants! ;-) – Tim Morley Dec 6 '16 at 11:58
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This question demonstrates one of the limitations of a bilingual dictionary. If the word being used to explain the Esperanto word has more than one meaning, it may be difficult to sort out the difference.

One option you have is to check the words in PIV via vortaro.net

  • veki (iun) Interrompi ies dormon
  • vekiĝi Rekonsciiĝi el dormo

This shows that veki means to interrupt someone's sleep, and vekiĝi means to become conscius again from sleep.

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