eg. in English we have lots of words like "I'm" (from "I am") and "can't" (from "can not").

It can seem a bit formal to always be typing out the full form of words. And while the possessive "'s" in English isn't strictly a contraction, it can be cumbersome to always type the long form, eg. "la fratino de mia amiko" (the sister of my friend, or my friend's sister).

Does Esperanto have a common and accepted way of shortening words with contractions like this?

  • La fratino de mia amiko estas miaamika fratino. In this specific case though, do not forget to pronounce both a's. Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 21:20
  • A similar phenomenon of shortening in Esperanto is using the past tense instead of the perfect tense; maybe it is different in Ido.
    – Joop Eggen
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 4:23

3 Answers 3


There are two "contractions" in Esperanto: You can use l' instead of la as in "l' akvo" (with a space between the words) vs "la akvo", and you can leave off the trailing o in nouns: "viv'" vs "vivo". Both seem to be used more in poetry and music.

There are other ways of shortening than contractions. For example when you say "la angla" you really mean "la angla lingvo". Similarly many times it is persmissible to leave out words if they are understood from context.

Though I do not believe there are any ways to shorten the possessive, but similarly French for example has the same kind of possessive form as Esperanto and one would not think of the French as overly formal people, no? :)

  • 1
    Note: it is better to write "la Angla" with a capital letter. We more often use a capital letter for the name of a language if we omit the word "lingvo".
    – Vanege
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 18:48
  • 1
    Duolingo lesson notes on this do not capitalize, and neither does vikipedio: eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angla_lingvo, PMEG on the other hand says both capitalized and uncapitalized are fine, though seems to give more examples which are, in fact, capitalized.
    – Jiri Lebl
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 19:03
  • 2
    I actually rarely encounter the capitalized version. On another note, one should retain the space when omitting the ‘a’ in ‘la’. It should be ‘l' akvo’, not ‘l'akvo’. Finally, there is the omission in the fixed phrase ‘dank' al’. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 19:34
  • so 'dank' al' is an abbreviation of 'dankon al vi'? Do these contractions affect the pronunciation of the words? Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 3:36
  • "Dank' al" actually comes from "danke al", which is also correct and the version I normally use. Esperanto is pronounced as it is written and conversely, so these contractions are both spoken and written.
    – Mutre
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 9:21

It is quite common to replace estas followed by an adjective with the adjective with an appended s.

So, ĝi estas longa becomes ĝi longas.

  • oh of course, I totally forgot about that one! :D Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 2:01
  • 4
    This is hardly a contraction, but rather creative use of the word-building system.
    – Mutre
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 9:22
  • And such "creative" use is very seldom a good idea outside poetry. See the blog writing of Tomaso "Salivanto". Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 11:23

No, Esperanto doesn't have contractions in the way they are used in English. The same can be said for many languages, actually. See the other answers for alternative ways of shortening words.

A little bit of off-topic about formality: This only looks too formal to you because you are thinking in terms of English. Again, many languages don't have this shortenings as English does and to make something formal, you have to use different words, pronouns, inflections (there are many examples: Spanish (tu/Usted), German, Russian, Bulgarian,…). As I remember reading somewhere, Zamenhof specifically didn't want Esperanto to have formal pronouns or whatever means to differentiate between formal/informal. Maybe because the users of the language are supposed to feel like friends, or maybe for another reason. But that's the fact.

  • To my understanding Zamenhof left the sg. 2nd person pronoun out of Esperanto, because its use varies among the languages he knew: in some it is intimate, in some defamatory and so on. The pronoun ci is there to be used in translations where you need a sg. 2d person pronoun, but its meaning is to be determined by the original text. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 11:27

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