I know how the infinitive form of a verb is used in Esperanto.

Mi ŝatas danci. (I like to dance.)

Does Esperanto have a parallel to English gerunds?

I like dancing.

up vote 14 down vote accepted

You can say:

Mi ŝatas dancadon.

Its meaning is similar to the one Mi ŝatas danci has, though it does not explicitly say that what you like is you dancing. It could also be used when all you like is watching others dancing, though to avoid misunderstandings, it would be better to say this explicitly, for example with Mi ŝatas rigardi dancadon..

I guess the difference is the same as between I like to dance and I like dancing (though as a non-native I'm not really sure about the difference in English).

  • Jes, it is like the difference between those two in English. I like dancing is more general and can be understood as you said. Thank you! – Yotam Salmon Aug 26 '16 at 12:22
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    Also, one may say dancado plaĉas al mi in this context. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that plaĉi takes precedence over ŝati when referring to a thing pleasing someone. – Karter-Hajnzli Aug 26 '16 at 16:24
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    The word "plaĉi" is the one traditionally used in such contexts, but nowadays many Esperanto speakers would prefer "ŝati". – Marcos Cramer Aug 29 '16 at 16:44

The English gerund (or the -ing form) is a strange beast because it conflates three historically different forms in one. The difference is still preserved in other Germanic languages like Dutch or German

  1. The nominalised infinitive (German das Tanzen, Esperanto danci)
  2. The present active particple (German tanzend, Esperanto dancanta)
  3. A deriviative noun (German -ung, not available for tanzen, but for other verbs, e.g., drehen "turni": die Drehung "turnado")

In Latin grammar, only the first thing is called gerundium.

Esperanto does not follow the rather unique English model, but keeps the three functions of the English Gerund separate.

  • Thank you for this very clear explanation. I did realized this English tendency to mix things up while making English->Esperanto translations, although until now I didn't have such a good theory to ground my thoughts on. – psychoslave Feb 19 at 8:29

If you want to say that you like the act of dancing, you could use:

Mi ŝatas la dancadon.

Or you like how someone is dancing (his act/manner of dancing):

Mi ŝatas lian dancadon.

Apart from that, if you want to say you like dancing in general, you use the infinitive form, which you already know.

Here is the relevand section at PMEG.

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    The question is about gerund, but this answer is not. – ForceBru Aug 26 '16 at 11:21

I'm currently learning Esperanto on Duolingo, and they're translating sentences like 'Mi ŝatas danci' in both ways: with and without gerund. What's more, when I translate such a sentence without gerund, a popup appears saying that another correct solution is the one with gerund.

So, according to Duolingo, there's no gerund in Esperanto.

  • I know they do translate in both ways, that's where my question came from - seeing only one form that is translated two ways. – Yotam Salmon Aug 26 '16 at 12:23

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