If I have "mi legas libronj" (I read books), does -n or -j come first? Does it matter? Is there a standard? What about other suffixes? (I've only learned objects and plurals so far but assume there are others)

  • 1
    There was a discussion in the meta section about what the minimum level for questions should be. Opinions vary, but my take is that this is the sort of thing that would be covered, fairly early on, in any basic Esperanto course. If you're not currently taking a course, I would encourage you to do so - whether on Duolingo, Lernu, YouTube, library book, or whatever. You're going to have many more questions like this one if you don't. Jan 15, 2017 at 2:19

4 Answers 4


These are actually not suffixes, but endings. The plural ending -j is always written before the accustaive -n. Other endings are -o (for nouns) -a (for adjectives), -e (for adverbs) and the verb-endings. I don't think you'll be confused by them.

Later when you learn the suffixes, (-et, -eg, -in, -id are some of the first you learn) you'll see that they always come before the endings. For example: dom-et-o-j-n. Occasionally, you have to be careful with the order, but this is not something one runs into too often.

  • Is there a specific reason for the order of endings?
    – amflare
    Jan 13, 2017 at 20:18
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    Hi Amflare, I think there are two reasons that it’s 1 librojn and not 2 libronj: A. To many people, 1 is easier to pronounce (ending in a similar sequence of sounds as the English word coin). B. It’s an advantage to have the N ending appear last whenever the number of an adjective does not match the number of a noun (which sometimes happens in Esperanto): Vi havas belajn hundon kaj katon. ”You have a nice dog and a nice cat.”
    – Bjørn
    Jan 13, 2017 at 20:57
  • Honestly, I don't know. I've never wondered why, and it's interesting that you're asking yourself this. It might have to do with different language backgrounds. Keep questioning! It is a great way do gain deep understanding. Jan 14, 2017 at 10:41

Yes, it very much matters. The -j must come first. Therefore, you cannot say "libronj" rather "librojn". There may be some rationale besides pronunciation (the former has one extra syllable- "li-brau-ni" VS. "li-brauyn"), but I'm not aware of it.

As far as affixes go, the order can very in relation to meaning trying to be expressed.

Sano- healthy
malsano- unhealthy, sick
malsanulo- unhealthy, sick person
malsanulejo- Place for unhealthy people, hospital.

  • The number of syllables in libronj* and librojn would be the same, because j is a semivowel, hence it does not create a new syllable. I don't see how you're supposed to pronounce ‘li-brauyn’, but it does not look like the pronunciation of librojn, which is [ˈli.brɔi̯n], where ‘ɔi̯’ is pretty much the sound of ‘oy’ in ‘boy’. Although libronj* is not really easily pronounceable, it would not have a distinct ‘i’ sound at the end as a separate syllable (and the stressed syllable would still be ‘li’, the second to last syllable). Jan 13, 2017 at 19:12
  • Your examples with malsanulejo is great in the sense of showing how kunmetajxoj are derived from other words in steps. It would be nice if you also had some examples where you switch up the order of the suffixes to change the meaning, ekz "hundegido" and "hundidego". Jan 14, 2017 at 10:38

The N is always last and the J is always second last in the accusative case:

  • Mi ŝatas librojn
  • Mi ŝatas karpojn
  • Mi ŝatas pomojn
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    Is there an easy way to explain why? Or is that just how it is?
    – amflare
    Jan 15, 2017 at 19:19
  • @amflare I think the primary reason is ease of hearing and pronunciation: *"libronj" is rather difficult to pronounce, and doesn't sound very much different from "libron".
    – kristan
    Jan 16, 2017 at 1:25

the 'j' comes before the 'n' because the items are the object in a plural sense rather than an individual sense.

Mi sxatas pomojn means I like apples in a collective sense, not that I like each individual apple.

  • Welcome to Esperanto Language StackExchange! I have never heard this theory before, do you happen to have a source?
    – miestasmia
    Oct 19, 2017 at 18:06
  • No, it was my own analysis based on how the endings function, but it holds together especially since I can't think of a time where you would mean each individual member of a set.
    – cdm014
    Nov 1, 2017 at 14:35
  • It's StackExchange policy to disclose own work. I do not believe your theory to be true, as Zamenhof merely stated it to be the case. Any further reasoning seems overthought.
    – miestasmia
    Nov 2, 2017 at 6:55

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