In a lot of places I see the word fariĝi when, from context, it seems that the speaker/writer just meant iĝi (to become). For example: «Mi studas por (far)iĝi kuracisto.»

Why is the radical far- used here at all? It doesn’t seem to fit. It would literally mean “to become done” or “to become doing”, which is nonsensical.

If the idea is that iĝi is merely a suffix and shouldn’t be seen as a word in its own right, then wouldn’t estiĝi be a more suitable construction than fariĝi? But if this is the rationale, then why doesn’t the same apply to ejo, ulo, ilo, ege and others that I see a lot more?

  • Mi ankaux reagis tiel kiam mi eklernis! Mi antauxgxojas ricevi respondon. – Antonia Montaro Apr 22 '17 at 14:04

Attached to a transitive root, the suffixoid -iĝi detransitivizes it, this means the verb gets the meaning of a passive or of a reflexive: ruli 'to roll (something)' - ruliĝi 'to roll oneself, to be rolled, to roll (intr.)'

So fariĝi means 'to be made into something' or 'to make oneself into something'. There is a slight difference in meaning to mere iĝi, which means 'to become' (without an overt causer), but it will be hard to find a context where this would be of importance, especially as fariĝi may also be generalized to an extent where it means 'to become' without thinking of any causer.

With intransitive or stative roots like esti 'to be' iĝi means 'to become': sidi 'to sit' - sidiĝi 'to sit down'.

So estiĝi means 'to become being', which is actually identical to 'to become'.

You ask why in such cases there is a root before iĝi at all, as they don't add real information. This has historical reasons, as in the early stage of the language the affixoids were used as standalone words much less often than today, certainly by the influence of European (and other) languages, who don't know affixoids, but much more strictly distinguish between standalone words and bound affixes. The evolution of the "liberation" of affixoids in Esperanto is a slow process, for instance suffixoid isto 'professional' still today is hardly used as a root.


I'm curious how you learned Esperanto? In my experience, the Duolingo course puts too strong an emphasis on suffixes (including iĝi) as free-standing words -- although both iĝi and fariĝi are used in the course.

Both these words mean the same thing. There's no difference in meaning between iĝi and fariĝi. When in doubt, though, use fariĝi - that is, follow the advice of Jordan in Being Colloqual in Esperanto and use fariĝi because it's more colloquial and less jarring.

Fari means "to make, do" (faru lin kvieta) - so fariĝi means the same thing except that "lin" becomes the subject (Li fariĝu kvieta). This doesn't work with estas because there is no object.

As for ejo, ulo, ilo, ege and others, there are a few explanations - one of which boils down to tradition. At the same time, people do use words like loko, persono, and tre all the time. You can certainly use iĝi if you want to - and many people do. Many speakers (myself included) have a stylistic preference for fariĝi.

  • 2
    I use fariĝi simply because it is more common, however, I had the same reaction as OP when I was learning, and I didn't learn from Duolingo, but from Montagu C. Butler's book about 12 years ago. I haven't looked at the Duolingo course very much but I think the use of affixes as standalone words has been a growing trend for a while and I see no problem with it. I think iĝi is the more logical word and I wouldn't be phased by it, but it would definitely give off a "modern" vibe to me, versus reading fariĝi which would come across as "traditional" or even (slightly) old-fashioned. – Kat Ño Apr 23 '17 at 7:27
  • I did not know that fari also means igi (but according to ReVo it does; sense #2). I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used that way; I’ve only seen it used in the sense agi (ReVo #3) and perhaps sometimes krei (ReVo #1). Given that, it shouldn’t be surprising that fariĝi appeared nonsensical to me. – Timwi Apr 23 '17 at 12:46
  • P.S. I do not understand the stylistic preference for fariĝi, especially if you agree that iĝi means the same thing, implying that the extra radiko far- is redundant and unnecessary. It’s much clearer without. – Timwi Apr 23 '17 at 12:48
  • Just to note in case the answer gave a misleading impression, estiĝi does also exist and it has the definition “iĝi estanta” en PIV. You can find it in Zamenhof’s translation of the bible: “per la vorto de la Eternulo estiĝis la ĉielo”. I don’t think it’s particularly rare even in modern usage. – Neil Roberts Apr 23 '17 at 12:53
  • Three comments: (1) Timwi - I think stylistic preferences are difficult to explain. Often the answer is "just 'cos" or (as I said in my answer) "tradition." (2) Neil Roberts - thanks for the comment on estiĝi. I brushed over the details in my reply, quite frankly because I couldn't remember them and couldn't be bothered to track them down because they were beside my point - but I think your clarification here is useful. (3) There are reasons that Duolingo put an even stronger emphasis on suffixes-as-words beyond any possible trend but this has been discussed in another question. – Tomaso Alexander Apr 23 '17 at 13:02
  • igxi = to become
  • farigxi = to become something as a result of doing something

Logic will be on your side if you use iĝi, but you will be speaking more colloquial Esperanto if you use fariĝi. http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/eo/colloq/colloq120.html#sec12-4-10

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