I am having issues knowing the stressed (tonic) syllable, especially when a noun or adjective is pluralized. I am not sure if I should be treating endings like -oj and -aj as separate sounds or as diphthongs (the words malgrandaj and hundoj for instance.

Is malgrandaj pronounced /mal-gran-DA-y/ (with a Spanish sounding -a) or is it pronounced /mal-GRAND-aye/? Similarly, /HUN-doy/ or /hun-DOI-y/. The issue for me is knowing to treat it as a diphthong or not. Please help!!

  • 1
    I think that this topic is treated in the first lessons of virtually every Esperanto course. Anyhow, it would make no difference whether -Vj- were two phonemes or one (a diphthong): In both cases they form one syllable, so the stress according to the rule is on the syllable before word-final -aj and -oj (and -aŭ: báldaŭ). Oct 29, 2017 at 19:37
  • It might be, but I m sure people wouldn't ask if they weren't having trouble with it.
    – AdamS
    Oct 30, 2017 at 16:35
  • There is, of course, no such thing as a dumb question, but if you're having trouble with a question like this after working through a basic course, it's possible you haven't found a good basic course to work through. If you need help finding a good course, please ask. Nov 4, 2017 at 22:45

3 Answers 3


The whole point of J and Ŭ in Esperanto is to make it very clear whether it's one syllable or two. The vowels are just A, E, I, O, U; the second-to-last is stressed (marked with ´ in the examples below):

  • malgrándaj húndoj
  • balái (ba-lá-i, a verb), bálaj (bá-laj, an adjective) — That's why we use J for plurals and not I.

JC Wells in his Esperanto Dictionary states that the aj "represents a plus a short i-sound; it is like English y in my".


  • ej as in play
  • oj as in boy
  • as in cow

There is no English equivalent of uj, he gives ruinous as a close approximation.

So, to answer your question: they are diphthongs, rather than separate sounds.


Yes, you should treat it as a single syllable. The stress always falls on the second-to-last syllable. So malgranda and malgrandaj both have three syllables and so in both cases the stressed syllable should be the gran. Ie, /mal-GRAND-aye/.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.