I had an discussion on this question earlier, where I thought it would be estas bona, since despite ĝi being omitted, we're still talking about "it".

Some more experienced speaker said it is estas bone because estas is now the only verb, and that's how it works in Esperanto.

The discussion would've ended there, but I could swear I saw something like estas bona on Duolingo. Did I misremember, or are my friends being too strict with grammar?

  • Are you sure it's technically even an abbreviation, though? I know that phrases like just "dankon" and "saluton" are abbreviations for certain phrases (IIRC), but I seem to recall that impersonal verbs don't take subjects in Esperanto. What "it" are you referring to? A physical object? A concept? Nothing?
    – Adalynn
    Apr 25, 2018 at 21:02
  • 1
    I know it doesn't clearly answer to your question but is it possible to abbreviate it directly to "Bonas"?
    – Pierre
    Apr 27, 2018 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


This is an interesting and puzzling phenomenon I started exploring some time a go and still have not yet reached a conclusion, so I'll give more of an impression here than solid evidence.

The rule in fact is that with a single verb without nominal subject (noun, pronoun, citation, or relative clause) the predicative adjective should become an adverb:

Dancado estas bela ←→ Danci estas bele

La nokto estas malvarma ←→ Estas malvarme

Subjectless verbs like in the second example do not have a clear reference, they just name a state/action.

In case of an ellipsis which refers to a noun named just before, however, there should be no problem to stay with the adjective:

A: Kaj la vetero?

B: [La vetero/Ĝi/Tiu] Estos certe bona!

A problem rises when the reference is not a clear object, but rather a whole sentence or a situation. Traditionally tio or ĝi was used as a subject in such cases:

Tro multe da homoj mortas pro malpurigo de la trinkakvo. Ĝi/Tio estas vere problema.

It seems to me that there is a tendency in modern speech to omit the pronoun in such cases, switching to the adverbial form instead of the adjectival one - although this is not how subjectless verbs were intended.

An explanation for this may be that in early Esperanto ĝi was used, as in English, to express an empty subject with atypical subjects (Ĝi estis varmega posttagmezo "It was a hot afternoon"). This has (rightly) totally dropped out of use, perhaps taking some of the justified uses with it.

  • Are you saying that, without a context, it should be an adverb, but if the context makes it clear, it can stay an adjective? except the last exception
    – Zuoanqh
    Apr 26, 2018 at 5:54
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    Yes, in case you just supplement the previous sentence (like you do in other cases like "A: Nun ni bezonas nur... B: La bileton!"), an adjective should be fine, in other cases, or generally when you're not sure go with the adverb. Apr 26, 2018 at 7:56

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