Infinitives do not have case markers. "Mi ŝatas lerni" is the typical order, and so is "egzameni asisti la detektivon".

But could "lerni ŝatas mi" work, noting that "mi" is not in accusative and is thus the subject? If so, then "la detektivon asisti egzameni" should work, as well as any other SVO order of these words.

This also raises the question: what about a sentence with just infinitives as nouns: "legi asistas skribi" ("reading helps writing"). Is it not possible to move those words around? I would expect that it isn't.

Dankon al ĉiuj

  • “reading helps writing” would be “legi asistas / helpas skribi”, so only two infinitives. And yes, I think it would not be possible to move these words around unless the meaning is dead obvious and/or you want to sound poetic. – marcus Aug 30 at 14:16
  • Right, my mistake! Thanks – Thomas Kagan Aug 31 at 0:59

In general I think there isn’t a strict rule about what is a valid order or not. Instead it’s more along the lines that if the phrase is understandable then it is fine. If both the subject and the object can take the accusative then the order is pretty flexible because there is no ambiguity. Otherwise the usual thing to do is to rely on the default subject-verb-object order to get the meaning across.

With that in mind, I would say your example of ŝatas lerni mi is fine because it is understandable without ambiguity, although I wouldn’t recommend it unless there is some particular reason to do it for emphasis or to make a rhyme.

With legi asistas skribi, there are no accusative markers so if the order is changed it is very likely to be misunderstood and thus it wouldn’t be recommended.

Some minor corrections to your question:

  • It’s ekzameni not egzameni.
  • In ekzameni asisti la detektivon I assume you meant ekzameni asistas la detektivon, otherwise there is no main verb in the phrase.
  • Although asisti is a word, I think in this context it would be better to use helpi which is much more common.

You can avoid all of these ambiguities if you express the verb as a noun instead. I would even argue this would be the more normal way to express it. For example:

  • Ekzamenado helpas la detektivonHelpas la detektivon ekzamenado.
  • Legado helpas skribadonHelpas skribadon legado.

I would say "ŝatas lerni mi" is fine, but that you can not inverse the two verbs nor intercalate the subject between them. In this sentence, it seeems to me that ŝatas lerni is a single gramatical group.

Moreover ŝati lerni seems as gramatically correct as lerni ŝati, both without explicit subject. But juxtaposition of indicative after an infinitive doesn't seem fine to my mind. It seems you can also make an indicative verb after an infinitive one: "kritiki estas facile, fari malfacile".

Note that I say all that more based on a praxeologic experience, I didn't check any source known as authoritative on Esperanto grammar for this answer.

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