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What is the difference between "gajni" and "venki"? Does it have anything to do with objects? I have a feeling there is a clear difference, but I think I mix them up and use them incorrectly a lot.

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"gajni" comes from the English "to gain", and has more or less the same meaning as "to gain", i.e. it generally expresses the idea of receiving something. You can use it to translate "to win", especially in situations when you could replace "to win" by "to gain" in English. For example, you can say "gajni premion" for "to win a prize", as you can also say "to gain a prize".

When talking about winning a war, a battle or an election, one would usually use "venki" rather than "gajni". However, when used with a direct object, "venki" works like the verb "to defeat", i.e. the direct object is the person or army that was defeated. If you want to say "to win a war/battle/election", you should say "venki en milito/batalo/elekto". It is wrong to say "venki militon/batalon/elekton*".

There are also contexts where "venki" and "gajni" can be used more or less interchangeably. For example, "to win a sport contest" or "to win a lawsuit" can be either "venki en konkurso/proceso", "gajni en konkurso/proceso" or "gajni konkurson/proceson" (but not "venki konkurson/proceson"). If one is not actually receiving anything, the use of "gajni" in such context is somewhat metaphorical, but certainly acceptable.

  • "To win a game" is "venki ludon", right? – Aviadisto Sep 7 '16 at 11:51
  • @Aviadisto If it is a game where there are losers because you won, yes. – Vanege Sep 8 '16 at 16:19
  • @Aviadisto If the direct object of "venki" is a person (or thing) who was/is defeated, "venki ludon" must mean to defeat the game itself. Or am I wrong? – Antonia Montaro Sep 8 '16 at 19:47
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    You cannot say "venki ludon" for "to win a game". Just as in the case of winning a war, battle or election, you have to say "venki en ludo" instead. As Antonia Montaro pointed out, "venki ludon" would be "to defeat a game", which surely is not the intended meaning. – Marcos Cramer Sep 9 '16 at 13:06
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    „Gajni prezon” ne estas ĝusta esprimo. Oni gajnas premion. „Prezo” estas tio, kion oni devas pagi por iu varo aŭ servo. Cetere, estas kelkaj „gaini” en tiu ĉi teksto (kun i anst. j). Mi scias, ke mi mem povas korekti, sed mi preferas ne ŝanĝi tekstojn de aliaj sen ilia scio/konsento. – Paŭl Peeraerts Oct 12 '16 at 10:03
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"gajni ion" is to win something.

"venki iun" is to defeat someone.

  • So, "You win" can be both "Vi venkas" and "Vi gajnas"? – Antonia Montaro Sep 5 '16 at 15:49
  • I'd translate "You win" to "Vi gajnas". But being not an English language native I might not know exactly how "to win" can be used. – Johannes Mueller Sep 5 '16 at 16:01
  • @AntoniaMontaro it might be better to use the past tense... – Clayton Ramsey Sep 7 '16 at 1:14
  • @ClaytonRamsey You're right, if the "game" is over, one should use the past tense. I didn't think of that. – Antonia Montaro Sep 8 '16 at 19:51
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Venki = To conquer or to become superior. You can win a game, war, competition, etc...

Gajni = To acquire something.

We conquered our enemies in the war, and gained freedom.

Ni venkis la malamikojn en la milito, kaj gajnis liberecon.

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