How do you modify (say) a noun with a whole phrase that consists of multiple elements (words)?

Bit of a complicated question, so I'll illustrate with an example. Say I am translating "the Written Down Value method" into Esperanto, and say (for the sake of argument) that a good way to translate "Written Down Value" would be Skribita Valoro (whether or not that really is a good translation is another matter). Now, "method" (presumably translated as metodo) refers to the whole of Skribita Metodo, but if you were to write Skribita Valorometodo or Skribita Valormetodo, it would seem that Skribita is an adjective to describe the whole of Valor(o)metodo.

Would you then need to change it so that:

  • You pull the parts of the original phrase together (even if you would write them as separate words on their own): Skribitvalora metodo?
  • You simply add a hyphen between the phrase and the modified element, and it's understood that a whole phrase comes before that element: Skribita Valoro-metodo? (But what about cases where, for reasons of clarity, a hyphen would already be used anyway, just for the final part of the phrase alone? Would it just be ambiguous in those cases?)
  • You add a hyphen between the parts of the phrase, instead: Skribita-Valorometodo or Skribita-Valormetodo?

Or is there yet another way to go? I know you can (probably) always just rewrite the whole phrase to something like metodo de Skribita Valoro, but I am curious if there is a way to make this work without such rewriting.

Toki Pona does this by either using the word pi or not. There probably are rules about this in Esperanto, as well, but I was not able to find it online / in PMEG. Perhaps I was just unable to come up with the right search terms.

  • 1
    Skribitvalora metodo would be the translation I would go with because that combines the two adjectives into one word.
    – Karlomanio
    Aug 27, 2019 at 18:34
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    See also this related question esperanto.stackexchange.com/questions/1072/… Note also that in certain styles of English (British?) you would have to hyphenate that as well to resolve the ambiguity, such as “written-down-value method”.
    – Neil Roberts
    Aug 29, 2019 at 8:30
  • I don't think that a word-by-word translation is the right approach here, try to understand the concept first and than find good Esperanto terms for it. Aug 29, 2019 at 16:08
  • jknappen, would you say that is always the answer, here? Because my question was not really about the specific example I used, which was added only to illustrate my more general question. Or perhaps you are saying that even more generally, you never want to modify anything with a phrase consisting of multiple words, in Esperanto, period? Aug 30, 2019 at 10:21

2 Answers 2


If you want to have something more concise than metodo de skribita valoro, you need to go for skribit-valora metodo (optionally without the hyphen). Note that skribita valoro-metodo would necessarily be read as a synonym of skribita valormetodo, so this one doesn't work in Esperanto.


The preferred way to denote multi-word terms is by preceeding them with a descriptive word, in this case la metodo Skribita Valoro. This is generally used in scientific texts in many languages, so it's not limited to Esperanto. The idea is to fix the descriptive word, so that you can later use only it. This method has the additional benefit, that you don't have to know how to put any grammatical marking on the term itself (like accusative in la espa), it's enough to know to put it into the the descriptive word – and that is usually trivial.

Example La metodo Skribita Valoro bazas sur la ideo… Oni utiligas la metodon en…

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